Monday, August 31, 2009


A few weeks ago the Head Tart finally took delivery of his Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Omega Speedmaster. Here are a few photos from the handover.

This 40th Anniversary model utilises Omega’s calibre 1861, the same movement used in the original Speedmaster Professional.

The seconds sub-dial, which has a brushed rhodium hand, takes the form of a small medallion featuring an adaptation of Apollo 11’s mission patch of an eagle descending to the lunar surface with an olive branch representing peace in its claws. The patch, was designed by Michael Collins who remained in the Apollo 11 capsule as Command Module Pilot while his colleagues Armstrong and Aldrin were in the Lunar Module and on the moon.

The Apollo 11 mission patch is also on the caseback along with the words, “THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”, the limited edition number (0000/7969), and “July 21, 1969”, the date Armstrong and Aldrin first stepped onto the moon’s surface at 02:56, the time which is printed on the dial.

A 42 mm silver medal featuring an engraving of the mission patch on one side with the words “APOLLO 11, 40th ANNIVERARY”. On the reverse side, the medal is engraved, “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED”; “LAUNCHED JULY 16 1969”; “LANDED JULY 20, 1969”; and “RETURNED, JULY 24, 1969” along with OMEGA’s name and logo.

Congratulations to the proud new owner of this LE Speedy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Waterloo St

During the day of my Pineapple Tart discovery, my continued ramble lead me to Waterloo St and two temples.

The first of these was the Sri Krishna Temple.

Also called Sri Krishna Bagawan Temple, Sri Krishna Bhagawan Temple, Sri Krishna Bhagwan Temple, Sri Krishna Temple, Krishna Temple or Krishnan Temple, the only South Indian Hindu temple in Singapore was established in 1870 by one Hanuman Beem Singh, who set up an idol of Sri Krishna under a banyan tree on Waterloo Street. For more details on its history, see here.

Next door to the Sri Krishnan Temple is the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, built in 1895 though existing in this location since 1894. I didn't go in, largely because of the huge numbers of people who were thronging in constantly. It was quite incredible to see the numbers of worshippers who entered, it was almost as though they required a traffic warden just to shepherd them in.

In the pedestrianised area in front of the two temples there were about a dozen fortune tellers plying their wares.

Sellers of flowers etc for temple offerings.

Plus all manner of paraphenalia such as reading glasses.

A little further down I came across some "Raising buns"

And finally two photos of fruit being sold at the end of the street in honour of my friend who was allergic to fruit.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Le Cafe Confectionery & Pastry
264 Middle Road
Singapore 188990

Sometimes the best discoveries are the ones that you make when you're just wandering around. Even if it is 30 degrees and too humid to be out for a 5km stroll....This was one of them, a place called Le Cafe, next to a Hainanese Chicken joint. What drew me to it was the sheer amount of PR paraphenalia at the front. It was mesmerising.

WE'RE FAMOUS!! It screamed. THEY LOVE US!!! No shy and retiring pastry shop was this. In fact it looked less like a retail outlet than a wholesale outlet. My new friend L, with whom I had lunch the next day, thought it fitting that I had bumped into this place, his favourite source for Pineapple Tarts.

These tasty little suckers came in a minimum order of a box of 10, for S$7.30.

Don't let their appearance fool you. They are buttery, flaky and rich. The "pineapple" aspect is the innards of sticky pineapple jam. The tarts also contain "No pork, no lard", as the label helpfully points out. Lard I can understand but pork?? I'm clearly out of some loop here, it never occurred to me to watch out for pork in a Pineapple Tart.

The pineapple jam is chewy, not so much jam as fruit jellies, and not strong in pineapple taste but with the buttery rich pastry, deeply moreish.

Would I recommend these? Absolutely, even if you don't have a sweet tooth. They are probably best eaten sparingly, I fear that eating too many of these in one sitting leads to a certain feeling of overindulgence.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Istana Park, completed in 1995, was designed and built as an extension to the main entrance of the Istana. The Istana, which located across the road from the park, is the official residence of the President of Singapore.

The centrepiece of the park is the 26 metre high Festival Arch rising out of a shallow reflecting pool. The design of the stainless steel and concrete structure was inspired by the gateposts and railings at the Istana's entrance. The Festival Arch forms the gateway to Orchard Road and Singapore's Civic District.

Heritage Taste

Takashimaya Food Hall
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238873

Pandan Muah chee/ Mua chee/ Mua chi (S$2.50)
(called "Mar Chee" at Heritage Taste)

Muah Chee is a mochi like snack of boiled glutinous rice flour coated in toasted peanuts. Its origins seem to be a battle between Southern China and Penang, though variants of it appear in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The rice is boiled to a chewy consistency (in this case with Pandan) after which it is minced into small uneven pieces and rolled into ground peanuts and sugar. This particular specimen also appeared to have a coconut taste, most likely from the use of coconut milk in the boiling process.

I have a liking for chewy desserts such as the glutinous rice balls Tong Yuen and hadn't had this for over a decade so it was nice to rediscover it. This serving was my afternoon snack and, as glutinous rice is wont to be, rather filling.....!
Automated Yakitori Machine
Takashimaya Food Hall
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238873

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


From Saturday, 22nd August, 19:55.

It doesn't get any better than this : PAM267 (1 of six pieces); PAM1 pre-A; PAM203.
Timeless Gallery
ION Orchard
Orchard Road

Purveyors of luxury watchwinders if you have a spare hundred thousand or so. Unfortunately it it was closed both times when I walked past. Brands represented include Erwin Sattler, Orbita, Dottling, Scatola del Tempo and Buben & Zorweg.

Here are some photos from when a Timeless Gallery boutique opened up at Starhill Gallery in KL, Malaysia.
ION Orchard Food Hall
Orchard Road

Small Oyster Omelette (S$8)

Fatty Heng Fried Oyster
Basement 4 Food Hall

(Eggs still soft and slightly runny, cooking on the hot plate, oysters fresh and plump. Best with some of the chilli & extra shallots)

Dan Dan Noodles (S$4.50)

Mandarin Noodle Kitchen
Basement 4 Food Hall

(Yet another iteration of this dish. Dry with small bowl of broth which I poured in. Not chilli)
Good Luck BBQ Chicken Wings

ION Orchard Food Hall
Basement 4
Orchard Road

ION Orchard Twitter

Monday, August 24, 2009

Suits : An Evolutionary Tale

by MTM

Having been recently bitten by the bespoke suit bug, I have been on a sartorial evolution. I started off with a cut that reflects an English style - tapered waist with a structured shoulder and body. However, since then, I have discovered the practicalities of softer Neapolitan cuts. The style and cut I have been evolving to can be summarised as a closer fitting cut with very high armholes and a pronounced waists. This is representative of the cut offered by Cesare Attolini. I have been alternating my sleeve head between roping and shirt shoulders. My next project will have what the Italians call "waterfall shoulders" where there are dimples that form on the shoulder when they ease excess sleevehead material into a smaller armhole.

Photo 1 : 6X2 double breasted jacket with white Mother of Pearl (MOP) buttons. The fabric is a VBC S120 wool hopsack. The hopsack is appropriate for Hong Kong Summers because of the open weave nature of the fabric allows it to breath. Note that the entire suit is unstructured with very little canvas and shoulder padding.

Photo 2 : Two button single breast suit with smoked MOP buttons. The fabric is Holland & Sherry Cashique (a mix of S150, cashmere and mulberry silk) and has an indigo tonal chalk stripe. While this fabric is very thin it is actually not as cool as the VBC. This is because the Cashique has a tighter weave and hence doesn't breathe as well. This particular suit was based on an English cut and has very structured shoulders, which actually flattens out my shoulders.

Photos 3 & 4 : Two button single breasted suit with brown horn buttons and peaked lapel. The fabric is Charles Clayton S120 Prince of Wales check. The cut is based on Tom Ford. Tom Ford's recent foray into men's fashion has produced very pronounced lapels. My tailor managed to get his hands on an example and deconstructed it for me. There is more waist suppression and the pants are particularly snug. The lapels are huge at 4.25 inches.
Photo 5 : Three-roll-to-two button single breasted suit with black horn buttons. The fabric is a vintage cloth I found at a well known Hong Kong establishment, WW Chan. It is and unbranded worsted wool fabric. Its S number is not specified, which means that it is likely below 100. It is charcoal in colour with a burnt orange and light grey pin stripe. The cut is based on a Cesare Attolini jacket. Here is a note on cloth - some place a lot of importance on high S fabrics, however a higher S number does not necessarily mean better fabric.
Generally, the higher the S number, the more expensive is the fabric. High S fabrics allows weavers to make lighter and highly patterned cloth due to the fineness of the fibers. While the fabric is lighter, softer and generally more luxurious, they are not as durable for frequent wear. This is fine if one has sufficient suits to rotate on a monthly basis. However, this is rather impractical unless you have a large number of suits. In building my wardrobe, I have opted for a mixed of high and low S numbered fabrics. More recently, I have been gravitating towards S100 or S120 high twist fresco fabrics. They are much more durable and the open weave makes them a better choice for Hong Kong Summers. These fabrics also offer greater structure and tend to wrinkle less, making them ideal for business travel - sitting on planes and scooting in and out of taxis.
As for fabrics, I have a personal preference for English fabrics over Italian fabrics. While Italian fabrics are held in good regard, may Neapolitan tailors have a preference for English fabrics, particularly tweed and flannels. Neapolitan tailors like Rubinacci and Attolini along with Florentine tailor Liverano & Liverano all carry a huge selection of fabrics made under special order from English mills.

Photos 6 & 7 : My latest project for Winter - a two button single breasted jacket with patch pockets. The fabric is Harrisons Moonbeam made from Angora and lambswool. The drape is absolutely beautiful. My tailor has also taken great lengths to ensure that the patterns match, an exercise that required extra fabric and care.

Now a note on fit. Notice the bunching on the right hip. This indicates that there seems to be excess fabric on my right. It breaks the smoothness that is created by the rest of the jacket. This can be fixed by lifting the fabric at the right shoulder seam. This actually suggests that, all thing being equal, my right shoulder has a slight "drop" over my left, which needs to be compensated by the tailor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Here's looking at you D....

Wagyu Tri Tip, watercress, handcut chips.
Lunch : 12 August 2009.
Fix St James
111 Elizabeth St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph :(02) 9232 2767

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Song Fang Khong Restaurant
7 Anzac Ave
Fairfield NSW 2165
Ph : (02) 9728 4552
Open 7 Days incl Public Holidays
Hours : 11.30am – 10.00pm

With memories of my trip to Laos in Dec/ Jan still fresh, I found myself craving some Laotian food. There isn’t much in the nature of variety in terms of Laotian food, and I didn’t want to go down the “Mod Lao” way of Pink Peppercorn so we found ourselves headed to Song Fang Khong Restaurant. What we didn’t realise though, was the amount of time it would take us to get there. An hour each way. Ack.

By the time we arrived, we were more than ready to eat.

Song Fang Khong is a self described “Authentic Lao & Thai” Restaurant. Now I can’t claim to have eaten even a tiny percentage of the whole gamut of Laotian food during my trip there, but this wasn’t really similar to what I had experienced in Vientiane or Luang Prabang. A small restaurant near the rather startling Fairfield RSL, it is a restaurant at its most basic, very much an informal neighbourhood restaurant with not much in the way of decor, though definitely with more thought put into decoration than the neighbouring Lao Village. It seems that Fairfield is a bit of a hub for Laotian restaurants, there are at least four of them there.

No sooner had we ordered from the menu, which had a median price of $7-8, than a plate of mint leaves, shredded cabbage and iceberg lettuce appeared.

First up came the Lao Papaya Salad ($7), a verson of Som Tum.

There are many variations of Som Tum, this one contained brined crabs (I only picked up legs) which were too hard (not crunchy) for me to eat, and was quite mild compared to the Thai ones in Campbell St for example. Less sour, less chilli, but enjoyable nonetheless.

What the Som Tum did go with was the sticky rice, a generous portion for a mere $3.

The steamed rice, which was $2, was equally generous in size. This photo doesn’t really reflect the size of the bowl terribly well.

Next up came the BBQ Ox Tongue ($7).

I hadn’t eaten ox tongue since I was a child, when I’d only ever eaten it braised in a lot of tomatoes, onions and the like. This ox tongue was better than the tongue of my childhood, and better still when dipped in the mild chilli sauce.

Tongue sauce on left, quail sauce on right.

The Crispy Marinated Herbed Quail ($9 for 2)......

........was impossible to eat with anything other than one’s fingers. I love quail, and this example was tender, juicy and with the citrusy kick of the sauce, a dish I wished that we’d ordered another serve of.

The final dish was the BBQ Pork Neck ($7.50)

What’s not to like about nicely BBQd meat? This tied with the quail as my personal favourite. I just didn’t find the ox tongue as flavoursome as the other two meat dishes.

The “Thai/ Lao” combination and some of the mixed nature of the food puzzled me, so I did the inevitable online searching. These have lead to a personal suspicion that a lot (if not all) of the Lao or Lao/ Thai restaurants in Fairfield are probably run by people originating from the Isan region.

There is no doubt that Song Fang Khong provides good value as a restaurant. There aren’t many places in Sydney which leave you satiated for so little in the way of money. I would like to go back and to try some of the other dishes (and also try Lao Village next door) but Fairfield is just too far out of my usual travel zone for anything other than a special visit. Were it nearer, I could see myself becoming a regular customer.