The Soup Spoon @ Bugis Junction

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My wife and I are constantly finding and trying new restaurants and I’m kinda sad that this one slipped our notice until just two days before I leave Singapore.  The Soup Spoon has some GREAT food.

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My wife ordered the Simon & Garfunkel Ragout (pronounced ‘ra-goo’).  I had a little taste of it and it was delicious.  I don’t know how close to original the ragout recipe is, but it was great on its own.

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I had the Velvety Mushroom Stroganoff.  Ever since I got to experience the mushroom soup at Say Cheeze in Tampines 1 I’m always on the lookout for a chance to try a new recipe.  I never realized mushroom soup could be so good, because in the US plain ‘cream of’ soups aren’t that popular and the ones that come in the cans are really bland.  The mushroom soup at The Soup Spoon is really excellent.  It’s thick and the chunks of mushroom are big enough to sink your teeth into.

The soups could be a meal by themselves, especially with the bread roll that comes with it, but they had a set meal offer that we took advantage of.

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My wife tried their Garden Green salad.  She said it was nice.

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I had the Chicken Tikka half-wrap.  It was ok.  I think I’d have enjoyed it more but it didn’t really go well with the soup I chose.  The taste was tart and sour, which was an abrupt change after the smooth, mellow tastes of the soup.  Oh, and the stuff on the side that you can see in the picture above?  It tasted just a bit south of foul.  I left that alone.

Overall, the meal was very satisfying and very filling and, surprisingly, very affordable at only 22 bucks for both of us.

I’m just sad that I’ll probably never eat at this place again.  It would’ve been a regular stop for me if I’d known about it earlier.

Cat Export Preparations Update #6

Things are going right on schedule.  We had kind of a hang-up on Saturday with taking the cats to the vet because it was a public holiday.  I didn’t even realize it!  The vet was closed.  Someone let me know on Friday night.  Coincidentally, it was the person that recognized me from my blog at Teadot.  She noticed the blog post and contacted me on Twitter.  Apparently, we’d chatted a bit on Plurk before I stopped actively using the service.  I guess social media paid off for me this weekend, because it saved me a wasted trip to a closed vet.

Thanks @_rasyidah!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The vet we were going to take the cats to wanted 104 per cat for the rabies shot and health certificate, but when we called around we wound up finding a vet that would perform the same service, including an application of Frontline to meet the “treated for external parasites” requirement for import to the Philippines, for only 84 dollars per cat.  That’s 60 bucks in savings.  Plus, the clinic was closer so we saved on taxi fare too.

I’ll list the places we went in my “roll-up” post on how to import cats to the Philippines from Singapore later, on my Philippines blog.

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We really had to get the cats to the vet over the weekend to fit our timeline.  Immediately after returning home from the vet, I filled out the online form with AVA to have the certificates converted to AVA certified versions.  That included scanning them and uploading them along with the application.

So, after this I still have to go pick up the certificates from the AVA, which will hopefully be available by tomorrow afternoon, and then take them to the Philippines Airlines office to present to the customer service officers there.  They require that you show them the paperwork before they allow you to board their planes with pets.  I suppose it’s a good policy, but it adds a bit more stress.  The health certificates have to be obtained within 7 days of arrival at your destination and you have to show it to the PAL office no later than two days before the flight.  It creates a sort of time-crunch that we’ll hopefully get over without issue.

As for the cats themselves, this trip was a little less traumatizing for them I think.  On their last trip to the vet we were in a much noisier area, with a lot of traffic and then to cap things off we got caught in one of Singapore’s flash rainstorms that left us pretty drenched.  They did panic a bit when a dog the size of Marmaduke came into the vet, but I don’t blame them.  That thing kinda worried me too.  I’m sure it outweighed me by about 30 pounds.  It was HUGE.

So, that’s it for now!

Total damages so far: 1075 SGD

Total to go (approx.): 260 SGD

Cat Export Preparations Update #5

It’s almost time to go and rather than winding down, things are winding up, especially our stress level.  There are only a few things left to do, in regards to the cats, but it’s still troublesome.

On the 28th, the carriers showed up as scheduled, which was a relief.  It’d be time consuming to try to get a refund and then go elsewhere.  The cats don’t seem to mind them.  In fact, as soon as I put them in the room, they wanted to investigate.  I read that it’s best to let your cats get comfortable with the carriers so they’re more at ease during the trip.

So, what’s left?  Tomorrow I have to take the cats to get their rabies shots and health certificates.  Immediately afterwards I need to file those health certificates along with an application to have them converted to AVA health certificates.  Those should be ready to pick up on Monday.  Immediately after picking them up I have to go to the Philippines Airlines office and present the documentation to them.  They won’t let the cats on the plane without me performing that step first.  They want to verify the documents and make sure everything’s legal.

My stack of paperwork involving the flight and these cats is growing…

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow!

Japanese Sesson Grill at Manpuku, Tampines 1

We’ve gone to Manpuku quite a few times, but we still haven’t tried everything the place has to offer.  That’s not so much for lack of opportunity, but lack of desire.  You see, Manpuku as an establishment has slowly been going downhill.

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When Manpuku first opened, the place was packed all the time.  It was fresh, it was clean, the decor was awesome and the food was a novelty.  Unfortunately, most of the choices weren’t anything to get excited about, especially for the prices they were charging.  Most of it is little better than hawker food.

A few months ago, I’m not sure exactly when, Manpuku’s customer base shrunk to the point that they did away with the charge card system.  It used to be that when you arrived you would queue up to wait for seating and to get a charge card.  You would use the card to pay for the items you wanted from the various booths inside.  Then, before leaving you went through a register check-out lane, kinda like in a grocery store.  That’s where you settled your bill.  Now, you just walk in and pay at the specific booth you want to eat from, either cash or NETS.  If you want to use a credit card you still use the original charge card system.  I suppose that system became more of a hassle than it was worth in regards to having extra employees just to ring up the bills and the owner realized it would be more cost effective to have individual booth workers handle their own cash payments.

With the lower patronage comes lower standards it seems.  The trays are usually covered in a white grime and the eating utensils still have residue on them when you pick them up.  It makes me wonder if they even use washing soap or if they just rinse them with water.  I’ve also had trouble communicating with some of the employees lately.

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Despite these issues, there are still a few gems to be found there.  The ramen from Aoba Hokkaido Ramen is pretty good but we wanted to try something different, so we went to Japanese Sesson Grill, which is in the corner near the MRT tracks.

The food is a bit pricey.  Individual kabobs were between 2.50 and 3 bucks apiece, which seems expensive given their size.  We settled on having a set meal that came with five skewers, rice and miso soup for 13 SGD.  It seemed a fair enough price to pay for what we were getting.

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One good thing about Manpuku falling out of public favor is that it’s less crowded and you can actually have a quiet sort of meal there.  We went to the very corner, overlooking the MRT station area.  It was even a bit cozy feeling there.

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The food itself was better than I hoped it would be.  It’s nothing to get too excited about but I definitely felt that I’d gotten what I paid for and left satisfied.

Cat Export Preparations Update #4

Another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.  I was having an issue getting the export permit from Singapore because I couldn’t get the AVA’s site to work.  It was a mix of problems that started with the site being horrible in terms of navigation and ease of use.  It was harder than it should’ve been to find the information I needed and then to find the form.

The form itself was the next problem.  The AVA has sacrificed ease of use for practicality and merged the export and import permit for both personal and business use into one form.  To further complicate matters, many items that don’t pertain to people looking to export personal pets are marked with a red asterisk, inviting you to try to fill in the box with some sort of data since you assume it’s required.  Then, when the data is erroneous, you’re not allowed to proceed.  It took me a few phone calls and some waiting to get past that hang-up.

Once I knew what was going on it was no problem to get the form filled out and submitted.  That was Friday.  Today I checked the form status and saw that it was approved so I was then able to make payment through the AVA’s site.  Once I did that the download link was unlocked for me.  I downloaded the export permit in pdf form and then printed it out.

So now we have the import permit, export permit, tickets for Philippine Airlines, and the cats have had their first round of vaccinations.  Next up is a return to the vet sometime between the 29th and the 3rd for rabies vaccinations and the health certificate.  I may get them the 1 month boosters while we’re there as well to save hassle later.  I don’t know if that’s possible though because I’m not sure if there might be a reaction between all the vaccines.  Guess I’ll ask the expert when I get there.

I’ll also have to give them all a dip in flea & tick treatment shampoo and get my wife to cram a dewormer pill down their throats.  She’s much better at it than I am.  They always spit it out when I try to do it, but they don’t give her any trouble.

We’re still waiting on the replacement cages to show up on the 28th as well.

Relocating pets is a serious pain in the butt and requires a lot of double-checking to make sure things are done, but it’ll be worth it when they’re all sitting at the window staring out at the Philippine and enjoying the space and privileges they’ll have in their new home.

Total cost for export license

: 50 SGD! Yay!

Total damages so far: 820 SGD

Total to go: approximately 500 SGD (I realize that’s higher than before, but I must have miscounted somewhere. 300ish for rabies & health certificates and about 200 for airline shipping, rough guesses.)