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Foodie Wunschkonzert!

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Sushi Kusakabe is part of a fabulous 3-in-1-foodie-experience in the midst of Umkirch, a lil town just north-west of Freiburg. Part of this trio is a hotel (Hotel Pfauen #1) and a restaurant that’s half Thai (Villa Thai #2) and half Japanese (Sushi Kusakabe #3).

We visited this place for our anniversary last year, and since we kinda loved it back then – like a lot – we returned for this year’s happy occasion again.

IMG-20170710-WA0025-02Diving in, we went exactly the same way as 365 days ago without even realizing it. There was a crisp and tangy tempura moriawase and a tako karaage with a hearty spiced, yet light batter getting us off to a great start.

Next up came the main course, sushi galore. I couldn’t hold back (didn’t want to either) and just had to have that outstanding otoro (fatty tuna belly) again despite its higher price tag (Eur9.00/piece). No regrets though as this was a melt-in-my-mouth experience, and one of the best kind at that. Following close behind, right up there on the same quality level, were crunchy, fresh ebi (prawn) nigiri, unagi (eel) glazed with sweet sauce, massaged-til-soft tako (octopus), perfect tamago  (omelette) as well as crunchy shinko (pickled radish) and tuna avocado maki.

To finish up this wonderful meal we chose the papaya with lime sherbet with little pieces of lime peel for a tad more texture, and the thai favorite: mango sticky rice, which was a bit pricey at Eur12.00. That mango was ripe though and sweet, and the coconut sticky rice balanced out that fruity sweetness just perfectly.

All in all another memorable evening filled with amazing food crafted with skill, patience, and experience by sushi master Kusakabe-san. Outstanding performance on the service front as well, and thanks to all the staff that made our dinner such a lovely one. Sure, we left with a lil lighter wallet than we came in with but also with a big fat smile on our faces! 🙂 🙂 See you next year (latest) and domo arigato gozaimasu.

Get Your Grub On!

Sushi Kusakabe – Villa Thai – Hotel Pfauen (closed on Tuesdays)
Hugstetter Straße 2
79224 Umkirch
Germany
p: +49 7665 93760
http://www.villa-thai.de/

 

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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/

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/

Foreign countries, foreign choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trains, Raw Fish and Sticky Rice

imageAfter a beautiful day walking around I felt slightly hungry. My big portion of ‘Tsukemen’ from ‘Menya Musashi’ at lunchtime still made me feel pretty filled but since it was my first day I felt it was my duty to have at least a little something raw and just outside of Shinagawa station there was ‘Ushio’ a small sushi bar that fitted the purpose perfectly. It’s one of these small places you find all around with hardly more than ten seats which unfortunately were all taken when I arrived but after a little wait I finally placed the order for my first round of sushi with the master.

I started up with ‘Kappa Maki’ (cucumber roll), ‘Tako’ (octopus), ‘Ebi’ (cooked shrimp), ‘Hamachi’ (yellow tail) and ‘Maguro’ (tuna). The different types of fish tasted fresh and sweet and had great textures, all soft and firm. I particularly liked the dark red ‘Maguro’ and the ‘Tako’ who I grew to love. Beforehand I had read up some sushi etiquette and not knowing if it was actually true I followed it to the last bit. This meant not asking for extra wasabi, what was not necessary anyway and eating the sushi with my hands. The rice was super sticky so it was a bit of a bother getting it off my fingers after eating each piece.

imageTime for the second round. I felt a bit more adventurous so I ordered ‘Engawa’ (halibut), ‘Chutoro’ (medium fatty tuna belly) and to see one familiar face I added a second piece of that lovely tuna. I have no complaints at all about the taste the halibut actually didn’t taste like much but the ‘Chutoro’ had a nice distinct aroma, which was much richer than the lean version. I still preferred my old favorite as both others were borderline in regards to enjoyable texture for me and needed much more chewing to bring them down.

USHIO front (1 of 1)I really liked ‘Ushio’ as a small casual place, yet with atmosphere and this typical Japanese feel of special and hidden elegance. Where else than only in Japan to find a ten seater train station restaurant with tasty quality food at 80-300 JPY per sushi. Not socks of rocking but still much better than many proper restaurants in other countries.

Ushio Sushi Bar タイトル
1-30-2 Nishigotanda (Shinagawa Station)
Shinagawa
Tokyo Prefecture
Japan
Tel: +81 3 3490 0367

Quality Sushi No Cost No Fortune!

imageKoh Grill & Sushi Bar in the Food Republic in Wisma is probably my favorite go to casual Japanese dining place in Singapore. Generally I do come here at least once a week as the food is great in quality and taste and when they created the menu they obviously were looking to offer something different. And on top of that prices are moderate and make it possible to pay regular visits.

They offer nearly the whole span of Japanese foods like Sushi, Sashimi, Yakitory, Tempura, Ramen and other cooked dishes but during my many visits I have established a list of all star dishes which by default are put on every order with a few items changing depending on what I feel like.

This time as always we ordered our standards; ‘Maguro Sashimi’ which was lean, sweet, of lovely dark red color and tasted so fresh that it made clear why it is my all-time-favorite of stars. We also had their signature ‘Shiok Maki‘ which is a roll filled with Unagi, wrapped with Salmon and that all topped with Japanese Mayo, Fish Roe and slightly charred. This dish tastes great and different, creamy and the roe crunches between your teeth but when you’re only a party of two the mayo becomes a bit overwhelming after the third piece. My regular sushi selection is a trio of ‘Ebi‘, ‘Slighty Grilled Salmon‘ and ‘Slight Grilled Shuro Maguro‘. The first two never disappoint but the Shuro Maguro stands out as I also never saw it anywhere else.  It is not a type of tuna as the name might imply but a white fish which they marinate in Shochu. They have it also as a raw version but my favorite is still the one that touched fire as it changes consistency and melts in your mouth and you will be happy that you gave it a try. The last arrivals of the standard order were two small pieces of grilled tuna in a light lemony pepper vinaigrette which were perfectly charred on 5 sides and work together fantastically with the thinly chopped spring onions and cracked peppercorns.

On top of this already generous meal we ordered their ‘Tropical Maki‘ which was the only slight downer as there was nothing really tropical about them. I assumed mango being part of it but a quick analysis of the menu picture clarified that it was what it was – Surimi, Avocado and Cucumber. Not bad but just not what I had hoped for. A second extra were the ‘Pan Fried Udon‘. I love this dish as it combines so many different flavors. The plate is filled up with fried udon and fresh vegetables like spring onion and carrots that have the perfect bite to them, sprinkled with tuna flakes and a sweet sauce that reminds me of Okonomiyaki.

It’s good to know there are places like Koh and New Garo out there, serving up high quality Japanese food to moderate prices. I’ll be back soon.

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar                                                                                                                                          435 Orchard Road                                                                                                                                             #04-21 Wisma Atria Shopping Center                                                                                                 Singapore 238877