When I was in Singapore a few weeks ago, I stopped by a foot spa on my way to the Singapore Flyer which turned out to be like the London Eye but over Singapore instead. There were a lot of commotion at this foot spa because people were crowding around a fish tank full of fish and a few people had their feet in it. What kind of foot spa was this?
It turns out that the fish is known to be of the ‘doctor fish’ variety and they like eating dead skin. People paid 30 Singapore dollars to have their feet immersed in a fish tank for 30 minutes. Once your feet hits the water, doctor fishes swarm to them and start eating. It’s like a scene from Indiana Jones with piranha fishes going at fresh flesh.
Azim was a paid customer and had his feet photographed. I asked him how it felt and he said it tickles at first. There are literally hundreds of these fishes fighting to get the dead skin from your feet. You have hundreds of little mouths to feed and an endless supply of dead skin.
These foot spas are very popular in a lot of Asian cities but there are very controversial at home in Canada. FYI, they are illegal here to open and banned in Canada and the US.
When I was in Vietnam a few weeks ago, I had asked the tour guide ‘where to buy the best Vietnamese coffee from?’. He told me the best Vietnamese coffee to buy was the ‘weasel coffee’ which I had never heard of. Before visiting Vietnam, I had tried the Vietnamese iced coffee and liked the taste. I like the strong brew over ice and served with condensed milk.
He went on to telling me that the best coffee to buy was coffee that went through the digestive tract of a weasel. He meant ‘civet cat’ which has a liking for cherry coffee berries. The cat would consume these coffee berries and poo out the seeds (or beans). People would gather up the beans from the cat’s poop, clean the beans then roast them.
The end result is a highly prized, highly sought after coffee that is strong, smooth and unique. Our tour guide took us to the central post office in Ho Chi Minh City and introduced us to the owner of a little store on the right side of the post office. She had a shelf full of coffee containers and the one she recommended was in a wood barrel. There was even a picture of a civet cat over the cherry coffee berries. The price was rather steep but both the tour guide and the shop owner was raving about how good the coffee was. It was priced at 600,000 dong (about US$30) so we picked one up.
When we got home, I tried making a cup of coffee following the instructions of our tour guide in Vietnam. Three teaspoons with 8 oz of hot water in a french press. Let it steep for 30-40 seconds and mix condensed milk in it. I can tell you it was strong but very smooth. There’s nothing like it.
If you’re in the market for some civet cat coffee, let me recommend the Bean Stop in Eau Claire market. I heard a cup will set you back for $25 and 50g of the grinds will run you about $60. If that sounds high to you, don’t get tempted with eBay prices because there are a lot of counterfeit coffees out there.
It was standing room only at the ‘iPad, iPhone and iTouch’ orientation class on Celebrity Cruises’ Millenium ship, SE Asia Northbound trip. I couldn’t believe how popular this class was but a lot of people travel with their Apple devices, including me.
The instructor was Apple certified and he knew his stuff pretty well. I have been using iTouch, iPad and iPhone for a number of years but I managed to learn a few new tricks in this class.
They taught us how to “print screen” and why do it. They also showed us how to conserve battery power, how to use our device as a hotspot and share our internet connection and on the newer iPads and iPhone 5, “air drop” was demonstrated. Over 3 days at sea, they had a session at least once every sea day and every session was full house.
As long as I own Apple (AAPL) shares, I’m happy to see how popular Apple products are.
I had a coupon to use up at Fuji Yama’s on 17th Avenue and 8th Avenue before it expired at the end of February. You know the type, pay $20 to get $40 worth of food. With this coupon, I had to give it to the hostess when I checked in. You also had to make reservations but I figured it was a good idea for a Friday night.
I have to admit that I’m always wary about giving up the coupon before ordering my food. How can I trust the restaurant? With a coupon at hand, would they cut back on my dish?
I ordered my usual which was the chicken teriyaki entree and a soft shell crab roll. My wife chose the salmon teriyaki and a sashimi salad. In my opinion, the teriyaki’s were worth the $13 – $15 price they charged. They were both tasty and satisfying.
The dinner bill came out to a little over $50 for the two of us. With the $40 coupon, we paid $20 and walked out happy and stuffed. If you’re in the neighbourhood, call first and ask if they have any $20 for $40 gift cards left. If so, I would highly recommend that you buy them.
One thing I’ve noticed is that more and more people in YYC are buying homes to tear down and rebuild. One area that seems to be popular is the Altadore neighbourhood. To get there from downtown, head up on 14th Street[south] until 33rd Avenue. Turn right and head towards Marda Loop. Turn left on 17th or 18th street and you’re there…in the middle of Altadore.
I visited several Open Houses last weekend and noticed that all of them were brand new homes. Most of the older homes in the neighbourhoods are one level, bungalow styled homes. The new rebuilts are at least two levels and some stretch as high as 4 levels.
The one particular open house that caught my eye was the one at 3907 – 16a Street SW. This home has a nice view of the city from the second or third level window. The view is what I call ‘unobstructed’ because to see the cityscape, you look at the park situated kitty corner from this home. The view will never change as long as the city maintains the park.
I ran into some folks that were rating the home. They assigned a move-in score of 3.9* to it and I was curious to why it was rated so low. They told me the home had a few issues and the builder (Hazkar Homes) has to correct them before a higher score can be assigned. I like that. A home buyer watchdog service that is keeping builders and realtors honest. If you’re interested in finding out more about them, check out their website at RateOpenHouses.com
I’m just 14 days away from getting on a plane and visiting Thailand for the first time. Last year when I when booked the trip, I promised myself I was going to visit countries that I enjoy the cuisine from. And so, I feel like sharing another restaurant with you that I really like. At Juree’s Thai Place, I like every dish they serve there. My favourite dish is the Fried Fish with special sauce but the Basil Chicken is exceptional too. The food is usually delicious with just the right amount of spice.
Unlike a lot of Thai restaurants in YYC that seem to bring a small bowl of the Tom Yum soup, Juree’s serves it to you in a large bowl that can be shared among the 2, 3 or 4 of you. I’m yet to find a Thai restaurant in town that still serves soup in the traditional slow cooker with a propane flame at the bottom. Please share a comment if you know of a Thai place in YYC that gives you an abundance of soup.
The one thing I really enjoy at Juree’s is the waitresses. They wear traditional Thai dresses that seem to make me feel like I was in Thailand already. They seem to speak Thai which is a good indication that the cook is Thai. Don’t you hate it when you hear Mexican in a Thai kitchen or Chinese in a Japanese sushi bar?
The quickest way to get some culture in you is to attend a concert at the Jack Singer Hall. Last week, I got free tickets to see Disney in Concert performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (or CPO). I would have easily skipped the event because after living in Anaheim for a year and going to Disneyland almost every other week, you can say I was Disney’d out.
The tickets I received were pretty good. It was dead centre and in the orchestra section in Row O. From where I was sitting, I had a commanding view of the entire orchestra and stage. I felt sorry for the people in Row A and B because they were too close to the stage. If it was Celine Dion then they would have had an advantage over me but for the Disney Concert, I think I had the best seats in the house.
There’s something magical about the Jack Singer Hall. First of, it’s cozy and intimate versus the Jubilee Auditorium which is too large for this kind of venue. Second, the sound is incredible in the Jack Singer Hall. Everything sounds so natural and real. You could hear every instrument in its clarity and tone. And that’s why the CPO plays here and not at the Jubilee.
When the concert started, I was amazed at myself. I was actually enjoying the tunes and singing along too. They played all the favourites including Colour of the Wind from Pocahontas, Circle of Life from Lion King and A Whole New World from Aladdin. Along with the CPO, there were four vocalists that sung their hearts out. And they were good too.
The vocalists were Candice Nicole, Whitney Kaufman, Aaron Phillips and Andrew Johnson. One of them used to work for Disney and I can tell you, she played the part of Belle in the Beauty and the Beast and Ariel in the Little Mermaid very well.
Sometimes you find a dish around town that you absolutely fall in love with. On a late night after golf, we decided to try Juree’s Thai Place on 16th Avenue, just west of the North Hill Shopping Mall. We were worried that they wouldn’t sit us because it was close to closing time but they were happy to accommodate us, along with three other parties after us.
The place is incredibly cozy. I thought I was in Bangkok, sitting in an eatery with waitresses in beautiful and authentic Thai dresses. The menu has everything including soup, salad, entrees and dessert.
We started our meal with Tom Yum Soup which is a clear broth. We were pleasantly surprised that it was served in a large bowl. There were plenty of soup to go around, even if it was just the two of us. The next dish was the fish with special sauce. There were three large filets of Basa fish that was fried to perfection. The coating on it was like panko but it was the sauce that blew us away. This dish is so incredible and tasty that next time, all we are going to order is the soup and this fish. No need for other dishes.
Along with the meal, we ordered coconut rice which adds to any Thai meal. It’s only a hint of coconut but enough to make white rice enjoyable. We made the bad mistake by ordering too much and ended up packing away the Pad Thai which looked good. We ended up eating it the next day for lunch.
When the leaves begin to turn and the winds start to blow, it is time to bring your vehicle in for a winter changeover. I have been bringing my tires to OK Tires on Richmond Road for a few years and continue to like their service. They are honest and upfront with you which is very important in my opinion.
On this occasion, I was getting my rear brakes done so it was going to take a few hours. I decided to walk out and have an early lunch. To my right and across the street was an interesting place called Teaspoon. I yelped it and found that it served Persian food. That would had been my first choice but unfortunately, they weren’t open yet. Something told me to come back and try again.
To my left and down the block slightly is Lemon Garden, a Chinese and Western restaurant. Their menu was extensive with both Chinese dishes and Western dishes. They open at 10:00am for breakfast or early lunch. I wanted to try their Chow Mein to see if it was any good. Scanning the menu, I noticed they have Singapore Fried Noodles and Shanghai style thick noodles which is a good sign for a noodle house. They also have won ton and wor won ton which is something to try next time I visit.
I ordered the Cantonese Chow Mein because it has tidbits of everything ranging from BBQ Pork to shrimp. It’s usually the safe bet when it comes to ordering chow mein. After a short wait, the waitress brought it over along with hot sauce and chili oil. The dish was quite large (for one) and I think it was meant to be shared.
On taste, I would give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5. I was expecting the noodles to be crispy rather than soggy but it was reasonably cooked well. Would I return? Probably in the spring when I change over my tires.
The best dish in the house is clearly, Beef Chunks with Bobby Chao’s Special Sauce. The restaurant is Bobby Chao Pho House and it is located on 53rd Street in Edgemont. The food is tasty and the prices are reasonable but their service sucks!
This was our second visit in two weeks and we were disappointed with the service or lack of. On our first visit, we ordered bubble tea and dinner for four. After a half an hour, half of our bubble tea order came but no food. After 45 minutes, the first dish arrived and it was the BBQ Pork. Not knowing when the other dishes were going to arrive, we asked for some white rice. After another 15 minutes, the other bubble teas came but we told them we were still waiting for the rice. Another 10 minutes passed and finally, the waitress almost threw the rice container at us. She was in a hurry to get to another table. When every table around us were fully into their meal, the second dish we ordered was served. It would take over two hours to have our dinner.
Our second visit wasn’t much better. We decided to go for an early supper and sat down at 4:30pm. The restaurant was empty at the time as we put in an order for bubble tea and about three dishes including the Beef Chunks with the special sauce. Again, the bubble teas took about half an hour. Another couple sat down behind us and ordered. Twenty minutes later, their order was served as we sat disgusted. We inquired about our order and they said it was coming. After another twenty minutes, the couple who came in after us had finished their meal and left the restaurant. We flagged the waitress down and inquired about our dishes. She kept saying it was coming but there was sign of any food coming out of the kitchen. “Where’s Bobby?”, we asked. She just shrugged her shoulders.