Little misschewy’s Third Birthday Party!

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Little misschewy turned THREE on 18th March! We held a mini celebration for her in school one day before her actual birthday! Two weeks ago, we told her that we would let her celebrate her birthday with her friends and she had been feeding information to her teachers about her “Peppa Pig birthday cake”! The day finally came and she was so excited that she began skipping and running towards her school. The hubs and I warned her incessantly to stop running because the road is uneven and we couldn’t hold her hand because we had the cake and gifts to carry with both hands. Poor girl fell and grazed her knees -_- Her teachers and auntie cleaner helped to clean her wound, and when she saw her classmates, she exclaimed, “Today is Chanelle’s Peppa Pig birthday party!” LOL. All her friends were jumping up and down (like how Peppa and family loved jumping up and down in muddy puddles HAHAHA) in excitement. So cute really! 😀

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Big hugs and thank you to our favourite BakeAvenue for sponsoring Chanelle’s Peppa Pig birthday cake! Not only does Irene of BakeAvenue bake birthday cakes, Irene also bakes giant cupcakes, macarons, pushpops, Chinese New Year goodies, as well as conduct baking classes! The baking classes are held in a home environment at Hougang Avenue 3 and are great for teambuilding sessions and hen parties. BakeAvenue has been doing very well and they now have their own physical bakery at Blk 6 Hougang Ave 3 #01-66!

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I ordered some Peppa Pig coloring books and crayons for the children but shipment was delayed! Good thing my mum helped me to get two different types of Peppa cookies and some gummy candies as party favors!

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Chanelle’s customised Peppa Pig party hat and Peppa dress arrived just in time for her party! Blur mummy ordered the wrong dress design for her! I didn’t even realise until I snapped a photo and sent it to my mum, and she was the one who pointed this out to me! We had previously agreed on which design to get. Hehe.

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I ordered size 2-3Y but the dress turned out to be way too short for her! Dug out another white tutu skirt for her and luckily they match quite well!

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Group photo with all her friends before cake cutting!

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Chanelle wasn’t the only one who was excited about her cake. Actually, the rest of their kids couldn’t keep their hands off the cake too and their laoshi had to remind them to stay away and remain seated while she helped to light the candles. Haha!

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Laoshi switched off the lights before all of them sang the birthday song and the kids were all clapping in glee.

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I wonder what Chanelle wished for? Hahaha her expression!

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LOL don’t know what’s so funny?! Chanelle was like super high! Hahaha.

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The chocolate sponge cake was really fluffy and moist, while the cream was light and airy. Peppa Pig came in the form of a chocolate macaron. How adorable! Hehe. And I was amazed that the kids are such good eaters! Almost all of them went for a second helping of the cake! :O Luckily, there was enough for all the teachers and staff too! For more info, check out BakeAvenue at http://www.bakeavenue.com/! They also have a Facebook and Instagram account!

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Come to think of it, this was Chanelle’s first time celebrating her birthday in school as we were in Japan last March with Cayla in my tummy! I was looking through our photos and realised that Chanelle has grown so much over the past year! She no longer looks like a little boy now. Hahaha! Ok, now I need to start planning Cayla’s party! 😀

The Chewys’ Valentine’s Day 2017

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The hubs and I celebrated our 7th Valentine’s Day together this year! We didn’t celebrate on the actual day and instead, we took leave from work on Friday that same week to have lunch together. It was a good move because we avoided the ridiculous prices that most restaurants were charging for their Vday set menu and also every other couple who were celebrating the occasion! I suggested having lunch at CreatureS because I wanted to try the food there for the longest time and it was a good opportunity to do so without the kids! We ordered two dishes from the Sharing menu and two other Mains. Food was quite good! The sharing items were way better than the mains though.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice Roll ($20)

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Kong Ba Pau ($22)

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Garden and Crab Risotto ($34)

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Rendang Lamb Shank ($34)

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After our meal, we adjourned to Foxhole Café for dessert! Not that we were not full. I just wanted to check out this pretty café!

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Just a simple update on our Valentine’s Day celebration! 🙂 Have a great week!

The Chewys’ Trip to Universal Studios Singapore

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During Chinese New Year this year, we visited Universal Studios Singapore by utilising the complimentary tickets from our staycation with Swissotel Merchant Court. We went on the fourth day of CNY, when most people should have returned to work. Can’t say that it wasn’t crowded but I think the situation was much better than if we were to visit USS on a public holiday or weekend. We spent almost the entire day at USS which was still quite manageable with the two girls. Although Little misschewy did not meet the minimum height requirement for most of the rides, she did try a small handful of them and enjoyed herself tremendously.

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We spent most of our time in “Far Far Away” and “Madagascar” because that were where the suitable rides were situated for Chanelle. Cayla was either on the stroller or strapped to me using the Tula. My only gripe would be the one and only Baby Center stationed at the entrance of the park which made things very troublesome whenever I had to change the girls’ diapers, etc. Anyway, we had a really good time at USS. Enjoy the photos! 🙂

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Swissotel Merchant Court Family Staycation

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Hello chewy chewy friends! We are baaaack after a short hiatus! Hehe. Earlier this year, The Chewys went for our very first family staycation of 2017 at Swissotel Merchant Court! Now that we are a family of four, spacious rooms, children-friendly amenities and convenient location are one of our top priorities when we are planning a staycation. Our experience with another relatively new hotel late last year wasn’t such a pleasant one because they do not provide baby bath tubs.

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Swissotel Merchant Court is a luxury hotel ideally located by Clarke Quay, within walking distance of the shopping malls and numerous F&B establishments at Clarke Quay. It is also close to major places of interest.

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We were there on a Saturday and check-in was efficient.

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All of us were very excited upon entering the room!

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Feels like a home away from home! Our beautifully appointed room was spacious yet cosy, and well-equipped!

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The hubby caught sight of the WII games and got very excited!

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We were pleasantly surprised to receive a personal handwritten card from the General Manager, along with a platter of fresh fruits. Even the kids got a card from “Uncle” Rainer!

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At no extra cost, the Handy Smartphone is available in all rooms for guests to use during their stay at Swissotel Merchant Court. I find that this will be especially useful for overseas travellers.

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My favourite TWG tea sachets are complimentary! There were four different types – Japanese Sencha, Morrocan Mint, French Earl Grey and English Breakfast!

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Well-stocked mini bar

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Oh look what have we got here! A connecting room for the kids! The Swissotel Kids’ Room was equally spacious and age-appropriate amenities can be provided upon request.

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Even the kids’ bathroom looks amazing! The cute bathroom amenities will definitely put a smile on anyone’s face!

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Apart from the cute stuffed toys on each bed, there were children’s story books, cartoon DVDs, toys, as well as coloring book and pencils! The room is definitely very child-friendly and glasses have been replaced with plastic cups.

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Little misschewy was quite occupied for a really long time and we had difficulty trying to coax her to leave the room during dinner time!

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A staycation doesn’t feel complete without a dip in the hotel pool!

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When we were there on a Saturday afternoon, the pool was packed with throngs of people! I’m guessing it had something to do with the giant water slide. Haha.

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There’s also a baby pool for younger children to waddle about!

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Swissotel Merchant Court is running a number of promotions and the Family Fun Escape package is one of them. To sweeten your stay, Swissotel Merchant Court is giving out complimentary tickets to Universal Studios Singapore (USS) with 6 months’ validity. We utilised our tickets during Chinese New Year! This promo ends on 30 June 2017, so hurry!

Offer Includes:
– 50% off 2nd room booked
– Swissotel Kids’ Room set-up and age-appropriate amenities upon request
– 2 Adult and 2 Child USS admission tickets
– Complimentary ice cream during your stay for children 12 and below
– Guaranteed late check-out till 4.00pm
– Buffet breakfast is available at $30 per adult and $15 per child

Terms and Conditions:
– 50% off on a second room applies to the room or suite category of equal or lesser value to the originally booked room
– Advance reservation is required and subject to availability
– Booking is cancellable up to 48 hours prior to arrival
– This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other promotions/vouchers/loyalty programs
– Rates are subject to 17.7% service charge and government tax
-Family amenities and entertainment options are subject to availability
– Connecting room requests are subject to availability
– Terms and conditions are subject to change without prior notice

Swissotel Merchant Court
20 Merchant Road
Singapore 058281
Tel: +65 6337 2288

For reservations, call +65 6337 9993 or email reservations.merchantcourt@swissotel.com

First Timer Dilemma, Resale HDB or BTO

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When it comes to housings in Singapore, without a doubt that HDB (Housing and Development Board) is the main developer of public homes and these high-rise apartments or HDB Flats are what most Singaporeans call home. Young couples are often facing the dilemma of choosing a new BTO or resale HDB but recently the prices of resale flats in the open market have been skyrocketing and became too expensive for most first time buyers. There are definitely some clear pros and cons when it comes to a resale or BTO, such as resale allows you to have choosing power while BTO allows you to buy a brand new HDB without being pegged to market rate.

If you are one of those that are caught in the dilemma of whether to opt for a resale flat or BTO, here are some guides and facts you can consider.

Waiting time

Both options involve waiting though buying resale HDB may take about 6 to 8 weeks for the process to complete, BTO can take up to 4 years. When you buy resale, you will not have the pressure of committing too early in the relationship on the purchase of a house that will be available four years in the future. For those in love and can’t wait to get married, the three or four years wait can be too much especially with the high rental prices in Singapore. Since the BTO are yet to be built, it means the couple has to begin plans years in advance. This means you get married then rent expensive or live with the parents with minimal privacy. The best solution for such a couple is to go straight into the resale HDB market and pick a suitable flat at the best location and price. The moment you sign the deal, the house is yours to move into, no wait or unnecessary expense in renting.

Savings on renovations

In many cases, you will not have to spend much on renovations since the apartment is already in use. The chances are that you will not need to do much about changes unless it is a poor condition. Since most property owners usually renovate before listing their properties, you may not need to do anything unless you decide to overhaul the interior decor. A new BTO come empty, so you have to renovate no matter what, but the resale unit only needs a little renovation as long as you are satisfied with what the original owner did to it. But if the condition is poor the design is totally out of sync with your personality then you have to spend a lot on tearing everything down and starting afresh

Neighborhood amenities

Buying a new BTO may place you in a community with yet to operationalize amenities, therefore, making your first apartment unimpressive to live it with many units still under renovations, landscaping not fully done and so on. However, when you opt for a resale HDB flat, you will find everything running, and families living in all the apartments meaning life and bustle will surround you. It will be easy to know how the traffic situation is, social places, schools and places of worship. The amenities significantly affect the value of the property, so it will be easy to guess what you have to part with and how the BTO prices will rise in a given estate.

Grant money or living near parents

Living near your parents makes you eligible for an extra grant amount for your new house if your parents live in an HDB flat. It is easier to get a resale HDB around 2 kilometers from your parent than to buy a new BTO. Buying a resale flat, therefore, earns you some money through the higher tier CPF grant.

Loan eligibility

Buying a resale HDB flat still, places you in the eligibility criteria for getting a bank or HDB loan. The choice between these two types of loan is for you to decide depending on your financial strategy.

Price differences

At face value, new BTO are way cheaper than buying resale flats since the former are subsidized by the government. However, if you look at the houses in detail, you find the older HDB are more spacious since HDB have been playing around with the floor sizes over the years. If you compare the price differences based on floor size, you find that the older and new ones have a very marginal price difference even though resale ones are still higher. The best way to assess this is by comparing prices per square feet. Both options come with unique financial benefits, for instance, BTO has the option for additional CPF grant and Special CPF grant making it a total of $80,000 depending on your meeting certain criteria. Resale HDB, on the other hand, offers the freedom of choosing the location you like and can, therefore, place you close to your parents making you eligible to get the proximity housing grant of a maximum $20,000.

Location

The location of your BTO flat depends on the choices of the HDB and trends over the years have proven that BTOs are rarely launched at the best places since private developers have already taken the good spots. Resale HDB, on the other hand, gives lots of flexibility regarding location since they can be sold anywhere within the island, this grants the buyer so much latitude in deciding where to stay.

This inflexibility of BTO should not, however, discourage you from buying since the government is committed to developing every part of the island and sooner or later, the spot that appears less mature in real estate will be developed, so there is no poor location. The not-so-amazing neighborhood can flourish in a matter of years to a beautiful place. But if you have no patience then going for a resale flat is the best option if you have commitments like work, college and parents to stay close to.

Lease terms

The lease term is paramount to every homeowner. BTOs all come with a 99-year leasehold meaning the older BTOs that are now in the market as resale HDB may have about 60 to 70 years left. This should make the older ones of lower value than the newer BTO with their full leasehold intact. There will come a time when this lease issue will factor majorly in evaluating the resale flats. If you plan to leave the flat to your children then instead of leaving them with a time bomb, buy an apartment with a long leasehold left in case you have no time to wait for the new BTO. With this taken into account, a resale flat is till preferable as long as it has ample time left and the price is fair to that effect.

Design

It is no secret that newer BTOs have improved design and floor arrangements compared to the older ones that are now in the resale market. The standard layout of the current BTO is much better when compared to those of the older HDB flats. They have the living room and dining space alongside the kitchen and a small walkway separating the three bedrooms to provide privacy. They now have the common bathroom near the bedrooms in contrast to the previous designs where the bathroom was near the kitchen. The older ones, with the wide open spaces, provide flexibility to the owners who can customize the home layout as desired. With a large budget and an experienced interior designer, you can plan and change the spaces as you please.

This, however, is dependent on personal preferences, some people do not mind living in a house with a decade old design since not so much changes anyway in the course of a decade. The resale HDB flats may then be the preference to most people since there is no need to hire expensive interior designers for the house has been designed and renovated by the first owner who got it as a new empty house. Just pick a resale flat that has the interior you can live with and start staying in it.

Floor size

With the ever changing floor designs over the years, HDB today creates smaller units with lower floor size compared to the older flats. If you want a larger house, then the resale HDB are the best for you and your family. This factors in the price, the older ones may appear more expensive, but when you compare the floor size, you may end up paying about the same price as the new BTO.

A BTO flat makes the most financial sense when everything is considered unless you find yourself ineligible. You get a cheaper option with 99-year lease meaning your children and grandchildren will enjoy the benefits of the house before the lease runs out. The downside to BTO is the waiting time, limited choice in location and undeveloped neighborhood. You can make the down payment and hope you and your partner will wait and stick together for the duration of the estate development or get a rental as long as you can afford it.

The choice to buy a HDB BTO or a Resale flat depends on one’s financial stability at that point in time. Each buyer would have their own preference with regards to homes that will not apply to another. What is most important is to remember that, whatever your decision is, you should not be rash as a home is an asset that you will be paying for a very long time.

Lunar New Year 2017

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Before the clock strikes 12, The Chewys would like to wish everyone good health and a prosperous Year of the Rooster!

LongQing 隆庆 Specialty Hotpot Singapore Review

Invited Tasting

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I’m a typical Singaporean who love having sumptuous hotpots with my family and friends from time to time. When I was recently invited to LongQing 隆庆 Specialty Hotpot along Hong Kong Street, I just couldn’t say no! Unlike many other hotpot restaurants, 8-month old LongQing prides itself in its no-MSG soup bases that are cooked for hours on end daily using ingredients like herbs, meat and bones. Apart from the extensive ala carte menu, hotpot set menus for 2 pax ($55 – $65), and 6 pax ($180) are available as well.

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Even though LongQing is barely a year old, business was evidently brisk after 7pm which make reservations highly recommended. The restaurant exudes a warm, homely atmosphere and owner James Chiew explained that the murals are paintings of his wife, who hails from Chong Qing, and his then 3-month old son.

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We had some appetisers to munch on while waiting for the soup bases to be served. The Chilled Spicy Black Fungus ($6.80) was spicy and tangy, making it a great appetite-whetter, plus the fungus crunched with every bite!

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The Spicy Garlic Pork Belly ($10) was a pure delight especially when dipped into the accompanying sauce. The thinly sliced pork belly was tender with just the right amount of fat.

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I’m a huge fan of braised pig ears since I was a little girl and I love having them with plain porridge. Very happy to know that LongQing serves Braised Pig Ear with Mashed Cucumber ($10) which was well-marinated with spices.

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A must-have for hotpot meals, the Crispy Fish Skin ($3.80) can be eaten on its own, dipped in your own concoction of sauces, or better yet, with the delicious soup bases!

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Little misschewy really enjoyed eating the crispy fish skin!

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At LongQing, four types of soup bases are available, which are priced at $14 for an individual base and $18 for a mix of two bases as seen in the above photo. The Wild Mushroom soup base was really fragrant; a must-try if you are a mushroom lover like me. It is boiled using a variety of mushrooms and herbs, resulting in a natural sweetness from the juices of the mushrooms. James explained that in actuality, ma la soup bases are not supposed to be drunk because it is made using beef lard which is supposedly very oily and unhealthy. He has tweaked his recipe for the Spicy Ma La soup base such that it is not so oily for customers at LongQing to enjoy drinking it. The ma la soup bases that I had tried at other restaurants were just numbingly spicy, while the one at LongQing is addictively flavourful!

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For those who prefer something simple can go for the Signature Clear Broth. The taste is actually quite mild, which allows the taste and freshness of the hotpot ingredients to stand out. It was our first time trying Tomato Soup as a hotpot soup base and the experience was a pleasant one. The tomato soup was sweet and very robust. Let’s take a look at the ingredients that we had! All in all, the meat and veggies were all very fresh, and we could really taste the natural sweetness of the ingredients.

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Vegetable Platter ($12)

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Pork Belly ($11)

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Pork Collar ($11)

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Pig Liver ($8)

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Crispy Beancurd Skin Roll ($6.80)

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Mushroom Platter ($12)

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Handmade Pork Balls ($12)

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Luncheon Meat ($6.80)

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Beancurd Skin with Fish Paste ($3.80)

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Ended our hotpot meal with some desserts! The Pumpkin Cake ($7.80) was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and tasted mildly sweet. Even though we were feeling quite full from the hotpot, the pumpkin cake seemed to complete the entire meal.

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We also enjoyed the Crispy Taro Balls ($7.80) which were first steamed before being fried. This is LongQing’s popular dessert and you need to call and reserve!

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Photo credit: LongQing

This Chinese New Year, gather your family and friends for hotpot at LongQing and indulge in their CNY Seafood Platter ($188) which is very value-for-money considering there are premium seafood such as lobster, abalone, sea cucumber, prawn, scallop and fish! These six chosen ingredients symbolise 六六大顺!

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Apart from the hearty MSG-free soup bases and premium quality food ingredients, service is attentive and top-notch. Also, misterchewy gave a thumbs up for their Mandopop playlist. Do check out LongQing’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LongQing.sg/ for more info!

LongQing 隆庆 Hotpot
18 Hong Kong Street
Singapore 059661
Tel: 65331618
Email: reservation@bigj.sg

Opening Hours:
Tue to Fri
11.30am – 2.30pm (Last order 2pm)
Tue to Sun
5.30pm – 11pm (Last order 10.30pm)