I need a holiday.
You don’t want to go for too long though. Nobody does. For everyone, it’s all about two weeks – two weeks is the golden number. After two weeks, you’re like, “That’s enough. Time to return to my shit life”, am I right?
This winter, I wanted to go somewhere Asian. Somewhere somewhat familiar, but new at the same time. For me, that was Hokkaido, Japan. However, as time drew to a close, the initially affordable prices gave way to sky-high ones.
Then, I looked at Taiwan. Ever since I began dating Nick, a Taiwanese guy whom I met in Singapore late last year who eventually returned before Chinese New Year, this dynamic island-state suddenly shot into my ‘to-do list’. Long distance relationships are hard to maintain and while the care and concern remain (I believe, mutually), there are insecurities which can get the better of us.
Enchanted and enthralled by the dystopic futuristic skyscraper city perched in the mountains, Chongqing became a talking point. Twinned with “nearby” Chengdu, the “heavenly state”, prided for its mythical bamboo forests and exotic valleys, I was sold. But my limited leave allowance means that I couldn’t see everything I wanted to see. I’d have had to forgo the Yangtze River Cruise or the Jiuzhai Valley, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice either.
My adventures finally landed me in Beijing and Xi’an. I last visited the capital of the Middle Kingdom back in 2011, but underestimated the touristic attraction of the city and left out quite a bit of sightseeing work unfinished. But I didn’t want to just do Beijing, so I penciled in a 4-day trip to Xi’an, the ancient Chinese capital.
Now, if there’s anything I learned from my last year’s trip to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, it’s that below 0 degrees Celsius, things get quite uncomfortable outdoors no matter how calm the weather. And with China, there’s a lot of time spent outdoors, so I headed to Uniqlo this late morning to source for thermal underwear. When there’s shopping, there’s always some eating involved.
I first heard about Koh Grill Sushi & Bar from my friend, Alvin, a few years ago. Progressively, I began seeing my other Facebook friends rave about it, too. With a passionate love for Japanese food, I wonder why I wasn’t hooked. Perhaps it was the Singapore Chinese surname of “Koh” which ticked me off, or maybe it was the fact that it was in a Food Republic food court. Even if I wanted to, though, it was hard, as Koh Grill Sushi & Bar does attract quite the crowd during meal times.
Today, the opportunity presented itself, so I must confess I was quite excited.
The restaurant is raved for its Pitan Tofu and Shiok Maki among others, but today wasn’t the day for me to try these. I was jaded on century egg atop tofu by my colleagues thanks to constant visits to Paradise Dynasty and Curry Times. My mother wasn’t too thrilled once she heard the word, “unagi”. So, we ordered our own bento sets.
My bento, the cheapest of all, comprises of salmon sashimi, grilled saba served with rice. It’s also comes with slices of watermelon. Although simple and portions not very generous, it was a meal that hit all the right notes. The sashimi was fresh, full-bodied and tender, and the grilled saba was okay. My mother’s came with chawanmushi, stir-fried beansprouts with shrimps, as well as tori karaage which was absolutely divine.
One signature I did manage to get through is the asparagus and pork belly kushiyaki. The reviews are right: it has a smoky grilled flavor that just can’t be replicated.
Maybe I’ll come back on my own to try the Shiok Maki.