Are you nuts over nuts? [Three Squirrels Box of Nuts]

Are you nuts over nuts? [Three Squirrels Box of Nuts]

If you enjoy nuts, you’ve probably heard of Three Squirrels (三只松鼠), a Chinese company that sells exceptionally fresh tasting nuts. An ex-colleague introduced me to this brand after she brought it back from a business trip to China, and I haven’t looked back since. So, when my family and I traveled to China in 2018, we made a point of visiting their store just to purchase the nuts as gifts for relatives and friends back home. Fast forward to 2021, when many of us are still working from home and the need to munch has risen.

My dad found the Three Squirrels box of nuts (每日坚果) that comes with 30 individual packets. These snacks have been highly appreciated at home, with all of us going back for more each time.

Each packet has 6 different kinds of nuts (almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts and cashew nuts) as well as 3 kinds of dried fruits (blueberries, raisins and cranberries). The six types of high-energy nuts take up at least 65% of the packet.

Another box variant comes with 4 different kinds of nuts and 4 kinds of dried fruits. We prefer the former but will go for the latter if we want more dried fruits.

Here’s why we keep going back for more:

It’s healthy

Compared to other snacks, these nuts and fruits are definitely healthier options. As it’s not fried, and unsalted, these make great healthy snacks.

It’s individually portioned

It’s easy to control the quantity as well because it’s well-packed individually.

The nuts and fruits are fresh and excellent

The nuts and fruits are fresh and excellent. The nuts and fruits are packed in two compartments in each packet, keeping them fresher and less sticky. Before eating, just tear down the centre and shake the pack of nuts to ensure a proper mix.

Conclusion

If you like variety and are looking for nutritious snacks, this package of 30 packets of nuts may be precisely what you need. Each box is supposed to last one month (30 days), but if you’re anything like us, you could find up nibbling on two packets a day instead.

Do more with your AirPods!

Do more with your AirPods!

I’ve had the AirPods Pro for quite a while now – about a year and a half – and here are two features I think are pretty fabulous.

Customize your hearing experience by adjusting your audio accessibility settings

Connect your AirPods to your iPhone > Settings > Accessibility > AirPods > Audio Accessibility Settings  > Headphone Accommodations

Here, you will be able to go through a setup process which allows you to tune your audio and set the range of your transparency mode. You can then make the necessary adjustments to allow you listen to your audio with greater clarity. Honestly a pretty neat in-build feature which I personally think more people should know about!

Use your AirPods to test how loud your surroundings are (and if it’s healthy for your years.

You can add the feature by going to Settings > Control Centre > Hearing. Once this feature has been added into your control centre, with your AirPods connected, activate it. Live listen will then be activated and you will be able to identify how loud (or soft) your surroundings are.

As a benchmark, you should try to be in an environment that’s less than 70 Db to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

Rubber Connector Accessory

In addition, I recently discovered this rubber connector which helps you easily connect your AirPods. While this seems to defeat the purpose of having a wire-free audio device, it is still useful especially for workouts or when you accidentally fall asleep and the AirPods fall out.

Conclusion

If you’re on the Apple ecosystem, owning a pair of AirPods is indeed a must – but how many features do we actually know exist? Let’s continue exploring them and hopefully we’ll be able to make full use of these trusty pair of earphones.

Gorilla Mobile Launches in Singapore

Gorilla Mobile Launches in Singapore

New telecommunications start-up, Gorilla Mobile, is on a mission to bring a comprehensive set of digital smart solutions to users in Singapore. Targeting primarily professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), Gorilla Mobile will be adopting a service-on-demand model. This model will allow users to only “pay for the service they use” – something that Gorilla Mobile claims is new to the telecommunications industry.

Making its big debut in Singapore on June 17, Gorilla Mobile Founder and CEO Xanne Leo launched its Switch25 Mobile Plan ($25 a month for 100 SMS/ 100 min/ 20GB of data). This mobile plan will allow users to ‘switch back’, or convert their unused mobile data to offset their bills.

“Our SwitchBack feature can be compared to the Singapore Parking app. Users pay only for their parking duration and get refunded for their unused time. Through SwitchBack, unused data never goes to waste. Its value gets reallocated to offset, purchase or exchange for other Gorilla services,” she said.

An exciting service Gorilla Mobile will offer is the ability to offset other services within a company account. This will allow SMEs to easily manage their accounts for the multiple lines they may have with Gorilla Mobile.

Apart from its SwitchBack features, Gorilla Mobile is also looking to launch its Global Roaming Travel Data SIM Card, Digital International Direct Dialing (IDD) and Global Office Telephony Solutions later.

Its IDD service is one of its kind where users will not need a local mobile subscription or a landline subscription with Gorilla Mobile. Instead, users will be able to download the Gorilla Mobile application to use IDD services.

The Global Office Telephony Solution will be launched in Q4. This digital solution will allow users to transfer calls globally, which will be helpful for businesses.

Gorilla Mobile will tap on the M1 network as its host Mobile Network Operator and MyRepublic’s enterprise Operating Support System and Business Support System telecommunications solution and managed services.

From June 18 to August 18, 2021, users can sign up for the carrier’s Switch25 mobile plan through the company’s website. New users will be rewarded with a bill difference of up to S$50 per mobile number based on their port-in mobile line plan and the new plan. The amount will be credited to their PayNow account upon successful port-in.

Coffee packaging – it just gets better.

Coffee packaging – it just gets better.

If you’re a fan of coffee, you should know the many types of coffee that are out there – and it’s not just the type of coffee beans – there are many ways of making coffee as well.

We recently received a packet of coffee which served two. When told, I found it pretty strange as coffee packets usually come in single servings (I hadn’t seen the packaging yet). But then I looked over, and I realized why it served two. The packaging was unique and different from the usual coffee packs bought in the market.

The Coffee Brewer Coffee Bag

This coffee bag from The Coffee Brewer resembled a snack bag and had a small sprout. Upon reading the instructions, I realized that I had to add hot water from the top of the bag (not the sprout) to an indicated level which can be seen on the back of the package.

Essentially, there is a built-in filter bag (filled with ground coffee) within this packaging. The water poured from the top of the bag flows into the filter bag, and the filtered coffee eventually rests on the bottom of the bag. The bag’s design allows the filtered coffee to be easily poured out once you crack open the mouth of the sprout.

The idea is fascinating, makes coffee brewing easy, and honestly speaking, you can technically drink out of the bag!

As for the coffee, although I added water only to the “strong” indicator line, the coffee tasted a bit too diluted for my liking. It was also perhaps the fact that this was considered a ‘strong’ coffee that made it slightly disappointing as well. The slight tangy aftertaste was pleasant, though! It would be nice to test out their other variants, but I’ll be sure to add less water the next time I brew it.

I’ll give the innovation a 5/5 and a 3.5/5 for the coffee itself.

Exploring Taipei: Tamsui Old Street

Exploring Taipei: Tamsui Old Street

Just a 30 min MRT train ride from downtown Taipei lies Tamsui Old Street – a place hailed for being a ‘romantic’ with a lover’s bridge and more. Apart from being the perfect place for viewing the sunset, Tamsui is peppered with many food stalls – and some are pretty amazing.

Here are three food places which I’d recommend trying if you’re heading there:

樂湯包

Taiwan is known for it’s Xiao Long Bao’s – but did you know that other than Din Tai Fung which calls it Xiao Long Bao, this soup dumpling is called 小籠湯包in Taiwan? If you went to a regular breakfast joint and ordered a Xiao Long Bao, you will probably be disappointed when you see a pork-filled bun instead of a soup dumpling.

Fun fact aside, this shop serves three types of dumplings – pork soup dumplings, beef soup dumplings and prawn dumplings. We tried both the pork soup dumplings (8 dumplings per serving) and prawn dumplings (7 dumplings per serving). The pork soup dumplings were really good – the soup to meat ratio within the dumpling was delectable – we liked it so much that we ordered another portion! The vegetable taste in the prawn dumpling was a tad too strong for me but my friends enjoyed it.

At 70 NTD (SGD $3.45) per serving, I’d highly recommend dropping by this place for some piping hot dumplings if you’re in the area. Do note that seating is limited and the store has a minimum one serving for every two pax policy.

5/5 for the Soup dumpling 2.5/5 for the Prawn dumpling (Taste and value)

淡水渡船頭阿給老店

Ah Gei

阿給 also known as Ah Gei is a Taiwanese dish. It essentially is glass noodles wrapped in beancurd skin, topped with a bit of fish paste and drenched in sweet sauce (similar to ‘yong tau fu’ sauce). The combination of sweet sauce and the different textures of the dish made it appealing and was honestly pretty filling.

My friends tried the fishball soup here and they enjoyed it too.

There are many shops selling Ah Gei around Tamsui and I personally don’t know if this is the best store in the area, but it was pretty good. Though crowded, the food options were all affordably priced at 40 NTD (SGD$1.95) per item. Also, if you are able to get the seats facing the pier, you will be greeted with a fairly nice view of the pier (and sunset).

Do note that service isn’t the finest here. Reviews on Google also highlight the poor service standards here.

3.5/5 for the Ah Gei

阿春蝦卷

Although I was full from the soup dumplings and Ah Gei, I decided to try these fried prawn rolls. At only 25 NTD (SGD $1.25) for three, how could I not try it?

Deep-fried, these prawn spring rolls were crunchy on the edges and warm on the inside. The filling was tasty and you have the option of glazing some sauce over it yourself (too salty with the sauce).  

While there was a queue, it moved fast and I managed to get my item pretty quickly. I recommend eating this if you’re in the area – it’s pretty tasty, crispy, and piping hot. Suitable as a snack on a cold day.

3/5 for the Prawn spring rolls – would rate it higher if it were less salty and less crunchy.

Conclusion

Sunset from Tamsui Old Street

Tamsui is the perfect place to end the day after a day of walking around Taipei City. Hands-down a must visit place for good food, good vibes (buskers are everywhere) and good views.

Tamsui Old Street

No. 1, Zhongzheng Road, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, 251

Terminal station for the Red Line

Exploring Taichung: Rainbow Village

Exploring Taichung: Rainbow Village

One of the most-visited attractions in Taichung is the Rainbow Village. Once home to a group of soldiers, one ex-soldier and resident stood up to paint the houses in the village in an attempt to have them preserved. The land belonging to the Ministry of Defence was about to be reclaimed.

While he initially did it out of boredom, the village slowly gained recognition because of its vibrant colours that stood out.

Located in the Nantun District in Taichung, Rainbow Village became a hit only over the past decade. Many locals alike had not visited the place before, and it was only after it became an “Instagram-worthy” location, did more locals and tourist flood the site.

The resident, also known as Rainbow Grandpa (彩虹爺爺), still lives on site. At a whopping age of 99, he still paints the place when necessary. Teams of volunteers have also stepped in over the years to help in the preservation of the attraction. You can find Rainbow Grandpa at the attraction on some days. He takes photos with groups of visitors for a small fee that goes towards preserving the village.

Rainbow Village brings so much joy because of its vibrancy, and also because it teaches us a lesson on how sometimes our little efforts can lead to great things – just like what Rainbow Grandpa did to preserve his home.

Rainbow Village is Instagram-Worthy

P.S. There is a small play area for children in the area. Snacks and collectable items can also be found at the Rainbow Village.

Address:
Rainbow Village
408, Taichung City, Nantun District, 春安路56巷25號
Open daily from 8am to 6pm

Exploring Taichung: Gaomei Wetlands

Exploring Taichung: Gaomei Wetlands
Gaomei Wetlands

A one-hour drive from Taichung City brings one to a wetland wonderland – Gaomei Wetlands. Situated in the Qingshui district, Gaomei Wetlands has, over the years, been an attraction when visiting nearby Taichung. 

Located at the mouth of a river, Gaomei Wetlands is an area with both mud and sand and is home to a rich diversity of migrating birds, fishes and crabs. Lining the wetlands are wind turbines that add quite a view to the 300-hectare land.  

Here are two main reasons why I love heading to Gaomei Wetlands:

You can feel the sand and mud at your feet. 

A short walk across the boardwalk brings you to the actual wetland where you can walk across. While only a section is open to the public, it is a pretty large area, and one can comfortably walk barefoot across the wetland, with soft earth under your feet. There’s just something about walking on the ground with cool water flowing past. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to find small crabs and mudskippers along the area. Just remember to view from afar and not disturb them in their natural habitat. 

The sunset here is lovely.

Most visitors come in the late afternoon/ early evening to enjoy the sunset. The vast wetland, wind turbines, and the sunset make the entire place picturesque on a clear day, but the vibes the area gives on a gloomy day is still pretty impressive. 

Gaomei Wetlands is a bit out of the way and can be slightly tricky to get to, but the views and the smell of nature are what really draws people (like me) there. Some street vendors are nearby, so you probably do not have to worry about getting food in this quiet area. 

Visit this place

Gaomei Wetlands
Meidi Street, Qingshui District, Taichung City, 436

Exploring Taichung: Taichung Second Market

Exploring Taichung: Taichung Second Market

Did you know? Taichung has an interesting way of naming their markets – First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Markets. This naming convention apparently came out in the past based on the order they were founded – very different from the naming conventions we are used to, but very practical. Only the second, third, fifth and sixth markets seem to be in operation at the moment. 

Over the weekend, I visited the Taichung Second Market, which had an abundance of food options. A popular tourist attraction, the market had some signs which made it easier to move around – note, easier, not easy. The market felt like a maze, but it was fun to ‘get lost’ inside as it allowed us to explore the various shops. 

Of the many food stores in the market, I ate at five of them (over two days). Here’s my quick review of the places:

Arashi Braised Minced Pork (嵐肉燥專賣店)

Unlike your usual braised minced pork rice bowl, the braised pork here comes in thin slices (think ramen chashu), topped up with minced braised pork – this is a pork-on-pork bowl. The meats were well-seasoned, and the sliced pork came with a nice chew. If you like fried shallots, you’ll love the braised minced pork sauce as it had a robust aroma of shallots. At 65 NTD (~$3.10), I’d give it a 5/5 for this affordable bowl of rice – in fact, I’d buy it even if they raised the price. 

魚皮李滷肉飯

This store serves the more traditional version of braised pork rice. Instead of ordering the braised minced pork version, I ordered one with a thick slice of pork belly. This small bowl cost 55 NTD ($2.60) and was a pretty small portion, but when topped with a fried egg, the combination of runny egg yolk, pork belly and piping hot rice was delicious. I’d give it a 4/5 because of the cost (mainly because the portion was smaller than the bowl of rice from Arashi Braised Minced Pork. 

小庭找茶 

Situated on the market’s outer ring, this shop sells traditional desserts that come with a modern twist. Of the two desserts we consumer, the 相思粉粿 (60 NTD/$2.90) consisted of red beans and a blob of yellow slimy goo topped with almond milk. This dish was unique – the taste was good, but the texture was strange. I don’t hate it, but it is not something I’d want to order again. The other dessert, however, was good. 

The dessert, 餅冰淇淋 (55 NTD/$2.60), came presented very nicely – a biscuit made of brown sugar, which resembled a coconut husk, had a scoop of ice cream and boba in it. Considering that Taichung is known to where bubble milk tea originated, I loved how they incorporated boba into the dessert. 

2/5 for the 相思粉粿. Good to try, but only for trying

4/5 for the 餅冰淇淋.

王家菜头粿糯米肠 

Tip: Buy the tea from Like Tea Shop and have it with your snack here! (Image credit: Arlene)

This stall sells traditional snacks like radish cake, glutinous rice rolls, and soups. With a pretty extensive menu, this shop honestly sells mostly carbs, making every dish very filling. We had the radish cake with an egg. The fact that they served it fresh off the griddle made it appetizing. Still, the carb-overdose was real as it felt like I was eating a flour cake that had no strips of radish within the dish – I personally prefer the Hong Kong-style radish cakes. 

3/5 for the radish cake! 

Like Tea Shop (老賴茶棧)

This shop had such a queue when I went on Saturday, so I gave it a miss, but on Sunday, this shop only had two people in line, and I took it as a sign to try it. 

As someone who does not enjoy sweet black teas, I was surprised by how smooth this cup of iced tea was. It had a strong tea fragrance and had a pleasant refreshing aftertaste. I’d give this place a solid 5/5 as this cup of tea only cost 25 NTD ($1.20)! A definite must-drink if I’m in the area! 

Conclusion

I’d highly recommend that you visit this market if you’re in Taichung, preferably in the morning as there are more shops open. The food options are abundant so do go with an empty stomach!

Taichung Second Market

No. 87, Section 2, Sanmin Road, Central District, Taichung City, 400

Closed on Mondays (Most shops are closed by 2pm)

Dihua Street – a gem in Taipei

Dihua Street – a gem in Taipei

I love visiting old streets – the vibrancy and the old, low-rise buildings just give them a nice and welcoming vibe. Over the past weekend, I visited such a street in Taipei City – Dihua Street. While it is not considered an old street, it certainly gave a similar vibe!

Located near Dadaocheng, Dihua Street is easily accessible via the Taipei metro. This street is renowned to be THE PLACE to go and shop during the Chinese New Year season. Peppered with many shops selling dried goods from seafood to snacks and preserved food, this place is heaven for shopping regardless of age.

Dihua Street

Aside from dried produce, Dihua Street is also home to many other types of shops – shops that sell local-university products, shops that sell creative products from local artists, and even an Olympus shop selling cameras and accessories. There are various small exhibitions within some of these shops as well, which make them a great place to spend an afternoon.  

I went on a rainy weekend afternoon and it was quiet, but I do believe that it’s a lot busier on dry weekends – especially because there’s food readily available in the area.

One of the shops I stopped to eat at was 度小月 – a shop with origins in Tainan. I had a taste of the Dan Zai Noodles and Braised Meat Ball which cost 50 NTD (~$.240) and 15 NTD (~$0.75) respectively – very affordable! Can’t deny that the portion was a bit small but the minced pork sauce and prawn with the noodles, topped up with piping hot soup, was quite a treat on a cold rainy day! The interior of the shop was also very unique – it had a ‘cart’ set-up resembling how they used to sell these Dan Zai Noodles in the past.

Dihua street is an amazing place to spend an afternoon. I’ll definitely check the place out again when it’s not raining. Check out the 7-11 along Dihua Street too – it really is very pretty!

Loving Cha Gio (Recipe included!)

Loving Cha Gio (Recipe included!)

My memory of Vietnamese food goes as far back as pho and Banh mi, but I’ve never really been adventurous enough to try others. Vietnamese cuisine incorporates a lot of fresh vegetables, which I do not enjoy. Let’s just say that I love greens so much that I can’t bear to eat them 😉

However, I recently discovered a Vietnamese food store in Taipei which serves really good fried Vietnamese spring rolls. Fried Vietnamese spring rolls, also known as Cha Gio, is a fried snack made of rice paper skin, stuffed with meat filling and then deep-fried.

Let’s begin by describing this dish. Unlike Chinese spring rolls which are wrapped in egg or flour-based skin, being wrapped in rice paper skin provides a chewy and crispy texture to the spring rolls. The filling consists of ground pork, shrimps, black fungus, mushroom and other garnish and because of the variety of ingredients, it has many textures in one bite. The dipping sauce consists of fish sauce, chopped nuts, lime/lemon juice, sugar, garlic and fresh chili – this combination complements the fried dish with a tangy and savoury aftertaste.

Cha Gio with rice noodles

So I’ve side-tracked a bit, but this dish is amazing, and I had it served with cold rice noodles at the Vietnamese food store (they diluted the sauce to ensure that it’s not too overpowering).

Sauce for the noodles; The actual sauce for Cha Gio is slightly thicker!

I’ve linked the store here, but this post is different – a friend shared a recipe and here’s something that you may want to try yourself!

Have fun and enjoy making it!