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Udon

36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 18, Izakaya

UdonAbout halftime in food paradise and I was far from being finished yet. Today the plan was to meet my host and his colleague for some Tekka Don at Big Tuna just around the corner. We had missed the sign at the door last night though stating that the shop was gonna be closed for the holidays and so we found ourselves before closed doors and sadly also without any tuna rice bowls. His colleague, a passionate foodie himself, quickly came up with an alternative not far away from Big Tuna and this is how I ended up at Kushi-Tei of Tokyo unintentionally.

Entering the shop, a cloud of fragrant steam hit me right in the face with scents that instantly triggered memories of past trips to Japan mainly spent at random izakayas and ramen shops. The kitchen and service crew greeted us in a loud and familiar chorus and the many Japanese customers made me feel confident that this was gonna be a good choice.

Out of curiosity and for research reasons I grabbed one of their regular menus off the bar. I hadn’t even opened it yet when our waitress swiftly took it away signaling that they don’t serve food from this menu before dinner time. Being surprised but hungry I started scanning their small lunch menu with mostly little set meals and a few noodle dishes.

My choice fell on the udon with wakame, scallions and tempura crumbs. I don’t know what it is with the dashi broth that’s so particular to udon but I could soak it up by the gallon, light and defined. By the time I was finished taking my pictures the tempura had already softened but the udon still had their signature bounciness and chew, and even though I’m not huge on wakame I really liked theirs here. This dish always seems so simple and easy but it’s so much more than just a soup and hardly ever disappoints.

I truly liked it here and would have loved to experience its full smokey izakaya potential and spirit in the evening but I guess this just has to wait until next time.

Get Your Grub On!

Kushi-Tei of Tokyo
Immermannstraße 38
40210 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 360 935
http://brickny.com/kushitei-de/

 

Ad hoc yakitori.

imageWe wanted to go to check out ‘Kazu’ at Cuppage Plaza and naively thought we would get in without a reservation. Ya, we didn’t and so made our way down story by story looking for an alternative. There used to be another yakitori place on the ground level which had moved out but ‘Shinjuku’ that took it’s place also had some meat on sticks on offer so we settled for this.

We had some ‘Yakitori‘ for starters; there was oddly tasting bacon wrapped asparagus, some okay chicken and leek but the winner here were the chicken meatballs. At first I hesitated ordering them but was very happy I did. They had a soft texture, were well seasoned and covered in a  wonderfully sweet and savory glaze. Seldom had tasty chicken like that before.

imageI found ‘Mince Katsu‘ on the menu which wasn’t very nicely presented at all but I didn’t care as it actually tasted pretty great. The minced pork was rich but not greasy and dipping it into the brilliantly sweet tonkatsu sauce finished the job.

Other than that the ‘Sashimi‘ was alright, as were the ‘Udon‘, the ‘Wagyu Steak‘ was buttery good but not too special but the ‘Japanese Pickles‘ – cucumber, radish, cabbage and eggplant – i just loved them, as I do, maybe except the eggplant which was weird.

We weren’t too disappointed with our evening in the end also because the staff was super nice and understanding even when the noise level increased dramatically after inhaling a li’l too much of their sake. Thanks for the nice fun evening.

Shinjuku Restaurant  新宿
5 Koek Road
#01-01/02 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6734 8436

Udon, Udon, Udon!

imageDespite that we just had an ‘Udon‘ lunch this week one of my colleagues suggested to take advantage of the fact that he had a car and make another trip to ‘Megumi’, one of his favorites. It was a sunny Friday and the last time we went it tasted great so it wasn’t really too difficult to convince me.

I really liked the ‘Beef Udon‘ the last time but forced myself trying something new so I ordered the ‘Curry Udon‘ instead. The bowl was huge and filled up to the top with noodles, vegetables and meat. The curry broth was more liquid then I the ones I know but therefore also felt lighter than the normal thicker gravy. It had this really deep curry taste with a light spicy kick that did get stronger the further I emptied the bowl. The noodles here are thinner than at most places which makes them a bit easier to eat but unfortunately also were a bit softer than I would have liked. I was happy to find two slices of softly cooked pork belly in there which I prefer heaps over the more common chashu and what was also nice were the big chunks of carrot, the greens and bamboo shoots. The one thing I didn’t like was the kamaboko or Japanese fish cake but I never really liked any sort of fish cake anyway.

imageOn the side we ordered the ‘Saiko Beef‘ which was lovely tender and juicy and came together with a delicate dipping jus that tasted like strong beef stock mixed with a high quality soya sauce. The fresh crunchy salad aside was a nice change in between and tasted similarly nice dipped into the jus which I’m quite sure was not meant to be for that.

imageOne more side dish was the ‘UFO Maki‘ that had a center of cooked salmon rolled up in a thin cover of super crispy fried salmon skin. It tasted very fresh, the salmon was nice and buttery and the crunchy layer in between gave it all a special taste and a more diversified texture.

Still a nice no thrills place with a good selection of tasty dished but also still in a rather off location if you don’t have a car.

http://megumijapanese.com.sg/

Megumi Japanese Restaurant
Block 106 Clementi Street 12
#01-64
Singapore 120106

Oops I Did It Again!

imageAs long as the new Jem Mall didn’t manage to open up it’s doors we were stuck with our usual choices  so it was time for another lunch visit at ‘Tsuru-koshi’. I initially wanted the cold ‘Zaru Udon‘ but then, I already had something similar at ‘Tamoya‘ on Sundays, so i quickly reconsidered and ordered the ‘Kamatama Udon‘.

This is a pretty simple dish, just hot udon sprinkled with spring onion and topped with a very soft poached egg and a cube of butter. After properly mixing all these ingredients I started slurping down my noodles loudly. I didn’t care my colleagues making fun about the noises I made because this actually tasted pretty awesome. Soft boiled egg is always a bit weird at first but it worked fantastic together with the melted butter and reminded me of the good times I just put butter on everything.

This place is slowely starting to grow on me and even that I still prefer ‘Tamoya‘ to this but appreciate having an udon shop so close to my work with a a big enough selection not to get bored too fast.

Tsuru-koshi Udon
Jurong East Street 21
#01-19 IMM Building
Singapore 609601

It’s Tamoya Time Again!

imageIt was one of those days again and my udon crew headed back to ‘Tamoya’ at Liang Court for another fix. I had set my mind to finally try their ‘Curry Udon‘ but since it got a bit late last night I felt more like something refreshing and spontaneously changed my mind and ordered the cold ‘Sanuki Udon‘ and added some of their newly added tempura items ‘Asparagus‘ and ‘Vegetable Croquettes‘ on top.

The noodles were lovely chewy as always and the cold soya broth tasted deluxe and was exactly what I needed, cooling and refreshing. The ‘Asparagus’ was nicely al dente but unfortunately a bit blend and tasteless. The croquette had a crisp coating with a soft nearly creamy potato-y inside which was a nice  taste and texture contrast to the cold main.

I guess in the meantime it became clear that I will come back here on a fairly regular basis to further explore their menu and maybe eventually I will end up having these delicious looking ‘Curry Udon‘.

http://tamoya.com.sg/index.html

Tamoya
177 River Valley Road
#01-11 Liang Court Shopping Center
Singapore 179303

Top Notch Sushi at Somerset

imageA friend wanted to have some sushi tonight and since we didn’t want to go to the same old place again and again we went to ‘Fukuichi’ at TripleOne Somerset which he had heard good things about. The place had a smart casual setting and we sat down at the big sushi bar in the corner.

imageWe started with an evergreen – ‘Maguro Sashimi‘ – that was beautifully fresh with a clean sweet taste. The thick slices looked brilliant; dark red in color with a marble like look and the texture was just as I like it, soft and firm.

We also ordered a nice selection of sushi – ‘Ebi‘ (Prawn), ‘Hamachi‘ (Yellow Tail), ‘Tako‘ (Octopus), ‘Unagi‘ (Eel) and ‘Aburi Toro‘ (Seared Tuna Belly).

imageThe ‘Aburi Toro‘ was a real eye opener in all presentation, texture and taste. Usually I am not such a huge fan of toro as it tends to be more difficult to chew but not this one, the charred top was warm and crusty and underneath there was a explosion of flavors that literally melted away. Fantastic.

imageThe ‘Tako‘ was super fresh and must have been massaged for a very long time as it had the perfect chewiness yet firm texture. It tasted great and was a delight to eat, another sign they really care about the quality of their food.

imageNow the ‘Hamachi‘  was a surprise as it had the same consistency as the lovely maguro and a clean and down to earth flavor.  Pure and like straight off the sea.

imageThe ‘Unagi‘ was creamy and moist and touched by a hint of  this special sweet sauce that did fit the eel perfectly.

imageTheir ‘Sake Maki‘ reminded me a little bit of the ‘Shiok Maki’ at ‘Koh’s‘. I appreciated they weren’t using as much mayonaise here but I still prefer the normal straight sushi to these “creamy” ones.

imageThe ‘Agedashi Tofi‘ tasted good but it was much firmer than I would have liked it as I have learned to love the very soft silk tofu which is often used for this dish.

imageWe also ordered a ‘Miso Eggplant‘ of which one half was spiked with prawn chunks and the other half was covered with a thick layer of miso paste. I didn’t really get the prawn part as it didn’t add any special flavor to the dish just a weird alien texture that didn’t really work for me. The prawn free half though was pretty tasty with a nice caramelization and softly baked eggplant flesh. A pinch to sweet maybe.

imageEven that we already had ordered so much, when I realized they had ‘Marlin‘ on the menu I had to try it and later I had to pad myself on the shoulder for this as it was such an awesome idea. This fish really blew me away, nicely grilled and lightly seasoned with a fantastic soya sauce, salt and pepper, nothing else and the meat tasted and felt very similar to nicely grilled tuna. I absolutely adored this and was happy about the generous portion size.

imageWe finished our decadent meal with some lovely ‘Cold Udon with Ginger & Scallions‘. They offer this dish in several variations and with different noodles and we opted for the thin udon. The texture of the noodles was springy and chewy as it’s meant to be and the mix of xo soya sauce, freshly grated ginger and the scallions tasted lovely refreshing and delicate. My liking for cold noodles is constantly increasing and this one right here was a great closer for our dinner.

imageAs full as I was after all this food as happy was I to have tried something new. This may not be the cheapest of places around but therefore surely ranks under the best sushi restaurants I have been to in Singapore. Highest quality ingredients, perfectly executed flavor combinations (except the prawn eggplant maybe), the friendly service and the fact that this place has an outdoor sake bar got ‘Fukuichi’ a red bookmark in my collection of places to return too. Amazing.

http://www.fukuichidining.com.sg/

Fukuichi Japanese Dining
111 Somerset Road
#02-11/12 TripleOne Somerset
Singapore 238164

Another Udon Lunch at IMM

imageI came back here for lunch with a friend today and going with a colleague’s recommendation I ordered the ‘Niku Udon‘ with pork.

The clear broth was actually quite nice as it had a more distinct porky flavor yet pure and simple and I really liked the chopped pieces of white onion that added a sharp taste to the whole thing. The noodles tasted nice and had a lovely bite to them. I didn’t really like the thin pork slices as they were very fatty and had a bit of a greasy flavor but overall I enjoyed my lunch here and will be back again for some other versions to try.

Tsuru-koshi Udon
Jurong East Street 21
#01-19 IMM Building
Singapore 609601

Long Udon with Longer Names!

imageI recognized ‘Tsuru-koshi’ the last time I had lunch with my colleagues at the IMM in Jurong East and so I suggested to try it out today and since nobody had a better idea there we went.

As it seems common for udon shops we had to place our order before taking out seats and I chose their S$12 lunch set with ‘Atsu Atsu Tan Tan Udon‘ – pretty long huh? – together with a bowl of ‘Soboro Don‘. The ‘Don‘ was nothing I would desire having again, the minced meat tasted pretty boring and a bit greasy and the rice wasn’t as sticky as I had hoped for. The udon on the other hand, despite using the same plain minced meat tasted interestingly good. They sat in a lightly flavored sesame broth, which mixed with the meat and especially the very soft boiled egg turned into a flavor I quiet liked and never had tasted before and the udon were also nice and chewy. Even that this was the lunch set and the bowls were obviously smaller than the a la carte ones this was still a pretty big portion that I hardly could eat my ‘Mud Pie Mc Flurry’ after. Not.

The setting is no thrills, the little service you get is alright and fast enough and I still like udon very much which gives me enough reason to add this to the list of appropriate lunch places close to work. Cold udon next.

Tsuru-koshi Udon
Jurong East Street 21        
#01-19 IMM Building          
Singapore 609601

It’s Udon Week Folks!

imageI seem to be having a run on udon noodles recently and so again today. One of my colleagues mentioned this place many times before and since he had the car we united the lunch crew and head for Sunset Way to eat at ‘Megumi Japanese Restaurant’. In the spirit of whole complex it’s in the place doesn’t look too exciting at first, just a small tidy restaurant with a small sushi bar.

Following my colleague’s recommendation I ordered the ‘Gyu Udon‘ (beef). This was a huge portion but well trained as I am I still finished it up in no time. The soup was your typical udon broth but infused entirely with beefy flavor. It wasn’t cleared so there were clouds of protein and meat fibre floating on the surface but that added extra aroma and so was no show stopper. The noodles were plenty but just cooked a minute too long so I missed the usual udon chewiness. The beef was super lean and tasted great and beefy just the texture was quiet soft which made me wonder if they tenderized it before. The last component was a spinach like green which fitted the bowl nicely and added another texture to the pond.

I’m pretty glad we finally made it out here, another satisfying lunch option found, and so I am looking forward to when my colleague gets the car again next time.

http://megumijapanese.com.sg/

Megumi Japanese Restaurant                                                                                                                        Block 106 Clementi Street 12                                                                                                                         #01-64                                                                                                                                                       Singapore 120106         

Longest Udon Ever!

imageAs announced not even a month ago I had to come back here to try more types of their sanuki udon and this time I went for their ‘Kama-Age‘. The reason I didn’t order this at my first visit was pretty much a sign and their menu saying you may have to plan for 10-20 minutes preparation time. Those shrank to bearable 2-3 minutes when I ordered today. To be honest i couldn’t really make out why it took longer than the others but since it was much faster than I expected and a queue was building up behind me I didn’t try to ask.

The ‘Kama Age‘ came in one big flat traditional design bowl in which the udon sat in hot water. Aside came a smaller bowl filled with a tasty dipping sauce of dashi (fish/katsuobushi broth) and soya sauce. It tasted very delicate  and light and made eating them more fun and difficult. Since the noodles here are super long I practically started slurping in one end, had the middle sliding through the dipping sauce whilst the other end was still sitting in its’ hot bath. If I ate them right that is. I have to mention again that I really liked these noodles. They are handmade of a mix of three different imported Japanese flours and are nicely chewy. Besides the udon I also tried the ‘Chicken Karaage‘ today which was juicy and tasty but unfortunately also quiet fatty on the inside.

This place definitely hasn’t seen me for the last time as I have yet to try their ‘Curry Udon‘.

http://tamoya.com.sg/index.html

Tamoya                                                                                                                                                                 177 River Valley Road                                                                                                                                       #01-11 Liang Court Shopping Center                                                                                                     Singapore 179303

Hawker Centre With A View

imageAnother diet bail today. After intending to go for a salad close by the office my colleagues talked me into joining them for lunch at the Jurong Country Club. At first I thought this sounded really fancy but when we reached it was actually a nicely setup and down to earth – though country club style – hawker with a beautiful view over their golf course.

They had a big variety of Western and a bigger selection of Asian dishes on their menu and I decided to go for the ’Beef Udon’. It actually looked really nice with lots of noodles, meat and veggies. The broth was a bit blend and didn’t have this special udon soup kind of taste like ‘Tamoya’. The beef was nice and tender and was cooked for the right amount of time to easily fall apart without being dry. As always my meat complain would only be the many fatty bits but knowing bigger chunks of fat are very popular in Asia I leave this as a very personal note. Even that I doubt the noodles here are handmade they were springy, very tasty and heaps. What I liked the most about this soup was the South East Asian touch to it as the vegetables untypically were leafs of Kaylan. I never had them in an udon dish before but really appreciated the unfamiliar ‘al dente’ texture.

I maybe wouldn’t make an extra effort to come from the city all the way here just to eat the udon but since it is so close to my work and my dish was tasty and under ten dollars I’m sure I will join my colleagues more often should they be heading this way again.

http://www.jcc.org.sg/ 

Golfer’s Terrace                                                                                                                                                    Jurong Country Club                                                                                                                                              9 Science Center Road                                                                                                                           Singapore 609078

Great New Udon Assembly Line!

imageMy pal and I were hungry and bored this evening and so decided to make for some good old Udon. I read about this place recently and wanted to check it out ever since and so we decided for ‘Tamoya Japanese Sanuki Udon’ at Liang Court. The place has an unspectacular cantinelike setting and the ordering process has something of an assembly line.

I ordered a large bowl of ‘Kitsune Udon‘ (Fox Udon) that come in a deliciously light broth and are topped with sweet ‘Aburaage‘, fried tofu pockets. The udon were nice and chewy and surprisingly long, perfect for noisy slurping. I stocked up properly on the negi from the self service counter and finished the whole bowl down to the last drop. Only the tofu was a bit too sweet for me but I guess that one was called for.

Even that I am not a big fan I still had some ‘Eggplant and Sweet Potato Tempura‘ aside which were tasty and crisp. I liked the sweet potato more as the eggplant was a bit blend and too soft.

I am nearly as much an Udon fanatic as I am with ramen and so I am happy Tamoya has decided to come down to Singapore. I’ll be trying some of the other types in the near future so watch this space.

http://tamoya.com.sg/index.html

Tamoya                                                                                                                                                                 177 River Valley Road                                                                                                                                       #01-11 Liang Court Shopping Center                                                                                                     Singapore 179303

Quality Sushi No Cost No Fortune!

imageKoh Grill & Sushi Bar in the Food Republic in Wisma is probably my favorite go to casual Japanese dining place in Singapore. Generally I do come here at least once a week as the food is great in quality and taste and when they created the menu they obviously were looking to offer something different. And on top of that prices are moderate and make it possible to pay regular visits.

They offer nearly the whole span of Japanese foods like Sushi, Sashimi, Yakitory, Tempura, Ramen and other cooked dishes but during my many visits I have established a list of all star dishes which by default are put on every order with a few items changing depending on what I feel like.

This time as always we ordered our standards; ‘Maguro Sashimi’ which was lean, sweet, of lovely dark red color and tasted so fresh that it made clear why it is my all-time-favorite of stars. We also had their signature ‘Shiok Maki‘ which is a roll filled with Unagi, wrapped with Salmon and that all topped with Japanese Mayo, Fish Roe and slightly charred. This dish tastes great and different, creamy and the roe crunches between your teeth but when you’re only a party of two the mayo becomes a bit overwhelming after the third piece. My regular sushi selection is a trio of ‘Ebi‘, ‘Slighty Grilled Salmon‘ and ‘Slight Grilled Shuro Maguro‘. The first two never disappoint but the Shuro Maguro stands out as I also never saw it anywhere else.  It is not a type of tuna as the name might imply but a white fish which they marinate in Shochu. They have it also as a raw version but my favorite is still the one that touched fire as it changes consistency and melts in your mouth and you will be happy that you gave it a try. The last arrivals of the standard order were two small pieces of grilled tuna in a light lemony pepper vinaigrette which were perfectly charred on 5 sides and work together fantastically with the thinly chopped spring onions and cracked peppercorns.

On top of this already generous meal we ordered their ‘Tropical Maki‘ which was the only slight downer as there was nothing really tropical about them. I assumed mango being part of it but a quick analysis of the menu picture clarified that it was what it was – Surimi, Avocado and Cucumber. Not bad but just not what I had hoped for. A second extra were the ‘Pan Fried Udon‘. I love this dish as it combines so many different flavors. The plate is filled up with fried udon and fresh vegetables like spring onion and carrots that have the perfect bite to them, sprinkled with tuna flakes and a sweet sauce that reminds me of Okonomiyaki.

It’s good to know there are places like Koh and New Garo out there, serving up high quality Japanese food to moderate prices. I’ll be back soon.

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar                                                                                                                                          435 Orchard Road                                                                                                                                             #04-21 Wisma Atria Shopping Center                                                                                                 Singapore 238877