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What an amazingly beautiful day it has been yesterday and the city was full of locals, students, tourists, and shopaholics alike soaking up the sun and roaming the streets of Freiburg, filling them like ants. We were right in the middle of it and completely lost track of time until our stomachs started growling to let us know a lunch was way overdue. It was lunch madness and almost every place around the Bermuda Dreieck (= Bermuda Triangle; a corner area in Freiburg) was packed with customers and some fast food joints even had queues oozing out their doors. Thankfully I had done my homework so we didn’t have to go on another hangry food quest and just around the corner, nestled between a garage something and another restaurant, Burger Chalet awaited us. As the name tells it’s a popular little burger joint and luckily the queue was sort of short and two lovely ladies allowed us to join them at their table for one of the rare options to sit outside enjoying the sun today.

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Burger of the Month: Himmel & Ääd Burger (Heaven & Earth)

Beforehand I had made plans to get my grub on with that ‘Alpenfeuer’ (Fire of the Alps) burger that comes with a chili-cheese-sauce, firy jalapeños and a homemade chili powder. Well, plans are great, but then life happens and as so often I did let another menu special item distract me and lead me off my  destined path. Without even thinking I heard myself ordering a medium grilled burger of the month, the ‘Himmel & Ääd’ (Heaven & Earth). Himmel & Ääd or Himmel & Erde is a popular and regional german dish, which is mostly common in the Rhineland, Westphalia, and Lower Saxony. In it’s purest version it consists of blood pudding, mashed potatoes, fried onions and apple sauce and actually so did this burger. Together with that juicy beef patty and wedged between two appropriately sized and perfectly toasted buns this just worked. All these very different textures and flavors merged together wonderfully and created something new and delicious. My favorite, besides the remarkable standard items of the burger, was the thin slice of tangy blood pudding, that added a spicy, almost creamy component on top of the patty. The tart and sweet apple chutney gave some fruity notes and the onions, being sweetish as well convinced with a light smokiness. The only thing that didn’t do too much for the whole concept and the flavor palette was the mashed potatoes, and frankly, it made it all just a bit more difficult to eat. I do get it though, it completes the transition of the traditional plated dish to a hands-on inventive burger. Fries were good.

Additionally to the fact that they know how to cook their stuff it’s worthy to mention that they are sourcing most of their ingredients locally, aren’t using any additives, the meat is freshly ground every day and they are making all their sauces themselves and from scratch as well. A lot of craft and thought goes into every burger here and the entire menu is also available with an in-house made vegetable patty for the vegetarians out there. The shop is small and cozily set up for a quick meal in a relaxing atmosphere, however, the glass barrier in front of the grill can’t save you entirely from all the food smell, so don’t mind taking a bit of burger scent home with you. The staff seems to enjoy themselves, is friendly and the guy  behind the counter was particularly fun to chat to. I was super full and happily content when we left and already have the next visit scheduled in my head. This time hopefully trying my original choice of burger and those fabulous looking rosemary potatoes. Thanks for the great grub.

Get Your Grub On!

Burger Chalet (closed on Sundays and public holidays)
Niemenstraße 9
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 278 382
http://www.burger-chalet.de/

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Smorgasburger – Go Ramen! Go Life!

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Ramen Burger

One of our first activities in New York was walking all the way from West Village to Williamsburg to check out that famed ramen burger from Keizo Shimamoto at the Smorgasburg food market. It was a super hot day and we underestimated how long that “little walk” would take us, speaking alone that it took forever just getting over Williamsburg bridge. So when we eventually arrived we were pretty much done for the day but also saw a lot of beautiful city views on the way. Williamsburg is actually a pretty nice and grungy neighbourhood, full of cafés, bars and restaurants and Smorgasburg must have one of the best views on Manhattan, that a foodmarket could have. It was pretty busy out here, but we still managed to locate one of our hosts and the ramen burger stall quite easily. The queue was long but moved down fast as these guys really knew what they were doing. Everything was impressively set up in an assembly line kind of way, so patties were sizzling, ramen buns getting crisp and burgers were assembled by the dozens. Thank goodness as we were starving and dying to try this.

That thing was nothing but genius. The meat was not overly seasoned, maybe a bit too little, however beefy, juicy and had the right size in comparison to the noodle buns. Cheese and lettuce weren’t either outstandingly good nor bad but that sauce, a shoyu reduction glaze that tasted something like a sweetish Asia style bbq sauce, had some absolute delicious flavours going on. Last but not least the most curious of elements, the buns. I had a ramen type burger before in Singapore but the noodles were fairly crisp and crunchy and some parts broke off while taking a bite. Here, I have no clue how they actually did it, as it really tasted like qq cooked ramen noodles and still stuck together in it’s patty bun shape until the last two bites maybe. So it really was like the perfect fusion of two fantastic dishes into one; innovative, genius and best of it all delicious.

Get Your Grub On!

Ramen Burger (open Sundays in season)
Smorgasburg (at Williamsburg Flea)
50 Kent Avenue
New York
NY 11249
United States of America
http://ramenburger.com/

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

Restaurant Week 2014: Table at 7

imageBecause of work and travels my post backlog grew a little and so this year’s restaurant week checkout had to wait a little longer for publishing than usual. But here we were on a Sunday evening down Mohamed Sultan Road at Table at 7, a nice Central-European / SEA fusion restaurant.

The first course of the selection menu was an amazing 5-Spice Quail. Perfectly broiled with a delicate, slight gamey taste and glazed with a sweetish spice mix. This was a great start and before continuing with the serious staff we received a smallish cup filled with a Black Mussel and Saffron Soup which was creamily delicious except the one whole actual mussel in it which I generously passed to one of my friends.

imageAs main I chose the Beer Roasted Suckling Pig. The skin was as thin and crisp as it gets with the meat underneath staying soft and juicy. The sauerkraut it was bedded on tasted great together with the pinch of star anis and made for some well-matching European-Asian flavors. Rounded up with a richly decadent and warm little chocolate tart paired with some cooling bailey’s ice cream our 4-course-dinner came to a delicious close.

I really really liked it here, the place looks nice and elegant, the service is friendly – even the chef came around and checked how we liked our food – and all above the dishes were not only appealingly presented but more importantly pretty darn tasty. I’ll come back.

Table at 7
7 Mohamed Sultan Road
Singapore 238957
Tel: +65 6836 6362
http://www.tableat7.com/

Best supporting act.

imageAfter my ‘Ramen Burger‘ and just four meters across the room I ordered my second course the ‘Dipping-style La Mien with Laksa Cream‘ or much shorter ‘Laksa Tsukemen’ from the other pop-up concept shop here, ‘Rakusabā’.

We were a bit back in line and particular attention was paid to the creation of each plate so we had to wait quite sometime until we finally got ours. For me the hold off wasn’t too bad as I had the burger just before but my friend nearly starved watching us eating as it was already quite late for lunch. When the time had come it all looked pretty neat and interesting and I shot my pictures as fast as I could to finally start eating. The noodles weren’t too special, no typical and slippery laksa bee hoon anyway and so that they wouldn’t stick together they were drizzled with some oil. Unfortunately they were still a little stuck so ended up just being oily sticky noodles. Dipping them into the thick concentrated laksa cream was quite funny and unfamiliar. Flavours as one remembers laksa, coconutty and spicy with an unusual viscous consistency. It was good we were so hungry though as every slurp was extremely filling, tasty and interesting definitely but just a tad too rich for my liking. What I enjoyed most about this dish were all the condiments on the plate. There was a stick of crispy oven roasted you tiao that was quite hard to bite, some wonderfully crunchy lotus roots, two decadent pieces of soft and juicy pork belly confit, not so soft soft egg with spicy shrimp sambal and my absolute favourite, the salmon otak otak gratin (fishcake) with it’s hint of spicyness, light taste and some crunchy pickled cucumbers on top. When finished with all, we received a top up of a shrimp and pork infused broth to water down the laksa cream for the last slurps. Not bad at all and how it’s properly done tsukemen-style, but I was just too full by then to completely empty my bowl.

I really kinda liked it because of it’s originality and the many very different things I got to try. Just the waiting time a couple of minutes shorter and the sauce a couple drops more watery would have made it even more enjoyable.

Rakusabā
The U Factory
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

It’s ramen, it’s a burger, it’s awesome.

imageTime was slowly running out  until some of the pop-up eateries at Gillman Barracks were about to disappear and so I finally made the effort on this hot Saturday and came down here to try them out.

My first order was the ‘Bulgogi Ramen Burger‘ from ‘The Traveling C.O.W.’ which also has a food truck going around the city. I wasn’t too hopeful that this was going too be much of a taste surprise but more of a gimmick kinda way of playing and switching the ingredients around. I was quickly taught differently when I took my first crunchy bite out of this. The panfried noodle paddies, even though super crispy and crackling away, were nice and chewy on the inside and held up pretty well throughout me going to town on it. The fresh lettuce and tomatoes added some more rather fresh crunchy textures and the bulgogi beef just tasted crazy good – juicy, sweetish savoury like it is supposed to be. I just hoped there would have been more of it. Only the sesame dressing they used I couldn’t really pick out in between this flavour bonanza but overall this was great stuff and less messy to eat than expected. Nice job.

I wasn’t too sure if it even makes sense to write about something that’s about to close down but I read somewhere that they are planning to take this on to their truck menu and really wish that’s true, hopefully even with a normal burger patty version in tow.

Update: In the meantime they also broiled up some mean ‘Wagyu Burgers‘ at Laneway 2014.

The Travelling C.O.W. (Chef on Wheels)
The U Factory (now hopefully on the road)
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

Mexanese or Japexican?

imageI was a bit excited as I wanted to try this place now for a long time and today after yoga I finally managed to hop by. I was a bit disappointed how the shop was set up, somehow I was expecting this hip hang out for the cool kids and instead I stood in yet another rather basic fitted Subway shop like place. Focusing back on the reason I came here for I ordered two halfs of their ‘Rainbow Shrimp‘ and ‘Yummy Belly‘ rolls.

Yummy Belly‘ was filled with crunchy and partially pickled veggies and deliciously sweetish marinated bulgogi beef which tasted so good it didn’t survive for very long in my hands. The ‘Rainbow Shrimp‘ is their signature roll and was a bit more extravagant than the others on the menu. The protagonist was a tempura prawn surrounded by pickled radish, cucumber, sliced narutomaki and other lovely crunchy things. This all together was pretty good by itself but the absolute kicker was the layer of pink fish floss that tasted a lot like cotton candy and weirdly fitted in here pretty well. There were probably healthier choices then the ones I went for but they were really really tasty and I’ll take them up as after yoga grub anytime again. Nice and different.

Sushi Burrito
100 Tras Street
#01-06 100AM Shopping Mall
Singapore 079027
Tel: +65 6543 6860
http://www.sushiburrito.com.sg/