Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Yoogane Korean Restaurant

Finally had a chance to visit Yoogane, one of the most famous Korean franchise restaurant. Yoogane Singapore opened in May 2014 at Bugis Junction second floor near Seoul Garden and Sakae Sushi. Long queue is expected even on weekdays. We reached there at around 6.45pm and had to queue for about 20-30 minutes.

The menu looks extremely delicious. Basically there are two sections: main course and side dish. The main courses are like marinated bulgogi chicken, seafood (which comes with some veg) and they are cooked on the spot. The staff will assist you with the cooking. You can add on rice or noodles to the main course too!
We ordered marinated chicken and added on Ramyeon. The Ramyeon is spicy. And also there is unlimited Kimchi and salad supply. You can take as much as you want from the Kimchi and salad counter.

Marinated Bulgogi Chicken cooked on the spot
Ramyeon add ons

We also ordered a side dish called Royal Ddeokbokki. It's different from the usual ddeokbokki that we had before. It has garlic and some marinated chicken cooked with the rice cake. Really worth a try!

Another highly recommended dish is the cheese fried rice. It is also a side dish that has to be ordered separately. What I did was I got a scoop of cheese fried rice, some Kimchi and spicy Ramyeon and gobbled them up at one go. Fantastic! Take a look at the cheese fried rice below!

Cheese Fried Rice
It's definitely one of the best Korean restaurant in Singapore. Slightly expensive but definitely worth a try! The Seafood main course looks good too and hopefully I'll be back soon to try it out!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Thomas Cup Final 2014

Date: 25 May 2014
Venue: Siri Fort Complex, New Delhi
Event: Thomas Cup Final

It was a tie which no one had expected - Malaysia going up against Japan in the 2014 Thomas Cup final. Both teams were riding on morale boosting victories over the two most successful teams in Thomas Cup history. Japan upset tournament favourites China while Malaysia demolished Indonesia both in convincing 3-0 scorelines. Being a Malaysian, without a shadow of a doubt that I was rooting for Malaysia to beat the Japanese especially after witnessing our spirited performance against old arch rivals Indonesia in the semis.

Concurring with most experts' predictions, I thought that the key was the first doubles. It will be neck and neck. Looking at the strength of squads of both teams, whoever wins the first doubles would have a really good chance to bring home the trophy. It was the first time for Japan to play in the final whereas Malaysia, with a much decorated record had to go back to 2002 when we last challenged for the title.

The match got underway with world number one Lee Chong Wei taking on Kenichi Tago. Tago surprised everyone when he dispatched Chen Long with much ease in the semis. With that in mind, Chong Wei did not take any chances and raced into a healthy lead in the first game. Tago looked out of sorts, and hesitant in his movements. Without letting tago into the game, Chong Wei took the first game comfortably at 21-12. In the second game, Tago began to find his grooves. By cutting down mistakes and playing more freely, Tago managed to pull away at 15-10. However, the much experienced Chong Wei steadied the ship and strung a series of points without reply and edging to a two point lead at 18-16. Drawing on his previous wins over Tago, Chong Wei  went on to clinch victory at 21-16 and brought the first point of the tie to Malaysia. At the end of the match, both players embraced each other by swapping shirts which shows great sportsmanship.

In the crucial first doubles, Malaysia's Hoon/Tan were up against Japan's Hayakawa/Endo. Hoon/Tan showed their capabilities after dismissing Indonesia's world number one Ahsan/Setiawan albeit in nail biting fashion. And without breaking sweat Hoon/Tan dismissed the Japanese pair 21-12 in the first set. The Malaysia camp was fired up as Hoon/Tan were on course to a crucial victory especially the manner in which they dominated the Hayakawa/Endo. The Japanese never looked like they were in the game until midway through the second set. Hayakawa stepped up his game and playing fast and furious attacking shots from the net. The Malaysians were not able to keep up the pace which led to the Japanese leveling the match at 1-1 with a 21-17 scoreline in the second. The third set was neck and neck with the Malaysians playing catch up. There were moments when it seemed like the Japanese might steam away but were held back by the determined Hoon/Tan. In the end, the Japanese managed to secure the rubber game at 21-19, with Hayakawa finishing at the net.

After a little more than 2 hours into the tie, it was all square at 1-1 but more importantly, Japan had won the crucial first doubles. Now the momentum was back on the Japanese side. Next up was the second singles, with Malaysia's Chong Wei Feng facing Japan's Kento Momota. Both were left handers. Wei Feng had to fought through his previous matches in rubber games whereas Momota shooked the badminton world the 19-year-old gave Japan their third point after dismissing world number six Du Pengyu of China. Momota continued his aggressive style against Wei Feng and never looked troubled throughout the match. Although with a much matured game and improved defense, Wei Feng could not find the answers to Momota's game, coming short at almost every department of the game. Eventually, he had to succumb to a 15-21, 17-21 defeat to the young Japanese, who was tipped to be a rising star in the future.

Victory was definitely within sight now for Japan coming into the second doubles. Another scratch pair from Malaysia, Tan/Goh going up against Sonoda/Kamura. The second doubles were played with a slightly higher tempo than the first, with the Malaysians dictating the pace of the rallies. The Japanese could not break down the defense of the Malaysians and often found themselves in no man's land when Malaysia counter attacked. At 18-14, Tan/Goh looked on course to take the first game. However, the never say die attitude of the Japanese kicked in and after a few mistakes from the Malaysians it was match point to Japan which they took it to win 21-19 in the first game. No one had seen that coming especially how dominant Tan/Goh were for almost 80% of the first set only to collapse while trying to close out the match. Cheers in the Japanese camp were deafening, knowing that they were only one set away from lifting the Thomas Cup. Nevertheless, Tan/Goh picked themselves up and continued to press the Japanese who seemed to have faded slightly in the second game. In fact, the Malaysians were clearly the better pair and this time around they did not falter while leading 18-14 in the second game. By playing fast paced badminton throughout, Tan/Goh, under immense pressure eventually defeated the Japanese 21-17, 21-12 and took the tie into the deciding third singles.

The third singles was played between captain Darren Liew and Takuma Ueda. Darren Liew did not have the best matches, losing two of his previous rounds against lesser opponents. He was dropped in the tie against Denmark, replaced by rookie Goh Soon Huat. However, with Goh unable to impressed, the coaches were banking on the experience and nerves of Darren to bring home the Thomas Cup after a 22-year wait. Ueda did not feature in many matches and both players only played each other once, with Darren winning their sole encounter in the 2013 China Open in three games (14-21, 21-17, 24-22). In was staged to be a nail biting finale as both players walked nervously on court. After exchanging passages of play, it was Ueda who came up on top, owing to unforced errors from Darren. Without much of a challenge, Ueda took the first game 21-12 to bring Japan once again a set away from lifting the Thomas Cup. The Malaysian camp was silenced, as if knowing that their chances of winning was slipping away after witnessing the errors creeping into Darren's game. And indeed their dismay was compounded when Darren did not seem to recover, handing Ueda a healthy 15-9 lead. However, this time it was Ueda under tremendous pressure and mistakes started to creep into the Japanese's game. A spirited Darren saw the opportunity and strung a run of points to close in on 15-16. Now the Malaysians were on their feet whereas the Japanese looked extremely nervous. Darren pounced on the net and gambled a few shots which paid off to take the match into a decider. No one could have scripted a final would be decided on the final set of the third singles. Both players were under tremendous pressure as errors flowing from both sides of the court. It was not so much of who had the better skills but who had the nerves to pull it through. Eventually, after a thrilling match, Ueda emerged victorious after a cross court smash from Darren went wide. The elated Japanese camp stormed onto the court. On the other side of the court, a devastated Darren could only watch the celebrations, with his racquet on the floor and head down. Soon he was consoled by his team mates as well as Youth Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who flew in to New Delhi to support our team.

It was a thrilling encounter in a nerve-wrecking Thomas Cup Final. This was arguably one of the most exciting final in Thomas Cup history with both nations hungry for success and going for the win. The momentum swung from one end to the other in a roller coaster ride of emotions. Congratulations to Japan for winning their maiden Thomas Cup. Surely they have proven to the world that they are an emerging force in badminton, especially with a squad of players under 30 years of age. Although we have lost, the fighting spirit of the players on court were well applauded. In sports there are bound to be winners and losers. This time, we put up a great fight and the better team won. We have surpassed our target to reach the semis and only came up agonizingly short in the final. There were a couple of positive sparks within the team and hopefully in two years time, we could ignite these sparks and make them glow in Thomas Cup 2016.