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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

Drunkards, party queens & chicken curry.

imageA very old friend was in town, well she isn’t actually old as in literally but I know her from my highschool days and we had not seen one another for quite a hand full of years. Revelling in memories we moved from bar to bar and ended up slightly tipsy and in a place I haven’t been since my third year in Singapore, the infamous Spize at River Valley. This place hasn’t changed a single bit and even though mainly from a different generation now, it still attracts the same bunch of weird night owls including hunrgy drunken people like us.

I ordered what I imagined would be the most satisfying dish for this kinda hour, the Mutton Keema Murtabak. When it came to the table I fiercely tore out a piece and inhaled it instantly before even remembering to take a picture. The thing was huge and the dough nice and crisp, at least on the top layer. The inside unfortunately was overly soupy and had only very little meat in it but mashed up with that delicious spicy chicken curry it seemed the perfect thing for that exact moment and just hit the spot.

If you have been to Spize in the earlier hours of the day you know it’s neither a very hip joint nor anything close to a fancy eatery. It’s a simple place that offers a good variety of decent dishes to feed the hungry hordes that gather here because of the long opening hours. Some come just for a break in between clubs, for others it’s their final stop after losing their ability to speak hours ago and some maybe come here just because they don’t have any better place to be or simply to be entertained watching the other lost souls mingling around. Spize, truly an institution for after-drink-suppertime in Singapore.

Spize
409 River Valley Road
Singapore 248307
Tel: +65 6734 9194
http://spize.sg/

Mango & Amazeballs.

imageAfter a very questionable fish head steamboat dinner my friends took me down Liang Seah Street for some Asian dessert. At first I wasn’t too excited but boy was I up for a surprise. This place was awesome and had a pretty similar menu to Lui Hau Shan which I learned to love so much during my last trip to Hong Kong. I was already ecstatic but the absolute kicker was that here one could order as many of those off the hook squishy glutinous rice balls as wanted. Oh yeah.

I had the works; mango mousse, mango ice cream, sago, pomelo and a batch of seven awesome squishy balls. It tasted great, maybe not as great as its’ prettier Hongkongese twin but surely great enough to make me just a little happier. Cooling, fruity, not too sweet with some bitter pomelo popsicles and heapz of textures going on as well – moussy, creamy and chewy. I reckon they could’ve dropped the crushed iceberg floating in the middle, which was always in the way but I guess when you’re in the tropics you have to keep stuff cool, so no hard feelings.

It was ridiculous and I was so happy to have finally found a place like this in Singapore. And obviously I wasn’t alone as it was bustling down here with a constant crowd waiting on the street for a slot to open up. It was so busy that a while after we had finished our desserts, chatting away, the staff kindly asked us to give up our seats so the next round of customers could get their sweets on. Absolutely loved it.

Ji De Chi Dessert 记得吃
No. 8 Liang Seah Street
#01-03
Singapore 189022
Tel: +65 6339 9928
http://www.jidechi.com.sg/

Groundhog Steak.

imageYaya I know, Market Grill AGAIN!? But I couldn’t help it; I had told my friend so much about my last two visits here that she really wanted to try it and I just couldn’t come up with any good reason why not to. And I can’t even remember what exactly my dish was called, just that it was on the special’s board that night. The beef was fantastic though, a l’entrećote cut, broiled to a perfect medium rare with a nice char, bloody and juicy and topped with a thick truffle infused lentil gravy. I absolutely enjoyed the meat and the gravy was pretty interesting but somehow the strong fancy truffle flavors didn’t really work for me with the rather rustic lentils. Nevertheless a good dish overall.

The Market Grill
208 Teok Ayer Street
Singapore 068642
Tel: +65 6221 3323
http://themarketgrill.com.sg/

A pancake milestone.

imageMy cwazy friend from Hong Kong was in town and because I never believed her that she could actually show me some decent Okonomiyaki in Singapore and since during all of her prior visits we never managed to come here, she finally dragged me down to ‘Nanjya Monjya‘ by the river. The place was packed and even with our (rather short notice) reservation we only managed to get a seat outside which wasn’t too bad on a beautiful evening like today. The only unfortunate thing was, that outside, the Okonomiyaki were served on plates while inside they cook it just in front of you.

The pork one became my numero uno with its’ tasty belly slices, a nice and fluffy mix of dough and cabbage and I totally loved the extra pickles too. The kimchi version was less impressive, also nice but a bit bland and didn’t really get that kimchi punch going that I was hoping for, it was actually more like a vegetarian version of the first one. Both could have used another centimeter in thickness and diameter, but that said, they’re still the giants under the Singaporean okonomiyaki.

imageBefore the pancakes, pizzas, omelettes or whatever you want to call them, we also had a round of small dishes for starters. There was some weird dried and then grilled stingray carvings which sounded as interesting as they tasted oddly, way too fishy for me though.  Those were followed by a bunch of decent crispy chive gyoza and probably one of the best Miso Nasu (eggplant) I have ever had around here. It was spoon squeezing soft, nearly like caramelised and still wonderful savoury. Pretty wicked.

I had to hand it to her, this was a pretty awesome but next time I’ll try to get a seat inside, as even though it’s a scenic atmosphere out by the river, okonomiyaki still belong on a hot sizzling plate.

Nanjya Monjya Japanese Restaurant
390A Havelock Road
#01-03/04/05 Waterfront Plaza
Great Corpthorne Waterfront
Singapore 169664
Tel: +65 6738 7177
http://www.nanjya-monjya.com/

Last call Boston.

imageI said I was coming back here, I just didn’t know it was going to be so soon but when I told the boys where I saw some amazing looking crustaceans, a plan was made rather quickly.

This 500 grammer looked stunning, neatly arranged and cracked at the right spots for easier access. The flesh was so fresh it effortless loosened from the shell, sweet and just right, neither dry nor too raw. I actually preferred claw over tail because of its’ extra nice soft texture and dipped into that garlic lemon butter it came very close to perfect, if it would have just been a little warmer.

imageBefore the main act we also tried some of their starters. I had a ‘French Onion Soup‘ by myself as the others were stuck in traffic for quite a while and I was just starving. It was strong, rich beef stock, full of red wine flavour with a hot cheesy crouton floating in it that left me with a memorable mouth burn. When the others finally arrived we ordered the ‘Bone Marrow‘ as well, which was another win, well done, decadent buttery with some sea salt, capers and parsley. Just great. I like this place more and more, so see you there soon.

The Market Grill
208 Teok Ayer Street
Singapore 068642
Tel: +65 6221 3323
http://themarketgrill.com.sg/

Baked to go.

imageI had an early morning yoga session at Tanjong Pagar and made a little detour on my way home for some takeout breakfast from ‘Tiong Bahru Bakery’.

I was starving and even though I tried to be reasonable about it, seeing all these delicious looking baked things I totally over-ordered anyway. Back home I opened my takout boxes and started with the ‘Forcaccia‘ topped with a generous layer of salty parma ham, some fruity cherry tomatoes, savory cheese all under a bed of fresh sharp red onions and bitter arugula, cutting through the other more heavier flavors. That was pretty darn delicious and actually would have been enough as the rich forcaccia bread together with the cheese layer filled me up rather well. The stuffed bread loaf, I forget the name of, was unimpressive soft and nearly tasted sweetish. All in all it wasn’t too memorable if not maybe for the hearty and chunky filling of ham, cheese onions and herbs but I definitely preferred the forcaccia over this. It also seems that recently I add something sweet to my order more often and today it was an interestingly looking ‘Chocolate Snail Pastry‘. At first it seemed quite dry on the outer twist but became more chocolatey, sticky and fudgy the further I circled my way in. The chocolate also wasn’t too sweet either which I appreciated.

I liked this place a lot besides maybe the higher price tag but proper baked goods are a rare find so I didn’t really mind paying a little extra. People are welcoming and friendly, the self service proceeds rather fast considering the crowds coming through here and it seemed also quite a nice place to sit down and spend an hour with your friends over a good breakfast or brunch. I’ll be back to try more.

Tiong Bahru Bakery
56 Eng Hoon Street
#01-70
Singapore 160056
Tel: +65 6220 3430
http://www.tiongbahrubakery.com/