Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Taste of KU DE TA

Again, this is the result of watching Food Network Asia channel too much.

The making of KU DE TA (KDT) was featured in the Food Network channel and that sort of piqued my interest. It became a part of our To Do List while in the Red Dot. Hubby and I took the long weekend holiday as an opportunity to have a dinner date!

KU DE TA is located the Sky Park of the illustrious Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The KU DE TA circuit includes a Fine Dining Restaurant, a Club Lounge (I suppose, for the young, the young once and the feeling young) and the Sky Bar perched just on the Sky Park observation deck where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Singapore cityscape.

The KU DE TA Restaurant boasts of Asian Fusion dishes set in modern Asian interiors. They also have an outdoor setting if you want to dine al-fresco. The restaurant by nightfall is predominantly candlelit for a relaxing and private dining experience.

We arrived at 7:30 pm and the dining hall is already quite busy by then. The staff were very friendly and attentive. Most of them are fellow kababayans. We decided to try their best seller appetizer which is the Crispy-Sticky Baby Squid, paired with Smoked Eggplant with Marinated Salmon Caviar. The baby squid is an elegant version of the hawker-favorite sans the tons of onions and pepper fill-ins. The KDT's version of baby squid has the same crispiness but with a tinge of what I thought was caramel. The smoked eggplant reminds me of my dad's invention from many years ago, on this time the Salmon caviar sits on top of the veggie for that gourmet effect.

For the mains we went for the Bamboo Roasted Pacific Black Cod with Whipped Red Miso and Berkshire Pork Belly Steamed with Shaoxing Wine. The fish was really divine! I can tell that the cod was steamed, the flesh was so soft but the skin and sides were seared. The red miso did I'd say the pork belly was just ok but not exactly unforgettable. I did fear for our cholesterol level so we decided to skip the lobster. We had a carafe of white Sangria to complete the dinner.

I was very full and satisfied by the end of dinner but I sure have some space for dessert: Green Tea and Pistachio Slice. Its a basic cake topped with green tea flavored cream frosting dotted with pistachio nuts, smothered with jam and caramel slivers.

Overall I'd say it was an enjoyable dinner. We would love to come back to KU DE TA to celebrate. I saw a family with kids and I thought that we could bring the kids next time. Though meant to be a fine dining experience, the ambience is relaxed, chatty and exuberant!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chef for a Day

Children were in for a culinary surprise at the United Square Mall (the one that is a stone's throw from where we live). The United Square in Novena is dubbed as "The Kids' Mall" -- they house several outlets for famous brands of infants' and children's apparel and shoes - which I would say is more than what you will find in the bigger malls. There is also a branch of Toys R Us and Early Learning Center (ELC) in this mall. ELC boasts of unique line up of toys and books.

Everysooften, United Square sponsors learning events for kids. This month, they sponsored a Children's Cook Out at the Atrium where kids can learn great things about nutrition, good table manners and of course, experience being a chef!

There are four stations that you can choose from -- Japanese Bento, Oriental Mooncakes, Pizzeria and Kaya Jam. The food they will be preparing were all very creative renditions suitable for kids' consumption.

They also get to have a nutrition and health tour before going into culinary action!

Here are snippets of the Cookout...

Chef Kyla having a great time at the Pizzeria Station

It's a great idea to jump start kids on simple cooking

Preparing for the Cookfest

The first stop is the food pyramid

Height and weight measurement for the BMI charts

Kids also learned table setting, good manners and get to do hand-on for napkin folding

Getting started!

Kyla worked independently on her pizza

Kids received goodie bags from sponsors and a certificate

The best part-- Kyla shares her Pizza with Kuya Kevin

Kyla took home her pizza creation and gave the half for her brother, Pizza being his favorite food. It's a wonderful way to end the day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lego Mania

We were wondering what on earth was the long queue all about at the atrium of the nearby United Square Mall... apparently Toys R Us held a 3-day mega sale for Lego. The 1st day was exclusive for Members and it was indeed a box-office!  It was marked down from 30-40% off. Not bad.

We did our own share of lego hoarding.
I was disappointed that I was too late for the Lego City series.

We did our share of hoarding. They'll make great Christmas gifts for my godchildren and nephews.

Kyla and I enjoyed assembling her new toys and we bought Toy Story and giant Technic series Bulldozer for Kevin (he is into big cars). I was too late for the City and Kingdom series so we ended up with Prince of Persia set.

Its good to note that Lego is still a hit with the kids these days though I must say I did think that the adults probably enjoy them more!

Lego mad rush!
I was about 5 when Lego was introduced in Manila via Gift Gate. It was already 'relatively expensive' then. The only Lego we owned was a boxful of loose lego bricks when Manila C.O.D. (where Mom used to work) put some old stocks on sale. And probably a few more that were given to us as gifts.

It's amazing how lego managed to flourish and sustain its brand despite the passing of years.

I got Kyla to play lego- it is a great way to get them to be creative, it stirs a bit of spacial-visual intelligence skills. She said she wanted to be an engineer too, so a bit of visual-spatial skills ought to help.... and we have some mom-and-babe bonding time --  as opposed to just being glued to a PC.

Kyla started to work on the Toy Story Lotso Truck for her brother

Kyla finished assembling the easier stuff
This is from the Kingdom and Ninjago Series

So now, off I go --  she said she needs some help with the truck!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Birthdays... Birthdays...

Metamorphosis was not yet in existence when Kevin celebrated his 7th Birthday so this is really a reminiscence of his birthday celebration way back in 2007.

We decided to hold his party at the village clubhouse of our home in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on the exact date of his birthday which fell on a weekend. We never really tapped party planners for these ocassions so it was a joint family effort to plan and prepare for his birthday party. Hosting this at the clubhouse though meant having to coordinate caterers, decorations, sound system, host/entertainment and lootbags altogether. But I enjoy doing these things so we went for it. Much later,  for our daughter's 7th birthday, I had to go with all-in package when it became apparent to me that I will be leaving the country way earlier than her birthday event.

We chosed a Madagascar-Safari theme party although we decided not to have a costume party for the kids and kept it low-key for Kevin. So we made up for it through the decorations. I hired a 3rd party contractor to set up the decorations and balloons including the decorations for the cake station, the balloon tower and table centerpieces.

Picture from home, while preparing for Kevin's party. These were then his favorite things.

We opted for a Madagascar Theme Party.
I had to rely on a 3rd party to set up the balloon decorations.
Most pictures look dark though as we relied only on our dgcams.
 To keep the kids busy, we hired a Caricature artist. Kids (and Moms) can take home portraits of themselves in a superhero or fancy character of their choice. The artist drew a picture of Kevin as the Safari Ranger together with the Madagascar animals. Even my Mom was able to queue for it and she had it framed.

The party host was dressed as safari ranger and later changed into his magician costume. I got a deal where the party host doubled as magician, game master and we he also got to make animal balloon twisties and give a short puppet show. We also had lots of games, Kyla and I enjoyed buying tons of prizes at Market-Market.

Magic shows are always a hit with the kids. Even if they've seen it a hundred times.

Puppet show to keep the youngsters busy after lunch

We had a Pinata and a Pabitin for the kids
We also prepared the lootbags which contain Kevin's favorite goodies and toys. We also printed thank you tags and attached this to each loot bag. My kids love receiving loot bags from parties so we made sure that every kid will be delighted as well. We prepared for 40 lootbags and set of 12 more for the kids at 8+ of age (had to give them something more suitable for tweens).

We enjoyed preparing the lootbags with Kevin's favorite goodies and toys

Tons of games prizes are a must so that every kid gets a chance to win some.

We did not hire a professional photographer to cover the event and relied on our dgcams (and some titas) for the pictures (hence some photos lack lighting). We did miss taking a picture of the buffet station, the goings on at the caricature corner and sorbetero ice cream station.

The venue was a full house and it's a relief that the caterers have extra tables and chairs that were set at the pool area at the last minute so we can have everyone seated comfortably. We were most overwhelmed by friends, relatives, colleagues, teachers, neighbors and the sheer number of children who came by!  Kevin who was usually not at ease with large and noisy parties was at his best behavior throughout the event. We are grateful to have them share with us this important day in Kevin's childhood memories!

Happy Birthday Kevin!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Marina Bay Sands : Inside and Out

The Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is the newest iconic landmark at the Singapore Bayfront. Teamed up with the view of Merlion, the Singapore Museum of Arts, the Grand Fullerton Hotel, the Helix bridge, the hip Esplanade Hall (aka the Durian) and the Singapore Flyer, makes for a breathtaking skyline.

A clear skyline makes a wonderful backdrop, to think that in the same morning it was actually raining like crazy in the same area.

 I had an opportunity to stay overnight at the MBS for an annual company event. It was interesting to be able to see MBS from the inside after several photo ops from outside.

The interior of the MBS Hotel as you enter the lobby is nothing awesome or frivolous which is a stark contrast to the grandeur of its exterior. It's not that bad, but simply falls short of expectation. My benchmark in Manila being the Manila Peninsula and the Manila Hotel. Actually, the lobby feels like an extension of the Marina Bay Shoppes- and technically speaking, it is! It IS a very busy lobby as a matter of fact. Like the entire city was in there. You can access the Mall, the Casinos and the Exhibition Center via an underground channel. The posh-factor was likely invested on their Casinos.

 We were booked in a twin sharing room and got a bayfront view which is spectacular at night. The room and the bathroom were spacious and has a modern minimalist look. We only spent less than six hours of sleep and did not really get to stay a minute more in our room. We did however, hanged out at a colleague's room while chatting the night away.

Masette's room has a panoramic view of the Bayfront. With the Esplanadae and Singapore Art Museum (I call it Adidas) at the background.

Ready for the Dinner Event!
Before leaving, we definitely made sure we get to visit the famous view deck at the 57th Floor. The view deck is designed as a ship nestled atop the triple towers of Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
The long infinity type pool dotted with lounging chairs welcome you after you walk past by the security. You need to show your MBS door card to be able to enter the view deck, else be prepared to shell out for the bragging rights ("been there").

View of the Infinity Pool. Literally "swimming at the edge".
I thought that it must probably feel weird to be swimming at the infinity pool with swarms of locals and tourists flocking the pool side for photo op. Folks like us basically.

There are two gourmet restaurants situated at the prime spot atop MBS-- Sky 57 and Ku De Ta. You need a reservation (and a hefty amount of money) to dine there. The making of Ku De Ta was featured in Food Network Asia.

At the far end of the deck is a spacious boardwalk where people can hang out and enjoy the view of Singapore harbour. I realized that while the ship looks massive from below, it doesn't actually look as intimidating once you are on the deck. You could be walking along any random park, for that matter.

You have to insert $1SGD at the coin slot to use the telescope. I warned Dwight that the 1SGD isnt taking him any far....

At weekend nights, a firework display follows a Light and Sound show at the Marina Bay at around 8 pm or so. If you've nothing to do on weekend nights, it is worth hanging around to see the L&S show.

The light and sound show about to start. Taken last April 2011 after we watched Lion King.
The Marina Bay Shoppes is their shopping mall with all the global and luxe brands. When shopping in Singapore, dont expect to get a bargain. You wont. But if you are looking for a hard to find design or latest trend that you normally wont see in say. Manila, then yes, Singapore it is.

This is my weird side kicking in... I have many shots of the Marina Bay Sands but my favorite picture was taken from the Marina Barrage. We were doing an outdoor teambuilding activity and I snapped a picture of the MBS framed by what I noticed to be rainclouds looming nearby. True enough, you can see from afar the mist of rain enveloping the MBS skyline and making its way towards us. I snapped this photo before running for shelter which was like 500 meters away.

For some reason, I love this picture.

I also love walking along the riverfront with the view of Marina Bay Sands, taking in the new world charm of this cosmopolitan city. In this part of Singapore, the traces of its old world is barely physically discernible. But just by sitting along the benches of the riverfront, watching people and life as it happens, you can breathe the spirit of old Singapore with the cool wind gushing by.

Thanks to Ed Macias for the pictures. And for patiently bearing with us during the Photo Op.