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#Fusion

Back in (baja)style!!!

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I hadn’t been to the shack for a while but the sun was out, I had Mexican-Food-Loving-Friends in town and these guys just had announced the return of the baja fish tacos to their menu. So when we arrived back in Freiburg after a day of exploring the black forest and beyond we headed straight for Stühlinger and one of their outside tables ordering a set of fish tacos each.

I’m not sure if my picture does it actual justice but these babies were intimidatingly ginormous. M. and our friend C. intuitively reached for fork and knife but I was willing to get my hands dirty. After all, these were tacos, right? Flipping up the sides of the appropriately large flour tortillas I wasn’t even able to close them properly above the crisp battered perch but I was ready for my first bite and didn’t plan on letting go of it. This was amazing. I still remembered them vaguely from the BZ food truck festival last year but it was like a brand new experience altogether. The batter cracked under my teeth making way for the wonderfully flaky fish meat that was breezy fresh and cooked ’til perfectly glassy. Just moments after the fish literally melted, and the juices had drenched my hands in tasty goodmess, all the other flavours started kicking in; the creamy chipotle mayonnaise, the crunchy greens and veggies, some sourness coming from that tropical salsa and especially awesome vibes blazing from the fresh Mexican herbs. It was like being teleported to a Californian beach (without ever being to one) for a couple of minutes, sipping on a cocktail enjoying the sun. Oh yes, I am glad these fish are back in town.

On top of an excellent meal the service today was super refreshing, attentive and friendly and on my way out I also finally got to say hi to some of the great people, who are responsible for all this. Thanks so much guys and see you soon.

Get Your Grub On!

The Holy Taco Shack (closed on Sundays)
Barbarastraße 18
79106 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 176 32970414
http://www.theholytacoshack.com/

Smorgasburger – Go Ramen! Go Life!

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Ramen Burger

One of our first activities in New York was walking all the way from West Village to Williamsburg to check out that famed ramen burger from Keizo Shimamoto at the Smorgasburg food market. It was a super hot day and we underestimated how long that “little walk” would take us, speaking alone that it took forever just getting over Williamsburg bridge. So when we eventually arrived we were pretty much done for the day but also saw a lot of beautiful city views on the way. Williamsburg is actually a pretty nice and grungy neighbourhood, full of cafés, bars and restaurants and Smorgasburg must have one of the best views on Manhattan, that a foodmarket could have. It was pretty busy out here, but we still managed to locate one of our hosts and the ramen burger stall quite easily. The queue was long but moved down fast as these guys really knew what they were doing. Everything was impressively set up in an assembly line kind of way, so patties were sizzling, ramen buns getting crisp and burgers were assembled by the dozens. Thank goodness as we were starving and dying to try this.

That thing was nothing but genius. The meat was not overly seasoned, maybe a bit too little, however beefy, juicy and had the right size in comparison to the noodle buns. Cheese and lettuce weren’t either outstandingly good nor bad but that sauce, a shoyu reduction glaze that tasted something like a sweetish Asia style bbq sauce, had some absolute delicious flavours going on. Last but not least the most curious of elements, the buns. I had a ramen type burger before in Singapore but the noodles were fairly crisp and crunchy and some parts broke off while taking a bite. Here, I have no clue how they actually did it, as it really tasted like qq cooked ramen noodles and still stuck together in it’s patty bun shape until the last two bites maybe. So it really was like the perfect fusion of two fantastic dishes into one; innovative, genius and best of it all delicious.

Get Your Grub On!

Ramen Burger (open Sundays in season)
Smorgasburg (at Williamsburg Flea)
50 Kent Avenue
New York
NY 11249
United States of America
http://ramenburger.com/

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/

Restaurant Week 2014: Table at 7

imageBecause of work and travels my post backlog grew a little and so this year’s restaurant week checkout had to wait a little longer for publishing than usual. But here we were on a Sunday evening down Mohamed Sultan Road at Table at 7, a nice Central-European / SEA fusion restaurant.

The first course of the selection menu was an amazing 5-Spice Quail. Perfectly broiled with a delicate, slight gamey taste and glazed with a sweetish spice mix. This was a great start and before continuing with the serious staff we received a smallish cup filled with a Black Mussel and Saffron Soup which was creamily delicious except the one whole actual mussel in it which I generously passed to one of my friends.

imageAs main I chose the Beer Roasted Suckling Pig. The skin was as thin and crisp as it gets with the meat underneath staying soft and juicy. The sauerkraut it was bedded on tasted great together with the pinch of star anis and made for some well-matching European-Asian flavors. Rounded up with a richly decadent and warm little chocolate tart paired with some cooling bailey’s ice cream our 4-course-dinner came to a delicious close.

I really really liked it here, the place looks nice and elegant, the service is friendly – even the chef came around and checked how we liked our food – and all above the dishes were not only appealingly presented but more importantly pretty darn tasty. I’ll come back.

Table at 7
7 Mohamed Sultan Road
Singapore 238957
Tel: +65 6836 6362
http://www.tableat7.com/

Best supporting act.

imageAfter my ‘Ramen Burger‘ and just four meters across the room I ordered my second course the ‘Dipping-style La Mien with Laksa Cream‘ or much shorter ‘Laksa Tsukemen’ from the other pop-up concept shop here, ‘Rakusabā’.

We were a bit back in line and particular attention was paid to the creation of each plate so we had to wait quite sometime until we finally got ours. For me the hold off wasn’t too bad as I had the burger just before but my friend nearly starved watching us eating as it was already quite late for lunch. When the time had come it all looked pretty neat and interesting and I shot my pictures as fast as I could to finally start eating. The noodles weren’t too special, no typical and slippery laksa bee hoon anyway and so that they wouldn’t stick together they were drizzled with some oil. Unfortunately they were still a little stuck so ended up just being oily sticky noodles. Dipping them into the thick concentrated laksa cream was quite funny and unfamiliar. Flavours as one remembers laksa, coconutty and spicy with an unusual viscous consistency. It was good we were so hungry though as every slurp was extremely filling, tasty and interesting definitely but just a tad too rich for my liking. What I enjoyed most about this dish were all the condiments on the plate. There was a stick of crispy oven roasted you tiao that was quite hard to bite, some wonderfully crunchy lotus roots, two decadent pieces of soft and juicy pork belly confit, not so soft soft egg with spicy shrimp sambal and my absolute favourite, the salmon otak otak gratin (fishcake) with it’s hint of spicyness, light taste and some crunchy pickled cucumbers on top. When finished with all, we received a top up of a shrimp and pork infused broth to water down the laksa cream for the last slurps. Not bad at all and how it’s properly done tsukemen-style, but I was just too full by then to completely empty my bowl.

I really kinda liked it because of it’s originality and the many very different things I got to try. Just the waiting time a couple of minutes shorter and the sauce a couple drops more watery would have made it even more enjoyable.

Rakusabā
The U Factory
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

It’s ramen, it’s a burger, it’s awesome.

imageTime was slowly running out  until some of the pop-up eateries at Gillman Barracks were about to disappear and so I finally made the effort on this hot Saturday and came down here to try them out.

My first order was the ‘Bulgogi Ramen Burger‘ from ‘The Traveling C.O.W.’ which also has a food truck going around the city. I wasn’t too hopeful that this was going too be much of a taste surprise but more of a gimmick kinda way of playing and switching the ingredients around. I was quickly taught differently when I took my first crunchy bite out of this. The panfried noodle paddies, even though super crispy and crackling away, were nice and chewy on the inside and held up pretty well throughout me going to town on it. The fresh lettuce and tomatoes added some more rather fresh crunchy textures and the bulgogi beef just tasted crazy good – juicy, sweetish savoury like it is supposed to be. I just hoped there would have been more of it. Only the sesame dressing they used I couldn’t really pick out in between this flavour bonanza but overall this was great stuff and less messy to eat than expected. Nice job.

I wasn’t too sure if it even makes sense to write about something that’s about to close down but I read somewhere that they are planning to take this on to their truck menu and really wish that’s true, hopefully even with a normal burger patty version in tow.

Update: In the meantime they also broiled up some mean ‘Wagyu Burgers‘ at Laneway 2014.

The Travelling C.O.W. (Chef on Wheels)
The U Factory (now hopefully on the road)
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

Mexanese or Japexican?

imageI was a bit excited as I wanted to try this place now for a long time and today after yoga I finally managed to hop by. I was a bit disappointed how the shop was set up, somehow I was expecting this hip hang out for the cool kids and instead I stood in yet another rather basic fitted Subway shop like place. Focusing back on the reason I came here for I ordered two halfs of their ‘Rainbow Shrimp‘ and ‘Yummy Belly‘ rolls.

Yummy Belly‘ was filled with crunchy and partially pickled veggies and deliciously sweetish marinated bulgogi beef which tasted so good it didn’t survive for very long in my hands. The ‘Rainbow Shrimp‘ is their signature roll and was a bit more extravagant than the others on the menu. The protagonist was a tempura prawn surrounded by pickled radish, cucumber, sliced narutomaki and other lovely crunchy things. This all together was pretty good by itself but the absolute kicker was the layer of pink fish floss that tasted a lot like cotton candy and weirdly fitted in here pretty well. There were probably healthier choices then the ones I went for but they were really really tasty and I’ll take them up as after yoga grub anytime again. Nice and different.

Sushi Burrito
100 Tras Street
#01-06 100AM Shopping Mall
Singapore 079027
Tel: +65 6543 6860
http://www.sushiburrito.com.sg/