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Sticky Notes.

imageLast time we didn’t realize that this was such a popular place and sadly had to watch the obviously smarter guests getting their grub on from the outside window. But not this time, I wasn’t super well prepared to be honest but at least managed to book on a Friday evening for two and was lucky enough that the nice booking lady squeezed us onto the bar so we didn’t strike out again. Yes baby, we were in.

Going through the pages of the menu I just kept on ordering more and more so that at the end I had totally forgotten where I had started or how many sticks we were going to get. Thankfully they first plate also brought back pieces of my memory and I was excited to begin in style with their special and my first ever ‘Fugu Sashimi‘ (puffer fish). It was pretty awesome, not necessarily a lot of taste of its’ own but the freshness and pleasant chunkiness of the fish made this a joy to eat. As this was so delicate they probably would’ve slapped me if I had asked for wasabi, but the side served ponzu-shoyu sauce (soya lemon) together with some green onion and other beautiful looking things did a much better job. This was a great kick off to our meal, just the skin was something I could’ve easily lived without as ugly and chewy as it was and since my heart was still beating (even though on a higher frequency) it was about time to bring on the sticks.

I’m gonna warn you right now, this is gonna be a long one.

imageBefore the first skewer, we had some ‘Tamanegi‘ coming, grilled onions, sharp and sweet at the same time with some garlic salt to dip in. I could’ve ordered that all night.

imageFinally the first stabbed piece of meat arrived and without planning it like that we started with the most decadent of choices, the twelve dollar ‘Jo Wa Gyu‘, top grade Japanese wagyu beef. Probably we should’ve had this a bit later down the track to build up the excitement but I didn’t mind this pure butter beefness that melted away in my mouth at all. The smallish portions made even this extremely fatty bits very enjoyable and so delicious that my friend didn’t even wait for me to take a picture before she ate hers in the blink of an eye.

imageThe ‘Shiso Buta Maki‘ (bacon and shiso leaf) was outstanding. I loved the shiso leaf, because it tastes like nothing else and come on, wrapped in bacon! Also the ‘Enoki Wa Gyu‘ (beef and enoki mushrooms) were great, the tangy charred thin wagyu wrapped around those delicious squeaky mushrooms were just a lovely combination. My smile grew wider, stick by stick.

imageUp next we had a selection of the ‘Sasami‘, some awesomely filled chicken fillets; one with wasabi that knocked our socks off and had some additional shiso leafs in it just for me and one with plum that was good too but extremely sour which made me pull some funny faces but therefore prevented it all of just being dry and boring chicken.

imageNow we were on a roll and had three sticks flying in at once: the ‘Gyu Tsukune‘ (spicy beef meatball) that was tasty but unfortunately had some unpleasant fat chunks in it, the absolute fabulous ‘Hatsu‘ (chicken hearts) that were firm but wonderful soft and tender with a hint of giblet gamey taste and last the ‘Sakana Bacon Maki‘ (bacon wrapped fish fillet) which wasn’t too bad but a bit of a weird combination. I’ve never been very big on surf & turf but must admit, that even that it wasn’t really for me, the saltiness of the bacon complimented the milky fish meat rather well.

imageThe ‘Buta Tsukune‘ garlic pork meatballs were amazing, lovely fine minced meat with a hint of garlic. The chicken meatball ‘Tsukune’ weren’t too bad either but the black sesame somehow gave it a bit of an odd texture and the leftover ‘Uzura Tamago‘ (quail eggs) were hard boiled, a tad dry and compared to what we had before rather boring.

imageMy friend remembered a previous visit and suggested the ‘Tontoro Ringo‘ (fatty pork jaw and apple) which looked a bit off-putting with the thick layers of fat on the stick and unfortunately also felt unpleasantly chunky and gelatinous in my mouth. Purely judged from the taste though, this was actually pretty good as the pork, the fat and the baked apple worked fantastically well together. I still had much stronger feelings about the consistency than about its’ flavours so I probably won’t order them again.

imageJust because I missed ‘Okonomiyaki‘ so much I had to have their same titled (‘Okonomi Yaki’) skewer and to be honest they did a fantastic job bringing the aromas of this usually fifteen minute pancake into a tiny little yaki ball. Pretty great.

imageWe were almost full but kept on going strong. I had another view through the menu deciding which of those skewers may be worthy enough to make me explode. For this very important task I chose the ‘Enoki Buta Maki‘ (bacon wrapped enoki mushroom) which were pretty great and the more than qualified ‘Gyu Maki Cheese‘, wonderful gooey and salty cheese, wrapped into thin and crispy charred beef. These were insanely good and definitely the wrong cheesy choice to finish a twenty ish little course dinner. I was so stuffed and yet so happy.

I smiled a lot, which is the perfect sign for a great dinner and even though I had brilliant company and quite a little bit of sake I’m pretty sure that the food had a great deal to do with it too. This was fun to eat, we got a part of the action watching the master working his magic on the grill and enjoyed the cozy yet busy atmosphere of this little shop at Cuppage Plaza. I so will be back here.

Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant
5 Koek Road
#04-05 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6734 2492

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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

Top Notch Sushi at Somerset

imageA friend wanted to have some sushi tonight and since we didn’t want to go to the same old place again and again we went to ‘Fukuichi’ at TripleOne Somerset which he had heard good things about. The place had a smart casual setting and we sat down at the big sushi bar in the corner.

imageWe started with an evergreen – ‘Maguro Sashimi‘ – that was beautifully fresh with a clean sweet taste. The thick slices looked brilliant; dark red in color with a marble like look and the texture was just as I like it, soft and firm.

We also ordered a nice selection of sushi – ‘Ebi‘ (Prawn), ‘Hamachi‘ (Yellow Tail), ‘Tako‘ (Octopus), ‘Unagi‘ (Eel) and ‘Aburi Toro‘ (Seared Tuna Belly).

imageThe ‘Aburi Toro‘ was a real eye opener in all presentation, texture and taste. Usually I am not such a huge fan of toro as it tends to be more difficult to chew but not this one, the charred top was warm and crusty and underneath there was a explosion of flavors that literally melted away. Fantastic.

imageThe ‘Tako‘ was super fresh and must have been massaged for a very long time as it had the perfect chewiness yet firm texture. It tasted great and was a delight to eat, another sign they really care about the quality of their food.

imageNow the ‘Hamachi‘  was a surprise as it had the same consistency as the lovely maguro and a clean and down to earth flavor.  Pure and like straight off the sea.

imageThe ‘Unagi‘ was creamy and moist and touched by a hint of  this special sweet sauce that did fit the eel perfectly.

imageTheir ‘Sake Maki‘ reminded me a little bit of the ‘Shiok Maki’ at ‘Koh’s‘. I appreciated they weren’t using as much mayonaise here but I still prefer the normal straight sushi to these “creamy” ones.

imageThe ‘Agedashi Tofi‘ tasted good but it was much firmer than I would have liked it as I have learned to love the very soft silk tofu which is often used for this dish.

imageWe also ordered a ‘Miso Eggplant‘ of which one half was spiked with prawn chunks and the other half was covered with a thick layer of miso paste. I didn’t really get the prawn part as it didn’t add any special flavor to the dish just a weird alien texture that didn’t really work for me. The prawn free half though was pretty tasty with a nice caramelization and softly baked eggplant flesh. A pinch to sweet maybe.

imageEven that we already had ordered so much, when I realized they had ‘Marlin‘ on the menu I had to try it and later I had to pad myself on the shoulder for this as it was such an awesome idea. This fish really blew me away, nicely grilled and lightly seasoned with a fantastic soya sauce, salt and pepper, nothing else and the meat tasted and felt very similar to nicely grilled tuna. I absolutely adored this and was happy about the generous portion size.

imageWe finished our decadent meal with some lovely ‘Cold Udon with Ginger & Scallions‘. They offer this dish in several variations and with different noodles and we opted for the thin udon. The texture of the noodles was springy and chewy as it’s meant to be and the mix of xo soya sauce, freshly grated ginger and the scallions tasted lovely refreshing and delicate. My liking for cold noodles is constantly increasing and this one right here was a great closer for our dinner.

imageAs full as I was after all this food as happy was I to have tried something new. This may not be the cheapest of places around but therefore surely ranks under the best sushi restaurants I have been to in Singapore. Highest quality ingredients, perfectly executed flavor combinations (except the prawn eggplant maybe), the friendly service and the fact that this place has an outdoor sake bar got ‘Fukuichi’ a red bookmark in my collection of places to return too. Amazing.

http://www.fukuichidining.com.sg/

Fukuichi Japanese Dining
111 Somerset Road
#02-11/12 TripleOne Somerset
Singapore 238164

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

Diner/Bistro Concept at Pacific Plaza

imageA friend told me about this place at Pacific Plaza which is a fusion of ‘L’Entrecote‘, the steak & fries place from Duxton and a modern burger joint with the concept created by Michelin Star Chef Bruno Menard. Half of the shop looks very similar to the french bistro using the same tablecloth and all and the other half looks like a modern style diner with an open concept directly in the mall.

I ordered the ‘Lamb Burger‘  with ‘Truffle Fries‘. When the burger arrived it looked a bit small at first but turned out to be very sufficient and filling. Squeezing the burger into manageable size only very little juice dripped out which could have been a sign for very dry or very well hung meat, thankfully it was the latter. The meat actually was nice and chunky and still juicy inside, maybe a bit too soft for me but well seasoned and meaty in taste nevertheless. The bun was spiked with black sesame seeds, was soft enough but held up pretty good all the way. I was really looking forward to the combination of the mint sauce and the fresh cilantro which I absolutely love but they unfortunately were only hints in the total   mix of flavors. In comparison to that the caramelized raisins and onions came out much stronger and dominant.

The ‘Truffle Fries‘ were nice and crispy with a slight touch of truffle oil which didn’t come out too strong either but there was hardly any salt on them. This might have been just a personal preference of  mine and was solved quickly by the friendly waiter bringing me a salt grinder.

image‘&Made’ is a nice casual place with very friendly staff and most important decent burgers. However I will ask them for a double slap of mint and cilantro in case I should come back here next time which I’m not too sure about as it’s also not the cheapest of places with twenty five dollars ish a burger++. For steak & fries I probably stick with the Duxton branch as the atmosphere is just more bristro and less mall like.

http://andmade.sg/

&Made by Bruno Menard                              
9 Scotts Road          
#01-04-06 Pacific Plaza
Singapore 228210                    
Tel: +65 6690 7566

Homecook Style Omakase!

imageAfter returning from our short trip I had planned a treat for my visitors by booking a table at one of my favorite special occasions Japanese restaurant, ‘Nagomi’ at Cuppage Plaza. It’s difficult to tell if you’re at the right place until you stick your head through the noren at the entrance and realize you just found a little piece of Japan in the middle of Singapore. ‘Nagomi’ is very small with only four tables and a bar and had a traditional yet modern Japanese interior. Light is dimmed and urn like pottery filled with aging ‘Shochu‘ of regular customers is covering the shelves. They import their ingredients directly from Japan and change their a la carte menu very regularly depending on what’s in season and currently available. Since this is only available in Japanese we decided for the eight course ‘Omakase‘ (chef’s menu).

My friends started up with some massive oysters which they said to be fresh and tasty. I can’t eat them cause first I don’t really like them and second the consistency grosses me out. Chef Nada Satoru always asks what you don’t eat before he starts preparing the first course and so my oyster substitute today was a Japanese tomato. I know, just a tomato, but always having these red tasteless water balls you get in the supermarket, this one was pure and intense tomato taste. And yet again “Simplicity.”

The second course was a fabulous sashimi platter with ‘Uni‘ (sea urchin), ‘Hotate‘ (scallop), ‘Maguro‘ or ‘Toro‘ (tuna/tuna belly) – I didn’t ask but it was definitely a fattier piece – as well as three other fishes I forgot the names but each one of them was super fresh and had a soft texture which I prefer so much to tough bites.

imageI asked at the beginning if they had their amazing ‘Slow Braised Pork Belly‘ and was rather disappointed when I heard it was not on the menu but only until I found out what took it’s place: ‘King Crab‘. This portion was humongous and the flesh was so sweet and needed nothing more to it to make it truly amazing.

imageNext up were two whole ‘Kinki‘ fish in a light and superior broth. The fillets fell off the bones and were nice and soft. There weren’t too many bones in it but the few were tiny dangerous and difficult to separate from the fish once in your mouth. We continued with big fried ‘Deepwater Fish‘ (similar to sardines) which, except the heads, were still completely intact and covered in a nice Japanese batter   with dipping salt aside. Once I got over the thought that the first bite included the tiny innards of the fish, it tasted delicious and was  nicely juicy.

imageFollowing the fish we did get ‘Grilled Wagyu Beef‘ together with a sweet dipping sauce and wrapping lettuce drizzled with a wafu vinaigrette. It tasted great but the meat had some thin tough parts which made it difficult to bite pieces off. The seventh course was ‘Japanese Porridge‘ which tasted nicely simple but delicate and was nearly a bit too much after all the other dishes. We took a bit of a break before closing our menu with some lovely sweet ‘Japanese Strawberries’. 

Of course this is not a place for everyday dining, mainly because of the over one hundred dollars per head (not including drinks), but for special occasions or if you just want to take your time (around 2 hours++) and celebrate great quality food, this is the place. Domo Arigato Gozaimas.

Nagomi Restaurant
5 Koek Road
#02-22 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6732 4300
http://www.nagomirestaurant.com.sg/