Shane working his mojo

Co-owners of MOJO, Shane and Sean posed for a picture with their celebrity supporters at the launch party. CREDIT: MOJO SINGAPORE

Local Celebrity Shane Pow wanders into the magic of Japanese fusion cuisine

Mediacorp artiste Shane Pow ventures into the restaurant scene with the opening of his first restaurant, MOJO. Partnering Sean Lim, the owner of an established hipster cafe Sin Lee Foods, and with the help of a little magic – the 26-year-old actor opened MOJO in Telok Ayer Street two days after Valentine’s Day.

Riding on the Japanese-style donburi trend, MOJO serves grilled protein rice bowls in the day and transforms into an izakaya at night, with a menu featuring yakitori, small plates, and beverages infused with Japanese alcohol. Local food writer Daniel Ang who blogs at Daniel Food Diary was delighted with the oriental flavour and variety of ingredients and toppings in MOJO’s day menu. The Japanese Furikake topping, which is a traditional Japanese condiment made of seaweed, dried seafood and spices, was also highly recommended by local food writer Toh Mu Qin – more affectionately known as Miss Tam Chiak, who finds that it accentuates the flavours of the rice bowl.

According to MOJO’s website, the restaurant serves food for the best folks and urges its patrons to drink sake and stay soba. Being the soba lover and dinner time alcoholic that I am, I could not wait to check out the restaurant.

I was delighted to find a wide variety of food items on the night menu which includes a selection of twelve traditional yakitori dishes and nine creative fusion style items for sharing. What really impressed me was its cocktails and spirits menu which consists of Japanese cocktails, whiskey, sake and craft beers. The restaurant also serves wine and champagne for those who are not into Japanese beverages. I was surprised by the length of the list, definitely not what one would expect from a place that sells protein and carb bowls.

The vibe at MOJO is very unlike the nostalgic Sin Lee Foods or any other restaurants along Telok Ayer Street. The modern Japanese decor is outstanding with cool pink neon lights arranged to spell ‘MOJO’ at the shop front, for a brief moment I was transported to the vibrant streets of Tokyo. The restaurant is airy and spacious with a substantial bar and counter seats in the front, and standard dining tables and chairs at the back. The kitchen can be observed through a glass wall lined with cute fresh alfalfa sprouts in pots on the ledge.

 

Stalks of cotton flowers hung from a glass ceiling creating a trendy and relaxed vibe. 

 

The restaurant’s choice of electronic ambient music creates a youthful and relaxed atmosphere without being too noisy. Unlike many other hipster places where having a conversation can be more tiring than work, my friend and I had no problem hearing each other as the place filled up. The soft and adequate lighting also enabled my pre-dining Instagram ritual. Snap-snap!

Like other restaurants in that area, prices at MOJO is reasonable but not exactly value-for-money. For example, a serving of three cubes of pork jowl yakitori costs $6. The cubes were small, about the size of a dollar coin, which made me feel slightly ripped off.

The Pork Jowl yakitori has the most delightful mouthfeel I’ve ever experienced with a piece of meat. It was served without any sauce or condiments, but the smell of roasted lard was so captivating that the dish felt rich instead of plain. The meat got juicier and tastier as I chewed at it mindfully, and I felt a tinge of sadness immediately after I swallowed it. Bye-bye, buttery goodness. If it didn’t cost that much, it would have been the perfect companion for my ice-cold Asahi beer.

 

Delightfully buttery and chewy Pork Jowl yakitori priced at $6 a stick.

 

Another noteworthy dish is the Uni Soba, a cold soba lightly coated with mayo and shrimp seasoning then topped with fresh sea urchin, scallops, and salmon roe. Having paid $38 for it, I found the presentation of the dish underwhelming. Can’t it be more uni, less soba? However, the sweet freshness of seafood could do no wrong. The soba was springy and each strand of noodle was evenly coated, it was very flavourful but it did not overpower the subtle complex flavours of the seafood.

 

Refreshingly cold Uni Soba priced at $38. 

 

The Aburi Broccoli ($12) arrested my nose with fragrances of parmesan cheese, mixed chili pepper, and citrus zest. The vegetable dish which is popular at Sin Lee Foods was well liked by various food reviewers, I was, however, unimpressed. Unlike blanched or stir-fried broccoli, the deep fried version at MOJO was overcooked and lacks crunch. The wonderful fragrance was not reflected in its taste and the typical sweetness of broccoli was missing.

Towards the end of my dinner, a friendly waitress came asking if we would like more to drink because she was taking the last order of their Happy Hour. MOJO’s Happy Hour begins at 12 pm and stretches all the way to 9 pm with 1-for-1 draught beer ($15) and wines ($22). I had enough of beer by then so I gave in to the temptation of their signature cocktail and ordered the Niwatoko-Ume – a blend of elderflower essence, Japanese plum liqueur, and Italian herb and fruit liqueur, served with a round ice ball ($18). I savored my delicate fancy drink sip by sip and enjoyed every moment of it. To my untrained palate, it tasted like very much like apricot jam with the oomph of good booze.

 

Fruity and delicate Niwatoko-Ume served with a round ice ball. 

 

MOJO’s signature cocktails were crafted by their head bartender Noreen Ong who previously held the fort at renowned Singaporean cocktail locales Maison Ikkoku and Operation Dagger. Bespoke cocktails crafted to diners’ specifications are also available upon request at $25.

The food may have been a hit and miss affair, but the vibe at MOJO is alluring and I find myself making plans to go back.

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My very first sticky bra experience

I was wearing this camisole with a really unique neckline that would expose even my tiniest strapless bra. My options were to go commando or wear a sticky bra. Sticky bra seriously does not work for me, once I step out of the house, it was threatening to fall off. Once I reached the ground floor, I could feel gushes of wind threading through gaps that were not supposed to be there!

I could have turned back and change out of this horror waiting to happen, but then I thought I should just pull through it. I’m already 26. It is actually kind of late to be wearing a sticky bra for the first time, right?

In the time of extreme insecurity like these, I always text my best friend because she tends to patronize me and I like being patronized.

“Make sure it doesn’t drop on the floor like a chicken fillet!”

chicken-boneless-breast-1

What a very graphic, but also golden, advice. I spent the next three hours pressing down the sticky bra as discreetly as I know how. With my wrist, with my thumb (while pretending to scratch my ribs), with my phone… I’m sure I tried every possible way to do it.

Interesting fact: three hours is a very long time.

Especially when you’re wearing a sticky bra that’s not sticky enough, or when you have blisters from breaking in a new pair of shoes. You know, the kind of shit situation that is not bad enough to make you act immediately, so you end up living in semi-misery for a long time.

Anyway, moral of this story is that I had my first and last sticky bra experience. Because nipple sticks are also not my friend, I’m gonna have to find out if sporting nipple-shadows is considered indecent exposure in Singapore.

Till then, I’ll steer clear from unreasonable clothes and resign to the fact that I’ll never be a fashionista.

Fake sheet masks

Now that I have a lot more time on hand, I’ve started using hydrating sheet masks again. I like those from Innisfree; they are selling at $2 each.

I was very motivated to get on with ‘masking’ by an article on hello giggles. On top of that, my skin is exceptionally dehydrated (although oily) from my coffee addiction and overuse of anti-acne products throughout my teenage years. So I dug out all my left over sheet masks from my 2014 trip to Korea’s airport (it was on the way to Beijing) and bought five more from Innisfree. I used one every night for five days straight, took two days break over the weekend and resumed with using one on alternate nights.

My skin was really hydrated and much clearer, even my facialist noticed!

I found the same Innisfree sheet mask I was using on Lazada (an online marketplace) at $15 for 10 pieces. I was so pleased! Until a while ago… when I realize that those 10 pieces I bought online are counterfeits.

Good job for not taking out the garbage for over two weeks! If I learned anything from watching Dr. House, it’s that garbage provides useful insights.

I was wearing the fake sheet masks and feeling all sorts of anxiety when I first started writing this post. I was almost expecting to feel my skin bumpy and tight as I splashed off the excessive goo.

But no. My skin feels really really nice, if not better. And it looks good, no redness and somewhat refined. The mask also did fit better than the original Innisfree mask.

Oh, dilemma. What if the fake sheet masks are better? Even if I head back to Lazada for my next stock-up, there’s no way I can be sure to get the same fake, I mean pirated, sheet masks.

This is such a strange situation to be in.

I’ll definitely head to an Innisfree store for the real stuff if I wake up to screwed skin tomorrow. Then there will be no dilemma. But of course, I do not want that to happen!

Fingers crossed, please let me wake up with baby skin.

innisfree bija mask

Update: I did wake up with almost-baby skin! Even my grand mother’s Pinoy helper was impressed.