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Dan Dan Mian

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/

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

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/

It’s been a very lao time.

imageIt felt like a hundred years that I had been to ‘Lao Beijing’ but tonight I wanted to refresh my memory big time and went berserk on their menu. I spotted ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (小笼汤包) so it came naturally to start with those favourite little steamers. Not being the prettiest of its’ kind, they were quite nice, had thin skin and a generous slurp of soup in ’em but neither the meat nor the broth had a too distinguished flavour.

imageDumpling time wasn’t over just yet so we had a round of awesome ‘Pork & Cabbage Jiao Zi‘ (boiled). The cool thing here was the cabbage, not very common and tasted great together with the fine meat mass. Aside another regular on my orders, some crunchy and slightly spicy, delicious garlic cucumbers.

imageOver to the noodles some ‘Beijing Style Zhang Jian Mian‘ (老北京炸酱面) came our way. The noodles were soft and and thin and the whole thing tasted nice refreshing with all those chopped scallions but wasn’t really like a bean sauce but more like a lightish bolognese, nonetheless good.

imageAlso the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ was more an interpretation of the bowl I like so much. Nearly a clear broth with some minced meat and chives taking a swim in it. No sesame, no peanuts, no gooey creaminess made this not really extra special but still tasty enough to give it a like.

Even though the food was not sweeping me off my feet, it was still tasteful and delicious maybe with a slight setback caused by their  modifications on my old time favourites. It’s quite a busy and bustling place at peak hours in a bit of a warmer setting than the usual dim sum restaurants and surely has some decent dishes to offer. I might come back to try their high tea buffet as even though I’m not a big fan of such, ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ free flow doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Lao Beijing 老北京食堂
238 Thomson Road
#02-11/12 Velocity@Novena Square
Singapore 307683
Tel: +65 6358 4466
http://www.laobeijing.com.sg/

Breaking News: Zhong Guo opens 2nd outlet!

imagePeople living around Bukit Merah can consider themselves lucky as ‘Zhong Guo‘ just opened a new outlet at Bukit Merah Food Center. The menu is the same as the one at the Chinatown Complex Food Center outlet so it’s still all about noodles and dumplings. Enjoy, enjoy!

Refuelling awesomeness.

imageOh man I missed this place and finally I made it back here on a day they were actually making their beautiful noodles. I was psyched and first up I had to have the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ or ‘Spicy Sichuan Noodles‘ how it says on the board. The noodles were freshly handmade and nice and soft, maybe a bit too soft. The gravy was insane, just mildly spicy but enough to squeeze some drops of sweat out the back of my head, thick and rich and full of peanut sesame flavour. The savoury pork mince on top together with some crushed peanuts, fresh chives and cilantro finished the job just nicely.

imageI was already pretty filled up but not finished just yet as I also wanted to finally try their ‘Zha Jiang Mian‘. The bowl was loaded with freshly thin shredded spring onion and cucumbers sitting on beautifully thick and gooey minced meat soya bean sauce that was lukewarm and made this a great dish for the tropical heat today. I know this all sounds like raving and exaggerating but I really think it’s that darn good, M. this one’s for you.

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Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包
335 Smith Street
#02-135 Chinatown Complex Food Center
Singapore 050335

A Pumpkin From Heaven

imageIt was a laid back Sunday afternoon watching a movie with friends and after being back home we all felt hungry but were too lazy to make a big effort. I then mentioned that I had some great ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ at the signature Chinese restaurant of the Park Royal Hotels and apparently that was reason enough so we located the closest Park Royal and were on our way.

Wandering around the restaurant looking for the bathroom i spotted a dish on another table that I just had to have. What caught my eye was their signature ‘Pork Belly Pumpkin‘ and since we weren’t super hungry I ordered a smaller version for S$26. When it came to our table it looked absolutely beautiful, a whole pumpkin from the oven, filled up with big glazed and braised pork belly cubes. The pork belly pieces were mega tender and soft and the fat melted between the meaty parts and fused into the magical gravy that had a sweet roasted aroma with a soya infused richness that made this the perfect sin. The pumpkin that was baked until soft soaked up the delicious sauce and made it by far the best pumpkin I have ever had.

Besides this outstanding vegetable and the noodles we also had their ‘Cucumber & Chili‘ as an appetizer which were great, steaming hot, slightly sour and fiercely spicy which i considered fun to eat.

I think I mentioned before that I am not a big fan of these nicer sit down Chinese restaurants but ‘Si Chuan Don Hua’s’ food is just so good. I really have to come back and give their ‘Dim Sum‘ and ‘High Tea‘ a  shot.

http://www.sichuandouhua.com

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
Park Royal Hotel
181 Kitchener Road
Singapore 208533
Tel: +65 6428 3170

Shanghainese Soul Food

imageI went hiking on the “Dragon’s Back” with a friend from Australia who accidentally was in town at the same time and without breakfast and real lunch I was super hungry when it got to dinner time. We all met up at the ‘Double Happiness Cafe’ in Soho for some Shanghainese fair which was one of the places my other friend wanted to bring me the night before to try out their ‘Dan Dan Noodles‘.

And so this was one of the first dishes we ordered. The bowl arrived piping hot which unfortunately cooked the noodles a little too soft and caused me burning myself on several occasions. There was a very strong peanutty flavor to the broth emphasized by the whole peanuts swimming around in there which also added some crunchy texture. The soup was creamy but not unpleasantly thick or heavy. The meat was nice and juicy with quite a few fatty chunks that I left aside. Nevertheless a lovely dish.

imagePretending to be healthy we ordered the crunchy and refreshing ‘Spicy Garlic Cucumber‘ with vinegar and the ‘Sichuan Style Vegetables‘ that consisted of cabbage, onions, peppers and broccoli and had a nice numbing punch.

imageI hardly leave any Chinese restaurant without having some dumplings if they have some so we ordered their ‘Steamed & Panfried Shanghainese Jiao Zi‘. They had a tasty skin which was a bit thicker and instead of chives they used preserved vegetables that gave the dumplings a unique taste I never had before.

imageMy hiking friend said she had to have the ‘Stir Fried Glutinous Rice Cake‘ which I never even heard of before so I was more than up for it. When it arrived it reminded me of the haloumi from the night before. The slices of panfried rice cake had a nice charred flavor and were much harder than I anticipated, a bit similar to squid. With the sweet savory glaze and the veggies this really worked well together and creatively used something as basic and plain as rice and turned it into a tasty, tasty dish.

imageWe were slowly filling up but had the ‘Roasted Pork Shanks with Herbs‘ left to tackle. The meat was quite tough and stuck to the bone but the spice rub tasted interestingly great with a strong hint of cinnamon.

I liked this place already for it’s name but also for the Chinese interior, the free welcome walnuts and above all the great food. I’m a huge fan of ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ and this sure is one I wouldn’t mind having again. Double happiness for everyone.

Double Happiness Cafe
48 Stauton Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2549 1862

The La-Mian-Quest continues!

imageAfter not making it down to ‘Silk Road’ at the Amara Hotel during my friend’s visit I needed to come here and try their ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ myself. A workmate joined me so we could order a little bit more dishes to taste.

As it was the focus of my mission today I started up with the ‘Sichuan Dan Dan Mian‘ which oddly arrived in a flat pasta dish but nevertheless looked very promising. There was heapz of minced pork sprinkled all over and the gravy looked thick and dark red. Taste wise I must say it was all in all good but not too special, slightly spicy and with sesame of course. The noodles tough were too soft for me and I reckon not the home made kind which became more certain as other noodles on the menu were particularly declared as “handmade”.

imageAside we ordered the ‘Cucumber in Garlic Sauce‘ which I loved. The portion was huge and the cucumbers were the tasty small kind with a lovely crunch to them. All that covered in a nice garlicy chili sauce that was refreshing in between all the warm and meaty dishes. We also ordered the ‘Minced Meat Dumplings‘ and also the spicy version. Both tasted okay but I preferred the normal ones as the Sichuan version wasn’t spicy at all and a bit coldish.

image At last we had their special ‘Shenyang Snowflake Dumplings‘ that were eight tasty meat and chive dumplings united through a thin layer of crispy dough similar to a very flat pancake. Even that the taste wasn’t really knocking me off my feet, eating dumplings like that was something new that I haven’t seen before, which I appreciated.

The food here was good but since recently I have been to places like ‘Si Chuan‘ which offer really yummy ‘Dan Dan Mian’ and I wasn’t a too big fan of the atmosphere here I might return to the Amara rather to check out one of the many other restaurants here.

http://www.silkroadrestaurants.com/

Silk Road Restaurant                                                                                                                                          165 Tanjong Pagar Road                                                                                                                                 Level 2 Amara Singapore                                                                                                                        Singapore 088539

Dan Dan Sunday!

imageOne of my visitors fell in love with the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ from ‘Hong Guo‘ in Chinatown but since she had to leave on Monday night, when they are closed, and today was Sunday, when they only do dumplings, I was looking for some new alternative. On a fellow blogger’s site I found two restaurants that he or she called the best for ‘Dan Dan‘ noodles in Singapore – ‘Si Chuan Dou Hua’ in the Old Parkroyal Hotel on Beach Road and ‘Silk Road‘ at the Amara Hotel in Tanjong Pagar. Due to convenience and laziness we chose ‘Si Chuan’ simply because it was closer to home and we did right with it. The place has a tea house ambience without the fridge like coldness of many Chinese restaurants here. Our waiter was a bit reserved at first but every time she came back to our table she became visibly happier and smilier.

We ordered the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ (6$), the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (XLB) here called ‘Steamed Minced Meat Dumpling in Superior Stock‘ (4.5$) and the not steamed ‘Minced Meat Dumplings in Superior Stock‘ (6$). The noodles looked delicious and were nicely presented in a pottery bowl but unfortunately were cooked a tad over my preferred al dente. Nevertheless they tasted great, not too spicy but full of sichuan pepper flavor covered with a light chili oil and just a hint of sesame. The minced meat and mushrooms enriched the dish and made it quite filling even that the portions weren’t too overwhelmingly generous and for a texture change the baby kaylan did a great job.

imageAnother great surprise were the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ with superior stock. They come only in threes but delicious threes. For XLB they were quite big but mainly because of the huge amount of soup inside and the meat was very finely minced and tasty. Visually they were almost perfect; enough folds, transparently thin dough so the soup could shine through and on the bottom a razor blade thin slice of carrot preventing the baos to stick to the paper. Odd but something different and since it didn’t taste like anything I didn’t mind it. The stock truly tasted superior and there was plenty of it too. I later regretted not to have ordered more of those but the place, even that nearly empty, wasn’t the fasted so we refrained from any second rounds.

imageAfter all those tasty dishes the soup dumplings came across boring and bland. Presentation, quality and texture were fine but that doesn’t help if the food itself has no taste at all. On my next visit I rather have more of the XLB or try something new.

Finding new places with really great food always makes me really happy and ‘Si Chuan’ surely made my list for top ‘Dan Dan Mian’ places to go. Thanks ‘Foodie-ah’, good one.

http://www.sichuandouhua.com

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant                                                                                                                Parkroyal Hotel                                                                                                                                                  7500 Beach Road                                                                                                                                    Singapore 199591

They Know Their Dan Dan Mian!

imageWhen a friend came back into town for two weeks she was desperately craving for Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork dumplings) and Spicy Sichuan Noodles (Dan Dan Mian). We made our way into town for one of our favorites, the ‘La Mian Xiao Long Bao’ outlet of Crystal Jade at Takashimaya Shopping Center.1348053823044Their ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ are still the best I have eaten, even after they reduced the amount of baos per serving from five to four and making them bigger instead. The skin is nice and thin and the meat tastes very delicate and with a fine texture to it. The most important thing though is the soup hidden in the dumpling, and at Crystal Jade this is by far the tastiest of them all. I burnt myself slurping out the soup too fast through a little hole I bit into the dough.

My friend always orders the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ noodles that come with a  delicious creamy, thick and spicy peanut sesame gravy mixed with chili oil. You can chose between a wide selection of mian noodles too and they always come nicely springy and al dente.

As I saved space for all the dumplings I ordered their ‘Double Boiled Beef Soup’ without noodles which tastes fantastic. The broth is dark and rich and has a slight sour meat taste to it. The beef pieces reminded me of those which you get in Taiwanese Beef Noodles. It was a mix of lean meat with small fatty parts in between which was obviously cooked for a long time as it fell apart and tenderly melted when squeezing it with my tongue.

The ambiance is a no thrills one, clean and almost cold as at many other Chinese restaurants and the service  is efficient and friendly yet not overwhelmingly affectionate. The food is great though and even if the service was terrible, I’d still be coming back for more.

http://www.crystaljade.com/

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao                                                                                                               391 Orchard Road                                                                                                                                             #04-27 Takashimaya S.C.                                                                                                                      Singapore 238872