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Tag Archives: Prawn

Foreign countries, foreign choices

imageI was going on a business trip to Manila and would normally look for some local food options when traveling but since there was no Filipino restaurant anywhere to be found in or just around the hotel, I tried ‘UMU’ the Japanese restaurant in the lobby. I started with a slap of ‘Maguro Sashimi‘ (tuna) which was soft, tasted fantastically pure and drizzled with calamansi juice just became something else. A good start.

imageI don’t know why but I really like ‘Ebi Sushi‘ (cooked prawn), no specifically extraordinary taste but the perfect texture makes me order these nearly every time I’m in a Japanese restaurant and the ones at ‘UMU’ where some of the best I have ever had. They were clean, huge with a great bite and stuck to the rice perfectly. I loved them.

imageI wanted to keep it a tad healthier so I resisted my desire to order the ‘Agedashi Tofu‘ and ordered the ‘Hiyayakko‘, a cold tofu dish, instead. It was a lot but the beancurd tasted nicely milky and mixed with the chopped scallions, grated ginger and dipped into tempura sauce it honestly was really really nice.

‘UMU’ is a stylish setup place with Japanese interiors and designs, very friendly waiters and some fantastic dishes that will probably make me return here in case I should come back to the Philippines anytime soon.

UMU
Dusit Thani Manila
Ayala Centre
1223 Makati City
Metro Manila
Philippines
Tel: +63 (2) 238 8888

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

Bigger’s Not Better

imageI had been to ‘Valentino’s’ before when they still were in their small shophouse at Riffle Range Road and since a colleague and I didn’t have anything better to do tonight we decided to try out their new location at the Grandstand, former Turf City Shopping Mall.

After a lovely nutty ‘Ham Platter‘ and some creamy ‘Vitello Tonnato‘ I ordered one of their off-menu specials, the ‘Aglio e Oglio Linguini Nero di Seppia‘ with king prawn. The linguini were nicely al dente and not too oily. The prawn was humongous, quite fresh but rather bland. The kicker though were the roasted garlic gloves that melted in my mouth and had a nice charr flavor without being to overwhelming garlicy. A bit more seasoning and this would have been pretty great.

imageOut of pure curiosity we ordered a pizza ‘Margherita‘. Unfortunately this was pretty underwhelming. The dough was thin and crispy but the sugo didn’t taste like much and the amount of cheese on top was simply too much for my preference. It was not a bad pizza but from a place with such a reputation I was expecting a little more than just ok.

imageThe ‘Panna Cotta‘ I had for dessert was not that special either with very little vanilla and a bit amateurish in presentation but what I really liked was the berry sauce that came with it. Nice and sour.

The quality and taste of the food was pretty good but because I thought to remember it a bit different and also because ‘Valentino’s’ is not necessarily a cheap restaurant I was just expecting a little more.  On the upside the service was outstanding and the staff super friendly but it was a bit sad to see they had lost a bit of their family run restaurant charm which only small places have and small is not was ‘Valentino’s’ is anymore.

http://valentino.sg/

Ristorante da Valentino
#01-19 The Grandstand
200 Turfclub Road
Singapore 289774
Tel: +65 6462 0555

Prawn Dumpling Galore

imageI had checked out of my apartment and my friend picked me up to have a quick bite before I left for Singapore. On the way to Central Station we passed a little underground branch of a popular restaurant chain recommended in one of the past Michelin Guides – ‘Tsim Chai Kee’.

They didn’t have many dishes to chose from but since we needed something after a rough night we ordered their signature ‘Wanton Noodles‘ with sliced beef and prawn dumplings. They also had shredded fishballs as add on but since I genuinely dislike those I totally didn’t care.

Not even five minutes after ordering our bowls already arrived and looked promising. I’m usually not a big fan of prawn dumplings but these ones were actually pretty decent. Fully stuffed with big chunks of prawn this was exactly what I needed. The beef on the other hand was as expected super tenderized and as wobbly meat grosses me out most of it stayed in the bowl. The noodles were lovely yellow and eggy with a firm bite to them and the broth was well seasoned and tasted like a strong concentrated chicken soup.

Definitely not many points on the interior design scale but a cheap and decent noodle fix after a long night, no question.

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 沾仔記
Basement, 154 Queen’s Road Central
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2581 3369

Sushi Fish Mart in the West

imageA very good friend brought me to ‘Sakuraya Fish Mart’ at West Coast Plaza because it is her family’s go to place for ‘Sashimi‘ and ‘Sushi‘. I entered the restaurant through a small Japanese grocery store and when my friend showed up we chose the ‘Sashimi‘ items from a chilled display right at the entrance.

imageWe had the standards ‘Sake‘ (Salmon) which was super soft and ‘Maguro‘ (Tuna) that had the perfect texture and a clean and sweet taste. We also ordered ‘Hotate‘ (Scallop) which tasted good but was a bit moist and slippery, ‘Mekajiki‘ (Swordfish) that I didn’t like because of it’s unpleasant texture and the ‘Kanpachi‘ (Greater Amberjack) and ‘Hamachi‘ (Yellowtail) which both had great taste and were not too lardy on the red bit.

imageFor the second round we had ‘Ebi & Tako‘ Sushi (Cooked Prawn and Octopus) which were ok but not overwhelming and the ‘Tako‘ was actually a bit on the chewy side. What was actually nice was the ‘Spicy Salmon Maki‘ which was not particularly tangy but had a great crunch from the fried salmon skin they put into it.

imageWe also ordered some cooked dishes like the ‘Fried Edamame Tofu‘ that was pretty much chunky mashed soya beans in a tofu mix battered and fried. The texture was a bit odd but interesting with the edamame bits in between but the taste was rather blend. Another one was the ‘Fried Tako‘ which was nicely crispy but pretty dry and tough too bite on the other hand.

imageLast but not least we ate the ‘Cold Buckwheat Soba‘. Though taste wise ok, this was a bit of a difficult to eat as the noodles all stuck together in one lump and unfortunately they also didn’t use any ginger in the dipping sauce.

I quite like the food here fresh and all and I appreciated that I was able to choose the exact piece of fish I later got on my table but the setup was very mall like and lacked atmosphere but seemed very suitable for families with kids.

http://www.sakuraya.com.sg/

Sarukaya Fish Mart
154 West Coast Road
#B1-50/51/52 West Coast Plaza
127371 Singapore
Tel: +65 6773 6973

Seven Hours, Fourteen Dishes.

imageThis was on nearly every Singaporean based foodblog the last couple of weeks and since a friend asked me to go and I had never been on one of those events we went early Saturday to start with an early lunch.

Where to eat first was already decided before we even arrived  – the ‘Porchetta Sandwich‘ from the ‘The People’s Pig’ (USA). This was one good start of the day. Eventhough they only gave out half sandwiches, those were delicious. The suckling pig like roast meat was juicy and pleasantly fatty with a sweet and spicy chili jam on top that gave the whole thing a bit more punch. The bitter flavor of the arugula balanced out the fattiness and spice and to top it off they added a nice piece of crackling which I would have loved to be bigger. The Inside of the ciabatta bun was dipped in the pork jus which gave the sandwich an even meatier taste. So we were off to a good start.

imageWith the pork sandwich half way down we strolled a few stalls further for the ‘Tacos‘ from ‘Tacombi’ (USA). First disappointment was they didn’t offer the ‘Beef Tacos‘ anymore as they apparently didn’t turn out right in this climate. Second disappointment was that the ‘Fish Tacos‘ weren’t really that good. The battered and fried fish was super dry and so was the tortilla they used. Even though the chipotle sauce was quite tasty and the red cabbage was nice and crunchy I felt unsatisfied.

imageNow it was time for some Asian food and so we head for one of the longest queues all the way at the end ‘Phan Rang’ (Vietnam) with their ‘Banh Xeo & Banh Khot‘ combo. ‘Banh Xeo‘ I already had before in Vietnam and these ones were really tasty filled with crunchy sprouts and vegetables and fried crispy on the outside. The ‘Banh Khot‘ were like little egg tarts with prawns and I wished they would’ve been a bit longer on the heat as some of them were quite raw inside tasting like undercooked omelette but overall still not bad but I didn’t envy the chef, assembly-line-frying both dishes without a break.

imageSwitching back to western cuisine we opted for the ‘Soft Shell Crab Burger‘ from ‘Euro Trash Food Cart’ (USA) and yet another dissapointment – they ran out of their beef paddies so we had to go for the plain crab option. This slowly started to seem like a pretty “incomplete” event. Luckily even without the beef paddy this was a pretty awesome burger once I did get over the fact that I ate a whole crab with everything in and outside, I’m weird like that. The crab was crispy and still moist inside and the thousand island like dressing gave it a nice fresh touch. Just the bun was more the sweeter kind which I found slightly odd.

imageFurther on the western trail we arrived at the ‘Swamp Shack’ which sold ‘Shrimps & Grits‘ and their so called ‘Smothered Chicken‘. The shrimps were mega crunchy with a very dry batter which held up pretty well against the gravy and the grits which was like a corn polenta, nice and fluffy yet very filling. The chicken dish had the same gravy with mashed potatoes but I had a hard time finding some meat in there. Good comfort food with the grits as my favorite component.

imageNext up was ‘Soto Tangkar‘ by ‘Pak Haji Diding’ (Indonesia). The soup was quite rich and a tad spicy but the beef didn’t really cut it as it was too chunky and tough for my preference.

imageNow this was one of my highlights of the day, the ‘Seafood Tostada‘ from ‘La Guerrerense’ (Mexico). On their sign they offered two different kinds but our crispy corn tostadas came with everything on it they had in stock. The seafood topping was a cevice of fish, crab, shrimp, tender octopus and delicious sweet scallops that must have just hopped out of the sea. This was then finished off with a big cajun style marinated shrimp big chunks of avocado and a spicy shrimp lemon juice with peanuts. So delicious complex simplicity.

imageUntil now we had stayed away from the Indian stalls as many of them seemed to sell quite filling stuff but this one looked pretty interesting and so we tried the ‘Litti Chokha‘, little charcoal baked buns with a mix of tomatos, potatos and eggplants as well as some mint sauce to go with it. The buns were harder on the outside and crumbling on the inside and soaked up the condiments pretty good. I really liked the vegetarian chokha as it was nicely light and suited the buns well.

imageAs they had both, beef as well as pork jerky we ordered the ‘Hainan Fen‘ from ‘Hai Ya’ next. Apparently a very common dish from the Hainan province in China but I had never heard about it here. Thick eggs noodles were topped with a multitude of ingredients – beef and pork jerky, cilantro, chives, peanuts, sprouts, little shrimp, squid and a soya based gravy. I realy liked it, especially the jerkies and peanuts and even the tiny shrimp weren’t as fishy as I thought. One thing I would have loved to have missed though was the squid which was also some kind of jerky, pretty strong in taste and hard to pick out as it camouflaged itself as noodles.

imageEnough of the filling dishes we went back to India and tried the ‘Chicken 65‘ from ‘Abhishek’. This fried chicken was covered in a wondeful spice mix with a citrusy fragrance and the sweet spiced dipping powder took it all to the next level. That was awesome and I just wished lean chicken breast was more popular in Asia as that would have made this even better.

imageAfter all those hearty dishes it was time to check out the dessert corners of the fairground and so we started with ‘Kue Pancong‘ (Indonesia) that were lightly baked coconut cakes in a special shape topped with white sugar. I love coconut so this was right up my alley, maybe just a little dry.

imageThe next sweet affair again came from India and was offered by a Singaporean stall named ‘Heaven’s Indian Curry’. They offered a dish called ‘Putu Mayam‘ or ‘String Hoppers‘ which was basically freshly pressed and steamed rice noodles topped with bright orange sugar and grated coconut (also available with chicken curry). This was great and tasted quite light cause of the steamed noodles and the dessicated fluffy coconut with a sweet cover of orange caramelized sugar. If you missed the fair their shop is at #01-15 Ghim Hoh Market and Food Center, 20 Ghim Moh Road.

imageBefore washing all that wonderful stuffing down with the one or other Warsteiner we had one last sinful dish, the ‘Sticky Rice Banana‘ from ‘Nam Bo’ (Vietnam). I was lucky queueing up at the right time as the staff on the fairground told me this is by far the most popular stall and waiting can be rather long during peaks. I really like Thai ‘Mango Sticky Rice‘ and thought this might be similar but here they wrapped banana chunks in glutinous rice before grilling it over coales wrapped in bana leaf and finishing it with a thick sweet coconut sauce and sesame seeds. Eventhough I would have wished for more banana this was a lovely closer to an endless seeming feast and so seven hours and fourteen dishes later (I didn’t count the seconds of ‘Porchetta Sandwiches‘) we finally capitulated and didn’t move too much for a while.

I really enjoyed my first food fair experience even with some sold out items and complete stalls being closed like the Danish pork buns which I was so looking forward to. What really pissed me off was that they re-opened on Sunday again. Dang!

http://www.wsfcongress.com

World Streefod Congress 2013
Singapore F1 Pit Building & Paddock
1 Republic Boulevard
Singapore 038975

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