Abilletage corset salon and tea-room

I finally made the time to visit the exquisitely decorated  ”Abilletage” corset salon and tea-room today.

When you first enter, the sense of days gone by is evoked, with damask wallpaper, dainty knick-knacks, velvet and tapestry upholstery and rococo-like memorabilia. The one room salon is both store-front and tea-room, so you can enjoy your afternoon tea (or alcohol in the evenings) in a delicate ladylike fashion, whilst perusing the goods.

I sat at the little bar area adjoining the kitchen, as you see here.

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Kawaii Girls Art & Pussy Portraits, Sydney Fringe Festival

Love kawaii art & culture but can’t get to Japan?

Sydneysiders can go to TAP Gallery in Darlinghurst, where as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival, the Kawaii Girls Art & Pussy Portraits is on display until 22 September. (And get your mind out of the gutter; there are a lot of cat portraits, OK?)

Presented by Mayumi International, this exhibition brings together more than 70 art works by 30 professional Japanese illustrators and artists.

Kawaii Girls Art

kawaii cat by Murayoshimi 

As you can see, the works all have a playful character, a sweetness and cuteness that are the heart of kawaii.

 

The exhibition is on 12 midday to 6pm each day, so hop on down to grab yourself some kawaii culture!

TAP Gallery
278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst
Tel: 02-9361 0440

Yummy Japanese food from Konbini (convenience stores)

One of the things I love so much about Japan is that you can go to a konbini or convenience store anywhere in the big cities, and get really healthy, cheap food. I often have salads, sometimes with prawns or other protein in them, a little bit of pasta, and some salad dressing on the side. The great thing is – every pack is marked so you know EXACTLY how much fat, protein, carbs and overall calories are in your item.

 

As you can see, they are pretty small by western standards…so just buy a few! I actually like having lots of little different types of food – it’s like assmbling your own bento box :)

 

As I mentioned, you can buy a sachet of salad dressing separately, in various flavours, and again with the calories helpfully delineated on the back.

  

 I thought some greens might be healthy, so got a mixed dish with what looked like bok choy, beans, a little potato and egg.

 

And look, each dish was only 198 yen, which is around $2.45 AUD. This is why many of us say it’s actually cheap to eat in Japan…if you go to the right places.

Sometimes I grab a tuna salad if I haven’t had time to eat before going out…just grab on the way home, eat in the hotel room, freshen up and head out again!

And some pics of the other lovely food items on display….

At the top of the above pic you can see a row of little sandwiches…they are my fave thing to have on hand in the bar fridge at the hotel, for those hangover mornings when you need a bit of sustenance before heading out. Tuna &  mayonnaise is my favourite. There are also soups, pastas and hot foods for those who want a hot meal.

 

The only time I saw an empty shelf in a grocery store/kombini was just after the tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown, when everyone was buying bottled water in bulk, not being sure if the drinking water was safe. Apparently it was safer than the amount of radiation in Europe’s water, but there you go, such was the media influence and scared uncertainty of the time.

Another tip of mine for those who need a coffee in the morning to get going, is to get a couple of coffees in cans the night before, and stash them in your bar fridge. They go ever so well with the sandwiches, and help you to be alert enough to go out and get a real coffee from a coffee shop.

I have to admit I’ve done a 2am konbini run when I’ve been awake and starving in my hotel room – what a godsend to hungry people in the middle of the night!

If you haven’t yet been to Japan, I tell you don’t be afraid of just walking in and having a nose around (you can even get beers and other alcohol there too). If you’ve been, what were your favourite delicacies from the kombini? Sushi rolls? The steamed buns or fried chicken near the checkouts? Or what?

New site Alt Scene Asia

Hellooo lovelies! I know I’ve been off in the ethernet once again….but I have been making way for a new website that will better integrate some of my interests, provide a better service and be more informative, leaving this one for my personal blogging. I’ve had so many people ask me, “where’s good to go for alternative music & culture in Japan/Singapore/Malaysia/India/Cambodia?”etc and usually I cobble together a facebook reply with lists, and point them towards my blog and certain tags.

I had a lightbulb moment a few weeks ago (drinking beer and watching something like Nat Geo or or TLC on foxtel), that there ought to be a website that alternative type people can check out, to look up where’s cool to go in each city. Now, there certainly exist numerous websites that cover their own city or country and in great depth, along with other sites that do all of Asia but with only glancing references to the alternative scenes there (like Lonely Planet or certain parts of CNN).

There are also those wesbites dedicated to their music style, such as Punk or Dark Alternative, and they cover off artists, gigs and scenes all over the world – but only in their genre. But how to bring these into the one place? While necessarily sacrificing the detail and depth of a genre-specific website, I believe there is value in putting together on one site, posts that link people to the sorts of places they’d like to visit when travelling in Asia, of course providing links to those more detailed sites for those who want to read more.

Anyway, that’s the vision, and that’s where Alt Scene Asia comes in. I’d like to cover alternative music scenes such as punk, post-punk, goth, deathrock, rockabilly, psychobilly, maybe industrial and just weird shit, as well as fashion, food, art & culture. In some places, just finding a place that plays *rock* is a battle, where everywhere you go you hear mainstream pop, R&B, urban, and artists like Rihanna blaring at you from every shop or bar. I do not want to cover off that stuff, or mainstream asian genres like K-pop and J-pop. There are enough sites serving them already ;)

So, AltSceneAsia. I’m gathering together a team from various cities and countries to write, because local knowledge is key, and also hoping to have a lot of guest writers. So if you know about a certain city, or know people who do, please drop me a line.

So that’s the place where I’ll do more informational posts, not that there won’t still be some here, but this blog will more be my personal experiences while travelling (as it always has been), alternative events etc here in Sydney, and my fashion and style inspirations.

In other exciting news, I’m off to Japan again! I haven’t been there since last November, and really need an update to stay current. Plus, I just can’t wait to go back ;) It also looks like I’ll have a quick mini-vacay to Myanmar with hubby the month after…so will hopefully get some local knowledge of the punk scene there, as well as just holidaying.

And now back to the website, to get it passable before promoting it. I’m no code monkey, and the tweaking is taking aaaaages!

ION Orchard, Food Opera, Padang Padang

On earlier visits to Singapore I had breezed through ION Orchard as part of the Orchard Road experience. But something was missing. I was yet to experience the wonder that is Food Opera, the very upmarket hawker-style food court in the ION Orchard basement. Time to rectify that.

For those who haven’t been to Singapore, Orchard Road is THE premier district for shopping malls; mainly upmarket but with some budget-friendly, old school surprises lurking amongst the almost spage-age architectural statements.

ION Orchard is arguably the best of the best.  66,000 square metres in size, with 4 levels above ground and 4 levels below, ION offers over 300 retail, food & beverage and entertainment options.

The luxury brands are all there: Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Miu Miu etc, as well as mid-range favourites like Topshop, Zara and Uniqlo. (Yes, I confess, i *may* have made some purchases here).

ION offers fine dining as well as food chain outlets, delis and confectioners, cafes and bars, mostly on the basement floors but also on the floors above.

It is the ION food hall on Basement level 4 that I gravitate towards, and the outlets here are outstanding. Old Chang Kee, Punggol Nasi Padang and the Wang San Yang Tea Pavilion nestle alongside Ginza Bairin and 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken!

Food Opera is the primary one, offering 22 stalls and 4 mini-restaurants in the hawker style. Aesthetically there is an immediately appealing sense of history and homeliness, as well as luxury and whimsy. Modern design trends, such as animal heads on the walls and large sculptures are everywhere, including animal sculptures such as deer, pigs, giraffe and even golden dragonflies and insects. Uber-glamorous chandeliers illuminate the space, throwing the beautiful gilt ceiling mouldings into sharp relief. Yep, you sure feel like you’re somewhere swanky!

But enough of me telling you about it; take a look for yourself:

Food Opera in ION Orchard Singapore

Peacocks and stag/deer heads look down on Hainan Chicken Rice & BBQ Seafood outlets

  

A large golden dragonfly looks down from the Draft Beer stall; an ornate ceiling at Ah Wok restaurant makes looking up worthwhile

  Ah Wok in Food Opera

I tell you, I walked around for AAAGES trying to decide what to eat. As I am very fond of the flavours of Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cuisine, it is no wonder that I finally decided upon Padang Padang for my lunchtime repast.

Padang Padang (so good they named it twice!)

Padang Padang in Food Opera

Food Republic, which owns Food Opera, had this to say about Padang:

Padang cuisine is the traditional food of ‘Urang Minang’ (Minang people) who inhabit West Sumatera, Indonesia. The key to Padang cuisine’s rich flavour and mouth-watering aroma is the correct blend of spices. Padang Padang is owned by Mrs Wahyuningsilh and the recipes are inspired by her grandmother – a 3rd generation Peranakan in Indonesia. At Padang Padang, they are committed to using only natural ingredients and processing them traditionally to retain their original taste and health benefits.

Signature Dishes: Nasi Kuning Ayam Merah, Rendang Sapi (Beef Rendang), Ayam Goreng Bumbu (Padang Fried Chicken with Spices), Ikan Asam Pedras (Spicy & Sour Fish), Gado-Gado Padang (Padang Mixed Vegetables), Cabe Merah /Hijau Padang (Special Red/Green Padang Chilli)

Padang Padang was crowned one of the top 3 Hawker Kings at Food Republic.

Food Republic reviews some other Food Opera outlets Soup Guru, Ah Wok and Scott’s Beef Noodles here.

As for me, I ordered the Nasi Kuning with Ayam Merah, which is yellow rice with chicken in a red gravy largely comprised of tomato, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli and soy. YUMMERS!!

Ayam Merah & Nasi Kuning

The chicken was still still just a little crispy from having been fried first, and the sauce was extremely tasty without being burn-your-mouth-out hot. There was a beautiful balance of salty, sweet and chilli. I also could have chosen a multi-dish from their many meat and vegetable options (as you can see in the photo above). Next time I think I just might!

In need of some freshening up before I hit the street again, I encountered the splendour that is the ION Orchard ladies toilets! Honestly, how glamorous are these? And as I left the modern mall, I couldn’t help but laugh at these fantastic coloured sculptures of shoppers, seen at the front of ION Orchard:

 

So whether for the shopping or the food, ION Orchard is definitely worth perusing next time you’re in Singapore.

Have you already been? What are your fave shops or food outlets?

 Food Opera @ ION Orchard
#B4-03/04 Ion Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 6509 9118

Operating Hours:
ION Orchard
10am to 10pm

Food Opera:
8am to 10pm Monday – Thursday
8am to 11pm Friday, Saturday, Eve of Public Holidays
10am to 10pm Sunday