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@Orchard

I love Meaty-Thursdays.

imageMy good friend was about to move to Hong Kong and so I met her for some last minute yakiniku dinner at ‘Ito-Kacho’ at the Mandarin Gallery, a place is setup minimalistic somewhere between casual and elegant.

We felt a bit fancy so we ordered the large version of their premium cuts ‘Matsu Set‘ consisting of several different Wagyu and US breed cuts. Pretty much all of the meat was fantastic but my absolute favourite was the wonderfully marbled, buttery ‘Wagyu Toku-Jo-Bara‘. It had a light rose color and melted like ice cream, no teeth needed. The second best, even though slightly tougher than the rest but therefore with a strong beef and wine marinade flavour was the ‘Tsubo-Zuke Karubi‘ (US) short rib. Sideways we had the ‘Dashimaki Tamago‘ (Japanese omelette) which was also good and the ‘Kimchi-Moriawase‘ which I loved aside the otherwise mainly carnivory dinner.

This wasn’t too cheap at S$249 for the beef set only but then, we had a massive 780g of beautiful meats which was a very nice treat for a special occasion like this. I have more yakiniku places lined up to try out but this one is surely one to return to.

Ito-Kacho Yakiniku
333A Orchard Road
#04-08/09/10 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6836 0111
http://www.itokacho.com.sg/

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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

Subway Tacos.

imageIt was getting pretty late for lunch and I needed a good idea for something somewhere around the Orchard area that would appear satisfying enough. I remembered a colleague telling me that he often gets the ‘Burritos‘ at ‘Baja Fresh’ and since they also have tacos I started my Saturday activities by heading their way.

I instantly was a bit skeptical because of the ‘Subway‘ look-alike setup of the shop but now that I had already come all the way out here in the burning sun I thought “what the heck” and ordered three different flavors, ‘Grilled Mahi Mahi‘, ‘Char Siew‘ (Pork) and ‘Chicken‘. I received a complimentary portion of nacho chips and while they were preparing my food I made my way for the condiments taking samples from the different salsas and loading up on chopped cilantro. Only a few minutes later I had all my tacos sitting in front of me. Because I love fish tacos I started with the mahi-mahi which sadly didn’t taste nice at all. It was unpleasantly fishy which overpowered all other flavors. The chicken tasted like nothing really but at least the pork taco gave me some sort of satisfaction. The meat had been slow cooked tenderly and was pretty juicy so that this was the only one I actually had to use the second tortilla – that came with all tacos – to avoid it all ripping apart. This one was really good even though the tortillas were generally too dry and starchy which I counter fought by adding heaps of the ‘Baja Salsa‘ that had a mild heat and a char tang of grilled peppers.

Well, unfortunately this was rather disappointing and as ‘Lucha Loco‘ as well as ‘MexOut‘ have some tastier tacos to offer and one of them even cheaper, ‘Baja Fresh’ probably won’t see me again too fast.

Baja Fresh
9 Bras Basah Road
#01-03 Rendezvous Gallery
Singapore 189559
Tel: +65 8157 4136
http://www.bajafresh.com/singapore/

Super Duck Indeed.

imageIt was my ramen buddy’s belated birthday party plus a welcome dinner for the parents of a friend and our duck specialists booked us a table at the Paragon branch of the ‘Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck’. What an awesome name.

We obviously ordered the signature ‘Beijing Roasted Duck‘ and two at that. As it has it’s show effect they carved the ducks directly at our table with a precision that must come from doing this over and over again. The duck was dished up in three different and fantastic ways. Firstly we ate the most crispy pieces of the skin, no meat, just dipped in sugar. The skin was caramelized and melted in my mouth, fat at its’ very best. The second version were the more meaty bits which we rolled into transparently thin pancakes with crunchy sticks of scallion and cucumber all covered with a wonderful thick and sweet hoisin sauce that beautifully complimented the savory duck. And the meat itself, especially the breast bits, was moist and soft with this light game flavor.

imageEven that not as delicate and fancy as the first two, the third way of the duck was one of the surprises of the dinner. I expected another average rice or noodle dish using the leftover duck chunks for flavor but here they minced the duck finely and mixed it together with some sort of grain, mushrooms, fresh herbs and spices. We wrapped the tasty mixture into big salad leaves and dug in. How lovely scraps can be, simple and amazing.

This was probably the best ‘Peking Duck‘ I had outside China and after having tried this I can’t imagine why anyone would call this anything different but “Super”. The place itself, still a faceless Chinese restaurant but with a much warmer light and feel than usual. The staff was very friendly and food and drinks came up pretty fast. This might have just become a new place to bring my visitors to. Quak quak!

Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck Restaurant
#05-42/45 Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859 ‎
Tel: +65 6732 7838
http://imperialtreasure.com/en/super-peking-duck

Getting my textures on!

imageI finally managed to catch up with some lovely friends, including my very reliable Nippon food consultant, at Cuppage Plaza  over some quite interesting dishes. We met at ‘Kaiho’s’ a mid sized sushi bar on the third floor and to my surprise ended up having a multi course omakase set. The dinner kicked off with some starters like ‘Edamame‘, funny looking ‘Fish Crackers‘ and a delicious somehow cured ‘Cuttlefish‘. I was really skeptical as all these dried squid things are totally not mine but this was amazing, not too fishy with a soft elastic consistency. Best thing was the roe mayonnaise to dip it in.

imageNext was a fat slice of ‘Otoro‘ (fatty tuna belly). The rose meat melted between the otherwise rather hard and extremely chunky white bits which were really difficult to chew down all followed by an equally weird undefinable piece of chunky fat underneath. Taste wise good but texture, oh my.

imageThis was followed by a nice selection of small dishes like fried fish cubes, a selection of good quality sushi and sashimi, sweet crab legs, maguro soup (tuna), a wonderfully surprising ‘Agedashi Eal‘ and some sweet and creamy ‘Uni Handrolls‘ (sea urchin).

imageMy favorite dish of the night was a lightly seared ‘Beef Sushi‘. It had such a strong beefy flavor and even though cut fairly thick didn’t require any chewing at all. No teeth needed. Simply amazing.

imageAfter the official menu had finished we kept on ordering sushi variations and ended it all with above ‘Sardine Sushi‘ which was expectedly fishy but in a great way with something that seemed like a fermented bean and sambal paste on top that spiced it up properly.

For dessert we had a juicy yet a bit watery ‘Momo‘ (Japanese peach) and a brilliant ‘Wasabi Ice Cream’. To my delight the sharp wasabi taste and the light sweetness worked very well together but the awesome thing about this really was that with every spoon the heat grew on me so much that at the end I had to hang my tongue out of my mouth to give it some fresh air.

‘Kaiho Sushi’ is a nice little new place for my list and has a lot to offer. Maybe just the price and the variety of challenging textures here will make me choose places like ‘Nagomi‘ over this for my next omakase run.

http://bernardtang.com/

Kaiho Sushi
5 Koek Road
#03-01/02 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6738 1315

Spare the Calories

imageI was running some last minute errands before my Germany trip and came by Ngee Ann City just about when I felt a slight appetite growing in me. I didn’t feel too hungry so I wanted to get a small bowl of cold udon at this shop my friend recommended in the basement just to realize it’s a branch of ‘Tsuru-koshi‘ which I already visit too frequently during my lunch hours. So a bit more hungry now I recognized a small ramen shop in the corner that offered ‘Tantanmen‘ and even that I wasn’t in the mood for something that heavy I still queued up.

They had a tantanmen special with a super spicy version but since I had a twelve hour flight in front of me I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risk and therefore chose the standard one which the very friendly waiter reckoned should be spicy enough. When my bowl arrived it looked rather ordinary and I was not quite sure if I made the right choice. I tried a few slurps from the bright orange broth which was not particularly bad but didn’t have much of a sesame taste and hardly any heat kicked in. I appreciated the huge amount of sprouts and the eggs were nicely waxy. The chashu was alright but had an unpleasant aftertaste, the bamboo shoots looked terribly thick and brown that I didn’t touch them at all and the noodles were overcooked and way too soft.

It was worth a try but I am not really considering coming back here anytime soon. Not alone because of the average taste but also because of the above average price of S$20 per large bowl which is much more than most of my favorite ramen shops are charging.

Baikohken Ramen Restaurant
391A Orchard Road
#B2-01-04 Takashimaya Food Court
Ngee Ann City
Singapore 238873
Tel: +65 6235 3483

My Sushi Wonderland

imageThrough unforeseen coincidence my friend, who I just had visited in Hong Kong, came into town for a few days meeting. He stayed the Friday so I took him out to my newly discovered favorite sushi restaurant, ‘Fukuichi’.

Since I just been here a few weeks back we ordered some new things that I hadn’t tried the first time around. First up was the ‘Sake Sashimi‘ (salmon) which was lovely fresh and fatty, I just didn’t fancy the silver piece of skin on the top too much.

imageI was glad to hear they had the ‘Kanpachi Sushi‘ (greater amberjack) this time that was lovely soft and just a little oily on the dark red bits and because my buddy likes ‘Tamago Sushi‘ (sweet omelette) so much we also ordered one set of those. It was only lightly sweet which I appreciated, fluffy and nicely presented.

imageI’m not sure why we didn’t order ‘Uni Sushi‘ (sea urchin) the last time but this was simply fantastic. Even that I always have issues which too unique textures, this tasted so fresh and sweet and creamy that I hardly took notice of the consistency which actually wasn’t too bad anyway.

imageLike the last time we had the ‘Toro Aburi Sushi‘ (charred tuna belly) which again was very nice but to see what it would taste like in it’s original state we ordered the raw version as well. And oh my goodness this melted the exact same way in my mouth just colder and fresher than the charred version. Absolutely amazing.

imageAnother newbie for me here was the ‘Hotate Sushi‘ (scallop). Raw scallop was something I sadly avoided for a very long time which I only regretted when I forced myself trying it at ‘Nagomi‘ for the first time. The flesh had a very delicate texture, soft and light and tasted like pure freshness without any fishy aftertaste.

imageA new cooked dish we had was the ‘Grilled Beef with Miso Paste‘. The waiter unfortunately couldn’t tell me what type of meat it was but only that it was a sirloin cut. It was incredibly soft which I found slightly weird because of my distinct dislike of tenderized meat – I doubt this one was though – but it tasted great and dipping it into the miso paste gave it a lovely aroma.

You’re at good place when the dishes make you smile. That’s all I have to say.

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

Fukuichi Japanese Dining
111 Somerset Road
#02-11/12 TripleOne Somerset
Singapore 238164
Tel: +65 6271 5586