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#Retreat2017: Day 1

As what Maya Angelou said, “each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” And for us, we didn’t only have a day, but three!

Last November 8th to 10th, we had a retreat at Caleruega Philippines, in Nasugbu, Batangas. It is a 3-day disconnection from the real world and reconnection to our friends and foes through allowing the dominance of our vulnerability and dormancy of our negative judgments towards each other. There was also a spiritual empowerment and a pause to see a bigger picture of our past decisions.

Our estimated departure time was 11 AM– but me being so excited about this I wasn’t even able to sleep— I arrived in UST at around 9:30 AM.  It was very sunny, it was almost difficult to walk around UST to get some last-minute *~retreat letters~*. Before we board the bus we had lunch at Jollibee Asturias first because we will no longer be having any stopover for lunch.

At around 11 AM, we started traveling to Nasugbu, Batangas. We traveled for roughly 3 hours, but I was never able to sit down because I  was very busy taking pictures, distributing retreat letters, asking payments for the mass offerings, and singing in the karaoke as well! In fact, I felt really honored to be a dispatcher– I even realized that I could be a good surfer because of my talent in balancing in a moving bus in a zigzag highway!

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At 2:30 PM we arrived in Caleruega Philippines and upon entering, I automatically felt bliss because this place has been my jar of good memories. And I am very excited to make new memories with new people in the same place.

When we arrived we were just oriented about the house rules and then they gave us the room assignments and we went to our room to fix our things. I was also tasked to become the bell ringer and key holder.

I was excited about our rooms this time because when I had a retreat 5 years ago in this place, we were in a room good for 4-8 people with one bathroom. But now, almost 30 girls are in a very big room in Catalina Hall with almost 40 bunk beds and there is also a huge bathroom that sheltered around 10 toilet and 10 shower cubicles.

It just made our experience way better because it felt like we were in a ladies’ dormitory and we don’t need to knock on someone’s door because we can just go barge into their beds.

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At 3:00 PM we had our snack: Spaghetti.

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While waiting for our first session we decided to take pictures first. Hoping to find a picture that is decent enough for a profile picture for the Social Media accounts. lol

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At around 4:15 PM we had our first session with Fr. Rafael “Pop” Lusuergo, OP. When we arrived in the Gazekubo there were envelopes with papers on our chair, and then after some talk, he told us to make an emblem describing ourselves, plot our life graph of happiness, and he also asked us to design the envelope where people can put the encouraging/kind notes and then we placed it on the panel board.

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Conceptualizing the emblem, writing and coloring them– I really found them therapeutic. I was really having fun and I was putting enough effort on them.

Although I know it’s not really noticeable because I am not very good at these forms of art.

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At around 6:30 PM we already had our dinner. Then, we took pictures and had some free time to read our retreat letters.

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Our last session started at 7:30 PM and it was more of a sharing. In fact, I felt like I am the retreat master because I was the one facilitating the sharing! So many dream jobs getting unlocked today! 

We formed a big circle, and we shared the reason why our emblem was designed that way and the story behind our life graph of happiness. We finished this until 12 midnight, and it was just relaxing because we were all just letting our emotions take over us, exhausting all the negativities that we have been concealing. We were very vulnerable and it’s just so beautiful how we are able to see the genuineness of each other because we are sincere with how we really feel.

The lights out was supposed to be at 11 PM but we were informed that it’s not really followed so we can just go on and finish the sharing. It was almost midnight when we were able to finish.

We finished with a group hug and a prayer, then we went back to our room (Catalina Hall) and we started preparing for sleep. But of course, no one slept until 2 AM.

Like me.

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Puzzles (Board Game Lounge)

It is one of those weeks of the month where in we just want to spend money just to redeem our dreadful souls from the accumulated stress clogged in our veins.

It is one of those weeks where we just wanted to take a time out from the reality and c’est la vie!

LOL how I wish! Honestly, I was just having a really hard time studying at home that’s why I decided to meet up with Pammy in BGC, and do our school works together. I don’t know why, but usually, when I do my school works outside our house I always get things done faster.

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Puzzles is a restaurant that will make your ‘catching up’ time with your barkada more fun because they offer a vast collection of board games that you may unlimitedly choose from for only Php100. Plus, they are also a member of Booky Prime Restaurants that’s why they can offer up to Php500 worth of discount!

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Personally, I am not fond of board games. As far as I remember Snakes & Ladders and Millionaires are the only board games I have played since I was young. But I think, if we were not busy when we ate here, we might have spent the whole day getting all giddy with all the board games, changing games after one game and learning as many board games as possible.

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The Puzzles is also a two-storey building with high ceilings. But as much as I would like to talk about how the second floor looks like, when we asked if we can occupy the 2nd floor, the cashier said that they had to fill the 1st floor first before they allow its occupancy.

And also the menu written in the blackboard is not their entire menu those are just the “manager’s choice” or their “recommended” and they really have a printed menu.

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Beer-battered Chicken fingers with honey mustard dip, Baked Chicken Parmigiana, and Oreo Afraid of the Dark.

Before we started studying for our final exam in Discourse Analysis, we had late lunch first. We ordered Beer-battered Chicken fingers with honey mustard dip (Php370) which are soft chicken breast strips which are cooked tenderly you may eat it by itself or you may dip it to add more tangy taste.

We also ordered Baked Chicken Parmigiana (Php290) because I am a pasta lover and the way I rate a restaurant often depends on this. Yes, the pasta tasted well, but it has the tendency that when it gets a little more exposed to air, the pasta absorbs the oil making it stick together and become dry. But nevertheless, the flavor sat well in the pasta.

For our dessert, we had Oreo Afraid of the Dark (Php150) which is a wicked oreo (oreo inside a pancake) topped with vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles. And we actually got two of this because we also answered the feedback in the Booky app, and even though it’s so sweet– of course, who says no to dessert, right?

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Pammy and I

In the Philippines, there are already a lot of restaurants that combined gaming and food. Maybe it’s their way of marketing to male clients or maybe just to put a twist, but usually when they do this it’s either their food will not taste good or the games are limited.

But for Puzzles, they were able to make sure to prioritize the food. All the dishes that we ordered really tasted really well! In fact, the prices are reasonable for their quality.

So there you have it! If you want to visit a quality restaurant with board games available, go to Puzzles! You can find it at Ground Floor, Fort Pointe 2 Building, The Fort Strip, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Hope to hear your experience!

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Marcia Adam’s

Marcia Adams has been a go-to place in Tagaytay especially for celebrities because of its ambiance being Instagram-worthy in every angle, and of course, how it’s clandestinely located in Tagaytay.

So when my eldest sister, Ate Marjoe, who lives in Singapore went back to visit the Philippines, the siblings decided to go to Tagaytay. And, it was my elder sister, Ate Judah, who recommended this place because of its popularity among the ~*upper-class*~ netizens of Instagram (if you know what I mean). Hehehe

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With the cold wind of Tagaytay mixed with the garden picturesque of the restaurant, anyone will definitely be convinced that they are in another country. It was so beautiful that I can’t keep myself from taking a lot of pictures!

However, I have noticed how the leaves and the trees looked like they are clamped together because of how large and numerous they are, thus making the narrow and inclined trails look like a pathway where frogs would suddenly hop or as if there are a lot of mosquitoes waiting to suck your blood.

But I guarantee you all that there were no incidents like that.

It is not your typical restaurant, it’s like a compound composed of bungalow houses with a restaurant interior. As you can see in the pictures above every bungalow has a different ambiance, in fact, there is this even a place that gave that romantic year 1611 vibes! With its dim lights and walls… I don’t know if I’m a sucker for romantic places but if I’d have a date with my ~*oppa wookie*~, we’d definitely have it here.

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However, since I am only dining with my siblings we chose the more open area where an immense amount of natural light comes in as the wind kisses our skin. On top of that, the color of the chairs, glasses, vases are so vibrant, and they have a lot of flowers as well– the interior just complement each other even if there are different colors in the picture. So Instagram-worthy! I want to copy the interior for my own apartment someday!

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Plus they also have this view, which gives me that Korean drama, “Descendants of the Sun” feels when they (the real life #SongSong couples) had dinner in Greece.

So now we’re moving to the dishes.

At a glance, the menu might look expensive but if you would order a main course, the appetizer and the dessert are already included so it’s still not bank breaking. Besides, the servings are similar to fine dining restaurants so basically the price range is quite acceptable.

Although honestly, with the hype, the ambiance of the place, and the cuisine that they offered I think their dishes are 3.5/5.

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Hummus with Whole Wheat Tortilla

For our appetizers, first, we had Hummus with Whole Wheat Tortilla which is free if you order a main course.

Since I tasted an authentic Hummus in Singapore last December, I became fond of it that when we once had breakfast in Microtel, in Manila and I saw Hummus, I quickly put one on a saucer and get lots of bread. Unfortunately, upon tasting it I pushed my plate away because I know it’s not the same authentic Hummus that I had.

So when I saw this on the menu, I didn’t think twice but to give it another chance. After all, Marcia Adam’s offers a Mediterranean cuisine so I had high expectation on their Hummus– and yes they didn’t disappoint. The bread was well-baked, it wasn’t chewy, and I was no longer just dipping the bread in the Hummus I was s c o o p i n g it. #NoRegrets

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Amalfi Prawns

Another appetizer that we ordered was the Amalfi Prawns (Php225). It wasn’t free with the main course, and for me it was unsatisfying because it was cooked deliciously but the price and the quantity is not enough.

FullSizeRender-6Then for our salad, we had Prawns, Mushroom, and Arugula Salad (Php395). 

Mind you I was never a salad person. Whenever I eat salad I would always squeeze a lot of dressing just so the leaves-eating would be bearable. But for this, there wasn’t a hundred island dressing, just olive oil. So what I did was I only ate the ones on the top because there is a lot of oil and I even wiped the oil on the plate with the leaves.

(Lesson learned: don’t order salad on your first date if you’re not a salad person, don’t even try to pretend to impress hahaha lol)

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Corsican Beef Stew

For our main dish, we ordered Corsican Beef Stew (Php855), which is basically like your Kaldereta.

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And another main dish, Spanish Chicken Caserole (Php755).

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Carbonara Special

Then we also ordered Carbonara Special (Php765) because my family is a pasta lover, in fact, most of the time we judge a restaurant based on their Carbonara. We have already tasted different Carbonara from the budget friendly ones, to the expensive one. This carbonara is of course part of the expensive one, although its taste is so-so.

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Carbonara Special (Mussel)

We also tried the Carbonara Special (Mussel). I can’t remember how much this costs, but if I’m not mistaken it’s just the same with the Carbonara Special that was all meat, it’s just that we were offered if we like mussels instead of the meat.

This is not my favorite because I’m used to having Tuna Carbonara (if we are going to use seafood on our carbonara) but never mussels. So when I tasted it, the mussel was overpowering and fyi we are going to travel back to Manila and if I am going to insist on eating this one, I might upset my stomach and you know what will happen next.

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Grilled Orange with Vanilla Ice Cream

 

For the dessert, we ordered Grilled Orange with Vanilla Ice Cream (included in the main course as well), because we were curious about the grilling of the orange. But that’s it. Nothing special, just orange and Ice Cream. I can even do this at home.

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Panna Cotta with Lemon Sauce

 

Then Panna Cotta with Lemon Sauce which is also included in the main course.

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Fried Banana with Chocolate Dip

 

And Fried Banana with Chocolate dip, this actually tasted like banana cue and the dip is like Nutella.

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Banana Split with Chocolate Ice Cream

 

Then for the Banana Split with Chocolate Ice Cream, it’s just a Banana, with Chocolate Sauce and a Chocolate Ice Cream.

So there you have it! If you want to visit a Mediterranean restaurant in a private uncrowded place in Tagaytay, go to Marcia Adam’s! You can find it at J. Rizal Street, Baranggay Sicat, Alfonso, Tagaytay City . Hope to hear your experience!

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Slappy Cakes

It is one of those days where my BFFs, Pammy & Krizia, and I, want to merge being productive in school and having quality time with each other. My professors have been pretty much being demanding, thus the piling up of works encourages us to procrastinate more!

So when our class ended, we went to the location where Krizia will be doing her self-portrait for our Humanities class. We helped her set up and even suggested alternative angles. Then after that, we went to Taguig because we are going to film Pammy for her self-portrait– which she hasn’t even made plans of.

To cut the story short, Krizia was the only one who finished her self-portrait, and Pammy wasn’t able to do hers. Then, since we don’t want to waste our time and effort, we decided to have dinner at Slappy Cakes. 

Actually, Slappy Cakes wasn’t our first choice since I always want Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, or Italian cuisine, and besides, we are not like Westerners who would think about eating Pancakes for dinner. (I mean, do they?) Asians prefer rice or pasta for dinner!

But we ended up here. Upon entering, the ambiance of the restaurant gave that 90’s diners vibes with its tiled-like brick walls and the styles of the tables and chairs.

Also what encouraged us to dine here is the fact that we are going to make our own pancakes! Isn’t it amazing? I mean, I don’t really like cooking– in general– and I’d prefer to just be the one eating. But when it’s in a restaurant and you get to cook your own food on your table, I admit, I like grabbing the utensils and start pretending I am in an episode of Master Chef Asia!

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The one we ordered was the group meal that was good for 3. If my memory serves me right, the rice is not inclusive with the bucket (or basket) of chicken. That’s why I decided to have a garlic rice– although I think it lacks garlic or I just love garlic that I want a lot?

I forgot how much it costs, but pro-tip always prefer group meals because it’s cheaper.

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Then we also had pancakes. Our batter was Buttermilk (Php225), our fixins was Chocolate Chips (Php45), and our topping was Chocolate Sauce (Php60). Yay! Diabetes!

PS. I chose this photo because the finished products were not that photogenic– if you know what I mean.

DSC00081We were already full with the meals that we ordered, but since we booked Php300 off from Booky and we are a hundred short from the Php1000 requirement. We decided to order, Affogato (Php120). Mind you, it’s so sweet. If you are depressed, and in need of sweet food– this is specially made for you.

Mind you, it’s so sweet. If you are depressed, and in need of sweet food– this is specially made for you.

If you are depressed, and in need of sweet food– this is specially made for you.

–this is specially made for you.

DSC00082One of the perks of Booky is that they also give you a free dessert just by answering the feedback form. So to all blogging enthusiasts out there, make sure to download the Booky app so that you can have Php1000 consumable credit to different Booky Prime restaurants.

So there you have it! If you want to visit a restaurant that allows you to cook the pancake on your table, go to Slappy Cakes! You can find it at the Lower Ground Floor, SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City . Hope to hear your experience!

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Kokoro Ramenya + Hosting Event

My 2017 didn’t start smoothly, I kept on going against the current, thus, I end up waking up blearily, spending a couple of minutes staring at the ceiling to just sigh and guarantee myself that this day is going to end soon.

But thanks to Artist League Manila for giving me avenues to pour my energies into. So one of the first hosting events they gave me is a kid’s fashion show at Fishermall. It was my first time hosting outside my school, not to mention that the event is also considered informal– thus needing more effort in inserting adlibs. But I’m not that worried because I wasn’t hosting alone!

It was a Friday and my class ended at 12nn. So my BFFs, Pammy and Krizia, went with me to Fishermall and we ate at Kokoro Ramenya. I don’t remember our craving for Japanese cuisine because technically it’s just me who likes Ramen the most among the 3 of us and since they are very understanding and they were comforting me… We went for my preference.

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I ordered the Hakata Classic (Php275) not only because this is one of the recommended ramens, but because I also wanted to try other variants of ramen. They were able to cook the egg just how I liked it, the pork was tender, and there were also shrimp, squid, and vegetables to complete my diet. However, I was quite surprised with how this tasted because it is way too far from the Ramen I usually eat. I am not saying that it didn’t taste well, but the taste of the soup seemed like it’s a soup from a Chinese restaurant, and it’s not in the category of Ramens.

This is an eye opener that I should avoid trying new food– especially if I’m the one paying it. lol kidding 

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The last 3 dishes balanced the mistake I made with choosing the ramen. Although there is nothing special about the way they cooked The Chicken Teriyaki (Php195), I think it is just similar to how the usual Chicken Teriyakis tasted.  

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Same thing with the Katsudon (Php145), it also tasted the same with the usual Katsudons served in Tokyo Tokyo or Yoshinoya. However, I have noticed that they seemed to have a larger serving and that there are a lot of eggs! So why not!

We also had the Gyoza (Php155), although I wasn’t able to take a solo picture of it. Some parts of the Gyoza was harder than the other parts, which I think is because of the inconsistency when they cooked it. Some parts felt like fried, some felt like steamed.

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But overall, it was a good restaurant and here is a picture of us while we were waiting for our orders.

This day is one of my memorable days because I had a roller coaster of emotions the whole day but I was still able to get myself in front of a lot of people, pretended everything was fine and laughed with their jokes. I know I was also going to be reprimanded because I told them I’d be home by 9 pm, but I actually went home at 1 am.

But I think God understood my pain that day so I just had fun that night and I wasn’t reprimanded when I went home.

So there you have it! If you want to visit a Ramen restaurant in Fishermall, go to Kokoro Ramenya! You can find it at the Upper Ground Floor, Fisher Mall, Quezon Avenue, Del Monte, Quezon City . Hope to hear your experience!

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National Library of Singapore

When I went to Singapore, part of my itinerary was to visit Libraries to satisfy my proactive soul and look for a possible undergraduate thesis topic. My goal was to even visit all, however, that would be far-fetched because aside from there are a lot of libraries, most of the libraries I’ve seen on the list are for children! Just imagine looking for a hardcore Linguistic book, and finding a colorful book of Red Riding Hood, instead?

Among the libraries I visited are Sports Hub Library, Toa Payoh Library, and National Library, but it was the National Library that enticed me to return several times– which led me to not visiting other anymore because I found the one.

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I can still remember the exact moment I visited this library the first time. I was shrinking, I wanted to know if I have to pay anything to get in. But I was alone, and I just felt so diffident just by looking at the lady at the information desk. She looked strict, reserved, and intimidating, like those nuns administering convents for young ladies– and then only God knows how my imagination led to an entire soap opera

I circled around the exhibit in the lobby, and honestly, I was already thinking about aborting my mission.

I wanted to go back to my comfort zone.

I wanted to go home.

But I reminded myself that I have no time to be hesitant because I’ve traveled so far, and it is embarrassing to fail at something just because I was shy. Myself, my family, my mom, my ancestors, my countrymen– they will all not be happy if I go home– just because I was shy.

So I took a deep breath and approached the lady. She politely smiled at me, and under my shaking smile I asked, “Hi, I am a tourist and I want to enter the library, do I have to pay anything?” She smiled more and then she shook her head, “No no, you can just go in, sit, and read.” She even swayed her hand, gesturing me to go in. So, I said thanks, and I went in.

And after that, I returned to the National Library several times, and I started smiling and greeting uncles around the place.

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National Library of Singapore, is also called Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. It occupies the 5th and 7th-13th levels of the National Library Building, at the Victoria Street, Singapore. It is located near Bras Basah Complex and Bugis. They are open Monday-Sunday from 10am-9pm (except on Public Holidays).

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But for me, I usually stayed at the 8th level because that is where the Social Science and Humanities Collection. In this section, I was able to find a lot of books in all the fields of Linguistics. They have such a huge collection and their books were really kept well. I was even fascinated to find books that are part of the references of the books I’ve read in the Philippines. I don’t know if I am normal but I felt like I am seeing a celebrity in person when I touched their books!

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The staffs are also very diligent in their jobs. They have a table on the sides, wherein they will ask you to put the books after you use it, instead of inserting it in any bookshelves. The staffs really make sure that that table will always be free of any books because they put it in their rightful places right away.

Although in using the Online Catalogues, it was quite stupid-eating because it’s different from what we have in the Philippines. In their catalog, if you search for one book they will all give you results even from other libraries. And the call card number is different, I don’t know how to use it. Seriously.

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They also have a cafe outside the library but I wasn’t able to check it out and eat there. But they always have a lot of clients, so I think the food there tastes good.

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With the rise of the internet, research, and the import/export of books, information has been at the tip of our thumbs. Thus, I don’t believe that ignorance is bliss. It was never, and will never be. At this age of technology, it is embarrassing to still be ignorant.

As anyone has noticed in the facade, facilities, and books at the National Library of Singapore, everyone will agree that it is a modernized library, and being a modernize library actually helped enticing more students, tourists, and people in general, to visit and spend time at the library.

That’s why I do hope that the Philippines would invest in these kinds of establishments. To encourage more students to study and to be able to entice more researchers in the country. Filipinos are already intelligent people, we just need more venue to hone our talents.

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Royal London Duck

It is seldom to find restaurants in the Philippines that serve duck. However, in Singapore, you’ll find it everywhere. You’ll find it in those fancy Chinese restaurants or those in the hawkers– although, honestly, I find Hawker foods more authentic than those from the commercialized and overpriced restaurants. hmpft

So today, we went to the Mandarin Gallery at Orchard. 

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Aside from the advertisement stand found near the elevator, this view will actually entice you to dine in their restaurant. As much as, it was quite uncomfortable how the brownish-colored duck and yellowish-colored chicken were hooked that way, but, it actually succeeded in catching our attention.

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Splendor is flashing inside the restaurant, with its red colored chairs– which is very Chinese marketing strategy– and the interior of the restaurant. The restaurant is also not a confined type of establishment, like a usual restaurant space enclosed by its four sides and then a double door in the middle of one side. Here, they actually have 2 sides that they opened and they only have a balcony-type of a divider from the outside of its restaurant.

So basically, the air of the entire mall circulates with their own air. And in my opinion, that is like saving electrical energy and it’s more comfortable because the sight not suffocating.

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Royal London Duck

Of course, we ordered Half Royal London Duck (SGD25) because, basically, that’s what we came for. The duck wasn’t chewy, the skin was in the middle of being crispy and being hard, and the sauce was fantastic with the white rice. It was definitely cooked well!

Although I must say that diners should really be careful when feeding elders or toddlers because there are some small duck bones you will only discover once you’re eating them already.

Then I also ordered this one, because a Beef Brisket Noodle Dry (SGD8.80) is a must in every Chinese dining. I love how tender the beef was, however, I’d prefer if they would not serve me the fatty part of the brisket next time. I just want the meat itself, please.

We also ordered the RLD Black Pepper Bun (SGD5.80), which was like a pork steamed bun, minus the fact that it’s not really steamed because the buns are like the ones from Tim Ho Wan, which I think is a baked one, and also it’s not pork, it’s a duck.

We ordered Congee because we have a very picky toddler and who panics everytime the food is not color white. (Yay I miss baby Noelle!!) And of course, Royal London Duck Xiao Long Bao (SGD5.20) though, I think the wrap was thicker and it’s less watery (I mean the soup inside it) but overall it still tasted like the usual Xia Long Bao that I tasted.

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For our dessert, we had Snow Lady (SGD4). It’s like a whip-cream-icing combination and small Mango cubes wrapped in Mochi skin. This is my first time tasting a Snow Lady, and even though I read one review that it seemed like it’s below their expectation. I’d set this as my standard, and let’s see how it goes.

So there you have it! If you want to visit a restaurant that serves just the right duck for your craving, Go to Royal London Duck! You can find it at 333A Orchard Road, Mandarin Gallery #04-21/22/23, Singapore 238897. Hope to hear your experience!