Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Shittingly Good Cup of Birthday Coffee

Another check for my bucket list. Vietnamese Drip Coffee. Maid in Singapore. Feast for your Eyes. And other wacky themed Food Fares.

sunny 29 °C

Ada said she would take me for a cup of cat-poop coffee (貓屎咖啡) for my birth day this year. You've guessed it, this is what HK locals' slang for Civet coffee, aka Kopi Luwak (This name sounds like local coffee because both Indonesian an Malaysian language use the word 'kopi' for coffee).

I heard about this coffee in a documentary on TV in Sydney some 6 or 7 years ago, but never actually thought about sampling it. So where did Ada got the idea from? A few weeks ago, while we had Vietnamese coffee at Trung Nguyen Coffee in Liang Court, Dan told us that he had a cup of Civet coffee in North Sydney. I was a little bit surprise because Dan has only lived in Sydney for about 2 years while I lived there for more than 30, and what's more, I was a keener coffee drinker than he is. Yet I had never heard about the coffee shop. Maybe they just opened in the last 2 years while we were out of the country. Maybe I'm just out of touch. Nah, I couldn't even convinced myself of that.

Actually the reason she suggested it was because when I was asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said, half jokingly, I wanted to cross out an item on my bucket list. My list is a typical boring list that contains mostly of places to stare at, foods to chow down, drinks to suck, people to annoy make peace with, movies to pirate watch, books to steal read. Well, forget about the last item. I heard rumours that books are on its way out. Well, on Feb 16 this year, Borders Group - the 2nd largest bookshop in USA - filed for Chapter 11, and closed the book, so to speak. That's no rumours.

Borders Bookstore, Singapore
Bye bye now
I've been to this shop a number of times, but only to drink coffee. Like I said, this worm now find books hard to swallow because of my bad eyesight.

Besides, meself and my hands are tired of reading books with a magnifying glass (but I do like the idea of looking like an old fashioned snoop - Sherlock Holm et al. Very cool). Let me change it to audio books to listen (not that my hearing are much better than my vision, but turn on the volume is a snappy job). Nah...forgetting about all forms of books, may they be paper, audio, Kindle or virtual reality (still waiting) or read by Miss Jackie Collins (if I can afford it). My book worm days are over. Here comes my blog WORM (Write Once, Read Many) days. I'll just watch movies that based on those books. I'm still waiting for Hollywood to make "A Man in Full" by Tom Wolf as the dust on the book thickens (so to speak).

Wha? You haven't got a list like this? Congrat! You haven't spent too much time dwelling on the spectre of death. Don't worry, you will warm up to the idea one day, or I should say many sleepless nights.

Different men have their unique approaches to dealing with mid-life crisis - some hook up with young girls half their age; some get onto a Harley (for the first time); some get spanking new toupees or treat themselves with (or get treated by) Ashley & Martin; some go for cattle drives. Me? I just want to try something that combine my love for cat and coffee - 2 birds with 1 stone. Each to his own. Just don't pooh-pooh it before you try it.

I dropped this cat poo coffee into my list since I watched the documentary. I smiled when I watched "The Bucket List" (2007). When Carter, played by Morgan Freeman, heard the story about how Kopi Luwak is produced, he laughed so hard that he crosses off "laugh till I cry" from his bucket list (odd that Carter has that as an item. On the 1 hand, I must have countless laugh-till-I-cry moments in my younger days. Countless. On the other hand, I find it quite a tall order that someone his age - late 50s, early 60s - can laugh till he cries). You can imagine that how funny is that scene would be to me (even though the Kopi Luwak explanation wasn't as funny to me as it's to Carter). No I didn't cry when I laughed at that scene as I heard it several times before (quite a tall order at my age, may be it's just me).

When I asked Ada if she knows a coffee shop that sells it (we only here in Singapore for 2 years). She said, "no idea". Since this coffee is produced in the islands of Indonesia, I would have no doubt that the (affluent) neighbouring countries like Australia, and Singapore would have coffee shops that sell these exorbitantly priced drop of brew. In a mere minutes of googling, we pinned down Blue Mountain Coffee on Level 3 of 131 @ Sommerset.

The Kopi Luwak costs 26.9 SGD (about 30 bucks after adding service charge and tax). Excluding Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the Kopi Luwak is free of charge with an order of entrée and pasta. And we ordered a (spicy) seafood pasta (of your choice, we picked penne), and for entrée, a rosemary chicken. Actually both are not bad, and they came to a total of 28 SGD (including and cheaper than a cup of Kopi Luwak).

The Kopi Luwak is stronger and more fragrant than your average coffee beans, and left a nice bitter after taste. Not too crappy shabby. Truth be told, I would prefer my regular cappuccino than kopi Luwak even if money is no object. Like I said before, I have cheap taste, except for vino (probably because I'm not a drinker). Still, you should try it once, if you haven't. If anything, you can tell your grand kids - if you're so lucky - that their granny drunk coffee that came out of a cat's ass (of course, you need to keep the story PG rated, and make it educational). They should get a kick out of the story and you get a kick out of their laughter. Win-win. I'm not so lucky, so I just tell it to my virtual kids like you.

With that weekdays promotion, I wouldn't mind returning to this Blue Mountain Coffee, not just for its food, it also has quite a number of 'exotic' coffee on their menus ranging from Brazilian, Kenyan, Java to Ethiopian. These coffees are more reasonably priced.

If you're a keen coffee drinker and while you're in Singapore, you can also check out Trung Nguyen coffee at Liang Court Shopping Centre (right next to Clark Quay - a Singaporean tourist spot). I go there whenever I have an itch to walk down the memory lane. When I arrived Sydney some 30 odd years ago, having grew up on Vietnamese coffee beans, I found the Sydney coffee quite sour. After some 30 years of drinking those stuff, I now find the Vietnamese coffee quite bitter. But I enjoy that whole dripping nostalgia that I grew up with. And that coffee shop is usually quiet for a nice quiet cuppa.

But if you have a thing for cosplay, especially the Japanese type, while you're shopping for IT & electronics in Funan, you might want to rest for feet (but keep your eyes busy) in Cawaii Koohii Maid Café. The waitresses who serve you are dressed in maid costumes - the type that could commonly be found in the streets of Harajuku, Tokyo during weekends, or in Japanese Manga. It looks as if it's a Japanese franchise, but in fact a Singapore concept theme café, and is totally maid in Singapore. Singapore (and HK) is into Japanese youth culture of cosplay, anime and manga (HK has a thriving comic industry. I grew up on them in Saigon. Sat on the sidewalks of Saigon (former Ho-Chi-Minh City), reading their comics from the street stalls. It's much cheaper to read them there. Or left me with more money to read more). This cultural interests can be seen by the annual Toy, Game and Comic and similar conventions that are held here in Singapore. Café with this sort of theme is naturally grown out of this Japanese adoring sub-culture. For the fans of Japanese anime/manga/cosplay, I guess this café is a mecca for the Singaporean pilgrimage.

They serve UCC coffee - a Japanese coffee brand. Their canned coffee could be found in Daiso - a $2 Japanese shop in Singapore - in Vivo City. Although their taste is ok, but it's typically too weak for me, having grown up in Vietnam, and Sydney, Australia with the strong cuppa that made by Southern Europeans, Singapore's coffee is typically too weak for me. So do ask for a double shot if you're partial for strong drop. But if UCC coffee isn't your cup of tea, the Japanese manga maids who serve you might provide you with some nice eye candies and more to your tastes. If red and pink aren't your favourite colour, then this whole café is an eyesore. Singaporean gals - Singaporean in general - are a reserved bunch. The waitresses who work here are more open than those in your average Singaporean cafes.

What is the deal with cafes like Starbucks asking for your name when ordering coffee? I'm only there for coffee, not making friends. I usually give them 'Jesus' as my name. It usually gives them pause. Unless I'm in a Mexican Starbucks, in that case, when 'Jesus' is called, many people may think their coffee order is ready. To avoid confusion, they need to say "you're Jesus 3" when there're 2 Jesuses ordered coffees before you. Not an uncommon occurrence. So you end up with something like, "3 lattes for Jesus 1", "1 cappuccino for Jesus 2" being called in Mexican Starbucks's.

So what is it that the Mexicans like to name their kids 'Jesus' (and call their babies "Babies Jesus") while the English speakers would only use the names of Jesus disciples? This gives me pause. Perhaps because the English speakers use 'Jesus' as a swear word. For example, when somebody says to you, "Jesus! you're so sacrilegious!", it doesn't mean your name is 'Jesus'. Say if your name is 'Peter', then they SHOULD say something like, "Jesus! Peter! you're so sacrilegious!" to avoid confusion. If your name is 'Jesus', it's not hard to see how confusing things can get. You may have to say, "Jesus Jesus! you're so sacrilegious!" to clear things up.

Another example, when somebody in a coffee shop yells out, "Jesus, this coffee tastes like shit!", you wouldn't want to think somebody is talking you when they curse. It could be quite unnerving, especially when you didn't make the coffee.

Don't the Mexicans curse 'Jesus'? I don't know. One thing I do know, IF they curse, it sounds more like "Herr Shoes". Bless you! Gesundheit!

Speaking of theme café, you can check out the hospital themed restaurant "The Clinic" in Clark Quay.
I've never been there. When my brother James and Mary visited me, I suggested to go to this restaurant, but they think it's ridiculous (not in so many words). I can't blame them, I too, am too old to get excited about novelties.

Singapore - Ok Asia - seems to attract all kinda fun, and wacky themed cafes ,and restaurants:
Hospital theme, http://theclinic.sg
Rainforest theme, http://www.rainforestcafe.com
Mao theme, http://www.poole-associates.com/house_of_mao1.htm
Blindness theme, http://www.savh.org.sg/ql_ditd.php
There used to be a ghost theme restaurant, but had since closed down. Maybe diners are scared shitless to return to eat. The rainforest theme doesn't seem too wacky.
Maybe I visit one of these in my next birthday...not! Actually I don't mind Hunan food that they serve in the Mao theme restaurant (Hunan is Mao's birth place), if they're as good as other Human restaurant I tried before.

As for the visually impaired restaurant, I'll give it a pass, I don't wish shoving food accidentally into my nose. Especially when I'm hungry, this is a slow way to fill my stomach.

Ok, just in case you think I'm 70 years old, I'd like to clear up that I'm under 50. I just feel like 150.
Happy 150th birthday to me!!!

Ah yes. This post is written under the influence of caffeine.

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