A night at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore

Being my third visit to Singapore, I’ve not been able to miss the enormous, pretty-yet-slightly-ugly, structure of three buildings topped off with an ironing board, sort of.

The space ship-y structure is of course the Marina Bay Sands, a huge complex including a hotel; casino; giant shopping mall; the world’s most Instagrammed swiming pool; and, naturally, canals with gondolas.

In spite of my slightly pretensious intro, I’ve always loved Marina Bay Sands. I have a thing for futuristic, slightly over the top architecture, and MBS together with a couple of buildings in Dubai might be one of the best examples of that style.

So, anyway, third time in Singapore, and we decided to fork out and stay our last night at Marina Bay Sands.

Price for one night in a club room

After doing lots of research we decided to go for a club room, which in addition to the room also gives you a range of perks. For one night we paid around 650 sgd in total with taxes. A huge price for one night, but it was sort of worth it.

Checking in

As we arrived the Tower 1 with an Uber, we ditched the lines in the gigantic main lobby and instead entered the Sands lounge for our check in procedure. It was calm, there was free coffee, tea and water, and they made you sit down in a comfy leather chair while taking your details. We purposely arrived early (11 am) to see if we would get access to the pool or even early access to our room. Fortunately both. First they said we would get a temporary visitor card so to access the guests only infinity pool, but the moment after the room was also ready, and off we went to the 49th floor.

The room

I had hoped for a room facing the city (despite booking the cheaper option facing the ocean and Gardens By the Bay), but no luck. We could however see the city from the hallways, lounge and pool so no worries in the end.

The room had decent sized balcony, and surprisingly for such a fancy hotel there was a cockroach on it (not in the room though). Otherwise the room was meticulously clean and fresh. It was big and airy, with all the things needed such as a flatscreen TV, large bed, mini bar, free wifi and a fancy looking bathroom with both shower and a tub. Since the hotel is sort of a destination in itself, we did not spend a great amount of time in the actual room in the end.

The swimming pool

Marina Bay Sands is probably most famous for its 57th floor swimming pool. Only accessible for hotel guests (although you can sneak a peek of it from Cé la Vie Bar and the admission Sands SkyPark) it offers really spectacular views over Singapore’s skyline and a hint of vertigo as the infinity pool seems to end right at the edge of the building (which it sort of does, although there’s a bit of edge a bit further down which is only visible if you swim up to the edge). Definitely the coolest (pun intended as it was sort of cold) pool I’ve experienced. It was quite busy during our visit, but the pool is looong so there’s still plenty of space to sunbathe and swim. There’s a fair bit of selfie game going on, but less to that I anticipated. And again, the views themselves pretty much motivate the stay in my mind.

The afternoon tea

In the Club 55 lounge (as name implies located on level 55), which is included in club rooms, afternoon tea is served from around 2 pm and lasts for two hours, until 4 pm. The afternoon tea consisted of a buffet with both savoury and sweet items, but with a focus on pastries and cakes. Great macarons! You are offered coffee (including speciality coffee such as cappuccinos) or tea when you arrive, which is brought to the table. The coffee was so-so, but the buffet items were really nice.


Evening canapées (with free champagne!)

After a brief chance to reload, evening canapées with complimentary cocktails or drinks are served from 5-7 pm in the same Club 55 lounge. We arrived pretty much 5 pm sharp and there was already a line. Five minutes later the line was quite long. We managed to get a window table which was really nice for taking pictures as the sun started to set during our visit. Like the afternoon tea, a buffet is served and is self service. This time it was more focus on savoury stuff, and they had a quite good selection of small and tasty bites such as quiches, cheese, salmon, grissinis, olives and dips. If you’re a bit greedy like us, you could quite easily have a quite filling meal.

Drinks are served to the table and they emphasised that there’s one (alcoholic) drink at a time. Greedy as we were I think we managed to drink 4 or 5 glasses each of Piper-Heidsieck champagne that was included along with a bunch of other drinks and cocktails. A great argument for the extra $150 SGD we paid extra for a room with lounge access, since “real” champagne is quite pricey in Singapore and we probably drank like a bottle each with possibly the best view in the city.


As a club guest you’re again entitled to breakfast in the Club 55 Lounge. Although you can also choose to have it in the lobby, OR by the pool, at Spago by Wolfgang Puck. “Why eat inside when you live in a land of that’s pretty much covered in ice and snow half year”, we thought and took of for Spago around 8 am. There was quite a few that had the same idea though, and we had to wait in line for 10 minutes or so before we were seated. The breakfast was really good fortunately and definitely worth the wait. You can order speciality coffee (included in price) but they won’t tell you, as we realised too late after a few cups of bland “hotel coffee”. You can also order your eggs according to preference, which included eggs benedicte style, meaning poached on an English muffin with hollandaise sauce. Apart from this a quite large buffet is available with high quality food – both Western and Asian. Tasty freshly squeezed juices too. A very nice breakfast for sure.

The verdict 5/5

Despite us paying pretty much the exact same price for one night at the Marina Bay Sands as we paid for our four prior nights at the Hotel Bencoolen at Hong Kong Street we actually found it quite worthwile. I probably wouldn’t stay there for an entire stay even if I could properly afford it since there’s so much stuff going on that you wouldn’t really have a chance to properly experience Singpore. But for 24 hours of feeling like a millionaire, I’d say it’s worth its price if you find a deal similar to ours (650 sgd incl taxes).

My foodie happy place: Lau Pa Sat food market

Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market, is a hawker centre that has fed Singaporeans since the 1800s. Situated smack bang in Singapore’s financial district, the classic building, filled with local eateries, is one of my favourite foodie places in the world. Just sitting there, sipping on a beer, smelling the grilled satay skewers from the “satay street” next to the market while waiting for what ever you’ve ordered (there is actually sort of table service with different vendors selling and bringing food to the table). Above is satay, grilled chicken, lamb and beef skewers with peanut sauce. There are different stalls doing different kinds of satay, but all I’ve tried has been really good.

Blackpepper crab and mantou. A really nice steamed crab, woked in a spicy blackpepper sauce. The mantou buns are sort of like deep fried bread rolls that you use to soak up the sauce. So good.

Hokkien Mee. A seafoody noodle dish topped with crispy pork rinds.

Carrot cake or chai tow kway. Not containing any carrot but radish and sliced rice cake in a omelette-meets-pancake kind of creation.

Murtabak. A pancake-like dish filled with spicy, fragrant sliced chicken. Dip in the accompanying curry sauce. Mmmm.

Meat-mayo-marrow mayhem at Burnt Ends Singapore

One of 2017s best meals was at Burnt Ends Singapore, sort of an Australia meats (sorry) United States-style barbecue restaurant – in Singapore! Ranked as 10 on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 best list, reservations is a must and we made ours a month or so in advance. We sat at the bar where dinner is enjoyed facing the open kitchen, and you are handed the dishes straight from the chefs while sipping cocktails and wine served by the waiters (that also serves food to the rest of the restaurant not sitting at the kitchen bar). A foodie dream more or less.

Above is the skirt steak with bone marrow and burnt onion. So rich, so good.

“Garlic shoots and gremolata”. A little bit like very thin asparagus served with a tart gremolata and a really nice mayo.

Burnt Ends’ Sanger with pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aioli in a brioche bun. Really decadent and delicious. Not very refined, but just plain tasty.

Beef marmalade and pickles”. Pulled beef-y marmalade with crunchy sweet and sour pickled cucumbers, on grilled sourdough smeared with mayo. So my kind of food and so delicious.


Burnt Ends’ menu of the night to give you an indication of prices. We paid slightly over $200 (SGD) for two including a shared bottle of wine and water (there’s free tap water though which the servers ‘forgot’ to mention to us which was a bit annoying). Anyway, despite that a really nice dinner.


Great lunch at Candlenut, Singapore

Before leaving for Singapore, I read at several places about a restaurant called Candlenut that serves Peranakan style food, sort of meaning Singaporean/Malay and some extent Indonesian food influenced and fusioned with the food of Chinese migrants. Straits-Chinese Candlenut themselves call it. They also have a Michelin star, naturally I had to pay Candlenut a visit.

As the headline implies, we went for lunch. To start we ordered their pork neck satay that came without any peanut sauce or similar. We ordered their housemade spicy sambal to have something to dip in though.

Next up was a delicious fresh, sweet, salt and sour crunchy salad with wing beans, fresh prawns, cashew nuts, lemongrass, kalamansi lime and baby radishes.

King Tiger prawns in a ‘gula melaka” coconut sauce with lemongrass and Thai basil. Giant juicy prawns and the most intense coconut flavour I’ve ever experienced. Totally delicious.

Rendang, or sort of a dry Indonesian curry, I’ve tried in both Indonesia and actually also at home trying to recreate our vacation favourite. It is a bit like pulled beef, to draw a similarity to a Western dish but with quite complex flavours of different spices cooked into the meat for many hours. Candlenut’s version with Wagyu beef ribs was very rich, for me almost too rich. But still very good flavour wise.

Last but not least, the buah keluak dessert that apparently is one of Candlenut’s signature dishes. Buah keluak is a nut from the kepayang tree and is in this dish made into a quite bitter cocoa-y ice cream. With it comes Valrhona chocolate, chilli and a warm chocolate espuma. I read a few reviews of this dessert and many did not like it. I did though. Actually, I really liked it, almost really, really liked it. A really cool way of showcasing a unfamiliar (to the Western palate at least).

What a lunch is all I can say to summarize our visit to Candlenut. Good efficient service; nice interior and ambiance, and of course great food.


We paid roughly 140 SGD (including the ++) for food, a shared dessert and a cup of coffee each. We did only have tap water to drink, which was complimentary.


Dinner at Din Tai Fung Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Whenever I am in a city with a branch of Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung, I tend to go there for a fix of one of my favourite dishes in the world – the famous soup dumpling, xiao long bao.

Din Tai Fung’s Marina Bay Sands branch is one of the best I have visited (maybe that’s a general Din Tai Fung Singapore-thing though) of the Din Tai Fungs I’ve visited over the world so far. The above xiao long bao pork soyp dumplings were great. Filled with broth and minced pork, then dipped in a chilli-vinegar-soy-ginger dipping sauce, they make your taste buds do the happy dance.

Almost as good as the soup dumplings is the dan dan noodles. Chewy, elastic noodles in a creamy spicy sesame-peanut sauce, sprinkled with spring onions. Mmm-mmm!

Pork buns meets Singapore’s national dish, the famous chilli crab in a – you guessed it – pork and chilli crab bun. This was quite good, although not as good as above dishes.

In the foreground a spicy cucumber salad, in the back – another all time favourite – Din Tai Fung’s Taiwanese pork chop with perfect, slightly oily, egg and scallion rice. Incredibly tasty.

Finally we tried pork and prawn gyoza. Flavour wise it was good but nothing out of the ordinary. Texture wise, however, one of the best gyozas I’ve ever had. Insanely crispy bottom, and light, slightly chewy top.

Japanese style curry at Curry House CoCo Ichibanya in Shinjuku

One of the days in Tokyo we had been walking for ages in the rain. We were cranky, tired and hungry. That is usually not an ideal situation to start discussing where to eat. We stood outside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building when it struck me; “Curry, I want Japanese curry”. After a quick look at Google maps, it was almost to good to be true, we were a block from one of the higher ranked curry places in Tokyo, the interestingly named “Curry House CoCo Ichibanya” which is part of a chain with the same name. After a approximately 30 second walk, we found ourselves in a small curry smelling paradise.

Japanese curry is a gravy like sauce flavoured with curry, served on top of rice and usually paired with some kind of deep-fried protein. We opted for deep-fried chicken with our curry which came with pickles, rice and mentioned curry sauce. The food was hot, savoury, crunchy, salty and just plain delicious. Price was really good too, and we left a lot happier.

Price ($) and website
I honestly can’t remember more than it was very affordable. They have an English website with a menu that you can find here. We had lunch at their Shinjuku location close to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (that by the way has free entry) and the Park Hyatt Hotel. Shinjuku station’s main hall is a 5-10 minute walk away.

Two really good tonkatsu restaurants we visited in Japan

One of my favourite Japanese dishes is tonkatsu. Tonkatsu or panko crusted deep-fried pork cutlets is a dish similar to a schnitzel with juicy pork covered by a crunchy panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) crust. 

During our recent trip to Japan, we had tonkatsu twice; once at Wako, where we went last time in Tokyo, and once at Maisen, a place I’ve been reading about a lot and what usually show up when you google “Tokyo’s best tonkatsu”.

Wako tonkatsu in Kyoto Station
We went to Wako in Kyoto Station, situated on the upper floors of the Isetan department store inside the station. Bonus trivia is that you can go outside from the restaurant floor where Wako is and up a couple of stairs/escalators to reach a nice rooftop area with views over Kyoto, although with a wall in the way of proper photos.

At Wako we opted to try one of the more expensive premium versions of pork for our tonkatsu. I believe the cost was around 1800 jpy, meaning roughly $16. According to the staff, it was juicier with a higher fat content and hence slightly more expensive. After a round of frosty beer mugs, our tonkatsu arrived. Since the tonkatsu came as a set meal, which it usually does in Japan, we also got rice, pickles, cabbage slaw and grated daikon radish. The tonkatsu pork cutlet was, just as advertised, nicely fatty and soft, as well as the breading crunchy. A nice thing with tonkatsu is that it, when done properly, lacks almost any excess oil. So given the relative healthiness of the sides, it doesn’t feel that bad to eat. Despite being a couple of hundred grams of deep-fried fatty pork. Wako’s tonkatsu is a really nice one and in my mind well worth a visit.

Price ($$) and website
We paid roughly 2500 yen a person with premium pork tonkatsu set meals and a beer. Website with sample menu in English (scroll down to Kyoto and then Wako JR Isetan for address): click here.

Next place to enjoy tonkatsu was, as mentioned above, the legendary Maisen or Mai-Sen. We went to their outlet close to Tokyo Station in Daimaru shopping mall, located on the 12th floor. Bonus trivia for this place is that the view from the restaurant floor’s restrooms is quite spectacular. We went quite late, so we could snap a few sneaky restroom pictures since no one else was there.

Bathroom views from the restaurant floor of Tokyo Daimaru shopping mall.

Anyway, the food. As per usual, we ordered a round of beers and a set meal each, opposed to Wako, this time with fillet instead of loin, meaning slightly less fatty meat and also a slightly smaller amount. I think it was 100 grams of fillet instead of 150 grams of loin, for the same price. The tonkatsu was served with rice, miso soup and cabbage slaw with a tasty lemony yuzu dressing. Once again, the breaded pork was not at all oily from the deep-frying. The meat was slightly less juicy compared to Wako, but that did not really matter as the crust was so crunchy and delicious. It actually felt more balanced than with the premium high fat content-pork tonkatsu at Wako, since it was almost overwhelming with both fatty pork and being deep-fried.

Katsusando from Maisen. Tonkatsu in white toast bread. Good stuff.

Maisen’s katsusando – tonkatsu sandwich at Tokyo Foodshow
Another thing we tried and that you probably should too if you like tonkatsu is Maisen’s katsusando. Katsusando is a tonkatsu sandwich, which means sliced cold tonkatsu in a white bread sandwich with some tonkatsu sauce spread on. We had Maisen’s katsusando that we bought at Tokyo Foodshow in Shibuya, a whole floor of food where different outlets sell their different types of food and where you can both pick up take-away as well as dine in at a couple of communal stand up tables.

Price ($$+) and website
Maisen is slightly more expensive that for instance Wako, and we paid about 1600 yen a person for one of the cheaper set meals on the menu. Maisen’s website, only in Japanese. Address (google maps link).

B-Mobile visitor sim card

I used B-Mobile’s Visitor sim card for surfing on the go while in Japan recently. Conveniently you can pick it up as you arrive in Japan, or order it to your hotel so it’s waiting for you when you check in (as I did).

Just a note, this is not sponsored in any way. We just very much enjoyed the easiness to order and pay the sim card online, to have it delivered to our hotel, and that it worked really well during the trip. 🙂

Usually when I travel, I try to find a way to have internet on the move. Since about 7-8 years back I’ve been purchasing local sim cards where possible, to avoid expensive roaming and to only be able to surf the web without wifi access. I want to be able to use maps, google restaurants I’m outside to see if they’re good, or just translate stuff. Or maybe post a picture or two on Instagram. 🙂

B-Mobile Visitor Sim Card
Anyway, before leaving Japan I googled how to solve this usual travel problem of mine and found B-mobile and their “b-mobile VISITOR SIM, 5GB, 21days”. We were in Japan for 19 days, so 21 days sounded like a good amount of days, and 5 GB like it would probably last if combined with a bit of wifi-surfing.

The price is 3480 yen, something like $30, which I found reasonable.

Convenient pick up
The nicest thing is that you can order it free of charge to the accomodation of your choice. You can also pick it up in the airport, but that did not work for us since they had limited opening hours and there was an extra charge for airport pick ups. We opted to have our delivered to our hotel, which it was.

We picked it up on check in, installed it in our phones (it took a little bit of work, but there were good instructions with the card) and that was it. We were connected, and both of us had remaining credit when we departed Japan 19 days later.

Here is a link to their website where you can order the sim card (nope, no comission for me 🙂 )

Kobe beef dinner at Gyu-an Ginza

One of the best meals of the trip, and probably one of my best meals ever was enjoyed at Gyu-An in Ginza, Tokyo. Gyu-An specialise in meat, as in good quality stuff, such as wagyu beef and the world famous kobe beef. After quite thorough research we decided that Gyu-An felt most bang for the buck for our relatively tiny kobe beef budgets and we managed to score a reservation with the help of our hotel concierge a few days later.

As we arrived Gyu-an, after a stroll through the neon lit Ginza district of Tokyo, they couldn’t find our reservation, and I had a few seconds of panic, before they found us a table, and my greatly anticipated steak dinner was, fortunately, a go. While prices are decent given what you get, there is still a considerable price for a meal, depending how you look at it. To have some reference, and to save some money, the two of us decided to share a slightly less pricey wagyu steak set menu as well as the swankiest of the kobe sets which meant you got 200 grams, 100 grams each of kobe fillet and kobe sirloin. Included was a couple of starters, a tiny dessert (below) as well as coffee or tea. Drinks were extra but was relatively decently priced.

We had a couple of starters, but the only really exciting one was this incredibly delicious beef sushi with a thin, fatty piece of beef covering the rice. A great bite that like the beef was washed down with house red.

The matsusaka wagyu beef was just a tad less delicious than the kobe beef. Hadn’t I had the kobe beef, this would’ve been the best steak I’ve ever had. Extremely flavourful and tasty with a great tender texture.

The steak of steaks. Kobe beef fillet and sirloin. Not really sure which one I liked the best. The fillet was of course a bit leaner and softer than the sirloin, but that was barely noticeable given how tender both were. The fat in the kobe beef is not at all chewy, but rather melts in your mouth. The best comparisson I’ve been able to make is, to think of how you bite into a ripe mandarin orange and how it kind of bursts with fruit juice when you bite into it. This was like that, only that the fruit juice was kobe beef fat. It was incredibly good. It was also incredibly rich, and it was almost a struggle to eat everything given the two starters, rice, soup and salad that you are also served. No doubt this was the best steak I have ever had. My expectations were really high. I’ve been eating some really good meat the last years, churrasco in Brazil, grilled bife de chorizo in Argentina and great French steak au poivre. But this beat them all, easily.

For dessert we were served three perfect strawberries. Although it is almost insulting calling this a dessert in normal cases, we were so full that we did not really mind. And the strawberries were in fact extraordinarily tasty.

Price and location
We paid roughly $280 for our two steak meals (one wagyu at 8500 jpy, one kobe combo at 15500 jpy), a caraff of red wine, and water. The restaurant is located in Ginza, easily accessible with a couple of subway lines.

Delicious sushi at Musashi kaiten sushi in Kyoto

The best sushi, and unfortunately one of the only times we had any during the trip, was at Musashi Sushi in Kyoto. The sushi is served kaiten style, which means the chefs make sushi and then put it on a conveyor belt which diners are conveniently placed around, and then you make your pick as it passes by you.

At Musashi, you can also ask the chefs to make you special ones if your favourite is constantly taken by the couple just before you. I’m not saying that this in fact did happen, just that it could have. 🙂

We sampled lots of different sushi at Musashi, for instance ones with roasted beef, melt-in-your-mouth fatty tuna belly, lobster in mayo, tuna and quail egg yolks and grilled unagi eel sushi. Everything was really delicious, the beer was as always served ice cold in iced beer mugs and the prices were quite good too. Your check is calculated by the number of plates of a certain colour you have on your table.

Lobster salad sushi.

Steak sushi.

Grilled sweetish unagi eel sushi.