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Monday, October 18, 2010

Celebrating Singapore: Of Shin & Sweet Stuff

Last year, we celebrated my 30th birthday in Chile. Somewhere in the Atacama Desert to be exact. Nothing fancy. Just the driest place on earth, that's all.

As we all know, deserts are naturally barren. Barren places have few resources. Lack of resources means limited varieties of food. And a particularly scarce type of food being birthday cake. In fact, it's really hard to find any dessert in the desert (oh, ho ho ho. Witty me.)

We scrounged around San Pedro de Atacama, the little dust speck of a town we were staying in, for days - just for a piece of birthday cake. Before that, I had never celebrated a birthday without cake before. Ever! We finally hunted down a hunk of dry sponge (well, what do you expect to find in the driest place on earth, right) in a tiny bakery a few days later. In the meantime, Dan impressed the socks of me (yes, only the socks) by pulling a few stunts to celebrate my big 3-0, which involved taking me to the moon, engaging a singing trio and showing me some nice scenery. Bear in mind that it's really hard to arrange a birthday surprise for somebody when she's with you 24/7 and you don't have friends to sneakily help you pull it off (the surprise, I mean. Thought that came out sounding quite wrong) either.

I always thought it would be cool to be whisked away on a fancy holiday for some romantic one-on-one time for my birthday. Celebrating in Chile last year was surreal; being alone with Dan was lovely. But I realised that the true celebration was in being in the company of family and friends on my special day. Of course, I won't complain if tonnes of good food and pretty gifts are thrown into the mix too!

So this year, we went all out to celebrate with a multi-day birthday party all around home - Singapore. I enjoyed it tremendously, so much so that I couldn't fit all the photos and stories into one post. So we now have a five-part special birthday series, titled Celebrating Singapore. (I wanted all the words in the title to start with 'S' but I couldn't bring myself to write Selebrating...)

I have to thank my lovely husband up front for signing away a good part of his October salary on his credit card. That said, it must have been much easier orchestrating this year's surprises with a ready crew of friends to lend their arms and legs (and cars and wallets) to his mission.

Even then after almost a week of celebration, I didn't manage to meet (and eat) with everybody whom I wanted to spend my birthday with. Which only gives us a great excuse and more opportunities for good food and great company later this year.

Sushi, Sashimi & Skewers

It all started with a surprise pre-birthday dinner at one of our favourite restaurants in Singapore: Shin Kushiya at Vivocity. Since Dan's secondary school mates opened their first outlet at Vivo four years ago, Shin has spawned a couple more branches in the city centre.

We love Shin for it's super fresh, chilled, thick cuts of sashimi.

The highlight at Shin, though, is the kushiyaki - or simply put, as seen in the following photos, grilled skewers. We ordered the premium mix, comprising 18 sticks of tasty meats and seafood to be shared amongst the four of us.

One of my absolute favourites from the kushiyaki range is the pork skewer filled with gooey melted cheese. Or is it cheese sticks wrapped in pork slices. Whatever. It's good.

As if all that wasn't already enough, we ordered individual main dishes to fill our tummies... more. Dan had the mentaiko spaghetti, which looked a lovely lady-like pink from all that fish roe in the pasta sauce. My parents had cold, slithery udon and soba, complete with a duck dip and mixed tempura.

For the records, it doesn't matter whether you're one, three, thirteen or thirty-one years old. Parents still think it's cute to snap candid shots of their kids eating at the dinner table - even when they're not quite done with chewing and swallowing what's in their mouth yet. Grrrrrr.

We were STUFFED! But what's a good meal without dessert to end it off on a sweet note right?

The Sweet Stuff

While Shin has really good desserts (their green tea mochi and black sesame ice-cream are top-notch), my mum had been hankering after the Hong Kong desserts at Honeymoon Dessert, also in Vivocity. Dan and I first visited Honeymoon Dessert during our stopover in Hong Kong where we stuffed ourselves silly with much-missed Asian fare, and agreed that it served pretty good sweets. So off we went to Level 1...

It was awfully difficult to choose from a range of over forty desserts. Everything looked good even when the buttons on our tops and pants/skirts were on the brink of popping off and scattering all over the restaurant floor. We eventually settled on three: black sesame paste, mango pomelo sago (or is it mango sago pomelo?) and some fancy rich combination of vanilla cream, fresh durian and ice-cream (tsk, tsk Dad....)

That night's dinner was a surprise addition to the birthday programme. We had booked the family and a table at an Italian restaurant for the next day - the actual day of my birthday - but my dad ended up having to attend a university function which he couldn't get out of (damn those students who kidnapped my dad!)

But hey, who's complaining about the extra dinner?

Shin Kushiya
#02-120 Vivocity
Reservations: 6275 8766

Also at Suntec City and Far East Square

(as for Honeymoon Dessert: go locate it yourself! I'm only promoting Shin. Go ahead and call me biased!)


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