Days in Tokyo – Yoyogi Park

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Yoyogi Park is located next or rather near to the entrance of the long walk to Meiji Shrine. Probably about 3 minutes walk away. There’s nothing much over here. However, we thought of going over since it is still early and since it is nearby, we can go and enjoy some morning strolling. 🙂

The first plum tree that I saw in Tokyo, though it  has yet to bloom fully, it was enough to get me excited.

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Pretty mini flower bed with a small house in the backdrop. I just feel it’s romantic. Heh. Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo’s largest city parks, featuring wide lawns, ponds and forested areas, but I didn’t venture too far into the park and so, maybe some other day when I am here again, I will spend more time over here. 😀

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Although Yoyogi Park has relatively few cherry trees compared to other sites in Tokyo, it makes a nice cherry blossom viewing spot in spring though I am still too early for it! And so you see the bald cherry trees which I kind of like it too.

There are a lot of crows in the park flying above you and some near to you. Quite scary and I keep staring at those crows so that I can react fast enough if…

Before becoming a city park in 1967, the area where Yoyogi Park is located served as the site of the Olympic Village for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and before that, as a residential area for US military personnel.

Days in Tokyo – I love Meiji Shrine

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After our satisfying breakfast @ Mos Burger, we took the JR Yamanote Line from Ikebukuro to Harajuku Station. The train is very crowded even after 9am and halfway through the journey, there was an announcement in Japanese (which I totally could not understand). Apparently, I think there was some fault with the train ahead or so. After some wondering and guessing what happened, we finally reach Harajuku without much trouble, 😀

We follow the signage and manage to exit at the entrance that is nearer to Meiji Shrine which is located within 3 minutes from the station (Next to it). You will first see this big Torii Gate which is the start of the long walk towards Meiji Shrine main hall.

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The walk to the main hall is about 15 – 20 minutes if you walk at a comfortable pace and enjoying the forested area, the quietness away from sounds of a busy city, the fresh air from the trees, the warmth from the sunshine, the chill from the wind and of cos, taking photos. For me, it is a time to relax, reflect and forget about all things stressful / unhappy.

The pathway is covered with pebbles, so do wear comfortable shoes and oh, your shoes may be dirtied or dusted (dusty) like mine after the walk. Lol.

At the middle of the forest, Meiji Shrine has an air of tranquility distinct from the surrounding city. The approximately 100,000 trees that make up the forested area were planted during the shrine’s construction and were donated from regions across the entire country.

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Upon the sight of another Torii Gate, we finally saw the Main Hall of Meiji Shrine bathing itself under the sunshine! How grant!

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History of Meiji Shrine – It is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and 6 years after the passing of the empress. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter.

It is one of the Japan’s most popular shrines. On the first day of New Year, the shrine regularly welcomes more than 3 million visitors for the year’s first prayers (hatsumode), more than any other shrine or temple in the country. During the rest of the year, traditional Shinto weddings can also be seen here.

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Before entering the shrine, it is always a tradition to cleanse your hands and mouth.

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When I go to shrine, I love to write my wish on an ema which can be bought from the shop near the entrance which also sells charms and amulets.

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I always will write in Chinese because I feel it will suits the Japanese context more (since Japanese has Kanji). Haha. Ok, I live in my own world of weird logic. 😛

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This is cute! My small ema compared with this huge ema!

Lunch @ Crystal Jade

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This is my ootd. The top is from Forever 21 (notice the nice design at the back), the jean is also from Forever 21, shoes are from New Look and the Necklace is from Accessorize.

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Here’s a closer look of the necklace. Oh and I tried the other pinkish color of NXY lipstick which I bought and I love it much. So natural and yet not pale. 🙂

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I was sick last Tuesday, having Gastric Flu is a terrible experience! The gastric cramp till as if twisted around and the pain is really not endurable and I even feel like blacking out. Lucky after the injection and the medication, the pain is gone in a day. But what comes after is indigestion and often bloated-ness after every meals. Oh well, so I got to just eat healthy plain sick-person’s food till I fully recover.

The only good food that I can have at Orchard with a not fully recovered gastric is Crystal Jade’s porridge and Ha Kau. How sad!

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I love the Dim Sum and Porridge in Crystal Jade. Though less variety in the Dim Sum but I find it likable because they are just right on my taste buds.

I had the ‘Pi Dan Shou Rou Zhou’, and I like how the porridge is not watery-like and still with texture. Oh and it is not salty.

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Another favorite of mine is the Ha Kau because the skin is transparent, thin and does not separate from the prawns. The most important is the natural sweet soup from the prawns that are contain within the Ha Kau. Hence, every mouthful of the Ha Kau, you will enjoy a burst of soup in the mouth. Yummy.

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My mum had the Wanton Noodle. I don’t really fancy Hong Kong’s style Wanton Noodle because the noodle often has a strong ‘Noodle’ taste. The Wanton is nice though, the prawns are so fresh, fat, crunchy and sweet. I love the soup too cos it is cooked with ‘Bian Yu’ (literally translated to Dried Flat Fish) and there’s a special fragrant of the ‘Bian Yu’ in the soup.

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Another must-have Dim Sum is the Steamed Chicken Feet! Their sauce is sweet salty with a bit of spiciness and the chicken feet is fat! Heh.

Days in Tokyo – Breakfast @ Mos Burger

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Staying at Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo is not only convenient and near to the Ikebukuro Station which consists of various subway lines, Tobu line and the JR Yamanote Line, just opposite the back entrance of the hotel, lies Mos Burger and Dotor Cafe which provides great and yummy breakfast! If you are more willing to walk for 5 minutes, there’s KFC, Yoshinoya and McDonald across the road. 🙂

Our first breakfast in Tokyo, we chose to eat at Mos Burger. It was a chilly morning and we are so glad that there’s heater in the restaurant!

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The meal comes in a set, set includes the main dish and choice of corn soup, tea or coffee. My parents chose tea and I chose the corn soup which i love, because the corn taste is so strong and fragrant, with bits of juicy corns in it as well. I had the burger with flat sausage (not sure if it’s pork or chicken). The burger itself is soft and fluffy (OMG!), the vegetables is fresh, so is the tomato which is so sweet and juicy.

Oh and if you are worrying about ordering in Japanese, there’s English menu which will be provided to you once the counter person notice that you are a foreigner. In any case if there’s no English menu being provided, there are pictures! Just point. Heh.

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My parents both ate the bread with sausage. I had a few bites of it and I thought this was really delicious! The bread is toasted till it became crispy on the outside and soft inside, and it is totally not hard. The sausage is crunchy and juicy, with the mustard sauce, I thought it’s good.

In Japan, it is often a norm to bring the trays, plates, cups and bowls to the ‘Return’ area after you have completed your meal. At the return area, you will need to separate papers and plastics, and dispose them accordingly for recycling purpose.

I have never eaten breakfast at Mos Burger in Singapore, so I can’t compare, but I am happy with the quality of it in Japan. 🙂

Days in Tokyo – Dinner @ Matsuya

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Before we went for dinner, we went to OIOI Department Store which is near to our hotel in Ikebukuro, to shop around. Mum managed to buy 2 pieces of flowery handkerchief over here. Matsuya is just located opposite of OIOI department store which can be easily spotted with its’ bright yellow signage.

The seats were all ‘counter-seat’ and it was rather crowded during dinner time. As usual, the ordering and payment is via a vending machine which displays everything in Japanese. With my limited Japanese, I have to make do with the pictures and some of the wordings but I managed to do fine and order the right food. Heh.

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Collect the tickets from the vending machine and hand it over to the person-in-charge over the counter and he will prepare your food. This is what I ordered. Gyu-Don with the ‘oh so beautiful’ egg with sprinkles of Japanese onion.

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This is Gyu Don with egg but without the Japanese Onion and the miso soup is more flavorful with more ingredients like tofu, tau pok, seaweed, radish etc. I prefer the Gyu Don without the Japanese Onion because the strong onion taste will cover the tastiness of the beef.

The beef itself is so heavenly good! In huge pieces, soft, juicy and the sauce is so yummy! Mix the beef together with the egg and the Japanese round and shiny pearl-like rice, I really love this much! As compared to the Yoshinoya in Singapore, this one is so much more nicer!

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We went to the basement of Tobu Department Store which is connected to Ikebukuro Station for more food after dinner. As many would have known, the basement of Japanese Department Store is a place with all the treasures for food and free sampling!

I bought the Fried (Ebi) Croquette and omg, the prawns are in big pieces (not minced prawn), crunchy and fresh! On the other hand, the ‘bao’ and the ‘siew mai’ is just ma-ma desu (average).

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Back to the hotel room, bath and it’s supper time. I have been eating non-stop. These are the breads that we bought at the Asakusa Supermarket earlier. The one on the left is White Sesame Red Bean Bun, the one at the centre is Black Sesame Red Bean Bun and the one on the right is a Cream Bun.

All 3 are delicious! You know, I love Japanese bread, cream and red bean. The cream is not very sweet and is very smooth. The red bean is also not very sweet, big fat juicy and super fragrant!

The Good Food @ Maxwell Food Centre

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My ootd. The long dress is from Uniqlo, sunglasses is from Eltrend and the scandals (one of my favorite!) is from Forever 21. At the sight of this red house, it is obvious that this is Tanjong Pagar. 1 month ago, Mum and I went to Maxwell Food Centre for lunch because we were like craving for the Ngoh Hiong and the Hainanese Curry Rice!

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The famous Ngoh Hiong. I love the ‘Egg with Pork Oil’ the best cos it has this very very fragrant taste which I do not know how to describe it. Lol. Next favorite on the list will be the ‘Pork Liver Roll’ and the taste is definitely not disgusting or soggy like what most people think liver would be.

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Hainanese Curry Rice with the famous Fried Pork Chop! I personally prefer the Marinated Pork Belly more cos the fats are just adequate (not too fatty or too skinny) and the sauce is salty sweet! The cabbage is also yummy as it is soft and juicy. With a big spoonful of the Hainanese Curry on the rice, no one can resist not eating this!

In fact, from young, my mum has been bringing me to Maxwell Food Centre for the Ngoh Hiong and Hainanese Curry Rice. After so many years, I would say the standard and quality of the food have dropped, but still the Ngoh Hiong and Hainanese Curry Rice are still the best-est among Singapore! 🙂

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Dessert time from the famous store. The red bean soup is not just red bean, but there are black glutinous rice and some other ingredients in it which make it different from the usual red bean soup. It is more flavorful and the soup is a little starchy and not as thin / watery.

The peanut soup with ‘Tang Yuan’ is also one of the store’s popular dessert but I find the peanut soup itself, is just normal, like those ‘can’ peanut soup which my mum cooks at home. Nonetheless, the ‘Tang Yuan’ itself is a burst of happiness in the mouth with sesame and peanut!

Nowadays, we usually indulge ourselves in restaurants or the air-conditioned food courts, we should once in a while blaze the scorching heat and eat at Maxwell Food Centre for some really good and cheap food! ^^

Days in Tokyo – Asakusa Kannon Temple

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I remembered it was a Sunday when we were here. I suppose it was so crowded because it was a Sunday but I read that it could be crowded almost every other day since this is a famous tourist attraction.  There’s a shopping street, Nakamise-dori, of over 200 meters leading to Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) which sells Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from Asakusa area.

However, it was so crowded that I did not have a chance to stop by the stores to look at souvenirs or the snacks cos the people behind me were never-ending pushing to move forward. But I did manage to buy Black Sesame Flavored Ice Cream to eat and it was yummy!!! I love and cannot resist Ice Cream in Japan!!! 🙂

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Finally, we saw Senso-ji after squeezing through Nakamise-dori. I am catholic but I love to visit the shrines and temples in Japan because I thought they are really beautiful and for someone like me who love to take photos, they are definitely good places to capture candid shots.

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Some history of Senso-ji which is also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. It is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa and is one of Tokyo’s most colourful and popular temples. The legend says that in the year 628, 2 brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River. Even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them.

Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. When approaching the temple, visitors will enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji Temple and the symbol of Asakusa.

From the outer gate to the temple’s second gate is the Hozomon. Beyond the Hozomon Gate are the temple’s main hall and a five storied pagoda. The Asakusa Shrine, built in the year 1649, stands only a few dozen meters to the left of the temple’s main building.

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When at Asakusa Kannon Temple, a must-do is to draw lots to predict your luck for the year. First, inserts a 100 Yen Coin, shakes the silver container until a ‘Chopstick’ like stick comes out and take note of the number at the end of the stick. Put the stick back into the container. Then, look for the drawer indicating the number that you have drawn and take out the paper which dictates your luck or fortune. Lol.

I got myself a ‘Da Ji’ which means very good luck. If you get a good one, you can bring back the paper with you for greater luck. If you get a bad one, you have to tie it at the temple so that the bad luck stays there or rather left behind. ^^

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There’s a supermarket near to Asakusa Kannon Temple and there’re really lots of interesting snacks, breads and drinks here. There’s my favorite Maxim Orea Chocolate powder here too! I will definitely walk over to this supermarket if I happen to visit Asakusa Kannon Temple again. 🙂

The Days in Tokyo – Lunch @ Aoi-Marushin

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I went to Tokyo with Mum and Dad in March 2013 and I know it’s been so many months that I am now beginning to blog it down. I hope I do remember most of the details. Heh. It is my first time doing a free and easy trip in Japan!  We took SQ midnight flight and touched down at Narita Airport around 7-ish in the morning.

After checking-out and collecting our luggage, we went to the airport limousine counter which can be easily spotted once you clear the custom, to purchase the limousine tickets to our hotel – Tokyo Metropolitan Hotel. It is 3000 Yen per pax but I suppose it is worth it since I do not have to lug the luggage to the hotel on my own. ^^

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The limousine tickets will indicate which bus stop number to board the limousine. So just walk to the bus stop and wait for the limousine to be here. It is very convenient as there will be a person-in-charge at every bus stop to assist you and also tag your luggage accordingly before placing them into the luggage area ‘under’ the bus.  While waiting for the limousine, I enjoyed the crisp morning air and cool weather, and sipping my favorite 伊藤园 green tea. 🙂

We arrived at the hotel around 10-ish. Since it was still too early for check-in, we left our luggage with the hotel concierge (definitely safe cos they kept it in a room and will give you a number tag), freshened up ourselves in the washroom and proceed to the first place on my itinerary – Asakusa!

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Our hotel is located within 3 minutes walking distance to Ikebukuro JR Station. To go to Asakusa, we need to take the JR from Ikebukuro Station to JR Ueno Station, exit the JR Station, follow the signage to walk to Ginza Subway Line and take the subway to Asakusa Station. It is very simple, just that there’s a lot of walking to do. Heh.

Oh and buy the Suica Card for more convenient travelling, it is something like our EZ Link Card. The card can either be purchased from the JR Office or from the ‘Black’ color machine in the JR Station. Once we reached Asakusa, we decided to go for lunch first. There were many restaurants lying on the streets around the Asakusa Kannon Temple and I spotted Aoi-Marushin which is famous for their tempura!

As it was lunch peak hour, we have to wait for 30 minutes before we could get a table. >.<

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The Tempura Don! Itadakimasu! You would have notice that their tempura is different from the usual tempura that we have seen in Japanese restaurants.  Theirs are coated with lots of bread crumbs and sweet sauce. It is very crispy and I really love the sweet sauce, together with the round and fat Japanese rice, this is just heavenly yummy! The prawns are huge, meaty and fresh too! This bowl cost around 1500 -1700 Yen.

After filling up our stomach, it is time to do some touristy stuff – Asakusa Kannon Temple!

Korean Cuisine @ Kho Kho Nara

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This was my ootd. Top is from Forever 21, shorts is bought online, necklace is from H&M. The sunglasses is a birthday gift from my mum – Gucci! Oh and tried on the new NYX orange lipstick which I bought from Sephora which is cheap, lasting and moisture!

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Since Corinne has the car now and I have strong craving for Korean Cuisine, we went to ‘Kho Kho Nara’ at Tanjong Pagar for lunch. Corinne highly recommended this place cos she has been here for several occasions. As we could only reserve a table at 1.30pm, we were massively hungry by the time we reach there and we over-ordered! Haha.

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You know that the food is good if Koreans ate there too. Yes. there are a few Koreans when we were there. Their famous are the ‘Army Stew’ and their ‘Fried Chicken Combo’. We ordered both and also added ramen to the army stew (I already said we over-ordered, lol).

The ramen is actually Korean Maggi Mee but it is really nice! Soft and springy, especially when it absorbs the soup! There are Tofu, Mushroom, Korean Tunghoo, Kimchi and Choice of Pork / Tuna / Luncheon Meat. We chose Luncheon Meat and omg, luncheon meat with Kimchi soup base is really heavenly matching.

This ‘Army Stew’ is really authentic cos the soup base is very thick unlike those watery / thin soup base which I think is made from Kimchi powder (like those provided in Instant Noodles) that I usually had in other Korean restaurants. The kimchi taste is so strong and all the ingredients in it absorb the soup till every mouthful is a burst of happiness in the mouth.

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Of cos, complimentary side dishes are also the highlight of Korean Cuisine. This marinated white radish is sweet, sour and crunchy! I didn’t really like radish because it usually has a weird taste of ….. uncooked radish? But this one is really good and makes me even hungrier after eating this.

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The side dishes are mostly marinated with Korean Sesame Oil and I love it. I am not sure if these side dishes are refillable (though Corinne said they are) cos we over-ordered and there’s no need to refill the side dishes at all. Lol.

The ‘Fried Chicken Combo’ has 3 types of fried chicken and I find the one with the sweet sauce best! Next time, I am gonna just ordered the fried chicken with the sweet sauce! I supposed their fried chicken are famous cos it is not oily and yet very crispy.

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The total bill comes up to $63, which I find it on the high end but well, I guess Korean Cuisine are most of the time on the high end in Singapore. But I suppose once in a while subjecting myself to such an enjoyment is well worth it. ^^

Brunch @ Paris Baguette

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The first time that I ate the pastries at Paris Baguette was when I visited Korea in 2010. It only took me one time and I got addicted. The pastries were so good that I ate it almost whenever I saw Paris Baguette in Korea. Hence, when Paris Baguette open its first outlet in Singapore, I was very excited.

Of cos, I am not disappointed because the quality is as great as the ones in Korea. But price is on the high end. A usual meal for 2 at Paris Baguette in Singapore often cost me $35 – $50! Still, there’s always a crowd if you go after 12pm.

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The white-ish bread on the top left hand corner is Korean Beef Bulgogi Bread. This is one of my favorites! The bread is soft and moist, and the beef bulgogi is such a good combination with it! There are also big pieces of cooked abalone-mushroom, fresh vegetables and tomatoes in it too.

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The sandwiches at Paris Baguette comes in many different flavors and I tell you, they are mouth-watering good! I had the crab meat with avocado and mango sandwich. The crab meat is marinated with an ‘otah’ taste sauce.

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The belgian waffle is not bad but I thought it would be better if it comes with maple syrup. Heh. As for the egg tart, it is fragrant but I find it too sweet. But if you have a sweet tooth, I guess you will love it. I wanted to order the pear tart (which I had before and was yummy!), but it was not available that day. Oh well.

The bacon warp bread is delicious! This is the first time I saw this and I love it. The bread is wrap with bacon and the filling is eggs! I heart how the bacon and the egg matches so well. 🙂

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This itself cost $18! But I tell you, it is good. The bottom is bread layered with scrambled eggs (cooked to a perfect state, soft but not soggy) and turkey bacon. I sorta forgot if it is turkey or beef bacon but who cares, since it’s so yummy. The potato wedges though common everywhere, but I find it really good!  It is crispy on the outside and soft inside. Oh and it comes with barbecue sauce!

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Iced Orange Tea – Tea mixed with freshly squeezed orange juice. Refreshing!  This meal cost me $50 plus. OMG. Isn’t this expensive?! But once in while, I think it is still fine because I really love the pastries here. 🙂