Travel: Madakariputra Falls, Surabaya, Indonesia


To be honest, I’d planned Madakariputra waterfall as a mere stopover enroute from Surabaya airport to Mount Bromo. But we ended up being so much more impressed by its magnificence and beauty than we expected! This 200-metre tall waterfall is just a 3-hour drive from the airport, and features dreamy, rain-like streams cascading down the walls of a verdant, cylindrical canyon. I would call the experience almost transcendental.


The pictures truly do not do any justice to its scale and the awe it inspires. But I shall try my best to convey its transcendental beauty in this post. Let’s start with a bit of background on Java Island’s most popular waterfall.


The Madakariputra Waterfall lies hidden in a mountain valley just an hour away from Mount Bromo. Visitors have to trek about 20 minutes into the reserve to reach it.


It was said that Majapahit’s great commander Gajah Mada (depicted above) used to visit the waterfall to meditate before big battles. It was a sanctuary for him to clear his mind and soul. And if you look at the pictures below, you can really see why.


Continue reading

Traditional Kyoto Sweets at Kagizen Yoshifusa Honten 鍵善良房 本店 (Gion)


I just got back from Kyoto, and really want to share one of the best-kept secrets among the locals in Gion — Kagizen Yoshifuza. It’s a renowned sweet shop established as long ago as the mid-Edo period, and and has been making traditional Kyoto sweets for hundreds of years! The shop is quaint but elegant, showcasing a ceiling-to-floor view of a well-manicured garden.


The atmosphere is tranquil, serene and one is instantly transported to a different headspace from the crowded streets of the busy geisha district outside.


We begin our meal with two cups of roasted tea and some sweets.


And before we knew it, our desserts arrived. We ordered the Chilled Arrowroot Noodles (¥1000) with brown sugar and warabi mochi (¥1000).


Let’s start with the warabi mochi. This Japanese sweet is a jelly-like confection made from bracken starch and covered in kinako or soybean powder. It’s often served with a side of brown syrup.


Continue reading

Michelin Guide ★: Lasai Restaurante, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Lasai is a modern and elegant Basque-inspired restaurant headed up by Chef Rafa Costa e Silva. It features local ingredients, and one of the most exceptional interpretations of vegetable dishes I’ve ever tried. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

When we first arrived, we were ushered to the rooftop bar which was lit with fairy lights and where we enjoyed our drinks before our meal. It was lovely and romantic, and we had such a great time, we forgot to take photos of it. But be sure to check it out when you’re there.


When we were seated, they served up these colourful morsels of what I presumed to be amuse bouche. Let’s go clockwise from the top left — Herb Sandwich, Green Tomato with Pickle, Okra Pancake, Pumpkin Cauliflower.


I absolutely loved how much effort went into each delicious bite-sized morsel. The textures and flavours in each one were so distinctive I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. And we were just getting started.

Our next appetiser — Carrot Leaf Bun with Carrot and Carrot Powder


All parts of a carrot turned into this unique creation. I’d never had a carrot leaf bun, nor enjoyed carrots very much. But this combination of textures offered a whole other dimension to carrots apart from that raw sweetness we are all so used to. I was intrigued.

Then, a little reprieve from the veggies with this soft, tender Octopus with Leaf.


The octopus was cooked perfectly and finished with a savoury herb dressing that wasn’t overwhelming. Together with a fresh leaf, it went down easy and again, the vegetable almost stole the show.

And as if we weren’t surprised enough by how versatile vegetable dishes could be, we were thrown yet again by this deceptively simple looking Daikon Radish.


Continue reading

Travel: Wine Tours in Yarra Valley, Australia


If your idea of a perfect vacation involves a lot of wine, chocolate and beers, you’re going to absolutely love the Yarra Valley. Ideally, we’d have driven out to explore the vineyards on our own. But that means holding back on tasting the best the vineyards have to offer. So, we got a designated driver and had a ball of a time!


If you explore the Yarra Valley in early winter, you won’t be able to see any of the shrubs in their full glory. But you can probably still enjoy lots of greenery as we soon realised. Our initial plan was to enjoy the warmth of good wine in the cold, but having this view was beyond our expectations. A toast to that!


And it’s not all about the alcohol too. We started out at a small capsicum farm. Where they created a hydroponics system that ensures the plants are cultivated all year round.


Continue reading