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36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 1, Tantan

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Tantanmen

I haven’t been out to Düsseldorf enough and always only heard what insane food paradise in regards to Japanese cuisine it’s supposed to be. Since being so close this week I decided to make a stopover and visit a very fun friend of mine, who just happens to live right in the midst of Little Tokyo, the area neighbouring the Düsseldorf main train station, which is home to many Asian (predominantly Japanese) shops, restaurants and people.

After dropping my stuff at the apartment and throwing in a quick cold one with my friend and his brother we headed around the corner to get some dinner at one of the ramen shops in the area. To my delight, there was a queue out front, which is always a good sign, and luckily it kept on moving quite fast too. Not long and we were sitting down and I started smiling just browsing through the menu.

We had a little selection of appetizers to go around before the mains and we were off to a good start. We had crispy and succulent tori karaage, some juicy gyoza and nutty gomaae with a thick sesame gravy. All washed down with a cool asahi from the tap and I, still smiling, was ready for my first ramen bowl since way too long.

My sin of choice was a spicy Tantanmen with extra f.o.c. tamago and veggies. Oh goodness, this mince infused broth was thick and rich like a gooey katong laksa with a mud-like sediment of the best kind. Strong sesame flavours my taste buds, instantly but gently numbed by the chilli oil and fibres. Loved the noodles, implied curly and the chewy bouncy kind I use to admire. Just the egg didn’t quite make the mark and was lacking that particular waxiness of your usual flavoured ramen tamago. Nevermind that, I’m head over heels crazy about this place and am already planning my next visit.

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Get Your Grub On!

Naniwa Noodles & Soups
Oststraße 55
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 161799
http://www.naniwa.de/

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Phontastic!

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Pho Ga (Update March ’16)

We came here tonight prior to catching a movie at the Cinemaxx on the others side of the road. My brother in law originally intended to bring us to the running sushi place next door but that joint was bursting with people and no free seats were to be seen. Not having much time before the movie started we improvised and swiftly opted for their sister restaurant that cooks up a variety of Asian inspired wok stir fries, that were my definition of Asian cuisine about 8 years ago.

In the tradition of good germanized Asian food, I set my mind on ‘Ente Kross’ (crispy duck), a friend’s fitting name for a common fried-to-the-death-duck dish (not literally of course). Other than in Asia, where people love their fatty and chewy bits, Germans, in general, are not too fond of excessive fats and wobbly textures so those duck dishes are crisper than crisp, probably a bit dry yet still kinda delicious. Almost decided, I browsed my the pho bo on the menu and got indecisive again. When I am confused at a restaurant nowadays I tend to ask the staff for their recommendation given my shortlist of dishes. The lovely waitress was pretty quick in swaying me into the direction of the big bowl of piping hot Vietnamese soup, filled with lots of goodies; there were lime wedges, loads of those flat rice noodles, greens like herbs and scallions and deliciously tender beef slices. I was only missing some chili padi but they were also just one request to the waitress away.

As far as the broth goes I was pretty impressed. As always I would have wished for some more cinnamon flavor but since I mention that every single time that I am eating pho, I’m not even sure anymore if it’s actually supposed to have such a strong flavor or if it’s just in my head. The sriracha added a ubiquitous and intensifying heat to it all but the fresh chili just gave out free right hooks for my taste buds. It almost gave me the hiccups, which in my case stands for a proper chili experience and at the same time signals that I’m very close to crossing my line of tolerance. I was slurping and sweating away and felt quite happy to see such a decent bowl of pho in a place that I wouldn’t have expected it.

Dish Update March: I recently came here again during a shopping spree in town, and this time, I ordered the pho ga with chicken. I’m not 100% sure if it was the same broth, I would maybe say it was a little less intense but the chicken was just delicious; white meat that was somewhat tenderized, lightly panfried and kicking out some proper chicken aromas. A nice changeup and still healthy enough.

The place is no thrills, functional and clean but because of the open kitchen you might take a nice little food scent home with you depending where you were seated. There are tables for couples and groups with benches, meant for quick meals and not for lounging around for hours. Service is mostly nice, especially our waitress was super attentive and later even checked if I was actaually happy with my final choice. As a result of the streamlined menu, the kitchen runs very efficiently and fast and the food we had was great and cheap. You can never go wrong with an affordable delicious pho now can you? Nice one.

Get Your Grub On!

Mai Wok (open everyday)
Bertoldstr. 53
79098 Freiburg
Germany
http://www.maiwok-freiburg.de/

Get my spice on – Chapter 1

imageUsually when I’m on the People’s Park side of Chinatown I tend to get me some of that delicious intestine burning Mala Dry Pot, but this time I finally chose to try the little unconspicious Chinese stall outside the food center, which offers an interesting variety of spicy noodles.

I have no clue what this bowl was actually called but they used the thick round glass noodles and some minced pork in it. The fat noodles were super long and awesome slippery with a good chew and the the chili oil, meat and spices clinged perfectly onto them, which made every slurp crazy flavorful. The mince, coriander, peanuts and Sichuan peppers made this a brilliant and enjoyable dish that was at the same time pretty fun as well as fairly unpleasant to eat from the moment the first chili hit a sensitive spot.

I’m glad I finally tried it out and am happy they have a good handful of other similar dishes, deviating mainly by the type of noodles used and I’m sure that all of them are capable of giving me a similar kind of stomach growl as this one. Can’t wait for lip numbing round two.

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Chong Qing Xiao Chi 重庆小吃 (Chong Qing Snacks)
Concourse Area (People’s Park)
100 Upper Cross Street

Quick fix Cantonese.

imageI had organized a training in Bangkok and had to stay behind at the office a little longer one night after the session had finished. When I was back at the hotel I just wanted to grab something quick before catching up with everyone for a few drinks next door. I ventured for the Kowloon restaurant in the basement, that I had recognized before, thinking some noodles and dumplings would just do fine.

As foreseen I ordered some Xiao Long Bao, the Beef Noodle Soup and the Fried Tofu not knowing that it would be quite a challenge finishing all of it by myself. The soup was first and the broth tasted pretty good and interesting due to some pinches of cinnamon, which I only knew from Vietnamese pho. The noodles though were nothing too mentionable and mushy but the beef, if I found a piece between the masses of fat and tendon, was actually nicely braised and soft.

imageTo my surprise the Xiao Long Bao were quite great. Looking unpretentiously ugly and with very little, yet tasty soup within, the best part about them was the deliciously fine and juicy mince. Some proper feel good food.

imageI was already pretty stuffed from the noodles and the big buns when finally the fried tofu arrived, not a too shabby portion by itself. The blocks of silky tofu had a light crisp coating without any apparent flavor but thankfully that gooey sauce managed to add some lightly intriguing sweetness to it all. I would have preferred this in between my slurps of soup or after a dumpling here and there but all six beancurd bricks in a row was a rather boring occasion.

Nothing I would be craving for but I was glad I finally tried it. I might even be coming back another night when wandering off too far seems troublesome. Beer time now.

Kowloon 九龍 (เกาลูน)
981 Silom Rd. (at Holiday Inn Silom)
Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500
Thailand
Tel: +66 2 238 0370
http://www.kowloon-chinese-restaurant.com/

New branch is open for business!

imageToday I went for lunch at Orchard Central at the new branch of Nantsuttei and had my old favourite Hot Miso Ramen Extra Hot Tanmen again. It has been a very long time since I had this lovely spicy bowl of awesome but i must say they still got it and it tasted exactly the same as at their Parco Mall location. Additionally the new shop is more bright and modern, a tad bigger and by far much more convenient for me to get to. Great to have you around.

Nantsuttei
181 Orchard Road
#07-12/13 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6337 7166
http://www.nantsu.com/sg/

It’s grey at the bottom of the rainbow.

imageLunchtime again and we still didn’t feel like a salad or anything else remotely light and so went back to Paradise Dynasty which I like so much nowadays. We continued sampling new Xiao Long Bao flavors from their rainbow palette and today’s choice fell on the garlic type. It didn’t look very pretty to be honest, all grey, somehow nearly metallic and also the taste wasn’t my favourite of all times. I’m generally a garlic lover and at first it even tasted interesting enough to catch my curiosity but at the second bao I was already over it. It was just too overwhelming with too many raw-ish garlic chunks in the meat mix.

imageAs I had their awesome Spicy Dumpling Noodles already a couple of times I finally brought myself to ordering the Dan Dan Mian, that caught my attention during an earlier visit. At first it seemed a little thin and soupy but when I gave it a proper mix it got nicely thick. Noodles were, as often, too soft for my preference but the other flavors worked fairly nice together, all sesame and creamy. Overall the aroma of this thing was rather light and lacked a bit of depth but probably some fresh leafs of coriander and a couple of drops of fiery chili oil could change that for the better. Well, not an eye opener this time but still on my list of very solid lunch options.

Paradise Dynasty 乐天皇朝
3 Gateway Drive
#02-13/14 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9271
http://www.paradisegroup.com.sg/

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/