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Restaurant Week 2014: Table at 7

imageBecause of work and travels my post backlog grew a little and so this year’s restaurant week checkout had to wait a little longer for publishing than usual. But here we were on a Sunday evening down Mohamed Sultan Road at Table at 7, a nice Central-European / SEA fusion restaurant.

The first course of the selection menu was an amazing 5-Spice Quail. Perfectly broiled with a delicate, slight gamey taste and glazed with a sweetish spice mix. This was a great start and before continuing with the serious staff we received a smallish cup filled with a Black Mussel and Saffron Soup which was creamily delicious except the one whole actual mussel in it which I generously passed to one of my friends.

imageAs main I chose the Beer Roasted Suckling Pig. The skin was as thin and crisp as it gets with the meat underneath staying soft and juicy. The sauerkraut it was bedded on tasted great together with the pinch of star anis and made for some well-matching European-Asian flavors. Rounded up with a richly decadent and warm little chocolate tart paired with some cooling bailey’s ice cream our 4-course-dinner came to a delicious close.

I really really liked it here, the place looks nice and elegant, the service is friendly – even the chef came around and checked how we liked our food – and all above the dishes were not only appealingly presented but more importantly pretty darn tasty. I’ll come back.

Table at 7
7 Mohamed Sultan Road
Singapore 238957
Tel: +65 6836 6362
http://www.tableat7.com/

Yogi sushi, second round.

imageI think it wasn’t even a week since I’d bean here but after another late yoga session i was magically drawn back into this place.

The initial idea was to just have some simple cold somen but glimpsing through the menu and chatting with the guys I  quickly came up with a much more complex plan. Ordering a round of sushi was the start – a wonderful soft Hotate Abury (seared scallop) topped with some tangy mayonnaise, delicious top grade Sake Sushi (salmon) and my first take on some ugly as looking but truly life-changing Anago (sea eel), all so big, covering the rice completely underneath.

wpid-imag6487_1.jpgMentioning that I wanted to have the Somen, one of the gentlemen recommended me a special version of the Sakane Soba instead. These were magnificently unfamiliar and being made from fish meat gave the noodles a unique flavour and crazy fish-like texture too. The chef topped it all with a thin, melt-in-my-mouth slice of Ohmi Wagyu working just fine with the soba and the strong dashi broth.

wpid-imag6493_1.jpgThey were also so nice to let me take part in the last course of their Omakase customers’ dinner and gave me a refreshing and lightly sour Ume Jelly ON THA HOUSE. Great day end that one was, thanks.

Shinzo Japanese Cuisine
17 Carpenter Street
#01-01
Singapore 059906
Tel: +65 6438 2921
http://www.shinzo.com.sg/

Reassuring good.

imageI seem to come back to ‘Ippudo’ more often these days and today I ordered my old go to choice, spicy ‘Karaka-Men‘ with extra cashu and tamago. As they use the same base the strong and rich tonkotsu broth reminded me a lot of their original ‘Shiromaru Motoaji just with a spicy peppery note coming from the miso and ground pork. The meat was not as fine as at many other places but more coarsely chopped so it left an enjoyable chunkiness in the texture pond. Still loved the crunchy cabbage and the comparably hard noodles here and even though this fantastic bowl was my long time favourite for a reason, I was reassured that the ‘Spicy Black‘ has taken the lead for me at ‘Ippudo’. For starters we had the new ‘Spicy Boiled Gyoza‘ which had a great back-of-your-throat kinda punch (I really do fancy boiled gyoza these days) as well as the also new ‘Spicy Pork Bun‘ which pretty much tasted like the original with only some very mild extra heat. It’s great to rediscover things and to realize that you love them anew.

Ippudo SG 風堂
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6235 2797
http://www.ippudo.com.sg/

More of that Caribbean feeling.

imageI wanted to try out ‘Lime House’ since I had heard about it mainly because I didn’t have much of a clue what real Caribbean food actually is and so today I met two friends down here for an early lunch.

It turned out we didn’t pick the best of days as they just had a big party the night before and ran out of the ‘Crab & Callaloo‘ (Crabmeat Dumplings) and the ‘Curry Goat‘ which I initially wanted to order but after a quick brainstorm shuffle I had my choices switched around and ended up having the ‘Red Snapper Eskovitch‘ as main. The extra thick fillet of fish had a nice curry like crust and was still perfectly moist and soft. The coconut cream was overly rich and creamy and the pickled vegetables even though a refreshing contrast seemed a bit out of place but in a nutshell it was still a tasty dish.

imageAs side I tried the ‘Fried Plantain‘, a cooking type of banana, that I really liked actually. It was slightly sweet, like caramelised and had a great firm bite, pretty starchy and oily but an awesome change for a side. The ‘Caribbean Fish Cakes‘ were also super tasty, very small but delicious.

‘Lime House’ is nice, nestled in between with the other shop houses on Jiak Chuan, using turquoise colours for that slight Caribbean feeling and serving up some things different. The food is tasty but nothing I’d necessarily crave for, however that ‘Curry Goat‘ has made me curious enough to come back soon and give it another shot.

Lime House
2 Jiak Chuan Road
Singapore 089260
Tel: +65 6223 3130
http://www.limehouse.asia/

Premium Wagyu cuts at Boat Quay.

imageI was very happy to receive the invitation to a food tasting from the people behind new ‘Arashi Yakiniku’ 嵐 down at Boat Quay and so made my way down there today directly after work. It is nestled in between the shophouse pubs and restaurants along the riverside, offering in- as well as outdoor seating for a more scenic setting. We were greeted warmly by the staff and shortly after food started flowing to our table.

The menu started up with their ‘Wakame Miso Soup‘ (わかめ味噌汁) which had a light delicate broth with some soft tofu bits and seaweed floating around in it. This proofed to be a great palette cleanser throughout the whole meal as well which was perfect to slurp on between the different meats. We also had the ‘Namuru‘, a selection of small vegetable starters like pickled crunchy bean sprouts, squeaky spinach and shimeji mushrooms.

imageNow it was time for the main act and the starting round was a selection of Australian Wagyu cuts (オーストラリア和牛). First we had the ‘Beef Tongue‘ (中落ちカルビ) and I didn’t really know what to expect as I had never tried this before and to be honest tongue also never sounded too appealing to me. To my surprise it was actually super nice to eat and pretty delicious. It tasted much more delicate than I had expected, with a solid and strong beef flavour, fire kissed crisp on the edges but still lovely chewy and firm. Together with the dipping salt and freshly squeezed lemon this was a lot of fun to eat and one of my favourite and most surprising dishes of the entire dinner.

imageAfter this promising start we continued with more premium cuts – ‘Sirloin‘ (サーロイン) and ‘Ribeye‘ (リブアイ). The sirloin was nicely marbled causing the meat to be wonderfully soft and just melting away in my mouth. The ribeye on the other side had a great charr and a much more robust texture and flavour to it, while still being perfectly tender. Alongside these meats they served their special ‘Arashi Sauce‘ which was refreshingly sweetish and spicy. I couldn’t figure out where the heat was coming from and the chef keeps the recipe very close to his chest so I had to enjoy it unknowingly the ingredients. Normally I wouldn’t touch sauce with these kind of special meats but this was just too good to ignore so I gave it a fifty-fifty dipping ratio. We also had some veggies to go with it all – shitake, leek, pumpkin and asparagus – which  even though nothing overly exciting worked nicely together with the other, sesame vinegar sauce and added some nice texture and taste diversion to the meal.

imageLast of the “aussis” was the ‘Harami/Outskirt‘ (牛ヒレ) that had hardly any marbling and therefore was of much darker colour. The flavour had a more solid taste, down to earth, genuine beef, more rustic and familiar, which was a great alternative in between the other more posh cuts.

imageThis all has been pretty great already but then the chef did send us some platters of their A4 grade Japanese Ohmi Wagyu (日本のウ牛(和牛)) which gave us a second upwind and excitement. The ‘Karubi/Short Rib‘ (カルビ) had a light taste with a certain nuttiness to it. It was delicious, just the thick streak of fat could have been a bit thinner for my liking but gave it all an interesting chunky texture.

imageNext we got to make the direct comparison between the Australian and the Japanese version as the  A4 ‘Sirloin‘ (サーロイン) and ‘Ribeye‘ (リブアイ) came out to our table. The sirloin was the peak of indulgence, so rich and marbly that I reckoned it was best to be consumed in small portions, not to be too overwhelming. Crazy good.

imageEven though I didn’t think it could have gotten much better the ribeye surely proofed me wrong and became my unrivalled winner of the evening. Still madly rich like meaty butter this cut was perfectly separated into three different sections of goodness – from a darker, meatier and deeply beefy tasting piece, over the thick middle section of a pure melt-in-your-mouth streak of fat onto the thickly marbled end piece. Outstanding.

imageAll those premium cuts of beef were accompanied by their simple but delicious ‘Garlic Fried Rice/ Ninniku Chahan‘ (にんにくチャーハン). Unfortunately not using the typical Japanese sticky and roundish grains, the rice still had a great bite to it, fragrant and loaded with heaps of fried garlic without being overly oily. Simple and savory comfort food.

‘Arashi’ is a casual place with a minimalistic interior that offers high quality food to moderate prices. We really enjoyed the Australian as well as the A4 Japanese beef cuts a lot and if wished they also can hook you up with highest grade A5 Wagyu, subject to availability and pre-order. A special thanks goes to Roysten for the kind invitation and hospitality and Nikki who helped us grilling our meats so perfectly. Best of success and thanks for a great night of indulgence. I’ll come back.

Arashi Yakiniku Charcoal Grill Restaurant 嵐
No.48 Boat Quay
Singapore 049837
Tel: +65 6535 2841

In for a surprise.

imageI was on a spontaneous one-day / one-night business trip to K.L. and after our meeting the colleagues there took us out for dinner to ‘alexis’ at Mid Valley. The place looked plain, no thrills just like any other mall restaurant and had a fairly mixed and quite worrying, so called intercontinental menu.

For starters I had the ‘Duck Confit‘. Yes, that’s right, ‘Duck Confit‘ as an appetiser, probably one of the best ideas I have come across in a long time. I’m not quite sure how authentic it was, since I had this rather seldom as a main but as it was in fact wickedly awesome, I couldn’t give a lesser damn. It was super crispy crackling on the skin with the meat still moist and savory and the balsamic reduction, some arugula and the caramelized pears were a brilliant sweet-sour-bitter contra play. A-freaking-mazing.

imageAfter my fancy and unusual large french starter I followed a colleague’s recommendation and ordered the ‘Pho Bo‘ still keeping my expectations low. It turned out there was no need to be conservative for the bowl was huge and piping hot with that lovely cinnamon fragrance steaming up from the top. The noodles were the thicker kind, awesome chewy and the meat was plenty and lean. On top of that they handed loads of proper pho condiments like sprouts, basil, mint, chilli and lemon, which I miss so often. Now that’s how it’s done.

Well this place was a nice culinary surprise. With its’ unpromising facade and it’s weird all-around-the-globe-menu it nearly got me fooled and disappointed at first just to knock me off my dining shoes with some outstanding foods and heavy ‘Pinot Noir‘. A good night.

alexis – bistro wine bar
Lot f209 1st Floor
The Gardens
Mid Valley City
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: +60 3 2287 2281
http://www.alexis.com.my/

It’s been a very lao time.

imageIt felt like a hundred years that I had been to ‘Lao Beijing’ but tonight I wanted to refresh my memory big time and went berserk on their menu. I spotted ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (小笼汤包) so it came naturally to start with those favourite little steamers. Not being the prettiest of its’ kind, they were quite nice, had thin skin and a generous slurp of soup in ’em but neither the meat nor the broth had a too distinguished flavour.

imageDumpling time wasn’t over just yet so we had a round of awesome ‘Pork & Cabbage Jiao Zi‘ (boiled). The cool thing here was the cabbage, not very common and tasted great together with the fine meat mass. Aside another regular on my orders, some crunchy and slightly spicy, delicious garlic cucumbers.

imageOver to the noodles some ‘Beijing Style Zhang Jian Mian‘ (老北京炸酱面) came our way. The noodles were soft and and thin and the whole thing tasted nice refreshing with all those chopped scallions but wasn’t really like a bean sauce but more like a lightish bolognese, nonetheless good.

imageAlso the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ was more an interpretation of the bowl I like so much. Nearly a clear broth with some minced meat and chives taking a swim in it. No sesame, no peanuts, no gooey creaminess made this not really extra special but still tasty enough to give it a like.

Even though the food was not sweeping me off my feet, it was still tasteful and delicious maybe with a slight setback caused by their  modifications on my old time favourites. It’s quite a busy and bustling place at peak hours in a bit of a warmer setting than the usual dim sum restaurants and surely has some decent dishes to offer. I might come back to try their high tea buffet as even though I’m not a big fan of such, ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ free flow doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Lao Beijing 老北京食堂
238 Thomson Road
#02-11/12 Velocity@Novena Square
Singapore 307683
Tel: +65 6358 4466
http://www.laobeijing.com.sg/

Stroll down Bak Kut Teh Lane.

imageI only had been to the shop on Balestier before but tonight looking for a quick meal I went to Rangoon Road for my pork rib dinner.

I was positively surprised to find my preferred leaner version of ribs on the menu which I knew from ‘Ng Ah Sio‘ but had never recognised at ‘Founder’s’ before, so this was what I was going to have. The meat was nice and tender with quite big chunks of pork that were easily nibbled off the bones. The soup was rich and had a good flavour, just wasn’t as peppery I would have wished for.

So this branch is actually quite nice place with some outdoor seating, a big menu of tasty dishes to chose from and is less crowded than their original shop. However I like my ‘Bak Kut Teh‘ as pepper loaded as possible so I might be walking a couple of houses down the road for my next round of pork tea.

Founder’s Bak Kut Teh Cafeteria 发起人肉骨茶餐馆
154 Rangoon Road
Singapore 218431
Tel: +84 6292 0938

Nothing beats the original.

imageI wasn’t too excited when my colleagues planned on taking me out to ‘Din Tai Fung’ as I did have it quite often before and rather wanted to try things I couldn’t get in Singapore instead. But the table was booked and of course I didn’t want to complain being treated for dinner and so lovely colleagues brought me to SOGO to enjoy some dumplings and noodles.

I was stunned and surprised as the food here was just so much better than in the outlets in Singapore. The ‘Spicy Wonton‘ were amazing, the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ simply perfect in taste and appearance and the ‘Shiao Mai‘ were much more like xiao long bao themselves, soupy goodness topped with a shrimp and actually the first version that I truly enjoyed. As dessert we ordered the steamed ‘Tapioca Dumplings‘ which I wasn’t really looking forward to but another surprise, they were pretty darn delicious, heavy and stuffing but delicious and not too sweet either. Thanks for a great evening and maybe I’ll suggest a refresher training for the Singapore branches once I’m back.

Din  Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
B2 Fuxing SOGO Department Store
No. 300, Sec. 3 Zhongxiao East Road
Da’an District
Taipei 10654
Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 8772 0528
http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/

There’s still hope.

imageI was back home for hardly one week and even though it was just for a couple of days I already craved some Asian food. Doing a bit of research online brought us to ‘coa’ (cuisine of asia) in central Stuttgart. At first I was pretty sceptical about this place as it offered a big mix of dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, India, China etc. and I would have felt better if they were specialized in just one type of cuisine but now we were here already, so what?

We had some Vietnamese ‘Summer Rolls‘ which were quite tasty actually but I didn’t really get the fact that they just served the ingredients and we had to assemble them ourselves, one of those weird “food experiences” I suppose. We also had the ‘Shao Mai‘ which I didn’t like but then, I never really do. As main we both ordered their ‘Pho‘ and I had ankle-height-low expectations that this was going to be any good. What a nice surprise it was then when it turned out being pretty delicious. The broth was super good, full of that cinnamon I miss so often and there were many herbs like coriander floating around in it too. The noodles weren’t anything too fancy but the meat was softly tender and super lean.

They messed up our orders a couple of times so we had to wait quite a while for our food but the staff handled the situation fairly clever by throwing in some free espressi at the end of our meal. Generally I must say though that eating here actually made me pretty happy. It was probably not the best pho I have ever had but it can easily keep up and even outdo some of the bowls I tried in Singapore and it’s always fantastic to find some decent Asian grub in good old Germany. I’ll remember this one.

coa – cuisine of asia
Lautenschlagerstr. 23
70173 Stuttgart
Germany
Tel: +49 (0)711 2184 2566
http://www.coa.as/

Tonkatsu lunch at IMM.

imageLunchtime at IMM was getting more difficult because we tried almost everything remotely appealing. One we didn’t get to yet was ‘Saboten’ and since it fitted my newly rediscovered love for tonkatsu I didn’t hear myself say no when a colleague suggested it. After sitting down and before asking a question first thing the waiter said to us was that we were not allowed to customize the lunch sets. So much for a warm welcome.

I ordered the set with ‘Fillet Katsu‘ which turned out to be rather average; the meat was a bit dry and didn’t have much taste to talk about. The cabbage obviously was awesome as always but I would have preferred the usual and lighter sauce instead of the sesame dressing they used here. Miso soup and macha cake where okay but that’s about it.

Food here was only ok and the service came across a little rude so let’s just say there is still some room for improvement here. Bye for now.

Saboten Japanese Cutlet 勝博殿日式炸豬排
2 Jurong East Street
#01-19 IMM Building
Singapore 609601
Tel: +65 6898 3432

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

What’s up with all the ‘Expresses’?

imageWalking around the foot outlet cramped basement arcade connecting Mid Valley and the Gardens Mall seeking for some dinner inspiration gave us a severe case of sensory overload. We were tired and couldn’t really make up our mind and since my friend just wanted something light and healthy we ended up at ‘Zun Express’ a Chinese herbal soup place. The ‘Ginseng Herbal Chicken Soup‘ I had was actually pretty good, I mean it was just boring chicken soup but seemed to be perfect when you’re down with the flu or something; strengthening I guess and the little chicken meat that was in there was tender and tasted ok. All in all this wasn’t a very filling experience and I skipped the rest of the non soupy dishes on the menu because despite them all being called healthy, 99% also had the word “fried” in their description. Let’s just say I was happy there was a ‘Hui Lau Shan‘ just around the corner to fill up the leftover space with awesome moussy mango.

The Zun Express 尊厨
Lingkaran Syed Putra
The Gardens Mall
Lot LG-231, Lower Ground Floor
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

Little french breakfast café.

imageOn the lookout for a quick breakfast before shopping we stopped by ‘Choupinette’, the place with the radiant and colourful sign on Bukit Timah Road. I didn’t have french style breakfast for ages and couldn’t go past the ‘Croque Madame‘ which is pretty much a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with a sunny side up. It looked quite neat there with that perfect circled egg and the squarish thick cut double layered toast underneath and taste wise it was pretty good as well. Salty ham, saltier gruyere cheese but unfortunately greatly over-toasted which made it all super dry so that I was really glad I had made my sandwich a “madame” as the runny yolk at least added some moisture to the dish. So flavours were good, execution regrettably didn’t delivery 100% but it’s still a pretty nice place for a quiet breakfast off the Dempsey Hill crowds with very friendly service as well.

Choupinette
607 Bukit Timah Road
#01-01
Singapore 269708
Tel: +65 6466 0613

A great friend recommend.

imageFriends invited us to join them for Vietnamese dinner tonight at ‘Viet Express’ at China Square and even though I was a bit worried about that unpromising name I was confident that our friends would’t bring us to something boring. It actually didn’t look like an “Express” kinda place more simple and a bit frumpy but the food here was really a surprise. I ordered my all time favourite,  ‘Pho Bo‘ with sliced raw meat. First slurp and it had me, this was the best pho I have had in Singapore to date, nicely infused with cinnamon and with this light beefy sour taste. It got even better after I threw the side greens and a good dash of the chilli and oyster sauce into it. The sharp onions and some fresh chilli made it nicely spicy, the beef was lean and tender, alone the noodles were nothing surprising. Service related I wouldn’t know what to write about really as besides serving the food we ordered pretty much nothing else happened but some things are just secondary after a delicious meal. Thanks A. and D., this one comes on the list.

Viet Express
3 Pickering Street
#01-34 China Square Central (Nankin Row)
Singapore 048423
Tel: +65 6536 9114

Shanghainese folklore.

imageOur friend brought us all to her Dad’s favourite Shanghainese restaurant in Wan Chai tonight for some pure and traditional food.

The ‘Scallion Pancake‘ was awesome with a nice toasty crust and some chewy dough inside, fitted with enough scallions and sprinkled with loads of sesame. The french beans with minced meat were also tasty, savoury and rich from the meat and gravy with a snappy texture from the beans.

imageI really liked the beef dish here, not particularly because of the meat, nor because of the peppers but rather because of the bamboo that was so thinly slices it came across like noodles and made it all really nice. I was slowly starting to think that every dish here comes with a very similar gravy, thankfully a very tasty one.

imageAfter a plate of lovely chewy stir fried rice cake finally their signature dish – ‘The Lion’s Head‘ – showed up at our table. I had never heard of this before but it was pretty much an oversized, softly tender Chinese meatball covered in bok choy and the same delicious gravy that we knew so well now.

‘Lao Shang Hai’ is no thrills for sure but offers great and solid homecook style Shanghainese fair with highly friendly and dapper waiters in a traditional atmosphere. Pretty good.

Hong Kong Lao Shang Hai Restaurant 老上海飯店
UG1 Novotel Century Hong Kong
238 Jaffe Road 5-7號大會堂低座3樓
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2827 9339

My first Peruvian.

imageSince in Hong Kong we wanted to go back to ‘Brickhouse‘ in LKF but since they still had a 1.5 hour waiting list at 9:30 p.m. we continued further hunting on the hills. We wanted to have some sort of tacos though and apparently fate was in our favour tonight as some people didn’t show up for the booking at ‘Chicha’ a Peruvian restaurant on Peel Street and without further ado we snatched it away.

I never would’ve thought that I like hardshell tacos but these ‘Fish Tacos‘ were brilliant, a bit difficult to eat but super flavourful with the fried moist fish, the crunchy coleslaw and the fruity and sweet mango salsa, delicious. We had the fried ‘Chicken Tacos‘ as well but those unfortunately were a bit dry and not as much fun.

imageWe couldn’t decide which ‘Ceviche‘ to take so we ordered the tasting set with three smaller sized portions of all. My favourite was the one with seabass (‘Corvina‘) on the left, the fish was fantastic fresh and had a pleasantly firm texture. My second choice was the ‘Mixto‘ which had everything in it – shrimp, octopus, scallop, squid – mixed with some fruity passionfruit and honey, a nice mix of textures as well. The ‘Tuna‘ version was also good but a bit of a weird combination with the watermelon and the fish actually was a bit tough to chew.

imageThey also have some dishes which they call ‘Hot Ceviche‘ which of we had the scallops. This could’ve been outstanding with the extremely awesome humongous scallops and the mix of butter, lime, soy and honey if only the cook would have taken it easier on the salt (a german saying suggests he was in love). Still good but mouth-drying salty which unfortunately overpowered the other flavours too much.

imageNext up we ordered a selection of the ‘Anticuchos‘ (grilled skewers), the ‘Oh My Cod‘ would have been the shining star if they weren’t prepared by the same Romeo cook as the scallops; super tasty moist fish, miso glazed that took an extensive salt bath. Well the sweet potato with the quail egg was okay but still only sweet potato, however the beef hearts again were amazing, perfectly seasoned, not too gamey, just pure muscle with a strong beef taste.

imageAnother ‘Hot Ceviche‘ we tried was ‘Crab Claw‘ which was, as the name suggested, a huge plate of pre-cracked crab claws in an extremely sour sauce. The crabs were nicely fresh and no hazzle easily sucked off the shells but the sauce was just too acidy for me to enjoy it fully.

imageWe were already pretty full but had one more thing coming up, their suckling pig sliders which were super good, suckling meat indeed sitting on a thin slice of sweet potato and topped with some pickled onions and gooey cheese. Great buns too and the whole thing reminded me a bit of the pork buns you get in the old town of Duesseldorf even that this here was a way more delicate and less greasy version.

I totally loved ‘Chicha’, the staff was great and obviously had some romantics amongst them, the food, besides the extreme overdosing with salt of some dishes was delicious and really something special and all in all we had a lovely evening with a nice atmosphere. Oh, they also do some quite decent cocktails here as well.

Chicha
G/F 26 Peel Street 中環卑利街26號地下舖
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2561 3336
http://conceptcreations.hk/chicha/chicha-central/

High Tea at City Hall.

imageFinally it was dim sum say and our host took us to City Hall to go to ‘Maxim’s’ as I turned out a great place for high tea. The queue was massive and we had to wait for a good hour before we could get a table. The place is elegant, a huge bright room with hundreds of people sitting and eating and running around in between.

We tried heaps and heaps of baskets of which the first was the above with the steamed ‘Prawn Dumplings‘ which were stuffed ’til bursting with big prawns. I always find their texture really odd but tastewise they were fantastic.

imageThe pork filled pockets were my and everybody’s favourite, the dough was super chewy and stuck to your teeth and the meat gravy filling was delicious too.

imageAnother bbq pork filled option were the pastry buns which were good but together with the glazed pork inside the sweetish pastry was just a little bit too much. I didn’t really like the ‘Shao Mai‘ but then I never actually do cause their awkward pork-prawn-mix that weirds me out.

imageThe vegetarian option for the day were the steamed mushroom dumplings that had some lovely crunchy texture and the above waterspinach version that was fresh, juicy and simply delicious.

This was a great place to get dim sum, the nice ladies with the trolley’s full of goodies hovering around and just really really good food. Recommended.

Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant 美心皇宮
3/F City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place 中環愛丁堡廣場5-7號大會堂低座3樓
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2521 1303
http://www.maxims.com.hk

First lunch in paradise.

imageThis year’s holidays brought us to beautiful Gili and our first stop was Trawangan Island. Down the beach from our hotel was ‘The Pearl Beach Lounge’ which we decided to have lunch today.

My main was the ‘Stir Fried Chicken in Bamboo‘ which was covered in a thick glaze sauce, a bit sweetish but delicious as well crunchy from the cashew nuts, the quinoa aside together with the customized cinnamony mango chutney made great condiments.

imageFor starters I had a chilled ‘Garlic Cucumber Soup‘ which was tasty and super refreshing, perfect for a hot day like this but also quite sharp from the huge amounts of raw garlic which gave me severe dragon breath and made my stomach growl for a little while after.

imageFantastically tasty and salty were also their ‘Waterspinach Feta Cheese Rolls‘ that reminded me of greek spanakopita and worked pretty well together with the grilled pepper dip that gave it a fruity contrast.

This is a very nice place, stylish, extremely friendly staff, delicious food and all at a prime location right on the water, if only just the dishes weren’t so damn westernized. There wasn’t a hint of chili or spiciness to be found even after asking for several different sambal which was a big disappointment knowing how great Indonesian sambal can be . However one of the better places to be eaten at when being on Trawangan.

The Pearl Beach Lounge
Jalan Gili Trawangan
West Nusa Tenggara 83355
Gili Trawangan Island – Lombok
Indonesia
Tel: +62 812 3812 999
http://pearlbeachlounge.com/

Raw fish from around the corner.

imageThe night before our holidays we wanted to have some quick Japanese without too much traveling involved so we went ‘Rakuichi’ at the Oasia Hotel in Novena.

The ‘Akami Tuna‘ looked flawless and had a beautiful clean taste, unfortunately was also a lil streaky at bits. The ‘Ebi Sushi‘ also was close to perfect, fresh and with an outstanding snappy texture. Snappy is also the right word for the ‘Assorted Pickles‘ we had which were a brilliant combination of radish, gherkins, cucumber etc. with only one weirdly tasting purple something that I didn’t find too appealing.

imageWe also had their ‘Agedashi Tofu‘ which was kind of boring compared to others that I had and a big slice of ‘Wagyu‘ that had a nice nutty flavour but was nearly too buttery to eat too much of and sadly quite chewy as well. Last but not least we had one of their special spicy makis with prawn that I forgot the name of. The taste wasn’t bad but completely different to any other maki I had before as it was rolled in chilli flakes and topped with a lot of thinly sliced and flame touched sharpish onions. Not bad, not bad at all.

I like how the place is setup, clean, stylish and minimalistic, they put a lot of effort into their presentation, the service was good and the food was too but for the higher price tag I was just expecting a little more “wow” for our dinner so ‘Rakuichi’ will probably not become my first go to address for my regular Japanese fix.

Rakuichi Japanese Restaurant
8 Sinaran Drive
#01-05/09 Oasia Hotel
Singapore 307470
Tel: +65 6659 6683
http://rakuichi.com.sg/