Tuesday, 11 September 2018

SINGAPOPERA - A Spectacular Showcase of Dick Lee's Musical Songs


A household name, Dick Lee is a talented composer, singer and performer. Dubbed the Andrew Lloyd Webber of Asia, his numerous musicals and songs have touched the hearts of many and revolutionised the musical scene in Singapore. The most memorable song he has composed is of course the popular and stirring National Day song, 'Home'.

Pictures with Dick Lee over the years

My first encounter with this great man was in 2011 when I was with MediaCorp VizPro and I was promoting Beauty Kings, a joint collaboration between MediaCorp VizPro and Dick Lee Asia. Dick came across as a very down-to-earth and approachable person. I have always been an avid fan and have collected his CDs and DVDs over the years, therefore I was elated to be invited to review his concert, SINGAPOPERA.

This concert was a celebration of the musicals and extensive repertoire of Dick Lee’s songs over the past three decades. It was a nostalgic evening featuring songs from notable musicals including Fried Rice Paradise, Beauty World, Sing to the Dawn, Nagraland, Forbidden City performed by a stellar cast of Singapore’s renowned musical stars such as Sebastian Tan, Alemay Fernandez, Denise Tan, Dwayne Lau, Frances Lee, Benjamin Chow, Cheryl Tan and Dick Lee. The cast was accompanied by a 9-piece band, led by Musical Director, Indra Ismail.

Cheryl Tan captivating the audience with her sweet and powerful vocals. 

There were a few segments that I especially enjoyed. Malaysian talent, Cheryl Tan captivated me with her sweet yet powerful vocals as the youthful Yehenara in the 2017 production of Forbidden City, singing ‘Starting with the Eyes’ and ‘My Only Chance’. It was an emotional performance, enthralling everyone in the theatre.

Benjamin Chow was also equally impressive, singing tunes from Forbidden City, with interesting renditions of ‘Now China Has A Son’ and ‘Stories’, giving character through his strong, deep voice.

'When All The Tears Have Dried' by Alemay Fernandez

Another remarkable performance was by Alemay Fernandez who enchanted everyone with her amazing vocals and her rendition of ‘When All The Tears Have Dried’ from the musical Sing to the Dawn. Her fervour and passion were truly remarkable and laudable, evoking strong emotions from the audience.

‘Love is Forever’(爱是永恒) by Dick Lee

The main highlight of the musical was Dick singing the Cantonese ballad ‘Love is Forever’ (爱是永恒) from Snow.Wolf.Lake. Despite not having Cantonese roots, he skilfully delivered every word, dazzling everyone with his alluring stage presence, charisma and talent.
'No Class' from Beauty World performed by Denise Tan and Frances Lee
Other noteworthy performances include Dwayne Lau’s delivery of ‘Look A Little Closer’ from A Twist of Fate, Frances’s rendition of ‘Waiting’ from Mortal Sins, Talent (Hotpants) sung by Benjamin, Dwayne, Cheryl and Alemay and ‘No Class’ from Beauty World performed by Denise Tan and Frances Lee.
Talent (Hotpants) sung by Benjamin, Dwayne, Cheryl and Alemay
In addition to the stunning performances, what made this concert extremely interesting was the lively banter from the cast, sharing their first encounter with Dick and the influence he had on their musical careers.
The cast singing Bunga Sayang, Fried Rice Paradise and Beauty World (Cha Cha Cha) 
The finale was spectacular, with the cast singing 'Bunga Sayang' and 'Fried Rice Paradise', the song which ignited his passion for his illustrious career in music.

Cast singing Beauty World (Cha Cha Cha)

A rousing finale with the cast singing 'Home'
The spectacular concert concluded with an animated and zestful encore of 'Beauty World (Cha Cha Cha)' and 'Home', a song which continues to instils in Singaporeans a sense of belonging, identity and solidarity.

SINGAPOPERA played at the Esplanade Concert Hall from 25 to 26 August 2018. It was a wonderful tribute to Dick Lee, allowing us to walk down memory lane, reminiscing his amazing musical songs over the past three decades.

With the cast during the Autograph Session

With Agnes and Cassandra

Concert photos above are provided by Dick Lee Asia.
Thank you Agnes of ATMC for the invite.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Relive Renowned Composer and Performer, Dick Lee's Musical Songs at 'SINGAPOPERA'


I have always been an avid fan of Dick Lee. A prolific composer and performer, he has numerous works under his belt and the most memorable one is of course the popular and stirring National Day song, Home.

Some of his other works that I really enjoy include "Chase" (追), theme song of  'He's a woman, She's a man' and 'Love is Eternal' (爱是永恒). His ability to creatively combine pop and classical songs is fascinating to many. Some of his notable fusion compositions include  'Rasa Sayang' and 'Lover's Tears'.

I am extremely excited about his upcoming concert on 25 and 26 August 2018. I vividly remember attending his 30th anniversary concert in 2004 at Kallang Theatre, celebrating Dick's three decades in show business.

His upcoming concert ‘SINGAPOPERA’ is a must-watch concert as it brings to the audiences for the first-time, the best of all his songs from well-known musicals, allowing them to relive the nostalgic songs by Dick Lee over the years.

Look forward to all-star alumni cast and ensemble from the past batches of his various musicals, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Beauty World and 20th anniversary of Snow Wolf Lake. This concert promises to be a spectacular showcase of popular songs from renowned musicals such as Fried Rice Paradise, Beauty World, Forbidden City, Sing to the Dawn, Nagraland and Snow Wolf Lake.

Performing together with Dick Lee are our well-loved personalities in the theatre scene namely Alemay Fernandez, Sebastian Tan, Denise Tan, Dwayne Lau, Frances Lee, Benjamin Chow and Cheryl Tan. The Musical Director for this not-to-be-missed concert is Indra Ismail. 

Multi-talented composer and performer, Dick Lee

Dick Lee will be performing on Saturday, 25 August 2018 (7.30pm) and Sunday, 26 August 2018,  (5pm) at the Singapore Esplanade Concert Hall.

Tickets are priced at $138, $118, $98, $78 and $58 and are available for sale at all SISTIC outlets or online.

Book early to avoid disappointment!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Contemporary Australian Cuisine with an Asian influence at Osia Steak & Seafood Grill

Enjoying the lovely meal

Located at Resorts World Sentosa, Osia is a semi fine dining restaurant offering fresh Australian produce, executed using contemporary and innovative techniques.

The open kitchen

The restaurant exudes an elegant yet relaxed ambience, with modern fixtures and a spacious interior. The open kitchen offers a theatrical dining experience, enthralling diners with dexterous showmanship.

Our dining experience was sublime with wholesome food, which was visually arresting as well. Every dish was unique, curated to captivate even the most discerning connoisseur.

My husband and I dined at the restaurant for dinner a few years ago and it left a lasting impression. Lunch at Osia offered a slightly different experience, overall setting seemed brighter and even more welcoming.

The Sunday Long Lunch is recommended for those who want to try a bit of everything. It includes unlimited servings of appetisers and snacks, choice of a main course and unlimited servings of desserts. 

Tasty stone hearth oven flat bread

We started our meal with the stone hearth oven flat bread served with extra virgin olive oil and egg plant dip which was pleasing to the palate. 

Granola, berries and citrus yoghurt

The revitalising granola, berries and citrus yoghurt helped to refresh the taste buds and provided our vitamin boost for the day. We decided to skip the fresh oysters as we are not fans of oysters.

Kyuri cucumber, green apple, raisin, mint, cumin and yoghurt salad

For salads, go for the refreshing kyuri cucumber, green apple, raisin, mint, cumin and yoghurt salad or the air-dried beef salad with roquette, parmesan, pine nut and balsamic cream.

 Air-dried beef salad with roquette, parmesan, pine nut and balsamic cream

Foie gras with kumquat compote and chicken leg with feuille de brick, romesco and tarragon mustard

The snacks of the day were the main highlights of the brunch. The foie gras with kumquat compote was delectable, although I would have preferred it to be lightly seared rather than fried. The kumquat compote added a zesty, citrus taste which gave it a new dimension. The barley cream soup was tasty and creamy without being too overwhelming. The addition of air-dried beef added a savoury flavour, and a ‘crunch’ to the overall taste. The tomato cream soup was delightful too and is perfect for those who prefer tangy flavours. 

Himasa with fennel and orange cardomon espuma

The Himasa with fennel and orange cardomon espuma was a lovely combination of earthy and zesty flavours, resulting in a burst of unami goodness in our mouths. Another noteworthy creation was the chicken leg with feuille de brick, romesco and tarragon mustard. It consisted of deep-fried thin pastry enveloping succulent minced chicken leg accented with a nutty, red-pepper based romesco sauce and aromatic and sweet, spicy tarragon mustard. The deep-fried mozzarella cheese with bush tomato chutney was crispy on the outside with a smooth, creamy interior.

Red snapper with brown parsnip, lemon myrtle foam and shrimp remoulade

For the mains, I had the red snapper with brown parsnip, lemon myrtle foam and shrimp remoulade. It was prettily assembled delighting our five senses. The snapper was well-cooked and it literally melted in my mouth with every bite. A simple and healthy dish which hit the right notes.

Lamb leg with roasted potato, mint gel and black garlic

My hubby had the succulent lamb leg accompanied with roasted potato, mint gel and black garlic. It was very flavourful and satisfying to the very last mouthful, just that it was a tad too heavy for lunch.

A selection of dainty confections

The delightful ensemble of desserts showcased the culinary team’s dexterity, creativity and attention to detail. Some of the dainty treats to look forward to include blueberry yoghurt mousse with crumble, chocolate banana crumble cake, lemon meringue tart, strawberry pistachio éclair, waffle with cream cheese frosting and berries and peanut butter ice cream.

Celebrating hubby's birthday

Overall, the Sunday Long Lunch at Osia was very satisfying. Every dish was executed to perfection. The servers were generally amiable, however service was a little on the slow side.

The entrance

Osia Steak and Seafood Grill is located at 26 Sentosa Gateway, Festive Walk, #02-140 & 141, 098138. The Sunday Long Lunch is priced at S$72++ per person. Enjoy free flow of fruit juices with an additional S$15++ per person. For free flow of house wines, add an additional S$55+ per person.

For reservations, please call +65 6577 6560/ +65 6577 6688 or email osia@rwsentosa.com or dining@rwsentosa.com.

Alternatively, please visit here.

Friday, 22 June 2018

A Spectacular Showcase of Japanese Culture at Harmony in Perspective Exhibition

Having fun in the beautiful kimono

From 25 May to 3 June 2018, IPPIN (supporting agency for Japanese SMEs) celebrated the best of Japan in an exhibition at Paragon Level 1 Main Atrium.

 An experiential exhibition, Harmony in Perspective featured a series of workshops and performances allowing participants to have greater insight into Japanese culture. I was delighted to attend some of the workshops and performances including the Kimono Showcase, Origami Workshop, Yukata Rental Sessions, Traditional Music Performance Origami Workshop, Yukata Rental Session, Green Tea Sampling, Sake Appreciation, Kimono Fabric Workshop and Kendo Japanese Sword Demo. 

Some of the highlights include:

1. Kimono Exhibition (25 May - 3 June 2018) 
I was impressed by the luxurious showcase of kimonos for men, ladies and kids. The most exquisite piece was the Uchikake Wedding Kimono priced at S$35,000 per piece.

The most exquisite Uchikake Wedding Kimono worth S$35,000

The Hakama Men's Wedding Kimono

The pretty Shichigosan Kids' Kimono on the left 

The Furisode "Coming of Age" Kimono in a stunning blue tone

Another Furisode "Coming of Age" Kimono in a vibrant red tone

The lovely Ubugi Baby Kimono

Other alluring pieces include the Hakama Wedding Kimono for men, Furisode “Coming of Age Kimono”, the Shichigosan Kids' Kimono and the Ubugi Baby Kimono. "Ubugi" is a Kimono specially made for newborn babies. The special white piece on the left was worn by a member of the Japanese Royal Family.

2. Origami Workshop (26 - 27 May, 2 - 3 June 2018) 
This was my very first experience at an Origami workshop. Defined as the art of paper folding, origami is often associated with Japanese culture. During the workshop, we learned to fold memorable pieces including paper crane, butterfly and swan. The workshop was very therapeutic and rewarding and I felt gratified looking at my creations. It was a wonderful way to relax and be in touch with myself. I have also heard that origami helps patients to regain control over their hand movements and build muscles after a surgery. The workshop was priced at S$10 per person and all proceeds of the workshop were contributed to the NUHS Fund Limited. 

Learning the art of Origami

With the Instructor, Jasmine at my very first Origami Workshop

3. Yukata Rental Session (26 - 27 May, 29 May, 2 - 3 June 2018) 
This was probably the session I enjoyed the most. I have always dreamt of donning a yukata as it is such a pretty piece of clothing. The yukata is a light cotton kimono worn in summer. It is a little less elaborate than the usual kimono and I felt really comfortable wearing it. During the session, I selected my preferred kimono before being ushered into the styling area where I was dressed by skilful experts. In fact, I love the kimonos so much that I tried on three different sets! 

Stylists dressing me up in a Kimono

A group shot with the ladies in Kimonos

4. Traditional Music Performance by Tagai (26, 28 - 30 May 2018) 
'互-tagai- ' is formed by young Japanese musicians who graduated from Japanese Traditional Music Department of Tokyo University of Art. Featuring traditional music and original tracks by members, the group focuses on genres such as Folk Songs and Kagura. Instruments such as Koto and Bamboo Flute were used to create the enchanting and profound music which reinforced the dreams of the young musicians. 

 Mr. Yasutaka Yamashita : Tsugaru Shamisen 
At the tender age of eight, he participated in a competition of Japanese traditional folk songs and danced in Kumamoto prefecture upon his mother’s recommendation. He also sang ‘‘Ushibuka Haiya bushi’’ and won the competition. In 2002, he clinched the 5th place at the national Tsugaru jamisen competition in Osaka and in the following year, he won the 3rd position. In 2004, attained the 2nd place, and in 2005, he came in first in the competition. 

Mr. Joji Murasawa : Flautist specialising in playing the Bamboo Flute
Starting as a Aoyama foundation scholarship student, he won many awards including 2nd place in the Michio Miyagi Memorial Koto contest (there was no 1st place) in 2006 and 2013, and also passed the Tozan school of Shakuhachi master test as a top student in recent years. He has performed in various countries including Japan, Holland, Germany and France. 

Mr. Kyoichi Iwakiri : Japanese Drummer 
When he was two, he enjoyed playing a toy drum given by his father. Even at a young age, he had a great sense of rhythm, and started to play as a member of the Tachibana Daiko (Japanese drum) ‘‘Hibikiza’’ when he was at 4th grade in primary school. He won Best Prime Minister’s Award twice as a leader of a junior part of Hibikiza participating in Japan Taiko Junior Competition. His drumming characteristics are unique incorporating the rhythms of Japanese drums and foreign music. 

With the talented musicians from '互-tagai- Traditional Musical Group

Splendid traditional music performance by '互-tagai- ' 

5. Green Tea Sampling (28 May, 30 May - 1 June 2018) 
Tea appreciation is a vital part of Japanese culture. During this session, I learned how 'the golden drop' was achieved for the magical difference in taste. 

The art of making Green Tea

Tea sampling with the experts

I also sampled various types of tea including Sencha, Genmaicha, Houjicha and Gyokuro from Tea Maker Marumo Mori. Since its launch in 1877, Marumo Mori has been making premium Japanese tea using a combination of traditional techniques and the latest technology, producing the best tea leaves. 

9. Sake Appreciation by Ms Ayumi Fujishiro (30 May - 31 May 2018) 
I was delighted to attend the Sake appreciation by Ms Ayumi Fujishiro, one of the world’s youngest and Singapore’s youngest Sake Lecturers. The session was an insightful, enriching and fun one. 

With Sake Lecturer, Ms Ayumi Fujushiro

Ms Ayumi spent three years as an International Kikisake-shi (Sake Sommelier), and at the age of 28, she pursued her passion in Sake, holding the distinction of a Sake Service Institute Official Lecturer in 2017, a league above the International Kikisake-shi. 

During the session, I got to learn more about brewing techniques and the different types of Sake to pair with salads, seafood and meats. Some of the interesting varieties include Junmai, Tokubetsu Junmai, Tokubetsu Honjozo, Junmai Ginjo, Ginjo, Junmai Dai Ginjo and Dai Ginjo. In addition, I got to try the Fruit Sake including peach, yuzu and strawberry. The Fruit Sake pairs perfectly with desserts and other sweet treats and serves to cleanse the palate and conclude the meal on a refreshing note.

10. Kimono Fabric Workshop by Ms Keiko Miura (2 to 3 June 2018)

Sewing a little pouch with Kimono fabric

Conducted by Ms Keiko Miura,  this workshop teaches one to learn basic sewing and construction methods using kimono fabric. I was glad that I made it for this workshop as I learned to sew a little pouch for myself and even received a certificate upon completion of the workshop.

11.  Kendo Japanese Sword Demo by Singapore Kendo Club 2 June -3 June 2018)

Kendo Japanese Sword Demo

Skilful Kendo moves

This was my first experience watching a Kendo Japanese Sword Demo and I was amazed by how the Sword concept of Kendo disciplines the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword). The demo was conducted by the Singapore Kendo Club founded  in 1972. Accorded a National Sports Association status by the National Sports Council of Singapore since its inception, Singapore Kendo Club receives tremendous support from the Sports Council as well as the Japanese Association and the Japanese school.

Kendo is a sport aimed at cultivating a person's mind to achieve shin-ki-ryoku-itchi (unification of the mind, spirit and technique) and utilisation of the shinai. The 'shinai-sword' is not only directed at one's opponent, but also at the self. Through Kendo, one is trained to learn the etiquette of respecting partners and nurture a dignified and humane character.

Overall, the Harmony in Perspective Exhibition was a very insightful and educational one. During the entire week, I have gained tremendous knowledge on Japanese culture and tradition.

Thank you IPPIN for organising this exhibition and for inviting me to attend the workshops and performances.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

My Melody Café Opens at Suntec City Mall

The garden-themed interior

   I’m a die-hard Sanrio fan and I particularly love My Melody, the honest, unassuming and good natured  rabbit who is a good friend of Hello Kitty and is more frequently known as ‘My Melo’. Therefore, you can imagine how elated I was when I learned about the opening of a themed café featuring my favourite character. This lovable rabbit,  also referred to as Little Red Riding Hood in her version of the classic fairytale wears a pink or red hood covering her ears with a flower, strawberry or bow on her right side.

   Hello Kitty has stolen the limelight for many years and it is now the time for her sidekick, My Melody to shine with her very own eponymous café which just opened yesterday. Located beside Gudetama, another Sanrio themed café,  this cosy 38-seat eatery is named Strawberry Paradise, which aptly describes My Melody’s haven.

The dainty little basket

   The interior is reminiscent of a pretty garden with lush greenery, floral arch and strawberries adorning the walls. On the table, you can also find a dainty little basket filled with pretty flowers and strawberries. The overall setting exudes a positive vibe, which is cheerful and inviting.

 A delightful ensemble of My Melody themed creations

   With five mains, six desserts and seven rabbit-themed beverages, the specially curated menu is designed by renowned food artist, Shirley Wong of Little Miss Bento who is also the consultant for Gudetama Singapore. Every item is meticulous crafted and creatively assembled with elements of the favourite character.

The Princess Bunny

   I like The Princess Bunny (S$18.90++) featuring My Melody shaped pink-hued and white rice with a lovely bow made of ham accompanied with beetroot infused curry (giving it its pinkish tone), crispy chicken karaage and brussel sprouts. 

Little Pink Riding Hood

   Another noteworthy item is the Little Pink Riding Hood (S$23.90++) which is the café’s rendition of the quintessential Eggs Benedict. With smoked salmon and picnic ham enveloped in  pinkish Hollandaise sauce, these poached eggs were probably the most adorable ones I have ever seen! I like the addition of strawberries and zucchini, which made the dish a very wholesome one.

"I Heart You" Chicken Waffles

   An instaworthy dish is "I Heart You" Chicken Waffles (S$23++) featuring crispy chicken sandwiched between heart-shaped waffles. The berry salad packed with antioxidants was extremely refreshing, however the waffles were not as crispy as I would have liked them to be.

My Melody's Strawberry Surprise

   My Melody's Strawberry Surprise (S$16.90++) is a must-try dessert for strawberry lovers. Comprising buttercream enclosed within two waffles, it was decorated with My Melody's visage. Although the butter cream was a tad too rich for me, the beautifully crafted dessert was a treat for the senses.

The entrance

   My Melody Café is located at 3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall #01-361, Singapore 038983. It is open from 10am to 10pm daily. For more information, please visit the café's facebook page here.