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36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 1, Tantan

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Tantanmen

I haven’t been out to Düsseldorf enough and always only heard what insane food paradise in regards to Japanese cuisine it’s supposed to be. Since being so close this week I decided to make a stopover and visit a very fun friend of mine, who just happens to live right in the midst of Little Tokyo, the area neighbouring the Düsseldorf main train station, which is home to many Asian (predominantly Japanese) shops, restaurants and people.

After dropping my stuff at the apartment and throwing in a quick cold one with my friend and his brother we headed around the corner to get some dinner at one of the ramen shops in the area. To my delight, there was a queue out front, which is always a good sign, and luckily it kept on moving quite fast too. Not long and we were sitting down and I started smiling just browsing through the menu.

We had a little selection of appetizers to go around before the mains and we were off to a good start. We had crispy and succulent tori karaage, some juicy gyoza and nutty gomaae with a thick sesame gravy. All washed down with a cool asahi from the tap and I, still smiling, was ready for my first ramen bowl since way too long.

My sin of choice was a spicy Tantanmen with extra f.o.c. tamago and veggies. Oh goodness, this mince infused broth was thick and rich like a gooey katong laksa with a mud-like sediment of the best kind. Strong sesame flavours my taste buds, instantly but gently numbed by the chilli oil and fibres. Loved the noodles, implied curly and the chewy bouncy kind I use to admire. Just the egg didn’t quite make the mark and was lacking that particular waxiness of your usual flavoured ramen tamago. Nevermind that, I’m head over heels crazy about this place and am already planning my next visit.

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Get Your Grub On!

Naniwa Noodles & Soups
Oststraße 55
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 161799
http://www.naniwa.de/

Sabai Sabai in Herdern!

IMG_20170712_182937-2We had kind of an Asian food streak this week so it just made sense to throw in a little Thai spree as well.  Luckily we made it here early as this outlet is always (always) booked out and so today they still had some terrace seats left for us walk-ins.

 

We began with a refreshing yet tooth-dissolvingly-sweet Thai ice tea and quickly moved onto the appetizer section. We didn’t go for that kohlrabi Som Tam this time again but instead tried out the crunchy vegetarian summer rolls (Po Pia Sod | EUR4.90) with sweet hoisin sauce and a tard peanut chili dip. Furthermore, the chicken satay (Sate Gai | EUR5.90) wasn’t too shabby either, lean chicken breast nicely spiced and fried with a Thai curry peanut dip and genius pickled spicy cucumber, chili, and onion.

 

 

My main was, what a friend so fittingly calls ‘Ente Kross’, which pretty much translates to ‘roasted duck’. The dish (Ped Pad Gaprau | EUR15.90) was quite different from the picture of my imagination since I had ordered a version with Thai basil and chili and expected something more similar to ‘Phat Kaphrao’. Despite the different look, this was a fine dish with a strong fragrance coming from the basil and enough chili to press a few sweat drops from my forehead. M. had Gung Schuschi (EUR15.90), prawns in a red coconut curry served in a whole coconut loaded with vegetables. The prawns were nicely cleaned and fresh and it all had a mild but quite present heat to it. Both went perfectly well with the fragrant rice and brought back some delicious memories.

Although Thai is not necessarily my most missed Asian cuisine, I’m glad to have a place around with people that know what they’re doing and who are dishing up pretty tasty and authentic stuff with a smile on their faces and a kind word for every guest coming in. Oh, and by the way, they have a second branch out in Malteringen. Khob-khun-krab.

Get Your Grub On!

Chada Thai (Freiburg Branch)
Richard-Wagner-Str. 24
79104 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 8815 7905
http://www.chadathai.de/

Momofuku Tour – Part 2.

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Cold Beef Ramen (Seasonal Special)

After our delicious fried-chicken-sandwich-stopover at Fuku we went just a few doors down to Momofuku Noodle Bar to have some of those tasty sounding chashu buns, our friends had been raving about while eating their crispy chicken; I love these foodies. Unfortunately, they were just about to close for their afternoon break before dinner service so we checked, when they’ll be open again and went for a little bar in the area to bridge the waiting time with some happy hour drinks. We were back at the door like 20-30minutes after they had re-opened and the place was already full and bustling with people. I must say, I came here with high hopes but very low expectations. You never really know how these hyped places turn out to be. So let’s see.

We started with a couple of beers, a few glasses of sake and some dishes to share. The spicy cucumbers were nicely done and slightly different from how I know them. Someone smashed the hell out of them and they seemed a little bit fermented, covered in that red Japanese chili pepper mix (togarashi) and some crushed almonds. Pretty nice actually. The chashu buns, the actual reason we came here for, were great. Finally, someone got that meat to bun ratio right. Two thick slices of beautifully and soft pork belly with some crunchy lightly cured cucumbers and a sticky hoisin sauce. That’s the stuff and I still regret not having tried the brisket buns too. Then came the first real surprise of the evening. I was wondering why my friend had ordered the rice cakes here and reckoned it would just take up unnecessary space in my stomach, that was reserved for that big bowl of ramen we had coming but oh my gawd, I’ll be eternally thankful to him for doing that. I don’t know how they created this texture, fry or maybe pan fry them until literally rice-crispy-crisp on the outside and teeth-sticking chewy on the inside. Then they all lay around in an absolutely insane and hard-to-define cream sauce, that was wonderfully savoury with a sweetish touch, that reminded me a bit of okonimyaki sauce. I really have to work on my palette again to become better in identifying single flavours, but for now, it was good enough for me just eating and enjoying that amazing dish. The kitchen had added even more layers of texture and flavor by sprinkling scallions, bonito flakes and tobiko over it all. The only ingredient I was indifferent about was the chicken. Anyhow, best rice cakes ever.

After this, my low expectations rose into the sky and thankfully I had the best yet coming. For the bowl, I ordered one of their seasonal summer items, a cold beef ramen dish that sounded just right for a hot day like today. The looks instantly brought back memories of Matador, with its’ perfectly rose slices of roasted beef. The meat was delicious just a bit hard to bite off from, so I ended up eating it by slice and mouthfuls. Not that I cared. The chilled or rather cold broth was light with some citrusy flavors like yuzu or ponzu. This was so refreshing that I would have actually preferred to take it outside to the street and eat it in the warm summer sun. The noodles had proper bite and bounce that reminded me of Korean Naengmyeon not only because that’s a cold dish too. Just the egg, however perfectly made, somehow felt a bit out of place to me. I loved everything about this, the unique aromas and the innovative approach of taking something traditional and transforming it into something entirely new without losing the slightest bit of awesomeness. A dish definitely in my top 3 for the year and one that makes me want to live here and see what else they come up with next.

To the Noodle Bar itself, it’s a rather simplistic and minimalist setup, with light colored wood and mainly long sharing tables, like a bar exactly. On our table getting in and out of my seat was a bit of a hassle though, climbing over other people’s bags and stuff and I also found it a bit too cold inside (having a coolish dish as well). This places is crowded and the air is bustling of chatter from a cool mixed crowd hanging around before heading out to town. Thankfully there are many more Momofuku shops and concepts for me to try out during my next trip to New York but this one’s a definite keeper. Thanks, your food made me smile today.

Get Your Grub On!

Momofuku Noodles Bar (open ever day)
171 First Avenue
New York
NY 10003
United States of America
http://momofuku.com/new-york/noodle-bar/

Get my spice on – Chapter 1

imageUsually when I’m on the People’s Park side of Chinatown I tend to get me some of that delicious intestine burning Mala Dry Pot, but this time I finally chose to try the little unconspicious Chinese stall outside the food center, which offers an interesting variety of spicy noodles.

I have no clue what this bowl was actually called but they used the thick round glass noodles and some minced pork in it. The fat noodles were super long and awesome slippery with a good chew and the the chili oil, meat and spices clinged perfectly onto them, which made every slurp crazy flavorful. The mince, coriander, peanuts and Sichuan peppers made this a brilliant and enjoyable dish that was at the same time pretty fun as well as fairly unpleasant to eat from the moment the first chili hit a sensitive spot.

I’m glad I finally tried it out and am happy they have a good handful of other similar dishes, deviating mainly by the type of noodles used and I’m sure that all of them are capable of giving me a similar kind of stomach growl as this one. Can’t wait for lip numbing round two.

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Chong Qing Xiao Chi 重庆小吃 (Chong Qing Snacks)
Concourse Area (People’s Park)
100 Upper Cross Street

Quick fix Cantonese.

imageI had organized a training in Bangkok and had to stay behind at the office a little longer one night after the session had finished. When I was back at the hotel I just wanted to grab something quick before catching up with everyone for a few drinks next door. I ventured for the Kowloon restaurant in the basement, that I had recognized before, thinking some noodles and dumplings would just do fine.

As foreseen I ordered some Xiao Long Bao, the Beef Noodle Soup and the Fried Tofu not knowing that it would be quite a challenge finishing all of it by myself. The soup was first and the broth tasted pretty good and interesting due to some pinches of cinnamon, which I only knew from Vietnamese pho. The noodles though were nothing too mentionable and mushy but the beef, if I found a piece between the masses of fat and tendon, was actually nicely braised and soft.

imageTo my surprise the Xiao Long Bao were quite great. Looking unpretentiously ugly and with very little, yet tasty soup within, the best part about them was the deliciously fine and juicy mince. Some proper feel good food.

imageI was already pretty stuffed from the noodles and the big buns when finally the fried tofu arrived, not a too shabby portion by itself. The blocks of silky tofu had a light crisp coating without any apparent flavor but thankfully that gooey sauce managed to add some lightly intriguing sweetness to it all. I would have preferred this in between my slurps of soup or after a dumpling here and there but all six beancurd bricks in a row was a rather boring occasion.

Nothing I would be craving for but I was glad I finally tried it. I might even be coming back another night when wandering off too far seems troublesome. Beer time now.

Kowloon 九龍 (เกาลูน)
981 Silom Rd. (at Holiday Inn Silom)
Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500
Thailand
Tel: +66 2 238 0370
http://www.kowloon-chinese-restaurant.com/

Mango & Amazeballs.

imageAfter a very questionable fish head steamboat dinner my friends took me down Liang Seah Street for some Asian dessert. At first I wasn’t too excited but boy was I up for a surprise. This place was awesome and had a pretty similar menu to Lui Hau Shan which I learned to love so much during my last trip to Hong Kong. I was already ecstatic but the absolute kicker was that here one could order as many of those off the hook squishy glutinous rice balls as wanted. Oh yeah.

I had the works; mango mousse, mango ice cream, sago, pomelo and a batch of seven awesome squishy balls. It tasted great, maybe not as great as its’ prettier Hongkongese twin but surely great enough to make me just a little happier. Cooling, fruity, not too sweet with some bitter pomelo popsicles and heapz of textures going on as well – moussy, creamy and chewy. I reckon they could’ve dropped the crushed iceberg floating in the middle, which was always in the way but I guess when you’re in the tropics you have to keep stuff cool, so no hard feelings.

It was ridiculous and I was so happy to have finally found a place like this in Singapore. And obviously I wasn’t alone as it was bustling down here with a constant crowd waiting on the street for a slot to open up. It was so busy that a while after we had finished our desserts, chatting away, the staff kindly asked us to give up our seats so the next round of customers could get their sweets on. Absolutely loved it.

Ji De Chi Dessert 记得吃
No. 8 Liang Seah Street
#01-03
Singapore 189022
Tel: +65 6339 9928
http://www.jidechi.com.sg/

It’s grey at the bottom of the rainbow.

imageLunchtime again and we still didn’t feel like a salad or anything else remotely light and so went back to Paradise Dynasty which I like so much nowadays. We continued sampling new Xiao Long Bao flavors from their rainbow palette and today’s choice fell on the garlic type. It didn’t look very pretty to be honest, all grey, somehow nearly metallic and also the taste wasn’t my favourite of all times. I’m generally a garlic lover and at first it even tasted interesting enough to catch my curiosity but at the second bao I was already over it. It was just too overwhelming with too many raw-ish garlic chunks in the meat mix.

imageAs I had their awesome Spicy Dumpling Noodles already a couple of times I finally brought myself to ordering the Dan Dan Mian, that caught my attention during an earlier visit. At first it seemed a little thin and soupy but when I gave it a proper mix it got nicely thick. Noodles were, as often, too soft for my preference but the other flavors worked fairly nice together, all sesame and creamy. Overall the aroma of this thing was rather light and lacked a bit of depth but probably some fresh leafs of coriander and a couple of drops of fiery chili oil could change that for the better. Well, not an eye opener this time but still on my list of very solid lunch options.

Paradise Dynasty 乐天皇朝
3 Gateway Drive
#02-13/14 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9271
http://www.paradisegroup.com.sg/