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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

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Very Very Little Medium Spicy

imageWithout fail this is the one place I always come back to since my first time I visited Hong Kong when I found this just around the corner of the hotel I stayed at in Tsim Sha Tsui. The noodles here literally burnt themselves into my memory as I firstly underestimated their spice level and paid the price for it big time. It was supposed to be breakfast but since I stayed in Sheung Wan this time around the trip to Kowloon pushed it all more into the lunch zone.

For the first time I didn’t challenge myself going up another spice level as I really wanted to taste all the ingredients for once, pure self-discipline. Because I couldn’t 100% figure it out I researched what ‘Yunnan‘ or ‘Crossing the Bridge Noodles‘ broth is usually made of and many sources suggested that it comes from boiling a fat chicken together with pork bones which totally made sense knowing it. I thought there was some beef stock in there as well though as the soup had this natural sour touch to it. The spicy minced pork I added gave it just the litte pep it needed without making me sweat and added extra meaty flavors to the dish. I went full on with the greens and loved the extra portion coriander, leek and green onions that enhanced the whole thing with freshness. All above the noodles were plenty – naturally I ordered large – and awesome. They were thin and surprisingly springy and chewy considering the steaming heat of the soup should have cooked them to mushy strings, I was happy it didn’t.

Now that I know how the original base tastes I can return to climbing up the nine spoke ladder picking up at level seven where I last left off. I will be coming back here every time again and again as it is still under my top favorite bowls of noodles in Asia and never gets old or boring. “Very spicy” here I come.

Sing Lum Khui Rice Noodle House 星林居雲南米線餐廳
Shop A, G/F, No. 23 Lock Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2416 2424

Udon, Udon, Udon!

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

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

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

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

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

http://megumijapanese.com.sg/

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

Another Udon Lunch at IMM

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

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

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

Second Rounds at Menya Musashi!

imageI just had to come back here before leaving Japan and even that I originally intended to have this fantastic ‘Tsukemen‘ again, standing in front of the vending machine I reconsidered and changed for the “upper left” signature bowl. Since I started this blog I find myself more often trying new dishes rather than just going with the usuals which I find a pretty positive development as I’m normally a creature of habit and rather go with what I know i like.

I went for the thicker broth, fat noodles and medium size and didn’t have to wait very long for it to arrive. Compared to theTsukemenfrom last Sunday this broth was slightly lighter but still on the salty side which worked great together with the fat springy noodles. I seldom had these wider noodles before but I think I do prefer them over the usual thinner ramen noodles as they seem to transport the broth much better and are not getting soft as easily. All ingredients here tasted fresh and delicious even that the egg again and unfortunately wasn’t that special at all. The pork belly though had the same tenderness and delicious texture I had missed all week. I savored each bite knowing well I won’t have the opportunity to taste this for probably a long while.

After i had slurped my bowl dry I wondered if I could have managed to finish a large portion and if one of the buttons on the vending machine would actually have given me some extra of that fantastic pork belly. This place is well on my radar now and even that I heard the branches in Singapore are completely different I might give them a shot to see the difference between them and the mothership.

Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo Prefecture
Japan
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634

Put Some MOO in Your Ramen!

imageIt was the weekend and I had my mind set on a beef ramen place for lunch that I found on a dedicated ramen blog for Tokyo. The place is called ‘Matador’ (マタドール) and is located in the Kita-Senju area in only a 5 minute walking distance from the east exit of the train station. I was slowly getting better in navigating and hardly walked off the ideal route. I arrived just after the lunch hour but still had to queue up because this place only has six ish bar seats.

Finally in, I went for the shop’s signature ‘Luxurious Roast Beef Ramen‘ (贅沢焼牛らぁ麺)  which, as everywhere, was the upper left corner button on the vending machine. I passed my ticket to one of the staff and waited excited for my lunch to arrive.

This must have been the prettiest ramen I have ever seen with it’s two big slices of roast beef floating on top of the clear broth that smelled simply wonderful. The broth was soya based (shoyu), light and salty and was topped with some finely chopped chives. The roast beef looked not only beautifully rose but was juicy and tasted great and beefy. It only was a bit difficult to bite of small pieces so I ended up gobbling down a full slice at once. The noodles were thin but unfortunately a bit too soft for my taste. One thing I found outstanding was that besides the two big slaps of roast they had added some slow cooked brisket-like beef that stuck to the noodles when slurping them in and made this really an incredible dish.

matador front (1 of 1)I didn’t regret making my way out here on this beautiful Saturday as ‘Matador’ awarded me with a great new experience and even that I couldn’t really imagine how beef ramen would taste like before I have sure become a big fan of it. I will definitely be back here anytime I will get remotely close to Kita-Senju. Pretty awesome, you should try it.

Matador マタドール
Senjuazuma 2-4-17                       
Adachi-ku                              
Tokyo Prefecture              
Japan

Who Needs 18 Folds?

imageFinally Chinatown Complex Food Center reopened after a long break for renovation and since the last group of friends visiting Singapore were starving I brought them here hoping my favorite stall for ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ – ‘Hong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao’ or ‘China La Mian Steamed Buns’ was still there. And “Thank God” it was. The Chinese couple who ran it for the last couple of years seemed to have teamed up with another couple recently and today the two husband were on shift.

We ordered the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (XLB), the ‘Jiao Zi‘ and the ‘Spicy Sichuan Wonton‘. The XLB here maybe don’t have eighteen folds but to my opinion they are still the best hawker version available in Singapore. The dough was very thin so we could make out the soup level inside and the soup itself had a delicious and rich pork taste. Note to myself, “don’t be so greedy otherwise you will burn yourself every time again”, which I do, every time. I especially liked the meat filling as it tasted great, was smaller portioned and minced very fine which also pleased my preference for non-chunky texture. That all together with the smiling faces of the owners and a low price of five dollars for ten XLB makes me come back here again and again. The ‘Jiao Zi‘ were based on the same meat mixture but enhanced with chopped up chives which worked fantastically together. The dough was fried crisp on one side and nicely chewy on the other. The wonton had tiny pork meat pockets with a lot of noodle-like flattened chewy dough around that was soaked in a tangy chili oil. Delicious.

Even that I loved the dumplings as always I was left with a bit of emptiness as it was a Sunday on which they don’t offer their ‘Spicy Sichuan Noodle La Mian‘ but since I come by here quiet frequently I knew I won’t have to wait too long to taste them again.

Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao                                                                                                                   335 Smith Street                                                                                                                                               #02-135 Chinatown Complex Food Center                                                                                       Singapore 050335

Longest Udon Ever!

imageAs announced not even a month ago I had to come back here to try more types of their sanuki udon and this time I went for their ‘Kama-Age‘. The reason I didn’t order this at my first visit was pretty much a sign and their menu saying you may have to plan for 10-20 minutes preparation time. Those shrank to bearable 2-3 minutes when I ordered today. To be honest i couldn’t really make out why it took longer than the others but since it was much faster than I expected and a queue was building up behind me I didn’t try to ask.

The ‘Kama Age‘ came in one big flat traditional design bowl in which the udon sat in hot water. Aside came a smaller bowl filled with a tasty dipping sauce of dashi (fish/katsuobushi broth) and soya sauce. It tasted very delicate  and light and made eating them more fun and difficult. Since the noodles here are super long I practically started slurping in one end, had the middle sliding through the dipping sauce whilst the other end was still sitting in its’ hot bath. If I ate them right that is. I have to mention again that I really liked these noodles. They are handmade of a mix of three different imported Japanese flours and are nicely chewy. Besides the udon I also tried the ‘Chicken Karaage‘ today which was juicy and tasty but unfortunately also quiet fatty on the inside.

This place definitely hasn’t seen me for the last time as I have yet to try their ‘Curry Udon‘.

http://tamoya.com.sg/index.html

Tamoya                                                                                                                                                                 177 River Valley Road                                                                                                                                       #01-11 Liang Court Shopping Center                                                                                                     Singapore 179303

Rangoon’s The Place For Pepper & Ribs!

imageAfter work today I felt a sudden crave for ‘Bak Kut Teh‘. It has been a while that I had it so I went to the best I remembered – ‘Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House’ – and invited a friend to join me since he is living just around the corner. This shop has been around for a while and every time I pass it, no matter the time, it’s always busy.

They have three different types of ‘Bak Kut Teh‘; I went for their ‘Signature Pork Ribs‘ and the other types are the longer ‘Spare Ribs‘ or  a mix of both. As sides we ordered ‘Braised Peanuts‘, ‘Fried You Tiao‘, ‘Blanched Lettuce‘ and the ‘Preserved Vegetables‘.

This is the peppery Teochew kind and the broth was very rich and thick and full of pork and obviously pepper flavour. Best was when the auntie brought the refill which was extremely hot and made it taste even better. As for the ribs I absolutely loved them. They had big chunks of lean meat on them that were easily nibbled off the bones. Since it was so lean the bigger bits tended to be a bit dry but I didn’t mind it with the soup. Of the sides I liked the ‘Blanched Lettuce‘ the best as it actually managed to surprise me. It still had its’ light green color and was lying in a delicious light soy infused sauce sprinkled with roasted garlic, simple but great. This shop also gave us freshly chopped red chilis with sweet dark sauce which fitted perfectly to the rice as hot and sweet punched each other in the face.

I was glad to have come back here and surely will next time do exactly the same all over again.

Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House 黄亚细肉骨茶
208 Rangoon Road
Singapore 218453
Tel: +65 6291 4537
http://www.ngahsiobkt.com/                                                                                                                    Singapore 218453

They Know Their Dan Dan Mian!

imageWhen a friend came back into town for two weeks she was desperately craving for Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork dumplings) and Spicy Sichuan Noodles (Dan Dan Mian). We made our way into town for one of our favorites, the ‘La Mian Xiao Long Bao’ outlet of Crystal Jade at Takashimaya Shopping Center.1348053823044Their ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ are still the best I have eaten, even after they reduced the amount of baos per serving from five to four and making them bigger instead. The skin is nice and thin and the meat tastes very delicate and with a fine texture to it. The most important thing though is the soup hidden in the dumpling, and at Crystal Jade this is by far the tastiest of them all. I burnt myself slurping out the soup too fast through a little hole I bit into the dough.

My friend always orders the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ noodles that come with a  delicious creamy, thick and spicy peanut sesame gravy mixed with chili oil. You can chose between a wide selection of mian noodles too and they always come nicely springy and al dente.

As I saved space for all the dumplings I ordered their ‘Double Boiled Beef Soup’ without noodles which tastes fantastic. The broth is dark and rich and has a slight sour meat taste to it. The beef pieces reminded me of those which you get in Taiwanese Beef Noodles. It was a mix of lean meat with small fatty parts in between which was obviously cooked for a long time as it fell apart and tenderly melted when squeezing it with my tongue.

The ambiance is a no thrills one, clean and almost cold as at many other Chinese restaurants and the service  is efficient and friendly yet not overwhelmingly affectionate. The food is great though and even if the service was terrible, I’d still be coming back for more.

http://www.crystaljade.com/

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao                                                                                                               391 Orchard Road                                                                                                                                             #04-27 Takashimaya S.C.                                                                                                                      Singapore 238872

Seoul Food!

1355309306082 I was pretty excited to being sent on a business trip to Seoul, my first ever trip to Korea. One of my friends in Singapore introduced me to her cousin in Seoul who runs a traditional guesthouse in Bukchon (go check it out if you’re down there). He was so kind to meet me in Myeongdong which was close to my hotel and show me a famous noodle  dumpling restaurant – ‘Myung Dong Kyo Ja’. The restaurant had only four dishes on their menu from which one is only available in summer.

We started with the ‘Mandu‘ (Steamed Dumplings) which came in pretty clever plastic steam baskets. They were stuffed with a tasty and juicy mixture of minced pork meat, vegetables like leek and sesame oil. They were fairly big but with a nice texture. Aside we had ordered their ‘Kimchi‘ which was different to any other kimchi I had ever tried. The red paste was thick and packed with heaps of garlic. My host was impressed I ate so much of it but I really really liked it.

1355309378733As seconds I had a huge bowl of the ‘Kalguksu‘ (Dumpling Noodle Soup) which was perfect for the freezing weather outside. The noodles were cooked along with the soup until soft. The chicken broth was clear and light with lots of delicious goodies floating in it. There was meaty minced pork, chives and chopped mushrooms as well as a bunch of ‘Byeonsi Mandu‘ which are small pyramid shaped meat dumplings that tasted as great as the steamed huge ones from before.

This was just a great and apparently very popular place and I was told one has to wait a rather long wait to eat here when coming during the peak hours. So summarizing the day, I was in a new amazing city, had some new delicious and down to earth Korean food and on top got a new friend. How good is that.

http://www.mdkj.co.kr/en/

Myung Dong Kyo Ja Restaurant 명동교자                                                                                                           25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga                                                                                                                             Jung-gu                                                                                                                                                             Seoul                                                                                                                                                                 South Korea