Xiaoyu's Blog

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Less than $20 per pax?! One of the CHEAPEST Steamboat Buffet in Toa Payoh

Hello everyone!
It's been 2 months since my last post, but today, I'm bringing something other than my usual event-related entry.
I'm gonna talk about food!

There is a new (considered new because it's less than 2 or 3 months old if I'm not wrong) hotpot buffet in town!
Okay maybe not town town but it's located in central, so it's considered a convenient location I suppose.

*Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post*
Introducing: Xiao Cao Xiang 小草香


As you can see from the top left side of the banner, it states 'Grand Opening Special', & nothing is over $20 per person (before GST)!
They don't have service charge people!
Actually this banner is the 2nd banner, the first one was even cheaper; I can't remember how much but I saw them changing banner & the price was different than the initial promotional banner.
Probably because they had to charge GST now, because when they started operating, I saw many people queuing up!
Well they state 'Grand Opening Special', my guess is that they will likely to change their pricing after their promotion period, which we don't know when so it's best not to drag your plan!!
The Chinese words at the left side of the banner says: 
老板讲了,我们不赚钱,我们真诚的邀请你来试试
如不满意,原银奉还
Which translate to:
Boss said, we don't earn, we sincerely invite you to come try
If not satisfied, money will be returned with thanks.

Which I feel it's a wacky way of marketing but I think nobody had been unsatisfied considering there's queue during dinner period. 

There are 7 types of soup base to choose from, which is considered a fair amount of choice, with more than 70 kinds of ingredients - spoilt for choices!



This is how the restaurant looks like on the inside.
They served 2 types of pots - for 1 to 2 diners, it's strictly personal pot, as you can see from the picture above.
For 3 or more diners, you can choose between personal pots, or shared pot - & you can choose 3 soup bases.

Now, the ingredient island!

- Seafood isle


The missing ingredient on the bottom left is actually prawns.
Guess many diners attack the prawns first hahah.
Pardon for the unclear photo because of the cold mist is very strong, to keep the ingredients chilled.


• Clams
• Various type of meatballs/seafood balls
• Mussels
• Sotongs
• Cheese Tofu
• Fish Roe Balls,
• Beancurds,
• Hotdogs,
• Luncheon Meat


- Meat isle


• Shangrila (I dunno, it's the name written there) Tender Beef
• Sliced Fish
• Sliced Tender Chicken
• Special Pickled Lamb
• Sliced Beef Belly
• Sliced Pork Shoulder
• Sliced Pork Belly
• Sliced Lamb



- Dipping Sauce Station


There are just too many types & I can't capture all the names so I just let the picture speak itself hahaha.
20 types for you to be your own chef bruh.


- Vegetable isle


Sorry I didn't notice the basket of dry food above this section, so the picture didn't show it.


• 4 types of green veggies
• Corn
• Vermicelli
• Noodles (looks like Ban Mian kind)
• 5 types of mushrooms
• Fried Beancurds
• Uncooked Noodles
• Wood Fungus
• Carrots
• Tofu
• I dunno what that seaweed look-alike is
• Radish
• Lotus Roots
• Fish Maw
• Crab Meats
• Eggs
• .... & more I dunno how to identify them


- Miscellaneous


Appetisers


• Rice
• Fried Mantou with condensed milk


• Watermelons
• Oranges


- Drinks


• Calamansi Juice
• Iced Water
• Iced Lemon Tea
• Hot Water


& their 2nd selling point.... (to me lah hehe)


XIAO LONG BAO!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh, when I see this, I was so fucking thrilled!!!!
But don't get your expectations so high though, this ain't Din Tai Fung or Paradise Dynasty, but the quality ain't that bad either.
I would say Grade B XLB.
But they run out fast though, so better get your hands on them piping hot soup dumplings when they serve it out!!

This is actually my 2nd time here.
The first time I went there, I took a few Insta-stories & some of you ask me where is this place.
So because it's worth going there the 2nd time, I make sure to show you guys what it's like, & also my final thoughts.


The pot looks empty because I forgot to take a picture when we start.
Aiyah you only need to know how the pot looks like right?
We got Herbal soup, Mala soup & Tomato soup.
Only Jake wants the Mala soup so he got the smaller size in the middle.

Jake made the same combination of dipping sauce he was here the first time, so if you wanna try his combi, it's chilli, garlic and spring onion, loads of chilli, like LOAADDSSS, & soya sauce.


There were 4 of us, still less than $20!

My final thoughts:

I prefer the tomato soup to the herbal soup, because it is richer in my opinion.
The meat were generally tasty, choices say not less, not much.
Dunno why so many people take the prawns because twice my visits, the prawns hasn't been very fresh. I'm just glad there are mussels & clams.
Man Le Hotpot serve better fried Mantou with condensed milk - their buns remain warm, crispy on the outside & soft on the inside. The condensed milk is also pre-drizzled on top, so I guess it has that crème brûlée kinda taste (due to heat from the top, does it make sense?)
I recommend eating the Xiao Long Baos immediately after you picked them up.
Once you leave it on your plate for too long, it get's to room temperature so it doesn't taste as nice.

The vegetables are quite reasonable, I always attack the 油麦菜 in any hotpot buffet place that serve it because it's my favourite ingredient.

I wish there were more choices of drinks, perhaps add in the generic Coke or green tea?
My younger brother says the watermelon isn't fresh, the texture is kinda 'mushy'.
They lack dessert area - would be wonderful to serve ice cream or pudding or some sort!

But of course, 一分钱  一分货, you get what you pay for.
For less than $20 ($18 to be exact), I feel that I'm getting a lot more.
Food's not that bad too, that's why I went back again.
I suggest going during lunch period because it is cheaper than dinner rate + fewer diners.
Their service is acceptable too.

But be warned, they charge $5 for every 100g of food you waste, including food in the pot. They will donated the 'fines' to the Singapore Lions Club to help the elderly.
Turns your bad habit to a good cause 👍

Overall: 7.6/10

- Xiao Cao Xiang 小草香 -
Block 470 Toa Payoh Lor 6 #01-72 S(310470)
Tel: 62737488

Only 5 minutes walk from Toa Payoh MRT Station, it is just beside HDB Building.



Friday, April 26, 2019

ACMI Presents: Wonderland

Sometimes I wonder how long can I leave this blog without updates.
This is probably the longest? About 5 months no entry?
I guess I'm living my life in the present more - see: Instagram Stories.
But one thing for sure - I will never ever shut down this blog. I dunno if I ever gonna stop blogging (as of now it is highly unlikely I will quit), it's just that I am inactive here.
I wish there were more events for me to attend so I can write about them.
Well, I shall cut to the chase & get on with this blog post.
Ong & I went to visit Alice in the Wonderland (AITW) exhibition in ArtScience Museum!
The exhibition is called 'Wonderland', which is developed by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image).
A little background about ACMI:
"ACMI is the most visited moving image museum in the world, and Australia’s national museum of film, videogames, digital culture and art - situated in Melbourne. ACMI connects and fosters creative industries by illuminating the moving images and technologies that define our age and presents a vibrant calendar of exhibitions, films and events."
Source

I am extremely STOKED for it!!!
I fucking love Alice in the Wonderland!!
If you like the story, or films, we definitely can vibe together.
My favourite character, other than my dear Alice, would be Mad Hatter!

Thanks to Ong who is a member of MBS, we get to have 1-for-1 tickets.
They only allow batches by batches inside the exhibition, which was a good move because you don't want it to be overcrowded. That'll spoil the experience.
We were giving maps before going in. Apparently it contains riddles & clues for you to crack.
There were different identities of the map too, but both Eve & I got the same identity.


We both got White Rabbit as the head & pocket watch as the secret symbol.
I couldn't keep still while waiting to enter!!! Like a little girl all giddy up!
As soon as we enter, I was already in my amazed-mood.
Getting curiouser & curiouser 😉
There was a guide in the beginning, explaining to us what's the use of the special map, to look for 'Easter Eggs' inside the exhibition. I shan't spoil anymore!
There were doors that leads to more doors!
I was loving the concept hehehe.




The OG Alice who inspired Lewis Carroll to write about the story. 
I was literally 'OMGOSH! IT'S ALICE!'
Some of the photos of the artworks were taken by Eve, others by me.
As I appreciate artwork, I was in awe... in awe...
From book, to film, to animation, to plays, to everything!!

Some of the original as well as adaptions:
Fun fact: Japan & China adapted Alice in the Wonderland into their own version!

Magic Lantern Slides
Magic Lantern Slides
Magic Lantern Slides

Concept Art
Concept Art

My boo and me

Eve took this pic. Says Alice knows how to post like modern girls now, plus can use as phone wallpaper.


As you can see, Walt Disney's artwork of Alice in the Wonderland changes
Probably by different artists working in the studio? I'm not very sure.

As we continue, there was an activity section (like many ArtScience Museum exhibition we've been too!), & again we were let in batches by batches.
Reason because there were only some tables & stools, in addition, each batch of guests have a Tea Party invitation that are unique.


The activity section is for you to be creative with the stickers provided, come up with your design & then you can 'publish' your artwork as the body of a Card Soldier, with your face as the soldier!
Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of my art piece or Eve's, because it keeps moving in the big screen.

Can you guess which one is mine?




There were limited time to do your stickers publishing them, which I dunno exactly how long we're given, but luckily we managed to finished everything just in time for the staff to call our invitation for the Tea Party.
She gave us a short but clear briefing on the safety & the Do's & Don't's , to which she also mention the Tea Party is also the highlight of the exhibition.
When people say 'highlight' to the programme or whatever, I usually have high expectation.
At first I expected each guests to receive one small piece of cupcake or cake roll, but then food & beverages aren't allowed in. So okay.
I thought there'd be Mad Hatter & March Hare & Alice to be sitted in between us as to really feel like I'm in the Tea Party.
That'll DEFINITELY make the child in me giggle up!!
But of course, the staff said it's a 4.5 minutes interactive experience.
So what you do? You sit down doing nothing but watch what's happening around you for 4 minutes & a half.
One word: Underwhelming.

Before


After the Tea Party, it's the end of the exhibition.
Needless to say, I wish it was longer.
As a big fan of AITW, I would go back again!

The exhibition runs now till 22 September so you still have a long time before it move to another country!
They have various admission time so be sure to check out their page.

Afterwards we took some touristy shots outside ArtScience Museum.

























 
Our selfies weren't coming out prettily, & she said we looked like we were dressed for funeral...
Perhaps that's why 😂
I wonder why I didn't see any official AITW merchandise...
Would've bought an enamel pin or something 😝

Afterwards we went to eat at Din Tai Fung because we were thinking of Xiao Long Bao...
So yummy!!

I wonder what interesting exhibition there will be in future??
Perhaps a Looney Tunes one???