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Bavarian ramen.

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Tan Tan Men

It was the last weekend of Wiesn in Munich and I went back to the beer tents at freaking 7:30 a.m. in the morning to meet my friend from Hong Kong and her hilarious entourage from Spain, Belgium, Ireland and England, from whom most had never been to the Oktoberfest before; no reservations, no choice. After a bit over an hour wait, we actually made it into the Augustiner beer tent and…well let’s just fast forward for a couple of hours and a few emptied stones. Our little group split up; some went missing, some went home and a few continued on their german beer quest. I, even though ready for an extended nap on the couch, made a little detour to my favourite ramen shop in Germany to date, Takumi in Maxvorstadt, just a little train ride away.

I was obviously lucky today, unlike on other occasions, as the place was actually open and no waiting in the queue either. I sat down and ordered my favorite, the Tantanmen. I have tried others, but so far no bowl could beat that red and rich, spicy broth. Portions are huge here and I was a bit overwhelmed when the piping hot bowl showed up, doubting I could actually finish it, I was wrong. The broth was awesome, savoury and spicy, thick and rich, loaded with peanut and sesame flavors and loads of that deliciously spiced minced meat. I absolutely loved it. Now let me talk about those noodles; I do come here almost everytime I’m in town, but these were hands down the best ones, they’ve ever made for me. Maybe because the place was not as packed as usual, maybe they improved generally or I was just darn lucky, but these noodles were very very close to perfect. Speaking pasta terms, they were absolutely on spot al dente, chewy and with this unique texture, that only ramen noodles have. Not that they have ever been really bad before but more often than not, they were a little on the softer side. Not stopping there, even the eggs went through some sort of evolution here and seemed more beautifully waxy than ever. So awesome guys, keep it up.

Service here has always been super nice and everybody is offering you smiles and it was exactly the same today. Staff is friendly and service is pretty fast and efficient. If I would need to pick on something negative it would be the fact that your ordinary ice tea here comes by the glass for EUR1,80, which gets quite pricey if you (like I) tend to drink loads while eating big bowls of hot soup. In the end, it’s just water, so I would rather pay a bit more for a free flow of my jasmine tea rather than order over and over again, but maybe that’s just me being used to free flow tea and water in these kinda places. Other than this little blemish, I totally love it here and see no reason why not to come back again and again and again.

Takumi München (open all week)
Heßstr.71
80798 München
Germany
Tel: +49 89 528 599
http://www.takumi-noodle.com/index.html

❤ tacos.

The Holy Taco Shack - Food Truck
I collected a huge repertoire of food memories and pictures since I have been back to Europe, mainly because I have been traveling a fair bit to the Netherlands/Holland, Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy, which of the two latter were very focused on the local food experience. That aside I think it’s only appropriate to choose a place in Germany for my first review since almost a year, not German cuisine however representative for what’s going on here at the moment. The Holy Taco Shack is part of the reinvention of the culinary scene in Germany right now. Many people put a totally different value on the food they sell and eat today with a lot of love for detail and appreciation for culinary skill. Some results out of this are the growing numbers of food trucks as well as street food festivals and markets that seem to have started in Berlin but already have spread into all corners of Germany. This particular truck, or actually more a food trailer, is run by a German-American couple that left their former jobs behind and started their own business filling the big gap of proper Mexican food in Germany and thankfully decided to do so in beautiful Freiburg.

The Holy Taco Shack - Classic Tacos Mango SalsaAfter many missed opportunities to try their food before, I finally managed to be in Freiburg at the right time for their weekly appearance at the Rieselfeld Market on Saturday. We went fairly early, as apparently their food sometimes sells out rather quickly and I wanted to have free choice. So here I was, ordering my first round of Classic Tacos – a set of three – with all the meats from the menu, chicken chipotle, beef brisket and my secret passion, the carnitas, medium spicy with some extra mango salsa on the side. They use their homemade corn tortillas, made from maíz azul (a black purple-ish type of corn) that have a bit more to them than the regular corn tortillas. It might be just the colour but I thought they were pretty great. Now on to the inner values and I must say that all of the meats were exceptionally delicious. The beef was super nice and tender like it was slow cooked for ages (which it probably was) and the chicken, which I expected to be either a bit on the dry side or drowning in sauce, I liked even more, just so juicy and fantastic. My other expectation though proved to be right; the carnitas are still my absolute favourite. They were wonderful moist with a good char on the edges that had touched the hot plate, an insanely good combination of meat and fats. The homemade medium salsa was just right, not too spicy but still gave me a kick on my tongue and the mango version for an extra €1 was the perfect companion and totally worth it. Fruity, slightly sour and refreshing in between the flavour party going on around here.

The Holy Taco Shack - Spicy Classic TacosSince I wasn’t sure when I’d be having another chance to eat here again I went for a second round of the same, just this time with the spicy salsa and the extra jalapeños. This salsa is fun and squeezed cold sweat right out of my head so that I wished I would have ordered this mango pineapple salsa again to cool things down a little bit. All in all amazing food.

It was busy that day, the queue got longer and they still stayed cool and friendly even that many people were asking a lot of questions about the food and the TV show they have just been part of. I hope I’ll be able to come here many more times, it’s good to have you guys around, keep it up and all the best.

The Holy Taco Shack
Maria-von Rudloff-Platz 1
79111 Freiburg
Germany
Tel: +49 176 329 70 414
http://theholytacoshack.com/

P.S.: This is their usual Wednesday and Saturday location but follow their Twitter or Facebook for the latest updates and additional spots.

Get my spice on – Chapter 1

imageUsually when I’m on the People’s Park side of Chinatown I tend to get me some of that delicious intestine burning Mala Dry Pot, but this time I finally chose to try the little unconspicious Chinese stall outside the food center, which offers an interesting variety of spicy noodles.

I have no clue what this bowl was actually called but they used the thick round glass noodles and some minced pork in it. The fat noodles were super long and awesome slippery with a good chew and the the chili oil, meat and spices clinged perfectly onto them, which made every slurp crazy flavorful. The mince, coriander, peanuts and Sichuan peppers made this a brilliant and enjoyable dish that was at the same time pretty fun as well as fairly unpleasant to eat from the moment the first chili hit a sensitive spot.

I’m glad I finally tried it out and am happy they have a good handful of other similar dishes, deviating mainly by the type of noodles used and I’m sure that all of them are capable of giving me a similar kind of stomach growl as this one. Can’t wait for lip numbing round two.

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Chong Qing Xiao Chi 重庆小吃 (Chong Qing Snacks)
Concourse Area (People’s Park)
100 Upper Cross Street

New branch is open for business!

imageToday I went for lunch at Orchard Central at the new branch of Nantsuttei and had my old favourite Hot Miso Ramen Extra Hot Tanmen again. It has been a very long time since I had this lovely spicy bowl of awesome but i must say they still got it and it tasted exactly the same as at their Parco Mall location. Additionally the new shop is more bright and modern, a tad bigger and by far much more convenient for me to get to. Great to have you around.

Nantsuttei
181 Orchard Road
#07-12/13 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6337 7166
http://www.nantsu.com/sg/

It’s grey at the bottom of the rainbow.

imageLunchtime again and we still didn’t feel like a salad or anything else remotely light and so went back to Paradise Dynasty which I like so much nowadays. We continued sampling new Xiao Long Bao flavors from their rainbow palette and today’s choice fell on the garlic type. It didn’t look very pretty to be honest, all grey, somehow nearly metallic and also the taste wasn’t my favourite of all times. I’m generally a garlic lover and at first it even tasted interesting enough to catch my curiosity but at the second bao I was already over it. It was just too overwhelming with too many raw-ish garlic chunks in the meat mix.

imageAs I had their awesome Spicy Dumpling Noodles already a couple of times I finally brought myself to ordering the Dan Dan Mian, that caught my attention during an earlier visit. At first it seemed a little thin and soupy but when I gave it a proper mix it got nicely thick. Noodles were, as often, too soft for my preference but the other flavors worked fairly nice together, all sesame and creamy. Overall the aroma of this thing was rather light and lacked a bit of depth but probably some fresh leafs of coriander and a couple of drops of fiery chili oil could change that for the better. Well, not an eye opener this time but still on my list of very solid lunch options.

Paradise Dynasty 乐天皇朝
3 Gateway Drive
#02-13/14 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9271
http://www.paradisegroup.com.sg/

My kinda buffet.

imageA bunch of friends wanted to try out the ‘Korean BBQ’ at ‘Seoul Restaurant’ at Chijmes tonight and at first I wasn’t too excited because buffets and semi-creative restaurant names make me sceptical. The place however looked quite nice and they sat us in one of their separate rooms. The buffet they has on was à la carte buffet (?) which we had to leave our private room for as apparently it’s not available in there. Anyhow, back in the main room with the crowd we ordered loads and loads of stuff from the slightly reduced “buffet” menu.

All the food and meats were fairly nice and for the amount we ate at $50ish per person also pretty reasonably priced but the two outstanding dishes for me were the ‘L.A Galbi‘, soy sauce marinated bone in beef short rib and the chilled ‘Mul-naengmyeon‘ 냉면.

The ribs were rustic beefy, deep flavoured from the soy and even though a bit tougher to chew my favourite of the carnivore options.

imageThe buckwheat noodles were truly outstanding, refreshingly chilled with some crunchy textures from radish and cucumbers and the noodles itself had a weirdly awesome slippery texture, chewy and squeaky. Following a friend’s recommendation I used the entire accompanying mustard mixing it into the cold broth, which brought tears to my eyes, made it nose-cuttingly sharp and surprisingly fun to eat.

The place is good, value for money with a tasty selection of meats and other dishes and the à la carte buffet concept takes out the queues and battling for the most popular plates, usually longer exposed to the air than one wishes for, so definitely my clear preference on a buffet take. Just weird rules like the different menu for the private rooms is probably due for a makeover.

Seoul Restaurant 서울
30 Victoria Street
#02-01A Chijmes
Singapore 187996
Tel: +65 6338 8548
http://www.seoul.com.sg/

素晴らしい!

image‘Ippudo’ 一風堂 had opened up another shop at Westgate mall and even that this was at least triple my usual lunch calorie intake I made an exception to have a taste of that new ‘Spicy Black Ramen‘ that went from seasonal to resident bowl on their menu.

This thing was simply amazing, the thick dark and rich tonkotsu broth was great by itself, spicy peppery and after mixing in what they call their special nikumiso it just got another crazy punch of heat, much more chili like this time coming from the shinzo pepper, not overbearing and still very much enjoyable. Owning up to my expectations the two extra tamago I ordered were absolutely “perfeggt”, the chashu buttery tender and the thin noodles at extra hard just as I like them. My absolute by far favorite thing in this though were the fresh leaves of cilantro, never had that before in ramen and don’t want to do without it anymore. Wow, what a great bowl? I may have found my new no#1.

Ippudio SG 一風堂
3 Gateway Drive
#03-03 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9308
http://www.ippudo.com.sg/