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My first yusheng of the Monkey Year was at Jade Restaurant where Master Chef Leong and his culinary team prepared a feast for the eyes and tummy!

Eight-Happiness Gold Rush Salmon Yusheng
champagne jelly, olive oil, peach dressing

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Jade’s signature yusheng with wobbly handmade champagne jelly, edible gold leaves, salmon, olive oil and peach dressing is always a sight to behold. During this festive period, dine-in orders of yusheng will feature calligraphic drawings complemented with auspicious greetings created by Chef Leong. So spot the two cheeky monkeys on your plate!

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Priced at $68++ (5 pax and below), $98++ (6-8 pax), $138++ (9-12 pax), orders should be made one day in advance. I’m going to ask my mum to order for our family gathering yay!

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My favourite dish is eight treasures fortune pen cai, a twist from the traditional featuring premium seafood such as abalone (I’m not a fan!) and fish maw (sooo good!) braised in a rich flavourful broth for approximately 3-4 hours in a claypot. I like that it is served individually instead of in a massive pot #portioncontrol

Eight Treasures Fortune Pen Cai ($58++ per pax)
six-head whole abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber, chinese cabbage, flower mushrooms, roasted garlic, roasted pork

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Actually, now that I think (or rather, write) about it, my favourite dish may be the simmered boston lobster with ginger milk instead! (Yes, I’m a fussy and fickle-minded eater ha) Imagine fresh lobster meat simmered with milk, ginger, butter and a hint of lemon before being drizzled with a geneous serving of fragrant ginger milk gravy. It sounds a tad heavy but tastes surprisingly light and the sweetness of the lobster comes through.

Boston Lobster ($88++ per whole 700g lobster)
simmered with ginger milk

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If you need the daily dose of meat, try out the new roasted duck marinated in foie gras sauce and Chef Leong’s specially created sour plum guava jelly.

Roasted Duck ($23++ for quarter portion; $46++ for half; $92++ for whole)
foie gras sauce, sour plum guava jelly

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The best thing about the roasted duck is that it comes shots of refreshing guava granita and tart sour plum jelly!

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When Chef Leong wants to impress, he really goes all out. Look at this beautiful and delicate handmade golden bird sculpture crowning the dessert platter! Painstakingly assembled over 5 days using gelatin, wow.

Desserts
pan-fried rose-flavoured water chestnut cake
honey peach pastry ($26+ per box of 8 pieces)
sweet potato pandan-flavoured ‘nian gao’ tart ($28+ per box of 8 pieces)

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Although the sculptures stole the show, we still wiped out the ‘nian gao’ tart, buttery baked honey peach pastry and pan-fried water chestnut cake! These goodies are available as takeaways till 22 February 2016.

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My thanks to the Fullerton and Jade teams for their hospitality!

Jade Restaurant
The Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square
6877 8188

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Three dinners at Candlenut later, I’m convinced that this is now my favourite Peranakan restaurant in Singapore. We have tried most of the seafood (and a couple of meat) dishes on the menu and here’s my list of what (and what not) to order:

Must try:

1. Wing bean salad: had this thrice and still loving the refreshing combination of crisp wing bean, crunchy cashew and herbs tossed with tangy lime dressing!

2. Buah keluak: you can’t leave before trying this classic Peranakan “black gold”! The “buah keluak” or black nuts are soaked and scrubbed for a minimum of 5 days (phew!) and the filling is extracted to form an exquisite marinade. K loves the chicken version, done traditional style with buah keluak sambal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf but I think the wok tossed crayfish rendition is lovely too! And then there’s the homemade earthy buah keluak ice cream, oh my. Made with 80% Valhrona chocolate, served on a bed of salted caramel, chocolate crumble and chilli specks, and topped with warm milk chocolate espuma, this is one unforgettable dessert.

3. Yellow coconut crab curry: the thick creamy gravy infused with turmeric, galangal and kaffir lime leaf is one flavourful bomb on the palate and the blue swimmer crab meat is so fresh! The presentation and taste remind us of Nahm Restaurant’s (similarly named) coconut turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab in Bangkok.

4. Assam sotong: you know me, I don’t like squid usually but the sautéed squid with squid ink, chillies, tamarind and crispy shallots is too good to resist. I’m always amazed at how tender they are! The other squid item on the menu, sambal “choking” sotong (because apparently the kitchen “chokes” every time this smoky, spicy dish is fried), pales somewhat in comparison.

5. Sambal kacang petai: either you love this or you hate it. I belong to the former camp obviously – the stir fried petai beans with tamarind and chilli sambal are not stinky but fragrant! My friends refused to touch them (it’s the smelly tofu syndrome), all the more for K and myself yay!

Worth trying:

1. Coconut charcoal grilled wild caught red snapper: I only ordered this on my last visit and regretted not trying this earlier! The fish fillets are meaty and go very well with the fiery dried shrimp samba.

2. Candlenut satay: the grilled spiced fresh chicken leg skewers are tender but what steals the limelight is the rich homemade pineapple peanut sauce on the side. I love it so much and make sure that there’s always an extra serving on our table. They charge an additional $1.50++ per serving but whatever, just take my money, I want to dip all my food in it!

Skip:

1. Omelette chincalok: fermented blend of salted baby shrimps and folded with spring onions, this omelette is easily replicable and average at best.

2. Chap chye: Nice homely dish of braised cabbage with mushrooms, sweet and dried bean curd, pork belly and black fungus in rich prawn stock gravy, but nothing exciting.

3. Gula melaka king prawns: the coconut butter sauce infused with gula melaka is delicious but $24++ for two prawns? Nah, I’ll pass!

4. Chendol cream and durian soup: Nothing can go wrong with coconut custard, gula melaka sauce and pandan jelly or potent durian ice cream with feuilletine and fresh durian purée right? True, but I find that the portions are too small. Can get better and bigger ones elsewhere!

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Wing Bean Salad ($14++)
salad of wing beans with prawns, crispy fish, baby red radish, lemongrass, chilli flakes, cashew nuts, mint, coriander with lime dressing

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Candlenut Satay ($10++)
grilled spiced fresh chicken leg skewers served with rich homemade pineapple peanut sauce, cucumbers & red onions

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Sambal Kacang Petai ($14++)
stir fried stinky petai beans with tamarind & chilli sambal, crispy shallots

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Yellow Coconut Crab Curry ($24++)
blue swimmer crab meat, turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaf

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Sambal “Choking” Sotong ($14++)
wok fried squid with tomatoes, red onion, sambal chilli

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Gula Melaka King Prawns ($24++)
coconut butter sauce infused with gula melaka, lemongrass & roasted coconut, fresh herbs & chilli

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Buah Keluak Local Crayfish ($18++)
wok tossed crayfish with sambal, buah keluak, & kaffir lime

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Candlenut
#01-03 Dorsett Residences
331 New Bridge Road
8121 4107

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The Catch Seafood Restaurant puts the foodie mantra “have food will travel” to a good test. It’s seriously the most remote, distant, far–flung (and whatever synonyms of ulu you can think of) restaurant we’ve ever been to in Singapore! With the aid of GPS and my bff Google map, we finally navigated to Johore Battery. Yes, the Singapore historical site because that’s where The Catch is located!

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Other than being a restaurant, The Catch also brings in live seafood from overseas (ask for a tour around the outdoor giant tanks!) and supplies them to hotels/restaurants. That’s why the food here is so affordable without much markup. The menu offers a vast variety of seafood delicacies (deep sea Alaskan king crabs and lobsters!) and classic local favourites – I counted more than 127 items!

Chef Marinated Cold Japanese Cucumber ($5++)
冰镇黄瓜

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Since there’s only K to divide and conquer with me, I was very careful when “curating” our dinner menu, making sure that I picked dishes which I know we will like as long as they are properly executed by the chef. From the appetizer section, we had a refreshing cold dish of marinated crunchy Japanese cucumber and then ditched the healthy plan for tender deep fried cuttlefish lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Both whetted my appetite for more!

Deep Fried Cuttlefish with Pepper & Salt ($8++)
椒盐鲜鱿须

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And “more” came in the form of these delicious golden discs of eggplant coated with salted egg yolk! Soft and creamy on the inside, crispy and thin batter on the outside, they were amazing – strong and rich in flavour but not overwhelmingly so!

Crispy Brinjal with Salted Egg Yolk ($6++)
黄金茄子

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K loves his soups, regardless of how crazy hot the weather is nowadays. The double-boiled peppery fish soup with bunashimeji mushroom and bamboo pith ($28++) was the highlight for him (and even for me, a non-soup fan!) — pure cuddly comfort liquid food in a bowl! Sorry I don’t have a good pic of it but just imagine how warm and soothing it is to the soul, ahhhhh~

Red Flower Crab Steamed with Egg White & Chinese Wine (seasonal price)
鸡油花雕蒸

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We ordered a couple of crabs prepared in extremely different styles. Steamed red flower crab may not as meaty as its counterparts but it was so naturally sweet and juicy! And if you are a carb junkie, that silky smooth egg white and decadent crab roe will suffice as toppings for multiple servings of plain rice! Then of course we had to try The Catch’s take on the famous chilli crab. Won’t say it’s the best in Singapore but it was fresh, big and super satisfying. Especially the thick fragrant gravy which my spoon kept going back for!

Chilli Crab served with Dough Fritter or Bun (seasonal price)
辣椒炒(油条或馒头)

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Unless you are the type with a personal vendetta against artificial truffle oil, I’d strongly recommend the sauteed lobster meat with truffle oil on egg white (do you see the theme here — seafood, egg, seafood, and more egg)! Simple yet elegant. Dinner went very well but ended on a weak note — desserts. The double boiled hashima with lotus seeds was tooth-achingly sweet and we left them untouched. Lesson learnt: stick to the savouries! Now I have about 101 dishes left to tackle!

Braised Noodle with Seafood in XO Sauce ($14++)
虾米酱茄子焖面

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Special thanks to Danny for hosting dinner!

The Catch Seafood Restaurant & Bar
27 Cosford Road
6546 2155

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Contrary to my previous post, my first lo hei of 2015 was actually at Li Bai, not Jade!

This year, the culinary team at the award-winning cantonese restaurant has curated a celebratory feast, starting with an auspicious 鸿运三文鱼捞起!

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You can create a personalised yu sheng by opting to add more ingredients like shredded abalone, crispy salmon fish skin and lobster. We had the latter and it was so fresh that I wish we had more! By the way, food for thought: carrot represents luck, pomelo for a smooth sailing year and crisp crackers to symbolise abundance. Toss to greater heights, huat ahhhhhh!!!

Lobster “Yu Sheng Loh Hei” Platter (starts from $52+ for small; add lobster for $35+ per 100g)

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I love lo hei-ing at restaurants because it means I don’t have to clean up the mess at home haha. But if you prefer celebrating in the comfort of your home, the yu sheng will be available for takeaway from 2 February to 4 March 2015~

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Good Chinese restaurants will deliver a knockout bowl of soup and Li Bai is no exception. K had a nourishing double-boiled chicken soup with fish maw and morel mushrooms while my pumpkin soup was cutely presented in a steamed whole pumpkin and filled to overflowing with premium assorted seafood. Comforting is an overused word, but it is what it is!

Thick Soup of Pumpkin prawn, scallop, abalone, crab

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More lobster? Yes please! This time in a sauteed form with crunchy asparagus and carrot. There was minimal seasoning so the sweetness of the lobster meat was very apparent.

Sauteed Lobster crispy rice basket

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I was extremely pleased that chef prepared a portion of his signature baked cod fish for me. Loved this dish back in 2013 when I tasted it for the first time; still loving it very much two years later! Points scored for consistency!

Baked Canadian Cod ophiopogon root and honey

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Besides yu sheng, another festive delicacy that can be bought straight out from the kitchen of Li Bai to yours is the 五头南非鮑魚八宝鸭, i.e. 8 treasures duck with abalone. The meat was stewed with a melange of treasures from lotus seed and sea cucumber to salted egg and chestnut to bring out the robust flavours. Now all you need is some fragrant white rice!

Stewed “Eight Treasures” Duck with 5-Head Abalone ($388+) lotus seed, chinese mushroom, sea cucumber, salted egg, barley, chicken, pork, chestnut

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My thanks to the Sheraton team for the kind invitation!

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant Sheraton Towers Singapore 39 Scotts Road Singapore 228230 6839 5623

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Let’s welcome the year of the goat with an exquisite feast from Jade Restaurant!

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The signature yu sheng features homemade champagne jelly with edible gold leaves, symbolizing an abundance of wealth and prosperity, huat ah! Other than adding a touch of luxury, I like that the jelly is slightly bitter and pairs well with the sweet peachy dressing. And I was most impressed by Master Chef Leong’s auspicious calligraphic designs drawn using olive oil and then dusted with cinnamon powder! Not from stencils, wow.

羊年挥春招财鱼生: 三文鱼金薄香槟冻鱼生
Eight Happiness Gold Rush Yu Sheng (from $68++ per person)
champagne jelly, salmon, olive oil, peach sauce

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I’m not crazy over soups but this braised seafood soup won me over, heart and soul. Rich and comforting bowl of goodness! Full of collagen too so this doubles as a beauty treatment from within!

金满福报: 黄焖花胶海鲜鲍鱼汤
Braised Seafood Soup ($38++ per person)
abalone, fish maw, superior golden broth

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The fresh Boston lobster is simply sautéed with a piquant mixture of spiced fragrant salt, dried chilli and ginger flower. I had mine without the crispy chicken floss and it was already so good, oh my. An extravagant crowd-pleaser for sure!

禧龙添满福: 辛辣鸡松波士顿龙虾
Sautéed Boston Lobster ($88++ for a whole 700g lobster)
chicken floss, spiced fragrant salt

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While others had the pork belly stewed on low heat for 90 minutes, I was equally satisfied with the steamed cod with garlic. A light and healthy dish!

和气融融: 家乡焖花腩
Stewed Pork Belly ($18++ per person)
dried oyster, black fungus, yam, mushroom, green chive flower

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Dessert was a trio of almond cream with bird’s nest, nian gao tart and pistachio mochi. Think of the delicate tart as traditional glutinous rice cake with a twist – each buttery tart shell is filled with nian gao made with gula melaka and yam. Very special! I don’t like chewy muah chee at all but the pistachio glutinous rice balls stuffed with chopped pistachio nuts and sesame paste are pillowy soft! I was quite amazed by the texture. Available till March 5, these lunar new year goodies make great gifts for loved ones!

温馨开心团圆: 杏仁茶燕窝开心果麻滋
Almond Cream with Bird’s Nest
pistachio 开心果 “muah chee” glutinous rice ball ($26+ per box of 8), yam paste ‘nian gao’ tart ($28+ per box of 8)

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My special thanks to Joyce and Pearly for hosting dinner! Happy new year and see you again soon!

Jade Restaurant
Ground Floor, Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square
6877 8188

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Phew, I’m not too late to share about the return of hairy crabs, am I?!

True, the season is almost over but you can still get your hands on them at Li Bai for the rest of this month!

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New this year is the gorgeous braised king prawn and sweet potato topped with hairy crabmeat and crab roe! I really enjoyed this dish – the medley of fresh and plump prawn, pan-fried sweet potato and sauteed spinach crowned with fragrant hairy crabmeat and creamy roe yielded a myriad of textures with every bite.

Braised King Prawn and Sweet Potato with Hairy Crabmeat and Crab Roe ($36++ per person)
大閘蟹粉大蝦金薯

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My favourite fish dish at Li Bai is the baked cod and while the red garoupa was not bad (deep-fried fillet was good but the sauteed one was bland), I’d still stick with cod any time.

Red Garoupa
prepared 2 ways – sauteed fillet and deep-fried

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To experience the natural sweetness and distinctive taste of hairy crabs, at least try one that is traditionally steamed! Love the succulent meat and of course, the sinful decadent crab roe!

Traditionally Steamed Hairy Crab ($60++ per piece)
古法蒸大闸蟹

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I was more than happy to leave my crab to the experienced staff for deshelling! The experts made it seem so easy!

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As hairy crabs are known to be ‘cooling’, hot ginger tea will definitely be served at any feast involving said crabs to balance the constitution. Don’t worry, this was quite mild (I prefer mine to be super strong with a good kick to the system) so you will still have a sweet ending!

Sweetened Ginger Tea
with hasma (dried fatty tissue found near the fallopian tubes of frogs!)

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Thank you to the Sheraton team for hosting us for dinner!

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant
Sheraton Towers Singapore
39 Scotts Road
Singapore 228230
6839 5623

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I first came into contact with Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore a few weeks ago when they invited their media friends and business partners over for a house party.

Wait a minute, Hotel Jen? New hotel in Singapore? Nope, it’s the rebranded Traders Hotel with a refreshed identity inspired by the virtual persona Jen, a professional hotelier who loves life, travel and the adventure of discovering new places!

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Boy, the team at Hotel Jen really knew how to throw a party – superbrunch (the spread was huge!), human foosball (we won, yay!) and lucky draws (no luck sigh). Anyway, we were told of the rebranding offer (ending Nov 30 so check out the “Weekend Staycation at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore” offer which expires 31 Dec 2015 instead!) at the party which sounded very attractive – $230++ for buffet breakfast in Cafebiz, 20% discount at Ah Hoi’s Kitchen, free WiFi etc etc – and I thought, K’s birthday is coming up so why not right?

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Actually, K’s birthday is at the end of this month but he will be celebrating it in Thailand (army duty for 2+ weeks!) so I wanted to surprise him with a weekend staycation. I even gave him an invitation card to complete the surprise – he totally didn’t see it coming!

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We were assigned a Club Room on the highest floor which is 25sqm size and comes with an en-suite bathroom. Honestly, the room (see above) looks quite “tired” right? So I’m glad to report that the rooms will be renovated (hotel will remain open) to feature modern, apartment-style furnishings such as a bay window sofa –> see mock up room below which was introduced to us at the party. Such a big difference!

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Our room faced the pool and we spotted our dinner venue! You can’t see it in the photo but the signage of Ah Hoi’s Kitchen is right above the yellow umbrellas ha.

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Poolside dining at Ah Hoi’s Kitchen was unexpectedly impressive! My favourite dishes are both crab-based – soft shell crabs stir fried with almond and just a handful of chopped chilli padi (so fragrant!) and the meaty salted egg yolk crab from Sri Lanka. The salted egg yolk sauce was rather magical – usually it gets overwhelming after the initial “shiokness” but the version here had a hint of spicy heat and balanced flavour. Simply 好吃!

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K is a gym junkie so it’s great that the gym is 24 hours and has decent equipment! We also took the opportunity to use the sauna, steam bath and whirlpool facilities located within the spa… Staycation bliss!

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Time always fly by so much faster during a staycation! We woke up not wanting to check out haha. Our breakfast at Cafebiz was very hearty because of the vast spread of food! Asian, international and local cuisines, made to order eggs any style, breads and danishes, cereals and fruits, hot dishes, and there’s even an ice cream section omg. I applaud the idea of having a “tapao” corner – guests can openly takeaway food and drinks from the buffet using the disposable boxes and cups provided, nice!

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The Club Lounge also offers breakfast but a smaller spread – continental and classic hot items such as eggs, bacon and sausages. Throughout the day, there’s free drinks and snacks, along with canapes and wines in the evening. Again, the lounge seems kind of old so I can’t wait to see how it looks after the facelift!

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I must really thank the staff at Hotel Jen for delivering a surprise birthday cake to our room! The soccer balls (K is a huge fan and plays every week) were such a thoughtful touch, thank you!

Other points-scoring aspects of Hotel Jen include fruit cups inside the fridge (conventional whole fruits are so yesterday and chilled fruits do make a difference!), refreshing infused water served in the lobby and at various places (Level 2, Ah Hoi’s Kitchen) and the useful mobile chargers displayed at the lobby (I always see guests camping by the chargers haha).

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And with that, our weekend staycation came to an end… Quirky cushions on sofa, see you soon! I’ll be keeping a lookout for the various room offers on your website!

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My heartfelt thanks to Wai Ling and the team at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore for making our stay so comfortable and memorable!

Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore (Formerly Traders Hotel)
1A Cuscaden Road
Singapore 249716
6738 2222
hjs@hoteljen.com

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