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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Premium Wagyu cuts at Boat Quay.

imageI was very happy to receive the invitation to a food tasting from the people behind new ‘Arashi Yakiniku’ 嵐 down at Boat Quay and so made my way down there today directly after work. It is nestled in between the shophouse pubs and restaurants along the riverside, offering in- as well as outdoor seating for a more scenic setting. We were greeted warmly by the staff and shortly after food started flowing to our table.

The menu started up with their ‘Wakame Miso Soup‘ (わかめ味噌汁) which had a light delicate broth with some soft tofu bits and seaweed floating around in it. This proofed to be a great palette cleanser throughout the whole meal as well which was perfect to slurp on between the different meats. We also had the ‘Namuru‘, a selection of small vegetable starters like pickled crunchy bean sprouts, squeaky spinach and shimeji mushrooms.

imageNow it was time for the main act and the starting round was a selection of Australian Wagyu cuts (オーストラリア和牛). First we had the ‘Beef Tongue‘ (中落ちカルビ) and I didn’t really know what to expect as I had never tried this before and to be honest tongue also never sounded too appealing to me. To my surprise it was actually super nice to eat and pretty delicious. It tasted much more delicate than I had expected, with a solid and strong beef flavour, fire kissed crisp on the edges but still lovely chewy and firm. Together with the dipping salt and freshly squeezed lemon this was a lot of fun to eat and one of my favourite and most surprising dishes of the entire dinner.

imageAfter this promising start we continued with more premium cuts – ‘Sirloin‘ (サーロイン) and ‘Ribeye‘ (リブアイ). The sirloin was nicely marbled causing the meat to be wonderfully soft and just melting away in my mouth. The ribeye on the other side had a great charr and a much more robust texture and flavour to it, while still being perfectly tender. Alongside these meats they served their special ‘Arashi Sauce‘ which was refreshingly sweetish and spicy. I couldn’t figure out where the heat was coming from and the chef keeps the recipe very close to his chest so I had to enjoy it unknowingly the ingredients. Normally I wouldn’t touch sauce with these kind of special meats but this was just too good to ignore so I gave it a fifty-fifty dipping ratio. We also had some veggies to go with it all – shitake, leek, pumpkin and asparagus – which  even though nothing overly exciting worked nicely together with the other, sesame vinegar sauce and added some nice texture and taste diversion to the meal.

imageLast of the “aussis” was the ‘Harami/Outskirt‘ (牛ヒレ) that had hardly any marbling and therefore was of much darker colour. The flavour had a more solid taste, down to earth, genuine beef, more rustic and familiar, which was a great alternative in between the other more posh cuts.

imageThis all has been pretty great already but then the chef did send us some platters of their A4 grade Japanese Ohmi Wagyu (日本のウ牛(和牛)) which gave us a second upwind and excitement. The ‘Karubi/Short Rib‘ (カルビ) had a light taste with a certain nuttiness to it. It was delicious, just the thick streak of fat could have been a bit thinner for my liking but gave it all an interesting chunky texture.

imageNext we got to make the direct comparison between the Australian and the Japanese version as the  A4 ‘Sirloin‘ (サーロイン) and ‘Ribeye‘ (リブアイ) came out to our table. The sirloin was the peak of indulgence, so rich and marbly that I reckoned it was best to be consumed in small portions, not to be too overwhelming. Crazy good.

imageEven though I didn’t think it could have gotten much better the ribeye surely proofed me wrong and became my unrivalled winner of the evening. Still madly rich like meaty butter this cut was perfectly separated into three different sections of goodness – from a darker, meatier and deeply beefy tasting piece, over the thick middle section of a pure melt-in-your-mouth streak of fat onto the thickly marbled end piece. Outstanding.

imageAll those premium cuts of beef were accompanied by their simple but delicious ‘Garlic Fried Rice/ Ninniku Chahan‘ (にんにくチャーハン). Unfortunately not using the typical Japanese sticky and roundish grains, the rice still had a great bite to it, fragrant and loaded with heaps of fried garlic without being overly oily. Simple and savory comfort food.

‘Arashi’ is a casual place with a minimalistic interior that offers high quality food to moderate prices. We really enjoyed the Australian as well as the A4 Japanese beef cuts a lot and if wished they also can hook you up with highest grade A5 Wagyu, subject to availability and pre-order. A special thanks goes to Roysten for the kind invitation and hospitality and Nikki who helped us grilling our meats so perfectly. Best of success and thanks for a great night of indulgence. I’ll come back.

Arashi Yakiniku Charcoal Grill Restaurant 嵐
No.48 Boat Quay
Singapore 049837
Tel: +65 6535 2841

In for a surprise.

imageI was on a spontaneous one-day / one-night business trip to K.L. and after our meeting the colleagues there took us out for dinner to ‘alexis’ at Mid Valley. The place looked plain, no thrills just like any other mall restaurant and had a fairly mixed and quite worrying, so called intercontinental menu.

For starters I had the ‘Duck Confit‘. Yes, that’s right, ‘Duck Confit‘ as an appetiser, probably one of the best ideas I have come across in a long time. I’m not quite sure how authentic it was, since I had this rather seldom as a main but as it was in fact wickedly awesome, I couldn’t give a lesser damn. It was super crispy crackling on the skin with the meat still moist and savory and the balsamic reduction, some arugula and the caramelized pears were a brilliant sweet-sour-bitter contra play. A-freaking-mazing.

imageAfter my fancy and unusual large french starter I followed a colleague’s recommendation and ordered the ‘Pho Bo‘ still keeping my expectations low. It turned out there was no need to be conservative for the bowl was huge and piping hot with that lovely cinnamon fragrance steaming up from the top. The noodles were the thicker kind, awesome chewy and the meat was plenty and lean. On top of that they handed loads of proper pho condiments like sprouts, basil, mint, chilli and lemon, which I miss so often. Now that’s how it’s done.

Well this place was a nice culinary surprise. With its’ unpromising facade and it’s weird all-around-the-globe-menu it nearly got me fooled and disappointed at first just to knock me off my dining shoes with some outstanding foods and heavy ‘Pinot Noir‘. A good night.

alexis – bistro wine bar
Lot f209 1st Floor
The Gardens
Mid Valley City
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: +60 3 2287 2281
http://www.alexis.com.my/

New Vietnamese shop at United Square.

imageI had been here when they just opened shop and it all was still pretty basic and semi-finished but looked much better this time around, even though the stickiness of the tables seemed to have remained.

I already had one of their Vietnamese sandwiches before which was fairly tasty already so this time I wanted to try their ‘Bun‘ instead. I ordered the version with the spring rolls, drizzled some sauce from the condiment tray over and gave it all a good mix. Taste wise this was nothing that excited me too much, mainly because there were hardly any fresh herbs in it but I appreciated the freshness that comes with a cold dish and the different textures going on, created by the thinly cut vegetables, the crunchy roasted garlic and the crispy fried rolls. The latter had actually a very nice and thin skin which seems to be hard to find outside of Vietnam.

It’s a bit setup like a better hawker stall with food, that’s okay and more than reasonable priced. If I should come back here in the future though I most likely will stick to the sandwiches.

Banh Mi 888
101 Thomson Road
#B1-06 United Square Shopping Mall
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6354 3858

Meatboxing.

imageIt was Saturday and my mates and I didn’t really know what to better do with our time than making the “long” way out to old Turf City – The Grandstand – and try out The Sea Salt Caribbean Deli’ that I had spotted in Pasarbella during my last visit.

I had their ‘Yaroa‘ a large triple meat box which comes including some roasted chicken, pulled pork, beef roast and a starchy side, in my case some rice and beans. The chicken actually looked a bit weird with some red parts around the bones but was succulent and tender tasty. The beef tasted great and had been rubbed with a sourish grain mustard all around. Unfortunately it was also quite cold and had some pretty stringy parts, that were in it for the long chew. My favorite thing in this box was the pulled pork, slow cooked and overly moist, sitting in it’s own natural juices and even something unexciting like the rice and beans was delicious as well.

‘Sea Salt Deli’ is just a stand in a market hall but has some really nice and great quality food options to offer and even though it took a lot of self control not going to ‘Omakase Burger‘ instead I was glad we tried this and will probably return to get a grub on their deliciously looking ‘Pulled Pork Sandwich‘, which my other friend had.

Sea Salt Caribbean Deli
200 Turf Club Road
#02-40/40K Pasar Bella
The Grandstand
Singapore 287994
Tel: +65 9767 8313

Last call Boston.

imageI said I was coming back here, I just didn’t know it was going to be so soon but when I told the boys where I saw some amazing looking crustaceans, a plan was made rather quickly.

This 500 grammer looked stunning, neatly arranged and cracked at the right spots for easier access. The flesh was so fresh it effortless loosened from the shell, sweet and just right, neither dry nor too raw. I actually preferred claw over tail because of its’ extra nice soft texture and dipped into that garlic lemon butter it came very close to perfect, if it would have just been a little warmer.

imageBefore the main act we also tried some of their starters. I had a ‘French Onion Soup‘ by myself as the others were stuck in traffic for quite a while and I was just starving. It was strong, rich beef stock, full of red wine flavour with a hot cheesy crouton floating in it that left me with a memorable mouth burn. When the others finally arrived we ordered the ‘Bone Marrow‘ as well, which was another win, well done, decadent buttery with some sea salt, capers and parsley. Just great. I like this place more and more, so see you there soon.

The Market Grill
208 Teok Ayer Street
Singapore 068642
Tel: +65 6221 3323
http://themarketgrill.com.sg/

Fish balls are still weird.

imageFriends came back to town for a visit after moving to the U.S. last year and to give them a proper welcome we all met at ‘San Laksa Steamboat’ down on Telok Blangah Road. I hadn’t been here before and therefore came with my old steamboat and laksa prejudices in tow.

As usual the order placing went a bit crazy and our table quickly filled up with heaps of little plates with some more and some less exciting dishes. Actually the whole thing was surprisingly delicious, the laksa broth gave it a kicker which was much more appealing then an ordinary and rather boring soup would have been and it wasn’t too heavy or creamy either and also hardly thickened up during the cooking and dipping. In terms of little dishes some of my favourites were the thin lean ‘Beef Striploin‘ (牛肉) slices, that were a big surprise and the ‘Beancurd Skin‘ (豆腐皮) which was perfectly soaking up that coconutty broth. I was also a big fan of all the greens and mushrooms we threw in and even the ‘Fish Balls‘ (鱼丸) weren’t totally horrible, the ‘Fuzhou Fish Balls‘ (福州鱼丸) in fact, the ones filled with pork mince, were actually quite tasty and nearly converted me tolerating them from now on. What honestly was super good though was the ‘Fried Fish Skin‘ which we must have re-ordered around three to four times cause everybody loved it and it disappeared as soon as the waiter let go of the plate. Crispy goodness.

San’s is a simple place in a pretty inconvenient location and with hardly any parking in front but if you want to get a nice twist on your usual steamboat experience you should make your way down here anyway. Enjoy.

San Katong Laksa 叻沙火锅海鲜馆
404 Telok Blangah Road
Singapore 098840
Tel: +65 6275 7069
http://www.sanlaksa.com.sg/

“Light & Cheesy”.

imageBack here during lunch break I felt light and cheesy and hence ordered their ‘Croque Monsieur‘ for a change. Presentation was nice, two large slices of bread, baked over with loads of cheese and creatively finished with scribblings of balsamic reduction on top. The bread was a bit flappy and the ham could have been thinner sliced but the hearty saltiness of the cheese and the touch of sourness from the balsamic made this a great new lunch option to turn to.

VivaVox Cafe
3A International Business Park
#01-10 Icon@IBP
Singapore 609935
Tel: +65 6686 3368
http://www.vivavox.com.sg/