Flying (again) during the pandemic

Having flown to Taipei earlier in August on China Airlines, here’s a short update on my flight back to Singapore on Scoot just last week.

The journey back on Scoot was a fairly smooth one. I booked the flight a month before my date of travel and was delighted to find out that Scoot resumed flights between Taipei and Singapore (previously, only China Airlines, EVA, Singapore Airlines, and Jetstar provided flights). The addition of Scoot flights gave me the option to fly back to Singapore on a Monday while the rest of the airlines flew later in the week.

Online check-in was as per usual, with me filling in my personal information and declaring if I had check-in baggage. However, I was also informed by the airline to fill in the Singapore Arrival Card, a travel requirement where all travelers to Singapore had to submit our arrival details to the ICA for immigration clearance within three days before our arrival.

Besides, Scoot also had their health declaration form which had to be submitted 24 hours before the flight.

Counter check-in at Taoyuan International Airport was also very smooth, and I was informed that there were around 20 passengers on the same flight as me from Taipei to Singapore. As we waited to board the plane at the gate, the ground staff constantly reminded passengers to keep their masks on at all times via the PA system.

On-board the flight, our seats had a ‘care-pack’ consisting of a bottle of hand sanitizer, a mask, and alcohol wipes which we could use during our flight. It was very thoughtful, considering that it’s a budget airline. Compared to China Airlines, I’ve to admit that Scoot’s care pack was a better one.

The return flight to Singapore was an uneventful one, with most passengers choosing to stay in their seats and barely anyone used the washroom or moved around during the flight.

Upon landing, all the passengers had to proceed to the immigration area where we took our COVID-19 test before clearing immigration. I pre-paid for my COVID-19 test earlier and only had to wait a short while before the test was administered (I got my test results back within eight hours!).

Immigration clearance and luggage clearance were also a breeze, which I was thankful for!

All in all, the flight back was an uneventful one. It is indeed sad to see airports so empty but I could get used to the empty seats around me on the plane!

If you’re flying in/out/through Singapore Changi International Airport, I highly suggest checking the Changi Airport website for the latest updates – it really helped me as I planned my journey back.

Finding comfort food in a foreign land

What is your comfort food? For me, it’s chicken rice, especially when I’m far from home.

I recently visited BoboChacha, a Malaysian eatery near National Chengchi University, that supposedly serves decent Malaysian food. Considering the number of Asean students in the school, it wasn’t surprising to find a Malaysian eatery in the vicinity.

This humble-looking eatery has a pretty extensive menu which can be found here. Out of the long list, however, one dish caught my eye – Hainanese Chicken Rice. Singapore is known for its wonderful chicken rice, and boy, was I excited to try it out.

Upon the arrival of the dish, I realised a few things –

  1. The chicken rice chili looked very similar to what can be found back home and it tasted really similar too. It wasn’t very spicy but had a good mix of ginger and chili to which I enjoyed.
  2. The chicken rice served was not white rice and was indeed chicken rice! It’s not common to find chicken rice here, and white rice is usually served with chicken rice in Taiwan so I was surprised that the rice had the signature chicken rice aroma (think chicken oil and pandan leaves)
  3. The portion of the chicken was pretty (very) small. While this photo shows a full chicken drumstick, let’s just say that it was a very small drumstick with a good amount of bones in it. The chicken skin wasn’t chewy and was instead too soft. It tasted nothing like the usual chicken you’d get with your chicken rice but instead more like a chicken drumstick boiled in water. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t taste anything like Hainanese-style chicken. For 95 NTD (around S$4.50), it just didn’t feel worth it.
  4. The side dishes served were common Taiwanese side dishes – nothing like what’s served back home or even in Malaysia. I won’t comment too much on this because it seems like this is a common value-added service to keep up with the practice here. In Taiwan, it is common for eateries to provide two to three side dishes when a rice dish is served. I would have loved to see ikan bilis or sambal vegetables though!

I was pretty underwhelmed by this meal because this chicken rice didn’t taste like the chicken rice back home but I guess I’ve got to make do with it because I’m far from home – at least the chili was decent. It wasn’t a bad meal, but it just didn’t taste anything close to chicken rice back in Singapore. Will I come here for the chicken rice again? I certainly won’t. But I won’t mind trying out their other dishes!

Verdict

Taste: 👍
Value: 👍👍
Overall: 👍

Still one of the best ramens out there – Ichiran Ramen

Fancy a bowl of piping hot soup filled with delicious ramen noodles, slices of chashu (sliced pork), and lots of chili? (I’m leaving out the green onions because that’s just pure decoration to me).

When my family and I first tasted a bowl of this delicious goodness, we were obsessed with it. Out of five nights of our stay in Osaka, Japan back in 2017, we saw ourselves heading back to this Japanese chain thrice. That’s two more times from our intended ‘one ramen meal’.

With it being so special, I’d always try to visit an outlet if it’s available in the city – and they happen to have it in Taipei City!

Let’s break down the contents of this ramen –

  1. The broth is thick and tastes pure – there is little residue stuck in your mouth after you slurp it. This pork-based soup has clearly been boiled for an extensive amount of time and leaves close to no aftertaste boiled soup usually has. Unlike other ramen shops, Ichiran allows you to customise how much seasoning stock and how rich you’d like the soup to be. They have their ‘suggested’ serving but give customers the option of making the soup richer and thicker. I love how I had the option to leave out garlic from my broth as well.
  2. The noodles were nice and firm. It can’t be seen in my order sheet above, but I selected ‘firm’ under my choice of how cooked I wanted my ramen to be. Just think, al dente pasta’s firmness – firm, yet still soft to chew, and gives a better bite.
  3. The chili in the broth was what sealed the deal for me. The chili was not overly salty, and it added a great ‘kick’ to the broth. It neutralised the slightly salted broth and ensured that there was no ‘porky’ taste. For my order, I asked for 4 times the spice level. You can choose up to 10 times the chili level at no additional cost!
  4. The chashu, in my opinion, was just an additional topping which did not add much value to the meal – that’s how great the broth and noodles were for me! The chashu had a slight chew and was well-seasoned. I felt that the slices could have been thicker, but I guess you can just order more chashu if you feel like having more protein in your meal!

All in all, this bowl of ramen cost me around SG$13 and in my opinion, was definitely worth the almost two-hour wait I had on a weekend lunch in Taipei.

Taste: 👍👍👍👍👍

Value: 👍👍👍👍