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#Dumplings

Beef Noodles? Yes. The Real Deal? Uhm…

imageWe were actually planning on a sandwich lunch but one of my colleagues wasn’t feeling to brilliant and thought a hot noodle soup would do the trick and so we ended up going to ‘Liu San’, a Taiwanese restaurant at Bukit Timah Plaza I wanted to check out for some time now.

We ordered some ‘Boiled and Panfried Dumplings‘ for starters which were both okay but not too special also with a much higher cabbage ratio compared to the meat. The panfried version reminded me of gyoza and nicely had a very thin skin. The main reason we came here though were the ‘Taiwanese Beef Noodles‘, a dish I’m nearly as particular about as ramen. This was actually quite surprising, the broth was deep dark and had the typical beefy sweet & sourness with a hint of heat as advertised as the spicy version. My colleague mentioned there was too much soya sauce in it but I thought that it wasn’t too bad for a non-Taiwanese version, but then it has been some time since I had the real deal. I particularly liked the carrots that were not overcooked and fitted nicely in with the other ingredients. The noodles seemed to be the supermarket kind, a bit too floury in taste and texture that left the usual chewiness missing. Last but not least the meat was thinly sliced with a lot of fat which at least was tender enough. I knew I probably wouldn’t get the nice big beef chunks like in Taipei but would have loved them to be just a little bit thicker.

Overall this was an ok choice for lunch, the broth was pretty good actually but beef and noodles could use some pimping. I would say not a bad bowl of noodles even though far from the stuff you get in Taiwan but I guess that’s a useless comment as that is pretty much always the case. Probably coming back but mainly to try their ‘Rice With Simmered Pork‘ or the ‘Minced Pork Noodle‘.

Liu San 劉三閣
1 Jalan Anak Bukit
#01-09 Bukit Timah
Singapore 588996
Tel: +65 6463 1833

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Keep The Good Ramen Coming

imageIn the past we would’ve gone out, drink a little too much and get up to no good but this year we celebrated my birthday ‘old people style’ and appropriate to my coming age with a quiet dinner so everybody could make it back home before midnight. My friend chose ‘Miharu’ at the back of the Gallery Hotel close to Robertson Walk and Mohamed Sultan which he likes a lot. Whilst waiting we had a chat with some Japanese customers in the queue who regarded ‘Miharu’ as one of the more authentic ramen shops in Singapore.

As so very often recently I felt like shoyu ramen and since they had a version in my favorite ramen style I had their ‘Komi Tsukemen‘. I first hesitated as it was advertised to have a lemonish taste but I’m glad I didn’t change my mind. The broth was lovely salty with just a hint of lemon which didn’t taste alien at all but added some comforting freshness. While the chashu and the egg were mostly ok, the bamboo shoots tough were rather weird, pretty thick and brownish in color. They didn’t really taste good as well and so I left them mostly untouched on the side of my plate. My highlight were the noodles which they import directly from a noodle factory in Japan. They were thicker than usual, nicely twisted and super chewy so that despite the huge portion that it already was I still wished for more. Definitely a new contender for the great ramen places in this town.

imageWe also ordered two sides of gyoza. The normal ‘Yaki Gyoza‘ where quite nice but the ‘Shi-So Gyoza‘ were just outstanding. According to the name they used shiso leaf in this which reminded me of thai basil and that gave those gyoza a very unique flavor that I want to taste again.

This place has been here for a while and I regretted not coming by earlier as I left yet again happy and content knowing that I had yet found another gem for my list. Brilliant.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464

Prawn Dumpling Galore

imageI had checked out of my apartment and my friend picked me up to have a quick bite before I left for Singapore. On the way to Central Station we passed a little underground branch of a popular restaurant chain recommended in one of the past Michelin Guides – ‘Tsim Chai Kee’.

They didn’t have many dishes to chose from but since we needed something after a rough night we ordered their signature ‘Wanton Noodles‘ with sliced beef and prawn dumplings. They also had shredded fishballs as add on but since I genuinely dislike those I totally didn’t care.

Not even five minutes after ordering our bowls already arrived and looked promising. I’m usually not a big fan of prawn dumplings but these ones were actually pretty decent. Fully stuffed with big chunks of prawn this was exactly what I needed. The beef on the other hand was as expected super tenderized and as wobbly meat grosses me out most of it stayed in the bowl. The noodles were lovely yellow and eggy with a firm bite to them and the broth was well seasoned and tasted like a strong concentrated chicken soup.

Definitely not many points on the interior design scale but a cheap and decent noodle fix after a long night, no question.

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 沾仔記
Basement, 154 Queen’s Road Central
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2581 3369

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

Who Needs 18 Folds?

imageFinally Chinatown Complex Food Center reopened after a long break for renovation and since the last group of friends visiting Singapore were starving I brought them here hoping my favorite stall for ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ – ‘Hong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao’ or ‘China La Mian Steamed Buns’ was still there. And “Thank God” it was. The Chinese couple who ran it for the last couple of years seemed to have teamed up with another couple recently and today the two husband were on shift.

We ordered the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (XLB), the ‘Jiao Zi‘ and the ‘Spicy Sichuan Wonton‘. The XLB here maybe don’t have eighteen folds but to my opinion they are still the best hawker version available in Singapore. The dough was very thin so we could make out the soup level inside and the soup itself had a delicious and rich pork taste. Note to myself, “don’t be so greedy otherwise you will burn yourself every time again”, which I do, every time. I especially liked the meat filling as it tasted great, was smaller portioned and minced very fine which also pleased my preference for non-chunky texture. That all together with the smiling faces of the owners and a low price of five dollars for ten XLB makes me come back here again and again. The ‘Jiao Zi‘ were based on the same meat mixture but enhanced with chopped up chives which worked fantastically together. The dough was fried crisp on one side and nicely chewy on the other. The wonton had tiny pork meat pockets with a lot of noodle-like flattened chewy dough around that was soaked in a tangy chili oil. Delicious.

Even that I loved the dumplings as always I was left with a bit of emptiness as it was a Sunday on which they don’t offer their ‘Spicy Sichuan Noodle La Mian‘ but since I come by here quiet frequently I knew I won’t have to wait too long to taste them again.

Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao                                                                                                                   335 Smith Street                                                                                                                                               #02-135 Chinatown Complex Food Center                                                                                       Singapore 050335

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

Seoul Food!

1355309306082 I was pretty excited to being sent on a business trip to Seoul, my first ever trip to Korea. One of my friends in Singapore introduced me to her cousin in Seoul who runs a traditional guesthouse in Bukchon (go check it out if you’re down there). He was so kind to meet me in Myeongdong which was close to my hotel and show me a famous noodle  dumpling restaurant – ‘Myung Dong Kyo Ja’. The restaurant had only four dishes on their menu from which one is only available in summer.

We started with the ‘Mandu‘ (Steamed Dumplings) which came in pretty clever plastic steam baskets. They were stuffed with a tasty and juicy mixture of minced pork meat, vegetables like leek and sesame oil. They were fairly big but with a nice texture. Aside we had ordered their ‘Kimchi‘ which was different to any other kimchi I had ever tried. The red paste was thick and packed with heaps of garlic. My host was impressed I ate so much of it but I really really liked it.

1355309378733As seconds I had a huge bowl of the ‘Kalguksu‘ (Dumpling Noodle Soup) which was perfect for the freezing weather outside. The noodles were cooked along with the soup until soft. The chicken broth was clear and light with lots of delicious goodies floating in it. There was meaty minced pork, chives and chopped mushrooms as well as a bunch of ‘Byeonsi Mandu‘ which are small pyramid shaped meat dumplings that tasted as great as the steamed huge ones from before.

This was just a great and apparently very popular place and I was told one has to wait a rather long wait to eat here when coming during the peak hours. So summarizing the day, I was in a new amazing city, had some new delicious and down to earth Korean food and on top got a new friend. How good is that.

http://www.mdkj.co.kr/en/

Myung Dong Kyo Ja Restaurant 명동교자                                                                                                           25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga                                                                                                                             Jung-gu                                                                                                                                                             Seoul                                                                                                                                                                 South Korea