Thursday, April 10, 2014

"W" Espresso Sporting Club

Taking a short break from studying for semester finals (I have my last paper for the semester tomorrow) so I thought I'd do a post about a new cafe that recently opened up in the Danga Bay area.

The "W" Espresso Sporting Club is from the same people who brought you Monsta Cafe in Taman Bukit Indah. The second and new branch has a totally different concept and feel than the former. I personally love the name because anything with three words in its title just sounds classy. For example: the Social Book Club or the Blue Pelican House. Yep I totally just made those names up. Anyways, this new joint has a rustic, sort-of no frills, organic feel to it. I can't quite put my finger on one adjective but one thing is for sure.. It's as hipster as hipster can be. Monsta Cafe has a relaxed vibe to it but "W" is more polished and sophisticated.

One of the co-owner Yuan Feng, is a 25 year-old business graduate from London, who runs the show at the cafe. He is also one of the well-known award-winning baristas around and it shows in his work. Chatting with him shows that he is intense in his vision and he's serious about what he does. He and his team drew up the whole concept of the outlet, located within the Country Garden Danga Bay commercial row.

I was lucky enough to have a mutual friend invite me over for a food-sharing session with a few other bloggers on the outlet's first day of operations recently. The food was prepared by their chef who has experience working at the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore and drinks brewed by Yuan Feng himself.

A notable effort will be their 32-page menu printed on good quality paper, which resembles a magazine. He said that it took them five months to conceptualise, take photos and produce the menu and customers are allowed to take them home because it offers more than just a list of food and drinks. It includes short write ups and interesting illustrations and the edition changes from time-to-time.

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A quick look of how Monsta Cafe looks like before we move on to the new branch.

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Hello distorted coffee art.

From the opening:
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Yuan Feng at work.

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Started with coffee demonstrations first.

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Our table.

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Mushroom soup. I love the surprise raviolis hidden in the soup because a blast of flavours just bursts into your mouth when you chew into it - a welcomed contrast against the smooth mushroom soup.

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Canapes.

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Exotic fruit and shrimp salad. Refreshing and crunchy!

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Grilled chicken on a bed of yam mash. Such a beautiful shade of purple! We were served another version on potato mash as well.

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Mom's Topshop basic black top; Cotton On skirt; Marie Claire wedges

There were two more dishes but I had to leave before they were served so these are all the food pictures I have. I must say that the food is flavourful and fresh from what we usually have at these type of cafes. But I should also note that I would have preferred the mushroom soup to have more texture instead of blended like it was served that night. It was a little too smooth for me as I prefer to have bits and pieces of mushroom I can chew on. But overall, it was a good experience.

The cafe kind of clinched it for me when I heard them playing The XX on vinyl in the background. Talk about taste! The "W" people really know what they're doing. So if you're up for a relaxed night out or just want to sit by yourself in the corner typing away on your laptop (sort of what I have been doing lately), this might be the place for you.

A memorable quote from Yuan Feng, "People no longer want to just pay for food and drinks, you can get that everywhere. What people want is the experience, to stand out. So we're not just selling food and beverages, we're selling an experience."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ho Chi Minh Day 3: Crazy Colourful

*Links for Day 1 and Day 2*

Day 3 at Ho Chi Minh was a bit more laid back compared to Day 2 where we were on a schedule for the guided tour. On the third day, we planned to just go see some tourist attractions and monuments on foot so it was more flexible and less hectic. But by the end of the day, I had bruises on my toes (which were still visible at the time of this post was published).

Although it was just a foot tour, I was very pumped for that part of the trip because I have always wanted to visit the Saigon Central Post Office and it was part of the places we went to see. First, we went to the Ben Thanh market again because on the first day we only went in the evening. So we wanted to see the day market and everyone wanted to shop for textiles and cloth.. lots and lots of textiles at bargain-able and cheap prices.

Then we went to the Reunification Palace, the Notre-Dame Basilica cathedral, the Central Post Office (!), to the main mosque in Ho Chi Minh District 1 and then the HCM Hard Rock Cafe. It was on this day where I got to fully appreciate Saigon's beautiful parks and the towering trees lining the streets.

The landscaping is awesome here, there's so much greenery to see. From its busy streets against the quiet historical buildings, the colonial buildings against the backdrop of the clear blue skies, people enjoying their piping hot pho on tiny stools on the curbside while passers-by stroll past them, the tooting of the motorcycle horns every few seconds - there is much to take in here. And I love that everything is so colourful and vivid here! :)






Fresh flowers at the day market.


Getting lost in a textile haven.






The Reunification Palace.








Notre-Dame cathedral.

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The entrance.


The majestic interior.




Central Post!


Look at the interior! Did you know that it was designed by the same architect who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris? It's still a working post office and when we went in, it was cute to see tourist snapping photos while people behind the counters were busy sorting mail and orders.


Took the opportunity to write some postcards to myself lol.

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Post office OOTD
Padini checkered shirt; Topshop moto shorts + yellow sling bag; New Balance 574; Cotton On floppy hat

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Even the empty spaces are beautiful.


Brunch spot.

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Exchanged hats for our late lunch haha!

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Roadside barber anyone? This uncle is snipping his customer's nose hair. (Y)


Such a fun third day. May not seem much, but we actually walked A LOT that day. We walked everywhere. And after the sightseeing, we returned to the hotel to shower and change before we headed to the night market again for last minute shopping for more souvenirs. By then, everyone went all out to spend their Vietnamese Dong before we leave the next day, hence the mess.

Everyone was stuffing their purchases into their luggage and weighing their bags in case they're overweight. I didn't buy much compared to them, I bought four pairs of baju kurung, three types of silk and some cotton cloth for making baju kurung, t-shirts, Vietnamese coffee and souvenirs. That's not a lot, is it?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ho Chi Minh City Day 2

*Read about Day 1 here*

So on the second day of our Vietnam trip, we went to the Cu Chi (pronounced Gu Chee) Tunnels where Viet Cong soldiers hid underground via tunnels from the American soldiers. I even got to go into one of the tunnels and experience the dark and hollow route! It's not some where I want to live for weeks on end.. it's so dark and stank. If you're claustrophobic, you're advised not to enter.

Then it is followed by a two-hour van ride then the Mekong delta tour. The highlight of that trip was to ride on a sampan and two ladies paddle us through the narrow stream and knocking into other sampans in the process. :)

 Ho Chi Minh day 2, let's go!

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Started with an explanation about how the tunnel works, followed by a propaganda documentary video lol.

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Look ma, I can fit into the smallest tunnel!

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Just got out of the tunnel, so happy to see daylight!

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A selfie with a VC guerrilla soldier mannequin is a must!

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Shot some rounds on an M16 rifle.

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Demonstrating how to make rice flour sheets used for Vietnamese rolls.


Stopped en route to the Mekong River at a temple where people were in the middle of prayers.


Mid-yawn. :)

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Mekong River!

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When we reached the village, there was a random mirror outside the restaurant.. so, naturally..

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We also had a chance to paddle the sampan ourselves. While Farhaan just enjoyed the view..

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Sampan selfie! There were A LOT of selfies during this trip.

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To infinity and beyond!

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After that, we were served with honey and lime drinks to quench our thirst.

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There were many stalls selling souvenirs and typical things like these.

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The ride back to the mainland.

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:)

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ootd at the tunnels.
From Johore to Ho Chi Minh City custom-made shirt: TGJ; Topshop moto jeans; New Balance 574; Vietnam souvenir trucker cap; Hershels Supply Co backpack

It was really a fun experience to walk around the village and look at their living conditions. As we were crossing the Mekong River, which is huge and brown (lol), I can't help but to be amazed at how it used to be one of the busiest trading waters back in the days and how many merchant ships passed through the waters each day. Feels quite amazing to cross that very river. :)