Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ichiran, Brooklyn, NY Review

Ichiran recently opened an outlet in New York. This store is located in Brooklyn, at 374 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (Phone: (718) 381-0491)

The cool thing about this is the hours are from 11am to 2am.

About the location.
This location is not so close from Manhattan. probably will take you about 30 mins from Downtown to get there. Feels like an industrial area with construction work around. Probably not the best place to be at night.

The good thing about this location is that this is not too crowded, so probably less crowded?

There are 2 types of seating available, so don't worry if you want to talk, there are regular tables besides the booth seating.

So hows the Ramen?

Well, I love Tonkotsu Ramen. And Ichiran is one of the best Tonkotsu Ramen you can get. Ichiran in Brooklyn does not disappoint. I ordered the strong flavored, rich soup with firm noodles. Some garlic, Chilli and scallions. I remembered to save some broth for extra noodles. I added a side order of seaweed.

Everything was fantastic. Can't complain. Best ramen I've had in the US by far.

Hakata Issou (εšε€šδΈ€εŒ) is still my favorite (located in Fukuoka)

Is it worth the trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn to try this?
-- YES!!!!

On a weekday afternoon, it was not too crowded, seats were available during lunch, and service was ok, and quality was top notch. Taste was authentic like the Ichiran I like.

One thing to note, this restaurant is a no tipping restaurant and I felt that the price is rather high. The price for basic ramen with 2 pieces of pork is $18.95++, and with Ice Matcha, Extra noodles, side of seaweed, it costs $30++.

I probably can have the same thing for under US$15 in Tokyo. But heh, instead of flying to Tokyo, you can taste it here in NYC!


-- Robin

Friday, November 11, 2016

Unboxing Google Pixel

Got my hands on a Google Pixel today.

Opening the box was underwhelming as I expected more to come out...

The Charge is USB-C to USB-C

Several cords are provided.

Its about the same size as a 5" Nexus 5

The fingerprint sensor can be found in the rear.

A USB-C to USB connector is also provided

This phone uses a nano sim card, and USB-C ports, so have not done a hands on test yet.

So far, love the feel and form factor. Feels good and well made.

--Robin Low

Monday, October 03, 2016

Visit Kathmandu 2016 - 10 things you need to know to plan your trip to Nepal

Kathmandu - A Tourist Destination?

I just returned from Kathmandu after the First Humanitarian Mini maker Faire held in Kathmandu.

I did some travel, and let me introduce Kathmandu to you.

1) Kathmandu has 4 seasons, and it has polluted air... and it floods easily when it rains.

If you are planning to go, make sure you are not there during the monsoon season to avoid the rains, and bring the right clothes. Kathmandu has 4 seasons and it does snow sometimes.

There are plenty of old diesel buses and trucks, and air is polluted. Bring some form of breathing mask to help you walk around outside.

2) Power Cuts. There is no power in Kathmandu during some part of the day. It can range from 7 hours daily to 14 hours depending on season. Remember to have solar chargers to charge your phones and other essentials.

3) Water and food is safe -- only for restaurants, hotels or guest houses. Remember to buy bottled water. Avoid ice and local food places. There may be a high chance your stomach cannot take the level of bacterial found in their local water.

4) Internet Access -- You can get Internet access by buying a Ncell card with credits. There 3G/4G is available, and you can use GPS / Smartphone to navigate. Everything is relatively low cost as well.

5) Nepal is safe -- Don't worry about rape or getting mugged. Although the people are relatively poor, the country as a whole is safe. There are no street lights however, and lots of idiots who are on the roads. Everyone is impatient and road is bad. So be careful walking in the streets at night and take care crossing the roads.

6) Poor infrastructure -- India was bad, Latin America was bad... Kathmandu is much worse. The roads are bad, public transportation overcrowded and traffic sucks. Plan your route well. Ask a local. The taxi can get you around and you need to know landmarks around the area you want to go.

Taxi is very cheap, each trip can be from US$1 - US$5 (Patan Durbar Square - Kathmandu) but at night, expected to pay 2 times more, and in the rain, pay even more. Same trip that cost you $US3 (about 300 rupees) can cost $15 (about 1500 rupees) but you can always bargain and find other drivers.

7) Tourist attractions are relatively undamaged by the earthquake. Repairs are ongoing and looking good. Except for the Darahara Tower, everything else escaped damage and is ongoing repairs.

Within Kathmandu there are a few must go sites.

1) Bouldanath Stupa
2) Patan Durbar Square
3) Swyambunath Temple
4) Bhaktapur
5) Kathmandu Durbar Square

They are not really damaged, and you can find a way around the entrance of each place to aviod paying entrance fee. Instead, support local economy by buying handicrafts and food.

8) Guest Houses are relatively cheap. -- If you can plan around showering in the later afternoon (solar water heater) you definitely should stay at guest houses. They range from shared bathrooms to a tiny bathroom in your own room.

The cost in Patan and Kathmandu is from about US$8 - US$15, and maybe slightly more in Pokhara.

9) Food is relatively inexpensive and good. I've walked into Japanese restaurants and paid US$4 for ramen, and US$5 for Bulgogi... Having momos (steamed dumplings) will cost you US$2. Beers at bars are about US$3 - US$5.

10) And remember, when you visit Nepal. Buy handicrafts and do eat out. The Nepalese community is relatively tight, and even when you spend $$$ in Kathmandu and the cities, the money does trickle down to the villages.

Most of the food is locally grown, and organic as farmers can't afford pesticides and fertilizer. Instead of donating money, there are lots of fair trade handicraft stores which sells bags, boxes and much more. These stores also hire people from marginalized communities to plan to end poverty.

If you are planning to travel. Please consider Nepal. It is very much different from other countries, and definitely very affordable.

-- Robin Low

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ghostbusters 2016 Movie Review

I watched Ghostbusters, solely because there were some scenes shot in Boston Chinatown. I've read some reviews and was confused. This movie was actually pretty funny.

This is a complete reboot, non of the previous Ghostbusters storyline was in there, and it was updated to 2016. There were also some Cameos from the original movie. (No Harold Ramis, because he is no longer with us)


I'd like to say that I enjoyed the movie. Its a good comedy, which could be made a lot scarier with today's CGI technology, but they decided to keep it a comedy with ghosts.

I really like the way the story was built up, to make sense of why they wanted to be Ghostbusters, why they knew science and technology, etc. But they did not try to explain too much and the pace was good, and the story was always progressing. 

I think many people were uncomfortable with the all female cast of Ghostbusters, but they actually made it work, and the whole feel of this reboot is owned by the new cast. The comedy was pretty good, and it was a fun movie to watch, I'd say its even better than Independence Day.

It was a lot more of a Comedy rather than an action movie, and the final "boss" seemed relatively easy to take down. 

Overall, I'd say this is a good fresh reboot of the movie and it is worth watching.

Rating: 7.5/10 

-- Robin Low

Monday, June 20, 2016

Reasons to get a drone.

I'd get a drone, train for hours to fly it well, and go for this trip.

This is one of the most compelling reasons to get a drone.

Was flying my drone over a forest, and some interference made it fly weird and it ended up still in the trees of San Francisco.

-- Robin Low

Friday, March 11, 2016

Hedo Hotel - Taipei Main Station - Taiwan (Hotel Review)

I am doing  few trips on the Taiwan HSR and have been trying to find a decent Hotel for under US$100 Near Taipei Main Station.

After trying a few, I've booked 2 nights at Hedo Hotel. Located at No 35, Section 1, Kaifeng Street, Taipei Main Station, Taipei, Taiwan 10044. Hedo Hotel is a relatively new hotel and I hope this review can help you decide.

Location: This hotel is 1 block from the Bus Station and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei. Location wise, it is about 10 mins walk from the HSR station, not great if its raining and you are dragging along luggages.

The Hotel Room: The room is relatively ok sized. I paid US$60 for my room which comes with 2 super single beds. The bed is relatively comfortable and the TV is relatively big. Its a 50" TV. The room is very new and clean. It has 2 110V power plugs with multisockets which allows you to put any plugs inside and 2 USB power plugs to charge your phones.

There is a small fridge in the room. They provide 2 bottles of water, sandals, towels, toothbrushes, hair dryer, etc. The WiFi is also relatively fast. The room is fairly comfortable. Its 11 degree celsius outside and I set the room airconditioning at 20 degrees, and it feels really good in the room. The lighting is adequate, and even without windows, its relatively comfortable.

The toilet: The toilet has a bathtub, which allows you to shower from the top, a hose or a tap. The water controller is sensitive and you can control the temperature well. The water pressure and temperature is also constant and you do not get intermittent water like other hotels. The hotel is clean and nice.

The Staff: The staff is attentive and helpful. There is also plenty of them around.

Overall, I like the hotel.

The Cons:
Location wise, not the best, you can already check this out on Google Maps and decide.

The free breakfast is pretty bad. It has a limited supply of food choice and it is simply not good. The area near Taipei Main station can also be pretty expensive to find breakfast too.

The toilet is nice and clean, but the WC is poorly placed and with the toilet seat up, the button to flush is covered and awkwardly placed. Its new but poorly executed. The towel holder is also loose and looks like its falling down anytime.

For the number of floors and number of rooms, there is only 1 elevator, which really sucks when everyone is getting to breakfast or checking out.

There is also no place to hang your jackets, no cupboards, nothing. You have to drape it over your luggage.

For its price, I'd say, its ok, but there may be better options out there.

-- Robin Low