Travel

Stockholm Syndrome

August 11, 2016

There is a tender, unbridled, and almost sacred lightness in Stockholm that makes you wonder about certain things. It disturbs you in a good way.

During the summer-time, the sun does not go down until 11 in the evening, and it rises at three in the morning. The food here is clean, delicious, and almost-always fresh. I made friends with a little boy with golden curls. His name is Elton and he has the sweetest smile. One slow afternoon in Nynäshamn, I sat under the sun and ate cherries freshly picked from the tree in front of me. I walked on cobblestone paths with the boy I love; we sat by the river and we held hands. Then, he told me that he loved me, too.

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Stockholm has become a special place to me in one ways too many. Its old town is littered with souvenir shops from which kind people with big hearts make a living. Peddlers along the street sell necklaces with stones sworn to have come all the way from Ethiopia, while musicians try to make an extra few kroner before calling it a day.

I had the most luscious hot chocolate served to me in a huge bowl, and the winding, never-ending flights of stairs scattered around the city have become more of a joy to climb rather than a chore.

The pace of life here suddenly makes so much sense—perhaps, this is the product of life lived with mindfulness and with reverence to this fleeting thing called time. In a city where things are kept no-frills and are easy going, the simple things are the ones that carry the most significance. The people here seem to know the key to happiness; they carry it in their hearts like a well-kept secret. But there is nothing to hide; you see it in their way of life. The crinkle around their eyes when they smile, the way they respect each other’s space, the way the city operates on the economy of trust.

It is a city has held me captive, and I have fallen in love with it rather deeply. You learn to enjoy life for what it is and not what it could be.

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Somehow, you learn how to hold on to things a little more loosely.

Life

Apartment Story

August 7, 2016

It has been a full week since I moved into my new apartment. It is an old walk-up; I live on the fourth floor. It is a bit of a climb, but it is a small price to pay for the welcome of white walls, huge windows, and a proper place for my books. Its age speaks through peeling paint, a small leak from the ceiling, and pieces of old furniture. But I have no complaints; I love all its little quirks.

Last weekend, I assembled my own furniture and was reminded of mindfulness. Today, I realised the importance of having a small strainer for the drain. I learned the magical properties of baking soda (every household needs to have a tiny box inside the cupboard). And in the absence of pots and pans, I have maximised the use of the microwave to make three full meals.

Sunlight softly spills into my room in the mornings, waking me up with its gentle rays. I make my morning coffee and crash on the couch, thinking about the day ahead. These are simple, priceless moments that I cherish and am grateful to enjoy.

These days, the city can get pretty overwhelming—the boy I love is far away and my office job comes with its set of challenges—but I try my best to get by. Knowing all this is temporary puts me at ease, and making the most of the now helps me get going. Since I moved, changing situations have given me the space to weed out the unnecessary and focus on my path. It’s nice to get to know myself better.

Living alone has been teaching me many things—especially the value of living with less, and the importance of being accountable and responsible. Most importantly, it has been teaching me contentment. Living in a first-world country with its first-world perks can blind you into thinking that everything is a necessity, but do you really need that much in order to survive?

The pace of the city is exciting, but I am still drawn to the simple life—I was not made for the busy city, this I know for sure. I crave the ocean and the sound of nothing but the wind and the waves. I haven’t been to the beach in months, but I am grateful to at least have a pocket of it in my room, tacked on the corkboard beside my bed. Alongside it are photographs of the people I love. Opposite is a wall filled with stars; the constellations of spring and summer. In the mornings, I still get my sunshine.

And of course, there are my white walls, my huge windows, and a proper place for my books.

I am grateful and I am content. This place that I can call my own—quirks and all—is home, for now.

Life

Pancakes and the Open Road

June 21, 2016

I had pancakes for breakfast last week. They were as pancake-y as you’d expect. Nothing fancy about them, but simple is always good—fluffy and soft cushions semi-soaked in golden maple syrup with three generous pats of butter sitting comfortably on top—just the way I like ‘em.

Before last week’s fill, I do not recall the last time I had pancakes. But what I know, though, is that my favourite pancakes are the fast food kind, found along the expressway.

Pancakes remind me of the fresh air at 3 in the morning. The moon watching us as we would pile up our bags inside the backseat; zip up our hoodies, and prepare for the long drive ahead.

Whether we were out to conquer a mountain, paddle out and hopefully get lucky with the waves, or swim in the sea, we were simply content to be where we were.

Then, after a couple of hours on the road, the car door would swing open. Our eyes would slowly adjust to the blue of the 5am sunrise, as we would step out, gather our bearings, and race to line up for some fast food breakfast.

I would always get pancakes.

“2 hotcakes with extra butter, please”, I’d say. Sometimes, I’d have pancakes and a Filipino breakfast, complete with garlic rice. Paired with hot chocolate, and maybe a hash brown with 3 packets of ketchup.

I miss the sound of plastic trays, the “are we there yets”, and the glossy smell of maps.

I miss the way maps would then become useless because of Waze.

I miss singing to Mae, the Ataris, and Taking Back Sunday as we drove. I miss seeing random cows and buffalos and goats in the middle of the road. I miss the transition from grey to green in a matter of seconds.

I miss stopovers and long talks at the back of pick-up trucks with cold beers in our hands and the galaxies above us.

I miss early mornings along the expressway. Me, slicing tiny pancake triangles on a Styrofoam plate, using a plastic knife, knowing that adventure wasn’t too far away.

Life

Little Lights

June 15, 2016

This is a photograph of the people I love.

I bid Manila goodbye for the fourth time this year. I don’t know when I’ll be back.

Continue Reading…

Series

The Sunday Currently: Volume 6

May 15, 2016

What a ride, these past few weeks have been. It’s been a mix of disheartening and elating news; news that made me wonder, and news that sent electric shocks throughout my body. I think I will need some time to ponder on these things and let them mellow out before I can produce a coherent thought, but in the meantime, here’s what’s been happening so far.

On Taking Notes:

I’ve been really putting my Moleskine notebooks to good use! It has always been a brand that I’ve loved and patronised because of its quality and durability. I am a notebook hoarder, and now that I have a handful of new ones, my obsession with writing everything down has risen to another slightly mad~ level.

Last month, Moleskine and I teamed up to show various ways on how to maximise their products. They shipped over their new line of colourful notebooks that came in grid, lined, and blank paper. And while I’ve always had a preference towards blank notebooks, it has dawned on me that since I my art is focused more on words than visuals (I can doodle and draw stick people, though!) my OC-ness kicks in so much when my sentences aren’t aligned. I’ve been experimenting ways on how to utilise the grid version (I think it would be perfect for checklists and Bullet Journaling), but that’s where Moleskine’s Professional Notebook comes in.

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By the way, they’ve got some new colours!!!

Essentially, it’s divided into three parts that you can use for taking down notes, narrowing down important points, and then plotting your next steps. I usually bring it along with me whenever we have big talks in the office and guest speakers. I also use it whenever I watch TED talks so I can document what I learn and better remember them.

I’ve also tried my hand at scrapbooking thanks to the Photobooks! It’s nice to have a bit of variety when it comes to sorting out my Instax photos. So, yay!

On Life:

I think I’ve been adjusting well since I moved here two months ago. I JUST REALLY MISS ROCKET. My friend Kim told me that I had to come to terms with the situation and accept the fact that Rocket and I aren’t meant to by physically and geographically together. This was, of course, a very sad and painful thing for me. So when I went to Manila last month, I sat down with Rocket, looked him in the eye, and said, “we aren’t meant to be, but I love you.” And of course, because Rocket is a dog and has no idea what the hell I said, he just stared at me blankly and licked my nose. Anyways, here is a photo of us! He really is a little white bear pretending to be a dog.

Facebook notified me that I posted this 2 years ago. (Love you, Lena.) I’m still thinking about the last two seasons of Girls. I did a marathon of Seasons 4 and 5 during the last long weekend. It’s still on my mind and is still haunting me. I guess, there are so many little parts of the show that I completely resonated with, and I’ve caught myself rewinding a certain scene more than once. It was funny being able to relate to bits of the show, how the girls made dumb and reckless decisions, and being able to see a bit of myself in them. It was a bit cathartic in a satiric way, but I appreciate the humour and real-ness of it.

Also, have you listened to playlist on Spotify? It is a gold mine of music.

On My Currentlies:

Reading
Just finished 99U’s Manage Your Day-to-Day, and now reading The Art of the Idea by John Hunt! It’s a pretty good read with bite-sized reflections on ideas and creativity.

Writing
What next week looks like for me. And, well, this.

Listening
“My Car” by Tear Council

Thinking
Of lunch. Because I’m hungry.

Smelling
This new shampoo I got from Australia. It says that it’s for balding people.

Wishing
For a longer weekend!

Wearing
A shirt by boyfriend gave me and some boy shorts.

Loving
Torres Black Truffle Potato Chips! #PretentiousSnack but leave me alone because it’s damn good!

Wanting
I kinda want some Laksa but I’m too lazy to move and get my bearings together.

Needing
A weight loss miracle.

Feeling
Hungry and sleepy and fat lol.

Clicking
The buttons on my trackpad.

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Read about the original The Sunday Currently here.

Dish Review

Ramen Keisuke Kani King’s Crab Broth Ramen with Rich Soup

May 11, 2016

You can count me to be game for ramen despite the blistering 40-degree heat. It was a couple of Sundays ago when Kim, Ben, and I went to watch Miso Hungry and got, well, really hungry for something Japanese.

Ramen King Keisuke Takada is responsible for the different ramen holes located in different parts of Singapore; each restaurant serves broth that’s unique from the other. There’s the traditional tonkotsu king, a tori (chicken) king, a lobster king in Clark Quay, and this one we tried—the kani (crab) king, located at Orchard Cineleisure, the newest of the bunch that opened only last March 3.

Complimentary beansprouts, cabbage, and the best of them all…Kewpie.

You can also count on me to leave my bowl of ramen unfinished. I get oddly full midway, and my craving for ramen is highly dependent on my mood. There are days when the thought of scarfing down a ginormous bowl of ramen with fatty slices of chashu and glistening aji tamago make the case for a hurl-fest, but there are also days when the exact same thing can grant me the miraculous patience to wait in line for an hour just to get my craving curbed.

Kani King serves broth made primarily from crab shells. All that crabmeat that’s stubbornly stuck inside the deep nooks and crannies of the obscurely shaped crustacean is simmered alongside chicken bones and vegetables. The result is a beautiful, thick, rust-coloured broth that is heady, bold, and distinctly crab. We are all silenced as each bowl descends on our table, and we slurp and chew and declare its greatness in between bites.

I ordered the Crab Broth Ramen with Rich Soup ($13.90) and added an aji tamago. The flavours are strong, sweet, and of the sea. It’s almost as if fresh crabs were thrown into a Jamba Juice blender and power-liquefied. The noodles (I requested for hard) come with a satisfying al dente bite.

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Fresh negi lends a subtle spice and great crunch. You can also add some ground-up nutty sesame seeds, which was quite nice. I sit there, drinking the soup and wishing I had a straw instead of a spoon, ashamed to have even assumed that it would taste like a Grade-A version of crab bisque. This is a humbling experience; a recurring lesson to my prejudiced eating habits. I was so happy with this bowl of ramen, I wanted to give it a hug. A big, tight thank-you hug.

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See, I was really happy with my bowl that the chashu’s accidental shortcomings—just okay; a bit dry and bland—were easily forgiven. The aji tamago carried the right balance of salty and sweet. The egg yolk begged to be broken into; its gooeyness giving way and transforming into a creamy, golden puddle of cholesterol upon biting into. It was pure splendour mixing the yolk with a bit of noodles and letting them swim in the tasty broth.

I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many photos of the same dish in a long time. This was such a treat and I wouldn’t mind coming back—even if the weather outside is as hot as the broth.

Ramen Keisuke Kani King

Address: 8 Grange Road, #01-03, Cathay Cineleisure, Orchard, Singapore 239695
Phone: +656262 6968
Hours: Mon-Thu 12pm-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri 12pm-3pm, 5pm-2am; Sat 12pm-2am; Sun 12pm-10pm

Life

9 Thoughts on Living a Creative Life (Despite a Day Job)

April 24, 2016

I guess, in some way or the other, we all have an idea of what “The Dream Job” is. When I graduated from university, I wanted to travel the world, taste it on my plate, and write about it for a living. Another dream of mine, which I was so close to pursuing, was moving to the beach and working at a bed & breakfast or coffee shop. I want to start something of my own someday, but for now, I thought that this would have to do before getting there. I swirled these thoughts in my head too often, quitting my first three jobs in advertising and PR, “in the pursuit of The Great Perhaps.”

Between these two dream jobs that I held in my mind, I was lucky to have become a food writer for almost four years. My schedule was pretty flexible; so my time permitted me to do other things that helped iron my life out. I was able to travel a lot in my early twenties, and as a result, I was always broke from backpacking, “pursuing the next adventure”, and taking spontaneous beach trips during the weekends. None of these experiences I regret, because they taught to see and appreciate the world differently, but there were a lot of moments, though, when I’d stop and think, “Is this really it?” And so, I decided to take a different route.

When I turned 25, I started reassessing my priorities, and I realised that what I was after now was some form of stability, while still being able to live a creative life. There are some voids that I want to fill. What most of them are, I still do not know. I’m still in the process of figuring them out. I moved from home to start a new life in a new city, and so far, one of the biggest things I have been learning so far is that it is possible to still pursue your creative goals and build towards “The Dream”, while having a day job. Having experienced both sides of the coin, I never thought it would be possible until I started to shift my mind-set. It is not easy, I tell you. There are days when I just want to give up and sleep; but then, my desire to keep myself sane, knowing that I am creating good work (even if it’s just for myself), makes each day more meaningful. We all operate at different levels, but if we’re in the same boat (aka trying to just make it work, damn it!), then I hope this list helps you live a more creative life despite a 9 to something job. I am not an expert at this! But this is what I have learned so far:

1. Prioritise Yourself by Making Time for Yourself First

Before I fill out my free hours and days with all the creative stuff and side projects that I want/need to do, I make sure that I’ve allocated some time for myself first. Whether it’s carving out time for watching shows, going to the beach, taking myself out on a coffee date, playing video games, or simply taking a nap without setting an alarm (my favourite, lol), making time to recharge helps me not get burned out. Remember, the most important person in your life is no one else but you.

2. Plot Down Creative Milestones/Goals that You’d Like to Achieve and Invest in Them

I like doing this because I feel that it gives my life purpose beyond my day job. I think of what I’d like to achieve apart from my work’s milestones and write them down on paper. I also have this obsession for listing things down like a crazy person, and I find it so therapeutic to plot down goals and create feasible action plans for each of them. The problem here, I realised, is that I often spend more time planning than actually doing! So I made a weekly performance system to check my progress. Haha, I know it sounds daunting (I used to think so, too), but you’ll be surprised at how much you actually get to do. I’m working on a post that focuses solely on this Personal Progress Report, so stay tuned!

3. Consume with Hunger and Purpose

I read a lot of inspirational and self-help books and magazines that help me improve (yes, I’m that type of person!). I also bookmark a loooooot of articles that provide tips that touch on skills that I want to develop such as managing my time better, striking more engaging and meaningful conversations with people, etc. etc. etc. But don’t get me wrong! I still enjoy my regular does of Y.A. and Chicklit.

Since I still love writing about food, I read food books and I try my best to keep updated with what’s happening in the food scene around the world. I guess that’s how I realised that I really really love food—I still look for it and write about it even when I don’t have to do it mandatorily anymore!

4. Set Clear Boundaries Between Work and Your Life

Your day job is important, but it doesn’t mean that it has to take over your life. Know when to stop, recharge, and get back in the game. Putting your health on the line because you “work too hard” is not a badge of honour that you carry around and should be proud of. In my first job, I used to think that staying late in the office made me a good employee, but now I think that it was a dumb mind-set to have because it only meant that I was inefficient with my work.

But don’t get me wrong, staying at work beyond hours is inevitable (especially in my industry), but know when you need a break. I also always have a book with me, just in case, so I can refresh my mind and perform even better at work.

5. Shake Up Your Scenery from Time to Time

Whether it’s reorganising my desk, or working at different areas of my office, getting a change of scenery always helps reset my mind and soul. Outside work, taking road trips, travelling, trekking in nature reserves, and exploring a new part of the city every now and then is always a great way for me to unwind, recharge, and go back to my roots.

6. Or Maybe All You Need to Do is Disconnect

I love going on Airplane Mode. Even for just 15 minutes, sometimes. Social media can be a huuuuge distraction, so cutting myself from connectivity helps me to really focus on what I am doing—even if it’s just writing in my journal or taking a nap. There is a great, big, and unexplainable kind of freedom in knowing that you’re disconnected and untraceable; that you are emptying everything out and being simply and presently in the moment. Doing yoga or running also works for me since they help clear my mind.

7. Use Your Day Job to Your Advantage

Apart from the financial stability it provides, there is so much you can learn in your day job. This sounds so much easier said then done, but if you keep an open mind, I’m sure you can see that there is so much knowledge and helpful tips that you can pick up and apply to your personal creative projects. For me, I have been learning how to be more organised and detail-oriented. I thought that whatever I knew about organising and planning was okay, but because of my day job, I realised that there is still so much to learn. I know it can be difficult, but applying a positive perspective about your day job (even just little by little) can help you appreciate it so much better than you thought you could ever do.

8. Keep a Journal. Use it.

I can be a very forgetful person, which is why I like writing everything down on paper whenever I can! I am not digital savvy—using apps to plan my life is not as effective for me as writing things down on paper. My journals help me add clarity to my thoughts since I am more articulate in writing then I am in speaking. (I stutter a lot and I get dyslexic.) Writing notes helps me stay on track and organise my thoughts better so I can get clear next steps on what to do next. It also gets me to reflect and write my feelings~ down (because I have a lot, hahaha).

9. “Bird by Bird”

This was power-glued to my mind after I read the book by Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird simply means taking things day by day, one step at a time. She writes:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

I used to have this really bad habit of procrastinating and then wanting to speed everything up and then losing my mind in the process (still happens once in a while). When my brain explodes and turns into cerebral goop, I achieve absolutely nothing. Whenever I fall into this trap, I always think “bird by bird”. I give myself a pep talk and sometimes a pathetic pat of reassurance on the back (especially when I know shit’s gonna hit the fan) and remind myself to just take it one step at a time. It also works when I panic on the inside because of existentialism woes.

There are so many things that I want right now, but I hate/love how good and smart work should often be part of it. All these things about “enjoying the process” or “finding beauty in the process” irk the hell out of me because the process can be boring, frustrating, and absolutely annoying. But I see the beauty in it because what comes out after is the art that you’ve created; the art that’s completely and absolutely your own. And that, I think, is the most fulfilling reward—the best bit of it. Feeling this sense of accomplishment is what motivates me to keep at it and to not lose sight. Even though it’s just a feeling, it’s an unexplainable kind of joy that can only be replicated by knowing that you have created.

And that, I know and I feel, is what gets me to closer to “The Dream”, whatever that looks like for now.

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To learn more about our Sunday Paper Any Year Planner, click here.

Giveaway

I’m Giving Away Some Moleskine Notebooks!

April 9, 2016

It’s a rainy Saturday in Singapore. I’m holed up in one of my favourite coffee shops, Plain Vanilla at Tiong Bahru. I am here for two reasons: (1) to write and (2) to eat cupcakes and drink coffee (what else, hahaha). I thought twice about going here today because of the rain, but I’m damn glad I still went. So now, I am sipping a pretty tasty iced white, and getting a nice saccharine kick courtesy of my favourite plain vanilla cupcake, which truly is magical piece of cake, by the way.

Let me start by saying that I don’t think I was born to be a writer by profession, but I am someone who loves to write. I do not think that I have the patience to sit down and complete a novel (thanks to my short, squirrelesque attention span), but I can churn out a few paragraphs when I feel inspired~. Trust me, writing is not easy. But it has become, in a way, therapeutic for me. I once wrote for a living (for almost four years, actually) and there were too many days when I didn’t feel like writing because I wasn’t in the mood, but I really had to force myself or else I’d be in deep trouble. This caused me to despise writing for a long time. But now that I’m back in the corporate world (surprise, surprise!) I find writing to be more enjoyable now, especially knowing that I am doing for myself this time around. And while I write in this online space most of the time, I still believe that nothing beats the charm of using pen and paper.

When it comes to notebooks, I’m pretty weird in a way that I like touching and smelling the paper, and even rubbing it on my cheek (#sorrynotsorry!) like some mad lady to test if the notebook was something I’d actually use. I use a lot of pens that come in different colours and inkflows, and a notebook brand that hasn’t let me down in that sense is Moleskine. (Just in case you were wondering, my first Moleskine came as a present, so please don’t think I ripped off the plastic cover just to feel the paper on my cheek!) I say that it’s a pretty reliable notebook brand because, aside from its smoothness, it has a great threshold for handling ink. And if the paper gets splattered with water, it dries up quick. It’s also pretty sturdy and adventure-proof. I’ve always brought my Moleskine journal along with me when I travelled to places with really tricky weather conditions, and I was always content and impressed with how it kept its shape and superb paper quality despite fogs, mists, rains, humidity, and heat.

So, when Moleskine wondered if we could do a collaboration this April, I was pretty stoked. This is the second time that I’ll be working with the Moleskine team, and while I adequately show them how happy and excited I am, they have no idea of how hard I am partying on the inside, hahaha. Well I guess they do now, lol.

This April, I’ll be giving you a glimpse of how living in Singapore has been like so far through my Moleskine notebooks. I’ve got some awesome Moleskine products to show you, such as the new line of coloured notebooks (that you can get in lined, dotted, blank, or graph formats), their Professional line (which is perfect for super OC people like me), and their cool photo books, which you can customise and make your own (I’m filling mine with stickers, btw).

I’m also giving away 3 Moleskine Professional + Photo Book sets! Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to all the way to Singapore to claim them. Just drop by their pop-up store happening the entire month of April at R3 Powerplant in front of Q Power Station! Moleskine’s got some pretty fun and cool stuff happening, so don’t forget to check it out!

Here’s how to win:

  1. I’d like to know: What’s your bright idea in making Summer 2016 the most productive and memorable one yet? Just make it short and sweet!
  2. Email me your answers at mikkawee@gmail.com with the subject Moleskine Summer Giveaway with the following details (apart from your answer):
    • Full Name
    • Mobile Number
  3. Winners will be notified via email on 20 April 2016.
  4. Pick up point will be at the Moleskine Pop-Up in Rockwell, Makati, Philippines starting 23 April until 3o April.

Looking forward to reading your answers! Hope you’re having a good Saturday so far.

Eating Out

Dinner at Kilo Orchard

April 7, 2016

In an odd area of Orchard Gateway lies Kilo, located in a modish area called Pact, which is a hipster island of its own. At Pact, everything is overpriced, but within good reason…I think. Or perhaps, its shoppers seem to think so. It boasts of unheard brands (if you part of the wider consumer demographic like I am), and a Japanese hairdresser whose minimum rate starts around $70. And because Kilo is part of hipster island Pact, you more or less can paint the picture in your mind of how the restaurant is set up. If not, there’s always Google.

Kilo Orchard, sibling of Kilo Kallang, is shaped by high expectation and slight pretension. There is that assumption that the restaurant could be an afterthought—a last-minute idea to drive foot traffic to Pact. Hands have also seemed to change in the kitchen, as it was evident that the staff was new, with one sole veteran holding the reins.

Seafood Ceviche ($21)

Another observation: for a Saturday evening, it wasn’t packed. Not that I think this is a bad sign, but odd for a weekend. I went again with Sabina, as it was her last week in Singapore before heading back to Tokyo. To tell you the truth, what brought us to this restaurant was its promise of good ceviche—and style. My personal favourite cevicheria for now is still in Manila—Patricio’s is hard to beat—but after sniffing through most of the online reviews about Kilo, Kilo’s fare seemed promising. Not to mention, their lava cake is rumoured to be one of the best in the city. So we decided to give it a go.

Perhaps the food was meant to be presented in an escalating order. Sort of like, this sucks. Well, this one is okay—but wait! It gets better. But of course, it comes with a price tag, and it does not come cheap.

Truffled Tai Yuzu Roll ($23)

We may have ordered the wrong starters, like the Truffled Tai Yuzu Roll, which seemed promising on paper. Lump crab and tempura flakes are stuffed inside a maki roll, and then blanketed with a sliver of snapper. It comes swimming in a shallow pool of Yuzu Truffle Dressing, which, in hindsight, seems more like a sauce/vinaigrette than something that falls under the thick and creamy one I had hoped for.

The tempura flakes seem to have disappeared (or disintegrated), without so much of a crunch when bitten into. We assumed it would’ve been the topping, but instead it was mixed into the moist and sweet lump crab, which I feel was not the wisest idea. There was merely a shy trace of truffle in this supposed “dressing”. I was excited how the chef would take up the challenge and meld the bold, opposing flavours of Yuzu and Truffle, but it fell flat. They didn’t even use Japanese rice for the roll, too. Sadly, the ceviche was quite unmemorable and I do not have anything to further, just because.

Squid Ink Fettuccini ($24)

The saving grace, though, arrived in an unassuming form of homemade squid ink fettuccini, which came with crisp baby squid, shiny and beautiful Ikura pearls, and a poached egg. The noodles were slicked with a mysterious sauce that stirred much curiosity on the palate. The squid ink noodles were spot on—briny, bold, and fishy in a good way. The Ikura lent its fun texture and umami flavours that were flawlessly heightened the experience. Rich egg yolk augmented the dish. Every forkful was a treat that erased my ill feelings about the previous dishes. I felt resurrected.

Chocolate Lava Cake ($12)

The chocolate lava cake was also pretty decent. As always, the lava part wasn’t enough for me (it never is!), but it had a nice, crunch exterior and an extremely moist centre. It also came with a tasty crumble with candied pecans that went well with the bourbon butter and the cake’s smooth textures.

There are other things in Kilo that I want to sample next, such as a baby eggplant dish tempts with mascarpone and donburi sauce, and an intriguing plate of grilled broccolini and ricotta that seems pretty straightforward, but teases with sesame-sake paste and mint. There is also the in-house rival of the squid ink fettuccini—a cream of ebiko pasta with smelt roe and prawns cooked “a la plancha”. The naughty pork belly was what our neighbours ordered (they were food reviewers), and it earned some positive gestures and tons of good remarks with its chorizo, tom yum style beans, and kale. I know this because I eavesdropped, obviously.

Will I come back to Kilo? Yes, definitely. Again, it has come to my attention that I may have had a streak of bad luck when choosing our first couple of dishes, but that doesn’t mean that it deserves a second chance—because Kilo Orchard really does.

Kilo Orchard

Address: 181 Orchard Road, #02-16/18, Orchard Central, S238896
Phone: +65 6884 7560
Hours: Tue-Sat 11:30am-2:15pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 11am-6pm

Feature

On Listening

March 25, 2016

It’s a few more days until March comes to a close, yet I still can’t wrap my head around the existence of our Sunday Paper Any Year Planner!!! Collaborating with AJ on this project was definitely one of 2015’s highlights, and seeing how it’s progressed only makes my heart swell with gratitude to see our vision come alive. Our intent was to create and design a paper product that placed emphasis on space, in order to highlight the importance of weekends and living a well-crafted life. We wanted our planner to be a tool and a catalyst that helps its users achieve their goals and reach their dreams, no matter how cheesy that sounds.

Photo by Kaye Ong

Our planner comes with four quarterly prompts—each one focusing on a particular theme. And for the first quarter, we chose to focus on Listening.

Listen

The first step is to listen. 

It is the act of not only hearing, but also noticing and giving particular attention to a perceived sound. The consciousness of knowing that you are taking in more than what comes at face value makes all the difference.

For example, if we carve out some time to sit by the coastline and release ourselves to the sound of the waves, we can hear the harmonious crashing of water against water. But when we listen, we learn the sound of peace, of calm, of contentment. Listen to the sound of your toes as the curl into the sand. Listen to the quiet that surrounds you during those slow Sunday afternoons. 

We chance upon the best stories by listening to other people. Lending an ear to their art and their stories always leaves us richer. What have you been listening to lately? Catch the beat of your heart; what is it trying to tell you? Write it down. Remember it. This is your art and your story. This is where you begin.

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Today is Good Friday, and we can’t think of a better time to sit down, reflect, and perhaps, be a bit introspective. While I am not super religious, I do have my faith and my beliefs, and one of the great things about Holy Week, I think, is that it gives me a reason to just bask in the silence and listen to my heart.

We invited three of our good friends to share what “listening” means to them, given their various paths in life. Here’s what they have to say.

1. Abbey Sy, Artist and Creative Entrepreneur

For me, listening means being open to ideas, sharing insights, and paying attention to the tiny details. Listening affects my work because it entails me to become more equipped with ideas and be able to do better in my craft. It also helps set things to the right direction.

I’m glad to be surrounded by people who I can confide in (especially my mentors) because it helps enrich my creativity and grow further as an artist and as a person. I also like watching talks online and listening to podcasts because they offer new perspectives, and open doors to new ideas that help support what I do. Being a TEDx speaker also made me more interested to listen to different TED / TEDx speakers talk about their ideas, and I always get inspired by them. I also love listening to music. For some reason, I like muting out everything and drowning myself in music when I work. It keeps me fueled and focused on what I do.

Listening is important because it helps open your mind to different things. And I think, I’ve always been accustomed to being an independent person that I recently, just realized that listening to other people makes me more whole as a person. On another note, listening to myself is also important in order to really determine what I want to do in life. Hopefully, it can help me this year by making better choices and becoming a better person.

2. Kaye Ong, Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Habitual Coffee and Suelas

To me, listening means opening up more than your ears, but also your heart and mind as you give your 100% attention to someone else. It requires focus and to some extent, a deep sense of “concern for others” to hear out what the other person (or sometimes your own self) has to say. It is selfless, and  it includes catching things that are spoken and also left unspoken.

My job in both Suelas and Habitual Coffee highly revolve around other people’s needs and how our brands are able to help address these needs. Listening attentively, through face-to-face interactions, or simply by observing how people also talk on online or social media, you get to develop a better sense of foresight. Sometimes though, it does tend to distract you from your own personal desires for your brand, but it’s also important to find the perfect balance when it comes to listening and figuring out what is constructive and what is potentially destructive. It encourages me to to become more perceptive, and allows me to better understand people and myself.

I listen to my gut and what my heart tells me to do. I know this really is a message that God wants to tell me. There are so many things that I am required to explain to other people, but often times I can’t because the explanations and answers really just come from the heart. I listen to other people, because as I said, my job really involves addressing the specific needs of people. And the person I prioritize listening to is TJ (my husband), because our relationship has become the most important priority when I made a vow to be his wife. Lastly, I listen to the sea, especially the way the waves crash into the shore. Often times, during moments when I feel lost, I find myself going back to the ocean and feeling rejuvenated. I’m able to better understand what my heart is telling me to do.

This 2016, things will be a lot different for me as I will be spending most of my time with someone else – my husband. Living with another person will require me to listen more intently but also selflessly. By doing so, this will help us grow, dream, know each other more intimately, and plan the rest of our lives together.

3. Mikeel Araña, Marketing Director at Fuel.ph

Listening, to me, is empathy. Listening is to hear what is not being said. I think it’s an exercise of humility. To truly listen is to let go of the thinking that what I’m saying (or about to say) is more important, and it allows us to gain the perspective we otherwise could have missed. In that sense, there are many ways to listen. Reading books is a way of listening; so is taking a leisurely walk.

I listen to what God is speaking to me, to the people I love, and to my innermost thoughts. It sounds cheesy but that really is true. When it comes to something audible, I mostly listen to the playlists my friend Jony makes. (I have appointed her as my personal DJ. I’m not very good with finding out about new music and so I have delegated that part of my life to her. She has happily obliged.)

Sometimes, people say one thing but they really mean another. Listening helps me key in what really matters at work. As someone who works at a coffee shop, I think the ability to listen to people, helps build an atmosphere of authentic hospitality. On a relational level, listening is important because it allows us to experience a “self” wholly other from us. In listening, a light is shed on the other soul, and we understand a little bit more of their joy, theirs struggles and temptations, their desires and fears.

Listening also allows us to be present, as when you reach the peak of the mountain after a hike, and you hear the wind blowing through the grass and you close your eyes and take it all in. Listening enables us to record with the heart moments that can never be captured in any photograph.

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To learn more about our Sunday Paper Any Year Planner, click here.