Fair Trade for Pie
I was on my way home from a short business trip to Melbourne and didn’t have a single meat pie during my whole stay. I knew there was one cafe at Tullamarine Airport that had one just perfect for my last minute fix but when I finally arrived there I had to realize that the cafe had turned into an Italian deli. After searching the entire airport in vain for pie I finally capitulated and was pretty disappointed, it was an Australian airport after all. Thankfully I passed ‘Bar Pulpo’ which offered ‘Bocadillos‘ the tasty sandwiches I new from Spain.
I went for the ‘Serrano with Zamora Cheese‘ and asked them to put it into the oven quickly so the cheese could melt. This thing was beautiful. The generous slab of serrano ham was lovely nutty and the cheese added it’s deep salty but not overpowering taste. This all in a perfect piece of baguette which had it’s own taste, nicely spiced and soft and firm at the same time. I just say I entered the plane very happy and content so I would recommend this to any hungry traveller passing through here.
Bar Pulpo by Movida Departure Mall Melbourne International Airport Terminal 2 Departure Drive Tullamarine Victoria 3045 Australia
The Ten Levels of Fury!
Today two of my colleagues invited me to join them for lunch around the corner from the office in Shinagawa Seaside. In the foodcourt at the Jusco supermarket there is a small cantine like noodle shop with some really decent ‘Tantanmen‘ – ‘Tantanmen Tenshin’ – which I had tried some years back when I was here the last time.
This shop has ten levels of spiciness for their noodles and as my colleagues warned me upfront and they took levels one and two, I didn’t dare going any further than level three which turned out to be a very smart move. Picking up my bowl from the counter I realized that it had the most drops of red chili oil swimming on the surface compared to the ones from my colleagues. Now this was nice. The creamy sesame broth was rich and thick and strong in taste and the heat, even that not overwhelmingly painful, instantly squeezed out some sweat drops from my forehead. The noodles were good but not the homemade kind and surprisingly bright yellow in color. The minced pork gave it all a nice meaty touch and some chinese greens added extra layer of texture and something cooling to the otherwise heaty pot. After I had finished everything I wondered if I should have taken it up a notch on the spice scale but my stomach proved me different by growling for the rest of the day.
This is a simply shop I wish I had also close to my workplace but maybe it’s better that way as I probably would have it to often which either would drive my weighing scale through the roof or leave me with holes in my stomach whilst trying to push the levels up. BURN.
Foodcourt Jusco Shinagawa Seaside
OMO – Oh My Okonomiyaki!
I wasn’t super hungry this evening because of my late and generous ‘Menya Musashi‘ lunch but still felt like a little something to close the day. I randomly went into the Shinagawa Front Building and when I realized that there is a ‘Okonomiyaki Kiji’ branch located on the second floor I decided to have a slightly bigger dinner than anticipated as in Singapore this seems to be impossible to get.
I decided to go less traditional and ordered a ‘Kimchi & Pickle Starter‘ and the ‘Pork & Kimchi Okonomiyaki‘. As I was sitting at the bar I could follow the action as the chefs were entertainingly preparing mine and other dishes which was particularly important because a good and thick Okonomiyaki can take around 15-20 minutes.
It looked beautiful and tasted fantastic. The big chunks of kimchi cabbage had a nice bite and heat to them and were balanced just right with the Oko-dough. Best about this though was the thick slices of pork belly on top. Whilst preparing, I was a bit worried as the pork often doesn’t get enough time on the flame but here they took their time and waited until the fat melted away and the meat transformed into crispy salty goodness. All finished with salty butter and freshly chopped green onions on top. Simple food tweaked to greatness.
The ‘Kimchi & Pickle‘ starter upfront helped me through the waiting time with it’s great tastes and different textures. The pickled radish was crunchy and cooling and the the kimchi style cabbage had a very mild taste with only a little bit of spice to it. My favorite of all was what seemed to be some kind of kimchi cabbage jerky as it was stringy and quite hard to bite and by far the most spiciest of the trio.
‘Okonomiyaki Kiji’ is a famous brand from Osaka and they sure lived up to their name. I am pretty happy to have stumbled into this shop as I didn’t have any decent Okonomiyaki in years as it just seems impossible to get a remotely good one in Singapore. I would do it again and again and again.
Okonomiyaki Kiji お好み焼 きじ
Shinagawa Front Building 2F
Tel: +81 3 6712 0256
Second Rounds at Menya Musashi!
I just had to come back here before leaving Japan and even that I originally intended to have this fantastic ‘Tsukemen‘ again, standing in front of the vending machine I reconsidered and changed for the “upper left” signature bowl. Since I started this blog I find myself more often trying new dishes rather than just going with the usuals which I find a pretty positive development as I’m normally a creature of habit and rather go with what I know i like.
I went for the thicker broth, fat noodles and medium size and didn’t have to wait very long for it to arrive. Compared to the ‘Tsukemen‘ from last Sunday this broth was slightly lighter but still on the salty side which worked great together with the fat springy noodles. I seldom had these wider noodles before but I think I do prefer them over the usual thinner ramen noodles as they seem to transport the broth much better and are not getting soft as easily. All ingredients here tasted fresh and delicious even that the egg again and unfortunately wasn’t that special at all. The pork belly though had the same tenderness and delicious texture I had missed all week. I savored each bite knowing well I won’t have the opportunity to taste this for probably a long while.
After i had slurped my bowl dry I wondered if I could have managed to finish a large portion and if one of the buttons on the vending machine would actually have given me some extra of that fantastic pork belly. This place is well on my radar now and even that I heard the branches in Singapore are completely different I might give them a shot to see the difference between them and the mothership.
Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634
Put Some MOO in Your Ramen!
It was the weekend and I had my mind set on a beef ramen place for lunch that I found on a dedicated ramen blog for Tokyo. The place is called ‘Matador’ (マタドール) and is located in the Kita-Senju area in only a 5 minute walking distance from the east exit of the train station. I was slowly getting better in navigating and hardly walked off the ideal route. I arrived just after the lunch hour but still had to queue up because this place only has six ish bar seats.
Finally in, I went for the shop’s signature ‘Luxurious Roast Beef Ramen‘ (贅沢焼牛らぁ麺) which, as everywhere, was the upper left corner button on the vending machine. I passed my ticket to one of the staff and waited excited for my lunch to arrive.
This must have been the prettiest ramen I have ever seen with it’s two big slices of roast beef floating on top of the clear broth that smelled simply wonderful. The broth was soya based (shoyu), light and salty and was topped with some finely chopped chives. The roast beef looked not only beautifully rose but was juicy and tasted great and beefy. It only was a bit difficult to bite of small pieces so I ended up gobbling down a full slice at once. The noodles were thin but unfortunately a bit too soft for my taste. One thing I found outstanding was that besides the two big slaps of roast they had added some slow cooked brisket-like beef that stuck to the noodles when slurping them in and made this really an incredible dish.
I didn’t regret making my way out here on this beautiful Saturday as ‘Matador’ awarded me with a great new experience and even that I couldn’t really imagine how beef ramen would taste like before I have sure become a big fan of it. I will definitely be back here anytime I will get remotely close to Kita-Senju. Pretty awesome, you should try it.
Crazy or Super Crazy?
My first week in Japan was nearly over and my friend was so nice to take me ‘Tantanmen’ hunting on Friday. I found this place in Kanda on the internet and as it looked great and promised to be super spicy we head for Ogawamachi station directly after work. I have never been in this area before and here were heaps of little restaurants found around every tiny corner. After taking a couple of wrong turns we eventually found ‘La-Show-Han’ by the red sun logo on the door which I recognized from a blog. This place has only few bar seats and first we were the only ones and so had the chance to have a little chat with the master who was actually hilarious and very kind.
We were only two people but not knowing when we would return to this place, we pulled three different bowls and a couple of beers from the vending machine outside. My friend ordered the ‘Spicy Green Hot Pepper‘ version but the master recommended her an off menu option which he called ‘Mala Tantanmen‘ and described as a Sichuan/Thai fusion dish as it used Sichuan pepper, bird’s eye chilis and sesame. This one was my favorite, the sesame broth was nicely thick and the heat was moderate enough to still taste the ingredients and enjoy it. Also the bird’s eye chilis kicked in in a very unfamiliar way. Great stuff.
The second bowl was the ‘Sesame‘ version which was delicious. This one wasn’t spicy at all and tasted lovely and obviously like sesame with a nutty finish coming from crushed peanuts sprinkled on top. I also liked the sort of sprouts topping every dish seem to have and that were giving it a cool and fresh twist. Okada san said that he uses the same noodles as his favorite ramen shop does and they were wider than usual and cooked until nicely chewy and springy.
Last but not least Okada san brought us the ‘Premium Sichuan Style‘ Tantanmen which was the initial reason to come here. He checked twice if we really wanted to have this particular one and noted at a sign mentioning that this was only meant for “crazy people”. He left out the spicy extras at first, for us to try the milder taste first before turning it into the full version. It was more of a dry type and tasted great. The soup at the bottom was much thicker than in the bowls before, lovely creamy and rich and after some slurps we handed the bowl back to the master and he worked his magic. He sprinkled a lot of ground Sichuan pepper on the noodles and finished with a generous drizzle of homemade Sichuan infused vegetable oil. The noodles now were covered under a generous layer of cracked red pepper color and looked much more intimidating than before/. I tried to be courageous and started with a big slurp of noodles. Oh, they were dangerous. The pepper instantly numbed my outer mouth, inner mouth including tongue and everything else that was touched by the noodles. It all became cold and hot at the same time, made me sweat on my head and made my ice water taste very odd. It all tasted brilliant though and very different to every Tantanmen I ever had before but I might just have overestimated my tolerance for spice in this case. There is also a ‘Super Crazy‘ version which I politely skipped after tasting this bad boy.
This was a great find and even that i had to realize that apparently I am not “super crazy” I absolutely loved it here. Besides the great and eye opening super spicy food we really felt very welcome here and it was nice talking with the master who took his time explaining and answering all of our questions. When I will be back in town I’ll make sure to pay this place another visit to try some of their other options working on my craziness.
Kanda Nishikicho 1-4-8
Bella Italia in Shinagawa
After a long day at our Tokyo office one of my colleagues and I went to ‘Vento’s’ pretty much only because it was the most convenient and only two minutes from both our hotels. We sat down outside and I felt a bit bad being in Japan and having Western food already on the second day.
My regret only lasted until my beautiful ‘Margarita’ showed up. This was without lie one of the best pizzas I have ever had in my life; pure brilliant simplicity. I haven’t had tasted such a fantastic and sweet tomato sugo in a very long time. The pizza was not overloaded with cheese so I was able to really taste all of the few ingredients as well as the thin dough. It was so thin that the area in the middle became juicy tomato-y goodness whilst the outer crust stayed chewy and tasted like very well seasoned pizza bread.
Service was very friendly and fast and the outside seating was just the right thing to do after a day locked inside an air-conditioned meeting room. Most importantly the food was outstanding so I give this place a double thumbs up. Bueno!
Vento Italian Bar & Grill ヴェント高輪
1F Keikyuu Shopping Plaza Wing Takanawa West
4-10-18 Takanawa Minato-ku
Tel: +81 3 3441 7952
Trains, Raw Fish and Sticky Rice
After a beautiful day walking around I felt slightly hungry. My big portion of ‘Tsukemen’ from ‘Menya Musashi’ at lunchtime still made me feel pretty filled but since it was my first day I felt it was my duty to have at least a little something raw and just outside of Shinagawa station there was ‘Ushio’ a small sushi bar that fitted the purpose perfectly. It’s one of these small places you find all around with hardly more than ten seats which unfortunately were all taken when I arrived but after a little wait I finally placed the order for my first round of sushi with the master.
I started up with ‘Kappa Maki’ (cucumber roll), ‘Tako’ (octopus), ‘Ebi’ (cooked shrimp), ‘Hamachi’ (yellow tail) and ‘Maguro’ (tuna). The different types of fish tasted fresh and sweet and had great textures, all soft and firm. I particularly liked the dark red ‘Maguro’ and the ‘Tako’ who I grew to love. Beforehand I had read up some sushi etiquette and not knowing if it was actually true I followed it to the last bit. This meant not asking for extra wasabi, what was not necessary anyway and eating the sushi with my hands. The rice was super sticky so it was a bit of a bother getting it off my fingers after eating each piece.
Time for the second round. I felt a bit more adventurous so I ordered ‘Engawa’ (halibut), ‘Chutoro’ (medium fatty tuna belly) and to see one familiar face I added a second piece of that lovely tuna. I have no complaints at all about the taste the halibut actually didn’t taste like much but the ‘Chutoro’ had a nice distinct aroma, which was much richer than the lean version. I still preferred my old favorite as both others were borderline in regards to enjoyable texture for me and needed much more chewing to bring them down.
I really liked ‘Ushio’ as a small casual place, yet with atmosphere and this typical Japanese feel of special and hidden elegance. Where else than only in Japan to find a ten seater train station restaurant with tasty quality food at 80-300 JPY per sushi. Not socks of rocking but still much better than many proper restaurants in other countries.
Ushio Sushi Bar タイトル
1-30-2 Nishigotanda (Shinagawa Station)
Tel: +81 3 3490 0367
Ramen Gambling in Shinjuku!
After over three years I finally made it back to Tokyo and upon arrival at Narita I realized how much I actually had missed this place. This time around though I came much better prepared in regards to what food I had lined up for my two week stay here. The list was much longer than the days I had available but you always have to keep something for next time. After I had checked into my hotel and freshened up I headed straight for Shinjuku to have my first ramen of the trip at ‘Menya Musashi’s’. As geographically challenged I intuitively head into the completely wrong direction but since there was no ‘Mos Burger’ anywhere to be seen as indicated on my map I turned on the spot and eventually reached my desired destination. Tip for all if you can’t find the west exit of Shinjuku Station, just walk around the building until you do and you’ll be right on track.
At the shop there were only three color coded pictures on the vending machine – a red one for their signature ‘Shoyu Ramen‘, a yellow one for ‘Tsukemen‘ and a white one for what I guess was ‘Beef Ramen‘. Each color gives you a choice of four buttons with no further picture explanations for the non-Japanese amongst us. I knew that I definitely wanted to try their ‘Tsukemen‘ and so I tried the only of the yellow buttons that had red Japanese signs on it (1,000 JPY) thinking it might be a sign for a spicy version; it wasn’t. After I had passed my order to one of the guys he asked me for my choice of size and broth and I went with medium and “kotteri” (thick and stronger broth). I was a bit concerned if I would get the delicious looking pork belly and eggs that all other guests seem to have ordered but when my bowl arrived it thankfully came with full specs.
The looks and taste were beautiful. The broth was dark and rich and pretty salty – oh so very very salty – which was perfect for soaking the “futo-men” (fat noodles) in it before starting the big slurps and yet made me gulp down several glasses of the free ice water to prevent my tongue from drying out. The noodles were nice and chewy and I appreciated very much that they make them a bit broader here. There were two big chunks of pork belly in my bowl that they cooked in Japanese wine and soya sauce for hours so the fatty parts melted away and the meaty bits fell apart. I tell you this could be a dish by itself and I felt like gobbling it down at once but paced myself to have little pieces of porky goodness all the way through my seating. The one thing I expected a similar level of perfection was the egg which unfortunately was not so super special, nice and waxy sure but I had better.
This one surely made it on my list of places well worth remembering and I’m sure I’ll return here when I’m back in Tokyo or maybe even during this stay. Ramen shop atmosphere in Japan just is a little different than in Singapore and even that I hardly spend more than 20 minutes in here I really liked it; interior, shouting chefs and all. So if you take the wrong turn as I did don’t give up yet, it might just be worth the search. Look out for the noren with the swordsman.
Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634
Long Udon with Longer Names!
I recognized ‘Tsuru-koshi’ the last time I had lunch with my colleagues at the IMM in Jurong East and so I suggested to try it out today and since nobody had a better idea there we went.
As it seems common for udon shops we had to place our order before taking out seats and I chose their S$12 lunch set with ‘Atsu Atsu Tan Tan Udon‘ – pretty long huh? – together with a bowl of ‘Soboro Don‘. The ‘Don‘ was nothing I would desire having again, the minced meat tasted pretty boring and a bit greasy and the rice wasn’t as sticky as I had hoped for. The udon on the other hand, despite using the same plain minced meat tasted interestingly good. They sat in a lightly flavored sesame broth, which mixed with the meat and especially the very soft boiled egg turned into a flavor I quiet liked and never had tasted before and the udon were also nice and chewy. Even that this was the lunch set and the bowls were obviously smaller than the a la carte ones this was still a pretty big portion that I hardly could eat my ‘Mud Pie Mc Flurry’ after. Not.
The setting is no thrills, the little service you get is alright and fast enough and I still like udon very much which gives me enough reason to add this to the list of appropriate lunch places close to work. Cold udon next.
Jurong East Street 21
#01-19 IMM Building
I spend the whole day on roller coasters with friends at Universal Studios and as the day got older we got tried and really hungry. So solve the second problem we went to ‘Peperoni’ on Zion Road, which is in one of the shophouses just opposite of Great World City. I have never been here before but really liked the seating outside, a bistro feeling.
Since I never had but always wanted to we ordered one of their massive 21″ mega pizzas half half. One half with ‘Capricciosa‘ (shitake, ham, artichokes and black olives), the other with ‘Prosciutto Grudo di Parma‘ (parma ham and rocket). This thing was tremendous, just like the pizzas from the opening scenes of Roseanne. I loved it, the dough was pretty thin, very crisp on the outside rim and more and more juicy towards the inside of the pie. The sugo tasted great and nicely tomato-y and was covered with the right amount of cheese; maybe not exactly but close. The parma ham was from good quality and had a delicious nutty taste nicely accompanied by the bitterness of the rocket salad and covered with a lot of salty parmigiano reggiano. The ham on the ‘Capricciosa‘ half tasted quite good but could have been cut a bit thinner and even though I always would prefer button mushrooms or chanterelle the shitake were thin and tasty. The black olives were good and heaps and so the only neglected ingredient were the very few carciofo or artichokes.
As our first dessert we had the ‘Tiramusi‘ which was quite nice and not too heavy. I found the ladyfingers a tad too big which made it taste a bit watery and they also could have gone a bit heavier on the kahlua and the coffee. Not bad but also not outstanding.
My personal choice was the ‘Panna Cotta‘ which was actually pretty darn good. I’m not big with desserts other than ice cream, but if I come across this one I usually get it. It was spotted with vanilla grains and super light so I totally forgot that it’s pretty much pure cream. The sour fruity berry sauce was a great combination to the sweetness and made this a nice closer for the dinner and a long day.
I really have to mention our outstanding waitress, who was super friendly, fast, attentive and overly helpful with all our requests. It’s kinda sad that great service really stands out that much but that’s how it is and this one was awesome.
The ‘Peperoni’ branch on Zion is a really nice and casual place to come with friends and to enjoy some of the better pizzas (and service) in town. I’ll come back, grazie mille.
56 Zion Road
Tel: +65 6732 3235
Taco Mania at Duxton!
Today my colleagues decided to go down to ‘Lucha Loco’, one of the few proper Mexican restaurants in Singapore, for some afterwork drinks and dinner. Unfortunately we didn’t have a booking on a very busy Friday which delayed our order by approximately one hour ish.
My first taco was my all time favorite the ‘Taco de Carnitas‘. The thick slice of pork belly is simmered nicely until juicy and tender and – I know I say that very often but – melted away in my mouth. To the soft pork they added crunchy ‘Jicama‘ or Mexican Turnip which added not only a different texture but also freshness to it. All this was finished with a drizzle of spicy cilantro mayonnaise and fresh lime juice. Delicious and still number one.
My second choice fell on one of their monthly specials, the ‘Baja Fish Taco‘. The fish was red snapper, fried in a thin but super crispy beer batter and still lovely moist on the inside. The salsa was mixed together of hot chilis, fresh mint and ripe and nicely sweet mango and worked just great with the fish.
I then finished my three course taco sample menu with their ‘Taco de Chorizo Con Res‘. This one had a chunky mix of chorizo sausage and slow braised beef that tasted amazing and was heated up by some chopped red onions and a pretty fiery sauce.
Finishing all these plus some sides I obviously wasn’t hungry anymore. Regardless I ordered the ‘Elotes‘, a Mexican style grilled corn cob which I always wanted to try. This was super good and filling too. It seemed that after grilling they dipped it into some spicy melted cheese and if this wasn’t enough, rolled the sticky cob in cotija cheese after. Goodness and so much better and spicier than I thought.
I find the concept of this place simply brilliant; due to the busy bar area you get much more buzz than in your usual restaurant which makes it perfect to start a night our or to end a long week at work. The drinks are different, tasty and actually quite strong and the food on the menu is no other than delicious. It’s not the cheapest of places but well worth it I suppose. Great stuff.
Lucha Loco – Mexican Taqueria Y Garden Bar
15 Duxton Hill
Fat Boy’s Soft Boy!
Yesterday was Labor Day and I was still apathetic from the cycling in the morning. There was obviously a little to little oxygen in my brains and a little too much around my belly as I was absolutely starving but couldn’t make up my mind on what to eat. Thankfully my mate called and took this difficult decision off my hands by asking if I wanted to join him and his friend for some burgers at ‘Fat Boy’s’. Pants on, spinning the Bajaj and there I was.
They were a bit in a hurry so I ordered a ‘Make-My-Own-Burger‘ on the fly. I went for a beef patty with jalapenos, monterey jack cheese all topped with a fried egg and smoked chipotle sauce. The burger was super juicy also because it was pretty raw but as I didn’t indicate my preference when ordering I had to blame it on myself. The patty was slightly under seasoned and really really soft but tasted super fresh and surprisingly light. The monterey jack tasted awesome and I had to pad myself on the shoulder for that extra thirty cents I had invested in this. I hardly tasted the egg but the spiciness of the jalapenos together with the smokey heat of the chipotle sure made up for it.
I really liked it for it’s taste but found bun and especially the patty way too soft for a burger and as it was medium-very-rare it had nearly the consistency of beef tartar. Thankfully it was good quality meat so it still came out pretty tasty. If now only the bun had held up all the way til the end.
‘Fat Boy’s’ is a nice open front joint with friendly people working there that serve up fresh and tasty food. On top I found out that they also have Nutella on burgers which proofed a brilliant choice last time at ‘De Burg’s‘ so I might just come back here to try their twist on it.
Fat Boy’s – The Burger Bar
187 Upper Thomson Road
Busy for Brunch!
We had a very early morning cycling session through Singapore as some of my friends are prepping themselves for the Triathlon in a couple of weeks. Some weren’t exhausted enough after 40ks and decided to have a swim at Sentosa so after refreshing from the ride I made my way out there to join them for brunch at ‘Coasts’ on Siloso Beach.
A friend and I shared the ‘Greek Salad’ and as I found ‘Crab Cakes‘ on the menu, my main selection was fixed as well. The salad came first and I actually liked it a lot. It was fresh and the cucumber and tomatoes were cut in big chunks as they are supposed to be. Kalamata olives brought a rich Mediterranean flavor to it but there definitely too little onions involved. I don’t really like feta cheese but appreciated the areas that were touched by it and therefore tasted a bit saltier. My friend must have nearly overdosed on the feta as she had to finish it all by herself. The dressing was nice and simple as you expect it, just mixing a good quality olive oil with a dash of lemon and pepper. Just the salt could have been put forward a bit more.
When the ‘Crab Cakes‘ arrived I had a feeling that the amount of crab in there wasn’t really in my favor. Starting digging in I was proven right. Even though it tasted okay there wasn’t too much crab meat there or at least it was outplayed by it’s potato-y doughy opponent. Also it could have used much more of the advertised coriander, much more. One interesting thing was the red tomato based dipping sauce. It was cold and slightly spicy but what I couldn’t nail down was where the fishy, shell-like taste came from. The closest I did get to was a memory of small clams which tasted like this. I couldn’t find any in there and maybe my taste buds just played a prank on me but if I should come back here and it’s not that busy I will try to ask someone.
I tend to forget to mention the service but here I didn’t have any complaints. Yes, you had to order yourself at a counter but the staff was very friendly and the delivery of drinks and food was fast especially considering the amount of people here. I might come back but so far more due to the fact that it’s situated directly at the beach, the food has yet to convince me.
Coastes Singapore 50 Siloso Beach Walk #01-05 Singapore 099000