Restaurant Week 2013: Hashi 箸
Restaurant 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.
The 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
Tel: +65 6327 8414
A Pumpkin From Heaven
It 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.
Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
Park Royal Hotel
181 Kitchener Road
Tel: +65 6428 3170
Octopus and Taco Thieves
After 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.
For 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.
By 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.
Lucha Loco – Mexican Taqueria Y Garden Bar
15 Duxton Hill
Tel: +65 6226 3938
Udon, Udon, Udon!
Despite 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.
On 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.
One 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.
Megumi Japanese Restaurant
Block 106 Clementi Street 12
Another Udon Lunch at IMM
I 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.
Jurong East Street 21
#01-19 IMM Building
OMO – Oh My Okonomiyaki!
I 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.
The ‘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.
Okonomiyaki Kiji お好み焼 きじ
Shinagawa Front Building 2F
Tel: +81 3 6712 0256
Second Rounds at Menya Musashi!
I 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 the ‘Tsukemen‘ from 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
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634