My dining experience at Joji’s Diner

☝️Receipt dated 12/12/21. I take feedback appreciated seriously 😐

This is what we ordered for 2 adults and 2 kids. Even though I knew this is too much for the family but being a foodie, I wanted to taste as many items as possible.

☝️American style dining experience

My younger son who is 7 yrs had got a Principal Award so I told him there is a surprise treat for him. He has gone on me. We both enjoyed our food. Needless to say the food was amazing. And that’s an understatement. Words fail me.

I asked my elder son who is 13 yrs and a very choosy eater how much rating he will give out of 10? I asked him after we had finished the food and sat in the car. He said it was 11/10! And he qualified his statement to say that this expression meant it was too good!

I also asked my younger son the same question who had thoroughly enjoyed his chicken waffle. And he said it’s the best and then said he rank it 1000/10. I said that’s no ranking and then he said it’s sooo good that I can’t rank it.

So that’s the genuine feedback. My wife and I both loved it. My wife is the pickiest eater and she generally doesn’t eat most of the things but she enjoyed her burger because our kids enjoyed it.

Next I would like to share my two personal observations. I don’t mince my words even with frens.

First – The Menu, which is the introduction to the restaurant, is atrocious.

☝️Unimpressive menu

Sorry to use this word but any other word would not justify what I felt as a marketing man. There is no photo of the food item on the menu. This is the basics of marketing when setting up a restaurant because EYE is first sense we use when we eat food.

A well-known adage among chefs and the first thing taught in Culinary Academy is, “You eat with your eyes first.”

Yes, I understand that youngsters look at smart phone for menu and they can go to Instagram to look at pictures. That’s what I did evenutally and reluctantly because I didn’t even want to use my phone on the table and wanted to just absorb the things around.

Believe me, still the mobile phone access can’t replace the sense of seeing the picture of the dish on the menu. Maybe not all the pictures but at least some good quality pictures on the menu or even digital menu with scan code on the table would have done the trick.

Second – There is not much option for vegetarians. Yes, I know it’s an American Menu of 60ies etc but an intelligent chef will add a Vegetarian American dish.

There is Veg Rosti which is very welcome and there is Mushroom Burger which was very tasty. But I know of many vegetarians who don’t eat mushrooms.

Going forward you will see lots of people turning vegetarians including ang mohs or you may add a Healthy Option under which you can add American Salad and many such things.

I would like to recommend Vegetarian Burger made of Potato Patties. I realised Joji already making Potato Bites and it’s not much different. Potato Patties are damn tasty you know.

Overall experience at Joji’s Diner was enjoyable. I’ll definitely come back again despite waiting for about 15 mins before getting a table.

Written by Manish dated 12/12/21

PS: I’ve known Manish for more than 12 years. He’s originally from Punjab, India. He’s happily settled in Singapore with 2 young kids growing up in our local school. He’s more Singaporean than some of us having lived here for more than 18 years. There is a family photo of him here

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Driving a 20 foot Toyota Coaster mini bus

☝️20 foot white monster 👺

On 15 Sep 21, I joined a transport company to drive 20-foot mini bus. After 3 months, I’m still enjoying the job. I’ve driven trains and taxi before. Now I’m driving a 3rd generation Toyota Coaster sending workers back home and fetching them to work. Each mode of public transport has its own merits. But I find driving mini bus more of a challenge. Driving taxi is the easiest as it is similar to driving a normal car. Whereas trains are on auto mode most of the time with fixed routes and stations.

Since I stopped driving taxi in Jan 2017, I’ve not driven a car for more than 4 years not to mention a 20 foot mini bus. I was quite worried and unsure how to handle the mini bus when I joined this transport company. The basic requirements are Class 4 driving license and vocational license with at least 3 years of driving experience. I got my Class 4 in 1995 and I passed my vocational license for taxi and bus in 2014. Any vehicle above 2.5 ton need Class 4 driving license. The mini bus I’m driving is above 3.5 ton with 20 seating capacity. It is a 3rd generation Toyota Coaster with 5 speed manual gear. Link

I was fortunate that President Wee and Alan Taxi are always around to guide me since they are also working for the same company. For the 1st month I was busy sending and fetching mini buses to workshop for repair and maintenance. I also sent them for yearly inspection. There are more than 20 mini buses to maintain such as regular servicing, changing of tires and light bulbs etc.

I still remember when I first took the wheel of the mini bus. I was clumsy and so fearful of the “white monster”! AT gave me many tips on how to handle in his own words, this “white monster”. President Wee gave me nearly one week of personal coaching on how to tame this 15 year old big bone shaker! Yup all our mini buses are more than 10 years old with manual gear. New ones are equipped with auto and smooth quiet engine. Mine is noisy, rough and tough to engage the gear. Whenever it goes over bumps and uneven road surfaces, my old bone shaker will shake uncontrollably.

I not only fetch and send workers from home to work and vice versa, I also need to fetch and send pax to hotels at times. President Wee brought me to some problematic hotels in town to familiarize me since some of the hotels’ entrances are quite tricky. Unlike taxi where you could make an U turn easily if you miss the entrance or the minor road leading to the hotel, 20 footer mini bus need to make a big round as it’s not easy to make U turn on dual carriageway. Mini bus could only make U turn on a 3-lane road, not on a 2-lane road due to its length size.

After handling the white monster for more than a month, I got a knack of it and could now handle it with confidence. I’m now on permanent night shift sending workers back home and fetching them to work in the early morning hours. I prefer night shift as it’s much cooler, less traffic on the road and easier to maneuver around especially within HDB car parks when I pick up workers from their HDB blocks.

On 15 Dec 21, it will be 3 months of driving mini bus. I’m much more confident and sure of handling this “white monster” as I continue to clock more and more mileage driving mini bus all over the island. Whenever I sit on the cockpit of the mini bus, I’ll have a bird’s eye view of the road as it’s much higher than a taxi. I could also travel freely on bus lane during peak hours to cut the queue which is a privilege reserved for buses on our public roads. It’s much more satisfying than driving taxi since my mini bus could fetch 20 pax at one go! Hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy driving mini bus for the next few years until I decide on my next job.

☝️Toyota Coaster 3rd Generation
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My Weekend Muse: @Joji’s Diner

TGIF ! The year- end school holiday starts today! You can tell by the cheerful smile and excited look on Owen’s and Liam’s faces when daughter, Sharon fetched me from my Tampines home for the 20 min drive to Joji’s USA – style deli, located at 534, Upper Serangoon Rd.

I had promised them a lunch treat at Joji’s – the latest favourite haunt of young adults and teenagers who patiently queue at the entrance into this small but cosy USA style deli for limited seats – no thanks to the current Covid dine-in restrictions.

Fortunately I arrived early, so managed to reserve two tables for myself, daughter Sharon and the two kids. Don’t expect to see haute cuisine in the menu. What you will find instead are affordable, wholesome, country style, ‘ art decor’ meals, that come with freshly prepared ( US imported ) potato chips, fluffy pancakes, crispy waffles and risotti, like the ones we ordered ( see below ). Finishing off with custom-made ice cream desserts and beverages which an average American adolescent and/or young adult would likely order when dining in a deli with family and friends.

☝️Delicious cripsy risotto

To be frank, there’s nothing sophisticated or classy about this deli. But what the Joji diners will experience (when the chirpy, young, waitresses escort you to a table) is an art decor that’s reminiscent of an American eatery of the 50s – a step back into a time zone which even an escorting senior adult like me can appreciate for the memories and nostalgia it brings.

☝️George – owner of Joji’s Diner with me and kids. At age 22 yrs, he’s probably the youngest entrepreneur in town.
☝️Eager patrons queuing patiently for their turn to dine at Joji’s Diner

For Owen & Liam, it has become a “WoW” factor, ingrained in their memory, constantly urging them to plead with their mum and Gong Gong to bring them back to Joji’s , thru’ out the long end Nov/Dec school holidays.

Written by: Chua Seng Chwee on 20 Nov 2021 FB link

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The Breakfast Club @Kovan

This quiet looking young guy, George Tang is a maestro when it come to preparing and cooking “ Breakfast” dishes. (Perhaps, cuisine would be a better word to describe the selection of items listed in the menu, which are all ‘best sellers’, so I was told.) To put “his money where his mouth is”, George ordered his four kitchen staff to prepare his three “best” sellers for me to sample:

1)Premium Pork Sausage with Fried Egg, Fresh Cream and Rosti;

2)Creamy Sphagetti, topped with Soft Egg;

3)Fried Chicken Cutlet with premium Russel Potato Chips.

The BreakFast Club☝️

After taking a few mouthful of each, my senses ‘were blown away’. I immediately knew I would become a staunch member of this “Breakfast Club.”

I seldom use the word ‘delicious’ (which is very personal and highly subjective) to describe the food I review, but in this particular sampling session, all three dishes tasted so good ie delicious, that I didn’t need nor want to add any of the packet sauces accompanying each dish for fear of ruining either the taste, flavour or aroma.

George at work☝️

In great Italian or French restaurants, the chef would consider it an insult, an affront to his culinary skill if you dare ask for tomato, chilly, tartar etc sauces to accompany his well prepared and passionately cooked dishes.

I can’t comment on the other items in the menu, but the three dishes I sampled could well fit into this narrative except that this 22 year old owner of the “Breakfast Club“ eatery (incidentally, the label itself is a misnomer as all the items in the menu are available between 9 am to 9 pm daily) is too young, too nice, too humble, too eager to establish himself to be offended by ‘pedestrian’ customers asking for tomato or chilly sauce to eat with the delicious ‘cuisine’ his dedicated kitchen team prepares in the well equipped, newly established eatery, located inside the refurbished Yaowarat Coffeeshop at the junction of Simon Rd and Upper Serangoon Road.

But wait till he becomes a MasterChef, which I predict he would, then it will be a far different story!

George is so motivated by his instant fame and success in his first food ventutre, he recently signed up to open a western deli Link which will have more seating capacity, in a building further down the road towards Kovan MRT station. I suggested, in recognition of his culinary skill and personal preference for certain western food, a catchy brand name : “George’s“ would be most fitting. What’s more it is embedded with imagery of quality, customised and personalised cuisine.

Written by Chua Seng Chwee DD 15/5/21

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Medical Transport Ambulance clinical attachment

Today’s my last day of one week clinical attachment at First Ambulance. To say that I’ve learnt so much is an understatement. Whatever I’ve seen, heard and experienced during the 7 day attachment exceeded all that I’ve read and heard about the poor and chronically sick patients whom I helped to transfer from NKF dialysis center to their home or nursing home. Sometimes, it’s from hospital to home / nursing home vice versa. I had one experience of a violent patient escorted by a nurse and security officer in the ambulance to IMH.

I’ve walked past many NKF dialysis centers before but never had a chance to enter. The glass panels are usually covered or blank out to give patients privacy. What I saw inside on my clinical attachment depressed me. Rows of patients sitting on big comfortable chairs next to blood sucking machines with tubes sticking out their arms cleaning up their wastes and toxins. Some of the patients I had helped to transfer twice. Some with a leg or both legs gone. Some had to rely on oxygen to move around. Most lived in single room rental flats or nursing homes. Kidney failure patients have to undergo dialysis treatment 3 times a week with 4 hours per session.

Everyday I helped to transfer between 5 to 10 patients to and fro for dialysis treatment. There are many ambulances at First Ambulance doing the same routine. Some patients came by taxi. Some sent there by their care-givers in their own transport. Some staying nearby were wheel chaired by their maids. NKF dialysis centers are spread all over the housing estates like mushrooms under the void decks. They are a common sight out numbering the temples, churches or mosques combined and more are being set up as we speak. Each NKF dialysis centre is sponsored by a patron with their company or organization logo prominently displayed. Without their generous support, it would be a huge financial drain on our state resources. Most of the patients are heavily subsidized and are grateful to NKF for giving them hope and a reprieve. For without dialysis treatment, kidney patient will not live beyond 3 days – that’s why the patient has to undergo dialysis 3 times a week in order to live on.

On this morning – the last day of my Healthcare Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) clinical attachment, First Ambulance boss Phillip gave a heartfelt de-briefing and an overall outlook of our healthcare industry. We were impressed by his sense of mission and calling in the healthcare industry viz a viz medical transport for mobility impaired patients.

Phillip in his early 50s told us that he was an off-shore engineer in the marine industry before his foray in medical transportation. In 2013, his wife had a near fatal stroke leading to coma. She depended on medical transport for hospital treatment. On one occasion when the medical transport broke down on an expressway, his wife had to wait for more than an hour for a replacement vehicle. He resolved to get one himself to ferry his wife around. It was extremely dangerous along the expressway shoulder to switch vehicles for a coma patient not to mention the long wait for a replacement vehicle. In those days, medical transport vehicles were few and lacking in reliability.

That’s how Phillip started his own First Ambulance medical transport company when he bought himself an ambulance for his bed ridden wife. His company was set up about 5 years ago. It came into full swing more than 3 years ago. He undergone the grueling para-medic course and subsequently bought many more brand new medical transport vehicles. He told us that now the company has about 60 staff with more than 20 medical transport vehicles catering to mobility impaired patients. He confidently told us that First Ambulance which is MOH accredited is still expanding and moving into new healthcare areas such as home care and home grooming for immobilized clients eg bed ridden, wheel-chair patients etc. With our rapidly aging population and government support, more and more nursing homes are being built to meet the ever increasing demand for such services. As such, he urged us to upgrade ourselves with more healthcare related courses to better serve the healthcare industry.

We are thankful to Phillip and his team for giving us the opportunity to learn hands-on and gained experience as Emergency Medical Technicians at First Ambulance. When we reported back to classroom in the afternoon after lunch, we submitted our reports and shared our ambulance clinical attachment experiences with others from another ambulance company, it was really an eye opener. No classroom setting could give us the real thing. We were glad that we had gone through it.

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