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Club Buzz

How families and friends had fun getting competitive at the HomeTeamNS Adventure Rally 2023

The inaugural event featured challenges such as rock-climbing, target shooting and futsal across four HomeTeamNS clubhouses.  


Channeling skills from his National Service stint, a young man patiently showed his mother and sister how to handle airsoft rifles at a shooting range. Over at another activity station, costume-coordinated friends belted out lines of Kit Chan’s hit song Home.

Those were among the scenes I witnessed at the HomeTeamNS Adventure Rally, which unfolded across the organisation’s four clubhouses on Aug 13 as part of its National Day celebrations. The friendly competition drew 130 participants, who formed 28 teams to complete various challenges and amass points. After getting registered at HomeTeamNS Khatib in the morning, teams embarked on different routes, travelling across the island in their cars.

My cycling buddy Jane and I spent our Sunday putting our teamwork and stamina to the test. We started at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, where we dove into a relay race that brought out our competitive spirit. Jane’s agility helped us to fire ahead in the rope-skipping segment, while I tapped on my motor skills to run while balancing an egg on a spoon. Post-race, we took in the spectacular view of the reservoir from the clubhouse terrace.


Young participants having fun with a challenge.
Young participants having fun with a challenge.

I met a diverse range of participants including a three-year-old and a sprightly team of sexagenarians.

Besides the more physically challenging activities such as futsal and rock-climbing offered at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok and HomeTeamNS Khatib respectively, participants could also enjoy nostalgic games such as “zero point” and “five stones” at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier. My muscle memory from playing countless rounds of the latter as a child did not fail me, as I easily grasped the rice-filled pyramids at first toss. It evoked fond memories of playing with the fabric “stones” sewn by my mum.  

Teams could earn bonus points by completing challenges such as tent building and producing #ProudlySingaporean videos with their own fun renditions of the Great Singapore Workout and National Day songs.

Participants completed a tent-building challenge to earn bonus points.
Participants completed a tent-building challenge to earn bonus points.

Other activities included archery at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok and airsoft at TactSim, HomeTeamNS Khatib’s indoor target shooting range. Jane and I explored facilities such as HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok’s driving range and outdoor Adventure Centre that’s rigged with a rope course and zip line. We also enjoyed HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s Aqua Adventure that boasts an 85m-long slide, as well as various swimming pools. We weren’t the only ones who were impressed by what we saw.

“It was an amazing experience to see what HomeTeamNS has done in the new Bedok Reservoir clubhouse. I explored all five levels of facilities, and they were just awesome,” said Ms Sherry Pong, whose team won the second prize in the competition’s Open category.


The event drew diverse teams with participants of different age groups.
The event drew diverse teams with participants of different age groups.

The winners were announced at an afternoon tea reception where participants noshed on local hawker fare such as mee siam, chwee kueh and chicken curry.

The Open category champions won S$500 in cash, a full tank of fuel from Sinopec and Passorex car accessories. There were also lucky draw prizes such as an Apple Watch SE and a two-day, one-night’s stay at Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa.

While our score of 51 points didn’t earn us a spot on the leaderboard, Jane and I were buoyed by the energy of the crowd, with participants cheering loudly for their teammates and competitors.

A family winding down after an action-packed day.
A family winding down after an action-packed day.

“We’re all winners because the Adventure Rally brought all of you and your families together,” said Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development and President of HomeTeamNS, at the prize presentation ceremony. “Today was extra meaningful because it was organised by a committee of NSmen, and special because you got to experience all our clubhouses and their best facilities in one day.”

Ms Tan Su Anne, whose team notched 71 points to take home the first prize of S$300 in cash, a full tank of Sinopec fuel and Passorex car accessories in the Family Category, says that the win came as a surprise as the competition was strong. “It was a really good bonding session, and we discovered so many wonderful HomeTeamNS clubhouse facilities that we can’t wait to try out. We also hope to come back next year as the defending champion!”

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

Close Up

These former convicts now mentor others to prevent re-offending

As part of the Singapore Prison Service’s Desistor Network, the ex-offenders offer friendship and support to newly released inmates looking to forge a better path.



Thrice a week, a small group of cyclists meet at Seletar Aerospace Park. They then cross the island together, covering distances of more than 50km on two wheels.

But this collective — known as Break The Cycle —  is no mere hobbyist group. Founded in 2020, Break The Cycle is part of the Desistor Network launched in April 2023 by Singapore Prison Service (SPS), where 53 agencies work with ex-inmates to create a support ecosystem that steers them away from re-offending. 

During cycling breaks and breakfast sessions, the cyclists chat about work, family, as well as their struggles and hopes for the future. They form a deep bond that often extends beyond cycling. The group’s co-founder, ex-offender Andrew Ong, sums up the clique: “We do life together.”


Andrew Ong founded Break the Cycle, a cycling group for ex-offenders.
Andrew Ong founded Break the Cycle, a cycling group for ex-offenders.

Approximately four in 10 former inmates return to prison within five years of release, according to SPS. Ong is part of a small but growing group of ex-convicts helping others navigate the challenging transition from prison life to reduce recidivism. The 45-year-old himself was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment at the age of 18 for his involvement in a gang fight, though he only served nine months after a successful appeal. He shared that his parents’ divorce drove him to seek a sense of belonging in gangs.  

However, after his release, he slipped back into his old lifestyle of drug consumption. An overdose at the age of 21 proved to be the wake-up call he needed to get clean. He worked hard to build his career and is now the director of partnership and strategic communications at HCSA Community Services — a charitable organisation that helps ex-offenders, abused teenage girls and single parents, among others. Knowing how easy it is to backslide into crime, Ong has been volunteering at church and halfway houses for many years to help others stay the course.

Bruce Mathieu regularly shares his experiences as a former inmate with the public.
Bruce Mathieu regularly shares his experiences as a former inmate with the public.

Such support makes a huge difference, says Bruce Mathieu. The 54-year-old joined a gang at the age of 13, quickly became hooked on heroin — an addiction with which he struggled for 30 years — and was imprisoned five times, serving 20 years in total.

Some 11 years ago while serving his fifth prison stint, he resolved to turn his life around for his then three-year-old daughter. Since his release in 2016, he has been giving talks at schools, organisations and public events, as well as mentoring newly-released inmates as an SPS volunteer. These include Tian Boon Keng, who was featured in the CNA documentary Inside Maximum Security.

“A common misconception about mentoring is that it involves a lot of counselling. But no, it involves being a friend in the true sense of the word — that’s it,” explains Mathieu, who still meets Tian at least once a month, and recently supported him when he shaved his head for Hair For Hope.


David King Thorairajan with mentee Ravin Sadanadan.
David King Thorairajan (left) with mentee Ravin Sadanadan.

While prison life is known to be challenging, life after release from incarceration isn’t necessarily easy, and re-offending does occur. One possible reason for this is that many inmates find that they have fewer job opportunities upon release, especially those without a good education, notes David King Thorairajan, 41, who volunteers at prison chapel services and through prison befriender programmes.

Thorairajan joined a gang in his teens, got involved in violent fights and was imprisoned twice for a total of eight years, enduring 18 strokes of the cane. During his second sentence, he studied hard and completed his N-, O- and A-levels. Upon discharge, he enrolled at the Singapore Management University, graduating with a double major in psychology and human resources. Despite his qualifications, he had difficulty securing a good job, and eventually started his own life coaching and training company in 2012. Over the years, he has engaged, trained and mentored ex-offenders to coach at-risk youth in schools.

Andrew Ong (third from left) with fellow members of Break the Cycle.
Andrew Ong (third from left) with fellow members of Break the Cycle.

Before they can bounce back, get a job or study, they need to deal with their trauma and baggage – the hurt, disappointment, unforgiveness. There needs to be a major overhaul because there are patterns of thinking that need to be broken, otherwise the cycle will keep repeating.

Mathieu adds that drug addictions are hard to break. “Those who have never been addicted to drugs may think (that kicking a habit) is just a case of mind over matter. That is absolutely hogwash. Drugs rewire your whole brain, so that you cannot function without them,” says Mathieu. “It is very easy to fall back into addiction. If you veer off half a degree and don’t pull yourself back, in a matter of time, you will realise you are too far off,” he adds.

Despite these challenges, all three men agree that the most important factor to avoid re-offending is internal change. “People don’t understand that former offenders may have suffered trauma in their lives,” Ong says, adding that many sought solace in gangs because they come from broken families.


Ex-offenders meet up on weekends for Break the Cycle's group cycling outings.
Ex-offenders meet up on weekends for Break the Cycle's group cycling outings.

Mentorship under individuals with similar experiences is a powerful avenue to help ex-convicts resolve their internal conflict and drive positive change.  “Because who better to know their problems than us? We’ve been through it and done that,” reasons Mathieu.

These individuals don’t just relate to their mentees on a personal level; they may also serve as a better sounding board than friends from their past life, who may still be involved in crime. Groups like Break The Cycle provide a safe and accepting community under which ex-offenders can thrive. One such individual is Ravin Sadanadan, whom Thorairajan hired as a coach in his company after mentoring him.

“David coached me to get back on my feet and gave me opportunities to reach out to other youths in need. I was so motivated to work with them and their families that I completed my diploma, degree and masters in psychology,” said Sadanadan, who is now a senior counsellor at a non-profit organisation.

Because who better to know their problems than us? We’ve been through it and done that.

Mentoring former offenders however, is not without its challenges, says Ong. “It’s not like distributing groceries or cleaning someone’s house – you don’t see the outcome immediately. There is a lot of backend work, and mentees can often misunderstand you.”

“You have to understand that these are things they project because of their childhood experiences and things that they are dealing with. You must be thick-skinned and not take it personally,” adds Ong, who recently reconnected and began cycling with a youth he had mentored more than 10 years ago.

Ong maintains that planting the seed of hope can start a positive and powerful cycle of change.

“Some of our cyclists have also volunteered to be befrienders with SPS, journeying with inmates for 12 months upon their release from prison,” he shares.


To help reintegrate former inmates into society upon their release, SPS works with Yellow Ribbon Singapore to offer support for job placement and retention, skills assistance subsidies and other education assistance. SPS also helps inmates to apply for financial assistance and provides addiction treatment to those in need of it. Community support is also extended to them via drop-in centres, self-help groups and befrienders, as well as family programmes and family resource centres to support bonding.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

Singapore Buzz Technology

Made in Singapore, and proud of it

From the latest alternative meats to gadgets that help an ageing population, here are some future-ready innovations that are putting Singapore on the map. 



Contrary to popular belief, “Made in Singapore” isn’t limited to the electronics, aerospace or biomedical sciences industries. Our nation is home to a thriving ecosystem of innovative startups that hope to change consumers’ lives through technology.

These local products all punch above their weight. They aim to address climate change, improve our quality of life and even provide robotic canine companionship. Even everyday items like shoe insoles have been zhng-ed (enhanced) to achieve a new level of safety.

So, the next time you iron your clothes or stir-fry some seafood for dinner, take a closer look at the product’s label – you just might see “Made in Singapore” proudly printed on it.


Who doesn’t love a good chili crab or sambal shrimp? Problem is, global demand for seafood is so high that some types of seafood like shrimp are being fished at an unsustainable rate.

Enter local startup Shiok Meats, which aims to bring delicious, sustainable and healthy seafood to the table in the form of cultivated meat. How does it work? The startup grows stem cells from livestock inside bioreactors or cultivators. The result? Lab-grown shrimp, lobster and crab that tastes just like their wild-caught peers


Photo: Sky Greens Facebook page

To conserve space in land-scarce Singapore, our homes have been built upwards. That same logic has been applied to farming. Sky Greens is the world’s first low-carbon, hydraulically-driven vertical farm.

Rather than being flown or driven into Singapore, your favourite tropical leafy vegetables like cai xin (choy sum) and Chinese cabbage might now be grown just a few blocks away. This means consumers get fresher produce that’s delivered using fewer carbon emissions.


Photo: Singapore Polytechnic

Say hello to SParkle, a pet robot dog that encourages seniors to do their therapy exercises. SParkle is part of a wider system that helps caregivers and therapists remotely monitor seniors’ exercise data.

Rather than looking like something out of the Terminator movies, SParkle is a soft toy that resembles a beagle. It’s equipped with a linked smart dumbbell, glove and gamebox. When tested at a senior activity centre in Ghim Moh, SParkle recorded increased muscle activity among elderly participants — a win for this furry, tech-enabled friend.


Startup Flexosense has developed smart insoles that use sensors to help to detect if a worker falls or trips at the workplace. This could help to enhance safety in the maritime and construction sectors.

Closer to home, Flexosense insoles can also help reduce diabetic foot ulcers. As diabetes patients are less sensitive to pain in their feet, they may unknowingly put too much pressure on foot ulcers, which may worsen and even lead to amputation. The flexible microfluidic sensors in these smart insoles monitor pressure on different parts of the foot. They send the information to a mobile app, so users can be reminded to take a break.


Photo: Philips Singapore Facebook page

Few tasks in the world can be as mind-numbing as ironing your clothes. A collaboration between A*STAR and Philips however, has made it slightly less tedious, thanks to the invention of a polymer known as sol-gel. This material helps the iron glide much more smoothly.

Sol-gel achieves this by dispersing solid nanoparticles in a liquid. This forms a protective coating on your iron, helping to eliminate the creases in dresses, shirts — and of course, your No. 1 uniform.


Photo: Singapore Police Force

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) have also deployed smart, robotic help to perform their mission.

While it’s not quite Robocop, the SPF’s patrol robots at Changi Airport Terminal 4 help to support frontline officers. If an incident occurs, each robot can secure the area before SPF officers arrive and use its camera to provide a 360-degree view of the scene.

The SCDF’s Rover-X is a robotic dog that uses its sensors to help with search and rescue missions. Its robotic legs help it to climb stairs and other rough terrain that wheeled or tracked robots may not be able to traverse.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Close Up Spotlight

Fauzi Aziz: You’re never too old to become a content creator

The HomeTeamNS volunteer gets candid on how he became an influencer, life after The Smart Local, and the irrepressible Uncle Raymond.



Given the ease with which one can post content on social media, it’s no surprise that many think being an online content producer is an easy job.

But the profession is no bed of roses, says content creator SGT (NS) Fauzi Aziz, who gained a following while working for local travel and lifestyle platform The Smart Local (TSL).

“Many people think this job is just about posting videos and photos and making money out of it. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes,” explains the 34-year-old, who served his National Service at the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s technology department, and now volunteers with the HomeTeamNS Branding and Publicity committee.

“Besides planning the content and finding the right people to help produce it, you also have to network and scour for business opportunities, negotiate with clients and manage finances. You’re basically a one-man production house!”

Today, Fauzi may be considered a micro-influencer, having notched some 25,000 followers on Instagram. But it wasn’t always the career he’d envisioned for himself.


Born to civil-servant parents, Fauzi aspired to become a dentist, though he eventually realised he did not have an aptitude for the sciences. He was, however, fascinated with the arts and the English language. This led him to pursue a degree in theatre studies at the National University of Singapore, though he later gravitated towards the media industry.

Upon graduation, he spent six months applying for various publishing roles while working part-time. Finally, in 2014, he accepted an internship at TSL.  

While TSL was then a fledgling start-up which – some may argue – did not provide the same level of security as a more established organisation, Fauzi relished the opportunity to contribute to the company’s growth. This is something he has accomplished, having eventually been hired as one of the firm’s full-time producers. Today, TSL Media Group is a multi-platform media tech company that reportedly has more than 200 million annual page views across its content channels.

It’s been a fulfilling journey for Fauzi. Over the past eight years, he has worked in various departments where he picked up skills in events management, marketing and social media content production. He’s also hosted several productions, including The $100 Nomad, a reality show produced by TSL and broadcast on Mediacorp’s Channel 5.

“This was a major milestone for the company,” says Fauzi, in reference to the programme that challenged contestants to live on S$100 for three days.

“It was rare to see something like this (an independently produced show) make it onto national television. I really enjoyed the process. It was probably the most exciting project I got to work on at TSL,” he recounts.


Having parted ways with TSL Media Group earlier this year, he’s struck out on his own as an independent content creator. One of the main reasons he says, is the desire to mentor young content creators and help them advance their careers.

It’s the same spirit of altruism that compelled him to become a HomeTeamNS volunteer. Here, he advises the marketing and communications team on social media best practices. “It’s honestly always a pleasure to be able to use my skills and experience to help brands, especially since social media is something that I live and breathe. It’s also very heartening to know that people take my advice seriously!” he quips, before adding that volunteering has also contributed to his personal growth.

He’s also happy to share his tips with those looking to carve out careers as content creators. He says that anyone can be a content creator, with a good dose of self-motivation. “Learning how to use your smartphone creatively for video and photography is easy. There’s just so much information on the Internet. I’ve learned a lot about video editing just by watching YouTube tutorials.”

Age is not a barrier to success either. One example of this, says Fauzi, is Uncle Raymond, the lanky sexagenarian who rose to fame after TikTok videos of him dancing in public went viral.

He asserts that aspiring content creators should always try to be original and true to themselves. “I think the best way to go about it is to show things from your perspective. Don’t try to copy anyone else,” he advises.

But above all, he says that content creators should always possess interpersonal skills. “I never knew how important forming connections is until recently, when many of my past acquaintances reached out to inquire about collaborations,” he shares.

“I’ve noticed that many younger creators don’t really bother about talking to potential clients, including brand representatives. It is imperative to build relationships and leave a good impression, because someone you interact with might be signing your next pay cheque!”

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.


Insider guides to Melbourne, Taipei and Bangkok for families

Tired of overrated tourist traps? Frequent fliers and Singaporeans abroad share their top picks for under-the-radar attractions, food and activities for families visiting cities popular among their compatriots.


PHOTOS: Hank’s Café and Bagelry; South Melbourne Market; Koy Gozleme; Murmur; Sovereign Hill; Flickr user Ji Soo Song; Flickr user Iwtt93; Flickr user Ken Marshall; Flickr user Streets of Food; Kate’s Place; Asia Herb Association; Klook; Michelle Ang, Elvin Sng; Audrey Ang

It isn’t surprising that Melbourne, Taipei and Bangkok rank among the top 10 destinations that Singaporeans are interested in visiting, according to data recently released by Google. The cities have long captivated us for an array of reasons, from their tantalising foodie spots to hip haunts for urbanites. While many of such draws feature prominently in the endless scroll of social media feeds, it can be tough to distinguish the must-visit gems from the overhyped and underwhelming locations that locals tend to shun.

At times, it takes an insider to help you sidestep the tourist traps and point you to attractions worth your limited vacation time. To that end, we spoke with three Singaporeans — including residents and a frequent visitor — of these popular cities, who share their favourite spots and practical tips for families. After all, who knows our hearts better than our fellow countrymen?


About the insider: Michelle Ang is a 27-year-old product designer who has been living and working in Melbourne for a year. Though she misses the food and familiarity of home, she enjoys discovering the Australian city’s parks and international foodie offerings.


About the insider: Michelle Ang is a 27-year-old product designer who has been living and working in Melbourne for a year. Though she misses the food and familiarity of home, she enjoys discovering the Australian city’s parks and international foodie offerings.


“While Melbourne is known for its cafes — and correspondingly, its coffee culture — it’s also home to a burgeoning baked goods industry. Check out Hank’s Cafe and Bagelry, in the historic and upscale Armadale suburb that was an important commercial area in the 19th century. Taking pride in bringing “a hearty dose of New York to the leafy streets of Armadale”, Hank’s declares on its website that bagels should be “chewy” and “malty”. Savour these qualities in elevated creations such as the beetroot and gin-cured salmon with herbs, red onion and cream cheese; and the lamb and rosemary meatloaf with pistachio pesto, provolone and cream cheese.”


“Hit up South Melbourne Market — open since 1867 and a treasured landmark for locals — not only for its ubiquitous fresh oysters but also some of the best toasties I’ve ever had at the French-themed Oui Chef! Toastie Bar. Favourites include the classic Croque Monsieur (ham, bechamel (a rich white sauce), chives, comte (French cheese made from cow’s milk) and gruyere (a hard Swiss cheese)), and Saucicson (French salami, raclette (melted Swiss cheese), usto (traditional French mustard)). For a delicious Halal option, head to the iconic Koy Gozleme — gozleme is a crispy stuffed Turkish flatbread — where Turkish mamas hand roll and cook the savoury treats in four flavours: Cheese & Spinach, Mushroom & Veg, Minced Meat and Herbed Chicken.


“Beyond its vibrant culinary scene, Melbourne has no shortage of interesting venues for a fun night out. These include piano bar Murmur, where resident and visiting artistes belt out mostly old-school hits to a lively audience. Cocktails are priced at A$18 from 5-7pm. If you’re after an arty day-time activity, spin the potter’s wheel at one of 2 Mayfield Street’s workshops. Its studio is situated in the peaceful and eclectic Abbotsford suburb, which lends access to plentiful green spaces and the Yarra River.”


“If you’re in town in June or July, you must experience the yearly Winter Wonderlights event at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. This Christmas-themed festival presents a rare opportunity to bask in the Yuletide spirit in the middle of the year, which happens to be when winter falls in the Southern Hemisphere. Expect lights, faux snow, dressed-up storefronts and costumed merrymakers.”


  • Use public transport as it is pretty accessible, and most buses and trains are stroller-friendly. There is also the Free Melbourne City Circle Tram (route No. 35), a “hop on, hop off” service that covers attractions such as St Paul’s Cathedral, SEA Life Melbourne Aquarium and Queen Victoria Market.

  • Score free tickets to an Australian Football League match — a quintessential Aussie experience — under the Kids Go Free programme. The latter grants free access to selected matches for kids aged 14 and under.

  • Go camping with BIG4 Holiday Parks, which offers family-friendly cabin accommodation and camping facilities within easy reach of the city.


About the insider: Elvin Sng, a 42-year-old regional director in the energy industry, has been living in Taipei for five years with his wife and four-year-old son. He relishes the city’s friendly people and the easy access to nature it provides.


About the insider: Elvin Sng, a 42-year-old regional director in the energy industry, has been living in Taipei for five years with his wife and four-year-old son. He relishes the city’s friendly people and the easy access to nature it provides.


“One of Taipei’s top attractions is its street food. While some of the best can be sampled at the OG of night markets, Shilin Night Market, those seeking a gastronomic adventure might want to head to the slightly smaller Ningxia Night Market. Here, you’ll find Michelin Bib Gourmand-rated Liu Yu Zi, which is famous for its egg yolk taro cake — deep-fried taro paste-filled pastries topped with salted egg yolk and pork floss. Don’t miss Yuan Huan Pien Oyster Egg Omelette, which uses Tainan oysters known for their plumpness and sweetness, and are drizzled in a homemade sweet-spicy sauce.”


“Speaking of adventures, Yangmingshan National Park is known for its nature trails with lots of manageable options for families and those who want to take it easy. The 2.4km Qingtiangang Circular Trail, for instance, is a particularly scenic and relaxing route. I took a walk there with my wife a week before she gave birth to our son, and we had a really nice time.”


“You can glimpse Taiwan’s richly-layered past in Taipei’s historic parts. A 30-minute drive from the city takes you to Heping Island, which is connected by a bridge to the main island, and home to the ruins of a church built in 1626 by Spanish missionaries. The island is also presided over by an ancient fort constructed by the Spanish, who were later driven out by Dutch colonisers, as well as old buildings that can be traced back to the Japanese Occupation. Those keen to discover Taiwan’s pottery heritage should head to the quaint Yingge Old Street, where they’ll find a ceramics museum, pottery workshops and traditional teahouses.”


  • Take the MRT, an affordable, reliable and efficient way to get around, even with little ones on hand. Plus, children under the age of six travel for free. The rail operator even provides umbrellas on rainy days!

  • Check out themed cafes, for which Taipei is famous. Apart from those inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Moomin and Gudetama, many kiddos will no doubt be tickled by the Modern Toilet Restaurant, which will bring their toilet humour to another level.

  • Use Google Translate when hailing taxis — which are easy to find and inexpensive — as few cab drivers speak English. You may also want to ensure your destination is saved to your phone, ideally in Traditional Chinese which is commonly used in Taiwan.

  • Download the Halal TW app by Taiwan’s Chinese Muslim Association. It’s available for iOS and Android users and is handy for discovering Halal and Muslim venues in the country, including restaurants, hotels, mosques and prayer rooms.


About the insider: Audrey Ang is a HR manager in her late-40s who travels to Bangkok some four times yearly. She loves the affordable and value-added experiences in Thailand, and skilled professionals — including chefs and massage therapists — who are truly passionate about what they do.


About the insider: Audrey Ang is a HR manager in her late-40s who travels to Bangkok some four times yearly. She loves the affordable and value-added experiences in Thailand, and skilled professionals — including chefs and massage therapists — who are truly passionate about what they do.


“Food-wise, there’s more to Bangkok than just the usual Pad Thai and pineapple fried rice. A lesser-known yet delicious street food delicacy is duck noodles in a comforting broth that comes complete with duck blood pudding — try the one from Siah Duck Noodle at Rama IV Road. Another hearty meal can be found at Rung Rueang Pork Noodles at Soi Sukhumvit 26. The noodles here are light, silky and super delicious.”


“Bangkok is home to a plethora of creative contemporary cafes and dining concepts. Prepare to be surprised as you put your tastebuds in the good hands of Pikun “Kate” Wangsantia of Kate’s Place, a supper club hidden behind a bookshelf on the second floor of a shophouse. The latter also hosts a noodle shop. True to its private dining roots, Kate’s Place serves what the boss’ mood dictates. Thankfully, her local-inspired dishes have been described as comforting and uplifting.”


“For relaxation, Thai spa group Asia Herb Association, which has three conveniently located branches, always hits the spot with great service plus a welcoming and clean atmosphere. It specialises in the traditional Thai “Herbal Ball” massage that uses a warm compress filled with natural herbs. Register as a ‘family member’ and earn points for every visit — these can be redeemed for more massages.”


“If you like markets and have already visited the well-known Chatuchak, try Jodd Fairs, which is sprawled between Central Rama 9 shopping mall and the Unilever building at Rama IX Road. This night market offers a slew of interesting things to eat and purchase, including vintage clothing and customisable handbags. I do enjoy the Insta-worthy XL Leng Zapp Volcano Ribs from Diaw Maekhlong Restaurant. The dish’s name is a misnomer as it features stacked pork spinal bones (not ribs) served in a moreish sour-spicy soup. There are also quite a few Halal options, such as fresh barbecued seafood, cute character pancakes and fried snacks among the plethora of stalls.”


  • Consider apartment-hotels or serviced apartments, which are generally equipped with facilities such as a kitchenette, and washers and dryers for laundry. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 15 per cent off the best flexible rate at Modena by Fraser Bangkok Hotel Residences. The same discount applies to Fraser Suites Sukhumvit Bangkok, which also offers a complimentary breakfast for one.

  • Don’t relinquish date night. Many top hotels offer guests babysitting services through accredited partners. Enquire about them at reception.

  • Bring a baby carrier if you’re travelling with an infant or toddler, as Bangkok roads aren’t exactly stroller friendly.


Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.


Meet the hawker chefs bringing 5-star food to the heartlands

Hawker chefs: Their culinary ventures are our gain, as they add even more variety to Singapore’s unique culinary scene.



Hawker culture has long been at the heart of Singapore’s culinary culture. It’s no wonder that it became the country’s first element on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

From renegade street stalls in the 1800s to the first hawker centres – Chomp Chomp Food Centre, Block 51 Old Airport Road and Tiong Bahru Market – in the 1970s, this continues to evolve today.

An increasing number of chefs have been setting up stalls in hawker centres, perhaps inspired by the “unpretentious good food” ethos. From the ex-Cicheti chef who started a western stall at Bukit Merah selling S$7.80 Spaghetti Carbonara, to Raffles Hotel’s former dim sum head chef turned chee cheong fun hawker, here are our top finds for standout meals that won’t leave a hole in your pocket.


3752 Bukit Merah Central, Singapore, Singapore

S$7.80 for a plate of Spaghetti Carbonara may seem pricey for hawker fare, but when it’s cooked by an ex-Chicheti chef, you know you’re in for something special.

Located at Maddox Canteen in Bukit Merah Central, Eightisfy Western is headed by Chef CK, who was in charge of pastas at the famous trattoria before coming out to serve his local western fare. Expect classics like Chicken Chop, Grilled Fish and Burgers, all featuring his own marinade and crowd pleasers like the crunchy, battered Spam Fries. But one must try the pasta of course – picking from savoury offerings of Bacon Carbonara, Mushroom Aglio Olio to Tomato Ragu to satisfy any craving.


Photo: Chef Leung's Facebook page

Blk 335 Smith Street #02-096, Singapore, Singapore

Chef Leung Tze Cham worked for 30 years as a dim sum master at the illustrious kitchens of Raffles Hotel, before leaving for China to start his prawn farm. After the pandemic affected his business, he returned to Singapore and opened his own Chee Cheong Fun hawker stall at Chinatown Complex.

His menu features handmade rice noodle rolls that are soft and light, wrapping premium ingredients selected by the chef. He achieves the texture with house-milled rice batter that takes three hours to make. He then tops this with his addictive peanut and sesame sauce.


Photo: Cat in the Hat Instagram

505 Beach Road #01-106 (Army market)

Nothing beats having established chefs brightening up our hawker centres with their pretty bakes. Case in point: Former hotel pastry chef Ellis Ng, who opened Cat in The Hat at Golden Mile Food Centre in March this year.

Ng offers other dainty French pastries such as Caneles, Financiers and Tarts on her menu, all freshly-baked daily. There are local twists to be found with their Lychee Rose (Bandung) tart and Ovaltine Chocolate tart. The best part? With Madeleines starting at S$1.50 and lemon meringue tarts at S$3, these sweet indulgences won’t break the bank.


Photo: A Noodle Story Facebook page

1 Wallich St, Singapore #B2-32, Singapore, Singapore

A ramen stall that’s been listed on the Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2016? They’re definitely doing something right. Maybe it’s because chefs Gwern Khoo and Ben Tham have seen the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Waku Ghin, Saint Pierre and Iggy’s, and cracked the code on what makes good dishes remarkable.

Expect their Singapore-Style Ramen to be a flavour bomb with servings of juicy Shrimp Wantons, braised Pork Belly Char Siew, and crunchy Ngoh Hiang (spiced meat roll). Their new Smoky Char Siew Wanton Noodle and Nyonya Curry Chicken Noodles look set to be winners too.


Photo: Meat 4 Meat Instagram

228 East Coast Road, Singapore 428925

71 Ubi Crescent, Singapore 408571

Fancy a Beef Wellington served in a coffee shop? Then you probably appreciate chef Jimmy Teo’s aim to bring items usually found in high-priced restaurants to the masses.

The co-founder of Meet 4 Meat (with chef Gerald Lau), he brings over 20 years of experience working in professional kitchens like his stint as chef of Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at Swissotel. There are two outlets located along East Coast Road and Ubi Crescent. Each of his menu offerings is thoughtfully cooked with a premium experience in mind. Items like the Marinated New Zealand Lamb Cutlets are done with his secret sauce and pasta dishes are all handmade.


Photo: Mat Western Facebook page

122 Bedok North St 2, Singapore, Singapore

This halal stall is stirring up fans with their hefty pizzas. Frenchman Umar Fabrice, who’s a Muslim convert, and Singaporean Hidir Kasim opened Mat Western after years in professional kitchens, so one can expect a keen eye and extra flair when ordering from the stall.

The pizzas there, for example, use doppio zero flour – the finest milled variety, and feature freshly-made dough everyday. On top of traditional Italian classics, one can also enjoy options with Asian ingredients for a satisfying familiar taste. Lemak Chicken Pizza and Tom Yam Pepperoni Pizza? We’re sold.


Photo: Miss Tam Chiak

335 Smith Street #02-215 Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre

Located in Chinatown Complex Food Centre, this chicken rice stall is helmed by Hong Kong-born chef Wong Keung. Using kampung chicken for a firmer bite, the poultry is poached in a savoury five-hour broth made of dried scallops and octopus.

The result? Generous chicken pieces that feature a bright buttery-yellow skin, slippery with juice yet with a satisfying chew. The soy sauce chicken variety features a similar texture, but a less powerful flavour than the specialty-broth variety. If you’re looking to try a new spin of a national classic, you won’t be disappointed here.

Without a doubt, it’s to Singapore’s benefit that these chefs have joined the hawker fraternity. They not only expand the meaning of what it means to be a hawker, but also open up interest in those wanting to enter the food and beverage industry. Hopefully, this new breed of entrepreneurs will inspire a new generation of hawkers and uphold the legacy of affordable, delicious food for a long time to come.


If you’re craving good hawker fare after visiting a HomeTeamNS clubhouse, you’re in luck. Several hawker centres are just a short drive away from HomeTeamNS clubhouses:

HomeTeamNS Khatib: Chong Pang Market & Food Centre (7 min drive), Yishun Park Hawker Centre (6 min drive)

HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier: Balestier Market (4 min drive), Whampoa Food Centre (5 min drive)

HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok: Choa Chu Kang Market & Food Centre (7 min drive)

HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir: Bedok Reservoir Food Centre (4 min drive), Bedok 538 Market and Food Centre (5 min drive)

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Close Up

Meet the former gymnast who’s also been trained to save lives

SGT1 Jim Pon’s contributions to Singapore go way beyond his service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force and National Day Parade.



SGT1 Jim Pon, 24, fondly recalls his childhood days, when his parents sold satay at the renowned Newton Food Centre. He would always cherish the moments spent running through the intricate pathways between the stalls.

“From savouring diverse dishes to making friends, those days will forever be etched in my memory. Our family still dines occasionally with the other stallowners,” Jim shared.

Such experiences instilled in him a love for Singapore’s multicultural heritage. “It was heartwarming to witness different communities coming together, sharing their food and culture in a friendly setting.” With this sentiment in mind, Jim is always full of anticipation whenever National Day is around the corner.


The National Day Parade (NDP) 2023 was Jim’s final one as a Full-time National Serviceman (NSF) with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Although he was not part of SCDF’s marching contingent during the parade, Jim played an important role during Exercise BOCA, a multi-agency exercise that prepares first responders for a possible bomb or chemical attack at the NDP venue.

As a fire and rescue specialist (FRS), Jim was responsible for leading his crew in the rescue of victims, so that they could be decontaminated and receive prompt medical attention. Jim and his crew had to wear Chemical Agent (CA) suits, to protect themselves in the event of a chemical releasee.

Reflecting on the experience, Jim said, “Our duty underscores the importance of readiness for unforeseen situations”. After the successful completion of Exercise BOCA, Jim and his crew were also involved in the contingency standby for the NDP, staying vigilant for potential incidents until the end of the parade.


After their NDP contingency standby, Jim and his colleagues at Ang Mo Kio Fire Station remained on duty until 8am the subsequent day. “Our shifts span 24 hours,” he clarifies. “It is important to pace ourselves, yet remain alert and ready throughout the shift.”

Jim shared how a seemingly peaceful and quiet shift could turn out to be eventful. He was recently involved in putting out a vehicular fire at Yishun Dam. “A car was engulfed in flames.  Fortunately, the driver managed to escape the car early, so we could focus on the firefighting and minimise traffic disruptions.”

Apart from his duties in the Life Saving Force, Jim is also an accomplished gymnast who has represented Singapore in numerous global events. “It’s an honour to be able to fly the Singapore flag high,” he shares. While he has stepped back from professional gymnastics, he aspires to mentor the sport’s future champions. “I would really like to contribute more to the future of Singapore’s sporting scene.”


Jim on his Lion City favourites:

Favourite place: “City Square Mall, which is my go-to for anything from food to daily essentials.”

Favourite local TV show: “Kin. It brought my family closer as we watched it together.”

Favourite Singaporean trait: “Our ability to pursue our dreams in a safe and secure environment.”

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Close Up Spotlight

This teacher became a HomeTeamNS volunteer — and got schooled!

Working on the development of the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse proved to be a lesson in patience and humility for LTC (NS) Bryan Chao.



For the past 20 years, LTC (NS) Bryan Chao has taught Physical Education at East Spring Primary School. As someone who believes that “academic excellence isn’t the only thing that matters,” he encourages his students to develop their character and values. To inculcate independence, for instance, he advises the children: “In life, there are two groups of people — those who work out their own problems and experience personal growth in the process, and the ones who always go to people with questions, expecting them to solve their issues. Don’t live like the latter!”

While he is accustomed to dispensing such wisdom to his young charges, the 43-year-old educator has also been on the receiving end of life lessons, in his role as a HomeTeamNS volunteer. Having served his National Service (NS) as a fire officer at the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Bryan decided to “contribute more to the nation” by joining the HomeTeamNS East Development Committee in late 2021. His first task, which was helping to manage the design and construction of HomeTeamNS’ newest clubhouse, HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, proved challenging to the teacher who usually has the answers.  


Bryan (far right) with his fellow HomeTeamNS volunteers.
Bryan (far right) with his fellow HomeTeamNS volunteers.

Like many other projects that faced COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the construction of the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse was fraught with setbacks and delays. Seeing it to completion was an uphill slog, but Bryan notes that his fellow committee members demonstrated remarkable forbearance and composure under fire. This was particularly eye-opening for the HomeTeamNS volunteer, who by his own admission tends to be short on patience.

He credits his Development Committee’s Co-Chairman, SUPT (NS) Jim Tan, for helping the team overcome numerous obstacles that stood in the way of the clubhouse’s launch. He shares that the leader employed charisma and decisiveness to foster cohesive teamwork among the committee, as well as liaise with various partners involved in the clubhouse’s development and construction.

“Jim was able to make the tough decisions with such patience and humility that everyone was convinced to take his lead,” Bryan recalls. We thus managed to pull through and make the Bedok Reservoir Clubhouse a reality.”

Bryan with his mentor LTC (NS) Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Kadir (right).
Bryan (left) with his mentor LTC (NS) Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Kadir.


Bryan cites patience, humility and empathy as important virtues, especially for volunteers such as himself, as they interact with the many people they serve. “People tend to respond better when we show that we’re listening and care for them,” he adds.

Tensions can run high when you’re required to engage with various stakeholders. Thankfully, the married man can also draw on his NS experience with the Home Team to navigate challenging situations with grace. In that respect, he cites his fellow HomeTeamNS volunteer, LTC (NS) Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Kadir, Commander for the 22 Public Shelter Resilience Unit, as a positive influence. Recounting an incident whereby a dissatisfied Home Team NSman had raised a concern due to administrative issues during his reservist call-up, he shares that Faizal managed to resolve the problem by keeping his cool, and calmly convincing the affected party that he would help. “Despite his high rank and level of experience, Faizal does not throw his weight around to get things done, which is an attribute I admire immensely,” he says, in reference to his mentor’s hands-on approach.

And how does he personally deal with similar difficult encounters as a HomeTeamNS volunteer? Well, a good dose of humour can come in handy, says Bryan. “From time to time, we casually share our experiences with one another within the committee. Such exchanges help us to balance our emotions, have a good laugh together, and most importantly, move on!”.


Bryan with his primary school students.
Bryan with his primary school students.

Despite some frustrating moments that can accompany the role, Bryan says that being a HomeTeamNS volunteer has made his life fuller. “Working behind the scenes in the Development Committee, I’ve learnt that it takes a complex operation to get things up and running like clockwork. Individually, we can put in more effort to make the gears tick more smoothly,” he explains.

Motivated to continue making a positive difference in the organisation, Bryan has stepped up to the plate as Vice Chairperson of Bedok Reservoir HomeTeamNS’ Executive Committee, where he proudly leads a group of like-minded volunteers. And he hasn’t forgotten the values of patience, humility and altruism he has developed over the years and — in turn — hopes to impart to the fellow volunteers under his wing. “Being privileged to be placed in a position of authority, I want to use the opportunity to serve others and help create a better environment for everyone at HomeTeamNS,” he concludes.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

Club Buzz

HomeTeamNS Family Day takes flight at Bird Paradise

The first such celebration since the Covid-19 pandemic proved to be a fun day out for everyone.



Family Day returned in a big way for HomeTeamNS members on 29 July at Bird Paradise. The event was HomeTeamNS’ first Family Day celebration since the pandemic – the previous event was held at Universal Studios Singapore in 2019.

About 2,000 HomeTeamNS members and their families gathered at the open-air amphitheatre to learn about three new partnerships, and enjoyed a splendid show. Thereafter, the event saw close to 5,000 members exploring the lush greenery and trails, and admired breathtaking hornbills, spoonbills and other exotic birds.


Guest-of-Honour Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is the President of HomeTeamNS, announced the new strategic partnerships to HomeTeamNS Members at Bird Paradise.

Graced by Guest-of-Honour Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, and HomeTeamNS President, he introduced attendees to three new strategic partners — Singlife, Sgdrivers and SHEIN — to the HomeTeamNS membership programme.


Under the new Singlife partnership, all new and existing HomeTeamNS Principal members will receive a complimentary one-year travel or home insurance and a complimentary one-year HomeTeamNS membership when they opt in for the insurance coverage. Since August 2018, eligible HomeTeamNS Ordinary members have received complimentary personal accident insurance coverage of up to S$30,000.


HomeTeamNS has also partnered with Sgdrivers under the new HomeTeamNS Driver’s Shield Programme. At S$23 a year, the Driver Shield’s programme includes a hotline for 24/7 emergency roadside assistance, fuel discounts of up to 23 per cent and exclusive vouchers worth up to S$400.


Fashion and lifestyle e-retailer SHEIN, was also added to HomeTeamNS’ mix of partners. Members can enjoy 18 per cent off purchases on SHEIN’s platform year-round and gain priority queue access to their upcoming pop-ups.

Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS, hopes these new benefits help offer members peace of mind at home and abroad. The new strategic partnerships and events like Family Day are part of HomeTeamNS’ efforts to recognise the contributions of HomeTeamNS members and their families. Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal added: “We at HomeTeamNS want to do more to make life better for you, as you serve and protect our homeland. I want to thank your families for their unwavering support and love for you, our NSmen, as you juggle work and your NS duties, and we hope to show appreciation to them.”


HomeTeamNS member Mr Muhammad Adzizul and his family spending quality time at Bird Paradise during the HomeTeamNS Family Day.

In his speech, Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal also acknowledged that life as an National Serviceman could be fast-paced and challenging. Having met quite a number of members and their families and friends at the clubhouses and at other activities, he said that he was touched by the pride that they have, in being part of the Home Team and the HomeTeamNS family.

“I realised that we have developed that connection not only with you, but with the people around you and your loved ones. This connection not only helps us keep Singapore safe and secure, but we do so like one big family,” he added.

“We at HomeTeamNS want to do more to make life better for you, as you serve and protect our homeland. I want to thank your families for their unwavering support and love for you, our NSmen, as you juggle work and your NS duties, and we hope to show appreciation to them.”

Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, and HomeTeamNS President.

HomeTeamNS Member Louis Seah, who attended the Family Day with his family, said he appreciates the variety of clubhouse facilities that allow him to unwind with his loved ones. The family day outing has also provided the backdrop for members like Mr Muhammad Adzizul to spend quality time with his loved ones. “To me, family time means spending time with my family anywhere and any place, as long as they are having fun,” he added.


HomeTeamNS members were treated to a "Predators on Wings" showcase at Bird Paradise.

The day of fun and togetherness for HomeTeamNS members reached its climax with the captivating Predators on Wings show, leaving everyone in awe. As the audience gathered in anticipation, they were treated to spectacular aerial prowess by magnificent creatures like the American Bald Eagle, White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Malay Fish Owl and the impressive Turkey Vulture.

Gasps of amazement filled the air as these majestic birds soared gracefully through the sky, showcasing their raw beauty. The experience was entertaining and educational, as members gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of wildlife conservation and the wonders of nature.

Missed out on our Family Day at Bird Paradise? We got you! We’re having a secret lobang sale of up to 50 per cent off Bird Paradise tickets (U.P up to $48 per pax), while stocks last. To make your purchase, look out for this fantastic promotion on our HomeTeamNS Mobile App. Tickets are valid till 3 February 2024.

Additionally, don’t forget to sign up for your FREE 1-Year Travel or Home Insurance by Singlife, with a complimentary 1-Year HomeTeamNS Membership here. Think of it as our way of saying thank you for your contributions to the nation.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.


We tried 10 innovative mooncakes for Mid-autumn Festival 2023

Do their flavours live up to their fancy names? Find out in our reviews of these baked and snowskin delights, assessed according to creativity and quality of presentation, ingredients and flavours.



It’s a tradition to eat mooncakes during the Mid-autumn Festival, which is celebrated annually on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, and falls on 29 September this year. The event sees people attending “moon viewing” (the moon is apparently brightest during this time) parties in lantern-lit gardens, where they sip tea and savour mooncakes. These pastries are shaped like the full moon, to symbolise reunion.

Restaurants and bakeries are getting increasingly creative in their choice of mooncake fillings, which — beyond the traditional lotus paste — may incorporate local twists and premium ingredients such as truffles. To help you narrow it down, we sampled a variety of baked and snowskin mooncakes and classified them according to creativity, quality of ingredients, presentation, and most importantly, taste. Here are our top picks for 2023.


For the health conscious: Bi Luo Chun Tea Lotus Seed Paste from Si Chuan Dou Hua (Halal-certified)

Recognising that Singaporeans are becoming increasingly health-conscious, Si Chuan Dou Hua is offering low-sugar mooncakes this year. Furthermore, your purchase backs a good cause. Besides working with Extraordinary People (a charity that supports individuals with special needs) for the design of the mooncake gift box and fabric bag, the restaurant also hires differently-abled persons to help assemble the boxes. Tea connoisseurs won’t be disappointed by the new Bi Luo Chun Tea Lotus Seed Paste mooncake. The lotus paste is elevated with a generous infusion of the world-famous biluochun green tea from Suzhou, China, which results in a subtle floral finish with a slightly gritty texture.

From $36 for a box of two.

For the discerning: Yam with Black Sesame and Shredded Coconut from Shang Palace

Shangri-La Singapore has been a go-to for generations of mooncake connoisseurs as well as young couples looking to impress their in-laws. As it turns out, it’s not just the hotel’s more traditional mooncakes that boast refined presentation and taste. Take, for example, this new addition to its baked collection, which is presented in an elegant three-tier jewellery box in a choice of three colours. The golden-brown pastry skin makes a great first impression too — it’s delicately thin and distinctly aromatic. Inside, moist yet not gooey yam paste is studded with coarsely-shredded coconut that provides texture and depth of flavour. Finally, a layer of black sesame paste in the centre lends a pleasantly nutty note.

From $84 for four.

For the adventurous: Assam Tea with Lemon, Mung Bean and Raisin from Jade Restaurant

This year, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore presents its Jade Signatures Tea Series baked mooncakes in an elongated red or teal gift box adorned with peony and peacock motifs. There’s also the option to purchase a cannister of TWG Fullerton Grand Tea in matching colours to pair with your mooncakes. The standout in this series of four flavours — which include Tie Guan Yin with Orange and Apricot; Green Tea with Multigrain Brown Sugar and Hongyu Black Tea with Pomelo, Red Date and Pine Nut — is the Assam Tea with Lemon, Mung Bean and Raisin. While its combination of ingredients may seem unusual, they translate into a well-balanced and nuanced flavour profile. Under the wafer-thin baked skin is a silky-smooth paste that boasts top notes of a full-bodied assam tea, peppered with a dash of bright tamarind and citrus flavours, while raisin bits add a pleasant bite and subtle sweetness.

$86 for four (25 per cent off till 18 September for selected credit cards).

For truffle fans: Low-Sugar Chestnut with Cashew Nuts and Truffle from Cherry Garden

Mooncakes most commonly feature lotus seed or red bean paste as the main ingredient. This year, Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s Cantonese restaurant Cherry Garden bucks the trend by introducing a new baked creation made from chestnut paste with reduced sugar instead. These are packed in individual tins, which are housed in matching ivory or red trinket boxes embellished with floral embroidery. A distinctive aroma of truffles (of the fungi, not chocolate variety) emanates from the golden-brown pastry as soon as its packaging is unwrapped. This rich ingredient lifts — instead of overpowers — the otherwise dense and earthy chestnut paste, which gets its crunch from the inclusion of coarsely-chopped cashew nuts.

From $48 for two. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 35 per cent off all mooncakes from Mandarin Oriental Singapore. Other flavours include the Snow Skin Lychee Pineapple with Pine Nuts and the Baked Oriental Beauty Tea with Ginger Red Date.   

For fashionistas: Lychee White Lotus Paste from W Singapore – Sentosa Cove

True to form, W Singapore – Sentosa Cove’s foray into mooncakes delivers the standard of style we’ve come to expect from this luxury resort. The treats are packaged in embossed mooncake-shaped handbags designed with a gold-tone turn-lock, top handle and detachable strap. Aesthetics aside, the mooncakes seem a tad too small to justify their price, which leans towards the higher end, and their red-hued baked skin is a little thick. While the lychee white lotus paste is fragrant and smooth, it could do with the addition of melon seeds for textural contrast.

From $118 for a box of four.


For dessert enthusiasts: Mini Snowskin Cheesecake from Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant

Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium never fails to pique our interest with their novel snowskin mooncake creations. And being cheesecake aficionados, we were naturally intrigued by this sweet treat inspired by the classic New York cheesecake. Each pastel yellow snowskin mooncake is filled with white lotus paste that encases a cream cheese praline. Though the latter isn’t quite cheesy enough, it blends well with the fragrant snowskin and smooth lotus paste and has a melt-in-your-mouth quality. It’s worth purchasing in a gift set of six assorted flavours as the perfect after-dinner dessert to share — or not.

From $76 for six.

For those seeking the familiar: Peanut Butter Snow from PAUL Singapore

French bakery and brasserie PAUL Singapore is known for familiar yet delicious snowskin mooncake flavours such as mango, chocolate and pistachio. These are presented in a striking red tin and thermal carrier to ensure that they stay chilled. Our favourite variant in the assortment of four flavours — a creamy combination of slightly savoury peanut butter and sweet lotus paste — is particularly addictive and was wolfed down in seconds. The peanut butter, which fills a chocolate truffle in the centre, is reminiscent of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and just as moreish.

$72 for four.

For the young at heart: Popping Candy Truffle with Dragon Fruit Lotus Paste from Mdm Ling Bakery (Halal-certified)

Founded by millennials, Mdm Ling Bakery is known for its wallet-friendly, quality bakes that marry old-school recipes and local flavours with irreverent surprises, which is evident in its range of mooncakes. Not least in its new Snowskin Fruity Truffle Mooncakes collection, with variants that include the Yuzu Truffle with Mung Bean Paste, Lychee Truffle with Mung Bean Paste, and Peach and Passion Fruit Truffle with Dragon Fruit Lotus Paste packed in a floral tin. Of the four flavours in each set, the Popping Candy Truffle with Dragon Fruit Lotus Paste is a standout, with its semi-sweet, mildly citrus filling that doesn’t crowd the palate. Those who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s — as well as kids — will get a kick out of the mooncake’s bubblegum pink-and-blue truffle filling that contains popping candy. A fun treat, if not slightly gimmicky.

$76 for four.

For durian lovers: Superfood Snowskin Durian Mooncakes from FORBIDDEN (Halal-certified)

Snowskin mooncakes are meant to be stored in the freezer and slightly thawed (not for too long, or they will get gooey) before consumption to ensure optimal texture and freshness — as per instruction from the various restaurants — and this one is no exception. Though cutting into these treats takes a bit of effort, the reward is a rich ice-cream-like dessert that offers true melt-in-the-mouth decadence for any durian lover. According to FORBIDDEN, the fruit are sourced directly from the hills of Raub in Pahang, Malaysia. Each classic metal tin contains two varieties: Mao Shan Wang durian encased in acai-infused snowskin and coconut snowskin filled with D24 durian. The rich, bittersweet notes of the durian fillings really shine after 15 minutes of thawing, which also makes for the ideal snowskin texture. Though neither “superfood” flavour left much of an impression, the pulpy fillings sure hit the spot.

From $95 for four (up to 25 per cent off).

For those with a penchant for local flair: “Ondeh Ondeh” Pandan Gula Melaka with Grated Coconut from Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

Having been named World’s Best Airport Hotel in 2023, it’s no surprise that Crowne Plaza Changi Airport chose to reference its identity in its mooncake box design. Featuring laser-cut orchid motifs and gold-tone airplane-shaped drawer knobs, the midnight blue trinket box holds a quartet of assorted snowskin mooncakes. These include the Teochew Orh Nee Taro Lotus with Ginkgo Nuts, Pulut Hitam Roasted Dark Glutinous Rice with Coconut Cream, and Black Sesame Paste with Peanut Crunch and Gold Dust. Rounding off the four is our top pick, the Ondeh Ondeh Pandan Gula Melaka with Grated Coconut, which shines with its chewy snowskin in a banana-yellow shade, and conceals a moist lotus paste whose green hue comes from pandan extract. Grated coconut steeped in gula melaka perfectly recreates the flavours of its namesake traditional kueh.

$80 for four (up to 40 per cent off).


It was a true struggle to determine my favourite mooncakes among those that made it to this top 10 list. But at the end of the day, it is Crowne Plaza Changi Airport’s “Ondeh Ondeh” Pandan Gula Melaka with Grated Coconut and Assam Tea with Lemon, and the Mung Bean and Raisin from Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore that made the most lasting impressions in the snowskin and baked mooncake categories respectively. Even though they feature innovative combinations of ingredients, both manage to retain the essential traditional flavours — definitely worth the extra calories!

More mooncake deals for HomeTeamNS members

  • Goodwood Park Hotel Singapore – Try their new Pineapple with Custard snowskin mooncake, sample their signature durian creations, or delight your kids with the adorable Bunnies Tubbies. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 20 per cent off a minimum of $100 worth of mooncakes.

  • Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant – Savour healthier choices including the all-new Immunity Boosting Orange Mooncake With Orange Peel And Pine Nuts, which is available in both baked and snowskin varieties. HomeTeamNS members enjoy up to 30 per cent off online mooncake orders.

  • Golden Moments – This durian mooncake specialist is offering a one-for-one promotion on its premium snowskin mooncake selection. HomeTeamNS members enjoy an additional 5 per cent discount on top of existing online deals.

  • Hua Ting Restaurant – Using only the finest ingredients, each mooncake encapsulates a harmonious blend of authentic flavours and modern flair. Now with new flavours such as Mao Shan Wang, Kumquat & Yuzu, and Chendol Lotus with Melon Seeds, HomeTeamNS members can enjoy up to 25 per cent off mooncakes.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

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