Why Singapore is a must see destination? #FlashBackFriday

Singapore is one of the most visited tourist destinations of South East Asia and I totally see why. This island city-state is architectural marvel with a diverse range of exciting activities and attractions to suit different visitors interest.

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There are many reasons why one should visit Singapore, I have taken the liberty of listing my top reasons.

  1. Visa free travel
  • Coming from South Africa this is awesome, there’s nothing that I dread more than applying for a VISA. The process can sometimes be lengthy and cumbersome. It’s great to know that one can visit Singapore at anytime (should the travel budget allow for it).
  1. The city landscape, architectural marvel and cleansines
  • Singapore’s gorgeous skyline will take your breath away. As you wander around Singapore, you’ll notice a mixture of modern skyscrapers with heritage buildings all around.
  • Another thing that you will notice is how clean the city is, it’s simply refreshing.

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  1. The Marina Bay
  • A great starting point to marvel at the architectural icons and attraction that Singapore has to offer. From the Marina Bay Sands to the Merlion Park to the Art Science Museum, the helix bridge the list is endless.
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Views of the Marina Bay 
Merlion Park
The Merlion Park
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The helix bridge

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  • In the mornings, we ran at the bay, we walked around the bay to get to places of interest and the kids managed to ride bikes. It’s the simple things that make this place a splendid experience by day or by night.
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By night
  1. Gardens by the Bay
  • The gardens by the bay is Singapores top attraction, a truly unique experience – it blends nature and cutting-edge architecture and features the following: –
    • The Flower Dome, the world’s largest glass greenhouse – an impressive 1.28 hectares of flowers under glass.
    • The Supertrees which can be found around the garden, they are man-made trees of up to 16 storeys tall, with 12 at the Supertree Grove.
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View of the Garden by the bay from the 57th floor of the SkyPark

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At night one feels like they are in Pandora with the way the trees light up. It’s a just simply majestic.

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By night – Supertrees

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  • The Dragonfly Lake and Kingfisher Lake are a rich source of aquatic life and also act as an eco-filter to cleanse water pumped in from the Marina reservoir.

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  1. The family-friendly attractions
  • Singapore offers a number of family-friendly activities, making it ideal for travellers looking for an exotic vacation spot with options for children.
    • Sentosa Island – is Singapore’s premier island resort getaway, a man made island that was built for fun and recreation. It includes Resorts World, Universal Studios Singapore, Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, and one of the largest collections of aquatic animals in the world, SEA Aquarium.
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Image cred: Make My Trip (makemytrip.com)

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  • The night safari is another great experience for the little people, coming from South Africa, we were impressed by the animals in the park. Its home to over 2,500 animals across 130 species –– of which 38% are threatened.

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  1. Food Paradise & Shopping Mecca
  • The food culture is big in Singapore with an array of  different culinary experience, from your local to international cuisine. I might just have to arrange a separate trip to this city-state just to explore the different culinary experiences. On our visit, food was something that we did when we remembered we were hungry, we did manage to eat at some lovely child friendly places.

A. Bread Street Kitchen, Singapore

A modern industrial restaurant and bar, located at the Marina Bay Sands, was a perfect late lunch/early dinner place for the family. Its family friendly and I really liked the kiddie’s menu, very creating.

The food all round was a hit, I enjoyed my Quinoa salad with cucumber, avocado, baby spinach, dried cranberries, toasted almond. The dessert was lovely, I also had the Chocolate Fondant with salted caramel, mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Attention to detail, friendly staff and great food is what makes the Bread Street Kitchen a must eat place.

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B. 63 Espresso http://www.63espresso.com/

A cosy coffee shop and cafe with great ambience. We had a light lunch at the one located at Orchard Paragon.

I had the Siam Tofu and the Truffle fries. I usually enjoy tofu but I was not blown away by the way they cooked it. The truffle fries were ok, just found the truffle oil slightly overpowering.

I did enjoy my Matcha Latte, its a place I would frequent if I lived in Singapore.

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C. DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe 

This was the little people’s choice, at 1st glance you have your doubts about this place but surprisingly enough, it was a magnificent experience.

This café-retail experience is home to the DC comic universe and the one we ate at is  located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

The menu has everything from your salads, to burgers, to sandwiches, a patisserie and ice-cream station. They cater to vegetarian which is great. The meat eaters enjoyed their meal, I found my Quesadilla (Hals source of green energy) a bit blend.

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  • I’m not a big shopper but I appreciate seeing the local clothing brands whenever I travel. Singapore is paradise for shoppers, from high-end to affordable fashion brands there’s something for everyone. There’s the Shoppes at the Marina. the famous Orchard Road, theres’ Vivo City, Suntech City, Marina Square…the list is endless.

Places to Stay

  • It seems that the place to stay is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (should the budget allow) the resort boasts luxury accommodations, upscale shopping and an infinity pool with unparalleled views of the city.

In my personal opinion, we found the hotel overwhelming and we were not even staying there. Its very busy with guests checking in and out, people walking around from Tower to Tower and going to eat, people going to the casino and the SkyPark. If you like big hotels and a hectic vibe, then this place can work for you.

  • There’s ample accommodation for every type of traveller.

Where we stayed?

  • We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental – a great business and leisure hotel on Raffle Street, opposite the Marina Bay. The hotel is linked to the Marina Square Mall and near Suntech City.

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The hotel features: –

  • The hotel has rooms and suites – Our room was comfortable and had great views of the Marina Bay.

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  • 6 restaurants and bars – The hotel offers a range of food choices from Japanese to Cantonese to Italian. The melt café has by far the best international buffet selection. A great way to sample local cuisine and explore an array of food choices.

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  • Gym – A decent size gym with great equipment. I had every intention of working out at the gym but it’s not everyday that one has the opportunity to run in such perfect environment.
  • Spa – A tranquil sanctuary with talented therapist.

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  • Pool is surrounded by lush green gardens with spectacular views in all directions.

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The service at the hotel was great and staff were friendly and extremely helpful. It was a lovely, comfortable stay.

Singapore is a true gem, it does cater for everyone. It can be a perfect girlfriend / boys getaway, a couples retreat, family holiday and shopping paradise.

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Singapore Flyer
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 Singapore Flyer – By night

A truly Splendid Experience!

‘Vibe Dining’ experience – LAVO Singapore

LAVO Singapore is an Italian Restaurant and Rooftop Bar that was officially opened to the public on the 8th January and we were lucky enough to be part of the 1st dinner sitting at the restaurant. Located on the 57th floor of Tower 1 of Sands SkyPark at the Marina Bay Sands, this Italian American Bistro offers a ‘vibe dining’ experience with breathtaking views of Singapore.

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Welcome Reception Desk 
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Views from terrace
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Views from terrace
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Views from the terrace 

We were impressed by the restaurant design, its contemporary with an eclectic feel to it. As you enter the restaurant there’s elegant lounge pockets setup, the main dining area has wooden tables and round leather seating booths. We liked the use of old subway tiles for the wall finishes and the exposed wooden bricks look.

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Restaurant Entrance
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Lounge seating at the entrance

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Old subway tiles used as wall finishes

The outdoor terrace has lounge pocket seats, an outdoor bar and a gelato cart.

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Terrace with lounge pockets
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Terrace bar

The food was cooked to perfection, the garlic bread served to the table was made to perfection – slightly hard on the outside but warm and soft on the inside. For a vegetarian dining experience, the menu has some option.

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Top Image-Garlic Bread and Bottom Image-Eggplant parmigiano starter

For the starter I had the eggplant parmigiano, which was delicious and well cooked. The meat eaters at the table had the famous LAVO one-pound meatball. Thank goodness our waiter recommended it to share, it’s a lot of meatball.

 

For the main, we had the Rigatoni Melanzana to share – the pasta was al dente and exquisite. The meat eaters had Roasted Black Cod, Chicken Parmigiano, Spaghetti and Meatballs. The food went down well.

I was the only person keen to try the dessert, I ordered the 20 Layer Chocolate Cake (which is literally 20 layers). I love chocolate cake but this was a bit of an overkill. We ended up sharing the cake. The cake was moist, I’m not a big peanut butter eater but the Peanut Butter Mascarpone was light and worked well with the cake.

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20 Layer chocolate cake

From a food presentation, it was well presented however we did feel that some of the portion sizes were a bit much. I could have eaten the eggplant parmigiano starter as a main. As for the 20 layer cake, a table of 8 people can easily share that cake.

By night the restaurants transforms to a nightclub, I like the design of the DJ booth and the positioning is perfect. When next in Singapore, it will be a must do activity at night.

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DJ Booth

Our overall dining experience was lovely, we were looked after by  an overzealous team – from the waiter to the bar staff to the floor managers. The service was great and we enjoyed our dinner.

Another splendid experience!

TS!

Pont De Val Riverside Escape

We finally made it to Pont De Val River Escape which is located inside the Cote de Val River Lifestyle Estate, set on the banks of the Vaal River – 91.8km (1h7m) from Johannesburg via the N1.  This riverside escape is a perfect getaway from the city life.

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We had booked lunch at the restaurant and an overnight stay at the newly built hotel on the estate.

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The Restaurant

This bistro specializes in French cuisine and serves lunch and dinner. They have lounge style dining area outside and proper tables and chairs to accommodate different type of diners.

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We had booked lunch and it was great to see a selection of vegetarian option. I had the Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Baguette. The baguette was eatable but there was an overpowering taste in the spinach. My +1 had the Halloumi burger which he raved about and said it tasted really good. (It was so good he actually refused to share it)

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The dessert was the best part of the food, we had the Petit Fours Platter – an assortment of mini dessert that serves 2 people. As full as I was, I just had to try everything and glad I did. It was devilishly good.

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The food was beautifully presented, a tad on the duur (expensive) side. For the wine connoisseur, they offer wine tasting on Saturday & Sundays at R40pp and have a 30m River Cruise at R275pp.

20171220_125244.jpgThe overall experience at the riverside bistro was astounding, its a place we will visit again.

The Hotel

The Boutique hotel is a new addition to the Pont de Val accommodation offerings, they also have Self-Catering holiday homes.  The French countryside-style with a unique, timeless, modern feel is carried through the hotel.

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Hotel Pool with views of the vineyard towards the river

We were booked in the Luxe Room which has its own balcony with views over the vineyard towards the river.

The rooms have uncapped WI-FI, DSTV, air-conditioning, safe, Illy coffee machine, tea station, bath, shower, king size bed (or two singles), work desk with USB charging point as well as inside and outside sitting spaces.

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View from our hotel room overlooking the vineyard towards the river

The hotel accommodation rates start from R2590 – R2790 per room and that comes with breakfast.  For guest that love a big breakfast, you will not be disappointed. The breakfast is substantial.

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Breakfast that’s included in the BnB Rate

The muesli and fruit were delicious however when it came to our egg order, there were a few minor glitches.Even though our breakfast was presented well and you could see that they made a real effort, we were left underwhelmed mainly because of the egg order. Its one thing to get one order wrong but both orders not very good.

Pont de Val has a spa that is located in the hotel building, they also have venues where they host weddings, functions and conferences.

The Cote de Val River Lifestyle Estate is positioned to make for the ideal weekend escape, a great escape from busy city life and for us a perfect mid-week recharge.

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River view from my morning run

Don’t believe that you have to travel far to discover hidden gems in your country, hidden gems can be found in your own backyard and not halfway around the world.

Stay Splendid:-)

TS!

‘Paradise…Found’ – Atlantis Bahamas #ThrowbackThursday

‘Let’s take it back to the beach

Where we were young and carefree

This is how it should be

Said this city don’t feel me’

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My happy Place,  beach walks away from city life.  

 

There’s something about a beach holiday that nourishes the soul – the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air and the sand between your toes. I love Throwbacks, I get to distract myself, reminisce and write about my travel adventures.

As they say, to travel is to live. I really do love travelling and undoubtedly I live, work hard and smart so I can travel and explore different amazing and extraordinary places. Travelling to the Bahamas was yet another one of those amazing experiences and grateful that I got to do with family. We travelled to Nassau (Bahamas) and we were based at Atlantis, Paradise Island – an ocean themed resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

 

Arriving at the hotel, felt like we were on a set of a family vacation movie scene (besides the fact that we were in a green stretch limo which they refer to as a ‘family car’.) As you step out the car into the open air lobby, there’s a cool breeze blowing, soft background sounds of the ocean and a friendly welcome by the staff.

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Our ‘Family Car’ 🙂 🙂
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Hotel Lobby
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Atlantis
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The Royal Towers Entrance

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Atlantis, Bahamas features the world’s largest open-air marine habitat; Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park, including the iconic Mayan Temple’s Leap of Faith slide; 11 incredible pools; four miles of magnificent beaches; a Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole, oceanfront golf course; and the Atlantis Casino.’

Accommodation

Atlantis features a variety of accommodation, we stayed the Cove, a stunning place, an oasis of style that provides a private escape that’s removed from, yet still part of, the amazing world of Atlantis. (The Cove pool area has been renovated and it was relaunched early in November)

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We had 2 interleading family rooms, both very spacious with a separate lounge area that leads to the balcony with breathtaking views of the ocean.

Both rooms had a full bathroom (bath and separate shower) and provided basic hotel amenities.

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Family Room & Views from the Lounge area
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View from the top

Other Accommodation at Atlantis

  1. The Royal Tower – The Royal Towers is the icon of Atlantis featuring the awe-inspiring mythology of the Lost City of Atlantis risen from the sea. 
  2. The Coral Towers – Dedicated to multigenerational family fun.
  3. The Beach Tower – the Beach Tower offers casual, come-as-you-are beachfront and garden facing rooms.
  4. The Reef – The Reef offers luxury, residential-style studios and suites offering vacationers all the comforts of home, with the service and experience of a magnificent resort.
  5. Harbour Site Resort – Harborside Resort features spacious residential-style villas, offering guests kitchens or kitchenettes, creating a casual, home-away-from-home feeling.
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Marina for guest that want to dock their Yatch

Dining

From fine dining to quick and easy meal, there’s endless options for every palette. Atlantis features 20 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges.  What I liked about Atlantis is the fact that the restaurants are child friendly.

  1. Mosaic 
  • This was our breakfast spot, so many great selections – from your basic eggs to variety of cereals, assorted meat and cheese, they had something for everyone.
  • Their bircher muesli was amazing, very well prepared and consistent everyday.
  • They had a pastrie section with muffins, doughnuts, croissants, danish pastries…etc I had to stay clear from as I have a weakness for pastries.
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The pastrie display (Image cred @missmelissaleah)
  1. Nobu 
  • Nobu is Japanese cuisine at its best, a true culinary experience courtesy of executive chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
  • Great atmosphere and the sushi was lovely. I had a few vegetarian dishes and they were well prepared, vegetables were al dente and cooked to perfection. Service was exceptional and overall great night out for the family. Nobu is on the list of the top restaurants, we loved this place.
  1. 77° West (I think this place has a new name now)
  • Spacious, open restaurant with perfect lighting that creates a lovely atmosphere. 77°West offers South American-inspired cuisine with a Bahamian touch. Not much of a selection from a vegetarian perspective, I had the Oven Baked Wheat Tostada and Casa Quinoai salad.  Service was good, but I must say the food experience was not at all memorable for me.
  1. Virgil’s Real BBQ 
  • This restaurant came highly recommended by the hotel staff, I think they saw brown people and figured we would love a BBQ experience. Let’s just say we were left underwhelmed here.
  • The vegetarian options, the grilled veges and cornbread to be exact were blend and tasteless so I ended up eating a plate of chip. Apparently the ribs and chicken wings were great. Overall experience here was underwhelming.

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 Best Dessert Places

  1. Sun and Ice 
  • An ice cream, gelato and sorbet experience created by Bahamian Chef Wayne Moncur.
  • The décor look and feel is fresh, modern with soft touches of torques.
  • Sun & Ice’s ice cream, gelato and sorbet flavors are made fresh, in-house daily and offer unique flavours and names given. Each scoop has a story, and flavors are infused with local Bahamian ingredients like sea grapes and sapodilla.

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  1. Ben & Jerry’s
  • Yes Im obsessed with Ben and Jerry’s and if I see one I have to have one. Such a treat to have a stand-alone store at Atlantis.

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Activities & Experiences

Atlantis has everything for everyone, the abundance of activities and experiences are overwhelming but great as they cater to different types of travellers.

  • You can explore the world’s largest open-air marine habitat with over 50,000 marine animals in 15 exhibit lagoons
  • Spend a day at the 141-acre water park filled with water slides and river rides or just soak up the sun at one of the 11 amazing pools or beaches.
  • Snorkel, scuba, snuba, and dive or walk with sharks.
  • For the fitness fanatic, there’s a fully equipped fitness centre, you can enjoy yoga, pilates or simply unwind in their world class Mandara Spa.
  • For the golfers, play a round of golf at the 18-hole Ocean Club Golf Course with spectacular views of the ocean.
  • Indulge in their island tours or nightlife or if you prone to taking risk with money, visit the casino.
  • For parents travelling with little people and wanting some adult time, the resort has a kids club.

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Every trip has at least one highlight, and on this leg of the trip I had so many but the one that came very high was the Dolphin encounter. We had such an incredible time smimming with the dolphins.

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Upclose & Personal

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Another epic family trip to add to my travel adventures. Atlantis, Paradise Island (Bahamas) is truly an experience like no other, we continue to create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Mardi Gras Junkanoo dancers at the airport

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TS!

 

 

Good food in a tranquil setting – The Litchi Orchad

While in Ballito, I took a drive to Salt rock and landed at a place called The Litchi Orchard. I had seen this nursery before and was intrigued by it, I do also have a secret love for nurseries.

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The Litchi Orchard started off as a Wholesale Nursery in the middle of over 300 Litchi trees to hosting Farmers Markets and has now evolved into a collective of food & lifestyle shops and eateries.

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I had lunch at Delish Sisters Cafe a lovely, tranquil café.

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I arrived just in time for the Harvest Table Lunch which is served from 12pm – 3pm. There was a great variety of food and decided to sample the vegetarian option that were available.

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I had the Spinach and feta quiche, chickpea and coriander flatbread, grated carrot salad and the mushroom thyme phyllo cigars. Loved the flavours and texture of the chickpea, coriander flatbread. I found the ginger on the grated carrot salad a bit overwhelming. The spinach and feta quiche tasted like a quiche, nothing special there and the mushroom thyme phyllo cigars tasted really good. Overall lunch was splendid.

Looking at the menu, Delish Sisters caters to a wide range of eaters and even have a vegan option.

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Overall, lunch was great and could not have asked for a better setting, another Splendid Experience.

Looking forward to another visit at Litchi Orchard to try a meal at The Shed, or buying some crafted baked goods from Yoli’s Bakery or sampling some coffee from Beanstruk Coffee Roastery or indulging in some homemade ice-cream from Scoop or just enjoying the farmers markets and events hosted there.

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Stay Splendid!

 

 

ONO Eatery (Illovo)

The Jozi food scene is slowly becoming an experience, I love finding and trying out these delightful eateries! Ono Eatery is my latest discovery.

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ONO meaning delicious in Hawaiian is an eatery in Illovo (Johannesburg), its Jozi’s 1st Poke Eatery. A Poke Eatery for those who need to be cultured like me, originates from Hawaiian cuisine. Poke means ‘to slice and dice, this dish is a traditional Hawaiian starter – Fishermen would take their fresh daily catches of Tuna and other meaty fish and chop it into cubes, and eat it right then and there – no compromise on freshness or flavor.’  

The menu is simple and clean, the entire concept is based on food being served fresh, on the go. There’s a variety of smoothies and protein bowls, protein shakes and house shakes. I tried the Matcha + Mint Smoothie Bowl – frozen bananas, pineapples, matcha, avo, almond milk, topped with strawberries, coconut flakes, and black sesame seeds.

With Poke being the main attraction of the eatery, they offer house poke or custom pokes. I took home a custom poke – black rice, raw slaw, tofu, avo, edamame beans with black sesame seeds. 

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Love the interior of ONO –  the glass window allows the space to be well lit with well-designed shop signage. Contemporary, organic furniture pieces, I particularly liked the leaf canopy made out of white metal and the swings by the glass windows – it’s pretty quirky.

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Looking forward too many more visits, highly recommend it!

They are open 07h30 – 19h30 during the week , 07h30 – 17h00 on Saturdays and 07h30 – 15h00 on Sundays.

Address: Illovo Junction, 1 Corlett Dr, Illovo, Johannesburg

Telephone: 073 506 3207

TS!