Signal Boost [February 2016]

Signal Boost

Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day are upon us! And if you’d like some entertainment apart from the TV, Mahjong, or too much chattering, perhaps you can try these options!

PULP TOAST / ROTI BAKAR

First thing’s first:

Off Kedai Fixi's Instagram
Off Kedai Fixi’s Instagram

Okay, it’s Kedai FIXI’s Top 10 Bestsellers from Other Publishers (apart from Buku Fixi) for last week. And I am INCREDIBLY PSYCHED. Thank you to Amir, Razi, and the team for making Pulp Toast great!

Now, the second thing’s this:

Indie Book Fair Promo (Feb 2016)

“Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar Issue #1: A Roll of the Dice”, will be available at BookTIQUE: Where Writers’ Shop, on the 6th of Feb (this coming Saturday), from 11:30AM to 9:30PM, at Citylink Mall. It’s SGD12 a copy, so if you’d like some snackable fiction over this festive season, do grab a copy. We hope you’ll enjoy our stories as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them.

And last, but not least:

“Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar Issue #1: A Roll of the Dice” is now available at:

…and a few more to come, so stay tuned and you can find out more about Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar here!

GLOBAL BEARDS

Also, have I mentioned that one of the great supporters of Pulp Toast are the great pair behind Global Beards? On top of Wayne Ree’s “Tales of a Tiny Room” and “Prompt”, and Gene Whitlock’s “The Unsavoury Alphabet”, they’ve finally got their collaborative comic, “Yellow Princess: Attack of the Dinosharks” at Kinokuniya Singapore!

A quote I took from their book for InkTober last year.
A quote I took from their book for InkTober last year.

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU GUYS! And if you’re into space adventures and comics, get a copy for yourself =).

Yellow Princess is also available at:

And you can find out more about Global Beards and the awesome things they do here!

BITTER PUNCH

Last year, a friend of mine asked me to help him with a blurb for his 2nd collection of poems. The weekend after Chinese New Year, this collection of poems, “Bitter Punch”, will be launching at Lepark, People’s Park Complex, on the 13th of Feb.

If you love the raw, rhythmic lyrics of Loh Guan Liang’s poetry, do come on down to People’s Park Complex for the sweet taste of this Bitter Punch (published by Ethos Books).

What: Launch of Bitter Punch, by Loh Guan Liang
Where: Lepark, Level 6, People’s Park Complex
When: 13th Feb 2016, 5PM to 7PM

For more information on the event, you can click here.

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Updates [January 2016]

Featured Posts

Some people finish their reflections for the previous year by December, it’s the end of January and I’m still very lost. LOL. Regardless, I’m happy that I managed to catch up on my Hong Kong adventures and get a quick glimpse of how my previous year was like.

Writer-y Endeavours

The first month of the year brought a lot of opportunities to both myself and many writers I know – at least three of my friends have got work accepted somewhere and I’m incredibly happy for them! This year, I’m trying to put most of my spare time to a few major projects, so here’s a teaser of one of them:

Coming Up Soon!

  • Launches and plans for Q1…
  • My final backlog of Hong Kong posts!
  • More updates on things to come!

I’ll see you next month!

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Museum Escapades: Hong Kong Arts Centre + Comix Home Base

Museum Escapades

Whenever I travel, I do my best to visit any good museums or arts centres within the country. Thanks to the Tiger, Val and I got information and made our way to the Hong Kong Arts Centre and their newer Comix Home Base. With both of them located nearest to Wanchai MTR, it was going to be a breeze to get to, right?

Not really.

Note: If you’d like to head to the Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Comix Home Base, please note that while the two of them are affiliated, they are located quite a fair walk away from each other.

But getting to the good stuff…

Down the rabbit hole we go!
Down the rabbit hole we go!

Hong Kong Arts Centre

The building housing the Hong Kong Arts Centre was quite nondescript, though it was at the corner of a long row of commercial buildings (the Arts Centre is pretty close to the Courts and the Immigration office).  We entered from the side, which resembled the Box Office of our Arts House, only bigger and with brochures for older Hong Kong films.

The place also housed about 2-3 galleries, an art school on its top floor, washrooms designed by the art students, and a café. Taking note of that day’s exhibition, we headed up to their 4th floor gallery (Pao Galleies), where a walking tour was already taking place.

Other visitors in the midst of their tour
Other visitors in the midst of their tour
Illuminated Presence - on exhibition while we were there
Illuminated Presence – on exhibition while we were there

Illuminated Presence was a collaborative exhibition of the works and legacy of Yeh Shih-Chiang, a Taiwan master painter and calligrapher, placed side-by-side to the interpretive works and photographs of Yeh Wei-Li, created in response to Yeh Shih-Chiang’s work.

Apart from the artfully curated placement of oil paintings, calligraphy, and related photography, short videos and artefacts which allowed visitors to glimpse into the life of the master artist gave little breaks between quiet contemplation of each piece of work.

Calligraphy by the master
Calligraphy by the master
And his tools
And his tools
The biggest piece of work there. Loved how the curation positioned this.
The biggest piece of work there. Loved how the curation positioned this.
Photographs of the master's workspace
Photographs of the master’s workspace

The gallery was built with a gradual descend to the mezzanine level, with each level representing a stage in the artist’s and photographer’s journey. This particular piece struck me then – reminding me of the solitude in the mind of an artist, but presented via a photograph, showing the external collaboration against individual creation.

One of my favourites from the exhibition
One of my favourites from the exhibition

Soon after, Val and I made our way to Comix Home Base.

Do check out the exhibitions and their running periods before you head to the Hong Kong Arts Centre – while located in the incredibly busy Hong Kong CBD, the centre hosts a variety of exhibitions, screenings, and activities for the public to enjoy.

The Hong Kong Arts Centre is located on 2 Harbour Road, with the closest MTR to be Wanchai MTR Exit C. For more information on the Hong Kong Arts Centre, click here.

Comix Home Base

Back mascot judges you...
Back mascot judges you…

Comix Home Base was trickier to find, with us weaving between the busy roads of Wanchai to look for it. We found the Comix Home Base sandwiched within a row of shophouses. Our interests piqued, we went in.

And realized we entered via the back door, a.k.a. the gift shop.

At that time, we found out about a Comix eXchange showcase – and I thought it mean there was going to be a market of some sorts.

Instead, we went up and were treated to the colourful works of Rainbow Leung and Elphonso Lam.

Directory of the building
Directory of the building
Comix eXchange welcomes you!
Comix eXchange welcomes you!
With scenes...
With scenes…
...characters...
…characters…
...and stories
…and stories

Apart from prints and characters, their storyboards, creative processes, as well as first edition work were put up for exhibition. Their works ranging from loosely-drawn depictions of daily Hong Kong life, to solid-coloured animal martial artists, to their modern interpretation of wuxia comics.

I especially liked Elphonso Lam’s Fury Animals – a great combination of cute, funny, and action.

Elphonso Lam's Fury Animals and merch!
Elphonso Lam’s Fury Animals and merch!

Another thing I liked about the eXchange was how this was a regular programme, aimed to promote local artists. Works from local, regional, and international artists can also be promoted via the comics library, located on the top floor of the building.

Though small, visitors can sit, relax, and indulge in comics across languages, genre, and medium. But be sure to get there early! They only have 1 terminal for browsing online comics.

Comics on display along the seating areas.
Comics on display along the seating areas.
From where we sat.
From where we sat.

The funny thing was, about a couple of weeks after returning from Hong Kong, Cheng Tju managed to head over to place works done by Max, Jerry, Ben, and many other indie artists into the library. Looking forward to the smiles on those who pick up and enjoy their comics!

Comix Home Base is located on 7 Mallory Street, spanning from Ground Floor to the 4th Floor. Their nearest MTR Exit is via Wanchai MTR Exit A3. To find out more about them, click here.

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Blanket Fortress Play: Looking forward in 2016

Blanket Fort Plays

Okay, I facilitated a game of Dead of Winter, won a round of Monopoly: Now & Then, and played Coup and Smash Up a few weekends later.

This time, however, I thought I’d talk briefly about what I’d like to do, board game front for 2016.

Firstly, my 30-by-30 list – I’ve bought and played Eldritch Horror and Dead of Winter. So that’s two down, and I have Fortune and Glory to go. If time doesn’t punch me in the gut, I hope I’ll be able to go on adventures around the world, pulp investigator style.

Secondly, inspired by Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar, I thought I’d try diving into RPG or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure this year too. “Lone Wolf” has already been recommended, so I hope to be starting there. Until I can find Ian Livingstone’s works again. AHAHAHA.

And finally, I think it’s time to get some creating done. I’ve been watching Critical Role and Titansgrave for a while, and I’m getting inspired to create game paraphernalia. Apart from that, there’s a game the Valkyrie Knights kinda came up with for fun, so do watch out for any updates on that.

So yes, here you have my board game goals for this year. Hoping to play more analog games, and get back into Choose-Your-Own Adventure or RPGs again.

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Muse Moment: Dipping into Comic Scripts

Muse Moment

As we go midway into January, I’m shivering from both anticipation and excitement with my writing projects. Lately, I’ve been given the opportunity to explore comic scripting, which has me jumping inside because I haven’t done

*

PAGE 1

PANEL 1: Overhead view from the connecting bridge between the old City Hall wing and the old Supreme Court wing. The gallery has just opened and the sun shines through the glass ceiling and casts the shadow of the roof’s framework on the marbled floor. People have just started streaming in, a lone lady is standing in the middle with cliques of 3-4 people in clusters around her.

PANEL 2: A tighter view of the lady, from her head down. She’s looking down, her black hair in a ponytail, and is dressed in a loose, checkered top and denim jeans. She carries a tan sling bag over her right shoulder, and is looking down at her camera and the shadows on the floor.

TEXT: Sunshine.

PANEL 3: A view of the lady from waist up. She looks up at the rays of light coming through the ceiling. She’s still holding on to her camera.

TEXT: I won’t be walking in it for long.

*

I’m still unsure how the general direction of this story will be like, but I hope it’ll be good enough and stand on its own.

Until I see you all again!

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Decode: Adventure: Hong Kong 2015 – Food Trail

Decode Adventure

One of our biggest motivations to go to Hong Kong for was for the food. And Disneyland. But that aside, food always plays a big part in my travels. While many places I went to were recommendations from other blogs and friends, I thought I’d present my trail in the form of the kind of meals we took.

Breakfast

Mido Café

Inside the Mido Cafe
Inside the Mido Cafe
View from where we sat
View from where we sat
Breakfast!
Breakfast!

This place was found based on my urge to eat at a proper Tea House at least once during this trip. The ones, according to my brother and the dramas my grandmother watched, with the melamine tables, wood-framed glass windows, steep staircases, and little square tiles lining the walls.

One of the employees sent us up the moment we approached the café, and we took a booth seat after ordering our toasted sandwiches and HK Milk Tea.

The fragrance of freshly fried noodles and processed meat sandwiches was the most artificial but rewarding scent one could ask for in a Hong Kong Tea House. As compared to the couple behind us, Val and I each just had a toasted sandwich with egg and luncheon meat fried to a bacon-like crisp (the only kind of luncheon meat I’ll eat). Milk Tea was one of the better Milk Teas I had, with a good balance of the black tea and condensed milk.

Now I wish we’d ordered more then. This place is definitely marked for a return visit, especially since I’ve heard their signature dishes included their baked rice and pork ribs!

Address: 63 Temple Street
Opening Hours:
8:30AM – 9:45PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Yaumatei Station, Exit C

Brunch

SimplyLife Bakery

Their open-concept greens kitchen.
Their open-concept greens kitchen.
Val's pasta and my pizza =)
Val’s pasta and my pizza =)

This was a request from Val, and when we saw the pastries on display and the open-concept kitchen, we decided to give this place a try post-Page One madness.

The both of us each took a set – I had a spinach and mushroom pizza. Val had a mushroom linguine. – and it was rather worth it. For HKD98, we got a drink, a main, and a soup / salad. The pasta was freshly made, and you could taste the peppery depth of the olive oil without the oily aftermath coating your lips. Personally, I don’t like thin-crust, or Naples-style pizza, but this thin but substantial pizza was utterly satisfying.

Val and I got their muffins and croissants for breakfast the next day, and I felt it was comforting to know that these pastries retained their taste and texture even after a night in the fridge.

Address: Shop 30, L2, Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Ave
Opening Hours:
11AM – 11PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Kowloon Tong Station, Exit C

Lunch

Mak’s Noodles

ARGH!!! THE BEST FIND OF THE TRIP.
ARGH!!! THE BEST FIND OF THE TRIP.

This was possibly the best discovery we made our whole trip. (!!!)

It was funny, because I was hoping to head to Tai Ping Koon after we got our cookies from Jenny’s Bakery in Sheung Wan. Instead, we chanced upon their humble shopfront. Remembering it was one of the recommended places from the Tiger, we decided to head in.

NO REGRETS.

I know there are a few branches in Singapore, but thus far, nothing beats the original.

We each got a bowl of Wanton-Beef-Brisket-Soup Noodles, hoping to kill two birds with one stone. I’m generally not a fan of ‘mee kia’, which is kinda like the thinner version of instant noodles. But for some strange reason, it’s the noodle I look forward to the most when I’m in Hong Kong.

Once again, the Hong Kongers haven’t disappointed, with their wantons jam-packed with minced pork and whole shrimp. The beef broth which stews over the days, weeks, and months permeate the dumpling, releasing a burst of flavour and soup with each bite.

Similarly, the beef brisket crumbles with the slightest force of our chopsticks, giving us the equivalent of pulled beef. Complementing the flavours of the broth, the beef provided the tender texture needed to contrast the succulent shrimp wantons, the sweet broth, and the noodles with the right amount of bite.

So yes, I have a lot of good things to say about this place. If you’re in Central, GO HAVE A BOWL!

Address: 77 Wellington Street
Opening Hours:
11AM – 9PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Central Station, Exit D2

Dessert

Sogno Café+

After climbing three storeys...
After climbing three storeys…
...we were greeted by the Cloud family...
…we were greeted by the Cloud family…

Under the umbrella of the Fluffy House, Sogno Café is a quaint dessert café in the middle of the developing areas of Wellington Street.

It’s not the easiest place to chance upon, with the both of us having to find the building and then climb three flights of stairs up the older building. This was one of the moments where I really felt I was exploring Hong Kong.

Regardless, we ended up at this café adorned with the likes of Mr. Cloud, Miss Rainbow, and their companions. Having just come from Mak’s Noodles, Val and I sat down to dessert while I explored the area.

...and Dessert!
…and Dessert!

My milk cake with honeycomb was delicate yet flavourful – the honeycomb balancing out the light sponge cake and cream, a nice counter to Val’s dark chocolate cake. Service staff here are friendly as well, especially when it comes to enquiring about the Fluffy House figurines they sell in the café as well.

(I ended up buying an Original Mr. Cloud for the Tiger)

Address: Flat 2D, 2/F Welley Building, 97 Wellington Street
Opening Hours:
12NOON – 5PM (Mon-Wed), 12NOON – 10:30PM (Thur-Sat), 1:30 – 9:30PM (Sun)
Nearest MTR Exit:
Central Station, Exit D2

Yee Shun Dairy Company

It's like eating ice cream, only that the ice cream is like velvet.
It’s like eating ice cream, only that the ice cream is like velvet.

THE MILK PUDDING HERE TASTES LIKE CHINESE ICE CREAM.

Or something of that calibre.

I know the Tiger has a good eye for desserts, but I wasn’t expecting a surprise like this! Val and I got the original, cold milk puddings just to have a taste.

To be honest, I was expecting something along the lines of Lao Ban (Soy Pudding), with a more milky flavour, but I was pleasantly surprised. The skin at the top can be off-putting to some, but it doesn’t affect the taste and texture of the dessert. Our spoons cut clean through the pudding, and the smooth dessert slid down our throats like velvet.

This is not the vanilla-laden white water some people claim to be milk.

The milkiness in this dessert is not for the lactose intolerant.

And yes, we will definitely be coming back again.

Address: 506 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay
Opening Hours:
12NOON – 12MIDNIGHT
Nearest MTR Exit:
Causeway Bay Station, Exit C

Snacks

EXpresso

/gluttony noises
/gluttony noises

The last time I went to Macau, I declared that if there was a way to bring their Portuguese Egg Tarts as they were (fresh, warm, puff pastry base, and all), I would bring a whole crate back. Until today, I’m still unable to do that.

Fortunately, a colleague of mine recommended the Portuguese Egg Tarts at EXpresso, one of the eateries in The Excelsior, at Causeway Bay.

When we reached, there was a queue almost out the shop, even in the middle of the afternoon! It was almost as if the patrons were there to only get egg tarts, with the café selling them in sets of 1, 6, and 18. Seems like the fragrance of espresso in the background did little to distract the coming crowd from getting what they wanted. And when we tried the egg tarts that night, we realized why.

While the egg custard maintained its caramelized sweetness and its inner wibble, the puff pastry held it together without going dry or bland. My only complaint was how we couldn’t finish that many in one sitting.

Address: The Excelsior, 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
Opening Hours:
7AM – 7PM (Mon-Fri), 8AM – 7PM (Sat), 8AM – 6PM (Sun)
Nearest MTR Exit:
Causeway Bay Station, Exit E

Jenny’s Bakery

Found it!
Found it!
The queue going in...
The queue going in…

I am grateful that we didn’t have to queue up for long to get these butter cookies.

I first heard of Jenny’s Bakery when one of my colleagues brought these back for everyone else to share and they were incredibly delicious. In fact, Jenny’s Bakery is the only place where I would consume something remotely associated to coffee (i.e. their coffee flowers).

So we went to the branch at Sheung Wan, which was reportedly less crowded. Regardless, there was still a queue there, with a lady controlling the crowd.

We got our tins within half an hour =)

And we had to endure the rest of the trip before actually tasting them.

Address: 15 Wing Wo Street
Opening Hours:
10AM – 7PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Sheung Wan Station, Exit E2

Dinner

Gudetama Café

All the lazy eggs looking at you...
All the lazy eggs looking at you…
...and just asking to be quickly eaten.
…and just asking to be quickly eaten.

I made it a point to head to this place, especially since the Tiger is a huge Gudetama fan. It helped that the café was located at The ONE and had a menu spanning across dim sum and fusion western. It also helped that Val and I made it a point to reach the place before 6pm.

Gudetama Chee Cheong Fun!
Gudetama Chee Cheong Fun!
The Har Gao triplets.
The Har Gao triplets.
And their signature Chocolate Custard Bun!
And their signature Chocolate Custard Bun!

Known for their chocolate custard buns in the shape of the Gudetama egg, we ordered a set of that. Determined to keep to the theme, we ended up ordering Gudetama Chee Cheong Fun and Har Gao as well. Yes, I know, but Val was full and I can’t eat that much.

Note: The ladies at the table next to us were rather chatty and had a Rice Bowl with a fried egg Gudetama top. One of them was presently surprised when she saw our Gudetama Har Gao.

What I liked about this restaurant was how well positioned their signatures were. In order to cater to the general public, they had a normal menu with slightly themed and generic Char Chan Teng food, with the Gudetama specialties on their own separate order chits to order from.

The ambience was great, and full of people taking pictures of their food (understandable). Most importantly, the dim sum served here didn’t put Hong Kong dim sum to shame (at least in my book). The Har Gao and Chee Cheong Fun were still chock full of shrimp, and the smooth chocolate custard complemented the fluffy yellow and white buns of the character (haha).

They also sell Gudetama merchandise on the side, so if you’re a fan, this place is worth a go!

Address: L308, 3/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Opening Hours:
11AM – 11PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Tsim Sha Tsui Station, Exit B1 or B2

On-the-Side

Mickey Bars!

The original
The original
And his friends!
And his friends!

You can’t go to Disneyland without having one of these! Okay, they’ve expanded their menu to other characters, so we got to choose between the dark chocolate-covered vanilla Mickey bar, the partially-chocolate coated strawberry Minnie bar, a raspberry sherbet Lotso paw bar, and a blueberry (I THINK) Stitch sherbet paw bar.

Utterly delicious and a sweet treat despite the cool weather.

Address: Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island
Opening Hours:
10:30AM – 8PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Disneyland Resort Station

Tai Cheong

I think I placed the fastest order I had in my life here – 2 egg tarts and 2 sar yung (Chinese doughnuts). I still prefer egg tarts with a puff pastry tart casing though, but the sar yung was pretty good. Despite it getting carried around until we returned to our hotel, it was a nice treat with its sugary glaze and its custard-like, almost eggy-soft interior.

Address: 35 Lyndhurst Terrace
Opening Hours:
7:30AM – 9PM
Nearest MTR Exit:
Central Station, Exit D2

Maxim’s Bakery

The first place we bought food from, this was also another place requested by Val. Little did we know that they pepper every MTR station – kinda like what BreadTalk does. They do have a good variety of snack breads, cakes, pastries, and desserts though. So if you have an itch to scratch, they’re pretty accessible as you travel between stations.

Address: All over Hong Kong
Opening Hours:
Depends on the Branch
Nearest MTR Exit:
All over Hong Kong

Okay, so we didn’t end up going to a lot of tea houses or dim sum houses, but for the amount of time we spent on Mainland and Hong Kong island, I was glad we managed to get as much food as we could!

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Next-in-Reading #48: Sherlock Sam Series

Next In Reading

Title: Sherlock Sam Series (They have 10 volumes now, and counting)
Author: A.J. Low, Drewscape (Artist)
Year: 2013 until now
Publisher:
Epigram Books

“…and I would have gotten away with it if not for you kaypoh kids!”

So far, I’ve only gotten through Books 1 to 3, but that line always reminds me of the detective enemy’s signature – kinda like how the monsters in the Scooby-Doo series almost always had to be unmasked by the crew of the Mystery Shack.

The first thing which struck me about the Sherlock Sam series was how frequently food was mentioned. Singaporeans love our food, but I really liked how local delicacies come in subtly, just enough to give your stomach a rumble, before returning to the story. And if you feel there isn’t enough mention of food, Drewscape’s artistic rendition of what Sherlock is craving will give you the tummy rumble you’re looking for.

Moving on, Sherlock Sam is easy to go through, with a good balance of red herrings and clues before reaching the culprit. Book 2’s Fort Canning mystery had me guessing for a while, especially with all the real mysteries surrounding that area. And as freaked out as I still am about that place, I can’t help but laugh a little when I get reminded of Watson, Sherlock, and Mr. Tan screaming and running down a tree-lined pathway.

His motley crew, including the babbling robot Watson, artistic Wendy, knowledgeable Nazhar, excited Jimmy, and the chameleon-ish Eliza, have a chemistry many of us can relate to, especially when we played adventure games during recess (THIS was why I wanted to quit the prefectorial board. LOLOL.).

So there you go! I’d say I never regretted picking up the series, especially since one of the great things about books is to pass them down. My 10-year-old cousin (who loathes anything that’s not on a computer or TV), went through the first two books in no time, and asked for more. And while I catch up with the next few volumes, I’m looking forward to more adventures with Sherlock and the gang!

P/S – It’s also exciting to know that Adan and Felicia will see their work picked up and on sale in the US soon, so major congratulations to them! To find out more about the Sherlock Sam series, click here.

And I’ll see you next week!

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