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Bavarian ramen.

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Tan Tan Men

It was the last weekend of Wiesn in Munich and I went back to the beer tents at freaking 7:30 a.m. in the morning to meet my friend from Hong Kong and her hilarious entourage from Spain, Belgium, Ireland and England, from whom most had never been to the Oktoberfest before; no reservations, no choice. After a bit over an hour wait, we actually made it into the Augustiner beer tent and…well let’s just fast forward for a couple of hours and a few emptied stones. Our little group split up; some went missing, some went home and a few continued on their german beer quest. I, even though ready for an extended nap on the couch, made a little detour to my favourite ramen shop in Germany to date, Takumi in Maxvorstadt, just a little train ride away.

I was obviously lucky today, unlike on other occasions, as the place was actually open and no waiting in the queue either. I sat down and ordered my favorite, the Tantanmen. I have tried others, but so far no bowl could beat that red and rich, spicy broth. Portions are huge here and I was a bit overwhelmed when the piping hot bowl showed up, doubting I could actually finish it, I was wrong. The broth was awesome, savoury and spicy, thick and rich, loaded with peanut and sesame flavors and loads of that deliciously spiced minced meat. I absolutely loved it. Now let me talk about those noodles; I do come here almost everytime I’m in town, but these were hands down the best ones, they’ve ever made for me. Maybe because the place was not as packed as usual, maybe they improved generally or I was just darn lucky, but these noodles were very very close to perfect. Speaking pasta terms, they were absolutely on spot al dente, chewy and with this unique texture, that only ramen noodles have. Not that they have ever been really bad before but more often than not, they were a little on the softer side. Not stopping there, even the eggs went through some sort of evolution here and seemed more beautifully waxy than ever. So awesome guys, keep it up.

Service here has always been super nice and everybody is offering you smiles and it was exactly the same today. Staff is friendly and service is pretty fast and efficient. If I would need to pick on something negative it would be the fact that your ordinary ice tea here comes by the glass for EUR1,80, which gets quite pricey if you (like I) tend to drink loads while eating big bowls of hot soup. In the end, it’s just water, so I would rather pay a bit more for a free flow of my jasmine tea rather than order over and over again, but maybe that’s just me being used to free flow tea and water in these kinda places. Other than this little blemish, I totally love it here and see no reason why not to come back again and again and again.

Takumi München (open all week)
Heßstr.71
80798 München
Germany
Tel: +49 89 528 599
http://www.takumi-noodle.com/index.html

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

Burgers of the Rising Sun.

imageNow this was on my long time to do list for two reasons, first because I never really had some deluxe Japanese Hamburgers before and secondly because this place is somehow linked to the guys from Yazawa Yakiniku, which I haven’t been to yet myself but heard only great things about. So today was the day and the lord and I came down here to finally check it out. For how much their steaks cost, the place was surprisingly simple setup, with dimmed light and booth seating options just like at any other casual Japanese restaurant.

However, we both had the Masa Hamburg which is pretty much a high end 200gr hamburger patty (also available in 300gr)  which in our case was topped with a perfectly beautiful sunny side up and served on a hot sizzling plate. Making the first cut right through the middle was amazing as the egg yolk ran down in between the patty and started bubbling from the heat of the plate together with all the meaty juices. Okay so the looks were pretty awesome but more interesting was if the flavors could keep up with that. Unfortunately they couldn’t, don’t get me wrong this was a nice patty, soft with a light beefy taste but nothing that rocked my world and the fried egg, even though good looking, was just ordinary egg and it all was surprisingly under seasoned as well. Now there was salt and pepper on the side and also the onion jam had a nice flavourful touch but for $30 ish I had expected just a little bit more. At least I have tried it now, no regrets.

Masa Steak & Hamburg Tokyo
11 Unity Street
#01-03 Robertson Walk
Singapore 237995
Tel: +65 6836 2529
http://masahamburg.com/

Unexpected calorie overload.

imageIt was already pretty late when J and I admitted defeat in baby present shopping at forum mall just about when I started to feeling a little woozy and low sugary. On the way out I passed Uma Uma and it seemed like the right place to get me some of my energy back. I had read about them before but never felt the urge to get out of my way to actually try it but since I was already here, I thought “what the heck”.

I didn’t feel like plain tonkotsu tonight so I ordered the Garlic Ramen, which was advertised as being their newest bowl on the menu. It was still tonkotsu based and the broth was pretty thick and had an overly sweetish flavour pumped with loads and loads of garlic which reminding me a little of jiro ramen. The noodles were alright, thin and with a slight bite but the toppings didn’t quite make the mark. The Chashu had a strong pork flavor and the egg, even though cooked right, was broken into pieces as if someone did just casually chuck it into the bowl from across the kitchen, unacceptable if you ask me.

The people working here were talking very little but smiling and nodding constantly and the super fast service got me in and out this place within 15 minutes. The ramen however quite tasty, wasn’t too impressive and I will never forget how disappointing a shattered egg can be.

Uma Uma Original Hakata Ramen
583 Orchard Road
#01-42/42/43
Forum The Shopping Mall
Singapore 238884
Tel: +65 6235 0855
http://umaumaramen.com/

 

Yogi sushi, second round.

imageI think it wasn’t even a week since I’d bean here but after another late yoga session i was magically drawn back into this place.

The initial idea was to just have some simple cold somen but glimpsing through the menu and chatting with the guys I  quickly came up with a much more complex plan. Ordering a round of sushi was the start – a wonderful soft Hotate Abury (seared scallop) topped with some tangy mayonnaise, delicious top grade Sake Sushi (salmon) and my first take on some ugly as looking but truly life-changing Anago (sea eel), all so big, covering the rice completely underneath.

wpid-imag6487_1.jpgMentioning that I wanted to have the Somen, one of the gentlemen recommended me a special version of the Sakane Soba instead. These were magnificently unfamiliar and being made from fish meat gave the noodles a unique flavour and crazy fish-like texture too. The chef topped it all with a thin, melt-in-my-mouth slice of Ohmi Wagyu working just fine with the soba and the strong dashi broth.

wpid-imag6493_1.jpgThey were also so nice to let me take part in the last course of their Omakase customers’ dinner and gave me a refreshing and lightly sour Ume Jelly ON THA HOUSE. Great day end that one was, thanks.

Shinzo Japanese Cuisine
17 Carpenter Street
#01-01
Singapore 059906
Tel: +65 6438 2921
http://www.shinzo.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/

These doors are made to open.

imageIt gotten pretty late at the office and I just had finished one of the last yoga sessions of the day realising that way past 9 p.m. healthy dinner options thin out. I remembered that six months old Japanese restaurant next door which I had recognised first during its’ opening week when all the flower bouquets were lined up in front. I pushed aside the little sliding door at the entrance, it was still open, SCORE! It was totally empty and everyone was already cleaning up but they waved me in with a smile and guided me to take a seat.

Sitting at their bar it felt like ages ago that I had proper sushi and it suddenly turned out that I had missed it a lot actually. Therefore I ordered me a generous portion of delicious Maguro Sashimi (tuna), soft and chill, unfortunately a bit stringy at bits as well.

imageProteins done but I still had to secure my carbo intake and it seemed like that Tekka Don could do a great job. The fish was from the same cut as my sashimi just shortly marinated in a special soy mix, fresh and softly sharp because of all the finely chopped scallions. The sticky Japanese rice was amazing especially with the vinaigrette and all in all a proper after workout choice.

imageAs a palette cleanser in between all that fish, I ordered the Oshinki Maki (pickles) which I had expected to be that yellow pickled radish. To my surprise I received something green and super crunchy instead which one of the chefs told me was pickled turnip stem. Never had this but it was great and funny because of its’ scrunch with just a hint of sour.

I really liked it here and felt a bit special tonight with me as the only guest getting all the  attention. The chefs host like gentlemen and entertainers and aren’t shy to have a conversation with you, give  a recommendation or suggest customization of the menu items. I’ll come back here anytime if I feel like a treat and don’t mind to pay it as such as ‘Shinzo’ is also not the cheapest of places. Very nice.

Shinzo Japanese Cuisine
17 Carpenter Street
#01-01
Singapore 059906
Tel: +65 6438 2921
http://www.shinzo.com.sg/