the food connoisseur I'm on the mission to explore the wonderful food out there Sat, 21 Nov 2020 21:34:57 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 the food connoisseur 32 32 67390964 Thrilling jet boat ride with Dart River Tour | Saigon Kingdom Sat, 21 Nov 2020 21:34:57 +0000 Dart River jet boat tour 

One of the best memories from my NZ trip was an exhilarating jet boat ride on the dart rivers. The tour company we booked with was Dart Rivers the whole package of a 4WD coach from our accommodation, a walking tour in ancient beech forest, and a jet boat for half-day cost $269 each.  

Glenorchy-2 Glenorchy-2

Into the ancient beech forest 

The coach picked us up was at 7:45 am around the corner from our accommodation, still dark waiting for the sunrise the coach arrived. Driving from central Queenstown to Glenorchy. The first part of the tour was a walk-in ancient beech forest, unchanged for 80 million years. Advised to wear insect repellent from the sand flies. I was still bitten all over and have the war scars on my legs.  Deep into the forest, you find one of the Lord of the rings, spinoff the Hobbits oversized chair pop for photo opportunities.  

ancient-beech-forest-tree ancient beech forest

Dart River jet boat 

Once we were out of the forest, it was time to be outfitted in the life jacket and sit in the 14-seater jet boat. Speeding across Aspiring National Park, Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. Be prepared for going through thrilling hi-speeds of 55mph on the shallow waters. My mid-length hair was in knots, and icy cold-water splattering on our faces. The scenery is breathtaking, mountainous wilderness with 15 fiords.  

start of Dart River tour Te Waipounamu - dart river jet boat tour

Saigon Kingdom 

Returning to Queenstown in the early afternoon we explored more of the adventurous town. Beach Street is full of boutique shops for men, women and gifts. Spotting the Saigon Kingdom, we made our way inside for some Vietnamese for dinner. Nothing beats a warm bowl of pho from the cold. A large bowl of pho bo noodle soup sets you back at $17.50 and the ha noi grilled pork meatballs $7 are not to be missed.  

Saigon Kingdom Pho bo ha noi meatballs

Saigon Kingdom Queenstown 

88 Beach Street
Queenstown 9300 

Saigon Kingdom website 


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Longboys – Gourmet finger Doughnuts Wed, 04 Nov 2020 19:10:57 +0000 Raspberry Rose Lychee Longboys Coal Drops Kings Cross

Move over, cronutseclairs, there’s something new must-try dessert in town. Longboys is dreamed up by Graham Hornigold, and Heather Kaniuk, past pastry chefs with experience from the notable Hakkasan, Mandarin Oriental, and Shangri-La. Longboys are gourmet finger doughnuts made in small batches daily at a North London bakery.  


Their first residency was located at Boxpark Wembley, opening up a second base at Coal Drops yard Kings Cross in August this year. It happened to be September when I visited Longboys, the eatouthelpout Government scheme kicked in. A way to encourage people to dine out at restaurants and help the hospitality industry get back on its feet. Up to 50% off on food or non-alcoholic drinks every Monday to Wednesday. Discount is automatically applied without any vouchers.  

Longboys Kings Cross

Located at the lower stable at Coal Drops Yard, selling Assembly coffee and gourmet crafted doughnuts. Longboys makes brioche-based doughnuts hand-rolled daily into a long finger. Fillings, toppings, jams, compotes, are made fresh in-house. Ten flavours are on display for sale at £3.90 a pop, a box of 3 for £11.50 and 6 for £22. There are 10 tempting choices to try them all and monthly specials. With the #eatouthelpout discount, the doughnut cost £1.95.

Longboys Coal Drops Yard doughnuts display

In the end, I picked up a Raspberry Rose Lychee Longboy and sat outside the seating area. The long finger doughnut in a cardboard box reminds me more of éclair or hotdog. The lighter brioche dough holds up the delicious fillings, a thick creamy vanilla custard, hidden raspberry jam, fresh raspberry, lychee fruit, and dried rose petals.  

Raspberry Rose Lychee Longboys

Longboys doughnut is not your typical round-shaped doughnut piped with jam or fillings. Their mission is to not making over the top sugary fillings and they nailed the perfect balance of flavours, light doughnut bread.  

Raspberry Rose Lychee Doughnut

119 Lower Stable Street Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DR 

For more information see Longboys website. 

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The Sun Carshalton pub – Delicious pub grub Fri, 18 Sep 2020 11:41:08 +0000 The Sun pub 

Sometimes it takes a very long time to organise a group gathering with friends, we all at different stages in our lives and it’s becoming more difficult to find a free day. Sundays are usually reserved for dim sum and Sunday roasts. The destination was The Sun in Carshalton, Surrey, the trip to Surrey from London is relatively quick hopping on a train from Victoria and the pub is a quick walk from the station. 

The Sun pub outside

Carshalton is a lovely little village with lots of parks and open space, there are a handful of other pubs and restaurants in the area. The Sun is an independent free house with seasonal food on the menu in relaxed vibe settings. They even have a dedicated dog club on Instagram @thesun_dogclub 


The staff at The Sun were very accommodating with one of the guests being in a wheelchair. After an accident left her legs paralyzed for life she’s still travelling around the world and posting the best places for accessibility. They gave us a table with plenty of space around us for her to move around.  

group shot The Sun Carshalton food

The Sun Food & menu

For appetisers, we ordered deep-fried battered whitebait, sprinkled with spices for a twist along with homemade tartar sauce.  

The whole party opted for the Sunday Roast menu with a bargain 2-course meal set price for £15 for adults and £10 for children 

I opted for the rump beef that was thinly sliced, cooked medium rare just how I like it. All roasts are served with seasonal vegetables, carrots, chunky parsnips, crispy roast potatoes, with a massive Yorkshire pudding on top, drizzled with red wine gravy. Although served on a white plate you can see the hand-drawn illustration of the exterior of the pub and cursive font of The Sun. 

The Sun roast beef Sunday Roasts The Sun roast beef Sunday Roasts The Sun roast beef Sunday Roasts


To polish off the roast, my chosen dessert was the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, caramel ice-cream and candied pecans. The other dessert was a lemon curd & coconut Bakewell, with blueberry, compete served with ice cream.  

Other pub classics such as fish and chips were also ordered in our party. Sunday Roasts at The Sun was an absolute bargain, delicious pub classics done well.  

The Sun Sticky toffee pudding


For more information visit The Sun website. 

The Sun 

4 North Street, Carshalton, Surrey, SM5 2HU 

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Mei Mei London – Singaporean restaurant comfort food Wed, 16 Sep 2020 10:29:39 +0000 Mei Mei  

It was 9 years ago when I first briefly met Elizabeth Haigh aka The Modern Chef at my very first dinner event with Sacla along the River Thames. 2011 was the year my blog was born and Elizabeth completed in the Master Chef competition. Fast forward the years she has worked in numerous kitchens and was head chef of Pidgin in Hackney. Finally opening her own establishment Mei Mei in the heart of Borough Market. Inspired by Singaporean roots, hawker street stalls and kopitiam (coffee shops) she wanted to bring the flavours of Singapore to diners.  

mei mei Borough Market

You can dine in or takeaway at Mei Mei it has very limited seating with countertop style bar and a table in a corner. Interior and décor are pleasing with bubblegum pastel pinks and green designed by b3 designers. Food mains are served in cardboard boxes with a conscious that once thrown away they will become fully decomposable and biodegradable but not ideal for the windy days.  

mei mei Borough Market London

On the menu 

It was late morning going onto the afternoon, and I still wanted breakfast/brunch food. Opting for the Kaya toast set £5, that comes with teh (hot tea). The lunch/all-day menu consists of the signature Hainanese chicken and rice, captain chicken, sayur lemak curry, fried carrot cake.  

My first ever experience of eating a Kaya toast set was at an airport in Hong Kong at OLDTOWN white coffee 舊街場白咖啡 waiting for my transit flight to Australia 

mei mei kaya toast set

Kaya toast set 

A kaya toast is traditionally toasted over charcoal but most places just pop the bread in the toaster. The hot toast consists on sweet and creamy kaya (coconut jam) with a slice of salty butter. You dip the toast in the soft boiled egg with ground white pepper and a dash of soy sauce. I love mine washed down with a hot Teh (tea) but people also have kopi (coffee).  

 supper club 

I look forward to revisiting Mei Mei for the other dishes on offer. They have just announced an evening supper club  a prepaid tasting menu at Borough Market which ends on Oct 3rd. 


For more information, visit the Mei Mei website.    

Mei Mei London 

Unit 52 Rochester Walk Borough Market, London SE1 9AF  



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Café East  – Roman Road most popular cafe Mon, 07 Sep 2020 18:47:02 +0000 Café East 

Not to be mistaken with the Café East Vietnamese restaurant with the same name in Surrey Quays. Café East is a vibrant bubbling halal, vegan, veggie, café located you guessed it in the East End. Perched along Roman Road it is almost impossible to get seating on a Saturday. The only café on Roman Road with endless queues has been proven to be a very popular spot for locals and anyone who wants a good brunch.   

They don’t have a website but the current social media presence on their Instagram page boast over 12k followers. Going into Café East blindly without knowing what’s on the menu, and only going by social posts. 

Cafe East exterior

Owner background 

Mustafa Has is the person behind Café East, graduated from a graphic design he saw the opportunity to turn number 426 into a café. The inside has small square tables and can feel cramped but it’s exactly how Mustafa wanted it to be. The interior is full of tropical vibrant colours, and framed photographs and records are placed on shelves on the exposed walls. 

interior Cafe east


Each staff has their own station and it was difficult to grab a person to take orders, there was one to take orders, another to ask for the paper bill but then you have to go to the tills at the from to pay.   

Cafe East breakfast and brunch menu

Cafe East sandwiches mains pasta menu Cafe East Pancake and waffles menu Cafe East drinks menu

The menu at Café East is extensive with the usual café items and also food with a twist, waffles & pancakes on one page, club sandwiches, mains, pasta, gourmet burgers, wraps, salads, breakfast & brunch, make your own, omelettes, and jacket potato. There are fresh juices, mixed juices made to order, a selection of milkshakes, teapigs tea and more. 

posh breaky cafe east posh breaky cafe east

Best of both worlds 

For the indecisive, the pancakes & waffle items have both sweet & savoury ingredients. The Posh Breaky came beautifully presented, a selection of fresh fruit, waffle, berries dusted with powdered sugar. Popping red cherry tomatoes, soft fluffy scrambled eggs, thinly sliced avocados, and spicy beef sausage on a stick. It was great to navigate around the plate, starting with the savoury beef sausage it’s not your typical long minced meat in a skin. At first glance, it looks like salami slices but its sure packs a punch with the spices. I like to judge a chef by their cooked egg techniques. Scrambled eggs perfectly cooked creamy and smooth. Waffles are crispy on the interior and not soggy and the fresh fruits is a great way to end your meal. 

It’s no wonder why Café East is very popular with people willing to queue, they serve up great dishes using fresh ingredients without being too presumptuous. 

Café East 

426 Roman Road, London E3 5LU England 

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Joe’s Garage – laidback vibes casual cafe in Queenstown Mon, 31 Aug 2020 12:06:18 +0000 Joe’s Garage Queenstown 

After a day’s trip to Milford Sound and as dusk started to fall in Queenstown. It was time to pick somewhere for dinner. We weren’t particular ravish, and all agreed to have a salad for dinner. A quick internet search led us to Joe’s Garage. The cluster of crowds gathered around the waterfront against the shimming lights from restaurants and shops glistering into the lake.  

Joes Garage queenstown sign


Joe’s Garage very first café & restaurant very first spot started in Queenstown back in 2000. It was once an old post office sorting room, before their permanent residence. Fast forward 9 years and the empire has expanded to both the North and Sound islands of New Zealand with 14 additions 

The OG café/restaurant is located in Searle Lane, plenty of benches for outdoor seating, the building is made up of wooden panels with the Estella beer and own brand signage that glowed within the night.  

Joe's Garage Queenstown inside area

Interior and atmosphere 

We were the only patrons that evening, Joe’s Garage opens from the wee early hours of 7 am until late. The interior has that laidback rustic vibes, paint coming off its metal chairs, one large wooden back panel bench. Metal tin to hold the menu and cutlery 

joes garage queenstown food

The all-day menu has all the breakfast and lunch staples with 25 items, Joe’s specials are written on the menu at the sitting area. They are known for great coffee and great food. The service was very prompt, once we ordered the kitchen was busy grilling our chickens for our salads.  

My friends ordered Joe’s Caesar salad whilst I went for the easy tiger. Indulgent grilled chicken rubbed with spices had enough flavours absorbed, the outer exterior charred and slightly browned. The vinaigrette dressing is prominent, sparingly drizzled all over. A good ratio of giant couscous, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and avocado were enough to satisfy the appetite.   

During my time in New Zealand, I ate very healthy most of the meals were salads, the quality over there is superb.  


More information and rating 

For more information visit Joe’s Garage website. 

Address: Searle Lane, Town Centre, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand 


Joe's Garage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Upperscale Ltd order and review Thu, 09 Jul 2020 16:15:29 +0000 The Upperscale Ltd  

If there’s one thing I’m missing out on during the covid-19 lockdown are sushi, sashimi and poke bowls. There’s something deeply satisfying eating fresh fish out of the sea, along with simple ingredients, like mango, edamame beans, pickled ginger, with some basic soy and hot wasabi sauce. 

upperscale order

There were a few companies opening up for deliveries from trading at Billingsgate Fish Market, but minimum spend was £70, something I couldn’t afford. I saw a few of my friends ordered from a company called The Upperscale Ltd on social media and asked what the portions sizes were like.  

upperscale salmon

The Upperscale Ltd usually trades to the hospitality cliental, and in 2015 was approached to partner with Amazon Fresh to supply their fresh fish to its customers. 

upperscale tuna
upperscale tuna


Minimum order is only £20 for free home delivery, that’s my usual spend at the fishmongers. Ordering on a Friday evening before midnight my order came to me early morning the next day. Delivery slots are between 7.30am and 4pm. For the amount of seafood, you get it’s well worth the money, plus I had more fish than my usual from the fishmongers. The only complaint is the small portion of scallops 120g will get you 3-4 pieces.  

upperscale rare salmon

Sashimi grade fish 

Rest assured the tuna and salmon your buying is sashimi grade, and should be eaten fresh on the day. You get x2 160-170 kg of fresh fish, a total bargain since it usually cost me about £5-7 for one in similar weight.  

tuna marinade

I turned my sashimi grade tuna and salmon into cube pieces ready to be marinated following the recipes by Island Poke book, for the poke bowls to be arranged. Left over salmon skin was pan-fried for an extra treat. Seaweed salad was also made beforehand to add the poke bowls.  

salmon marinade

I can highly recommend using upperscale in the future, knowing it’s much cheaper than going to the fishmongers for sashimi grade fresh fish.  

homemade how to make a poke bowl



Here’s the marinade and seaweed salad recipe.  


Salmon marinade  

Salmon marinade for poke bowl
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian, Japanese
Keyword Hawaiian, poke bowl
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes


  • chef knife


  • 160 grams sashimi grade salmon
  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 finely sliced spring onions


  • chop salmon into dice cubes
  • finely chopped spring onions 
  • add the soy and sesame oil
  • mix well together
  • marinate for 10 minutes maximum

Salmon marinade  

2 tablespoons of Soy sauce 
1 tablespoon of sesame oil 
finely chopped spring onions  

Mixed the ingredients together and pour over the salmon leave for 10 minutes max. 

homemade how to make a poke bowl

Japanese seaweed salad

mix seaweed salad
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword asian, Japanese, salad
Prep Time 30 minutes


  • knife


  • 50 gram seaweed
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  • Soak the hydrated seaweeds in warm water for 30 mins 
  • mix dressing sauce in a bowl
  • toss sesame seeds

Soak the hydrated seaweeds in warm water for 30 mins 

Dressing sauce 

3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar 
1 tablespoons of mirin 
2 tablespoons of soy sauce 
toasted sesame seeds add sparingly  

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Din Tai Fung Covent Garden – luscious Tawainese food Sat, 06 Jun 2020 17:09:03 +0000 Din Tai Fung Covent Garden 

I waited many years for Din Tai Fung to arrive in London. There were countless rumours of one opening for ages, and the time finally arrived in December 2018. I eagerly awaited but also managed to try the popular chain whilst in Hong Kong Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong.  The rumours that the new London outlet would open near the Crossrail of Tottenham Court Road, but ended up in Covent Garden. As expected, the much-hyped restaurant had tremendous queues during the first quarter of its opening.

dumpling makers Din Tai Fung

Did you know they started off by selling cooking oil back in 1972? The family eventually decided to open half the shop to sell Xiao Long Bao’s (steamed pork dumplings) in Taiwan and word of mouth made them popular.  


Din Tai Fung is located near the square in the hub of Covent Garden, opposite a Natwest Bank. Rope poles are seen by the entrance for the anticipated queues. Their logo on a red vinyl plaque, against the white painted walls. Visiting on a Friday evening with no reservations, I managed to walk-in with only 2 groups in front of me in the queue with no problem.  


You walk into the spacious establishment round, and square natural beech wood tables and black metal chairs for larger groups. Din Tai Fung is a 250 seater restaurant, you see the dumpling makers in the see-through glass kitchen pleating the infamous xiaolongbaos wearing gloves and face mask.   

how to eat Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao

Seated under a window panel where the smaller tables of dining for two, the waiter placed the menu for us. Laminated instructions of the how-to eat xiaolongbao process is on hand for you, the tip is to dip your bao in the vinegar, place the delicate dumpling on a spoon, poke a hole to let the soup sip and finally put it in your mouth in one go. 

Din Tai Fung menu
Crab & Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao 

It’s a given to order their signature xiao long bao’s, a wide variety is available with prices ranging from £10.50 onwards that come in portions of 4 or 8 pieces.  

dumpling noodle soup

Other dishes on the menu are greens, steamed buns, other dumplings, fried rice, soups, noodles, won ton, and sweet dessert buns. 

Shanghainese drunken chicken
Shanghainese drunken chicken

The dumpling noodle soup comes with a clear well balanced in flavour broth. Noodles are neatly placed in the bowl and spring onions scattered on the surface. 

Sautéed String Beans

Sautéed String Beans is cooked in plenty of garlic a simple but tasty dish to eat between the dumplings and noodles. 


The bill came to a total of £75, a lot steeper then eating at the outlets in Asia. 

For more information visit Din Tai Fund Covent Garden website.  

5-6 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8PS 

 Tel : +44 (0) 2030 343 888 

Opening Hours: 

 Monday to Thursday: 12 noon to 10 pm 

Friday: 12 noon – 10.30 pm 

Saturday: 11 am – 10.30 pm 

Sunday: 11 am – 10 pm 

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Daisy Green – Fancy bacon rolls Sun, 31 May 2020 19:57:22 +0000 Daisy Green Portman Village
Daisy Green Portman Village
Daisy Green Portman Village

I have been a long term fan of Daisy Green ever since their days as a frozen yoghurt truck eating bacon with caramel sauce to watching them build their empire opening up locations around London. Eating Aussie brunches and breakfast meals with friends at their different locations. Of course, I needed to pay tribute to their original spot Daisy Green Portman Village. Perched on the corner of Seymor Street on New Quebec Street, pink flowers bloomed from the branches outside the door. A bright neon sign with the words Secret Garden Brunch shined brightly welcoming passersby.  


Daisy Green interior

Walking into the doors, on the ground floor you see some long benches and high chairs for people who just want to drop in for a hot drink and small snack from their kitchen table counter. Once you tell staff It’s downstairs that will intrigue you and if you won’t decide to dine in for the full menu. Daisy Green Portman Village is a quirky place, a big bunny paper mache sit on the wall, colourful art painted on walls by artist Shuby, and the original cow from their branding in the early days are present. Furniture is a mismatch and each vault has its own personality.  

Daisy Green menu

Visiting during pancake week there was a special menu dedicated to the day with Daisy Green famous buttermilk pancakes with a glass of prosecco for £12.50. Daisy Green is very serious about their coffee, with their beans from The Roasting Pantry and coffee order is a must from here, it’s super strong, and aromatics hits your nose. The menu is split into sweet and savoury dishes.  I’ve tried the Bondi breakfast at Beany Green previously and it tasted exactly like the breakfasts I had in Australia cafes.  


shrove Tuesday
Daisy Green coffee
Daisy Green fancy bacon roll
fancy bacon roll up close
Daisy Green fancy bacon roll

One dish was calling out for me, the fancy bacon roll and it didn’t disappoint. When it came out from the kitchen you notice it’s not your typical English café style bacon roll. Firstly, there’s a buttery flaky paratha roti, split folded up, and poached eggs on both sides. Back bacon is laden with spring onions, crispy onions, chillis, and a special rich indulging holy f*ck hollandaise sauce. Each bite was loaded up with different flavours and textures making you want more.  

The Daisy Green collective has never diaspoint and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to everywhere for brillant tasty food.  

More information

Address: 20 Seymour St, Marylebone, London W1H 7HX 

For more information visit Daisy Green website.  

Daisy Green Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Real Journeys Milford Sound coach scenic tour Sun, 03 May 2020 21:11:25 +0000 Real Journey Milford Sound cruise 

Picture this, looking up at the sky, you see white fluffy cotton clouds so close within hands reach. The sky is pure blue, with no air pollution, inhaling the fresh air, surrounded by mountains untouched by humans. Our next destination on the itinerary was Milford Sounds in QueenstownNew Zealand. We booked the Milford Sound coach scenic, fly tour with Real Journeys costing a whopping $683 each and an additional $39 for a buffet lunch, but you only live once and what chances are there for me going back to NZ anytime soon. 

Real Journeys Milford Sound coach and cruise tour

The Real Journeys experience 

Spending the next 9 hours on long coaches, cruises, the weather was bad for us to fly and the flight segment was cancelled. A one-way journey around Milford Sounds from Queenstown is 6 hours long, but don’t worry the coach has glass ceilings and big windows to soak up the scenery. There are many pit stops for photo ops along the way and the 6 hours pass by very quickly.  

Fiordland National park

Pit stops 

Real Journeys picked us outside our Blue Peaks lodge accommodation at 7 am sharp. The first stop was Moutain Creighton, Ben Lomond Track, the Head of Lake Wakatipu in Glenorchy, glaciers in the mountain valleys. These are the spots where you can frolic in the golden yellow fields, big white fluffy clouds and blue mountains as backdrop.  

Fiordland National park

The Cruise 

Eventually, we ended up at the port ready to board Milford Sovereign, by then it was lunchtime, and it was time to tuck into the international buffet food. A lot of it was Asian inspired, har gao, Korean fried chicken, lamb chops were delicious. Commentary is provided in different languages, we passed massive waterfalls, seals on rocks, and took in the serene surroundings.  

Milford Sovereign
Real journey international buffet
Real journey international buffet
Milford Sound
Milford Sound

The difference between a sound and fjord is that a sound is a valley filled with water. Fjord, is an underwater valley and has steeped mountains. As the cruise finished and our flight segment was cancelled it was back on the coach to Queenstown.  

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