Friday, January 29, 2016

Media Invite + review: Ah B Cafe, a pet-friendly, MSG FREE Cafe!

Media Invite
Being a mum to a young child means that I am often on the hunt for healthy food choices. Being a mum now to a "furkid" to a rescue dog means that I now have to look for a pet friendly eatery as I want to socialise J. 

It is no longer a question of “Where do we go if I need to feed the kiddo?” but more of  “OK, where is a pet friendly place that serves good healthy food AND allows me to bring J too?”

So it was very much of a delight that we were invited to Ah B Café. Ah B Café is not a pet cafe but a family-and-pet friendly cafe founded by 2 partners - Celine and Joel. The café does not sell any food for your furkids BUT  they have an exclusive collaboration with Pawlicious Bakery (their next door neighbour) where you can order a meal for your furkid and they will even deliver it to the café. :)

Celine (SCAE Intermediate Barista Skills certified) was a professional groomer while Joel started in the F&B industry with a special interest in pastry. After having pursued her interest as a chef in Japan for a few years, she continued her training in pastries in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and of course, Paris. 

As both Celine and Joel are animal lovers, they decided on starting a pet-friendly café where humans and pets could co-exist, and dine together. 

Being an anal mum who is worried about nutrition (hence I am into my second year of daily bento for the kid!) I was delighted to know that Ah B Café has a NO MSG policy! Yup, you read it right, no MSG. That means that Joel is committed to making everything from scratch (even the Teriyaki sauce which you can read more about below) so she knows exactly what has gone into all her creations. 

:: The Location

Ah B Café is tucked in a pet friendly section / block right outside The Grandstand or what we know as the former Turf City (full address below). It is part of Sunny Heights which offers a dog pool, pet boarding services and has tenants such as Pawlicious Bakery, Fur N Away besides Ah B Café. 

Ah B Café also has an outdoor area, perfect for the cooler evenings. And as the area outside these 2 units is gated up, that means that dogs are free to roam outside too. (Note: do be vigilant in opening the gate for the safety of all furkids in case they slip through. Kindly ensure that the gate is closed properly too)

:: The set up

Ah B Café has a very simple set up with seating capacity of up to 60 pax (indoor). One immediate thing which I noticed upon entering is how clean the café is and importantly there was no lingering “pet smell”. As Ah B Café does not charge GST and Service Charge, ordering is done over the counter... 

while collection of drinks is then done at an adjoining counter.

Cutlery is collected over a self service counter with a sink neatly tucked in next to it. 

Poop bags are also conveniently hung on the wall with mops and pails readily available for pet owners to quickly clean up in case of any unwanted accidents. :) 

:: The Food

We intentionally ordered 3 main courses from 3 different "sections" of the menu so as to try a wider range of food. 

Salmon Teriyaki Rice

The kiddo ordered a Salmon Teriyaki Rice ($19.80) which featured a homemade Teriyaki sauce, made from scratch. As MSG is a flavor enhancer, without it, I had expected the sauce to be bland and somewhat less flavorful from what we are used to at Japanese restaurants. 

To my pleasant surprise, the sauce was no less tasty and in fact, the kiddo polished up the sauce, leaving me with hardly any to sample! *roll eyes*

Dumpling commented that the salmon skin was also crispy and she ate it up quickly. 

(Close up of the salmon which is still pink and not white, and flakes off nicely) 

Drunken Pork Honey

The hubs’ choice was delivered next and he had ordered the Drunken Pork Honey ( $20.80). The pork chop was served on a bed of home made mash potato, and topped with some alfalfa. 

This main, totally took me by surprise. I am not sure if many of you readers know but I hardly ever take pork. There is something about the gamey smell of the meat that puts me off and it has been the case since young. My childhood was spent with my mum trying ways and means to get me to take more red meat especially since I am anaemic :p

The pork collar had none of that smell. It was soft and moist, revealing layers of flavour with each bite. The secret? I found out that the pork collar has been marinated and steeped into a honeyed beer marinade for 12 hours on the average. 

Topped with a red wine and beer sauce, the pork collar was cooked to perfection with each mouthful, an absolute joy. :)

Smoked duck Pasta

My order arrived next - being more adventurous with food, I had ordered the Smoked Duck Pasta ($17.80).  I am one of those that do not like soggy pasta so I like that the spaghetti was cooked al dente. The generous serving of smoked duck was cut into slivers and tossed well with the pea sprouts and served with a lightly spiced white wine broth. 

I am quite adventurous with my food so this dish worked for me. The pea sprouts added a "crisp and clean" flavour which balances the saltiness of the smoked duck. After a few mouthful, I started tasting some "heat" too and a quick toss of the pasta showed that there were a few slices of bird's eye chili, which married well with the slightly acidic and fruity white wine broth. 

:: The dessert

Belgium Lava Cake 

I know many of you are going to groan when I say that we only ordered and reviewed 1 dessert. :p I don't have a sweet tooth (hubs and kiddo win hands down in this department) and I am easily satisfied with just 2 - 3 spoonful of any dessert. And for that afternoon, that one order was enough to satisfy my "tam-jiakness" and the hubs and kid with their sweet tooth. :) 

The kiddo and the hubs decided on Belgium Lava Cake ($15.8) which is a 2-persons portion. Joel does the baking personally and each cake is baked on the spot hence a 20 minutes wait is required. 

And for you chocolate lovers our there, the cake was worth the wait. The cake was moist and as high quality Belgium chocolate was used, the centre "lava" was rich yet not overtly sweet. What worked well for me was that the cake was paired with sliced caramelised bananas and french vanilla ice cream which cut through the richness of the cake.  

Now, where does the furkid come in, you might ask? J also enjoyed herself tremendously. Check out the cute "bone-shaped" meat loaves J had :)

:: About Ah B Café 

10 Turf Club Road
Singapore 288000
For reservations please call: 
+65 6811 1408

or email to

Opening hours:
Tuesdays to fridays: 1:30 - 9:00pm

Saturday: 12:00pm - 9:00pm
sunday: 12:00pm - 7:00pm

(Only cash payment is accepted at the time of post)

Parking is free and there are many lots next to The Grandstand building (near Swallows and Amazon Preschool)

Disclaimer: We were invited to spend an afternoon at Ah B Café to give our opinions of their dishes. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours (including J’s!) and we are not responsible for any ravenous appetite you may have developed after reading this post. If you spot us at Ah B Café again, feel free to buy us a coffee, or better yet a lunch. :p J will also be grateful for a meatloaf treat too.  

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Primary One: Learning about the Chinese Curriculum

Chinese is a language which I have been openly anal about since Dumpling was young. While we homeschooled on the rest of the subjects, Dumpling attended a Full Chinese Immersion daily classes during her preschool years but I did work with her on various activities at home for Chinese to further cement the foundation. 

Then lo and behold, MOE announced a change in the Mother Tongue syllabus for Dumpling’s batch during late 2014 where the focus is for our children to be active learners and proficient of the language. Hence with that, came brand new textbooks, workbooks and flashcards.

I noted some differences between the old syllabus and this new one. 

:: Meaningful topical approach

A flip through the book shows that the content is meant to be something relate-able and using topical approach on everyday topics.

This comparing to the old syllabus (see bottom half of the photo) where the topics are not something that is meaningful or useful for the children. 

:: More words

A quick comparison between the old versus the new one seems to suggest that new syllabus covers more words.

Below is the comparing the words between the old and new:

This is also because based on the old syllabus, HYPY is very much the focus for the first few months before they embark on word recognition. With this new syllabus, HYPY is taught in every chapter.

You can also that with the new syllabus, children are taught to write more words and from Chapter 1.

:: More topics and a focus on Oracy

The new textbook appears to be more comprehensive with the wider range of topics which you can see from the contents page above. Additionally, it also has a stronger emphasis on the verbal part with more daily “conversations” captured in the illustrations. 

:: So what goes on for tests?
For Dumpling, she was on holistic assessments last year so there was no formal Semester Assessments. What took place instead for her school was that there were bite size assessments from week 5 where the “elements” were broken down into different weeks.

For e.g. for Chinese, Week 5 could be Listening Comprehension, Week 6 could be Oral – Read aloud, Week 7 could be Show and Tell and Week 8, the written paper.

So for Oracy, on a termly basis, there are always 2 parts: either a read aloud + show and tell or read aloud + picture description. Schools will usually send back a sheet to share guidelines and even a template. I have previously shared on some show and tell tips for P1 here.

:: What about Ting Xie?
For many of my GFs and Dumpling’s school, Ting Xie (Chinese Spelling) features a mix of Han Yu Pin Yin and the words. When I first saw the list, I was very worried. To me, HYPY is to assist the child to read better with a list of mix words in a sentence, how is the child able to recall which part are the words are and which, is the HYPY?

For Dumpling, her school teacher will prompt them either verbally or write the structure on the white board in a format of dash and squares.

So for e.g. for the first ting xie list in the below picture

 the teacher may write this out on the board for item 9:

This format allows the class to know which goes where. Of course, not all schools use this format so you may need to check on this with your teacher. 

So is the Chinese work manageable? At the moment, yes, but as always, I believe in consistent work. So how do I revise, you may ask. 

Here’s my 3 study tips.

1) Speak and Tell!  
To help make it more natural for Dumpling to speak it more often, I bought 2 books on Oracy practice to work on read aloud as well as picture description. I will share that in a separate post as this post is becoming quite long. 

I also try very hard to set aside a specific time – just that 10 mins car ride / during meal time to have meaningful conversations with her. It exposes the child to useful and applicable vocabulary (e.g. in Book 1B, there is a topic on food) which I think is important and useful.

2) Consistent work  
I go through the words with Dumpling weekly when it is time for her ting xie. Now, for your test prep work, you can refer back to this list too as there will be “fill in the blanks” part for the kids in the papers.

What you can do is also to use the glossary for revision for questions which ask about the 旁边. 

The glossary also provides a good list of words which your child should be able to "read" and "write". These will be the words that the tests should be based on for the moment.

3) Read read read
Though this is not a immediate tangible thing, I always encourage parents to read with and read to your children from a young age. It need not be a full book daily; a few pages is a good way to start. Download Chinese dictionary onto your phone which will be helpful if you come across any words that you don't know. 

The reading is important as it increases not only vocabulary bank but helps with proper sentence structure which will be useful when the children start to work on composition. 

I have previously written a post on nuturing a love for the Chinese language before and you can read more about it here:

Part 1: Read Read Read (books of a different kind)

Part 2: Speak it, Use it!
Part 3: Watch it!
Part 4: Play It! 
Part 5: Write it! (小书 Small Book)

Mummy blogger Mrs Kam has also written about the new Chinese Curriculum here. In it, she addresses the issue of mixing HYPY and Han character and some sharing on her conversation with her son's P1 Chinese teacher. :)

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts (both to the kiddo and my furkid, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Giveaway: A Boy Who Cried Wolf by I Theatre

It’s ITheatre’s 15th Anniversary and they are definitely celebrating it with a bang! With an exciting line-up for 2016 that includes sell-out productions such as The Rainbow Fish and The Magic Paintbrush, ITheatre will kickstart this new year with a well-known tale “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

Some people NEVER seem to learn…
Boy has a really boring job.
He has to watch the sheep. That’s all. Just watch. The sheep don’t think it is boring. They know it is an immensely important job, and their lives depend on it. They know that when Boy is around, they are safe from the Wolf. Then Boy thinks of a bright idea that will help him stay awake. He will pretend that the Wolf is close by, and will call for help!”

A fast-paced production that promises to be interactive, full of laughter and adventure, this cautionary tale delivers messages about the perils on lying. With its expected twists and turns peppered with physical theatre, this Aesop’s Fable is suitable for the young and the old!

I am pleased to share that I have a family package of 4 tickets to this classic tale, worth more than $120 to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Venue: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel
Date (for winners): 20 February, Saturday, 230pm
Duration: 55 mins (including meet and greet)
To purchase tickets, please click here

:: Terms and Conditions
  1. These tickets will be to the 2:30pm show on Saturday 20 February. 
  2. Winner is to collect the tickets directly from I Theatre office @ 27 Kerbau Road from 11 January - 12 February. (No onsite collection is allowed) during office hours.
  3. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash or for other dates.
  4. Please remember to leave a comment below on "Which is your favorite Aesop Fable and why?"
  5. As the play takes place in Singapore, this giveaway is opened only to Singapore Residents. GOOD LUCK! 

Disclaimer: The giveaway is kindly sponsored by I Theatre. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Dog-Friendly Eatery - Sun Ray Cafe

I have been busy enjoying “mummyhood” recently but this time to a different kind – a dog. LOL We recently adopted Jaime, a Singapore Special (local mutt) and my days are a whirlwind of activities. J is a rescue dog which was picked up from Jurong Island where she spent the first few months of her life at. Life on the street is definitely not easy and she came to us very timid. It is still the case whenever we bring her out. Exposure is important and we are bringing her out very frequently to get her de-sensitized to the outside world with the sound, sights, smells etc.

So that started our hunt for places that are dog friendly which includes eateries. Ah B Café was the first one we went to but I did not take any photos then as we were more concerned with her; she was absolutely petrified then and froze under the table. So a review of that cafe is in order. :)

Sun Ray Café came with recommendations from a friend. From a quick google map search, I found out that it is off Serangoon Gardens. The café is separated into 2 sections with one half seconded for pets. 

As we visited the café on New Year’s Eve, the café was offering a Christmas Menu which goes right into the New Year. 


However, the café was also serving its usual set lunch offers which I listed below, lifted from its website:

1 FOR 1 Set Lunch $28.00 NETT
except weekend and public holidays, opening till 3 pm: 2 soup of the days, 2 brunch/mains/pasta $17.00 and below, 2 non-alcoholic drinks $5.00 and below (top up available)

2 FOR 1 Set Lunch $42.00 NETT
except weekend and public holidays, opening till 3 pm: 3 soup of the days, 3 brunch/mains/pasta $17.00 and below, 3 non-alcoholic drinks $5.00 and below (top up available)

The selection of the main course can be anything from the brunch / mains / pasta menu which basically offers quite a wide range. Dumpling and the hubs then chose Rosemary Chicken while I had my eye on the Prawn Risotto (though I really wanted to try the Duck Confit too but well, will leave that for the next visit!). 

:: The Food

For our soups, the kiddo and the hubs topped up for the Forest Mushroom soup while I tried their Soup of the Day which was Tomato Basil soup (as below). The soups were tasty and the Tomato Basil was surprisingly good; it was sweet with a dash citrus and not too watery. The croutons were beautifully toasted and were flavourful. 

The Forest Mushroom soup was hearty without being too "rich". The dash of truffle oil added a nice dimension to this soup. 

While the soups were yummy, we faced a small "glitch" here. They arrived AFTER my main course was served and this was also not picked up by the staff. I spoke to the waiter on this and was told that the soup was not ready as they prepare them in a big batch. 


My risotto was a pretty looking dish with a skewer of translucent prawns lying on the bed of rice. The colours were appealing and inviting with the mix of vegetables and butternut pumpkin. The rice was cooked well and not over done and was tasty with the white wine sauce. My only thoughts were that the dish was a tad "cool" and the portion was a bit small for me.  

 (My pretty looking risotto complimented by a nice balance of greens, tomato and sliced red radish.) 
 (The skewer of  translucent prawns) 

The hubs and kid's rosemary chicken had mixed reviews. The roast chicken legs came on a bed of mash potato and broccoli. The chicken was charred on the outside and the meat was quite moist on the inside. On the whole, it was quite delicious with the infusion of rosemary but the kid found hers a tad too charred where the smell and the taste were a bit over-powering. The mash potato was well liked by both and the kiddo had no problem polishing it off. :p 

(The plating for the Rosemary Chicken was presented well too)

The set also came with a selection of drinks. We ordered Ice Latte and Ice Honey Lemon. Our Honey Lemon drink was not too diluted so that was good. The Ice Latte which the hubs ordered was flavourful (the café apparently roast their own beans in small batches) though he found it a bit acidic. 

J, being quite timid still, was hiding all the way under the table so we decided to doggy bag (all pun intended! Haha) her food (and hence, I do not have photos of her here.). I did not see the dish until we got home and frankly, I was a tad disappointed. 

We ordered Homemade Chicken Ball which was described on the website as chicken ball (100 gm), parsley, vegetables and sweet potatoes. The vegetables, as shown in the photo below, were a mix of sliced carrots and long beans. However, as you can see from the photo, they were limp and overly-cooked with the carrots looking shriveled up.

The Chicken Ball was a mix of chicken meat and rice (the latter not mentioned in the menu) and the rice looked to have been cooked then left out for some time as it was really dry. I did try a bit of the dish and it was quite flavourful though I feel that the item, listed as $10, was pricey.  

:: What we liked about Sun Ray Café:

The café though a tad run down, was cozy with its eclectic mix of tables and chairs. The set lunches were value-for-money as overall, they were tasty. The staff were also quite friendly. I ran out of parking coupon after an hour and the café stocks them so that was indeed helpful. 

:: What I think could have been done better:

The café looks like it is understaffed as the service was a bit slow that afternoon and we had to wait a while for the food too. If the soup had been served earlier and before the mains, then perhaps the wait would feel shorter. 

I was naturally disappointed with J's food because looking at the overall (human) food standard, I thought that they definitely could do better. 

:: Other things to note:

The café offers only street parking (parallel too!) so this may be a challenge for some. That afternoon when we were there, some dogs of the other patrons were left running around freely and the "neighbours" seated next to us had these off leash too. 

The 2 dogs were naturally excited and they were started standing on their hind legs at various tables. At one point, I had to quickly pull back Dumpling's finished plate as there were chicken bones on the plate which one of the dogs, a Japanese Spitz, almost succeeded in reaching for!

So, if your dogs are the dominating kind / will resource-guard their food, then you may need to be a tad mindful of this. :) 

Overall, the café had a nice quaint charm and the lunch, enjoyable. I will head back there (hopefully) soon, to try the Duck Confit. :)  

About Sun Ray Café
79 Brighton Crescent Singapore 559218
Facebook: SunRayCafeSG
Instagram: sun_ray_cafe    

Operating Hours Mon - Tue: 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Wed - Thu: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Sat: 10:00 am - 12:00 am
Sun:10:00 am - 11:00 pm

  • Disclaimer: This is neither a sponsored post nor were we compensated for it. All opinions expressed are entirely ours. 
If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts (both to the kiddo and my furkid, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram
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