hao yun lai restaurant, town

great chinese food – almost surprisingly so – hidden away in the gallery wing of the hotel rendezvous. this place has been featured in a couple articles here and there, but never seemed to hold onto the limelight – which truly is a pity, as the food here is great; chinese food with a focus on healthy and nourishing ingredients, tasty and very creative to boot.

the restaurant promotes itself on the health-giving aspects of its offerings, and even has a menu catered to pregnant women (or women going through the confinement period), which I think might scare some diners off – an uncomfortable result of the general perception that healthy means bland – but the food truly is well-seasoned and appealing, and hearty enough to appeal to all you adverse to healthy(-labelled) food.

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of breakfasts, and a hot whole-grain cereal porridge

it’s coming to nearly ten months now that I’ve left london – and I try very hard not to think about it: there were fantastic memories during fantastic years, with people who’ve made a big difference in my life. I came across this photo – below – in my archives, taken during one of my visits to le pain quotidien (my absolute favourite breakfast hangout in london) and it made me think very hard.

breakfast is my favourite meal – it dictates how the rest of the day is going to go – and though I head out to brunch regularly with friends, it’s my day-to-day breakfast of hot grain that helps remind me of the times in that glorious city. I’ve had this same breakfast every day since coming back, with variations in grain and stir-ins, but the recipe, and the idea is built upon mornings – and anytime, really – of hot oatmeal in gloomy (but so lovely) london.

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bali buda/bali buddha, bali (delivery)


delivery service from this holistic café in kerobokan – I’ve already told you about our eat-in experience. we ordered the day before, and scheduled it to arrive early before our flight back to singapore.

breakfast by the pool early in the morning – rather than subjecting ourselves to the vagaries of airport food – is an indulgence I could get used to.

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bali buda/bali buddha, bali (eat-in)


good food – incidentally, healthy too – at this holistic café-deli chain, nearish kerobokan. this place has a slew of good reviews on tripadvisor, and I was lured by their online menu, which had a large range of healthyish (and very interesting) options for brunch and lunch – though if I were honest it was most likely the pancake and cereal options on the menu that truly reeled me in.

the food veers toward the healthy-sounding, which scares off people like my partner – and I think men in general – and even has options for vegan/vegetarian/macrobiotic-sounding diets, but which appeals to me. I like the idea of having a large and satisfying brunch with wholesome ingredients (dimsum excepting), and this place certainly served up. but for all you manly men out there with a fear of supposedly healthy food, they do have things like burgers and pizzas – so you can certainly get your share of the mornin’ grease here.

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traditional vietnamese rice puffs, mekong delta





these are some proper traditional rice crispies – before viewing this demonstration, I never realised that the traditional goodies made of rice pops were quintessential rice crispy treats, but they really are. made of freshly harvested rice grains popped by stirring through hot charcoal granules, there are sifted and then folded through caramel before being cut into rectangles.

the sifting removes the husk that pops off the exploded rice grains, and the cooks work very quickly with hot caramel so it doesn’t harden before the rice puffs get added.

they are poured into traditional wooden moulds as above, which ingeniously have grooves to make neatand consistent cuts. made with different variations such as sesame and coconut, and even noodles instead of rice – I really like this version – there are packed into clear plastic bags and sealed to be sold in the city and overseas.

it’s an old-school treat that’s been overshadowed by the prevalence of marshmallow-rice-treats, and one well – worth revisiting. you might just realize, as I have, that the oldie is a true goldie.

traditional vietnamese rice paper, mekong delta





I still have a few posts on vietnam to go – this is the result of having a backlog so dense you can barely see the wood for the trees (does anyone watch QI?). but they’re still pretty cool and share-worthy.

this one is about that traditional vietnamese rice paper that we mostly see wrapped around salad leaves and prawns to make a summer roll – or goi cuon. the ones that you see here are made in the same manner as those translucent wrappings, just these are more opaque from the addition of coconut milk.

the lady competently ladles on batter of coconut milk and flour onto a cloth for it to be steamed, before lifting the thin and now-cooked sheet onto the edge of a rattan basket for it to dry slightly, before drying completely on vented rattan mats. some of them have sesame seeds or coconut shreds added to them.

you can buy these large dried rice sheets, and bring them home to toast into crisp shards of mildly sweet cracker, fragrant with the coconut milk and textural with the sesame sheets. they were a little large for us to carry, but I highly recommend them if you’ve got the space.

that last photo is of a rice mill, from which you can get the ever-useful rice flour.

breakfast at the mekong lodge, mekong delta





last post on the mekong lodge – and what better way to finish, then with my favourite meal of the day. I’m a firm hot-grain-with-a-pat-of-peanut-butter-and-raisins kind of girl (I’ve had this basically everyday for the last six months since starting work) ((and post coming up on how to cook it!)) but sometimes it’s nice to be served something different.

breakfast here has been as it was with the other meals – simple, and wholesome, and full of the clean flavours of food. I despair at hotel breakfasts sometimes, with their gravied-dishes and too-rich spread, always heading for the simple cereal and milk, but this meal was a revelation.

fragrant, and soft-as-a-baby’s-somethingsomething bread that came hot and stacked in a basket, these loaves were amazing. they were a sort of cross between the soft enriched japanese white bread, and a more crust-worthy european loaf, and very good for all that. baked as a literal roll, you could undo it quite easily and it’d steam its way across your glasses (I’m highly myopic) before you go at it with a pat of butter of jam. dream-worthy.

we had more fresh cut-fruit, none of that syrupy monstrosity some paltry places use, as well as half-boiled eggs. if you’re so inclined, get the pancakes too – these are very clearly asian-type pancakes, elastic in the way kueh are, and flat as a crêpe. good with jam, or with a sprinkle of sugar, the way my parents remember it.

it’s been a great time at the lodge, a good escape for city folks like us, and well worth a visit if you get the chance.

more on the mekong lodge found on the heading out for food page, if you scroll down to vietnam | mekong delta.

mekong dinner cooking class, mekong delta (the eating part)






this was dinner after our cooking class – and a pretty good one at that, even if it does sort of show you the abbreviated portions they serve (and why we had to order more). I did wonder at this meal if the problem could be fully accounted for by the fact that we have unashamedly large appetites for seafood and all sorts of good food – but even you must agree that the prawns up there look a little sad on a large white plate (yes, they arrived like that).

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mekong dinner cooking class, mekong delta








this is a food-loving family – so there’s nothing better to us than a great meal for quality bonding. and while you’re more likely to catch us scoffing down food at a pretty alarming rate (and amount), sometimes you gotta get workin’ before you start eatin’.

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lunch at the mekong lodge, mekong delta






this was lunch on the first day we arrived here – rustic and very local, a great mind-opener, and very good. they were blindingly simple, fresh flavours and ingredients melding together into a very wholesome and soul-satisfying meal, and it was pretty awesome that you could see the food being prepared at the open kitchen.

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