Pomelo in Chinatown

Sunday, 29 May 2011

UPDATE: We are now at Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road, Unit #10-04.

It’s taken a long while, but we are now at our new showroom at 6 Teck Lim Road, right off Keong Saik Road, which is famous for…um, coffee and tze char.

It’s a bigger space, with some fantastic new brands—Established & Sons, Semigood, Mattiazzi, Emma Gardner—in addition to Modernica and Blu Dot.

Currently also available are Bold & Noble prints from the UK and WeWOOD watches.

In the coming months, we’ll be adding stuff to our store as we go along; so for (more) regular updates, news, new additions and arrivals, please add us to your Facebook “Likes”:

Come by the showroom! We’re open:

Tuesday–Friday 11:00am–7:00pm
Saturday–Sunday 11:00am–4:00pm

Phone: 6226-HOME (6226-4663)


What 30B will buy you on Soi Cowboy

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

On a trip to Bangkok a few months back, we stayed at a hotel on Sukhumvit 23. (We left  on the  Saturday the red shirts were setting up camp at  Ratchaprasong.) So going anywhere, the most convenient route to and from  the BTS or train station was  through Soi Cowboy. Honestly.

In the late afternoons, food sellers set up shop along the soi to feed the resident community—noodle stalls, stalls selling BBQ skewers, papaya salad carts, the usual street fare. Returning to the hotel one evening, a cart  caught my eye, its glass case filled to the brim with all manner of mushrooms. I asked the stall owner if it was “larb hed,” a mushroom “larb,” the Northern Thai salad from the Isaan region. He shook his head  and pointed towards his dented, well-seasoned aluminum saucepan, saying something I couldn’t decipher.

I had no idea what it was, but since I’d eat  pretty much anything that has mushrooms in it,  I ordered a serving of whatever it was he was selling.

It turned out to be a mushroom soup, made with handfuls  of fresh herbs, a medley of mushrooms, and a thick green soup base which he ladled out of a large plastic jar (visible in first photo above).

The soup was  utterly delicious; earthy and pungent, bright, with a spicy muay thai  kick  to the throat. And for only 20 baht.

None of my Thai friends has been able to tell me what the soup is made from, only that “it’s some Isaan soup” or “tom hed” (mushroom soup).

We had the soup every day from then on, often having it for late-night supper in our hotel room. Mushroom soup to-go-go.

Click to view larger-than-lifesize!

On one visit, I noticed  a steel bowl of pale white, um, things on the worktop. Scooping up a spoonful,you could see that they were larvae of some sort: albino maggot- or grub-like creatures. “Aroi mai?” I asked the stall owner, to which he nodded and said it would cost an extra 10 baht. (Asking stall owners if something is tasty is just plain dumb, I know. As Warren Buffet would say, “never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.”)

Since I was in the mood to splurge, I asked for the alien grubs. He obliged by plonking a heaping spoonful into the soup towards the end of the cooking process. The boiling soup then goes straight into a plastic bag—free BPA with every order!

Walking back to the hotel, I inspected the bag, raising  to eye level like a 2-year-old inspecting a bagged funfair goldfish. And it became clear what  the larvae were—wasps. There they were, little soup fairies—wings, cinched abdomen and all—floating in suspended animation throughout the grassy green liquid.

The wasp larvae  didn’t contribute anything extra to the flavour of the soup; but they had a nice, soft crunch, not unlike the bite feel you get when chewing on the heads of enoki mushrooms. And I’m sure that they’re also rich in protein.

And ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. The tastiest treat on Soi Cowboy.

(Wasp larvae are a treat in the North-eastern parts of Thailand, as well as parts of Indochina and China/Burma (huge image at bottom of linked page). I remember there being a documentary  where they show how villagers tie a feather to a wasp and follow it through the jungle back to its nest, but I can’t find it anywhere. But this is also pretty good.)

Soi Cowboy Spicy Mushroom Soup

Address: Soi Cowboy, towards the Sukhumvit 23 end, on the left-hand side if you’re entering from there.

Nearest BTS: Asoke

From about 4pm–7pm

Adventures in Househusbandry

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I was thinking of a dessert to make for an upcoming dinner. Thai Red Rubies (Tub Tim Grob) came to mind—the dessert of water chestnuts coated with tapioca flour, and served in coconut milk.

Mango season is in full-swing, right now, so it struck me, “How about ‘Yellow Garnets’! Mangoes instead of tapioca flour! It’ll be like mango sticky rice, with the tapioca flour replace the rice as the starch! And it comes with coconut milk as well!”

I imagined the surprise and delight of my guests’ first bite. I set to work on a test batch, camera at hand to document my genius:

Cube mango, and toss gently in tapioca flour...

...until evenly coated

Place in boiling water until they float; remove and dunk in ice water.

Glistening yellow garnets. Success!

I fished a cube out of the ice water and popped it into my mouth. It tasted like luscious mango… covered in snot.

One essential element had slipped my mind: the ‘grob’ in ‘tub tim grob.’ ‘Tub tim’ means “red ruby” in Thai, and ‘grob’ means “crunchy.” Leave out the crunchy part, and the mouthfeel is just slime on goop. It tasted fine, just that the texture combination was all wrong.

Well then, I guess I won’t be demonstrating this on Good Morning Singapore, after all.

But since I’d taken the photos, I thought I’d post this disaster anyway. If anyone knows a pickling method, or some other technique to put crunch in mangoes, please leave a comment! (Ferran Adria is in town right now. Someone point him to this page!)

Postscript: Went out and got coconut milk, made the cream, and finished all the “garnets.” It actually wasn’t that bad as a completed dish. At least Xander seemed to enjoy it too.

Cleaning a George Nelson Bubble Lamp

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Looking at the search queries in our blog stats, it seems that there are many people out there searching for cleaning instructions for the George Nelson Bubble Lamps, so here’s how.



The ones in our home/showroom don’t require much cleaning at all, to be perfectly honest, but you can give them an occasional dusting just to keep them radiant.

Because they’re made of a polymer, and not of paper, you can use a lightly damp cloth and mild soap to clean them, but we’ve found that those static cling sheets used for Kao Magic Mops  (“Swiffer” sheets for US readers) do a fantastic job.

If you can’t get your hands on those, a gentle vacuuming using the LOWEST setting and the brush attachment works too, especially if your lamps are hanging slightly out of reach.

Modernica has the care instructions buried in their website, but you can download it here.

Happy cleaning!

Emeco “Nine-0” Chair by Ettore Sottsass

Sunday, 27 April 2008

(Update: Space at Millennia Walk, is now the Emeco distributor in Singapore.)

Emeco, unveiled the “Nine-0”, a new collection of chairs and stools by the Italian designer Ettore Sottsass on 16 April, at the 2008 Salone Internazionale del Mobile.

Nine-O Chairs

I love how the arms on the armchair are formed by the extension of  the leg piece. A simple, elegant solution.

Emeco \

Three versions of the chair/stool are available. (From left to right) 3-Bar Back (shown without arms), Open Back, and Soft Back.

From the press release:

Gregg Buchbinder, Emeco’s Chariman, met Mr. Sotsass eight years ago at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. “The minute we met, Ettore told me he was an admirer of the Navy chair and in fact wished he had designed it. And we agreed, why not re-design it,” remembers Mr. Buchbinder. “I had seen Sottsass’ projects in which he had used our chair. Ettore was the first designer who took our chairs out of their typical environments—navy ships prisons, hospitals—and to use them in contemporary interior design projects. Through him Sir Terence Conran, Frank Gehry and Philippe Starck discovered the Emeco chair creating resurgence in the 1990’s.”

“A chair must be really important as an object, because my mother always told me to offer my chair to a lady,” Mr. Sottsass told the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 1976.

Chris Redfern, the British architect who worked alongside Mr. Sottsass for the past 12 years recalls, “Ettore always had orange cushions fixed onto his navy chairs at home in Milan and our idea started there. We wanted to make the new chair soft, friendly and of course colorful.” Mixing Emeco’s expertise in aluminium construction with European technologies in polyurethane sculpting, the new designs feature a soft polyurethane seat and a wider base for a “growing population.”


A bit on Mr Sottsass:

Ettore Sottsass was born in 1917 in Innsbruck. Like his father, Mr. Sottsass studied architecture. He served in the Italian army, and after the war, established a practice in Turin, designing interiors, and domestic objects. He later moved to Milan as Italy embarked on post war reconstruction and collaborated with his father on social housing projects, as well as designing small craftsman-made domestic objects.

Mr. Sottsass spent a brief period in America, working for George Nelson, which gave his work a transatlantic dimension unusual in Italy.

In 1981, he helped establish the Memphis movement with a group of like minded designers who questioned the comfortable definitions of contemporary design. Memphis represented the most coherent attempt to apply post modernism to design. It created an alternative to the aesthetic of functionalism by exploring the emotional potential of design.

At the same time that Memphis exploded, Mr. Sottsass’ partnership, Sottsass Associati expanded rapidly to become Italy’s best-known design consultancy, working in architecture, graphics, interiors, products, and furniture all around the world.

These are the last chairs designed by Mr. Sottsass, who died on December 31, 2007 at the age of 90.



Nine-O Swivel Chairs

Seats: Integrally-coloured, soft polyurethane seat and back.

Colours available: green, blue, yellow, orange, red, and grey.

We have a winner…

Thursday, 24 April 2008

After 40 weeks of anticipation, our little guy decided to make an appearance at 3:43p.m. on April 15. Weighing in at 3.86kg (8.5lbs) and 53cm long (20.86″), he was the heaviest and longest baby born at the hospital that day.

And he finally has a name! We received over a hundred entries to our little contest, from as far away as Orlando, Florida and Ireland. Many thanks to everyone who entered, and for all your kind wishes.

Some of the more unique and interesting names include “Sjalrome” (pronounced ‘shalom,’ I believe) and “Yassin” (of Moroccan origin), but as things would have it, we came across his English name on the internet one day. So, please say “selamat datang*” to:

Xander Quah Jinn Kye


His Chinese name is (surprise, surprise) 柯 敬 凯, the original Chinese characters we liked—I guess we did a Malcolm Gladwell on it, and went with our first instincts. Jinn Kye, or “Jing Kai” means “honourable victory” or “respected victory”.

The clincher, I think was the ‘X’. It’s a letter that’s unique, memorable, and visually outstanding. Plus, anything with an ‘X’ in it makes it instantly cool. XBox, X-Men, X Games. (‘Xander’ is an abbreviated version of ‘Alexander’ which means ‘defender’ or ‘warrior.’)

We’re actually kind of glad we didn’t name him before he was born, because in the one week we’ve spent with him, his personality just didn’t fit many of the names on the final list.

And here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Congratulations to Vanessa, who on May 6, suggested the name “Quah Jin Khai” and coming closest to the final name, wins the Blu Dot Couchoid Sofa!

Here’s his birth announcement:

(If you’re a non-Singaporean reader, and the above image makes no sense whatsoever, enlightenment available here.)

Once again, many heartfelt ‘thank-you’s to everyone!

Since this is supposed to be a blog about “food and furniture” I guess I should get back to that soon. Perhaps a post on confinement cuisine and baby cots.

*Selamat Datang = “Welcome” in the Malay language