Proper food at Turtle Point.
After a few days into our island holidays we switched over to Gili Meno, the smaller and more quiet sister of Trawangan. Our resort there, the Mahamaya, was a beautiful and small boutique hotel with a wonderful reef for snorkelling just in front.
In the evening they did setup tables at the beach for people to have some food in a nice setting without booking these weird staged romantic dinners you’ll often get in places like this and today they had fresh grilled fish as a special. Our exceptionally friendly and helpful waiter for the evening helped us choosing the right fish, which turned out to be a humongous red snapper. It was delicious and finally some proper local style food. The bbq fish was very meaty and juicy and was covered with a flavourful mix of garlic, cilantro and fragrant fruity and mildly spicy chilli. I just wished the heat would have kicked in a bit stronger.
Fresh seafood straight off the boat, stunning surroundings and outstanding service from all staff made this a great start into the second half of our holidays. I miss this place, terima kasih.
Mahamaya Boutique Resort
West Nusa Tenggara
West Gili Meno – Lombok
Tel: +62 888 7155 828
Waroeng Bule boleh!
Just behind the beach strip and semi-attached to our hotel was a small shop called ‘Waroeng Bule’, which despite its’ rather strange name turned out to be a fairly nice and cheap lunch option during our stay. Obviously the food here was also tuned to suit the mainstream tourist’s taste but brought out some delicious options nevertheless.
We had the the ‘Coconut Crumbed Chicken‘ which was absolutely amazing. Covered by a crunchy but not too special tasting apple salad, the chicken breast was still juicy and coated with a comparably light and well drained coconut curry crust that was crunchy and crispy and made this a super satisfying dish. I’m just a fool for everything coconut.
A simple place but with good food to reasonable prices and so close it was our most frequented place for beach day lunching. They also screened two movies each night at the beach here for just a few bucks and people were hanging out on the lying chairs enjoying the breeze and cold beers. Well done but maybe think about a different name.
Hotel Villa Ombak
Kabupaten Lombok Utara 83355
Gili Trawangan, Lombok
Finally some heat.
After a couple of days on Trawangan we figured it’s quite tough to get real Indonesian food down here – maybe apart from the nightmarket – and therefore didn’t feel guilty going for some Italian tonight. I found the chain of ‘Trattoria Cucina Italiana’ on the internet and as it was also ridiculously close to our hotel and we were exhausted from all that sunbathing we came here for dinner.
I generally prefer a thin crust but this ‘Diavola’ was a tad too thin for me, still good but I missed a little bit of dough to chew one since this crust just crumbled away on me. The sugo-cheese-ratio was as usual leaning towards the cheesy side but the taste wasn’t bad at all and to my great joy this thing was sweat-on-forehead spicy. Funny only I had to go to an Italian restaurant for that.
Trattoria Cucina Italiana
West Nusa Tenggara 83000
Gili Trawangan, Lombok
Tel: +62 8190 798 2995
First lunch in paradise.
This year’s holidays brought us to beautiful Gili and our first stop was Trawangan Island. Down the beach from our hotel was ‘The Pearl Beach Lounge’ which we decided to have lunch today.
My main was the ‘Stir Fried Chicken in Bamboo‘ which was covered in a thick glaze sauce, a bit sweetish but delicious as well crunchy from the cashew nuts, the quinoa aside together with the customized cinnamony mango chutney made great condiments.
For starters I had a chilled ‘Garlic Cucumber Soup‘ which was tasty and super refreshing, perfect for a hot day like this but also quite sharp from the huge amounts of raw garlic which gave me severe dragon breath and made my stomach growl for a little while after.
Fantastically tasty and salty were also their ‘Waterspinach Feta Cheese Rolls‘ that reminded me of greek spanakopita and worked pretty well together with the grilled pepper dip that gave it a fruity contrast.
This is a very nice place, stylish, extremely friendly staff, delicious food and all at a prime location right on the water, if only just the dishes weren’t so damn westernized. There wasn’t a hint of chili or spiciness to be found even after asking for several different sambal which was a big disappointment knowing how great Indonesian sambal can be . However one of the better places to be eaten at when being on Trawangan.
The Pearl Beach Lounge
Jalan Gili Trawangan
West Nusa Tenggara 83355
Gili Trawangan Island – Lombok
Tel: +62 812 3812 999
Raw fish from around the corner.
The night before our holidays we wanted to have some quick Japanese without too much traveling involved so we went ‘Rakuichi’ at the Oasia Hotel in Novena.
The ‘Akami Tuna‘ looked flawless and had a beautiful clean taste, unfortunately was also a lil streaky at bits. The ‘Ebi Sushi‘ also was close to perfect, fresh and with an outstanding snappy texture. Snappy is also the right word for the ‘Assorted Pickles‘ we had which were a brilliant combination of radish, gherkins, cucumber etc. with only one weirdly tasting purple something that I didn’t find too appealing.
We also had their ‘Agedashi Tofu‘ which was kind of boring compared to others that I had and a big slice of ‘Wagyu‘ that had a nice nutty flavour but was nearly too buttery to eat too much of and sadly quite chewy as well. Last but not least we had one of their special spicy makis with prawn that I forgot the name of. The taste wasn’t bad but completely different to any other maki I had before as it was rolled in chilli flakes and topped with a lot of thinly sliced and flame touched sharpish onions. Not bad, not bad at all.
I like how the place is setup, clean, stylish and minimalistic, they put a lot of effort into their presentation, the service was good and the food was too but for the higher price tag I was just expecting a little more “wow” for our dinner so ‘Rakuichi’ will probably not become my first go to address for my regular Japanese fix.
Rakuichi Japanese Restaurant
8 Sinaran Drive
#01-05/09 Oasia Hotel
Tel: +65 6659 6683
Don’t let it go to your head.
We came back here and this time after along while ordered their famous ‘Fish Head Curry‘ again. The head was humongous, mean looking and meaty. It was beautifully soft and tender, especially the cheeks that were freak’n awesome. The gravy was quite liquid, milky, oily and deeply rich with a fantastic heat that sneaked up on us the more we ate. A beautiful dish that probably will never win any beauty contest but who cares, it’s the inner values that matter, right?
The service today was terribly awful though. First our order of ‘Naan‘ was completely forgotten, after another 15 minutes waiting the wrong order showed up and when we had pretty much finished all our other dishes and were fully stuffed finally the right breads came along. As always the staff was very polite and friendly but unfortunately there wasn’t even the slightest attempt to service recovery. And then those weird iPads again, which become even weirder in a restaurant where you usually eat with your hands, I just don’t get it. This was the first time of my many visits here that the service was that screwed up so as long as this doesn’t become a pattern and the food stays delicious I don’t see any reason not to come back.
The Banana Leaf Apolo
54 Race Course Road
Tel: +65 6293 8682
Totally worth the smelly clothes.
It was meat o’clock and so we headed for Tanjong Pagar, ‘Korean BBQ‘ heaven. We ordered the ‘Beef Set‘ at ‘Manbok Galbi’ which was massive and for only S$85 more than reasonable. All the cuts were tasty but my favourite by far was the wine marinated short rib which had the richest flavours of all. The sirloin was a bit streaky and chunky tonight but the rest of the meats were lean and tender. I also liked their free flow appetisers especially the strong fermented tasting kimchi and the onion salad. As always we added the ‘Kimchi-Jeon‘ (pancake) to our order which tasted pretty good but could’ve done well with some more actual kimchi. It looked quite pale too and I wished it to be more crispy and less oily as well.
The service was rather unemotional except that one waiter so kindly showed me how to properly lettuce wrap my meat (thanks for touching my food dude) but just at the very end also the boss couldn’t resist anymore and gave us a smile on the way. This was great, I’ll come back.
Korean BBQ Restaurant Manbok Galbi
63 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: +65 6221 9942
More brunching in Tiong Bahru.
I had been here for a cold drip a couple of weeks ago and wanted to come back and try that delicious looking ‘Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Egg‘. I asked them to make it well done but I think it got mixed up with my friend’s dish as her’s was perfect while my eggs were still quite runny. Nevertheless they tasted pretty good, were creamy and worked very well with the thick layer smoked salmon drizzled with some herbal olive oil. The english muffin could have been a bit more toasted and more arugula would’ve been nice too but all in all a very flavoursome dish to start your day.
I liked the place, elegant interior and a nice layout with an open kitchen so you can see your food come together if you’d wish to do so. If they now tune down both the aircon and the prices a little bit I’ll stop by more often to get my brekkie on.
ODP – Open Door Policy
19 Yong Siak Street
Tel: +65 6221 9307
New menu, new presentation.
Back at ‘Crystal Jade’ I realised they had given their menu a mayor makeover. Sadly the delicious ‘Double Boiled Beef Soup‘ seemed to have disappeared in the process but on the positive side they are now offering their noodles as half portions and have added some interesting new items to their selection. One of which were the ‘Multi-flavoured Xiao Long Bao‘ which besides the traditional one included a nearly overpowering strong black truffle version, a very tasty yet doubtable vegetarian dumpling and a fantastic spicy chicken bao. Especially because it was chicken I was particularly surprised that I liked its’ salty, sichuan-pepper-spicy flavours so much. However the original is still my first choice.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
391 Orchard Road
#04-27 Takashimaya S.C.
Tel: +65 6238 1661 27
Restaurant Week 2013: Buyan буян
The second reservation during Restaurant Week was at Buyan, the Russian place up at Duxton Hill.
The set menu started up with the ‘Borscht‘ which was great, the root taste wasn’t too strong or sour and it was loaded with brisket beef fibre. It was my first time to try this and I actually really really liked it. Because we don’t come here very often we added another two à la carte starters for sharing. First the ‘Khachapuri‘ that I found out about on another blog recently and which was my favourite dish of the evening, thin and seemingly light dough with amazing salty cheesiness inside. I could’ve eaten that for the rest of the evening, no problem.
Second add on were the ‘Pelmeni‘, smallish cooked Russian dumplings, that even though filled with a close to hardish meat mince, tasted great and the chilled sour cream and the beetroot dipping sauce made for some awesome condiments. Perfect skin too. For main I chose the ‘Lamb Shashlyk‘ which was a bit of a let down. The meat was quite tough and far too well done and the barley, onions and peppers were oily and soft.
Thankfully they ended the set dinner greatly with their ‘Blinis‘ which reminded me strongly of an old fashioned apple strudel which, because of the paper thin crepes came across a tad lighter, with lovely baked apple and cinnamon flavours. Nice finish.
I’ll never get this iPads for menus thing as I usually prefer not to touch surfaces which others visibly handled with their butter fingers before but I generally liked the place. All food except the disappointing main was great but for just S$30++ for a three course dinner (excluding our extra starters) I don’t want to complain too much as this was anyway a great deal. Nice dark wood interior and great service on top might bring me back here for more cheese cake.
9/10 Duxton Hill
Tel: +65 6223 7008
Restaurant Week 2013: Hashi 箸
Restaurant week was back in town and for a change I didn’t sleep all through the whole show this time and even scored two dinner bookings which of the first was at ‘Hashi’s’.
There were chilled soba to start with but I missed some grated ginger to pep things up. The noodles were followed by a Japanese salad with a wonderful dressing and a set of sashimi; amberjack, tuna and scallop which were of good quality and tasted fresh and nice. The main was a bento mix of all sorts of different stuff, some of my not so favoured seaweed, blanched spinach, unfortunate tough and greasy cold duck breast, a tasty and soft fried fish, good tempura but the best thing by far was the lovely piece of pork belly that didn’t really have very tempting looks but was amazingly soft and therefore I thought way too small. I also got to try the beef cheek from my friend’s bento which was super nice and tender but really became great with a tiny bit of this jalapeño pepper sambal they handed aside.
The dessert was a sampler of two. I wasn’t a big fan of the red bean bars with chestnut and their super rich and filling character but the red bean and sake flavoured cake was actually quite good and interesting but nearly too small to really wrap my head around it and fully get the taste. I’ll probably never understand this red bean thing anyway?
I liked ‘Hashi’s’ interior; minimalistic Japanese, simple and elegant in the front which unfortunately loses a dash of its’ atmosphere in the back room we were seated in. The food was good and there were many things to try, but besides the pork belly I was just hoping for some more extra specialness from their special menu.
Hashi Japanese Restaurant 箸
46 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: +65 6327 8414
Newer isn’t always better.
Food hunting did start getting on my nerves running through Ximending with a whole bunch of people who couldn’t agree on what to eat. We finally settled on a modern franchise looking beef noodle shop a couple of streets further in, away from the buzzin’ around the Red House. It even had aircon, how nifty.
I didn’t change nothing and had my usual ‘Spicy Beef Noodles‘ (牛公館牛肉麵) again but what came to the table here wasn’t remotely close to matching any of the great bowls I had during the past few days. The broth itself was just okay but the noodles were pretty ordinary, starchy and didn’t add anything to the flavour and the meat was tough and dry.
One bad bowl out of four is not a horrible hit rate but I was still disappointed knowing what kind of gems are around here and how our dinner could’ve turned out otherwise. Anyway staff was very friendly and the shop is also very conveniently located but unfortunately that won’t be enough to bring me back here again.
Niu Kung Kuan 牛公館牛肉麵
No. 78 Xiníng South Road / 西寧南路78號
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2314 6298
This is “Se One”!
This was the shop I had my first ever Taiwanese beef noodles in – truly an eye opening experience as you might imagine – and it’s also one of the, let’s say older and original places, which easily can be mixed up with dodgy and sticky. No really, the place is clean, just has it’s shining days of glory behind it, what obviously doesn’t impact it’s popularity as it has always been pretty busy around here when I came by.
They didn’t have small or big portions here, just one size, which I reckon came closer to the larger bowls I had. Sure enough I ordered the ‘Spicy Beef Noodles‘ or ‘Hong Shao’ (红烧牛肉麵) and for a change I actually got what I asked for. It wasn’t overly hot but I absolutely loved it, that much that I didn’t even care that the added chilli oil hyped up the calories even more than usual. The noodles here were wicked, long and firm with a great taste to them, that, together with the loads of tender brisket bits made this my favourite bowl of beef noodles in Taipei to date. So good.
Again no polished facade, not even a signboard but friendly enough people, absolutely outstanding simple food and for NT$150 a bowl a total steal as well. How fantastic that our corporate hotel is just down the road from here so I have the chance to come back even if the days at the office get longer.
Taoyuan Street Beef Noodles 桃源街牛肉麵 / (Old Wang Beef Noodles 桃源街牛肉麵/老王)
No.15 TaoYuan Street / 台北市桃源街十五號
Zhongzheng District (Jhongjheng)
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2375 8973
Beef noodles fancy pants.
What’s the perfect follow up for a great beef noodle lunch? Right, an equally great beef noodle dinner. That settled I met up with a friend at ’18 Cafe’ in a different corner of Da’an district. This place was completely different to ‘Yong Kang’s‘ coffeeshop from this afternoon, modern interior, spotlights over each table, classy almost hip but still with a nice and cosy atmosphere.
As different as the restaurants were, so were their ‘Beef Noodles‘. They take a modern and fusion twist on their food here and the noodles were no exception. They used ingredients I hadn’t seen in this dish before like slightly bitter blanched spinach, fresh cilantro, some tomato chunks and daikon roots and a pretty darn good tasting meatball. At first I was concerned about that one but it was perfectly soft and had a delicious but alien flavour which I’m sure came from mixed in lemongrass. The other more ordinary beef bits were ok too but he ratio of tendon was just a bit too high for my preference. And then there was the strong beef broth packed with super wide noodles that, like so often, were my most favourite part about this. They were thick and chewy and actually reminded more of Italian pasta than your usual Chinese noodles (if there actually is such a thing).
Just before the soup, we also shared their ‘Signature Seafood Salad‘ which was top. Everything was super fresh, the greens were crunchy, the prawns and squid had a lovely firm bite, fish was soft and sweet and the chunky avocado added yet another texture to the bunch. The dressing, even though a bit too heavy on the oil, was citrusy and just simple as I like it.
Delicious and apparently award winning fusion Taiwanese cuisine coming up in huge servings; I didn’t hear myself complain and sure will be coming back to this one again during one of my next visits.
No.55 Section 1 Anhe Road
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2775 5530
Is Yong Kang really the best?
It wasn’t long until my ‘Beef Noodle‘ marathon began and this time I had to have ‘Yong Kang’s’ noodles which are ranked as the best in Taipei by many local food bloggers. The last trip we couldn’t nail this place down walking the alleys of Da’an around Yongkang street up and down but just couldn’t find it. Even this time together with my Taiwanese colleague it took us some extra rounds to get here and then there was a queue in front despite the rain but thankfully it wasn’t too long ’til we got in.
My spicy version of the ‘Beef Noodles‘ was great even though as usual not spicy at all. The broth was dark and tasted slightly like goulash with a sour touch. The noodles were plenty and shaped like edged thicker spaghetti. The meat was fantastic, it fell apart and the fat just disappeared into nowhere but I didn’t like the free flow preserved veggies here; they were maybe a just a bit too well preserved and tasted bitterish. They also had those awesome little plates you pick from the counter and I particularly liked the garlic loaded snappy cucumbers and roots and for it’s positively weird taste the seemingly caramel soaked sweet tofu.
‘Yongkang’ is like most beef noodle shops in Taipei, oldish, a bit dodgy and ran down, service isn’t really of the heartwarming kind but the food is in focus and here they actually did a pretty good job with it. I’m not sure if it is really the best beef noodle shop in Taipei but it’s definitely up there in my personal top five.
Yong Kang Beef Noodle 永康牛肉麺館
No.17 Lane 31 Section 2 Jinshan South Road
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2351 1051
Slack Season Noodles and pork in a pot.
I was lucky enough that another work trip brought me back to Taipei and I planned to go back to all the places we had found during our holidays last year and try others I didn’t have the time for then. My first stop was at Da’an and brought me back to a shop we only tried out because there was a massive metal kettle including cook sitting in the window.
This time around I was by myself which didn’t hold me back from over ordering heavily. I started up with two of their three different types of ‘Dan Tzai‘-, ‘Tan Tsi‘- or ‘Slack Season Noodles‘, a local speciality from Tainan. I had the signature and my favourite, the thick rice noodle version, both with soup as I never seem to get the order for the the dry type right. The bowl was a mix of several light flavours, the thin broth with the lovely braised pork mince, some cilantro, the fresh little prawn with a good bite and the great rice noodles that reminded me a lot of thicker ‘Chee Cheong Fun‘. Brilliant stuff. I also had the ‘Braised Pork Rice‘ which wouldn’t win a beauty contest but was terribly satisfying. Quite sinful, the pork has been braised for a long time in the huge metal pot, was lardy and rich, bedded on top of a bed from roundish, bigger grained rice.
As a light side I chose the ‘Stir Fry Bean Sprouts‘ which were as great as veggies can get, boiled but still with some texture, fresh and light, garlicky and juicy with some chilli to gently kick your taste bud’s butts.
I love this place, simple food made great with friendly people to serve it, a picture menu with a tick box order sheet for the non-Mandarin speakers and that all in the middle of one of the nicest areas of Taipei. See you next time.
Tu Hsiao Yueh 度小月
NO. 9-1 Yongkang Street
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 3393 1325
Return to my old favourite.
I spontaneously caught up with a friend over dinner and since days I was thinking about my former favourite ramen shop ‘Ippudo’ and the fact that I had never actually tried their signature bowl; decision made.
They made my decision more difficult by running a summer promotion with a black garlic ramen which reminded me of the black version at Keisuke but I stayed strong and ordered their classic broth ‘Shiromaru Motoaji Special‘ with egg and fatty pork cubes. The look and first sips of the soup didn’t completely convince me but the more I slurped the better it got. The broth developed into a deep porky flavour that had a slight sweetness to it. I didn’t have tonkotsu ramen for a long time so the richness was a bit overwhelming but it tasted great. The egg was perfect and the pickled ginger added some extra levels to it all but I particularly liked the noodles which were harder than usually and could’ve been even more so for my taste. Only downside were the pork cubes which actually were fat cubes really so the search for the perfect pork belly continues. Of course we also had their must try ‘Pork Buns‘ that were sweetly glazed and the softest thing on earth as well as the ‘Beef Tataki‘ which was pretty good but mainly because of the light lemon dipping sauce, the sharp onions and tangy jalapeno paste.
I had nearly forgotten how good their ramen actually was but since I had my first bowls here, Singapore has become a battlefield for the best ramen in town but for me ‘Ippudo’ is still running in the upper ranks for sure.
Ippudo SG 風堂
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Tel: +65 6235 2797
Vietnamese, my new after workout food.
One branch of my yoga studio is directly next to this shop in Tanjong Pagar so it was just a matter of time until I would come by here for some after workout pho.
I ordered their ‘Summer Fresh Rolls‘ as starters that were probably not super authentic but exactly how I like them, fully packed with greens, fresh herbs, prawn and instead of the so often weirdly grey pork they used chilled chicken breast. Light and fresh. My main was set on ‘Pho Bo‘ with sliced beef which turned out to be quite tasty. The beef was lean and beefy, the noodles were ok and the broth had a decent flavour even that it wasn’t that strong. They provided some greens, sprouts and chilli to add to the soup but I just always miss the tables full of greens that I only found in Vietnam so far.
All in all not bad and I am glad to have such a dinner option so close after a tough yoga class that I surely will “stop” by again some time soon.
21 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: +65 6221 4001