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Return to my old favourite.

imageI spontaneously caught up with a friend over dinner and since days I was thinking about my former favourite ramen shop ‘Ippudo’ and the fact that I had never actually tried their signature bowl; decision made.

They made my decision more difficult by running a summer promotion with a black garlic ramen which reminded me of the black version at Keisuke but I stayed strong and ordered their classic broth ‘Shiromaru Motoaji Special‘ with egg and fatty pork cubes. The look and first sips of the soup didn’t completely convince me but the more I slurped the better it got. The broth developed into a deep porky flavour that had a slight sweetness to it. I didn’t have tonkotsu ramen for a long time so the richness was a bit overwhelming but it tasted great. The egg was perfect and the pickled ginger added some extra levels to it all but I particularly liked the noodles which were harder than usually and could’ve been even more so for my taste. Only downside were the pork cubes which actually were fat cubes really so the search for the perfect pork belly continues. Of course we also had their must try ‘Pork Buns‘ that were sweetly glazed and the softest thing on earth as well as the ‘Beef Tataki‘ which was pretty good but mainly because of the light lemon dipping sauce, the sharp onions and tangy jalapeno paste.

I had nearly forgotten how good their ramen actually was but since I had my first bowls here, Singapore has become a battlefield for the best ramen in town but for me ‘Ippudo’ is still running in the upper ranks for sure.

Ippudo SG 風堂
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6235 2797
http://www.ippudo.com.sg/

Fast Food Katsu.

imageIt was lunchtime yet again and since we liked those Katsu Loins‘ from Hong Kong so much we talked a couple of colleagues into having some ‘Tonkatsu‘ at ‘Ginza Bairin’. The JCube branch was much more a fast food lunch joint than a restaurant with a cut down menu compared to the one I new from before.

I chose the ‘Rosu Katsu Don‘ which came with the leaner pork loin, not looking to appealing but I somewhat didn’t care. The fried loin was juicy and glued in between this tasty savoury mix of egg, glazed onions and sweet tonkatsu sauce. The big boo was the rice not being proper Japanese style which not only made it considerably more difficult to eat but also stole the dish it’s signature texture and taste.

I still liked this comforting stuff but maybe go checkout ‘Tonkichi’ next time instead to see if they use all the right ingredients and to get my free flow cabbage on.

Ginza Bairin 銀座梅林
2 Jurong East Central 1
#B1-K05 JCube
Singapore 609731
Tel: +65 6684 3378
http://ginzabairin.com/en/index.php

Good looks just aren’t enough.

imageWe were extremely lazy today and so we just walked down to ‘Harry’s Bar’ for lunch.

They had updated there menu with a couple of new items and I was excited to see ‘Scotch Eggs‘ being one of the appetizers. Not exactly according to my diet plan but I had to try them. Whilst we waited for our food I realized that they had brushed up their presentation as well, fancier food arrangements using nicer plates and wooden boards. Unfortunately the food didn’t really live up to the new style. The actual eggs looked pretty weird all bubbly and dried out and had no taste. The meaty layer around them was some sort of sausage that looked a bit uncooked (even that it wasn’t) due to its’ bright pink color. I wasn’t crazy about the taste either and maybe some well seasoned minced meat would have worked better here. The crispy shell though was quite nice, not greasy at all and not too thick either. Overall still a rather disappointing choice.

imageNext was the ‘Salad Nicoise‘ that I had before and which they now also presented in a more refined way using quail eggs and a bigger rectangular plate. I always liked that the tuna here was not the tin kind but thin slices of actual tuna loin but this one today looked and tasted like microwaved. I also found quite a few of withered salad leaves in there which for S$15+ was a big letdown. Upsides were the light citrusy dressing that gave it all a refreshing taste and the crunchy green beans that had a lovely snap to them.

I don’t know but maybe they should have put a little less effort into choosing the new tableware and focus on improving the quality of the food instead. If something tastes great I don’t necessarily mind its’ appearance but if it just looks pretty with no taste to back it up all efforts were in vain.

Harry’s
1A International Business Park
#01-01
Singapore 609933
Tel: +65 6570 5253
http://harrys.com.sg/

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

Keep The Good Ramen Coming

imageIn the past we would’ve gone out, drink a little too much and get up to no good but this year we celebrated my birthday ‘old people style’ and appropriate to my coming age with a quiet dinner so everybody could make it back home before midnight. My friend chose ‘Miharu’ at the back of the Gallery Hotel close to Robertson Walk and Mohamed Sultan which he likes a lot. Whilst waiting we had a chat with some Japanese customers in the queue who regarded ‘Miharu’ as one of the more authentic ramen shops in Singapore.

As so very often recently I felt like shoyu ramen and since they had a version in my favorite ramen style I had their ‘Komi Tsukemen‘. I first hesitated as it was advertised to have a lemonish taste but I’m glad I didn’t change my mind. The broth was lovely salty with just a hint of lemon which didn’t taste alien at all but added some comforting freshness. While the chashu and the egg were mostly ok, the bamboo shoots tough were rather weird, pretty thick and brownish in color. They didn’t really taste good as well and so I left them mostly untouched on the side of my plate. My highlight were the noodles which they import directly from a noodle factory in Japan. They were thicker than usual, nicely twisted and super chewy so that despite the huge portion that it already was I still wished for more. Definitely a new contender for the great ramen places in this town.

imageWe also ordered two sides of gyoza. The normal ‘Yaki Gyoza‘ where quite nice but the ‘Shi-So Gyoza‘ were just outstanding. According to the name they used shiso leaf in this which reminded me of thai basil and that gave those gyoza a very unique flavor that I want to taste again.

This place has been here for a while and I regretted not coming by earlier as I left yet again happy and content knowing that I had yet found another gem for my list. Brilliant.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464

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

Shoyu’s My New Thing

imageBeing back in Singapore I craved for some shoyu ramen (soya based), which I re-discovered for myself when I was in Tokyo, so a couple of colleagues and I went to ‘Santouka‘ at Cuppage Terrace.

I ordered the standard ‘Shoyu Ramen‘ which is a mixture of pork broth and soya sauce. The pork flavors were much more dominant in this ramen and even that it tasted pretty good that way I wished it would’ve been much more salty. Unfortunately the noodles were a bit overcooked and the chashu even though quite tasty was not the melt-in-your-mouth kind. They did a pretty good job on the extra egg I ordered though, it had the perfect yolk, waxy and delicious.

I also had one ‘Cashu Bun‘ that funny wise came accompanied by a cup of Japanese tea and tasted pretty nice. Here they had used the soft and melting chashu which I missed in the soup and had glazed the meat with a sweetish sauce and topped with Japanese mayonaise. Also the bun was nice and fluffy, it was just a little bit too big in ratio to the much smaller slice of pork.

I like this place and sitting outside when it’s not too hot – which most of the time it is – and additionally they plate up some pretty decent ramen even that this time they slacked a bit on the details.

http://www.santouka.co.jp/en/index.html

Santouka Hokkaido Ramen
21 Cuppage Road
Cuppage Terrace
Singapore 229452
Tel: +65 6235 1059

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

180 Degrees a Difference

imageSince my head and heart were still in Japan today I felt like ramen all over again. My friend suggested ‘Menya Musashi’ at ION and as I had the privilege to eat at their flagship store at Shinjuku recently I was pretty curious how that translated here in Singapore. When we arrived I recognized the famous sword fighter at the entrance from the noren hanging over their door in Japan and felt considerably excited.

Even that they had a ‘Black Thunder‘ spicy version on as a special I maneuvered my way around it and ordered their ‘Black Tsukemen‘ instead as dipping is just more fun. While ordering I realized that this is tonkotsu ramen other than the salty shoyu version I had in Tokyo but didn’t mind as tonkotsu is one of my favorites. Also here they offer different sized portions of noodles of up to six times the regular size without any surcharge when ordering. Double should do.

When it arrived it expectedly looked fairly different to the Shinjuku bowl. Here they are using Chashu instead of braised pork belly which didn’t look very appealing but didn’t taste too bad nor too good. Another add on in Singapore was the crispy beancurd skin which was a nice texture in between but tasted too sweet for me. Under the little mountain of chopped green onions to my surprise I found that the noodles weren’t much different to the ones I fell in love with in Japan, yellow, thick and twisted and nicely chewy. I started dipping and slurpring them through the bowl of tonkotsu broth with the black garlic oil. The taste was pretty okay and I liked especially the porky and strong garlicky flavors but what put me off a bit was the looks and consistency. It literally looked like thick dirty mud water and was a bit slimy which wasn’t too nice while eating so I decided to refrain from finishing the soup after my noodles were gone.

imageThis was more a completely new experience rather than a comparison between one brand in two countries and obviously I would always opt for the original one if I could but besides the consistency of the broth and the rather sad chashu the taste was overall not bad. I might come to try this spicy version but for my regular ramen fix I’ll probably go looking for new ventures.

http://www.menyamusashi.com.sg/

Menya Musashi Kodou                                                                                                                                           2 Orchard Turn                                                                                                                                                #B03-25 ION Orchard                                                                                                                             Singapore 238801                                                                                                                                               Tel: +65 6509 9394

Second Rounds at Menya Musashi!

imageI just had to come back here before leaving Japan and even that I originally intended to have this fantastic ‘Tsukemen‘ again, standing in front of the vending machine I reconsidered and changed for the “upper left” signature bowl. Since I started this blog I find myself more often trying new dishes rather than just going with the usuals which I find a pretty positive development as I’m normally a creature of habit and rather go with what I know i like.

I went for the thicker broth, fat noodles and medium size and didn’t have to wait very long for it to arrive. Compared to theTsukemenfrom last Sunday this broth was slightly lighter but still on the salty side which worked great together with the fat springy noodles. I seldom had these wider noodles before but I think I do prefer them over the usual thinner ramen noodles as they seem to transport the broth much better and are not getting soft as easily. All ingredients here tasted fresh and delicious even that the egg again and unfortunately wasn’t that special at all. The pork belly though had the same tenderness and delicious texture I had missed all week. I savored each bite knowing well I won’t have the opportunity to taste this for probably a long while.

After i had slurped my bowl dry I wondered if I could have managed to finish a large portion and if one of the buttons on the vending machine would actually have given me some extra of that fantastic pork belly. This place is well on my radar now and even that I heard the branches in Singapore are completely different I might give them a shot to see the difference between them and the mothership.

Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo Prefecture
Japan
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634

Put Some MOO in Your Ramen!

imageIt was the weekend and I had my mind set on a beef ramen place for lunch that I found on a dedicated ramen blog for Tokyo. The place is called ‘Matador’ (マタドール) and is located in the Kita-Senju area in only a 5 minute walking distance from the east exit of the train station. I was slowly getting better in navigating and hardly walked off the ideal route. I arrived just after the lunch hour but still had to queue up because this place only has six ish bar seats.

Finally in, I went for the shop’s signature ‘Luxurious Roast Beef Ramen‘ (贅沢焼牛らぁ麺)  which, as everywhere, was the upper left corner button on the vending machine. I passed my ticket to one of the staff and waited excited for my lunch to arrive.

This must have been the prettiest ramen I have ever seen with it’s two big slices of roast beef floating on top of the clear broth that smelled simply wonderful. The broth was soya based (shoyu), light and salty and was topped with some finely chopped chives. The roast beef looked not only beautifully rose but was juicy and tasted great and beefy. It only was a bit difficult to bite of small pieces so I ended up gobbling down a full slice at once. The noodles were thin but unfortunately a bit too soft for my taste. One thing I found outstanding was that besides the two big slaps of roast they had added some slow cooked brisket-like beef that stuck to the noodles when slurping them in and made this really an incredible dish.

matador front (1 of 1)I didn’t regret making my way out here on this beautiful Saturday as ‘Matador’ awarded me with a great new experience and even that I couldn’t really imagine how beef ramen would taste like before I have sure become a big fan of it. I will definitely be back here anytime I will get remotely close to Kita-Senju. Pretty awesome, you should try it.

Matador マタドール
Senjuazuma 2-4-17                       
Adachi-ku                              
Tokyo Prefecture              
Japan

Ramen Gambling in Shinjuku!

imageAfter over three years I finally made it back to Tokyo and upon arrival at Narita I realized how much I actually had missed this place. This time around though I came much better prepared in regards to what food I had lined up for my two week stay here. The list was much longer than the days I had available but you always have to keep something for next time. After I had checked into my hotel and freshened up I headed straight for Shinjuku to have my first ramen of the trip at ‘Menya Musashi’s’. As geographically challenged I intuitively head into the completely wrong direction but since there was no ‘Mos Burger’ anywhere to be seen as indicated on my map I turned on the spot and eventually reached my desired destination. Tip for all if you can’t find the west exit of Shinjuku Station, just walk around the building until you do and you’ll be right on track. 

At the shop there were only three color coded pictures on the vending machine – a red one for their signature ‘Shoyu Ramen‘, a yellow one for ‘Tsukemen‘ and a white one for what I guess was ‘Beef Ramen‘. Each color gives you a choice of four buttons with no further picture explanations for the non-Japanese amongst us. I knew that I definitely wanted to try their ‘Tsukemen‘ and so I tried the only of the yellow buttons that had red Japanese signs on it (1,000 JPY) thinking it might be a sign for a spicy version; it wasn’t. After I had passed my order to one of the guys he asked me for my choice of size and broth and I went with medium and “kotteri” (thick and stronger broth). I was a bit concerned if I would get the delicious looking pork belly and eggs that all other guests seem to have ordered but when my bowl arrived it thankfully came with full specs.

The looks and taste were beautiful. The broth was dark and rich and pretty salty – oh so very very salty – which was perfect for soaking the “futo-men” (fat noodles) in it before starting the big slurps and yet made me gulp down several glasses of the free ice water to prevent my tongue from drying out. The noodles were nice and chewy and I appreciated very much that they make them a bit broader here. There were two big chunks of pork belly in my bowl that they cooked in Japanese wine and soya sauce for hours so the fatty parts melted away and the meaty bits fell apart. I tell you this could be a dish by itself and I felt like gobbling it down at once but paced myself to have little pieces of porky goodness all the way through my seating. The one thing I expected a similar level of perfection was the egg which unfortunately was not so super special, nice and waxy sure but I had better.

imageThis one surely made it on my list of places well worth remembering and I’m sure I’ll return here when I’m back in Tokyo or maybe even during this stay. Ramen shop atmosphere in Japan just is a little different than in Singapore and even that I hardly spend more than 20 minutes in here I really liked it; interior, shouting chefs and all. So if you take the wrong turn as I did don’t give up yet, it might just be worth the  search. Look out for the noren with the swordsman.

Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo Prefecture
Japan
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634

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

Fat Boy’s Soft Boy!

imageYesterday was Labor Day and I was still apathetic from the cycling in the morning. There was obviously a little to little oxygen in my brains and a little too much around my belly as I was absolutely starving but couldn’t make up my mind on what to eat. Thankfully my mate called and took this difficult decision off my hands by asking if I wanted to join him and his friend for some burgers at ‘Fat Boy’s’. Pants on, spinning the Bajaj and there I was.

They were a bit in a hurry so I ordered a ‘Make-My-Own-Burger‘ on the fly. I went for a beef patty with jalapenos, monterey jack cheese all topped with a fried egg and smoked chipotle sauce. The burger was super juicy also because it was pretty raw but as I didn’t indicate my preference when ordering I had to blame it on myself. The patty was slightly under seasoned and really really soft but tasted super fresh and surprisingly light. The monterey jack tasted awesome and I had to pad myself on the shoulder for that extra thirty cents I had invested in this. I hardly tasted the egg but the spiciness of the jalapenos together with the smokey heat of the chipotle sure made up for it.

I really liked it for it’s taste but found bun and especially the patty way too soft for a burger and as it was medium-very-rare it had nearly the consistency of beef tartar. Thankfully it was good quality meat so it still came out pretty tasty. If now only the bun had held up all the way til the end.

‘Fat Boy’s’ is a nice open front joint with friendly people working there that serve up fresh and tasty food. On top I found out that they also have Nutella on burgers which proofed a brilliant choice last time at ‘De Burg’s‘ so I might just come back here to try their twist on it.

http://www.fatboys.sg/index.html

Fat Boy’s – The Burger Bar        
187 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574335

Long Live The King!

image Oh yes, it was that time again to meet my ramen buddy together with two visiting friends, this time at Keisuke Tonkotsu King at the Orchid Hotel in Tanjong Pagar. We rocked up around 8:30 p.m. and where super positively surprised that within ten minutes we already made our way inside.

While waiting I filled in the form for my usual ‘Black Spicy Tonkotsu King‘ which arrived just one minute after sitting down. The broth was thick and had a strong porky taste to it which was boosted by the black pepper garlic and chicken oil. It was mildly spicy so the taste wasn’t covered up but for me it could have been a notch sharper. Did I already mention the egg? It was outstanding. I did let mine sit in the broth for a bit so it warmed up slightly from the outside and when biting into it I reached the cold but perfectly waxy yolk which together with the broth tasted amazing. I never thought I could say something like that about an egg. Coming to the Chashu now which they cut in big thin slices and artfully marinate in red wine. I wished I had a leaner piece but the meaty bits were juicy and tender and just did fit to this bowl naturally. Last but not least the centerpiece of a noodle soup – the noodles. I ordered them ‘hard’ and for many people those might be slightly too al dente but as you often get rather squashy noodles i really liked their bite and texture a lot.

I don’t come here very often because the long wait one has to bear so I always think I might idealize this place too much but every time they delivery the same high level of quality in their food and not once I had overcooked noodles, a hard boiled egg or chewy chashu. Keisuke, still my king of ramen shops in Singapore. ‘Kaedama please’.

Keisuke Tonkotsu King                                                                                                                                           1 Tras Street                                                                                                                                                       #01-19 Orchid Hotel                                                                                                                               Singapore 078867