What will the Fire Rooster year bring for us in year 2017?


The monkey year is drawing to a close, and the rooster year is fast approaching. The elegant and enthusiastic rooster is traditionally associated with the following traits: faithful, attractive, responsible, intelligent, assertive, resilient, industrious, confident, noble, cheerful, arrogant, and sociable. The Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year on 28 January 2017, and most would assume it is the arrival of rooster year. However, according to the Chinese Farmer calendar, the New Year actually starts on 3 Feb 2017 at ‘rat hour’. It is a fire rooster year and has the following combination of elements:

To get an idea of what to expect in the coming year, we can look back at major events that happened in year 1957, which was also the fire monkey year. Based on historic events, we can expect some similar happenings for 2017, such as some major natural disasters such as earthquake, fires, floods, hurricane, heavy rain and mudslides. Accidents could be related to rail crash, and air plane crash. We could also expect to see an increase in nuclear activities. It is inevitable to have some form of disaster happening around the world each year. Once again, let’s pray that the catastrophic effects are minimized.

Looking at the formation of the year’s elements, both the metal and water elements are quite strong. Thus, you can expect a cold and wet year to come. Based on the year’s element combination, metal and water related industries will perform well, though metal industries may appear to be too competitive. Manufacturing of metal related products have great potential for growth. Additionally, wood related industries may be most rewarding. Fire and earth related industries will be weak but are still favourable. For example, housing, properties, and oil will still be well sought after, and investments could enjoy good returns.

Examples of wood related industries are furniture, decorations, nurseries, cafes, catering, books/publishing, gardening. Fire related industries are oil, IT, airlines, communication, food, chemical process. Water related industries are shipping, fishery, advertising, arts, spa, laundry, swimming sports, medicines, doctors/nurses. Metal related industries are finance, jewellery, railway, hardware, machinery, motor vehicles, minerals. Earth related industries are real estate properties, construction, civil engineering, lawyers.

In the coming fire rooster year, fire also symbolises passion and violence. In general, people can excel academically but will tend to be more argumentative, aggressive and rash. It is important to relax and socialise. As with the saying, “Pleasing nourishes the pleasing, smile and the whole world smiles with you”.

Women will tend to be stronger and strive to carve their own careers, but they should keep in mind not make their husbands feel threaten. One may be successful in their career but may not be successful in handling family affairs. There will be a tendency to clash with their spouse and may snowball in divorce. It is important to do some self-reflection, show affection, be connected with the family, and not burn your energy recklessly. Always take the initiative to clear any misunderstandings.

In terms of health, one should pay more attention to their heart, eye, bones, head or respiratory-related issues and seek medical advice whenever necessary.

One may encounter chaotic or unpredictable circumstances. To overcome the challenges you may face, keep in mind not to overestimate your own strength and act cautiously according to norms or rules in order avoid any harm. Be modest, innovative and don’t be greedy. It is wise to step back and watch; observe the situation carefully before making decisions. Be competent, sincere, positive and respond in a non-aggressive way to achieve pleasant and peaceful outcomes.

The luck that fire rooster year will bring for you largely depends on your individual Bazi, which is derived from your birth dates & time.

Will there be any changes to my house Feng Shui in 2017?

Yes, there will be changes in the types of energy to your surroundings and will affect most houses. Let me explain the types of energy that changes around your environment by using the flying stars analysis which is commonly practice nowadays. The flying stars information can also be easily found in the internet.

The annual formation of the stars begins on 4 Feb 2017 and the stars are symbolized by numbers and located on the nine squares as shown above. By superimposing the squares onto your house or office layout, you will be able to interpret the energies and its effects on your house. The meaning of the stars is interpreted in simple term as follows:

Star 1: a positive star and benefits career
Star 2: a negative star and can cause sickness
Star 3: a negative star and can cause argument
Star 4: a neutral star and benefits academic, romance
Star 5: most negative star and can cause misfortune
Star 6: a neutral star but when combine with negative star can have legal issues
Star 7: a negative star and can be robbed or involved in scandal
Star 8: most positive star and benefits career promotion & good wealth
Star 9: a positive star and can have happy activities

You should avoid the most negative star 5 sector which is the south sector of your house, and enhance on the most positive star 8 sector which is the east sector of your house.

There is another factor to consider is the annual afflictions such as Tai Sui & San Sha. It is advisable to keep these sectors undisturbed and avoid any major renovation or ground breaking to your house on these sectors during the year. If really unavoidable, you should at least mitigate its bad effect by selecting a good date to start with.

The Tai Sui will be at the West sector and it is okay to sit in this sector but you should avoid facing towards this direction. The San Sha will be at the East sector and you should try to avoid sitting on this sector but you can choose to face towards this direction.

The above interpretations can be useful as general guide. It is also important to consider the basic fundamental of the house trigram and enhance its individual sectors elements. However, if you feel that there are still recurring issues affecting the occupants, I would advise that it should be analyzed in detailed with the house or building flying star birth chart as well as the external and internal features which can only be done by those who had undergone proper training & practices.

I would recommend Ivan Koh for advices, who can be contacted at ivankoh2004@yahoo.com.sg.

Wishing all Happy and Prosperous 2017

Founder Bak Kut Teh @ Jalan Sultan, Singapore


I remember having to wait in line for a table at Founder Bak Kut Teh at Balestier Road, but the wait was always worthwhile, as Founder’s secret-recipe Teochew-style bak kut teh (pork rib soup) brings tremendous comfort to both the tummy and the soul. Apart from providing huge levels of comfort, the palate-pleasing peppery savoury goodness of the soup is what draws me back unfailingly. On top of that, the meat is perfectly tender and succulent, at its best when you pick up with your fingers and eat it off the bone. For all these reasons, I make it a point to visit Founder Bak Kut Teh at least once every time I return to Singapore. Furthermore, Founder Bak Kut Teh has been one of my favourite supper spots! Its first outlet opens till 2am, while the new outlet opens till 5am! Night owls, rejoice.

Founder Bak Kut Teh has been around since 1978, and is amongst the oldest and best. Wonder why they took so long to open a second outlet in Singapore to cater to the immense popularity, but thank goodness they finally did! In addition, its second outlet at Jalan Sultan is fully air-conditioned, unlike its first outlet that guarantees excessive sweating.

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Ninja Bowl @ Duxton Road, Singapore


“Healthy food can never taste good.”

“You can hardly find a decent meal under $15 at Duxton Hill.”

As Ninja Bowl makes its entrance to the upmarket Duxton precinct, the above statements are proven redundant. Meals are affordably priced from $14 to $19, with no additional GST or service charge. Most importantly, they’re delicious.

At a glance, one would perceive the menu to be heavily inspired by Japanese cuisine. Well, it is. “Ninja Bowls” are wholesome meals encompassing a balanced ratio of protein and vegetable components, served in a sizeable bowl. Customers have the option of quinoa, “Ninja Rice” (a mixture of flavoured Japanese pearl rice and brown rice), orzo, or garden greens as their base.

Noka ($14)

The “Noka”, composed of 24-hour braised beef cheek, baby corn, Korean beansprouts, mixed nuts, onsen egg, semi-dried tomatoes, is one of my top picks. The beef cheek that is braised for 24 hours promises fork-tenderness.

Great flavour combination and textural contrasts. The other “Ninja Bowls” seem to possess this characteristic too.

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Brettschneider’s Baking & Cooking School


Brettschneider’s Baking & Cooking School is where you can achieve your baking goals without having to part with a hefty sum of school fees that you would otherwise have to, at say Le Cordon Bleu, which is the ultimate choice for those who aspire to bake as a career. This is the perfect place for passionate home-cooks and home-bakers who want to take their skills up a notch.
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(Dragon Boat Festival 2016) Rice Dumplings from Szechuan Court


“Rice Dumpling Festival” is what many of us would term Dragon Boat Festival. Why? Because Singapore’s immense passion for food supersedes traditional practices. How many of us know the full story behind Dragon Boat Festival? We might have heard various versions of its origins, but it ends there, and I’ll stop here before I start boring you with information acquired from the Internet.

We consume rice dumplings during this period of the year because firstly, it’s delicious! Secondly, it’s ubiquitous. There are small-scale stalls that sell rice dumplings on an almost daily basis, but it is only during the Dragon Boat Festival that you find various versions of rice dumplings in restaurants and hotels.

Over the years, I’ve always favoured Szechuan Court’s rice dumplings over others for many reasons. Quality of ingredients is one; generosity of ingredients is another. Taste, of course, is a huge motivating factor. Lastly, its size: I would dive into this massive bundle of deliciousness like how a bunny would into a pool of carrots.

Szechuan Court’s Signature ‘Gong Bao’ Chicken Dumpling ($26++, 600g)

This massive dumpling weighs a hefty 600 grams! My favourite flavour of all time, Szechuan Court’s Signature ‘Gong Bao’ Chicken Dumpling never disappoints. Encased within the glutinous, are tender pieces of well-marinated chicken boasting the right balance of spiciness and savouriness, and texturally contrasted with crunchy roasted peanuts.

Traditional Hong Kong Rice Dumpling ($18++, 300g)

The Traditional Hong Kong Rice Dumpling is another hearty option encasing succulent pork belly, barbecued pork, roasted duck, Japanese flower mushrooms, salted egg yolk, yellow beans, dried shrimps and chestnuts. I totally would mind this as a meal on a regular day!
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A Truly Singapore Restaurant – National Kitchen by Violet Oon


Often, when foreign visitors seek local food in Singapore, they are directed to hawker centres, where our gems are. While there are plenty of food stalls in the bustling hawker centres dishing out truly Singaporean dishes, there isn’t one restaurant in Singapore that does all that with flair and sophistication, not until National Kitchen by Violet Oon came along. Potentially one of our national prides, National Kitchen by Violet Oon serves up significant dishes from various ethnic groups that make up the Singapore culture.

The lavish design and grandeur of the restaurant integrates seamlessly into the majestic architecture of the National Gallery Singapore and its vibe. Continue reading

Classic cocktails, perfected by Anti:Dote bar of Fairmont Singapore


Just had to share. Top Cocktail Bar, Anti:Dote, launched a new cocktail menu, named The Revivals, that draws inspiration from the classics. Think: delicious classics re-imagined with a modern twist. The pages of the stylish menu show off the team’s artistic flair with sketches of the each drink in its befitting glassware.

And you’d be impressed with the elegant handcrafted Schott Zwiesel crystal glassware in which the drinks are served. Its classy aesthetics contributes no less to enhancing the enjoyment of the cocktails than the deliciousness itself.
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(Guest Feature) What will the fire monkey year bring for us in year 2016?


What will the fire monkey year bring for us in year 2016? This article is for all my friends and readers, brought to you by Feng Shui expert Ivan Koh.

The goat year is coming to an end and another zodiac animal, the monkey, will soon arrive. The agile and nimble monkey traditionally symbolises intelligence, alertness, opportunism, attentiveness, and lovability. The Chinese celebrate their lunar new year on 8 February 2016 and most would assume it is the arrival of monkey year. However, according to the Chinese Farmer or the Thousand-year calendar, the New Year actually starts on 4 Feb 2016 at the rooster hour. It is a fire monkey year, and has the following combination of elements:

You can look back for major events that had happened in year 1956 because it was also the fire monkey year, and according to beliefs, history repeats. There were some major natural disasters such as earthquake, drought, fires, explosions, floods, hurricane, typhoon and storm. There were also accidents that involved transportation systems such as ship or ferry, railway, and airplane. Looking back, some form of disaster happening around the world each year seem inevitable. We could expect some of the events to repeat in year 2016, and again, let’s pray that the catastrophic effects are minimised.

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Mikuni’s Grand 8-Course Fugu Tasting Menu


The exotic Fugu (pufferfish or globefish), is extremely lethal if not prepared with extreme caution, and only chefs who have obtained a license and have gone through years of apprenticeships can serve fugu. Chef Moon of Mikuni at Fairmont Singapore is one such licensed chef with heaps of culinary talent and creative power. This winter, Mikuni draws on the fruitful supply of fugu and brings forth a Grand Tasting 8-course menu ($220 per person or $310 with sake pairing) that celebrates various parts of the Fugu anatomy, showcasing Chef Moon’s artistic strength in blending modern and centuries-old Japanese culinary techniques seamlessly.

Otoushi – Globefish Skin Jelly, Miso, Sushi Ball, Fugu Mirin Boshi, Caviar

The meal begins with “small bites” of jelly made from fish bone broth brimming of collagen goodness, sliced fugu on a sushi ball, and sun-dried fugu saturated in mirin topped with tuna belly tartar and caviar, a beautiful combination of taste and texture.

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Nan Hwa Fishboat opens a second outlet at Owen Road


Nan Hwa Fishboat is one of the oldest fish head steamboat restaurants in Singapore, with a history of almost 90 years since its opening in 1927. I have been a quiet supporter of its flagship outlet at North Bridge Road. One thing that daunts me is the sweat-inducing environment. The impact of the tropical heat is amplified when you’re slurping on piping hot broth in a non air-conditioned space. While the amount of comfort the fishboat brings to me can easily help me overcome that factor, I have to admit some days I’m just too spoilt to want to endure the heat and sweating. Well, good news for those who can relate, because Nan Hwa Fishboat has recently opened its second outlet at Owen Road that boasts a refined space, larger, clean and bright, with air-conditioning.

The best part? Prices are similar, if not identical. In sight are long-time regulars, families and friends bonding over good food and conversations.

Premium Live Dragon Grouper Fish Head Steamboat ($38/$48/$68)

To begin, fish head steamboat is, of course, essential. Choose your preferred variety of fish with prices to match your budget, available in three sizes. this is the premium live dragon grouper fish head steamboat that comes with thick slices and chunks of fish, alongside the usual vegetables and yam. Soup is refillable, thank goodness, because I can’t ever get enough of it!

Prawn with Golden Pumpkin Sauce ($18.80/$28.80)

The prawn with golden pumpkin sauce is one of my favourite dishes to order alongside the steamboat. I was in disbelief when I was told there wasn’t any salted egg yolk in there, and I still don’t believe it. Anyway, the sauce is rich and flavoursome, fragrant of laksa leaf with a spicy kick from the chilli, the sizeable prawns are fresh and succulent.

Champagne Pork Ribs ($12.80/$18.80)

The champagne pork ribs is my second favourite dish. The sweet glaze brings so much delight to the palate; the pork is nicely charred on the surface yet so tender and juicy within.

Claypot Drunken Rice Wine Clam ($15.80/$20.80)

The claypot drunken rice wine clam brims with a potent hit of alcohol. I would have preferred it to have a nicer balance of broth to Chinese wine, but those who like their alcohol will enjoy this. You might be able to let the staff know about your preference, so as to adjust the wine intensity to your taste.

Stir-fry French Beans with Dried Shrimp and Chye Poh ($9.80/$14.80)

A Chinese meal is never complete without vegetables! The stir-fried French beans with dried shrimp and chye poh is a delicious option, with the dried shrimp imparting flavour and umami, the chye poh imparting saltiness and depth.

Nan Hwa @ Owen Road (Second outlet)
93/95 Owen Road, Singapore 218907 (outside Farrer Park MRT Exit D)
Opening horus: 5pm to 11.30pm (11pm last order)

Main Branch: 812/814/816 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198779
Opening hours: 4pm to 1am (daily)
Contact: 8613 2732

Facebook: Facebook.com/nanhwafishboat
Instagram: @nanhwafishboat

Jade Restaurant, The Fullerton Hotel, November 2015


Being based overseas and now returning to Singapore for a short break, there is just so much I want to eat here, but so little time! For this reason I’ve got to be extra selective on dining options, more so than before. Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore is one of the places where one can expect elegant Chinese cuisine with originality, and excellent service. Since my first encounter, Chef Leong Chee Yeng never fails to impress with his culinary artistry, his dedication, and fervent attention to detail. His culinary creations seem to possess the power to draw one back to experience recurrent brilliance and in anticipation for more pleasant surprises. This trip, I was just in time for the “Flavours of Chinese Spices” promotion that runs from 9 November till 30 November 2015.

The meal begins with the Tasty Trio Combination of Deep-fried Chilli Crab Meat Ball (one of their signatures) that won many hearts and continues winning hearts with its crusty breaded exterior, loaded with shredded crabmeat smothered in thick sweet and lightly spicy gravy that rounds off with a fragrant hint of lemongrass and ginger, Pomelo and Mango Salad topped with Crispy Peking Duck Skin that entices with the sweetness from the mango, tanginess from the pomelo, and the well-loved savouriness and crispness of the classic peking duck, and the well-liked Crispy Prawn coated with Chocolate Mayonnaise and Oat, an unusual combination, chocolate and prawn, but didn’t taste exotic at all.
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Ice Cream Coffee Lattes at Haagen Dazs


Something new is brewing at Haagen-Dazs: a new generation of coffee beverages, where coffee meets ice cream.

From 13 November 2015, coffee lovers can enjoy illy coffee blended with a range of indulgent Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavours such as Macadamia Nut, Cookies & Cream, Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate. When coffee meets ice cream, you get a smooth and creamy mouthfeel; with the right ratio of coffee to ice cream, you get an enriched coffee beverage without the cloyingness. A non-coffee option would be the light and milky green tea latte made of Haagen-Dazs’ green tea ice cream and steamed milk.

Available both hot and cold, I personally find that certain flavours like the strawberry latte and the cookies & cream latte taste better presented cold. Especially when the strawberry latte that comes with tiny chunks of strawberry from the ice cream, biting into a warm strawberry chunk may be perceived as unsettling for some. Fruity and slightly acidic, the strawberry latte is one unique flavour concocted by the talented baristas from Bettr Barista Coffee Academy.

Out of the 6 creations, the Macadamia Nut Latte is a personal favourite. It’s smooth, creamy without being too thick, and boasts a subtle nutty background flavour. The coffee flavour predominates as it does similarly for the other beverages.

The lattes seem neither heavy nor too thick despite the addition of ice cream, very unlike milkshakes. They are available at the nine Haagen-Dazs outlets, retailing at $6.80 each.

For the full list of Haagen-Dazs outlets, visit facebook.com/haagendazs.singapore

5 things I learnt in University that foodies/food bloggers should know


1) The misconception that MSG leads to extreme thirst.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is composed of glutamic acid and sodium, where glutamate is found naturally in many ingredients you eat on a regular basis such as tomatoes, mushroom, anchovies and cheese. Fermentation, heat application (roasting, etc.), and ageing and can enhance the umami qualities of a natural ingredient. For instance, roasted/grilled mushrooms or tomatoes have heightened umami compared to raw mushrooms or tomatoes. Do these ingredients make you thirsty?

Sodium, however, may be the culprit. Although human bodies need a small amount of sodium for good health (e.g. electrolyte balance), too much of salt disrupts the balance of fluid in our cells (think: your body tries to draw more water to combat the excessive amount of salt). Salt is the component in food that makes you thirsty.

Many foods we consume outside are heavily salted, and we often put the blame on MSG for our extreme thirst. Umami can help create a fullness of taste and increase salty and sweet perceptions; appropriate use of MSG can reduce our sodium intake. Instead of boycotting restaurants that advocate the use of MSG over salt, thank them for lowering our total sodium intake (replacing salt with MSG can lower the total sodium content by about 30% to 50%).

2) Confusing flavour with taste.

When we eat, we often speak of the flavour of the food by what we taste with our tongue (taste buds), rarely by what we smell through our noses. Taste applies to sensations arising from the taste buds, where we perceive sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and umami, while flavour is a distinctive quality of food evaluated by multiple senses, including taste and smell.

When we are chewing our food, odour compounds are being released from the food, and chemical signals pass through the internal nares and are sent to the olfactory bulb and to brain informing it of the smell, and together with receptor cells in the mouth and on our taste buds, informing the brain of the flavour. This form of smelling is called retro-nasal olfaction (smell arising from inside the mouth), and what we are used to is ortho-nasal olfaction (external smell).

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