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Pho Ga (Update March ’16)

We came here tonight prior to catching a movie at the Cinemaxx on the others side of the road. My brother in law originally intended to bring us to the running sushi place next door but that joint was bursting with people and no free seats were to be seen. Not having much time before the movie started we improvised and swiftly opted for their sister restaurant that cooks up a variety of Asian inspired wok stir fries, that were my definition of Asian cuisine about 8 years ago.

In the tradition of good germanized Asian food, I set my mind on ‘Ente Kross’ (crispy duck), a friend’s fitting name for a common fried-to-the-death-duck dish (not literally of course). Other than in Asia, where people love their fatty and chewy bits, Germans, in general, are not too fond of excessive fats and wobbly textures so those duck dishes are crisper than crisp, probably a bit dry yet still kinda delicious. Almost decided, I browsed my the pho bo on the menu and got indecisive again. When I am confused at a restaurant nowadays I tend to ask the staff for their recommendation given my shortlist of dishes. The lovely waitress was pretty quick in swaying me into the direction of the big bowl of piping hot Vietnamese soup, filled with lots of goodies; there were lime wedges, loads of those flat rice noodles, greens like herbs and scallions and deliciously tender beef slices. I was only missing some chili padi but they were also just one request to the waitress away.

As far as the broth goes I was pretty impressed. As always I would have wished for some more cinnamon flavor but since I mention that every single time that I am eating pho, I’m not even sure anymore if it’s actually supposed to have such a strong flavor or if it’s just in my head. The sriracha added a ubiquitous and intensifying heat to it all but the fresh chili just gave out free right hooks for my taste buds. It almost gave me the hiccups, which in my case stands for a proper chili experience and at the same time signals that I’m very close to crossing my line of tolerance. I was slurping and sweating away and felt quite happy to see such a decent bowl of pho in a place that I wouldn’t have expected it.

Dish Update March: I recently came here again during a shopping spree in town, and this time, I ordered the pho ga with chicken. I’m not 100% sure if it was the same broth, I would maybe say it was a little less intense but the chicken was just delicious; white meat that was somewhat tenderized, lightly panfried and kicking out some proper chicken aromas. A nice changeup and still healthy enough.

The place is no thrills, functional and clean but because of the open kitchen you might take a nice little food scent home with you depending where you were seated. There are tables for couples and groups with benches, meant for quick meals and not for lounging around for hours. Service is mostly nice, especially our waitress was super attentive and later even checked if I was actaually happy with my final choice. As a result of the streamlined menu, the kitchen runs very efficiently and fast and the food we had was great and cheap. You can never go wrong with an affordable delicious pho now can you? Nice one.

Get Your Grub On!

Mai Wok (open everyday)
Bertoldstr. 53
79098 Freiburg
Germany
http://www.maiwok-freiburg.de/

Best supporting act.

imageAfter my ‘Ramen Burger‘ and just four meters across the room I ordered my second course the ‘Dipping-style La Mien with Laksa Cream‘ or much shorter ‘Laksa Tsukemen’ from the other pop-up concept shop here, ‘Rakusabā’.

We were a bit back in line and particular attention was paid to the creation of each plate so we had to wait quite sometime until we finally got ours. For me the hold off wasn’t too bad as I had the burger just before but my friend nearly starved watching us eating as it was already quite late for lunch. When the time had come it all looked pretty neat and interesting and I shot my pictures as fast as I could to finally start eating. The noodles weren’t too special, no typical and slippery laksa bee hoon anyway and so that they wouldn’t stick together they were drizzled with some oil. Unfortunately they were still a little stuck so ended up just being oily sticky noodles. Dipping them into the thick concentrated laksa cream was quite funny and unfamiliar. Flavours as one remembers laksa, coconutty and spicy with an unusual viscous consistency. It was good we were so hungry though as every slurp was extremely filling, tasty and interesting definitely but just a tad too rich for my liking. What I enjoyed most about this dish were all the condiments on the plate. There was a stick of crispy oven roasted you tiao that was quite hard to bite, some wonderfully crunchy lotus roots, two decadent pieces of soft and juicy pork belly confit, not so soft soft egg with spicy shrimp sambal and my absolute favourite, the salmon otak otak gratin (fishcake) with it’s hint of spicyness, light taste and some crunchy pickled cucumbers on top. When finished with all, we received a top up of a shrimp and pork infused broth to water down the laksa cream for the last slurps. Not bad at all and how it’s properly done tsukemen-style, but I was just too full by then to completely empty my bowl.

I really kinda liked it because of it’s originality and the many very different things I got to try. Just the waiting time a couple of minutes shorter and the sauce a couple drops more watery would have made it even more enjoyable.

Rakusabā
The U Factory
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

Breakfast Pho.

imageAfter the soupy disappointment from the night before I spotted a pho station at the breakfast buffet of the ‘Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi’ we stayed at. This soup was different, even though nothing compared to ‘Pho Hoa’ in HCMC it was still miles ahead of yesterday’s bowl. The chicken soup, still light, had hints of cinnamon, giving it this distinct fragrance I love so much about pho and as it was breakfast I simply overlooked the fact that the noodles here were actually pretty soft as well. The added bunch of crunchy sprouts however ,made up for their lack in bite and even though the condiments were also limited to chili and lime here, the spice nicely kicked my butt and woke me up good.

This is a great hotel conveniently located in the business district of Ha Noi and the breakfast selection at the ‘Mangosteen’ nicely mixes Vietnamese and international cuisines. The pho was obviously not the most unique bowl I have ever had but this breakfast version made me curious to taste their à la carte bowl as well.

Mangosteen Restaurant (at Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi)
83A Ly Thuong Kiet Street
Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi
Vietnam
Tel: +84 (04) 3822 2800
http://www.moevenpick-hotels.com/en/asia/vietnam/hanoi

Mediocre start with a nice safe.

imageIt was my first night in Hanoi and waiting for my brother to arrive later that night a friend and I went to get some grub at ‘Quan An Ngon’ around the corner from our hotel. The setup looked promising with a nice outside garden filled with tables and different stalls offering all sorts of Vietnamese favourites.

As a must start of every Vietnam trip and because it was rather chilly outside I started with a bowl of hot ‘Pho Bo‘. Unfortunately this turned out to be rather boring, even though the soup was warm and comforting it lacked that special taste and was not really different to any sort of ordinary chicken soup; no cinnamon and besides lime and chilli sauce no condiments to add. The noodles were pretty soft too and only the beef slices were nicely lean, soft and tasted kina nice. Not my greatest find but I had already heard that pho in the north is very different and less unique compared to the type you get down south.

imageNot fully satisfied I tried to turn things around by ordering ‘Bánh Xèo‘, the Vietnamese street style pancake I knew from HCMC and the street food festival in Singapore. When it came I was quite happy to see lots of greens on the plate as well as some rice paper to wrap it all up in. I knew this only as lettuce wraps but couldn’t wait to give it a try anyway. It turned out to be quite good, the crispy pancake, the basil and mint and the crunchy sprouts all worked quite well together and were fun to eat too. Overall this was a tad dry and nothing I would really call a taste explosion but still quite satisfactory and actually managed to reconcile me over the letdown with the pho.

This place is probably a good start for visitors to try out many different Vietnamese delights and phase into the local cuisine at an obvious clean place with friendly English speaking staff and a nice beer garden atmosphere. There are many other dishes to try here so I might come back and give them another shot when I’m in Ha Noi the next time around.

Quán Ăn Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau
Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi
Vietnam
Tel: +84 (04) 3942 8162
http://www.ngonhanoi.com.vn

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/

Under the bridge.

imageFinally it was ‘Bak Kut Teh‘ night since I had heard so much about the fantastic K.L. herbal pork ribs that I always neglected to try because I was a very patriotic supporter of the peppery version that’s so popular in Singapore. Anywho, my old colleague friend, who lives down here now, picked me up and we took a little ride to ‘Ah Wang Bak Kut Teh’ in a picturesque location at a roadside, under a bridge. A bit f@#&ed up but in a “don’t judge the book by its’ cover” kind of way, still comfortable, not yet repellent.

That dish they served was brilliant, even that I could’ve lived without the thin layer of beancurd skin, the broth was amazing with a dense and strong herbal pork taste. The ribs were lean, soft and satisfyingly meaty and we also ordered some enoki mushrooms aside which made a fantastic add-on to the soup that I haven’t had before. I loved this stuff and all in all it was a lovely evening at a lovely dodgy place. Off to dessert.

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Ah Wang Bak Kut Teh 亞旺肉骨茶
No. 32, Batu 4 1/2
Jalan Klang Lama
53320 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: +60 13 2282 288

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

Vietnamese, my new after workout food.

imageOne branch of my yoga studio is directly next to this shop in Tanjong Pagar so it was just a matter of time until I would come by here for some after workout pho.

I ordered their ‘Summer Fresh Rolls‘ as starters that were probably not super authentic but exactly how I like them, fully packed with greens, fresh herbs, prawn and instead of the so often weirdly grey pork they used chilled chicken breast. Light and fresh. My main was set on ‘Pho Bo‘ with sliced beef which turned out to be quite tasty. The beef was lean and beefy, the noodles were ok and the broth had a decent flavour even that it wasn’t that strong. They provided some greens, sprouts and chilli to add to the soup but I just always miss the tables full of greens that I only found in Vietnam so far.

All in all not bad and I am glad to have such a dinner option so close after a tough yoga class that I surely will “stop” by again some time soon.

Pho Stop
21 Tanjong Pagar Road
#01-02
Singapore 088444
Tel: +65 6221 4001

Ad hoc yakitori.

imageWe wanted to go to check out ‘Kazu’ at Cuppage Plaza and naively thought we would get in without a reservation. Ya, we didn’t and so made our way down story by story looking for an alternative. There used to be another yakitori place on the ground level which had moved out but ‘Shinjuku’ that took it’s place also had some meat on sticks on offer so we settled for this.

We had some ‘Yakitori‘ for starters; there was oddly tasting bacon wrapped asparagus, some okay chicken and leek but the winner here were the chicken meatballs. At first I hesitated ordering them but was very happy I did. They had a soft texture, were well seasoned and covered in a  wonderfully sweet and savory glaze. Seldom had tasty chicken like that before.

imageI found ‘Mince Katsu‘ on the menu which wasn’t very nicely presented at all but I didn’t care as it actually tasted pretty great. The minced pork was rich but not greasy and dipping it into the brilliantly sweet tonkatsu sauce finished the job.

Other than that the ‘Sashimi‘ was alright, as were the ‘Udon‘, the ‘Wagyu Steak‘ was buttery good but not too special but the ‘Japanese Pickles‘ – cucumber, radish, cabbage and eggplant – i just loved them, as I do, maybe except the eggplant which was weird.

We weren’t too disappointed with our evening in the end also because the staff was super nice and understanding even when the noise level increased dramatically after inhaling a li’l too much of their sake. Thanks for the nice fun evening.

Shinjuku Restaurant  新宿
5 Koek Road
#01-01/02 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6734 8436

My Kopitiam Attempt.

imageMy friend from Jakarta who stayed with me wanted to eat some porridge and I wasn’t feeling too well so we decided to go for something quick and dirty round the corner and ended up at one of my least favorite places, the Kopitiam in Velocity. At least it looked more appealing since they had renovated the whole food court last year.

Looking for something that would be soothing my stomach I spotted a promising ‘Chicken Noodle Soup‘ at the ‘Korean Cuisine’ stall. There was nothing really special about this but it fitted the purpose. The soup was close to tasteless but therefore the natural flavors of the ingredients came out. There was a generous portion of rightly cooked rice noodles, leaves of cabbage, quite nice meat of chicken breast and a very funny squarish shaped hard poached egg. These were all very basic flavors without too much spices being used but it gave me back some of the power that I needed.

I’m not a big fan of Kopitiam and probably never will be but this was quite okay and I might return for a light and cheap after-workout-meal sometime.

Korean Cuisine
#03-47/56 Kopitiam
Velocity @Novena Square
238 Thomson Road
Singapore 307683

Taiwanese lunch at Jem.

imageWe didn’t feel like our usual lunch options today and then one colleague suggested ‘Din Tai Fung’, another colleague really liked the idea and I haven’t been there for over a year plus so it became our choice for the day. They were a bit understaffed so it took us some time to get seated even that half the restaurant was empty.

Finally in we started of with the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ which they are obviously famous for. Their skin was nicely thin but strong enough not to break when picking them out of the basket but the broth and meat seemed a bit watery and bland in taste. I’d still prefer the steamed buns from ‘Crystal Jade‘, ‘Hong Guo‘ or ‘Si Chuan Dou Hua‘.

imageI had upset my stomach with something so I skipped the new ‘Spicy Noodles‘ on the menu and went with the ‘Braised Brisket Beef Noodles‘ instead. It was actually quite nice, the broth was rich and beefy and deep dark in color and tasted a bit like goulash with a hint of tomato. When I slurped the last sips from the bowl I particularly enjoyed the roasted garlic and ginger bits that were like refreshing but more hearty pop rocks. The beef was alright and tender but unfortunately pretty fatty too but the letdown were actually the noodles that tasted okay but were downright overcooked.

It’s a chain restaurant so it doesn’t really impress with its’ excess of flair and atmosphere and unfortunately this time I was also rather disappointed with the food. In Germany I would be endlessly happy to have a place like this but here the standards are just on another level.

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
50 Jurong Gateway Road
#02-07 Jem
Singapore 608549
Tel: +65 6694 1161
http://www.dintaifung.com.sg/

Amazeballs.

imageIt was our last day in Hong Kong and after another rather early night we left our apartment for the airport but before we desperately needed to get our grub on. The first option we headed for, a “Cantonese Hot Dog Shop” didn’t look too tempting in real life so we made it easy for ourselves and went into IFC mall to check out its’ long list of restaurants. Despite being in Hong Kong and knowing we should actually have Cantonese or at least Chinese we weren’t too picky and too lazy to start a big hunt and so ended up at ‘Ginza Bairin’ a Japanese Tonkotsu restaurant conveniently located just above the Airport Express station.

Because it is fried stuff I haven’t been to such a place for a long while and took this “once in a lifetime” opportunity for a good enough reason for going to town on that pork. I ordered the ‘Hire Katsu Set‘ which was put together from Japanese rice, a pork miso soup, pickles and big pieces of fried pork fillet. The soup was one of the better ones I had mainly as I really liked the pork miso combination. The fillet balls were amazing, the crumbs were extremely crispy and properly drained from most of the fat, no weird chunks anywhere to be found and fried simply on spot. Pork gets dry when to well done and disgusting when rare but these ones were juicy and soft. Dipped in the sweetish tonkatsu sauce and there you go, awesome pork amazeballs. One other thing that is not particularly difficult to make but which I found wicked anyway was the free flow of thinly sliced cabbage that drizzled with their wasabi dressing gave an ideal balance to the rather heavy other bits on my plate(s).

Even that I felt a bit bad not trying ‘Mr. Bing’ or other things from my long to-eat list for Hong Kong I was not sorry at all we had tried this and researching a bit being back home I figured there’s outlets of ‘Ginza Bairin’ here in Singapore as well which makes me kinda happy.

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin 銀座梅林
Shop 3031, Level 3
IFC Mall
8 Finance Street
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2295 1112
http://www.ginzabairin.com.hk/index_eng.html

Wanna eat? Gotta wait.

imageI was on a weekend trip to Hong Kong with three of my friends and as it happens, during our first night we visited a couple of establishments specializing in liquids. This caused us all a rather mediocre feeling the next “morning” but I had the perfect cure lined up for us which I wanted to try since I found out about it. ‘Kau Kee 九記牛腩’ in Central is specialized in ‘Brisket Noodle‘ and always had a fairly long queue waiting in front when I passed by before. Thankfully people don’t take too much time eating at such unpretentious (thanks for the word Andi) places and so it didn’t take us more than twenty minutes to get a table. A friend told me that the portions here were rather small so we ordered two bowls per man. I also tried to order the signature ‘Brisket only in Special Soup‘  for us to share but the waitress practically forbid us to get it because of its’ “lack of authenticity” which later just turned out to be its’ lack of availability.

The first bowl I had was their famous ‘Beef Brisket with E-Fu Noodles‘ which was awesome. The noodles were super all dente and gave it all a  bit of an extra special taste. The longer they sat in the bowl the more the soaked up the soup but didn’t really lose their bite. The soup was deliciously beefy which completely fitted the purpose for a late morning after an early night and the brisket itself tasted brilliant too, soft and with some not unpleasant fat pockets in between. My favorite.

imageFor the second round I ordered ‘Beef Slices with Rice Noodles‘ which was quite different and rather boring compared to the first bowl. Now obviously they used the same tasty broth but it was missing the extra bit from the e-fu noodles and the rice noodles were so soft that I got really jealous of my friend’s mee pok version. The beef itself was fatty, difficult to bite and therefore the size of the slices just made it odd to chew so I left most of it sitting in the bowl eating around it.

Nothing special about this place with its’, let’s call it rustic interior and the bossy waitress telling us what to eat, if it wasn’t for the super brisket and e-fu noodles which perfectly brought us back on track and left us content and well prepared for our second night in town. I’ll come back.

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Kau Kee Restaurant 九記牛腩
G/F 21 Gough Street (中環歌賦街21號地下)
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2850 5967

Beef Noodles? Yes. The Real Deal? Uhm…

imageWe were actually planning on a sandwich lunch but one of my colleagues wasn’t feeling to brilliant and thought a hot noodle soup would do the trick and so we ended up going to ‘Liu San’, a Taiwanese restaurant at Bukit Timah Plaza I wanted to check out for some time now.

We ordered some ‘Boiled and Panfried Dumplings‘ for starters which were both okay but not too special also with a much higher cabbage ratio compared to the meat. The panfried version reminded me of gyoza and nicely had a very thin skin. The main reason we came here though were the ‘Taiwanese Beef Noodles‘, a dish I’m nearly as particular about as ramen. This was actually quite surprising, the broth was deep dark and had the typical beefy sweet & sourness with a hint of heat as advertised as the spicy version. My colleague mentioned there was too much soya sauce in it but I thought that it wasn’t too bad for a non-Taiwanese version, but then it has been some time since I had the real deal. I particularly liked the carrots that were not overcooked and fitted nicely in with the other ingredients. The noodles seemed to be the supermarket kind, a bit too floury in taste and texture that left the usual chewiness missing. Last but not least the meat was thinly sliced with a lot of fat which at least was tender enough. I knew I probably wouldn’t get the nice big beef chunks like in Taipei but would have loved them to be just a little bit thicker.

Overall this was an ok choice for lunch, the broth was pretty good actually but beef and noodles could use some pimping. I would say not a bad bowl of noodles even though far from the stuff you get in Taiwan but I guess that’s a useless comment as that is pretty much always the case. Probably coming back but mainly to try their ‘Rice With Simmered Pork‘ or the ‘Minced Pork Noodle‘.

Liu San 劉三閣
1 Jalan Anak Bukit
#01-09 Bukit Timah
Singapore 588996
Tel: +65 6463 1833

Mr. Wee is back!

imageIt’s been now a couple of weeks since my beloved ‘Wee Nam Kee’ has moved from the recently torn down Novena Ville down to United Square about a kilometer south. I had a good workout today and needed some proper protein and carbs to fill up so I headed into exact this direction.

Obviously I ordered their ‘Chicken Rice‘ from roasted chicken and simply replaced the oily yet delicious signature rice with the steamed version not to chuck all my morning efforts out the window. First up came their chicken soup which had a strong taste and was a great kick start that made me even hungrier. When the main arrived the meat was super tender and juicy and as so unusual for chicken breast actually tasted like chicken. Delicious. The kicker of this was the chopped coriander on top and the wonderful chicken stock underneath which was even richer in taste and had a light soy touch so that I munched up all the cucumber slices that soaked in it. For my rice I used a lot of their signature chili and grated ginger which made it all a flavor party and with every spoon I played around and changed the ratio of the ingredients.

I still love this place, familiar faces, great down to earth food and even that it lost a bit of it’s coffee shop charm, the longneck bottles of beer and the outdoor seating, it still managed to retain some of the old atmosphere and definitely it’s popularity. This is one of my favorites and not only because I can walk here. I have been here a million times before and there’s a high chance I’ll be back already next week.

Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant 威难记鸡饭
101 Thomson Road
#01-08 United Square
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6255 6396
http://www.wnk.com.sg/

Super Soup Supper

imageAfter an already long night we decided to head over to St. James for some more drinks but when we arrived we changed our mind and decided to have some good old supper instead. Most of the stalls at the Food Republic Beer Garden had already closed but we passed ‘Odeon Beef Noodle’ and it was settled.

The ‘Beef Noodles‘ had slight resemblance to ‘Vietnamese Pho‘, sweet with a touch of sour, nicely beefy and with some cilantro and thai basil like greens that gave it a fresh herbal flavor. The beef was thinly sliced, lean as I like it and not tenderized so it still had some bite and texture. The noodles where lovely springy and sufficiently available so we struggled a bit finishing it all.

Maybe it was because we already had a couple of drinks or maybe because we were super hungry but I thought that this was actually pretty darn good for a late night snack. I don’t come down to St. James very often but if I will in future I might just have Odeon’s noodles again.

Odeon Beef Noodles
Food Republic Beer Garden @St. James
St. James Power Station
3 Sentosa Gateway
Singapore 098544
Tel: +65 6376 9768

Getting my textures on!

imageI finally managed to catch up with some lovely friends, including my very reliable Nippon food consultant, at Cuppage Plaza  over some quite interesting dishes. We met at ‘Kaiho’s’ a mid sized sushi bar on the third floor and to my surprise ended up having a multi course omakase set. The dinner kicked off with some starters like ‘Edamame‘, funny looking ‘Fish Crackers‘ and a delicious somehow cured ‘Cuttlefish‘. I was really skeptical as all these dried squid things are totally not mine but this was amazing, not too fishy with a soft elastic consistency. Best thing was the roe mayonnaise to dip it in.

imageNext was a fat slice of ‘Otoro‘ (fatty tuna belly). The rose meat melted between the otherwise rather hard and extremely chunky white bits which were really difficult to chew down all followed by an equally weird undefinable piece of chunky fat underneath. Taste wise good but texture, oh my.

imageThis was followed by a nice selection of small dishes like fried fish cubes, a selection of good quality sushi and sashimi, sweet crab legs, maguro soup (tuna), a wonderfully surprising ‘Agedashi Eal‘ and some sweet and creamy ‘Uni Handrolls‘ (sea urchin).

imageMy favorite dish of the night was a lightly seared ‘Beef Sushi‘. It had such a strong beefy flavor and even though cut fairly thick didn’t require any chewing at all. No teeth needed. Simply amazing.

imageAfter the official menu had finished we kept on ordering sushi variations and ended it all with above ‘Sardine Sushi‘ which was expectedly fishy but in a great way with something that seemed like a fermented bean and sambal paste on top that spiced it up properly.

For dessert we had a juicy yet a bit watery ‘Momo‘ (Japanese peach) and a brilliant ‘Wasabi Ice Cream’. To my delight the sharp wasabi taste and the light sweetness worked very well together but the awesome thing about this really was that with every spoon the heat grew on me so much that at the end I had to hang my tongue out of my mouth to give it some fresh air.

‘Kaiho Sushi’ is a nice little new place for my list and has a lot to offer. Maybe just the price and the variety of challenging textures here will make me choose places like ‘Nagomi‘ over this for my next omakase run.

http://bernardtang.com/

Kaiho Sushi
5 Koek Road
#03-01/02 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6738 1315

Leave Ramen to the Experts

imageI was now nearly one week in Germany and thought it would be a good idea to try out some Asian fair around here. Together with two colleagues I went to the recently opened ‘Urban Kitchen’ at the location of the old swimming pool in Heidelberg.

I didn’t see anything that was tempting on the menu so I gave their ramen selection a shot. They had some weird toppings on sale but the fact that they were offering miso and shoyu versions here made me curious. I ordered the ‘Shoyu Beef Ramen‘ and it actually looked quite nice with it’s dark broth and big slap of grilled beef on top. Taking my first slurp of the soup brought me back to reality and that Germany is rather a rookie in the art of ramen cooking. Sadly it was pretty tasteless, not salty whatsoever and probably not cooked for very long. The noodles were dreadful boring strings with no flexibility and springiness and tasted awful floury. All other toppings were quite okay, the snow peas were al dente and the steak even though a little out of place tasted pretty nice and beefy.

‘Urban Kitchen’ is a nice and lively place and my soup was okay and maybe a good choice for a light lunch or dinner but it was definitely nothing anywhere close to the mighty ramen. I kinda knew but still hoped for a decent copy of the real thing.

http://www.myurbankitchen.de/index.php

Urban Kitchen
Poststrasse 36/7 (Im Alten Hallenbad)
69121 Heidelberg
Germany
Tel: +49 6221 9986793

Spare the Calories

imageI was running some last minute errands before my Germany trip and came by Ngee Ann City just about when I felt a slight appetite growing in me. I didn’t feel too hungry so I wanted to get a small bowl of cold udon at this shop my friend recommended in the basement just to realize it’s a branch of ‘Tsuru-koshi‘ which I already visit too frequently during my lunch hours. So a bit more hungry now I recognized a small ramen shop in the corner that offered ‘Tantanmen‘ and even that I wasn’t in the mood for something that heavy I still queued up.

They had a tantanmen special with a super spicy version but since I had a twelve hour flight in front of me I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risk and therefore chose the standard one which the very friendly waiter reckoned should be spicy enough. When my bowl arrived it looked rather ordinary and I was not quite sure if I made the right choice. I tried a few slurps from the bright orange broth which was not particularly bad but didn’t have much of a sesame taste and hardly any heat kicked in. I appreciated the huge amount of sprouts and the eggs were nicely waxy. The chashu was alright but had an unpleasant aftertaste, the bamboo shoots looked terribly thick and brown that I didn’t touch them at all and the noodles were overcooked and way too soft.

It was worth a try but I am not really considering coming back here anytime soon. Not alone because of the average taste but also because of the above average price of S$20 per large bowl which is much more than most of my favorite ramen shops are charging.

Baikohken Ramen Restaurant
391A Orchard Road
#B2-01-04 Takashimaya Food Court
Ngee Ann City
Singapore 238873
Tel: +65 6235 3483

Keep The Good Ramen Coming

imageIn the past we would’ve gone out, drink a little too much and get up to no good but this year we celebrated my birthday ‘old people style’ and appropriate to my coming age with a quiet dinner so everybody could make it back home before midnight. My friend chose ‘Miharu’ at the back of the Gallery Hotel close to Robertson Walk and Mohamed Sultan which he likes a lot. Whilst waiting we had a chat with some Japanese customers in the queue who regarded ‘Miharu’ as one of the more authentic ramen shops in Singapore.

As so very often recently I felt like shoyu ramen and since they had a version in my favorite ramen style I had their ‘Komi Tsukemen‘. I first hesitated as it was advertised to have a lemonish taste but I’m glad I didn’t change my mind. The broth was lovely salty with just a hint of lemon which didn’t taste alien at all but added some comforting freshness. While the chashu and the egg were mostly ok, the bamboo shoots tough were rather weird, pretty thick and brownish in color. They didn’t really taste good as well and so I left them mostly untouched on the side of my plate. My highlight were the noodles which they import directly from a noodle factory in Japan. They were thicker than usual, nicely twisted and super chewy so that despite the huge portion that it already was I still wished for more. Definitely a new contender for the great ramen places in this town.

imageWe also ordered two sides of gyoza. The normal ‘Yaki Gyoza‘ where quite nice but the ‘Shi-So Gyoza‘ were just outstanding. According to the name they used shiso leaf in this which reminded me of thai basil and that gave those gyoza a very unique flavor that I want to taste again.

This place has been here for a while and I regretted not coming by earlier as I left yet again happy and content knowing that I had yet found another gem for my list. Brilliant.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464