No Frill Cooking: Japanese Curry, using Vermont Curry Bricks

If I had to name two cuisines that are not home to Singapore, yet have taken Singapore by storm, it would have to be Japanese and Korean. Between the two, I would say that Japanese cuisine has been popular here for a longer time – we are no strangers to sushi, tempura, katsu curry and other popular Japanese dishes. But Korean cuisine has been picking up in terms of popularity here, too, especially with the hit of the Hallyu wave in most Asian countries these few years. Korean BBQ, bibimbap (a mixed rice dish), bingsu (a Korean shaved ice dessert) – these are just a few names of the most popular dishes. The more adventurous have ventured further, to dishes perhaps popular among Koreans, but as known to foreigners, such as naengmyun (buckwheat noodles in a cold tangy broth), and dwenjangchigae (fermented bean paste stew).

As diverse as the cuisine is here in Singapore – we really can’t complain about the variety we have here, so readily at hand, too – I cannot say that it comes cheap. Specialty cuisines like this are rather pricey if you’re looking for those with good quality, or are at least somewhat authentic. I once ate a $5.50 bowl of ‘noodles in Kimchi stew’ at a food court, and boy was it disappointing.  The broth tasted nothing like kimchi, and resembled the soup base of a Chinese hotpot. You pay for what you get. is a lesson I learnt. I had similar experiences with Jap curry as well, although not as bad. At most places, they do taste decent. But the price per portion comes close to $10 every time, and is not really a cost-effective meal if the whole family goes (my dad eats a lot). My mum’s frugal personality also doesn’t like the idea of spending so much money eating out, especially on food she doesn’t think is worth the price. So my solution? Try it outside myself, and if I like it, I learn to cook it at home! #filial

jap curry

—This is the part where I actually start to talk about the recipe.–

I can’t remember why I decided to cook Japanese curry on Sunday, but I did. I found the Vermont Curry Bricks (230g) in Medium Hot at FairPrice Finest in JCube. For this recipe, I used half the box (the equivalent of 6 bricks). It turned out great – a delicious, thick sauce with meat and potato chunks. A huge portion too, perfect for my family.

Disclaimer: This is not Katsu curry (the one with the fried pork cutlet) . I’d try to make that, but my sister’s taking her O Levels right now, and I wouldn’t be the brightest bulb if I decided that it would be a good idea to feed her friend cutlet a few days before her Oral exam. This is one is made with chunks of pork shoulder. Less oil, and less dishes to wash!

Japanese Curry with Pork Chunks

Feeds 4 very hungry people, or 6 normal people


  • 800g pork shoulder or chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 6 bricks of Vermont Curry, chopped into small pieces
  • 850ml water
  • Cooking oil


  1. Put a pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. Brown the meat cubes on all sides, no need to cook through.
  2. Remove browned meat and set aside.
  3. Using the same pan, add 1 tbsp more of oil. Allow the oil to become warm, then add in onions. Sautee for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in finely diced carrot, minced garlic, and ginger. Sautee for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in 850ml of water to de-glaze the pan. Allow it to come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, with the lid on.
  6. Add in the roughly chopped potatoes, and 1 grated apple. Cover to simmer for anoter 10 minutes.
  7. At this point, dump in the meat. Simmer for 10 more minutes with the lid on.
  8. Turn off the burner. Add in your chopped up curry bricks. Stir to dissolve.
  9. When fully dissolved, turn the burner back on. With the lid on, let the sauce boil and thicken for a final 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with hot rice, and get fat!

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: The New MRT Map Display Panel

It seems that SMRT has been hard at work lately.

The East-West Line extension will be open to the public on June 18, signal testing is in the works for the North South Line, and it looks like a system update has been implemented for the MRT display of some trains.

While I’m not sure if this new system will be put in place for all new trains, I believe that this will  be the case at least for the North-South Line (or more affectionately referred to as the ‘Red Line’) for now. I had my first encounter with the new system on Sunday night, when I boarded the train towards Marina Bay from Jurong East Station.

To summarise the change simply, the usual physical MRT map pasted above the doors of the cabins have been replaced. In its place is a new electronic screen divided into two segments. The one of the left has has this has a zoomed-in map of the current, and next four stations. The one on the right displays a good-for-nothing island map, with an outline of the island MRT routes running through. After doors open at every stop, the display changes to show a countdown timer until the doors close.

I didn’t manage to take any pictures or videos on that day, but if you need a visual reference, do watch this clip uploaded by

Anyway, back to the story. I was horrified by the update – I didn’t see what purpose this change served at all. A summary of the problems below:

Removing the physical MRT Map –
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about making everything electronic – I do belong to the digital age, after all. But there’s really some major problems that haven’t been considered before this change was implemented.

SMRT couldn’t even get their shit together in the past, when all they had to do was switch on the correct lighting indicators on the physical map to show the train journey. Stations were indicated wrongly, people got on the train and got off – thinking they boarded the wrong train because the lighting indicators showed that the train was going in the opposite direction. You had one job back then, and you couldn’t do it. What makes you think you can do it now?

Another problem – what’s your back-up plan if the screens burn?

Only displaying the current and next four stops
What if I want to switch lines? Where is the next interchange? How will I know that?

That fancy island map display with the MRT route running through –
Someone please explain this one to me. WHAT IS THE POINT? The only purpose I can come up with is for aesthetic reasons – and even that leaves a lot to be desired.

The countdown to train doors closing –
I’m not so angry about this one – it is a thoughtful addition – just not well thought out enough. These displays are inside the train…the people concerned about the countdown are outside, those rushing to get into the train. The commuters that are safely inside are already tapping on their phones – they could care less about the countdown and when the train doors close.

— end of rant —

Well, that felt good.

I did some research, and realised that this new electronic system DID have a purpose to serve (shocker, I know). It’s so that the MRT staff won’t have to physically amend the MRT map of every train and every cabin in future, whenever there is a new line/station/interchange. I can appreciate that, but I don’t think this is the way to go about it. There are ways to make a system electronic and more efficient, without making it dumb. MacDonald’s managed to do it with their ordering kiosks. Shopping malls managed to do it with their directories. I believe you can do it too, MRT gods. But until you can come up with something that works, please just focus on making your trains run. That’s all we’re asking for and it’s the least you could do.



jobless, aimless & bored

At the beginning of this year, I started working at StarHub as one of their call centre temp staff. Last week, I quit – for a multitude of reasons. And now I’m jobless, aimless, and very, very bored.

For the first couple of days of unemployed life, I did nothing but ate, slept and watched (or mostly, RE-watched) dramas. I refined my drama stash (re-downloaded those available in higher quality, deleted some older dramas to make space for the newer ones, etc.). I went out (quite a fair bit), I spent money. A lot of it.

And along the way I rekindled my love for the drama Faith (Korean time travel drama, 2012, starring Lee Min Ho and Kim Hee Sun). The directing and editing leaves a lot to be desired, but somehow watching it again made me love it as much as I did the first time (or even more so).

Oh, and before I forget, I went to watch a Chinese Orchestra concert too! One of the pieces was a medley of the Goblin OST. So much feels, I could barely contain them. Reminds me of why I love live orchestra performances, and how much I adored the Goblin soundtrack. Seriously. Even if the plot might seem draggy (admittedly, it is), it is a very epic drama with very epic directing/editing/acting/soundtracks. Take my word for it. In fact, this rekindled love for the soundtrack might drive me to pick up the piano again to learn the some of the pieces. Both vocal and instrumental pieces were GREAT.

I plan to find and start a new job in July. I’ll probably resume the job search in mid-June – right now I’m not working too hard at it. In the mean time, I might catch Wonder Woman with my sister soon, or hopefully resume swimming regularly because I feel my belly rolls expanding. (For some strange reason, as I type this, my brain affectionately inserts images of korean BBQ…)

Today, I’ll leave you with a quote someone showed me last week. I slept on it and thought it was great.

Everyone can taste success when the going is easy, but few know how to taste victory when times get tough. -Byron Pulsifer

See you soon! -Q



Some of you might not know, but I turn nineteen in December.

Nineteen as an age confuses me. There’s ‘teen’ in ‘nineteen’ – so this means that I’m still a teenager, right? But then there’s the fact that after nineteen, everything from here on starts with ‘twenty-‘. Your age beginning with the number ‘two’ – this opens the door to responsibilities, work life, and anything ‘adult’.

At nineteen, do I start worrying about the concept of time running out? The idea of how many years I have left. Do I count from here on, the number of years I will take to complete university, to enter the workforce, to take my masters, to get married, to have kids, to retire… Does all this planning start now?

Do I factor in how my current gap year is going to affect me? It puts me one year behind my peers – I enter the workforce one year later than the rest, I have one year less of experience… Am I one year behind schedule?

Or do I immerse myself in the idea of ‘what if’s – thinking of every possible hypothetical situation?

No, I do none of the above.


2k17: an update

Ah, it is now 2017.
I know that April barely started, but you wouldn’t believe how much has happened from the last time I updated, up to this present moment.Just a few updates:
I turned 18! Yes, finally, at long last, hallelujah! The wait has been long. And wouldn’t you believe it – turning eighteen was as boring as I expected it to be.
I graduated from Junior College! Still can’t decide whether the span of two years is a short or long period… I’m only glad that this is all over.
I experienced my first (two) heartbreaks! That really didn’t deserve an exclamation mark.
I got my first full time job! Very frustrating, but it pays the bills (or rather, my online shopping expenses), so I can’t complain too much.
I am now eligible to apply for undergrad enrollment! YAS. I’m not really excited to study, but more glad that I did well enough to actually get to choose what I want to study. Interests so far: politics, psychology, linguistics?
That’s it for now, folks. Might upload a short story some time soon.
Happy reading!
With love,

‘of course.’

The sun was scorching. Feet were shuffling on the concrete floors, voices trying to beat the noise of the crowd.

She silently watches from behind a pillar. They were saying their goodbyes, she observes, as she leans in to eavesdrop on the conversation.

It was nothing out of the ordinary, but somehow, she just needed to know. About as much of his life as possible. About his life beyond her. Because once he leaves, it is going to be a whole new world out there. Him slipping away would be inevitable. She has to learn as much as possible now, she thinks.

But she’s not doing a very good job of hiding. Looking over his parents, he spots a pair of familiar blue sneakers shifting in and out of his view. Subconsciously, the corners of his mouth curve up into a shy smile. So she did come after all, he muses.

Today was the day. It was a day of both promises and the breaking of deals, of change, and of continuity.

‘Nothing will change,’ is how he starts off his greeting, when he finally excuses himself from his company.

Her heart drops, and for a moment she thought she heard a thud and a shatter. In her head, she laughs at herself. Status quo was the last thing she wanted and needed. But as usual, none of these thoughts were said out loud.

Without betraying a hint of her true emotion, she composes herself, and flashes a bright smile.

‘Of course.’


getting by.

I’ve always prided myself to be a rather strong person.

Whatever life has thrown at me, I have taken it as it came my way.

Not with positivity. but not with spite, or contempt at the world, either.

I’ve never moaned that my life sucked, or that why this is happening to me, or whatsoever. Because I know that I’m actually really lucky, and privileged.

And there’s the fact that a lot of our life really IS within our control, no matter how much we try to say otherwise.

More often, it is the choices we made that bring us to where we are toady.

And for the remaining occurrences that happen due to sheer luck (or the lack thereof), feel bad about it. But then get over it. Use the time to appreciate the things that did go right – your loved ones who stayed beside you, that neighbour who always greets you with that sunny smile, the bus that arrived on time today.

Stars shine brightest in the dark.

And I’ve lost something on the way to where I am today.