Wednesday, 30 November 2011

My mommy is the sweetest!

So John Mayer said 'Girls become lovers who turn into mothers'. It's true. My mom is a lover of all sweet things - so much that she named her first child after a very, very sweet thing. *cough*

I blame my sweet tooth on my mother. Our pantries and fridges would always be stocked with all sorts of lollies and chocolate. She would always have overflowing candy bowls spread all over the house, and candy tins in the cars. When she'd go on holidays, half of her tax-free shopping would be spent on pasalubong chocolates - half for friends and half for us. Her sugary coffee was so sweet I started to prefer mine plain black. She would put sugar on her iced tea and would drink a massive 750ml glass of it before meals (and another one during). And she would always always always have dessert.

That all said, I'm not surprised that some photos from her recent Singapore trip look like these:

Of course. We never ran out of Hershey's syrup before. Must have been her first love, she looks kilig!

Smell. Bite. Take home!

Oh my lollies. This would defo be her idea of heaven!

And the other Jelly Belly Bean got jealous!
Then again, I am really my mother's daughter.

So these photos may as well go on the 'embarrassing/silly family photos' video reel but don't you think my mother looks so happy, so refreshed... and so young?! She seems to be 'enjoying a lot' these days which I hope she'd do more of. She definitely deserves to spoil herself silly after all these years of just being herself - an awesome wife, the sweetest friend you can have and the best mommy in the world.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Six tunes on repeat =)

Before the weekend turns into another hectic week, here's a few tracks I've been playing in loop for the past few weeks. =)
1. Crystal Fighters -- Plage
Easy laidback guitars, trippy chorus equals current favourite song of the month. Sunshine and summer in my ears, even when London weather says otherwise, equals a really nice mood. Get someone to play this to you and you'd probably want to hop on a camper van and hit the surf.

2. Gypsy & The Cat -- Jona Vark
Another easy laidback tune I'm digging. Kinda has the same feel as Mystery Jets' Serotonin.

3. Kaskade feat. Haley -- Llove
Fire & Ice is quite brill and this is one of the catchy tracks on the album. I don't particularly find Haley Gibby's own tunes that great but her collabs with Kaskade have been pretty great. The Ice remix is pretty good too.

4. Fenech-Soler -- Demons (Sigma Remix)
Not a massive fan of Fenech-Soler nor dubstep - I can tolerate both but have to be in the mood for them. However, this remix is crazy. Listening to this tune whilst in transit after a long day at work keeps me pumped at night. =)

5. Ben Lee -- Love Me Like The World Is Ending
Doesn't he remind you of that guy who played Matt in Ugly Betty? This tune is so sweet, I love it from the very first lines: 'This is the first day of the future/ and all I want is you'. *sigh* A cute little pick-me-upper when you feel like having a little high-school-crush-kiligers moment.

6. Thievery Corporation -- Until The Morning
Now here's a classic! iTunes out on random shuffle and this song played and took me back to 4am afterparty drives in Manila. Such a cool chill out track, and I think Emiliana Torrini's vocals are amazing.

What's on your playlist? =)

Friday, 11 November 2011

John Lewis Commercials

John Lewis is a chain of department stores in the UK, kinda like SM/Crossings. It's not usually my shopping venue of choice, mainly because it's more convenient and more fun to go to individual shops than be contained in one building. They're pretty known for their adverts which are actually pretty good. They have 'Awwwww' factor: great storylines made punchier with folky covers of awesome tunes.

They've just released their Christmas 2011 ad, featuring Slow Moving Millie's cover of The Smith's Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.

Cute, aye? My favourite still has to be their 2009 Christmas advert featuring Taken By Trees' cover of Guns N Roses' Sweet Child Of Mine.

And of course, the ad that made me supercry last year because it made me miss my mommy, featuring Fyfe Dangerfield's version of She's Always A Woman.

Pretty sweet, aye? Saying that, I wonder how effective the adverts are... because watching them may give me an LSS but not necessarily an urge to visit the closest shop and purchase all their goods. Hmmm. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Girl Next Shore Cooks: Thank you, adobo!

Five things I'm thankful for this week:
  1. An awesome chilled out weekend after a manic week of work! 
  2. Overseas calls with my family! <3 
  3. Having a pseudo-punching bag all the way from New York! 
  4. A great chat with a very special friend about how far we've come. He's getting married next year and I am extremely happy for him. Whodvethunk, but I'm so glad he found the one!
  5. Having the time to finally cook adobo! 
I was feeling quite homesick so I decided to make adobo at some point. Nothing (other than laing) reminds me of Manila more than adobo! I bought some skinless chicken thighs and mixed these babies for the marinade:

Traditional adobo uses white cane vinegar, but I only had balsamic and malt so I had to make do. I'm sorry Datu Puti, I have betrayed you. I also added three cloves of chopped garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper. Plus a few drops of ketjap manis, which is another unusual adobo ingredient. I left the chicken marinating in the fridge overnight to absorb all flavours. Yum.

Was so pleased that my local offy sold freeze-dried bay leaves. It can't be adobo without the lot!

Got back from work the next day and immediately poured the chicken into a pot over medium heat (usually gas mark 3) and let it simmer to a boil, adding water along the way and careful that the sauce doesn't become a complete reduction. Usually after 15 to 20 minutes I take the chicken out of the sauce and fry it up with some onions to seal it some more. But since I used skinless thighs, I decided to let it all cook in one pot.

The chicken was looking all tender and cooked already so I started frying up some onions and garlic: onions to throw in last minute into the pot before serving and garlic to mix with steamed rice. The aroma was outstanding, it completely took me back to my mom's kitchen (even though she doesn't cook!) in Manila where our angels would prepare this for lunch whilst watching their favourite noontime shows. I was absolutely salivating at this point. I just seriously wanted to dig in and eat the bloody thing straight from the pot.

Voila! Finished product. I bought a bottle of South African chenin blanc to drink with and it was a great compliment to the dish. The garlic fried rice was yum and all I needed was atchara to complete a proper Filo dinner. I seriously seriously could've finished the whole lot if I didn't have a massive feed for lunch beforehand.

I'm very critical with stuff that I cook because a) I'm critical with everyone else's cooking; b) if everything fails, I can only blame myself and c) my cooking portfolio is not really that extensive so I felt the need to be good at whatever I know. I have to admit, I've cooked better adobo before but this was pretty okay, considering I didn't have the right ingredients. M tried it and rang his mommy overseas to say that I've made a pretty decent adobo. I guess it must be pretty good, aye? *pat on the back*

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Like Crazy

I've been complaining lately that the movies I've seen lately aren't... super. They are decent films - kickass blockbusters, foreign films speaking truth about humanity, artsy films that are eye candy at their best. However, I've not seen a movie that's moved me for the longest time (I think the last touching films were seriously of the One More Chance/My Amnesia Girl type - don't judge haha!). When I first saw the trailer for Like Crazy, I cried my eyes out and had to watch all versions again and again on YouTube. I knew this was going to be one of my favourite films, possibly because a little bit of myself can relate to the characters. 
Felicity Jones is such a beautiful actress and I can't wait to watch this film:

And when it comes to the premise, I don't think relationships can progress based on stops and starts. There's a huge matter of trust at risk and stability involved. Even when someone says it'll all work out in the end, I think everyone knows that psychic distance has a big influence on people's emotions and thoughts. Don't get me wrong, kudos to those who are strong enough to deal with LDRs but nope. I don't think long distance relationships can do it for me, I'm afraid. 

But then who knows. If I do find the right one I'm sure I'll do anything to make it work. But hey, who knows.

Ukai: where dessert should come first

I can eat sushi everyday. There are some Japanese and sushi chains in town that have better sets than the bastardized ones you get from supermarkets. They're good enough for lunch, the type you eat when you want to satisfy a quick craving. But when you actually want an out of this city experience, when you want to taste the zen of Japanese cuisine with food that melts in your mouth, the choices are rather limited.

Yes, there are pretty good sushi places in London *fistpump* but they can be quite pricey *facepalm*. Some may be a bit overrated but some are definitely worth it. Most of the time, it's hit-or-miss. I remember shelling out £50+ for a really really good authentic meal (an extra £10 for a single piece of otoro, or tuna belly nigiri) but I was still hungers after so I ended up getting a cornish pasty for a night cap.

I first came across Ukai last year and was a bit reluctant because a) the menu didn't give anything away other than their lunchtime delivery menu (not a food snob, but this made me think it was no different than lunchtime sushi spots!), b) it looked more like a bar - dimly lit and cozy (perhaps to hide how their food looked like?) and c) it actually had an upstairs bar. I'm glad my friend pushed me to go though, because that night I had the freshest sashimi I've had in eons. And it didn't cost an arm and a leg! (To be fair, it was another Taste card restaurant so I got 50% off!).

A few favourites from the menu:

Forgive me for starting with dessert, but the warm chocolate brownie (£6.60) is divine! Okay, it may not be the standard Japanese dessert but you can switch traditional vanilla ice cream to green tea and get yourself a proper treat! And speaking of green tea...

The green tea panacotta (£5.80) is absolutely amazeballs. It comes with a chocolate sauce which is good in flavour albeit slightly watery for my liking. I can devour ten servings of the panacotta (sans sauce) in one sitting and not feel guilty. It's light, flavoursome and perfectly balanced: strong enough green tea with the right amount of sweetness.

I love a good agedashi tofu, especially when the tentsuyu is not overpowering the whole dish. Ukai's crispy chilli tofu (£5.5) comes in a small plate but the portion is good enough to share between two mates. Perfectly crisp on the outside with hot tofu on the inside, this one's definitely another favourite!

A typical sushi joint favourite, I've tasted heaps of California rolls. Ukai's uramaki (£4.8) is straightforward, just the way I like it: with actual crab meat (instead of the usual kani or crab alternative), cream cheese and mango (instead of the usual avocado) and each bite is outstanding. Ukai is generous with the crab meat and it's so fresh one could taste the sea. And speaking of melt in your mouth crab...

Oh hail the soft-shell crab tempura (£7.95). For someone who hates deep fried stuff, this is great and not oily at all. The batter is light, and seasoned well. The crab is plump and juicy and is a revelry of the natural sweetness of all crustaceans in the world. Its buttery texture is so good you don't really need the tentsuyu it comes with.

Photo grabbed from

The spicy salmon mix (£11.50) is a gem. 11 pieces of clean-cut and fresh sushi and sashimi plus a well mixed soy-wasabi sauce equals a very happy belly. You can fill yourself up for lunch without feeling bloated at all. I myself prefer tuna for sashimi, but the three big cuts of salmon were so fresh and so delicious with the chili crust. The nigiri is good and massive, and the spicy futomaki is packed with so much flavour I want to cry just thinking about it

So yes, Ukai is definitely a great find and is e
asily one of my favourite places to eat in Soho (I've eaten here four times last month). They have good food that set the bar high without necessarily burning holes in your pocket, a good selection of wine, sake and cocktails and really good service. I wish they'd update their website though, as the online delivery menu is quite limited compared to the main restaurant menus. 


58 Poland Street | London W1F 7NT | 020 7734 1444
Average £20-40 per person (meal with wine/sake), 50% off food with Taste card.