Monday, 25 June 2018

Barista Coffee - 西雅圖極品咖啡 [Sponsored]

Barista Coffee's Chinese name, 西雅圖極品咖啡, which loosely translates into Seattle Gourmet Coffee, strives to bring to us quality Seattle-style coffee (with more milk dilution, hence larger serving). First opened in Taiwan in 1997, they're among  the first coffee house in Taiwan serving heavy roast gourmet coffees. Since its establishment in March 1997, it has opened several outlets in Taiwan and Beijing, and has also developed many peripheral products for sale at various outlets., one of them being their gourmet drip coffee!

And now, for their latest June exclusive promotion, SampleStore is bringing the Best of Taiwan to us! Over the next few weeks, expect many Taiwanese beauty and F&B products up for redemption and Barista Gourmet Drip Coffee shall be up for redemption along with Aromase's 5α Juniper Scalp Purifying Liquid Shampoo 2% on their 3rd week. 

Barista Coffee is a leading brand in the drip coffee market and their Gourmet Drip Coffee uses coffee beans specifically blended by their chief barista with a specific roasting degree to create quality gourmet coffee. Barista Coffee insists on using 100% fresh Arabica coffee beans from high mountains, and focuses on the formula and roasting techniques to keep the original flavour, creating an integrated taste of aromatic, sweet and unique flavour.  

The Gourmet Drip Coffee launched by Barista Coffee has three main features:
(1) Roasted in Taiwan 
(2) Nitrogen gas packing; lasting good flavuor.  
(3) Patented drip bag; it is easy to brew. 

Brewing a cup of coffee with Barista Gourmet Coffee Drip Coffee is super easy with just 4 steps:
1. Tear along the line on the filter bag 
2. Pull out the hanging ears on both sides and place them steadily on the coffee cup 
3. Slowly pour 180ml of hot water (92∘C-94∘C) into the drip bag 
4. Lift the filter bag from both sides and throw away the residue 
Lastly, add in milk or sugar to your preference and sip away!

First I drink coffee, then I do things. Hands up if you're #teamcoffeeaddict like me!

The 3rd week of SampleStore's Best of Taiwan June exclusive will be up real soon and do check out their link HERE to redeem your free samples!
To find out more about Basrista Coffee and their products, visit their website HERE.

Till then,
Mia Foo

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Mia Bakes: Blueberry Yogurt Scones

Recently, there was a buy any 500g Emmi Greek Yogurt get a 500g Emmi Blueberry Greek Yogurt free at my neighbourhood Sheng Siong supermarket but what I didn't notice was that the free promotion was because the Blueberry yogurt were close to their expiration date. 
So, obviously unable to finish the entire tub of yogurt before it expires, I decided to try making some healthy(ier) yogurt scones!

To get 6 scones, you'll need:

125g of all purpose flour
30g COLD unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
180g blueberry greek yogurt 
(if using plain yogurt, do add some sugar to taste)
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh / dried blueberries (optional)

recipe adapted from

First up, sift all the dry ingredients together and cut in the cold butter in food processor or using either a pastry cutter, or a simple knife-and-fork method until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then, dunk in your blueberries and give it a quick toss before mixing in the yogurt. With clean hands, lightly knead the mixture until it comes together to form a loosely packed dough. 
Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and pat it down with your hands/scraper until it is roughly a rectangle of 1.5 to 2 inch thickness. Using the scraper, cut the dough into half and stack the two pieces on top of each other and repeat the pat-cut-stack process for another 3 to 4 times. 
Finally, pat the dough down into no less than 1 inch thickness (or 1.5 inch, if you prefer tall scones, but then you would have to tweak your baking time) and cut them up into 6 equal pieces. 

Line them up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush over the top with some milk to aid in browning and sprinkle over some coarse granulated sugar. Then, send the scones into an oven, pre-heated to 200 degree Celsius to bake for 15 to 18 minutes. A hot oven is crucial for scones to rise to their fullest height, so if your oven can go up to even 210 degree Celsius, go for it but do keep an eye on your scones after 12 minutes to prevent the top from burning. 
I baked mine at 200 degree Celsius for 15 minutes, and noticed that the surface has gone quite brown but the middle has obviously not set. Hence, I cranked my oven temperature down to 175 degree Celsius and baked for another 5 minutes.

And tadaa~ crumbly and moist, sweet scones with blueberries in literally every bite. 

Using yogurt to replace the usual milk/heavy cream means a ridiculously moist scone. In fact, I feel that it is a little too moist (they're NOT underbaked, just moist) for my liking, so I might try out a mixture of yogurt and milk for my next try at these yogurt scones. But if moist scones are right up your alley, then go for it!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Mia Bakes: Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancakes)

So after telling myself I'm gonna try making my own hotteoks for.... MONTHS, I finally got down to it! If you have no idea what hotteok is, it's a type of Korean street food, pretty much like a pancake but with sweet, cinnamon brown sugar peanut filling inside. And it is sooooo GOOD!

And so for my first try at making my own Hotteok, I decided to follow Maangchi's recipe fully, which uses only all purpose flour for the hotteok dough. I notice that she fry her hotteok in ALOT of oil, but I wanted to cut down on the oiliness and tried with two batches, one with absolutely NO oil and one with just the bare minimum amount of oil. 
And here's my results.

The traditional cinnamon brown sugar peanut filling with NO OIL.

Kimchi-Cheese filling with LESS OIL (I used about 1 tsp of oil per Hotteok) 

The version "fried" with absolutely no oil turns out extremely flat, dry and with a crusty-bread texture. I guess it would be acceptable if you're a fan of those extremely crusty and chewy artisan bread, but if you do not have healthy teeth (like my mum) and prefers soft and fluffy bread that resembles air, you'll going to hate this version. 

In comparison, the less oil version turned out a lot better! As you can see, the hotteok turns out way thicker and more "fluffy" in the middle. The pan-fried surface was crispy, and the insides more chewy and moist. YUMS!

But still, I feel that the texture could be improved and it turns out that glutinous rice flour might be the answer as both Kimchimari's and BeyondKimchee's recipes uses them.

So here's my improved recipe for 6 Hotteoks:

For the dough:
195g All Purpose Flour
80g Glutinous Rice Flour
190ml water
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt 

For the filling:
Just whatever you fancy!
I've chopped up some kimchi & mixed them with shredded mozzarella and red cheddar in roughly 2:1 ratio and used 1 heaping tablespoon for each hotteok. 
Mine ended up bursting quite a bit here and there as they cooked, so I will suggest that you decrease the amount of filling a little. 

The addition of glutinous rice flour means the dough will be extremely sticky, so I will not suggest that you mix the dough by hand. But if you're always up for a challenge, you still can, as hotteok dough need not be kneaded till windowpane stage like bread. Just make sure they're well mixed and thoroughly kneaded will do. I mixed my dough with my trusty bread machine though. :)

For my dough, I've used the overnight fermentation method, which means I left my mixed dough in the fridge overnight (about 8 hours, or at least 6 hours) in a greased bowl, covered with cling film, for the 1st proofing. But if you do not have 8 hours to spare, you may set your mixed dough at a slightly warm place and let it double in size, which should take you about 1 hour. 

After the dough has doubled in size, check that it has fully proofed by sticking a finger into the middle of the dough. If the hole remains, the dough is ready!

Turn out the proofed dough onto a well-floured surface and give it a quick knead before dividing it into 6 equal pieces. Set them aside and cover with a piece of cling film while you work on one piece. With well-oiled hands (the dough will be VERY sticky so oil your hands good!), flatten a piece of dough on your palm and spoon a tablespoon of filling onto the middle. Then, slowly gather the sides of the dough together and press them seam down and seal up the dough ball. Make sure the seam is well sealed, if not your hotteok will just split open while cooking and make a mess in your frying pan. 
You may start frying the dough as you wrap them. I'll suggest that you do not finishing wrapping all and then only start frying (unless you have a large enough frying pan to fry all 6 pieces together) as these are yeasted dough and the last few will puff up and continue to grow as you fry the others first. As my pan fits only 2 comfortably, I will finishing wrapping two, plop them into the frying pan to fry up, and then go back to wrapping the next two. 
Oh well, whatever floats your boat. :)

To fry the hotteok, place them seam side DOWN onto the oiled frying pan and fry for about 30 to 45 seconds first, just for the surface to "set". Flip the hotteok over and then immediately press them down with your spatula, or a hotteok press if you have one, to flatten them down. Then, cook on this side for about 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, before flipping back onto the seam side and cooking until golden brown. 

Well, because this time round I did use oil, but yet not a lot (or enough), I didn't manage to achieve the pretty, uniform golden brown surface. I'm happy with this though. HEH! 

This version turns out a lot more chewy, and with a slight rice-cakey chewy texture, which I absolutely adore. 

I even made one with speculoos filling, and it also tasted damn good! I'm now very sure it's impossible to have a speculoos-flavoured food item to taste bad. 

Till then,
Mia Foo

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Bober Tea: Your Latest Artisan Bubble Tea [Sponsored]

Being a far-eastie with ALL sorts of bubble tea shops tucked away at different corners of our malls, when I tell you that Singaporeans love their bubble teas, believe me, they really do. Be it Gong Cha, Koi, Liho, or Playmade, those lines of thirsty patrons waiting for their drinks never cease right up to their closing time. 

And so, here's a fantastic piece of news for all you bubble tea fanatics out there. Your bubble tea has just gone artisanal

Conveniently located at Bishan MRT station (near the bus stop), Bober Tea is an artisan tea, focusing on providing patrons with an affordable and yet high-quality and tasty blends of tea with a touch of local flavours. The founder, through his travels abroad to countries like Taiwan, Japan and China, realised that their bubble teas are vastly superior to what we currently have in the local market and thus, was inspired to bring together the quality of those teas with high grade, homemade bobas and henceforth, creating Bober Tea!

Bober Tea uses only premium ingredients, such as Okinawa black sugar, Hokkaido milk, pure matcha powder, grade A fresh fruits and etc. And as already mentioned above, their bobas are homemade and hence, healthier compare to those highly processed, artificial types that mass produced in factories.

And this is how they prepare their matcha flavoured drinks, with pure matcha powder, proper tea bowl and a cute bamboo whisk! And somehow I felt kind of zen as I watch the staff whisk up the concoction over the counter. 

And as Bober tea love aesthetically beautiful things, they've not only given their cups a cute, unique rounded design, but also has a super adorable cartoon take-away box for purchases of 6 drinks and above. My friends (you didn't expect me to finish up all 6 drinks by myself, did you?) and I love Mr. rainbow-puking purple drink.
This cartoon box is so cute, random commuters just kept eyeing it while I traveled back to the east on the train. 
Or perhaps they were thinking, "Wah, this lady so greedy. Bought 6 cups of bubble teas for herself?!"

Anyway, Bober Tea boasts of many different creative milk tea flavours, such as Black Sugar Konjac Jelly Milk Tea, Black Glutinous Rice Milk tea, Collagen Jelly Milk Tea, Roasted Walnut Oolong Milk Tea, Brown Sugar Pearl  Milk Tea and etc. Something that caught my eye (but I didn't try it though) was the Brown Sugar Fresh Milk with 65 degree Celsius Boba. Cold milk with hot boba, sounds really interesting, yes?
It's good to know that their prices are also pretty reasonable, going at as low as just $2.20 for a 500ml cup of their basic teas and up to $7.20 for 1000ml cup of a more special concoction. 

And now, here's the 6 flavours I've chosen for a taste test!
(from left to right, 500ml unless otherwise stated)
Hazelnut Milk Tea - $3.50
Hokkaido Milk Cap Strawberry - $5.90
Uji Matcha Latte - $4.50
Roasted Oolong Latte with Walnut - $4.90
Ruby Grapefruit Yakult with Boba Pop - $5.30
Supreme Fruit Burst Green Tea (Red Tea also available), 1000ml - $7.20

Most of my choices comes with fixed sugar levels except for the Hazelnut Milk Tea, which I've chosen a 25% level. But having cut out added sugars from my diet for more than a year, I found that it could have been less sweet, although still not overbearingly sweet (but I'm sure that's just me) so perhaps a zero sugar level would have been perfect for me.

The Hokkaido Milk Cap Strawberry was my absolute favourite among the lot! Well, they've successfully married two of my favourite food (strawberry and milk, how can you go wrong with that?) together into one adorable cup. How can I not love it? My initial few sips were mainly just the strawberry portion of the drink and much less of the milk, which was light, tangy and refreshing. After stirring in the milk cap thoroughly, I got myself a brand new drink, a ridiculously rich and creamy strawberry milkshake. So I guess you can also call this a buy-one-get-two kind of drink?

The Uji Matcha Latte was just a pretty standard matcha latte, and it'll be a pretty safe choice for those matcha lovers having some matcha cravings. However, it was a little upsetting for me, as it's supposed to be a super instagram-worthy green and white ombre drink (the matcha and the milk are supposed to be in two separated layers) which you mix them up before drinking. But somehow the layers blended up on their own while left seated on the counter. So yeah, no pretty pictures for you to ogle at. :(

Next up, the Roasted Oolong Latte with Walnut was pretty good, but having the walnut bits soaking in the drink for too long turns them into... brown rice bits? Or I should say, taste more like brown rice bits. Haha, I know this sounds really weird, I don't understand how it got there either.

The main attraction point of the Ruby Grapefruit Yakult with Boba Pop definitely has got to be the popping boba! Texture wise, they kind of resembles a giant ikura (salmon roe). Popping the boba immediately releases a sweet and tangy flavour of passionfruit into your mouth, adding a lot more oomph to the drink.
However, as you can probably understand from the name itself, if you're not a fan of sourish food, do give this a miss. Grapefruit paired with passionfruit will not be your best friend if you do not enjoy a good punch of tangy flavour.

Last but not least, only available in 1000ml serving, the Supreme Fruit Burst Green Tea seems rather intimidating initially, but it was really refreshing and also judging that most of the volume probably came from the tons of fresh fruit they packed into the cup, this would be your best choice of a healthier, everyday drink to combat the scorching hot weather these days.

Bober Tea is located at 200 Bishan Road #01-01
For more information, visit their FB page HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Hokkaido Travelogue Day 10 - Biei & Furano

Well, since day 11 will just be our early morning 3 hrs' drive to the airport and then the 7 hours flight back to Singapore, here's my final post of my Hokkaido travelogue! And guess where's our GPS headed to? The ridiculously beautiful Biei and Furano!

And of course, we always start our day with COFFEE! 
But still, Mr. Rainier is the best. 

It's only a 35 minutes' drive from our hotel to Biei (Patchwork No Michi), and apparently there's a small information centre next to 北西の丘展望公園 (hokusei no okatenbo park) where you can pick up a map, detailing all the famous trees and landscapes in the area. But we didn't, and just decided to drive around randomly to enjoy the scenic area of Patchwork no Michi slowly. 

If you are not on a self-drive trip, I would highly recommend that you at least rent a bicycle to cycle around the area instead of relying on their public buses, as the intervals might be quite long. I hardly see any buses on the road the entire day I was there in Biei and Furano. 

And now, let's just let the pictures do the talking...

After bidding the beautiful Patchwork No Michi goodbye, we hopped back onto the car and it was another 20 minutes' drive down to Shirogane Blue Pond. 

And before that, let me do a advertisement shot for my favourite convenience store coffee in Japan! 
#notsponsored okay!

As we went during the super off-peak season of May/June, the crowd was still pretty manageable and you can still easily take a couple of IG-worthy posey shots without having tons of random faces/heads popping up in your shots. 
Can't say the same if you're visiting during their peak season for sakura or lavender though. Read on other travel blogs and TA forums that there'll just be never-ending buses and buses of tourists swarming in. The walkway around the pond isn't that wide to begin with, so if you're visiting then, do mentally prepare yourself for war.

After we're done with all the blues, it was another quick 19 minutes' drive down to Shikisai No Oka, which is supposed to be looking like this.
-credits to

However, as absolutely nothing grows in May/June (imagine all those colours as just brown soil. Yup, that was our view), the main point of attraction for our visit are the alpacas!

It's so sweet that they put up all their names, but frankly speaking. Who can really tell them apart? 

Look at that face and all those fluffiness! How can you not love these greedy creatures?

But do note that these seemingly angelic, cute creatures will SPIT at you if they're upset. Yes, it's not just the llamas that spit, alpacas too. And i'm talking about some hardcore projectile, violent-sneezing kind of spitting, so I'll strongly advise that you do not attempt to tease them by holding out the lettuce to them but not letting them eat it for too long. 

After saying goodbyes to the adorable alpacas, it was another 20 minutes' drive to Panorama Road, giving you the scenic view of rolling fields and majestic mountains in the distance. 

By the time we've fully enjoyed Biei, it was already lunch time and so we took a 25 minutes' drive down to Yuiga Doxon at Furano for some Furano Omelette Curry Rice!

The restaurant is tucked away at a random spot along the road, with a very small parking space of around 10 cars only. Do expect to wait in line for a while when visiting during lunch time, as there's not much seats available in the small restaurant. The local staff here hardly speak any English, but while we're there, there was a Caucasian lady among the staff who can give you recommendation/advice on the menu if you cannot speak or understand any form of Japanese. 

And here's my omelette curry rice with sausage! I know it looks kinda off with nearly BLACK curry gravy, but this is legit! You MUST try this when in Furano! The curry gravy is not super spicy, but still has a pleasant peppery kick and extremely flavourful while the omelette is moist and fluffy. So yummy! 

I didn't know why, but the BF just didn't want to try the omelette ones but went for the simple basic curry rice, which was pretty mediocre. 

Initially, the plan was to head to Ningle Terrace first (as it's nearer) but looking at the fact that Farm Tomita closes at around 4 to 5pm and it was already nearly 2pm by the time we're done with lunch, we decided to re-route and headed down to Farm Tomita first instead.

It still doesn't seem that bad at this point, but....

Well, I've told you multiple times that we've visited during off-peak.... HAHAHA!

But not to worry if you're a lavender fan, because they do have some greenhouses in the farm to give you lavender even during off-peak seasons! 

And then, we suddenly noticed a small crowd gathering around this specific patch of field in the distance and we discover why when we walked over....

TADAA~ A field full of blooms! Those purple flowers aren't lavender, though. 

And it's so cute that even their scooters here are a lovely shade of lavender purple! 

While here at Farm Tomita, do not forget to grab yourself a melon soft serve too! 

And after clearing Farm Tomita off our checklist, we hopped onto the car again and headed back to Ningle Terrace. 

Right at the entrance to the terrace is a huge signboard giving you the map of the entire place and a list of the stores. 

If you've no idea what to expect from the name, Ningle Terrace is a beautiful collection of boutique cottages, housing specialty arts and crafts along with their creators. Located just below the New Furano Prince Hotel, Ningle Terrace was built using natural materials with timber building and a plank walkway around some water features and trees. The forest gives off a beautiful scent with pine trees, creating a wonderful atmosphere for wandering around or stopping by in the cafe. 

If I'm not wrong there's a cafe at the "main stores section" but what's on the internet-radar is Mori No Tokei, which is about a 10 minutes walk further down the walkway. 

Just follow the signs along the way and you'll get their eventually. 

I guess it looks pretty unassuming from the outside, and there's no cafe-feel at all. You can't even know if it's open or not, but just push that door open and head straight in!

We got a table by the window, giving us an unobstructed view of a never-ending greenery.

As we weren't that hungry at all, we just decided to get some cakes and coffee/tea to just chill out and enjoy the tranquility of the place. 
For the cakes, the sponge itself was quite dry. However with the ridiculous amount of frosting on top, it actually worked out pretty okay. 

By this time, the BF and I were both pretty worn out and so we decided to call it a day and headed back for Asahikawa. And also partly because we need to rush back for dinner before Jiyuuken closes! HAHAHA! 

As the signboard states, they're famous for yakiniku (grilled meat) and tonkatsu (fried breaded pork cutlet). The shop is tucked away at the corner of a small aisle from the main street (Heiwa Shopping Street), so be sure to keep an eye for this lit-up standing signboard in order to not miss your turn.

If I'm not wrong, they do have Chinese menu available apart from Japanese menu. And while most travel food blogs raved about their grilled beef, there wasn't any beef available when we visited. I've also specifically asked the staff if there's beef available, but she told us that there's only pork. 

Not sure if it's because they were super busy, hence the chef was a little too hasty but my pork was still slightly pink inside, which really threw me off. I mean, you can't eat pork when they're not well cooked, right?

But anyway, the gravy was really flavourful and the meat still extremely tender, which kind of made up for the not well cooked meat. But comparing Jiyuuken and Santouka, I would have preferred the latter though.

And there you have it! This marks the final post of my Hokkaido travelogue! Whew, finally all done! 
As you know (if you follow me on IG), I've just returned from Yogyakarta, so do expect that coming up real soon. But before that I think I have to finish Khao Yai first, eh? 

Till then,
Mia Foo
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