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Authors Posts by Puffer fish

Puffer fish

Puffer fish
Unlike its moniker, Puffer fish is actually quite friendly and approachable. Unless you’re out to eat her lunch – or dessert — to be precise – then be prepared that she might raise her spikes at you. Good food is just one of her many likes, Puffer Fish also loves visiting new and familiar places around the world because she believes there are always new discoveries and adventures to be had. She considers herself one lucky ass to be able to put her editorial background to good use by sharing her travel and gastronomical adventures online via Gratenews. She hopes readers get as much enjoyment and insights from her pieces as she has writing them.

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    R&B Brown Sugar Boba Milk

    The famous 青蛙撞奶 (Brown Sugar Boba Milk) – $3.80 from Taiwan has made its way to Singapore! It is available at R&B Tea located at the Marina Square Koufu food court.

    In Chinese, the drink literally means frog milk shake.

    But don’t worry, there won’t be frogs leaping out at you. It’s just named that way because the size and dark-coloured pearls are thought to resemble frog’s eggs.

    So what so special about Brown Sugar Boba Milk at R&B Tea?

    While most bubble tea brands tout about its soft and chewy pearls, the ones at R&B are not only chewy in texture, they are coated in a delectable thick and sticky layer of molten brown sugar. To prepare the pearls, they are first boiled for at least 3 hours in brown sugar along with a few other ‘secret’ ingredients. When we first tasted them, the pearls’ deep caramel flavours reminded us of Gula Melaka! The chewy texture also made them very addictive. We would have gone for seconds if the drink wasn’t so filling. Overall, the Brown Sugar Boba Milk was balanced in sweetness and textures when paired with the creamy fresh milk.

    We also like the Oolong Tea Cream. Unlike usual milk teas, the Tea Cream from R&B comes with a swirl of thick cream that’s redolent of fragrant smoky tea flavour and topped with a sprinkle of Oreo bits. We love our tea strong, so this is winner in our books! To achieve that, the tea leaves are roasted over charcoal fire for 5-12 hours to yield a smoky flavour — a practice adopted by many Taiwanese bubble tea outlets worth its salt. Texture wise, the blend tastes is thick like a milk shake. Our only gripe was that the tea was a little sweet for us, even though it was at 50% sweetness. But that can be easily fixed, just ask for a lower sugar level.

    R&B tea is offeirng a 1-for-1 promotion for its Brown Sugar Boba Milk from 2-4 Feb. Leap down to its store at Marina Square to enjoy some of that bubbly goodness.

    R&B Tea

    #04-101/102 Koufu Cookhouse, Marina Square

    6 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039594

    Opening hours: 11am-9pm (Daily)


    Blk 470 Toa Payoh Lorong 6

    Opening hours: 10am-9pm (Daily)

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      Far Ocean frozen seafood and meat sale

      Where are you doing your CNY grocery shopping this year? For those who are planning to enjoy hot pot or a cook out at home, we know a good place you can get all your ingredients under one roof!

      Check out the Far Ocean Warehouse sale, which offers a large variety of seafood, fresh meat, sausages, drinks and more – at up to 50% off the usual price. Sashimi grade items such as Japanese Hokkaido Scallop and Swordfish belly are also available, in addition to Hungarian Goose Foie Gras Pre-Sliced and German Pork Cheese Sausages.

      Some of the popular seafood items on sale include:


      Chilean Seabass Steak (鲈鱼) – Now @ S$55.00 (1kg) – (UP: S$75.00)

      USA Black Cod Portion(银鳕鱼) – Now @ S$50.00 (1kg) – (UP: S$65.00)

      Taiwanese Abalone(鲍鱼) – Now @ S$39.00 (500g) – (UP: S$45.00)

      Chinese Rock Lobster(加州龍蝦) – Now @ S$18.00 (500g)  – (UP: S$22.50)

      Having shabu shabu? You can choose from meat items like Kurobuta Pork Collar Shabu Shabu, Australian Lamb Leg Shabu Shabu and Japanese Matsusaka Beef Brisket MB 5 Shabu Shabu, which are perfect for hot pot with friends and family.


      Other meat items include:

      USA Pork Loin Shabu Shabu (猪火鍋里脊肉片) – Now @ S$8.00 (300g) – (UP S$12.00)

      Iberico Pork Belly Shabu Shabu (伊比利亚五花肉) – Now @ S$7.00 (300g) – (UP S$11.00)

      Brazilian Chicken Breast Shabu Shabu (火鍋鸡胸肉片) – Now @ S$4.00 (300g)  – (UP S$6.50)

      Wagyu Beef Chuck MB 7 Shabu Shabu (和牛火鍋肩胛肉片) – Now @ S$14.00 (300g) – (UP S$18.00)

      Far Ocean CNY Seafood and Meat Warehouse sale

      Opening dates:

      • 27 & 28 January 2018
      • 3 & 4 February 2018
      • 10 & 11 February 2018

      Opening Hours:

      • Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm
      • Saturday: 9am – 1pm
      • Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays

      Venue: 15 Fishery Port Road, Jurong, Singapore 619735

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        With Chinese New Year approaching, Yu Sheng time is upon us again!

        As with previous years, restaurants are drawing in diners with various Yu Sheng offerings, including the more innovative ones like Yu Sheng arranged in the shape of a pup to welcome the Year of the Dog.

        Speaking of new Yu Sheng ideas, we recently got to try a Japanese Soba Yu Sheng by soba specialty House, Nadai Fujisoba Nihachi, or Fujisob for short. This interesting creation consists of finely shredded vegetables like raddish, carrots, purple cabbage, sushi gari (ginger) with salmon slices, seasoned octopus, seaweed and Jelly fish. Being a soba house, Fujisoba also added cold and fried soba noodles into the mix to give the dish some added crunch. Instead of the usual sweet and sour Chinese Plum Sauce, the Yu Sheng here uses a homemade sesame sauce. Overall, the Yu Sheng is very refreshing, has lots of crunchy texutres, thanks of the crackers and fried soba, and has a savoury touch from the dressing. The generous Yu Sheng portion is good for up to 8 people and comes at a very reasonable price of $38.80. If you want Yu Sheng with a slight twist this year, give Fujisoba Yu Sheng a try between 16 Jan -28 Feb.

        Celebrate the Japanese i Girl's Festival with Nadai Fujisoba Nihachi's Special Set ($19.80) -for a limited time only
        Celebrate the Japanese i Girl’s Festival with Nadai Fujisoba Nihachi’s Special Set ($19.80) – for a limited time only

        Another new seasonal item on the Fujisoba menu is the Girls’ Festival Special Set ($19.80). The limited time only set is meant to celebrate Hinamatsuri, or Doll’s Day, a special occasion in Japan celebrated on March 3 each year. It a a day to pray for the Health and happines of girls.

        The Girls’ Festival Special Set at Fujisoba consists of a mini chirashi sushi, Hamaguri Soba which is a soup soba dish that comes with 2 pieces of clams imported from Japan and a packet of candies known as Hina Arare snack. This special set will be available from 1 Feb – 31 March.

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          Dusk at Faber Peak

          There is a new restaurant in town, and it’s a just that little bit more special due to its location, which is at the peak of Mount Faber.

          So needless to say, the view at Dusk, as the new restaurant is aptly named, is breathtaking.  On the day, we arrived just before dusk to catch the sun setting over the lush greenery. We took the opportunity to enjoy the view of Sentosa island and Harbourfront with some of their specialty cocktails, one of the restaurant’s specialisations – and has a full-serviced bar to show for it.

          Let’s dig into the food

          Food wise, Dusk Restaurant & Bar specialises in European Tapas. For starters, we tried the Citrus Frementle Octopus ($25). Prepared in sous-vide style, the octopus had a springy texture and the salad of micro greens tossed with a sweet dressing went well with it.

          Dusk Restaurant Citrus Freemental Octopus

          Citrus Frementle Octopus ($25) has a nice, springy texture

          The Forest Mushroom with Sherry ($14) was up next. The dish provided a twist to the usual mushroom soup. It is made by sauteeing different types of mushrooms in a rich Sherry wine cream. According to French-cuisine trained Chef Kenny, Executive Chef of Dusk, the secret to making the dish is the precise cooking time and controlled fire.

          Dusk Restaurant Forest Mushroom with Sherry

          The secret to the Forest Mushroom with Sherry ($14) dish is the precise cooking time.

          Big Plates

          For big plates, we went for the Tiger Prawn Capellini ($28), which consists of angel hair pasta cooked in aromatic lobster-infused oil and Kombu (Japanese seaweed). Let the chef know if you prefer your pasta to be softer as ours ended up being too al dente.

          Dusk Restaurant Tiger Prawn Capellini

          East meets West: Tiger Prawn Capellini ($28)

          We also tried the the Cote de Boeuf ($98), featuring 700g of Prime Rib (bone-in) cooked sous-vide style to seal in the juices. The generous portion is great for meat lovers and good for two.

          Cote de Boeuf ($98) - a beef lover's dream
          Cote de Boeuf ($98) – a beef lover’s dream

          Knock back a few cocktails

          Indulge in a cocktail or two while you’re there. We like the Sunset Spritzer, a decadent cocktail-dessert combining orange liqueur, sparkling wine and icy mango sorbet. For something a little more dramatic, try the Passion fruit Nitro-Frost Carvier martini, and watch your concoction smoother from the liquid nitrogen– total Instagram- story material. The cocktail also comes in Cosmopolitan and Lychee flavours but we prefer the passion fruit for its tangy flavours.

          Dusk Restaurant cocktails
          Enjoy a cocktail with the stunning hilltop view

          Planning your next chill out session? Be sure to check out Dusk Restaurant & Bar.

          Alfresco dining at Dusk Restaurant. Image: Dusk Restaurant & Bar

          Alfresco dining at Dusk. Image: Dusk Restaurant & Bar

          Dusk Restaurant & Bar

          Faber Peak Singapore, Level 2

          109 Mount Faber Road, Singapore 099203

          Tel:  6377 9688

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            Dragon Bowl Flaming chicken

            We like Christmas ham and log cakes as much as the next person. But at the same time, we don’t mind sprucing up our festive feasting with other cuisines.  That’s why we’re quite excited to check out Dragon Bowl’s Christmas creation – Flaming Chicken!

            There’s no question why this dish is called ‘Flaming Chicken’. It is a clever pun on the Chinese term for Turkey or 火鸡, a traditional dish eaten during Christmas. The dish is literally served after it’s been set on fire! In order to create the dramatic effect, the chicken is first drenched with rose wine, which also impart a flora aroma to the meat. Taste wise, the meat is surprisingly tender, thanks to the chef’s secret marinate. We also liked that our chicken wasn’t too fatty. The Flaming Chicken is going for only $1 when you spend more than $80 at Dragon Bowl and pay for the meal with a DBS or POSB card.

            The Flaming Chicken is not the only dish worth trying at Dragon Bowl. As a traditional Cantonese restaurant, they also specialise in dim sum dishes and lobster porridge.

            Dragon Bowl Lobster Porridge

            Lobster Porridge caption: Try Dragon Bowl’s signature Crab Roe Live Lobster Golden Porridge for $38 for a small serving (good for 2 people) Offer ends 31 Dec.

            For dim sum, we recommend the Poached Mala Dumplings ($4.30 for 3). Plump prawn-filled dumplings are drenched in piquant black vinegar, cut chillies, spices and sliced ginger. We couldn’t really taste the mala – but this is one fiery dish, alright. Good luck to you if you bite into one of the sliced chilli padi!

            Dragon Bowl - Mala Dumplings
            Watch out for the landmine of chillii padi!

            The Fried Shrimp Wrapped in Cheong Fun ($6.50) is another must-try. This is a twist on the famous Hong Kong dim sum dish “Zha Leong”, which consists of fried dough (you tiao) wrapped with steamed rice roll. It’s a riot of textures with the tender rice roll, crunchy you tiao and succulent prawns.

            Looking at the humble Claypot Taro Cake with Preserved Meat ($4.30), we were not expecting much but the taste of dried shrimps, flavoured meat combined with mashy and thick cut Taro squares really won us over. The old school flavours (古早味) of the dish reminds us of what grandma used to make.

            taro cake-e

            There’s a 30% discount on the al la carte dim sum dishes until 31 December so now’s the best time to try them out! Do note that dim sum is only served during lunch.

            Dragon Bowl Dim Sum

            Offer valid till 31 Dec.

            Dragon Bowl

            6 Raffles Blvd, #03-129A Marina Square, Singapore 039594

            Tel: 6858 1588

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              1-for-1 lobster set, Emporium Shokuhin
              1-for-1 lobster set at Tokujo $68++

              Our favourite time of the year is here! Like many of us, our Christmas and New Year’s are normally spent on get-together with family and close friends, so we’re always busy looking out for the best restaurants to celebrate the festive season. Apart from great food, drinks and a nice ambience, places that offer good value for money dining deals are a bonus!

              We recently came across a number of great deals at Emporium Shokuhin that checks all the boxes! The Japanese cluster dining concept at Marina Square is running a number of 1-for-1 deals to attract diners.

              Here are some of the dining deals we cherry-picked for you. The deals are running from now until 2 January. if you’re keen, make sure you make your bookings early!

              1-for-1 A5 Miyazaki Wagyu & USDA Prime Beef Buffet


              Restaurant: GYUU+ Yakiniku Grill

              Tel: 6812 2177

              Price: Adult: $98++ (Mon-Thurs), $108++ Fri-Sun, Eve of PH & PH; (Child: $26.80++ for all days)

              This has got to be one of the most value-for-money Wagyu beef BBQs in town this festive season! Beef lovers can have their fill of quality A5 wagyu beef and USDA prime beef at this all-you-can-eat beef buffet. You’ll also get to enjoy a variety of seafood like prawns and scallops. There’s also a choice of greens available to complement all that meat. Dining is limited to 90 mins.

              1-for-1 Sashimi and Lobster Sets

              Lobster set at Tokujo, Emporium Shokuhin
              Soup with a whole lobster at Tokujo, Emporium Shokuhin

              Restaurant: Takujo Japanese Dining

              Price: From $28

              Tel: 6812 2176

              With such an excellent deal, you can feast on a variety of fresh fish and seafood this festive season. Choose from an array of fresh sashimi platter, starting from $28++ and get your second one of the same or lower price for free. You get 3 types of the day’s freshest white fish such as Shima Aji, Houbou, Isaki or Mandai. The 1-for-1 lobster deal is also not to be missed. Have your lobsters in 2 ways: half prepared in sashimi style and the other half in deep-fried tempura style. The second option is a whole lobster cooked in a miso-based soup to bring out all the umami goodness. Personally, we prefer the first combo but you can always order both to try since you get the other lobster set for free. At 68++ for the lobster set, diners end up paying only $34++ per lobster!

              1-for-1 steaks and main course

              1-for-1 French oysters at UMI + VINO at $8++ each
              1-for-1 French oysters at UMI + VINO at $8++ each

              Restaurant: UMI + VINO Seafood & Wine Bar

              Tel: 6812 2175

              Price: from $8++ for oysters; $28++ for burgers

              Even dined at UMI + VINO, a Japanese and Western fusion restaurant? If not, this might be the best time to check out this steak and seafood specialty restaurant as it’s offering 1-for-1 for its mains and steaks on Saturdays and Sundays from now until 2 Jan. Their cold Hokkaido Scallop & Kombu Pasta ($32++) is worth a try, while its Lobster, Prawn & Scallop Burger ($28++) is one-of-its kind. It consists of a lobster claw and a generous seared scallop on a prawn patty. Game for more seafood? Well, oyster lovers can go for their excellent, creamy Fine de Claire oyster or the more rounded in flavour Speciale de Claire variety from France. Priced at $8++ a piece, you get 1-for-1 for every order. While you’re at it, order one of their excellent wines to pair with your meal.

              Hokkaido Scallops Pasta at UME + VINO
              Hokkaido Scallops Pasta at UME + VINO

              Emporium Shokuhin

              6 Raffles Link #01-18 New [email protected] Square Mall
              Singapore 039594

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                Emporium Shokuhin, the Japanese seafood and produce store at Marina Square has launched an e-shop to allow customers to shop online. Enjoy fresh Japanese produce, seafood, meats, snacks and even Japanese alcohol delivered straight to your doorstop, at just one click away.

                You’ll find Japanese fruits and vegetables imported directly from Japan, such as the seasonal Mizuna vegetables ($6.90 per pack of 200g), Kousui Pears ($13.90 for 2) and Donut Peaches ($6.95 per box) on the online shop. Meat wise, choose from A4 Kagoshima Brisket Shabu Shabu ($26 for approx 100g) – great for hotpot or the premium A5 Miyazaki Steak at $92 for a 200-230g slab. Since Emporium Shokuhin is well know for its live seafood, we checked out what’s on offer. We found quite a good selection including Boston lobster, Alaskan King crab, French oysters and grouper. There are also seafood BBQ packs if you’re planning on holding a year-end grill party.

                Apart from the online store, the site also offers recipes, restaurant guides to help you whip up a delicious Japanese meal at home. So if you’re planning a year-end get-together this festive season, check out the Emporium Shokuhin at https://emporiumshokuhin.com.sg/

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                  Osteria Mozza at Marina Bay Sands by Mario Batali has added some large, sharing dishes to fill hungry diners.

                  One such dish is the Beef Cheek & Bone Marrow Pie ($65), which pays homage to Chef Nancy Silverton’s Restaurant Chi Spacca, Mozza’s sister restaurant in Los Angeles. The pot pie features a roasted veal femur bone shrouded in a buttery golden-brown pie crust. Guests can tear open the crumbly pastry to reveal a pool of succulent beef cheek meat that has been stewed with carameralised mushrooms and cippollini onions, and dip into the centre of the bone to scoop out buttery bone marrow.

                  Beef Cheek & Bone Marrow Pie ($65)
                  Beef Cheek & Bone Marrow Pie ($65)

                  If bone marrow’s not your thing, try the Dry-Aged Porterhouse (from $130). But order this only if you have a huge appetite or have a few friends to share the dish with. The huge 1kg Porterhouse steak is premium 150-day grass-fed Black Angus beef from Queensland, Australia that is aged for 45 days to heighten its flavour.

                  Dry-Aged Porterhouse (from $130)
                  Dry-Aged Porterhouse (from $130)

                  Want something more manageable? Try the Fried Whole Snapper (from $90, depending on size). The fish is good as a main course or shared among friend and family. It features a whole New Zealand snapper doused in agro dolce, a tangy Italian sweet and sour sauce. The fish is scored on both sides and fried till the skin is crisp and meat is fork-tender. A generous serving of tangy Italian sweet and sour capsicum-onion sauce is then ladled over the fish, and topped with fried Tuscan kale leaves.

                  We’re heading to Mozza for our next group gathering!

                  Images by Osteria Mozza

                  Osteria Mozza

                  2 Bayfront Avenue Marina Bay Sands, B1-42-46, 018972

                  Tel +65 6688 8522

                  [email protected]

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                    wineglass bay at freycinet national park, tasmania
                    Wineglass Bay lookout at Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

                    I have long heard about how beautiful Tasmania is. The island state located in the southern tip of Australia is known for its national parks, stunning oceans, aged forests, dramatic landscapes and abundant fresh seafood. When I finally made my first trip to Tasmania, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the place exceeded my expectations. From the moment I landed in Hobart, I was already taken by the beautiful townships set against the scenic backdrop of rolling mountains. To think, I haven’t even seen much of Tasmania then yet.

                    Freycinet is a popular tourist site of Tasmania, well loved by locals as well as visitors from overseas. The town is home to the Freycinet National Park, which includes famous spots like Wineglass Bay, The Hazards and the white, sandy shores of Friendly Beaches. To make the best of your trip to Freycinet, here are the top 7 things to take note of before you go.

                    1.Get ready for a road trip

                    Most people take a self-driving road trip to Freycinet. It’s a very rewarding experience as your journey is flanked by stunning greenery and ocean views. So beautiful that drivers have to be careful about not getting too distracted by the views. Ideally, there should be more than one person driving so everyone can take turns to enjoy the view or take a break. The stretch of road from Swansea to Freycinet has many sharp bends and curves and it doesn’t help that the narrow road is open to two-way traffic. Always keep an eye out on the speed limit and watch the road conditions – such as frost.

                    Devil's Corner, Tasmania
                    The good thing about a road trip is that you can start wherever and whenever you want. We did a pit stop at Devil’s Corner
                    Devil's Corner, Tasmania
                    Inside of Devil’s Corner vineyard
                    Devil's Corner, Tasmania
                    Order a glass and take in the amazing view at Devil’s Corner

                    2. Dark, dark highways

                    Before my trip, I read these stories about how some people had managed to catch the Southern Aurora in Tasmania. On one of the nights where the Aurora indicator was said to be rather high, we decided to hop into our car and head to a nearby bay where we could get an unblock view of the South. Imagine our surprise when we found ourselves driving along a pitch dark highway moments later! The visibility ahead was under a couple of metres. The only light was coming from our own headlights and the reflectors on the side of the road. It was a pretty unnerving experience, not to mention dangerous. Inexperienced drivers, in particular, should avoid driving around Freycinet after dark. If you’re wondering whether we managed to see the aurora in the end, the answer is unfortunately, no. But we did get to enjoy a very beautiful view of the perfectly dark and moonless night sky, which constrasted sharply with the bright, shinning stars. It was a memorable experience, but not one worth risking our lives for.

                    3. Your best bet is Telstra

                    If you’re getting an Australian phone SIM card for data access on the trip, Telstra is your best bet in Freycinet. Even then, there are black out spots around the area where no network is available – pretty common in Freycinet. When renting your lodging, do not take for granted that WiFi will be provided. Check that it’s explicitly stated in the offering.

                    4. Supplies, surprise

                    The idea of gathering around a barbeque fire in the cold, while sipping wine on the terrace was one of the experiences we were after during this trip. So much so that my travel mates and I insisted on renting a place that had barbeque facilities. And we did just that. But when we got to Freycinet after a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart, we were surprised to find that there were no proper supermarkets in the entire town of Freycinet to be found on the map. The closest you get to a supermarket is a convenience shop called ‘Coles Bay Convenience’ in the town centre! If you’re after some cold drinks, milk and light snacks, the shop comes in handy. But it’s lacking in terms of fresh meats and vegetable supplies for a decent BBQ. Later, we found out that the nearest supermarket is located in another town called Bicheno, which is about a good 35-minute drive away.  Needless to say, we didn’t get to live out our BBQ dream.

                    5. Expensive dining

                    Related to the previous point on not having a proper supermarket, most of the food options in Freycinet don’t come cheap. Choices are also pretty limited. They include a restaurant called Tombolo Freycinet, which specialises in wood fire pizza (very good, by the way), a casual eatery called Iluka, The Edge Restaurant and Freycinet Marine Farm, which is only open in the day (more on this later). There are a few other eateries within a 10-minute drive from the town centre but options are limited. A simple meal at one of these places will typically set you back A$20-30 per person per meal. We’re lucky we had a few spare packets of indomee instant noodles with us on the trip as we got rather tired – and broke – from the food options by the third night of dining out in Freycinet. If you don’t want to end up like us, make sure you stock up for your trip on the way in.

                    Tombolo Freycinet
                    Tombolo Freycinet at Coles Bay
                    Their wood-fired pizzas are very good. This spicy mussels pizza is one of the specials that night
                    Their wood-fired pizzas are very good. This spicy mussels and chorizo pizza is one of the specials that night
                    Fish and chips at Tombolo Freycinet
                    Fish and chips, AU$26

                    6. Freycinet Marine Farm

                    By the time we left for Tasmania, we had read so much about Freycinet Marine Farm that our mouths were watering for fresh seafood whilst driving to the farm. We don’t know whether it was a case of pure bad luck or over expectations on our part, but Freycinet Marine Farm wasn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the seafood we had there were very fresh but they were also very limited. The menu featured a variety of oysters prepared in different ways (baked, fresh), baked scallops and salmon. When asked whether there were other food we could order in or take out, we were told that everything else available was in the glass fridge in front us. It had some fresh oysters and prawns but not much else. Mussels were also not available due to a certain strain of bacteria affecting the molluscs during that period. I remember double checking the location to see if we were at the right place. We went home disappointed that day.

                    Freycinet Marine Farm
                    We were there early and there were plenty of seats
                    Oysters at Freycinet Marine Farm
                    The best way to enjoy these oysters is straight up

                    7. Hotel, what hotel?

                    A lot of the lodging in Freycinet are private homes and villas as opposed to a conventional hotel. What this means is, there’s probably no one to greet or check you in when you arrive at your place of lodging. That’s why it’s important to familiarise yourself with how you can gain access to the rented property beforehand. For us, we had to key in a set of password sent to us via email to unlock the key to the main door upon arrival. Additionally, if you anticipate to return after dark, take some time to find the night light in your driveway and turn it on before you head out so you can locate your house after dark. We know this because we ended up circling a few times around a dark neighbourhood before we found our unit.

                    Gumnut at Coles Bay, Tasmania
                    This the place we rented at Coles Bay

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                      The devil welcomes you to Noboribetsu

                      Planning a trip to Hokkaido? Lucky you! Everything from Hokkaido’s amazing food, rich culture to picturesque scenery is sure to wow its visitors. My favourite city in Hokkaido is Hakodate, thanks to its beautiful bay area and what seems like endless supply of fresh, succulent seafood. Check out our list of the 15 things to do in Hokkaido to make your trip a memorable one.

                      1. Enjoy Kaisen Don

                      How Singaporean to pick a food item to kick off a must-do list! But didn’t they say that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach? First on our list of dishes to try is the kaisen don or seafood bowl. Whether your favourite seafood is swordfish, salmon, snow crab or those juicy ikura fish eggs, there’s such a wide variety of kaisen don in Hokkaido that you’re bound to find one that suits your palate. Some of the best places to enjoy kaisen don is at a seafood market like the Hakodate Morning Market or the Sapporo Nijo Market.

                      Kaisen don in Hokkaido
                      You can have Kaisen don for breakfast
                      Kaisen don in Hokkaido
                      Kaisen don for lunch…
                      Kaisen don in Hokkaido
                      and Kaisen don for dinner. Burp
                      Kaisen Don in Otaru
                      The mother of Kaisen don. Look at the variety of seafood!

                      2. Experience Winter at Asahiyama Zoo

                      Enjoy your own version of the penguin march at this well-loved zoo. During certain periods in winter when the ground is covered with snow, visitors get to walk alongside the adorable, waddling birds. It’s guaranteed to be a fun-filled experience for kids and family. Do note, however, that the zoo is closed for a few days during winter so make sure you check the opening schedule on the Asahiyama Zoo website before you go.

                      Penguins at Asahiyama Zoo
                      Playful penguins at Asahiyama Zoo

                      3. Savour a sea urchin or uni

                      Fresh sea urchin can be found in various restaurants or seafood markets throughout Hokkaido for about 1,000 yen a piece. Savour the soft and creamy orange flesh of this sea creature and you’ll remember its sweet taste for life! Oishii! Some may choose to have their uni slightly torched but we think fresh is best.

                      Fresh Uni at Hakodate Morning Market
                      Feast on fresh uni at Hakodate Morning Market

                      4. Have Soup curry

                      Unlike the usual Japanese curry, soup curry is thinner in consistency as the gravy combines soup and curry – thus its name. There’s different levels of customisation depending on where you eat, including choice of meat, the soup base, amount of rice and down to the spiciness of the curry. it’s very popular among the locals in places like Sapporo city – so don’t miss this special culinary treat.

                      5. Organise a picnic during sakura viewing season

                      Every year, tens of thousands of tourists flock to Hokkaido and parts of Japan for the sakura or cherry blossom viewing in Spring time. If you’re lucky enough to catch the Hanami or cherry blossom viewing activity, why not join in the local practice of setting up a picnic at these scenic spots too? Just pack a picnic mat, bento and some snacks and enjoy the best of what nature has to offer.

                      The scenic Odori Park during the sakura season
                      The scenic Odori Park in Sapporo during the sakura season

                      6. Shop at Don Quijote

                      No shop is equally ecclectic or well stocked as Don Quijote, which is located across Japan rather than just Hokkaido alone. It’s your one-stop shop for everything from Japanese snacks to make-up to Halloween masks and cosplay supplies. Every aisle is crammed with supplies so take your time to shop here.

                      7. Enjoy the produce of the season

                      Take a walk along the fresh produce section of the supermarket or farmers’ markets in Hokkaido and you’ll find a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. But the best produce are often the fruit or crops of the season, not to mention it’s more environmental too. For instance, honeydew and persimmon are the sweetest and most abundant in Autumn, while strawberries are the best enjoyed in Spring.

                      Honeydew are seasonal produce in Hokkaido
                      For big groups, go for a whole honeydew. A mid-range one costs around 1500 – 2500 Yen

                      8. Attend a festival

                      The Japanese simply love festivals! There are various festivals to celebrate the season, religion, cultural practices and other special occasions, so plan your travel date accordingly. Some of the most popular festivals include the Sapporo Snow Festival in February, the Kamome Island Festival in Esashi, Hokkaido to celebrate the sea in July, the Kachimai Fireworks Festival in August and the Yokata Andon (fighting lantern) festival at the end of August. Did we mention there’s even the Nemuro Sanma festival in September which worships fish!

                      A performer taking photos with the crowd
                      Devil and Fireworks performance in Noboribetsu

                      N9. Visit the Hakodate Morning Fish Market

                      If you visit the serene coastal town of Hakodate, the morning market is a must. It is breeming with fresh and cooked seafood every day of the week. Go on an empty stomach and enjoy your fill of seafood like grilled scallops, sashimi, seasoned cuttlefish as well as snacks like mochi and hokkaido milk ice cream. Keep a lookout for the prized whole tuna being transported around the market by fishermen. The occurrence never fails to raise awe!

                      Interior of Hakodate Morning Market
                      Plan your Hakodate Morning Market visit early in the day when it’s less crowded
                      Hakodate Morning Market
                      Crabs in abundance at the Hakodate Morning Market
                      Street view of Hakodate Morning Market
                      The market may not be big but it has plenty to offer

                      10. Eat at Lucky Pierrot

                      Another exclusive place of Hokodate is fast food chain Lucky Pierrot. The most famous item on the menu is the Chinese Chicken Burger which is served with a sesame specked bun and some fresh lettuce. The Fried noodles with chicken combo and Original Curry + Chicken are also very delicious and good value for money. There are a lot of other dishes and burgers to try so take your time to pick and choose what appeals to you.

                      Lucky Pierrot stall at Hakodate
                      Look at the number of items on the menu!
                      Lucky Pierrot stall at Hakodate
                      One of the many Lucky Pierrot outlets at Hakodate
                      Chinese chicken burger at Lucky Pierrot
                      The popular Chinese chicken burger at Lucky Pierrot

                      11. Bask in an open roof onsen

                      Going to an onsen is a popular experience in Hokkaido but more then just any onsen, pick one with an outdoor bath.  One of the most memorable onsen experiences I’ve had is at an outdoor onsen at Mount Kurodate in Asahikawa during Winter where I got to enjoy the contrasting temperatues of the cold surrounds while being submerged in the heated spring water, all whilst soaking in the the amazing views of the mountain. Simply out of this world.

                      Open air onsen at Sounkyo, Hokkaido
                      Open air onsen at Sounkyo
                      Open air onsen at Sounkyo, Hokkaido
                      Best time for open air onsen? When it’s snowing.

                      12. Stay at a ryokan

                      Get the full Japanese experience by staying at one of the ryokan or guest houses in Hokkaido. Prices per night vary quite widely depending on the ryokan, location and what’s included – such as meals and whether there’s a private onsen. You can also choose one with a personal onsen attached to your room, but those would come at a higher price. During my trip to Hokkaido in Oct 16, I spent a night at the Oyada Kiyomizuya ryokan in the popular onsen town of Noboribetsu and the overall experience was simply unforgettable.

                      Ryokan at Noboribetsu
                      A popular ryokan in Noboribetsu
                      Ryokan at Noboribetsu
                      Inside of a traditional Japanese ryokan
                      Breakfast spread at a ryokan
                      Waking up to a sumptuous breakfast spread!

                      13. Take a ropeway

                      If you plan to visit a mountain in Hokkaido, take the chance to ride on a ropeway if it’s available. It’s a scenic (or thrilling for some) to get to the top of a mountain in the elevator where you can get to a vantage point to enjoy the surrounding scenary. Some of the popular ropeways can be found at places like Mt Moiwa in Sapporo city and Mount Kurodake in Asahikawa.

                      Ropeway up to Daisetsuzan
                      Ropeway up to Daisetsuzan, a pretty thrilling experience

                      14. Bring home a piece of Otaru

                      The quaint, European-eque town of Otaru (about an hour train ride from Sapporo) is littered with ceramic and glassware shops. You’ll find nifty items like one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pottery, sake glass, music box made from glass and more.Take your time to visit some of these shops and bring home a piece of Otaru for friends and family.

                      15. Check out the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum

                      The range of sake or Japanese rice wine in Japan is mind-boggling. It ranges from under S$10 a bottle to the hundreds. One of the most popular sake in Hokkaido is produced by Otokoyama. If you visit Asahikawa, drop by the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum where you’ll get to see the brewery behind a glass panel, the equipment used for making sake and most importantly get a tasting session! The brewery is located at

                      079-8412 Hokkaido Prefecture, Asahikawa, Nagayama 2 Jo, 7 Chome−1−3.