Friday, October 10, 2008

New Digs, Singapore River Nippon-philia and the Book of Joel

View from bedroom window
So we've moved into the parental pad for the while, and it seems a different country altogether: the doorman greets everyone in the morning, strangers sharing the lift say good night, the night sky is full of lit towers, midnight noises consist not of the pinging of fruit bats and the chirping of cicadas but the rev of sports cars glorying in post-F1 inspiration, and conversations at the local Killiney unfurl like so:
Curry Chicken and French Loaf, Killiney Kopi Tiam"My Daddy's got a Porsche, what's yours got?"
"Mine's got a RV."
"Daddy, why don't you sell your Porsch and get a RV?"
"Why, darling, no one would buy Daddy's old Porsche."

Despite this sort of talk at one's local, it's not been difficult to adjust to other things, like the home-office-home route given that it largely involves hopping across River Valley Road and preambulating past:
Salmon, La VillaSteak, La Villa
La Villa, a restaurant serving good sashimi-poached salmon and steak housed in the old River Valley Primary School building,

Book Cafe, Martin Road
The Book Café (20 Martin Road #01-02 Seng Kee Building) - cushy sofas for alone-time with their shelves of Luxe travel guides, Proust, Chaim Potok, Granta, current-month magazines and foreign newspapers or a quiet chat or mooching laptop juice and wifi or toys and kiddie books or all the above,

Aqua by Grandstand
Aqua by Grandstand, the portable bar made of old shipping containers, towards the general direction of the mouth of the Singapore River while listening to Mark Ashton on Joel.
Map of Environs
My grandparents' old house had been at the junction of River Valley and Zion Roads, where a new condo now stands. They'd vacated it temporarily during World War II when the Japanese invaded Singapore, to go into hiding, not least because of Granddad's anti-Japanese vitriol in the local Chinese press.

It is strange then that we appear to be smack in the middle of Nippon-ville.

Here's but a short list of the places within walking distance catering to homesick Japanese expats and Nippon-phile locals:

The Central (6 Eu Tong Sen Street)
Azabu Sabo
Soft serves and Hokkaido ice-cream.

Sushi, sashimi and grilled seafood.

Marcial Kobe
Mini doughnuts and mini Japanese pancakes.

Marutama Ra-men
Japanese marutama (chicken stock) ramen.

Ma Maison Restaurant
In typical Japanese style, a fake-o French named resto selling hamburger steak and pasta in an English cottage-style setting.

Prettily-packed Japanese food gifts and sake.

Pasta de Waraku
Pasta cooked in Japanese-style sauces

Petit Provence
Branch of the Holland Village bakery. Sells wassant (Japanese soft bread).


Sun With Moon, The CentralSun With Moon, The CentralTofu Cheesecake, Sun With Moon, The Central
Sun with Moon Japanese Dining and Cafe

Tom Ton
Black pig meat-based (black pork?) dishes.

First international branch of the 63-outlet curry udon Japanese chain.

Kaminabe (paper pot soup) and houba (food served on a heated houba leaf coated with miso paste).

Yamakawa Supermarket
Speciality convenience-style shop selling seasonal Japanese confectionaries, snacks and drinks.

Sumi Yakitori
Charcoal grill.

Clarke Quay
Kura No Naka Japanese Restaurant
3B River Valley Road
#02-02 The Foundry, Clarke Quay

Cuppage Plaza (5 Koek Road)
Maru Sushi Japanese Restaurant
#04-01 Cuppage Plaza

Kaiho Sushi Restaurant 海宝寿司
#03-01/02 Cuppage Plaza

#01-12 Cuppage Plaza

Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant
#04-05 Cuppage Plaza

Izakaya Nijumaru, Cuppage PlazaIzakaya Nijumaru, Cuppage PlazaIzakaya Nijumaru, Cuppage Plaza
Izakaya Nijumaru Restaurant
#02-10 Cuppage Plaza

OHSHO Singapore
#01-10 Cuppage Plaza

Cuppage Terrace
Courtesy of Apex-Pal of Sakae Sushi fame.

19 Cuppage Terrace
Japanese style coffee house (コーヒー店 = "kohi-ten" = "ka fei dian") offering "Tokyo cafe culture". Another Apex-Pal offering.

Devonshire Road
Sushi Yoshida
10 Devonshire Road 239846

Liang Court Shopping Centre (177 River Valley Road)
Many stores catering to Japanese expats including restaurants, bakeries, a supermarket, a pharmacy, hairdressers, opticians, a video rental and a bookstore.

Haato (Liang Court)
#B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre

Nirai-Kanai, Liang Court
Nirai Kanai Okinawan Restaurant (Liang Court)
#B1-01/02 Liang Court Shopping Centre

Tampopo Restaurant
#01-23/24 Liang Court Shopping Centre
Very popular.

Pork Katsu Curry, Romantic Kobe, Liang Court
Romantic Kobe
#B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre
Nothing romantic about the overpriced, unsatisfactorily soggy katsu and bland curry they sell.

Yu Sai Shoku
#B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre

The Gallery Hotel (1 Nanson Road)
Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar
#01-10 / #02-10 The Gallery Hotel

Torisho Taka by Aoki
The Gallery Hotel

Sapporo Ramen Miharu
GF The Gallery Hotel

Mimigar Japanese Restaurant
#01-08 Gallery Hotel

Great World City (1 Kim Seng Promenade)
Kuriya Dining
#01-28 Great World City

Kuriya Fresh Fish Market, Great World City
Kuriya Fish Market
30% on sushi and sashimi after 6pm weekdays and after 8pm weekends.

Ichiban Boshi, Great World City
Ichiban Boshi (Great World City)
#B1-07 Great World City
Courtesy of same company that runs Kuriya.

Kokoro, Great World City
#B1-16/17 Great World City
"Premium Japanese Gift Food"

Mohamed Sultan
Shabuhana Japanese Restaurant
14 Mohamed Sultan Road
#01-01 River Valley Conservation Area

Ngee Ann City (391 Orchard Road)
Minamoto Kitchoan
#B203-1 Ngee Ann City

Tonkichi (Ngee Ann City)
#04-24 Ngee Ann City

Romankan Yokohama
#B2-04 Ngee Ann City

Kyoto Sabo AJITEI 京都茶房味亭 (Takashimaya)
#B2-02 Ngee Ann City

Beard Papa Sweets (Takashimaya)
#B2-07-9-1 Ngee Ann City

Chikuyotei Dining (Ngee Ann City)
#04-28 Ngee Ann City

Noodles, Ajisen
Akashi Japanese Restaurant
#B2-10-3-2 Ngee Ann City

Minimalist Japanese furniture, clothes, accessories, toiletries, food.

Soba, Shibashi Soba, ParagonMatcha Cheesecake, Shibashi Soba, Paragon
Shimbashi Soba
#B1-41 Paragon
Freshly-made soba. Courtesy of same company that runs Kuriya.

Akashi Japanese Restaurant

Raffles City
Matcha-themed food and drinks.

Shokudo, Raffles City
Like Marche but with passable Japanese food.

Robertson Quay
Aburiya, Robertson Quay
Aburiya (Robertson Quay)
60 Robertson Quay
#01-03 The Quayside

Menya Shinchan Japanese Noodle Restaurant
30 Robertson Quay
#01-05 Riverside View

Bon Goût, Robertson QuayBon Goût, Robertson Quay
Bon Goût
60 Robertson Quay
#01-01 The Quayside
Purveyor of new and used Japanese books and CDs and tasty "home-cooked" daily specials.

Sugisawa Japanese Restaurant
30 Robertson Quay
#01-16 Riverside View

Shunjuu Izakaya
30 Robertson Quay
#01-15 Riverside View

Ichibantei (Robertson Quay)
60 Robertson Quay
#01-04 The Quayside

Robataya Yoyogi
80 Mohamed Sultan Road
#01-04 The Pier @ Robertson

Shaw House
Isetan Supermarket
Sun Molin

Starhub Centre
Waraku Japanese Restaurant (Starhub Centre)
51 Cuppage Road
#01-12 Starhub Centre

Japanese snacks.

Valley Point
491 River Valley Road
#02-02/03 Valley Point

Sun With Moon, WheelockSun With Moon, WheelockTofu Cheesecake, Sun With Moon, Wheelock
Sun with Moon

What a great contrast this embarrassment of on-demand food (some good) to the near starvation of the war years and to the situation described in the Book of Joel that we're currently studying.

If only God is in charge of history then the interpretation of events in history are his alone.

His prophet Joel told the people that the famine and drought were God's judgement for their sin (cf land as barometer of Israel's spiritual health - Deuteronomy 11:8-17, 28:38). As with much of what God does, the interpretation of this was layered: it was God's judgement not just in terms of deprivation of sustenance for existence, but also in terms of deprivation of the grain and drink offerings that were necessary for the people to even meet with God to plead their case (Joel 1:10, 13; Exodus 29:41-46; Numbers 28-29) or lack thereof. (NB: The Book of Job reminds us that not all disasters are a result of God's judgement.)

As if to remind the people of those glorious days of old, Joel described in painful detail the effect of the drought: it dried up the wheat and the barley (Joel 1:11), and the fig and pomegranate and palm and apple trees (Joel 1:12), and even the grain that had been harvested has dried up (Joel 1:17). The cattle were dying of thirst because the water brooks had dried up (Joel 1:20) and of hunger because there was no pasture for them (Joel 1:18).

What a terrible shock this must have been for the drunkards wallowing in the former riches of the vineyards (Joel 1:5).

And all this was merely a precursor to the Day of the Lord, a day far more terrible than the destruction by the locusts (and probably also an invading army) (Joel 1:15 – 2:11). To be caught out of God's favour like that without a closet to hide in or an avenue to plead for a bailout would be a very very bad thing indeed.

Not surprisingly, much weeping and wailing (Joel 1:4), bitter lamentation (Joel 1:8), drying up of gladness (Joel 1:12) was expected to ensue. But Joel called on the people to do even more. Knowing that theirs was not just a temporal die-of-famine-and-be-consigned-to-the-ash-heap-of-history problem but one with eternal consequences, Joel called on them to repent: to fast and put on sackcloth and mourn (Joel 1:13-14), the time-honoured, God-instituted way of demonstrating understanding of their own dire straits (cf 2 Kings 19:1-3), being humble before God (cf 1 Kings 21:27-29) and confessing one's sins (cf Nehemiah 9:1-2).

But the people would come empty-handed; offering-less. The last they checked, God wasn't terribly pleased with them. Would approaching him like this be asking to be smote on the spot by even more severe divine wrath?

"Yet even now" the LORD declared, the people had the opportunity to return to him. And for the avoidance of doubt, he meant not superficial parading of one’s repentance on the streets but heartfelt inner repentance (Joel 2:12). And if the people really understood the horrible situation they were in, they would not tarry. No "oh after my honeymoon" or "oh! I can't breastfeed in public!" nonsense (Joel 2:16).

How could the people be sure God would relent? (1) Because of God's very character – gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, relenting over disaster (Joel 2:13); (2) because of God's covenantal relationship with Israel ("your God" in Joel 2:13, 14; "your people" in Joel 2:17, "their God" in Joel 2:17) and (3) because of God's concern for his own name (Joel 2:17).

If the people had truly repented in their hearts, then their repentance would not be with a view to a nice bit of roast duck and roast pork with their rice, but with a passion for a renewed ability to relate rightly to the LORD their God once again (Joel 2:14).
Char Siew and Roast Duck, Kellock Road

How much of our own repentance, our so-called "turning back to God", is "own time own target" and self-interested?

Of disasters, crises, pain, suffering and the unfairness of it all, Christopher Ash notes with interest in Out of the Storm: Grappling with God in the book of Job that such unfairness:
is a problem only for the believer. When unbelievers say to us they are troubled by the problem of pain and the unfairness of suffering in the world, we may say of them,"Why are you so troubled? I as a believer am troubled, but why should you be? For you do not believe in a living God who is in control and who is good. So why should you expect there to be any logic or any fairness? And yet you do, don't you? I wonder if that is because we are deeply hard-wired to know there is a living God who is in control and who is just.
And for those of us who are believers, dare we dictate that God will act according to our whim or our carefully constructed theories? No. God is sovereign over all and his ways, not wholly revealed to us, are mysterious. Instead, we say with Joel like the puny creatures we really are,"Who knows? May be..." (Though, arguably, we can be more assured of his promise of salvation post-Christ because of Jesus' word to us.)

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At October 13, 2008 5:38 pm , Blogger albertjames said...

The Book of Shadows is a collection of magical and religious texts of Wicca and other Neopagan witchcraft traditions, containing the core rituals, magical practices, ethics and philosophy of a Wiccan or other tradition. In the coven based British Traditional Wicca, it is traditionally copied by hand from the book of one's initiating High Priestess or Priest, who copied theirs from their initiator. In modern Eclectic Wiccan terminology, however, a Book of Shadows is a personal magical journal rather than a traditional text.
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