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Restaurant Week 2013: Hashi 箸

imageRestaurant week was back in town and for a change I didn’t sleep all through the whole show this time and even scored two dinner bookings which of the first was at ‘Hashi’s’.

There were chilled soba to start with but I missed some grated ginger to pep things up. The noodles were followed by a Japanese salad with a wonderful dressing and a set of sashimi; amberjack, tuna and scallop which were of good quality and tasted fresh and nice. The main was a bento mix of all sorts of different stuff, some of my not so favoured seaweed, blanched spinach, unfortunate tough and greasy cold duck breast, a tasty and soft fried fish, good tempura but the best thing by far was the lovely piece of pork belly that didn’t really have very tempting looks but was amazingly soft and therefore I thought way too small. I also got to try the beef cheek from my friend’s bento which was super nice and tender but really became great with a tiny bit of this jalapeño pepper sambal they handed aside.

imageThe dessert was a sampler of two. I wasn’t a big fan of the red bean bars with chestnut and their super rich and filling character but the red bean and sake flavoured cake was actually quite good and interesting but nearly too small to really wrap my head around it and fully get the taste. I’ll probably never understand this red bean thing anyway?

I liked ‘Hashi’s’ interior; minimalistic Japanese, simple and elegant in the front which unfortunately loses a dash of its’ atmosphere in the back room we were seated in. The food was good and there were many things to try, but besides the pork belly I was just hoping for some more extra specialness from their special menu.

Hashi Japanese Restaurant 箸
46 Bukit Pasoh Road
Singapore 089859
Tel: +65 6327 8414
http://www.hashi.sg/

A Pumpkin From Heaven

imageIt was a laid back Sunday afternoon watching a movie with friends and after being back home we all felt hungry but were too lazy to make a big effort. I then mentioned that I had some great ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ at the signature Chinese restaurant of the Park Royal Hotels and apparently that was reason enough so we located the closest Park Royal and were on our way.

Wandering around the restaurant looking for the bathroom i spotted a dish on another table that I just had to have. What caught my eye was their signature ‘Pork Belly Pumpkin‘ and since we weren’t super hungry I ordered a smaller version for S$26. When it came to our table it looked absolutely beautiful, a whole pumpkin from the oven, filled up with big glazed and braised pork belly cubes. The pork belly pieces were mega tender and soft and the fat melted between the meaty parts and fused into the magical gravy that had a sweet roasted aroma with a soya infused richness that made this the perfect sin. The pumpkin that was baked until soft soaked up the delicious sauce and made it by far the best pumpkin I have ever had.

Besides this outstanding vegetable and the noodles we also had their ‘Cucumber & Chili‘ as an appetizer which were great, steaming hot, slightly sour and fiercely spicy which i considered fun to eat.

I think I mentioned before that I am not a big fan of these nicer sit down Chinese restaurants but ‘Si Chuan Don Hua’s’ food is just so good. I really have to come back and give their ‘Dim Sum‘ and ‘High Tea‘ a  shot.

http://www.sichuandouhua.com

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
Park Royal Hotel
181 Kitchener Road
Singapore 208533
Tel: +65 6428 3170

Octopus and Taco Thieves

imageAfter a while I finally came back to ‘Lucha Loco‘ for a friend’s farewell party. For starters I had the ‘Ceviche de Camarones y Pulpo‘ a fantastic refreshing dish full of fresh and sweet prawns and octopus. The texture of the octopus was amazing and just on the spot, firm without being chewy and the lightly sour taste of the lime juice together with the cilantro and herbs made this simply delicious. My favorite non-taco dish here. 

imageFor my taco selection this time I went for one of their specials, the ‘Taco de Barbacoa‘ with lovely tenderly braised lamb meat that was juice and strong in taste. A great taco but I would have wished for some more mint in the salsa as it nearly disappeared between all the the other flavors.

imageBy default I had the delicious ‘Taco de Carnitas‘ but this time I also ordered the ‘Taco de Pescado‘ which I didn’t have for a long time. It usually is a little bigger than in the picture but my colleague stole a piece from this nicely grilled snapper before I could stop her. The smaller size didn’t change anything, it still tasted great. The fish was moist and slightly charred on the outside and the combination of the freshness from the salsa and the spiciness from the chipotle made this work perfectly.

Another dinner much and well spend with great food, strong drinks and an outstanding friendly service. Still my kind of place, thanks a lot.

http://www.luchaloco.com/

Lucha Loco – Mexican Taqueria Y Garden Bar          
15 Duxton Hill                  
Singapore 089598                  
Tel: +65 6226 3938

Udon, Udon, Udon!

imageDespite that we just had an ‘Udon‘ lunch this week one of my colleagues suggested to take advantage of the fact that he had a car and make another trip to ‘Megumi’, one of his favorites. It was a sunny Friday and the last time we went it tasted great so it wasn’t really too difficult to convince me.

I really liked the ‘Beef Udon‘ the last time but forced myself trying something new so I ordered the ‘Curry Udon‘ instead. The bowl was huge and filled up to the top with noodles, vegetables and meat. The curry broth was more liquid then I the ones I know but therefore also felt lighter than the normal thicker gravy. It had this really deep curry taste with a light spicy kick that did get stronger the further I emptied the bowl. The noodles here are thinner than at most places which makes them a bit easier to eat but unfortunately also were a bit softer than I would have liked. I was happy to find two slices of softly cooked pork belly in there which I prefer heaps over the more common chashu and what was also nice were the big chunks of carrot, the greens and bamboo shoots. The one thing I didn’t like was the kamaboko or Japanese fish cake but I never really liked any sort of fish cake anyway.

imageOn the side we ordered the ‘Saiko Beef‘ which was lovely tender and juicy and came together with a delicate dipping jus that tasted like strong beef stock mixed with a high quality soya sauce. The fresh crunchy salad aside was a nice change in between and tasted similarly nice dipped into the jus which I’m quite sure was not meant to be for that.

imageOne more side dish was the ‘UFO Maki‘ that had a center of cooked salmon rolled up in a thin cover of super crispy fried salmon skin. It tasted very fresh, the salmon was nice and buttery and the crunchy layer in between gave it all a special taste and a more diversified texture.

Still a nice no thrills place with a good selection of tasty dished but also still in a rather off location if you don’t have a car.

http://megumijapanese.com.sg/

Megumi Japanese Restaurant
Block 106 Clementi Street 12
#01-64
Singapore 120106

Another Udon Lunch at IMM

imageI came back here for lunch with a friend today and going with a colleague’s recommendation I ordered the ‘Niku Udon‘ with pork.

The clear broth was actually quite nice as it had a more distinct porky flavor yet pure and simple and I really liked the chopped pieces of white onion that added a sharp taste to the whole thing. The noodles tasted nice and had a lovely bite to them. I didn’t really like the thin pork slices as they were very fatty and had a bit of a greasy flavor but overall I enjoyed my lunch here and will be back again for some other versions to try.

Tsuru-koshi Udon
Jurong East Street 21
#01-19 IMM Building
Singapore 609601

OMO – Oh My Okonomiyaki!

1368881024354I wasn’t super hungry this evening because of my late and generous ‘Menya Musashi‘ lunch but still felt like a little something to close the day. I randomly went into the Shinagawa Front Building and when I realized that there is a ‘Okonomiyaki Kiji’ branch located on the second floor I decided to have a slightly bigger dinner than anticipated as in Singapore this seems to be impossible to get.

I decided to go less traditional and ordered a ‘Kimchi & Pickle Starter‘ and the ‘Pork & Kimchi Okonomiyaki‘. As I was sitting at the bar I could follow the action as the chefs were entertainingly preparing mine and other dishes which was particularly important because a good and thick Okonomiyaki can take around 15-20 minutes.

It looked beautiful and tasted fantastic. The big chunks of kimchi cabbage had a nice bite and heat to them and were balanced just right with the Oko-dough. Best about this though was the thick slices of pork belly on top. Whilst preparing, I was a bit worried as the pork often doesn’t get enough time on the flame but here they took their time and waited until the fat melted away and the meat transformed into crispy salty goodness. All finished with salty butter and freshly chopped green onions on top. Simple food tweaked to greatness.

1368880368661-origThe ‘Kimchi & Pickle‘ starter upfront helped me through the waiting time with it’s great tastes and different textures. The pickled radish was crunchy and cooling and the the kimchi style cabbage had a very mild taste with only a little bit of spice to it. My favorite of all was what seemed to be some kind of kimchi cabbage jerky as it was stringy and quite hard to bite and by far the most spiciest of the trio.

‘Okonomiyaki Kiji’ is a famous brand from Osaka and they sure lived up to their name. I am pretty happy to have stumbled into this shop as I didn’t have any decent Okonomiyaki in years as it just seems impossible to get a remotely good one in Singapore.  I would do it again and again and again.

http://www.o-kizi.jp/

Okonomiyaki Kiji お好み焼 きじ
Shinagawa Front Building 2F
108-0075 Konan
Minato-ku                              
Tokyo 2-3-13                        
Japan                                        
Tel: +81 3 6712 0256

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

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

Good Star K!

imageIt was my highschool friend’s last night in Singapore and originally we planned to go to another dan dan mian place in Tanjong Pagar but on the way there we spontaneously opted for ‘Korean BBQ‘ at ‘Super Star K’ instead. I had never been here before but it looked cozy from the outside and was   packed with guests which always is a rather good sign. We ordered the ‘King Sized Beef Ribs‘, the ‘Seasoned Beef Ribs‘, the ‘Pork Belly BBQ‘ and my beloved ‘Kimchi Pancake‘.

The ribs and especially the marinated ones had a strong beefy taste to them which you don’t get from the leaner cuts. They were a bit chunky at parts but there were plenty of buttery pieces that were pretty yummy. I was a bit concerned about the pork belly as it was cut into thicker slices like they do at ‘Red Pig‘ but at ‘Super Star’ the outcome was mouth watering. Most of the fatty stripes melted on the coals and the ones that were left melted in my mouth, it tasted great and just how I like my pork belly.

imageI also was a fan of the ‘Kimchi Pancake‘. It had many onions in there but also big leaves of kimchied cabbage which gave the pancake it’s spicy signature kick. On the menu it said that from the third refill of side dishes on they do charge you for it but we didn’t even get that far to proof it.

I overall liked the place for the ambience and the food but will still continue searching for a barbie to match my Seoul experience. Til then this goes into the “Been There, Done That” box for the optional return visit.

Super Star K Korean BBQ Restaurant                                                                                                                75 Tanjong Pagar Road                                                                                                                          Singapore 088496

Red Piggy Is No Biggie!

imageI was getting pretty hungry and since I felt pretty good about something meaty all signs pointed towards ‘Korean BBQ’. I don’t have a lot of experience with Korean restaurants in Singapore and since the last place I liked is currently under renovation I followed a friend to the ‘Red Pig Original Charcoal Korean Restaurant’ on Amoy Street.

The place is rather rustic with the paint coming off at some areas and a lot of pig posters all over the place and a surprisingly small dinner menu. We ordered all meats except chicken which were beef, two types of pork belly and sausage. On top we also ordered their seafood pancake. As bottomless sides they served a nice light cabbage kimchi which is not too spicy, a creamy sweet corn hotplate and my favorite, a delicious salad with a kimchi dressing. The beef was nicely marbled and tasted good but wasn’t too memorable and the cheese sausages were ok. One type of pork belly was natural and the other marinated in their spicy signature ‘Red Pig‘ sauce. The natural pork belly was tasty but a bit too thick for my preference but the special red pork version was thinner sliced and had a good spicy kick to it. Last arrival was the ‘Seafood Pancake‘. This one was actually very nice even that there was hardly any seafood (octopus) to be found but therefor it was loaded with fresh scallions and super crisp.

Overall this place seems authentic what also shows by the high ratio of Korean customers here, their service is fast and very friendly and their prices moderate. The food is good but just didn’t cut it for me and the selection on the menu is simply to small.

Red Pig Korean Restaurant                                                                                                                                  93 Amoy Street                                                                                                                                        Singapore 069913