[LUNCH BUFFET] Element @ Amara Singapore

Hello everyone!

As the saying goes, all work and no play eat makes Jack a dull hungry boy so when the offer to attend a tasting session at Element Restaurant came, I jumped at it – even if it meant to forgo an entire afternoon of catching up on work.

Conveniently located within a few minutes’ walk away from Tanjong Pagar MRT station in the heart of the Central Business District, Element Restaurant – or rather, Amara Hotel where the restaurant is set – instantly comes to mind as one of the ideal dining destinations for a hearty meal with colleagues or business partners. The restaurant caters to lunch crowds and dinner patrons with a lavish international buffet spread from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm as well as the contemporary Sicilian cuisines in à la carte menus from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm on Monday to Sunday (except Friday) – the latter of which I had to regrettably give a miss to when it was launched due to a flu bug.

Element Restaurant

Element Restaurant

We ordered a couple of cold beverages (separate charges apply) to whet our appetites at the bar within the restaurant since only coffee and tea are offered as part of the buffet. As far as I am aware, not many buffets allow you the opportunity to order such drinks but Element has their own bar so that alcoholics wine connoisseurs can drink and make merry at the same time.

Mocktail: Shirley Temple (S$13++)

Mocktail: Shirley Temple (S$13++)

Alcoholic: Bailey (S$14++)

Alcoholic: Bailey (S$14++)

Great tasting food is my Achilles heel. But as much as I love to eat, I do have certain standards when it comes to dining at buffets due to the fact that there are many buffets out there masquerading as nothing more than overpriced and over-glorified economical rice dishes.

Amongst all my expectations, a decent variety of food is a must and the spread during the lunch buffet at Element Restaurant was, to say the least, exquisite. According to the staff, the wide assortment of dishes changes daily. From local classics such as Laksa to crowd favourites such as Japanese sushi, sashimi and fresh seafood, there is bound to be something that appeals to your taste buds. To save you from the agony of having to sit through my babbling, the pictures will do most of the talking instead.

— Appetisers —

This section serves an array of bread, soup and dim sum

This section serves an array of bread, soup and dim sum

Assortment of bread

Assortment of bread

Siew Mai

Siew Mai

Soon Kueh

Soon Kueh

Char Siew Pau

Char Siew Pau

— Japanese cuisine —

Sushi spread

Sushi spread

Apart from these Japanese staples, this stop also serves sashimi freshly prepared by the chef stationed there.

— Salad bar —

Mix and match your own salad and toppings!

Mix and match your own salad and toppings!

— Cured and smoked meat —

Selection of cured and smoked meat platter

Selection of cured and smoked meat platter

Cold cut salami

Cold cut salami

Marinated Black Fungus

Marinated Black Fungus

Tuna Tataki

Tuna Tataki

The tuna tataki was one of my favourite! It has a slightly chewy texture that leaves a sourish and slightly spicy aftertaste, leaving my palate refreshed just after a bite. It was my first time trying Tuna Tataki and I absolutely love it because of all the different flavours rolling around on my tongue. Doing a little research, I discovered that Tataki or tosa-mi is actually a Japanese method for preparing fish that has been briefly marinated in vinegar, sliced thinly and seasoned for taste. I strongly recommend this dish to anybody who is a lover of Tuna sashimi – you will surely go back for seconds!

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

— Seafood —

Seafood aplenty and regularly topped up

Seafood aplenty and regularly topped up

White Clams

White Clams

Moreton Bay Bug

Moreton Bay Bug

I pointed out excitedly to Fiona that there was crayfish at the seafood section and was eagerly adding several pieces of the tasty crustacean onto my plate when I noticed the name of the dish.

Moreton Bay Bug.

BUG? I momentarily froze as that word registered in my head. Thinking that it was a typo error, I quickly whipped my phone out from my pocket to (what else?) Google for more information. It turns out this ‘bug’ is actually a species of slipper lobsters resembling the crayfish which explains my initial confusion (because why would anyone name a delicious food after something so off-putting?). The meat was firm and moist, which means that it was incredibly fresh! While it was my first time eating it, I know it won’t be my last ☺

— Live station —

This is where the chef takes orders from buffet-goers and prepares the food on the spot

This is where the chef takes orders from buffet-goers and prepares the food on the spot

The menu at the live station changes every day. When I was there for food tasting, traditional laksa was the dish of the day. If noodles aren’t your thing, you may also opt for a small portion of claypot rice next to the live station.

Wax Rice with Chinese Sausage, Roasted Meat and Mushroom

Wax Rice with Chinese Sausage, Roasted Meat and Mushroom

— Light snacks —

Mostly cooked food

Mostly cooked food

Japanese Salmon Croquette with Spicy Mayo

Japanese Salmon Croquette with Spicy Mayo

Crispy Chicken Wings so good, Fiona ate about 8 pieces

Crispy Chicken Wings so good, Fiona ate about 8 pieces

— Desserts —

Sweet and savoury desserts to conclude your buffet experience

Sweet and savoury desserts to conclude your buffet experience

Pandan Pudding

Pandan Pudding

Cempedak Creme Brulee & Blueberry Panna Cotta

Cempedak Creme Brulee & Blueberry Panna Cotta

THIS is the star of my entire meal in my humblest and honest opinion. Element’s Cempedak Creme Brulee is out of this world! I am quite sure even Gordon Ramsay would not have anything negative to say about it. Do not be deceived by the small unassuming saucer for it packs a punch in its delivery of flavours. The Cempedak is the smaller cousin of the Jackfruit. Compared to the Jackfruit, the Cempedak is sweeter and has a stronger aroma when ripen. I caught a whiff of the aroma while I was walking past the desert section which was what led me to try it. I had no regrets at all but if there was one, it was not helping myself to more servings of the dessert before the buffet service ended. It is a seasonal fruit and as such I do not expect this dish to be available all year around so I highly recommend you to try it if you get the chance.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience dining at Element. The servers were very friendly and responsive – our plates were cleared constantly and the warm smiles they carried on their faces increased the pleasure of our dining experience. And no, our tables were not cleared all the time because we were there on a media invite. Looking around, I also noticed that other guests were also the subject of such excellent service and hospitality.

Thanks for reading!

Element at Amara Singapore
165 Tanjong Pagar Road
Singapore 088539
Tel: 6879 2607
Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar

International Lunch Buffet
Monday to Friday, 11.30 am – 2.30 pm
Adult: S$49++
Child (6-12 years old): S$25++
Reservations: Chope | Quandoo

The writer is a glutton who occasionally allows his appetite free rein and steals food from Fiona’s plate. Among some of his favourite food are a good steak and meaty crabs doused in chili sauce. Read more posts by Alphonsus here.

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[BOOK REVIEW] My School Uniform, a Photo Book for the Ages

Hello everyone!

During the good ol’ days back when I was in still studying at St. Gabriel’s Secondary, I was always intrigued or amused by the uniforms of other schools as I found some to be quite funny for various reasons.

A little backstory – I had the chance to take Music as an ‘O’ level subject at CHIJ St. Nicholas’ as my school did not offer it. It was such a memorable experience because I had the chance of meeting new friends from different schools. Now now, I know what you are thinking now. It definitely wasn’t memorable because I was a guy who suddenly had the chance to meet girls. On the contrary, I was extremely shy and nervous because I studied in an all-boys environment since primary school. On my first day at St. Nicks, my legs somehow managed to forget how to walk down stairs when I saw a group of girls walking past me that I slipped and fell. The giggles that I elicited from them will forever ring in my ears.

Jokes aside, my best memories were some of the classmates I met from Maris Stella, Catholic High and Holy Innocents. I remembered how I enjoyed teasing the guy from Catholic High because of his hairy legs which were visible because they had no long pants even in upper secondary.

Catholic High School

Catholic High School

It was recently announced in the news that another 22 secondary schools would be merged into 11 over the next 2 years due to declining cohort sizes. Singaporeans just aren’t producing enough babies to maintain a healthy number of students in all our schools! 😦

msu-2016-4

I always find the announcement of such news extremely disheartening. Once the merger is completed, regardless whether the name of the newly merged school will be changed or not, it is rather certain that the uniforms of both merged schools will be lost in the process as there will be changes made to the existing uniform to reflect the new identify and direction of the newly formed schools.

msu-2016-9

For those who are extremely nostalgic and worry that a part of your memories might be lost when these schools merged, fret not because of the recent launch of ‘My School Uniform’, the first-ever photography project in Singapore that has managed to cover more than 140 secondary schools, which is about approximately 85% of all the secondary schools in Singapore. A project supported by the National Heritage Board and spearheaded by Yix Quek, a creative and arts educator, its objective is to document the past and present – the way we were through what we wore – for future generations. Secondary schools were chosen as experiences of adolescence last a lifetime. They are our important formative years where we grapple with our innocence and struggle to define ourselves.

My School Uniform photography book (designed by Yong Kam Ling)

My School Uniform photography book (designed by Yong Kam Ling)

My School Uniform

My School Uniform

For most schools, the book showcases 3 different kinds of uniforms that students might have a chance to wear during their time in school.

  1. Councillor attire with the school ties and blazers that students might wear for official school events
  2. The day to day formal attire that students should be wearing if they have no Physical Education (PE) / CCA classes on that day
  3. Of course, the PE kit they wear for any sporting activities in school

This book strikes a chord in my heart because how the loss of uniforms is directly related to the closure of schools in Singapore, which Fiona had compiled on this blog. Apart from being able to admire the diverse and interesting uniforms from the different schools, I really liked the interesting trivia and information provided at the back of the book about the history of school badges. In particular, I loved the section on ‘Crests of Change’ which shed some information of how some school badges have evolved and changed over time due to various reasons. For instance, I did not really know that the St. Gabriel’s badge I used to wear while schooling has made way for a brand new crest which reflects the common historical heritage of Assumption English School, Montfort Secondary and St. Gabriel’s Secondary.

School badges, past and present

School badges, past and present

I strongly recommend everyone to get a copy of your book while it is still available on the shelves at Kinokuniya, Popular bookstore and Basheer Graphic Books as this is a book that surely can be passed down onto future generations. Besides, the fascinating nuggets of the schools’ history and strengths that accompany the well-taken shots (photographed by Nicky Loh, Louis Kwok, Soh Qiuling and Benny Loh) enable this book to be a comprehensive guide for primary school leavers who are still deciding on what secondary school to go to after the PSLE.

Here are some more previews of the Secondary schools you can find in the book:

Bedok North Secondary School

Bedok North Secondary School

Fuchun Secondary School

Fuchun Secondary School

Manjusri Secondary School

Manjusri Secondary School

Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary)

Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary)

If ever the day comes when students in Singapore no longer have to wear uniforms but are able to choose what they wear to schools such as the kids in the U.S., this book will really be a treasure trove of memories for you to think back about your time when you were in school. Hopefully future editions of this book will be able to include the other schools which were not covered in this book so no schools will be left out.

Thanks for reading!

BOOK INFORMATION

Sale price: S$28.50 (free delivery with purchase of 5 copies or more)

To order, please leave your name, contact number and e-mail address on this form

Availability: 

Basheer Graphic Books
Bras Basah Complex, 231 Bain St, Singapore 180231
Tel: 6336 1917
Operating hours: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Enjoy 20% discount when you quote “fionaseah.com” at Basheer Graphic Books

Hitting shelves at all major bookstores including Kinokuniya and Popular soon

The author is a bookworm who has co-written food reviews and shared his expertise on matters concerning technology on fionaseah.com.
DISCLAIMER: PRODUCT FEATURED IS A PRESS SAMPLE BUT OPINIONS, AS ALWAYS, ARE AUTHOR’S OWN.

TechTalk: JBL Under Armour Bluetooth Wireless Earphones

MEDIA INVITE

Hello everyone!

Welcome to the TechTalk, the newly added section on this blog for the technology geeks where you will find honest reviews on the latest gadgets and accessories in the market. Most of these posts will be contributed by my boyfriend, Alphonsus Neo, who is an absolute technology enthusiast. With years of experience in the telecommunication industry, he lives and breathes technology and definitely knows his stuff. so Enjoy!

An invitation was extended to me by JBL a while back as a contributor of this blog to test out their latest offering – the Under Armour Bluetooth wireless earphones. For the uninitiated, Under Armour is an American sports clothing and accessories company that is very popular among athletes for its high quality shirts that helps to keep them cool and dry even after an intense work out.

JBL x Under Armour Headphones Wireless

JBL x Under Armour Headphones Wireless

Fitness buffs definitely should rejoice because Under Armour has joined hands with JBL to create the perfect pair of Bluetooth earphones that is compatible for both iOS and Android users hoping to listen to some music while they exercise. Perfect may seem a strong word to use but trust me, despite some of my gripes that I will share along the way, this product is definitely a beauty and a keeper!

Just look at the packaging, the bright red screams to you as you walk pass it along the aisle.

Pick me! You know you want to!

Pick me! You know you want to!

If the packaging can be an indication of how well made a product is, then the Under Armour Wireless definitely does not disappoint. It reminded me of the packaging of a MacBook Pro, which is not an easy feat by far.

So the packaging looks great, so what? Let’s get into the nitty gritty details that all of you out there are looking for.

For starters, it is extremely light weight which is great because the last thing you need while exercising is a pair of earphones tugging on your ears. The Under Amour Wireless comes with TwistLockTM Technology that helps to keep the earphones snugged tightly into your ears while you run on a treadmill or climbing a mountain. Unlike conventional earphones which you directly insert into your ears, the Under Amour Wireless is placed at a slightly 45 degrees angle at the entrance of your ear before turning it in a clockwise direction to ‘lock’ the earphones securely in. It did feel slightly uncomfortable initially because admittedly, it takes some practice to get the technique right. But once you have mastered it, it stays in your ear! I tried to shake and tilt my head vigorously left and right but it still wouldn’t budge, if I tried to shake my head any harder I am sure I would have to wear a neck brace for a couple of weeks.

The Under Armour Wireless’ cord between the earbuds measures just slightly over 30 cm which might not sound incredibly long, but it gets the job done as it doesn’t impede head movement at all. After all, this is a sports earphones which means that long dangling wires are a big no-no. Does anyone know the feeling when earphone wires starts to get slimy and the condition of the wires deteriorate because of the sweat? Well, the Under Amour Wireless so far hasn’t presented this problem during the weeks of testing because of its IPX5 sweat proof feature. Of course, you still have to be conscientious and do your part in ensuring you wipe off the sweat after each exercise session. Don’t be too overly worried that tugging constantly at the wires as you clean may cause it to become dislodged as during the product briefing, it was shared that the Under Amour Wireless was made to be as rugged as possible which meant all the connections were reinforced to prevent that from happening.

Earphones

Earphones

But the real test for any pair of earphones is not how well it can withstand wear and tear, but its sound quality. And boy does it deliver, JBL has graciously included a solid pair of 5.88 mm dynamic drivers into the Under Armour Wireless. It definitely will not disappoint those who are looking for a pair of earphones with enough bass to help them power through a 10 km run that’s for sure. However, for those who are looking for noise cancellation features, move along because these earphones are not meant for you because the good folks at Under Armour and JBL have the common sense not to include this feature in a pair of sports earphones. Now, the last thing you would want is a pair of sports earphones that cancels out all ambience noise such as the horn of a car that is about to hit you because you were not paying attention while you were running.

3-button mic

3-button mic

The Under Amour Wireless also comes with a pretty standard 3-button mic which allows you to control tracks, volume and calls easily without the need for you to whip out your phone. If you decide that the Under Armour Wireless is your cup of tea, this will set you back $289. This might seem like a hefty amount but if you do your homework, you will also realise that similar earphones by other reputable brands costing around the same price range. However the key difference is the brands behind the product. With Under Armour’s unique experience in understanding the needs of athletes as well as JBL’s brand name for delivering quality speakers, you will be hard-pressed to find another brand in the market that can fully understand the needs of athletes. If it is any comfort, the Under Armour Wireless Bluetooth earphones also come with a 12 month premium membership for MapMyFitness that is available on both iOS and Android app stores.

Core features

Core features

Thanks for reading!