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Yakitori

36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 26, Raw

DSC01900-01We made it back from Curry just in time to freshen up and head out to meet my host’s buddies at Yabase, an izakaya-style sushi restaurant close to his apartment. A quick meet & greet and then straight into the serious stuff. Starting with drinks I asked for a lemon sour (shoju, lemon, and soda), that a former colleague had introduced me to during my last trip to Japan and with a hint of hesitation and a nondescript smile the lady said it should be possible to organize, and it was. Cheers.

We continued with a medley of dishes including a great quality sashimi moriawase, a tuna and a salmon platter. The latter two consisted of lean to fatty cuts as well as an aburi version each and some fabulous other bits. I truly think every sushi restaurant should have some of those, they’re just the perfect thing for solo eaters.

The next two hours we spend our time ordering random dishes like raw gyu, maki, beautifully made agedashi tofu and sweetly glazed savoury tsukune yakitori. After those were all washed down with cold brews and hot sake, we discovered they even had ice cream mochi dessert and since they were kind of miniature we had a multitude of ’em. The choco mochi were like frozen drops of mousse au chocolate, chewy on the outside and freezy creamy on the inside. A cool finish to an ortherwise delicious meal.

Awesome food, fabulous company and ass kicking service. Great night.

Get Your Grub On!

Yabase
Klosterstraße 70
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 362677
yabase-ddf.com

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Chicken that sticks.

imageWhen I tried out Tony’s Pizza a couple of weeks ago I passed by this huge medieval looking door just around the corner and once I figured this was an Izakaya Yakitori place it instantly made my to-do list. This list is growing exponentially these days and so a bunch of lovely friends helped me ticking this one off rather fast.

They have all sorts of stuff here but specialize in Tsukune, these delicious little grilled minced chicken sticks and since there was a Mixed Set on the menu, giving us the opportunity to try five of them, we were quite fast in ordering one set each. Our first was the Cheese Tsukune; not very traditional I suppose but a great thing to eat and the cheese was rich and sticky, gluing itself to the top of my mouth. Off to a great start.

imageSecond plate came with the more traditional Tsukune Tare, which had a much more familiar sweetish taste and gave the savory chicken flavors a chance to come through.

imageThe Okonomiyaki Tsukune with mayonnaise, sweet sauce and bonito flakes was an interesting combination of flavors. I have become a very passionate supporter of okonomiyaki in general and loved this one right away.

imageNow this stick was a bit odd; as much as I appreciated the chopped shiso leaves in this as much I was weirded out by the chunks of soft bones and fat that gave me the chills while chewing. I know many people would love this but it just wasn’t for me at all.

imageAt last there was another more fusion like version that I called Guacamole Tsukune. It was smeared with some creamy avocado spread and tasted exactly like that, nice and creamy and kind of Mexican.

imageOther than those five delicious sticks we also had the Pickles Moriawase, which, while being absolutely delicious, consisted of some light slaw, crunchy cucumber and hardly pickled carrots, small onions and yellow daikon. All together fantastic palate cleansers in between. Then there was some amazingly crunchy and sinful Chicken Skin (picture above) as well as a medley of chicken innards including chunky Gizzards, overly gamey Livers and some perfectly charred and firm Hearts.

I liked this place; it was loud, there were a lot of different aromas floating in the air, the beer was cold and their take and twist on those izakaya goodies turned out to be quite a mood lifter. I’ll be coming back for sure.

Tsukune Ichigo つくね 一期
399 River Valley Road
Singapore 248295
Tel: +65 6736 1340

Sticky Notes.

imageLast time we didn’t realize that this was such a popular place and sadly had to watch the obviously smarter guests getting their grub on from the outside window. But not this time, I wasn’t super well prepared to be honest but at least managed to book on a Friday evening for two and was lucky enough that the nice booking lady squeezed us onto the bar so we didn’t strike out again. Yes baby, we were in.

Going through the pages of the menu I just kept on ordering more and more so that at the end I had totally forgotten where I had started or how many sticks we were going to get. Thankfully they first plate also brought back pieces of my memory and I was excited to begin in style with their special and my first ever ‘Fugu Sashimi‘ (puffer fish). It was pretty awesome, not necessarily a lot of taste of its’ own but the freshness and pleasant chunkiness of the fish made this a joy to eat. As this was so delicate they probably would’ve slapped me if I had asked for wasabi, but the side served ponzu-shoyu sauce (soya lemon) together with some green onion and other beautiful looking things did a much better job. This was a great kick off to our meal, just the skin was something I could’ve easily lived without as ugly and chewy as it was and since my heart was still beating (even though on a higher frequency) it was about time to bring on the sticks.

I’m gonna warn you right now, this is gonna be a long one.

imageBefore the first skewer, we had some ‘Tamanegi‘ coming, grilled onions, sharp and sweet at the same time with some garlic salt to dip in. I could’ve ordered that all night.

imageFinally the first stabbed piece of meat arrived and without planning it like that we started with the most decadent of choices, the twelve dollar ‘Jo Wa Gyu‘, top grade Japanese wagyu beef. Probably we should’ve had this a bit later down the track to build up the excitement but I didn’t mind this pure butter beefness that melted away in my mouth at all. The smallish portions made even this extremely fatty bits very enjoyable and so delicious that my friend didn’t even wait for me to take a picture before she ate hers in the blink of an eye.

imageThe ‘Shiso Buta Maki‘ (bacon and shiso leaf) was outstanding. I loved the shiso leaf, because it tastes like nothing else and come on, wrapped in bacon! Also the ‘Enoki Wa Gyu‘ (beef and enoki mushrooms) were great, the tangy charred thin wagyu wrapped around those delicious squeaky mushrooms were just a lovely combination. My smile grew wider, stick by stick.

imageUp next we had a selection of the ‘Sasami‘, some awesomely filled chicken fillets; one with wasabi that knocked our socks off and had some additional shiso leafs in it just for me and one with plum that was good too but extremely sour which made me pull some funny faces but therefore prevented it all of just being dry and boring chicken.

imageNow we were on a roll and had three sticks flying in at once: the ‘Gyu Tsukune‘ (spicy beef meatball) that was tasty but unfortunately had some unpleasant fat chunks in it, the absolute fabulous ‘Hatsu‘ (chicken hearts) that were firm but wonderful soft and tender with a hint of giblet gamey taste and last the ‘Sakana Bacon Maki‘ (bacon wrapped fish fillet) which wasn’t too bad but a bit of a weird combination. I’ve never been very big on surf & turf but must admit, that even that it wasn’t really for me, the saltiness of the bacon complimented the milky fish meat rather well.

imageThe ‘Buta Tsukune‘ garlic pork meatballs were amazing, lovely fine minced meat with a hint of garlic. The chicken meatball ‘Tsukune’ weren’t too bad either but the black sesame somehow gave it a bit of an odd texture and the leftover ‘Uzura Tamago‘ (quail eggs) were hard boiled, a tad dry and compared to what we had before rather boring.

imageMy friend remembered a previous visit and suggested the ‘Tontoro Ringo‘ (fatty pork jaw and apple) which looked a bit off-putting with the thick layers of fat on the stick and unfortunately also felt unpleasantly chunky and gelatinous in my mouth. Purely judged from the taste though, this was actually pretty good as the pork, the fat and the baked apple worked fantastically well together. I still had much stronger feelings about the consistency than about its’ flavours so I probably won’t order them again.

imageJust because I missed ‘Okonomiyaki‘ so much I had to have their same titled (‘Okonomi Yaki’) skewer and to be honest they did a fantastic job bringing the aromas of this usually fifteen minute pancake into a tiny little yaki ball. Pretty great.

imageWe were almost full but kept on going strong. I had another view through the menu deciding which of those skewers may be worthy enough to make me explode. For this very important task I chose the ‘Enoki Buta Maki‘ (bacon wrapped enoki mushroom) which were pretty great and the more than qualified ‘Gyu Maki Cheese‘, wonderful gooey and salty cheese, wrapped into thin and crispy charred beef. These were insanely good and definitely the wrong cheesy choice to finish a twenty ish little course dinner. I was so stuffed and yet so happy.

I smiled a lot, which is the perfect sign for a great dinner and even though I had brilliant company and quite a little bit of sake I’m pretty sure that the food had a great deal to do with it too. This was fun to eat, we got a part of the action watching the master working his magic on the grill and enjoyed the cozy yet busy atmosphere of this little shop at Cuppage Plaza. I so will be back here.

Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant
5 Koek Road
#04-05 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6734 2492

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