Khao Yai Travelogue: The Bloom, The Chocolate Factory and Farm Chokchai

Seeing that we had time constraints on our side as our stay at Khao Yai was limited to two nights, there was not a lot of places we could hit there. Travelling alone to Khao Yai took almost the afternoon, we had only one full day left before we headed back to Bangkok.

There are many interesting things to do in Khao Yai, namely night safari at the national park, feeding alpacas at Primo Piazza and many others. However, due to communication breakdown, we did not manage to go for either of those (they told us that Primo Piazza was closed). Hence, we narrowed down our itinerary to The Bloom, The Chocolate Factory and Farm Chokchai and got a driver for the whole day for 3,500Baht.

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After checking out of Hotel La Casetta by Toscana Valley before lunch time, we headed first for The Bloom by TV Pool. It is the largest flower garden in the vicinity, with over 100 acres of flower fields and more than 30 specifies of flowers. The garden is opened year round and admission is free.

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We did not stay long to appreciate the flowers as it was scorching! A good time to visit would be in the early morning or later in the evening.

The Bloom by TV Pool
357 Moo 5 Tambon Prayayen Amphur Pakchong, Khao Yai National Park, Khao Yai, Thailand 30320
Tel: 044-756336 ext. 0, 087-799-9555
Opening Hours:
Opens daily from 0700-2000hrs

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Khao Yai Travelogue: Hotel La Casetta by Toscana Valley

I started planning my trip to Khao Yai months ago after a good friend sent me an article on ’14 Unique Hotels in Magical Khao Yai- 3 Hours Drive from Bangkok’. There were many charming and interesting hotels featured, but only three that caught my eye and had excellent ratings, namely Thames Valley Khao Yai, Lala Mukha Tented Resort and Hotel La Casetta by Toscana Valley.

However, even as I was booking the hotel months ahead, Thames Valley and Lala Mukha Tented Resort were already fully booked! And so, I was left with Hotel La Casetta. I booked Hotel La Casetta though my trusty hotel booking website, Booking.com. It had a rating of 8.4/10 and positive reviews.

Finally, after months of planning and anticipation, I finally got to fly there!

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The best way to get to Khao Yai is to fly to Bangkok and arrange for a private car to take you there. The drive took us a full three hours, with a short toilet break for the driver. Prior to flying, I did quite a bit of price comparison and the most reasonable rate was by Thai National Parks. They offered a spacious station wagon and a round trip from Khao Yai to Bangkok at 4,600 Baht. Furthermore, they were extremely helpful and prompt in their replies.

Since the journey was going to be long, my friends and I headed to the second floor of the airport to buy some food to tide us over till we got there. We were stuck at the customs for more than an hour, so we only left the airport around 3pm. The sun had set when we pulled into our hotel. But, even though it was dark, we could still bask in the beautiful setting of Toscana Valley.

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We took almost an hour to check in because the staff only knew minimal English. It was so bad that they thought 2000hrs was 2pm. We were trying to arrange for a night safari, which Khao Yai is famous for, as well as transport around Khao Yai during the day. However, they did not work with any tour operators or even taxi companies. After getting nowhere with the night safari and a taxi driver who did not know English, we went to our rooms.

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We had reserved a Casetta Loft, which came with one queen and two twin beds. The bathroom was quite huge, with a shower stall and a bathtub. From the window, you get a view of the mountains and the swimming pool. With nothing much left to do after unpacking, we decided to head to the Town Square for dinner.

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Dim Sum Workshop @ Yum Cha Chinatown

I signed up for a cooking class at Yum Cha, which is a famous dim sum restaurant in Singapore. The course costs $68 per person, and I learnt how to make three different types of dim sum from the Head Chef, namely siew mai, vegetarian spring roll and prawn wonton crisp. The course is held on weekdays from 2.30 to 5pm and is suitable for people 14 years old and older.

I did not have to worry about having any cooking experience as the chef was very patient and actually repeated the steps when we were unclear. The class size is also kept small, from six to 12 people, to provide a conducive learning environment. The fee includes course materials, complimentary drinks and dim sum during the break, as well as a dim sum buffet voucher.

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Chef showed us how to cook the fillings for the dim sum with Yum Cha’s secret seasoning (which remained a secret). However, we did not make them as they needed to be set and refrigerated overnight.

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Celebrity Restaurant Adrift by David Myers @ Marina Bay Sands

With its cuisine is labelled as modern Californian Izakaya, Adrift by David Myers’s menu is an eclectic mix of small plates, salads, seafood, meats and liquor. One of the several celebrity restaurants at Marina Bay Sands, this restaurant located at Hotel Lobby Tower 2, provides a wonderful dining experience.

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Crispy Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffle ($19), served with maple-umeboshi syrup. Hands down the best chicken and waffle I have ever had! The waffle was not the typical crisp ones, but slightly chewy from the sweet potato. Also, the chicken was juicy and went well with maple syrup which was a blend of salty, sweet and sour.

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Steak and Egg ($32). Grilled beef strip loin, caramelised shallots, potato sauce and fried egg. The steak was tender and cooked to the perfect doneness. The potato sauce was actually mashed potatoes. You may pay an additional $60 if you wish to supplement it with Kagoshima Wagyu.

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Caramel French Toast ($8), served with coconut sorbet and kopi syrup. Sadly,  the ice cream was already melting when it was served. This was also half the size of what was shown in pictures, which was disappointing. However, the robust coffee sauce did make up for it a little.

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Coconut Parfait ($12), served with sago, longan jelly and pandan ice cream. Honestly, this does not look like much, but the layered coconut dessert was rich, and the bits of fruits and jelly added texture to the creaminess of the dessert.

What made the whole meal extremely enjoyable, other than the excellent food, was the tip top service provided by the wait staff. I always say that good services goes a long way. On a side note, there is complimentary parking coupon with minimum spending of $75 for lunch and $150 for dinner. Limited to one ticket per table.

Adrift by David Myers
10 Bayfront Avenue,
Marina Bay Sands Hotel Lobby Tower 2,
Singapore 018956
Tel: 6688 5657
Opening Hours:
Breakfast 0700-1030hrs
Weekday Lunch 1200-1430hrs
Weekend Brunch 1200-1500hrs
Dinner 1800-2200hrs
Late Night Menu Sunday to Thursday 2200-0000hrs
Light Night Menu Friday & Saturday 2200-0100hrs
Nearest MRT Station: Bayfront Station (Circle Line & Downtown Line)

Ice Cream Rollies at Mak Mak Ice Cream Cafe@ JCube

It is always a joy to find a good dessert place with affordable prices. Mak Mak Ice Cream Cafe, which is located on the second level at JCube, is one good example. Priced at $5.50, the ice cream rollies here are priced reasonably. Embarking on fried ice cream rolls, which hit Singapore hard last year, this cafe bowls us over with its fascinating and ingenious ice cream flavours.

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S’MORES Rollies. Chocolate base mixed with digestive biscuits, topped with a toasted jumbo marshmallow.

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Mango Sticky Rice Rollies. Mango base mixed with coconut milk stick rice, drizzled with mango sauce and topped with cubes of mango.

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Solero Split Lime Rollies. A blast from the past! Vanilla base with lime generous amount of lime slush.

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Ispahan Rollies. Rose base mixed with lychee, drizzled with raspberry syrup.

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Paddlepop Rollies. Topped with butter sticks, sprinkled with Fruity Pebbles and popping candy.

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What draws me back time and again is how innovative the owner, Yu Ze, is. He is constantly creating new flavours and taking inspiration from the old school as well as present trends.

By the way, some of these flavours are part of the Secret Menu, so they will not be on the menu when you are there.

Mak Mak Ice Cream Café
2 Jurong East Central 1, #02-65
Singapore 609731
Opening Hours:
Opens daily from 1100-2200hrs
Nearest MRT Station: Jurong East Station (North South Line & East West Line)

[Newly Launched!] Antoinette’s Second Instalment of Fetish Campaign–Chocolat

If you subscribe to the school of thought that one can never have too much chocolate and chocolate makes everything better, then you should not miss Antoinette’s second instalment of their Fetish Campaign. Here, the chocolate reigns supreme and it is finally given its due.

Over a span of two months, from now till end of October, Chef Pang introduces 23 chocolate inspired food items, created using premium white and dark Valrhona chocolate. And if that is not enough for you, you will be surprised to know that this includes savoury and sweet items!

Le Carte du Chocolat

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Roasted Carrot with Balsamic and Dark Chocolate Dressing ($18). A beautifully plated piece with roasted carrots topped with Serrano ham, strawberries, feta cheese, with Equatoriale 55% chocolate with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side.

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Chocolate Ravioli Filled with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Cooked in a Light Sausage Cream Sauce ($22). This house-made Caraibe 66% chocolate ravioli was both a hit and miss. I really enjoyed the mushroom ragout, but could hardly taste any chocolate in this dish. The pork was also a tad overdone.

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Sous Vide Salmon with White Chocolate Hollandaise ($28). The fish, perfectly cooked, is served with shaved fennel and apple salad, and potato puree. The sauce here definitely sealed the deal! It was a warm, light and slightly frothy emulsion.

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Braised Wagyu Brisket with Mustard and Dark Chocolate ($30). While many liked the salmon, the tender braised Wagyu brisket, finished with a Pommery mustard and chocolate with buttered parpadelle did it for me. It was hearty and full-bodied, and one cannot misinterpret the bitter aftertaste of the chocolate.

Three courses, with a choice of either main courses, at an affordable $38, served with coffee or tea and chocolate of the day!

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New Menu at Paddy Hills [South Buona Vista Road]

We were here to try the new ‘Daytime Eats’ selection at Paddy Hills. Here is a disclaimer, the menu at Paddy Hills is different during the day and night, so whatever you see in this post might not be available if you are having dinner.

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From left: Taste Like Purple ($8), Orange Sky ($8) and Bubbly Yuzu ($8). These three quenchers are as pretty as a picture! I did not fancy the Autumn Iced Tea ($8), so it is not pictured here. If you are feeling a bit daring, go for the Beer Slushie ($12)!

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The two sides we had were the Prawn Paste Wings (foreground) and Drunken Pig (background); both cost $15. The wings, which are a zichar staple, were finger licking good. The homemade sambal belachan and calamansi that accompanied the dish helped to intensify the flavours. As for the pork collar dish, it was served with nam jim, which is a Thai dipping sauce, a surprising medley of salty, sweet, spicy and sour.

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The Pink Rigatoni ($25) is one lovely dish. The pasta came with cacio e pepe (which means cheese and pepper), mentaiko, Brazilian sausage and lardo. This may be a trying food item for people with Trypophobia, but this Italian style mac & cheese is worth it!

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