Archive | Neue

Lao Ban-style Soya Beancurd recipe + guide

Lao Ban Soya Beancurd

Last year, a new craze has set Singaporeans queuing for hours. The new obsession is Soya beancurd dessert – a simple, custard pudding that is sweet, light and your best friend during a hot day (which is almost every other day in Singapore) – a bowl for just $1.50. One of the most famous is Lao Ban Soya Beancurd, which has gotten so popular that it expanded out of their first Old Airport Road stall and spawned several competitors. It is not uncommon to see happy people walking out of the hawker centre with tall bags, holding not less than 5 bowls each, looking as if they’ve won the lottery or just completed their Honours Thesis at NUS.

With more competitors and the novelty fading, Lao Ban’s stalls do not draw queues as crazy-long as before – there are still queues during peak periods though. Also, there is an increasing number of people making their own at home.

Continue Reading →


Brewing Potions in Pottermore

With Wizard’s Duel offline, Potions is the only way to quickly gain house points. A lot of people came to my Pottermore review searching for information about Potions in Pottermore. So here’s a few tips and tricks. I assume that you already know how the Potion game works.

For those who don’t know, this is a Potions game in Pottermore. I do not intend to write a complete guide to brewing Potions (ie. what to do exactly) because that just takes away the fun.


02/11/2012: Update
Added Potions information for Polyjuice Potion and Swelling Potion

19/04/2012: Update
Added question about getting ingredients right in the Potions game.

16/04/2012: Updates
Revised some sections below about brewing time and cauldron speed. Added question about “How do I wave my wand”.

13/09/2011: Penalties
With the previous change noted below, penalties for failing to brew potions correctly has been adjusted.

For minor mistakes (Cauldron does not explode): There will be no change in points and the player’s cauldron can still be used.
For major mistakes (Cauldron meltdown/explosion): 5 points penalty and player’s cauldron will no longer be usable.

Also, please see the question below about “What happens if I leave my potion for too long?”

12/09/2011: New Scoring System
Recently, the scoring system has changed and successful attempts no longer always award 5 House Points. The more complex and expensive potion recipes award more points and naturally, the easier ones award less now.

11 Points: Sleeping Draught

9 Points: Wideye or Awakening Potion, Forgetfulness Potion, Herbicide

7 Points: Antidote to Common Poisons

3 Points: Cure for Boils


NEW! Ingredients for Polyjuice potion

Help!!? I can’t buy some of the ingredients for my potions

Make sure that you have purchased all the required books for your second year at Hogwarts. Refer to your Shopping List for help. Get the books that are still not crossed out.

Fantastic Free Ingredients and Where to Find Them

You will find potion ingredients just by exploring the scenes in Pottermore. You get a house point too if it is your first time discovering the ingredient. The best part is, these ingredients will replenish at the same place you found them, but only if you have used up the “free” ingredient and no longer have any of that sort in your inventory. You can only hold one of each “free” ingredient at any time.

I’ve set up links to the pages with free ingredients. Please make the effort to find them yourself!
Note: You need to be logged into Pottermore for these links to work.

*You can only collect and hold two of this for just one time. After using (or giving it away), one of them will not reappear on the scenes.

For a full list of prices and exact locations of free ingredients, refer to this very useful post on tumblr.

Can I brew potions with free ingredients?

Yes, but the game it set in a way that you will definitely need to buy an ingredient from the Apothecary at Diagon Alley. Refer to the link above and spend your Galleons wisely.

Which cauldron should I use?

Cauldrons differ in the amount of time needed to heat up and brew. This means your cauldron choice will affect how difficult it is to keep the temperature within a certain range. A copper cauldron may be quick to warm up but it also means that temperature will be harder to control. Whether if it is the simple Pewter, Copper or Brass, it will all take the same waiting time to brew until Pottermore makes the necessary changes. In a recent update however, brewing time is affected by cauldron type. A copper cauldron reduces brewing time from a pewter one by about 25%, while a brass cauldron is faster than the pewter by approximately 15%. See next section for details.

Potion Brew Times

Time you need to wait before you can start the second phase, ordered by Cauldron type.

Pewter Cauldron (Speed: Slow)
Antidote to Common Poisons [40 minutes] Cure for Boils [45 minutes] Forgetfulness Potion [60 minutes] Herbicide [60 minutes] Sleeping Draught [70 minutes] Wideye or Awakening Potion [55 minutes] Swelling Potion [60 minutes] Polyjuice Potion (Phase 1) [80 minutes] Polyjuice Potion (Phase 2) [1440 minutes]

Brass Cauldron (Speed: Medium)
Antidote to Common Poisons [34 minutes] Cure for Boils [39 minutes] Forgetfulness Potion [51 minutes] Herbicide [51 minutes] Sleeping Draught [60 minutes] Wideye or Awakening Potion [47 minutes] Swelling Potion [51 minutes] Polyjuice Potion (Phase 1) [68 minutes] Polyjuice Potion (Phase 2) [1224 minutes]

Copper Cauldron (Speed: Fast)
Antidote to Common Poisons [30 minutes] Cure for Boils [34 minutes] Forgetfulness Potion [45 minutes] Herbicide [45 minutes] Sleeping Draught [53 minutes] Wideye or Awakening Potion [42 minutes] Swelling Potion [45 minutes] Polyjuice Potion (Phase 1) [60 minutes] Polyjuice Potion (Phase 2) [1080 minutes]

How long can I leave my potion to brew?

You can leave your cauldron for a maximum of twice the time it takes to brew a potion. Once a potion is ready to move onto the second phase, a second timer that is as long as time to brew will start counting down. For example, if Cure for Boils takes 40 minutes to brew, you can return after 40 minutes, but not after 80 minutes.

What happens if I leave my potion for too long? (or got back to it too late?)

You will fail to brew your potion correctly, but you will not lose or gain any points. You get to keep your cauldron too. However, you would have wasted your ingredients, so it’s best to set a timer. Use a mobile phone, or something with that function. (Do people still use kitchen timers?)

What are the possible outcomes?

  • If you follow all the instructions precisely and perform them within the time limit, you will succeed and gain 5 some house points. Please see the following section about house points. Your potion will appear in your inventory page and you can give it to your friends.
  • If you make a minor mistake, such as putting in the wrong quantity of ingredients or missing steps, or returning to your potion late, you will fail to brew your potion correctly. You will not lose/gain points and still get to keep your cauldron.
  • If you make a serious mistake, such as demonstrating grave negligence over cauldron temperature, your cauldron might explode. You will fail the brew, lose 5 house points AND your cauldron.

Results are the same for all potions, whether if it is a Sleeping Draught or Cure for Boils.However, points awarded for potions are now different. See next section.

New Scoring System

Recently, the scoring system has changed and successful attempts no longer always award 5 House Points. The more complex and expensive potion recipes award more points and naturally, the easier ones award less now.

11 Points
Sleeping Draught

9 Points
Wideye or Awakening Potion
Forgetfulness Potion

7 Points
Antidote to Common Poisons
Swelling Potion

3 Points
Cure for Boils

0 Points / Special
Polyjuice Potion (Parts 1 and 2): No points awarded, but required to complete certain chapters in Chamber of Secrets.

Why does it keep saying that I have added the wrong amount of ingredients?

Pay attention to the animation of your ingredients falling into your cauldron. Whenever you add something, it takes a moment for it to fall into your cauldron – Yes I know, common sense tells you that they should just plop right in, not disintegrate into tiny pieces and descend gently. Best to keep track of the little counter next to your cauldron before moving on to the next step. You can also check your potion book and ensure that it has been crossed out.

Also note that some ingredients are handled in multiple quantities – For example, you will always take 3x snake fangs. Hence, if a recipe requires 6 snake fangs, you should only take it twice (3 fangs, 2 servings).

Tips when handling ingredients

  • I know it doesn’t make sense but pouring ingredients out of jars, bottles and vials is much easier (and precise) if you hold them from the top. Tilt the container by leaning its bottom side on the edge of the cauldron, as if cracking an egg.
  • Drop ingredients as close as your cauldron as possible – there is no point dropping them from a height, you just waste time!
  • If you have trouble telling ingredients apart, refer to your Potions book.
  • When pounding ingredients, just work as fast as you can – it’s hard to make mistakes here unless you are literally pounding your mouse button.

How do I control the fire?

You have three buttons. Blue (Off), Orange (Low heat) and Red (High heat). Pay attention to the thermometer next to your cauldron, especially the marked out zones. You cannot allow the heat level to go beyond this zone. For some challenging potions, you will need to alternate between the Blue and Orange buttons to keep the level stable within the small safe zone.

What is this “back button” trick I’ve been hearing about?

If you have messed up your potion in the first stage (before the “brewing” wait period), you can actually refresh the page to try again. You will not lose your ingredients and will simply start off in the first stage. If you do this in the second stage (after the “brewing” wait period) you will restart from the first stage as well. WARNING: There have been unconfirmed reports that this causes your Potions to glitch up permanently.
I can no longer suggest doing this – it has been patched recently and using the back button will deplete ingredients in your inventory.

My Potions page seems to be glitchy, what is happening?

I have lost quite a few brews because of some technical issues, probably because my Pottermore login cookie expired BUT the Potions game does not know and still allows me to continue. The game might glitch up and reset your potion back to the first phase, or worse, you might be stuck in serious glitch where Pottermore still thinks that you have a potion brewing! So I recommend the following:

  • Use the latest versions of Safari, Firefox or Chrome browsers
  • Do not refresh your browser when you are on the actual potion game page.
  • After completing the first phase, you may want to leave that window open so that you can see the timer. However, do not click “continue” when it says that your potion is ready.
  • You can also keep track of your potion from Cauldrons page.
  • As I said earlier, when a potion is ready to move to the second phase, DO NOT click continue. Instead, go to the Cauldrons page first, making sure that the text now states “This potion requires your attention”, then select the Cauldron again. This ensures that you are still being recognised as “logged in” by Pottermore.
  • Once you have succeeded (or failed), be sure to click “Brew another Potion” (even if you don’t want to) so that the system would register your progress properly.

Which is the best potion to brew?

I would say Cure for Boils, if you want to keep things simple and gain house points easily. It has very few steps and does not involve precise control over the cauldron temperature. Also, it takes only 80 minutes to brew to the second phase. It will cost 4 Galleons to get enough ingredients 36 brews, using complimentary Horned Slugs found in Chapter 10.
NOTE: With the new scoring system, Cure for Boils only award 3 house points. It is still the cheapest potion to brew, but the other potions, such as the Sleeping Draught might be better if you want to gain house points quickly.

How do I wave my wand? I can’t even find it.

The wand is located at the bottom-right corner of the table, below the Potion recipe book. It is sometimes obscured by ingredients.

I keep getting my ingredients wrong.

Here’s a tip. Before starting anything, take a look at your Potion book. Notice that each potion has 3 key ingredients. Then, take a look at your ingredient inventory here and look at how the key ingredients look like. Be familiar with them so that when you brew the potion, you know exactly what is on your table.


Potions may be the only activity you can keep on playing on Pottermore, but do pay attention to your expenditure! You will NOT receive any Galleons until the release of Book 2 in 2012. So always try to make the best value out of that 500 Galleons (or whatever is left of it) and don’t waste money buying items until you need them.

Thank you

I would like to thank my readers and Pottermore fans who commented and contributed very useful information: Dwight, Patrick, Blah Master, and Minerva


A look into Pottermore

J.K. Rowling, retrieved from

J.K. Rowling certainly does not want the Harry Potter popularity to wane – even after the extraordinary success of the film series and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Her latest project, Pottermore, is an online experience developed with Sony. The website was described as an extension to the 7-book series, providing not just new supplementary reading materials, but also an almost immersive world for fans to role-play in.

Part of the start-up hype was a 7-day campaign called the “Magical Quill Quest” where 1 million hopeful wizards and witches could register to become an early access user. From 15 August 2011, Pottermore has rolled out invitations to a small amount of users. After about 13 days, the number of players are just above 78,000. Pottermore is expected to be open to all in October 2011.

Welcome letter

I was not exactly optimistic about getting early access as I usually have poor luck for lucky draws. Due to sheer dumb luck (as Professor McGonagall might say), I received a welcoming letter from the website stating that I can explore Pottermore. After completing the main story experience, I’ve decided to write a short review about Pottermore and explain (without spoiling too much) how some parts of the website works.

Story Exploration

In Pottermore, each book is divided up into chapters, and key Moments in those chapters are highlighted as explorable scenes. Most scenes are animated artwork that has exactly three layers of depth. Users can shift between each depth layer either by double clicking or using arrow keys on the keyboard. Objects can be discovered in the scenes and they can either be extra Galleons, potion ingredients, books, keepsakes or random objects – all can be collected into one’s trunk.

Story scene
One of the memorable scenes from Chapter 1, where Dumbledore would use his Deluminator (Put-Outer) at Privet Drive. You can hover over most parts of the artwork and things will start animating.

I am not going to post any more screenshots to keep most of the website a surprise for all. Most of the artwork are faithful to the books and there are a lot of detailed animation happening in each scene. You have to explore the chapters sequentially, no skipping to the end! Some chapters are locked until you perform a certain action – it’s fairly obviously where most of these occur if you’ve read the book.

You might notice a column of icons on the left. These are links to articles about the Harry Potter Universe – Characters, Places, Artifacts and Animals. Some clickable objects will unlock new material written by Rowling for Pottermore, marked with a red quill icon. Users can leave comments at the end of each chapter – though most of them are on the lines of “add music please” or “more interactivity” suggestions.

Elements of gameplay

While the story experience takes place in the same point of view as the books, each Pottermore user could start their own stories by participating in the roleplaying portion of the website. That is, to be like a student at Hogwarts. The journey begins from Diagon Alley (like Harry’s first visit) where you will have to do a lot of shopping for school needs.

First you need to set up your Gringotts account. Sorry, no fancy ride here. Allowance for all users is 500 Galleons, to last until the release of the next book in Pottermore.

Shopping spree at Diagon Alley
Time to go shopping!

Flourish and Blotts

Unlike the story, Diagon Alley (and actually every other location) can be revisited at any point of gameplay. It is the only location where items, such as potion ingredients and wands, are sold.

Two critical moments

There are two very important moments in Pottermore: Wand Choosing at Ollivander’s and of course, the famous Sorting Hat Ceremony at Hogwarts. Both moments are simply 7-question quizzes, but it is a one chance deal and decision is final. Yes, Rowling believes that her 7-question tests are more discerning than any psychometric tool available in the muggle world. You have to accept the results – perhaps there was an undiscovered personality trait you never knew, or something.

Obviously, there have been countless dramatic reactions to the Sorting hat’s decision, but take it this way – this is J.K. Rowling’s Sorting Hat. Whatever it says, stays. Well, you can always sign up for a new account and “fake it” but really, the whole point is to be frank with your answers, just have faith in it, and embrace your new-found magical identity.

I am not sure if the wand has any influence on gameplay, such as casting spells. Houses at Hogwarts however, are as important as in the books – Houses compete for the House Cup and players will have various opportunities to earn (or lose) points for their houses. Points can be gained for exploring scenes and finding objects, brewing potions and dueling a student from another house.

Great Hall Scoreboard
The Great Hall is the leaderboard in Pottermore. Click for a larger view to see how many students have enrolled into Hogwarts and the size of each House when this screenshot was taken.

Beyond the Story: The Life and Times at Hogwarts

The story can be completed fairly quickly, since only Book 1 (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) is available and it is the shortest book in the series. Users can then focus their time on remaining activities such as Potions and Wizard’s Duel.

Hmm, needs more snake fangs.


Brewing potions is what I can describe as “Cooking Mama” style of gameplay, except Mama is not going to hold your hand throughout the process, and neither will Professor Snape – although I think no one would want that either. Recipes can be found in a Potions textbook (only one for now and it’s the compulsory purchase from Diagon Alley) and basically, that is it. As long as you have the ingredients (buy from Diagon Alley or find them in Moments), a serviceable cauldron and time, you can start brewing potions. Funny thing here, although it was clearly stated by Snape that there is “no foolish wand-waving” in Potions, you have to wave your wand to complete a set of instructions.

Potions can be challenging, as instructions have to be followed PRECISELY and completed within a time limit. The potions will then need to be left to brew for quite some time – an hour and longer. This can become frustrating when the server goes down for maintenance or some glitch occurs – causing the potion to brew incorrectly (lose house points and waste ingredients), or worse, an exploding cauldron. This means that Potions could become very expensive.. but wait, actually it already is. You see, you only gain house points for brewing potions correctly. You can’t do anything with potions, apart from gifting them to friends. There is no way to earn Galleons in Pottermore except for the handful one-time appearances scattered throughout Moments.

Wizard’s Duel

Unfortunately I cannot comment about Dueling because it has not been working properly, or at all. It is supposed to be a turn-based dueling game where two players cast spells and the better performer will win. Spells are performed by pressing a key in time with wand movement. A line would appear and as it touches a letter, players will need to click it or press the key, causing a circle to appear. Players should keep the pulsing circle as large and as centered to the letter as possible. The line then travels to the next key and – you get the picture.

Dueling Practice
Dueling Practice

It takes a while to learn the right timing but spell casting is a lot simpler. Best of all, it doesn’t cost galleons.

No, you won’t be learning unforgivable spells.

Some spells can only be unlocked by discovering new books, so keep an eye out when exploring the scenes!


Pottermore can be a rather short experience, especially if you are not into staying for tasks like Potions and Dueling, or perhaps not exactly motivated to compete with your House for the House Cup. I went exploring the story scenes very slowly and it took about 1.5 hours to finish the materials from Book 1. Then again, this is designed for Harry Potter readers of all ages, so obviously most features need to be kept straightforward.

I have not mentioned this, but a fast connection and relatively up-to-date computer is required to experience Pottermore. Most pages are image-heavy and often filled with Flash elements. Pottermore is obviously not optimized for any tablet devices, at least for now.

In short, here’s what I think.

What is great so far:

– Beautiful art and interface design
– Seamless integration of Flash and amazing use of CSS.
– Faithful interactive representation of the book’s scenes
– Experiences such as getting your own wand and sorting
– New written material by J.K. Rowling
– Not some money-making framework for Harry Potter franchise

What needs to be worked on:

– Not particularly exciting after initial story exploration
– Wizard’s Duel is not working
– No way to earn Galleons (you are expected to scrimp until 2012)
– Lack of sound effects and music (although putting any would cause bandwidth problems)
– Less than 10% early registrants given access

While yes – this is beta, and problems do exist all the time and can be fixed… The developers have less than 5 weeks to resolve issues and put in all the other features for the October launch.

Hogwarts Stats

Here you can find information about the current enrollment figures at Hogwarts in Pottermore:
Gryffindor: 23,320
Ravenclaw: 24,278
Hufflepuff: 23,370
Slytherin: 23,033
Total students: 94,001
Last updated 12:08PM 28/08/2011 (GMT+8)


I have intentionally left out details in this review. If you do have any questions about Pottermore, such as where to find ingredients and similar, feel free to leave a comment.

Back to Top