Ramen Sora

Published February 14, 2019 by piggie

Miso Ramen Corn Butter, $12.80++

What happened to all those positive reviews on Ramen Sora when it first came to Singapore?

Me and my dining partner were rather enthused to visit Ramen Sora ever since they first set foot in Singapore’s culinary scene 2 years ago. As their origin is in Sapporo, which is famous for Miso Ramen, I had a Miso Ramen Corn Butter while my dining partner ordered their Spicy Miso Ramen.

When my noodle was served, I was a little taken aback by its appearance. The usual ingredients of a Sapporo ramen are all there save perhaps for the Miso, and the colour of the broth looks suspicious, looking more like a Shoyu broth. One try, and I failed to discover any Miso’s presence, with the broth tasting more like a rather bland Tonkotsu soup, which made me wonder, did they really boiled the soup for nearly a day as they claimed? Look, I ain’t a ramen novice, and I have been to Sapporo 3 times, a Miso broth shouldn’t taste this bland, and it wasn’t good enough to consider it a Tonkotsu or Shoyu broth either. It wasn’t really terrible, but mediocre. Even the charshu texture was a little stiff, overall, the result was more like something coming out from an apprentice. To put it simply, it lacks character.

Good thing my dining partner ordered something different, albeit still a Miso based broth nonetheless. But all she said was it’s more of a spicy soup, NO Miso. To add further insult, it tastes worse than what I can get from a food court for 30% lesser in price.

Seriously, are they hailed from Sapporo? I shake my head. I later found out, some recent reviewers in Tripadvisor shared similar opinions, but they are more vocal than me. Ramen Sora’s Singapore website is gone, their Facebook not updated for more than half a year. Looking at the pictures from other reviewers a year or two ago, their pictures on Miso broth are more vivid. It may be my guess, but it seems likely the original owner has sold the franchise but left only the name behind.

Unlike Arnie, I definitely won’t be calling ‘I’ll be back”.

Oh, by the way, contradicting to what some other blogger stated, Ramen Sora do charges GST and service charge.

Ramen Sora
277 Orchard Road, #B2-4A & 5
Orchard Gateway
Singapore 238858
Tel: +65 69090605
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ramensoraSG/

Opening Hours ~
Daily: 11:00 hr – 21:00 hr

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Ootoya 大户屋

Published January 21, 2019 by piggie

Before I begin, allow me to highlight that this is a sponsored food tasting session initiated by J Passport.

This is the 2nd time I visited their outlet in Singapore, both visit at their Orchard Central branch. The first time was a few years ago and I didn’t bother to blog. But I was immensely impressed after visiting their branch in Sendai (Japan) last Summer, hence when J Passport offered me this opportunity for a food tasting here, I decided to re-visit.

The motto of Ootoya is to serve traditional Japanese home-cooked food with healthy and hearty ingredients that a mum would normally prepare for the family. As such, don’t expect flamboyant setting despite the slightly higher pricing as compare to their franchises in Japan, after all, somebody gotta top up the premiums for air freight, and naturally, it’s the customers.

I was offered the selection of a set menu, an à-la-carte, a Serio Soba, and a dessert. But as I don’t feel easy simply walking away without paying anything, therewith I also ordered a side plus beverages.

Serio Soba

It took quite a while, and the Serio Soba was first served.

There were apparently some communication breakdown here. Upon invitation, I indicated that I would be bringing a dining companion along, so I was assuming, as per my previous food tasting session, that each of us would have 1 set each. Perhaps I should have clarified, but when I learned (and it wasn’t from the staff) that there would be only one set for us to share, my dining partner had already finished up a big portion of it! LOL! By then, the Soba noodle wasn’t even cold anymore. So, what can I say about the taste? To be absolutely honest, whatever I have to comment would certainly be heavily discounted, but to quote what my dining partner mentioned, it was nice. And that the Soba noodle was at least chewy.

All I can add is what I researched from their menu, that they are using buckwheat flour imported from Hokkaido, and handmade in-house. In addition, I really like the way Ootoya indicates the ingredients on their menu, informing patrons of any potential allergic upfront, that’s pretty thoughtful!

Seriously, I won’t mind paying additional for my dining partner (then I won’t bother ordering the side), but if the food is meant to be shared, then at least provide another cup of Soba sauce (for hygiene reason) and perhaps additional plate, then there won’t be unnecessary ambiguity. Of course, I could have simply come out my own money for a fresh order, but it’s quite a big portion, besides I would rather try their other dishes in that case.

I hope that’s a fair statement.

Charcoal Grilled Atka Mackerel Hokke Fish Set

The accompanied rice, Miso soup, and condiments

I didn’t find any opportunity to ask the staff, but it is believe that the Atka Mackerel Hokke fish was harvested from Okhotsk Sea, wind dried, and then grilled prior to serving. It still retains a chewy texture with a mild umami. I must say, at $22.80++ for the set meal (or $17.80++ alone), the price is reasonable for half a grilled Hokke fish. Though to be honest, I thought the condiments were a little mediocre, perhaps the idea was not to take excessive limelight from the Hokke fish. Anyway, the motto was to serve a Japanese home styled meal, like I said, nothing flamboyant, but decent heartiness. For paying patrons, I think it’s possible to ask for free rice refill and a switch to more healthier rice such as Gokoku Rice, Tororo Gohan, Jyako Gohan, or Yasai Gohan, but once again, I didn’t have an opportunity to clarify.

Grilled Yongenton Silky Pork Belly Marinated with Shio-Kouji

Now, THIS IS HEAVENLY!

The marinated pork belly ($19.50++) was grilled to distinction with an excellent crisp and succulence that it’s so good to eat on its own, the sweetness is absolutely remarkable! And sprinkled with a zest of lemon gives it an extra dimension, not to mention the enclosed wasabi!

Yongenton is a crossed breed of 4 different pig species, or more commonly known as Silky Pork. Surprisingly, it originated from USA. These are what I researched, and the taste is probably better than some Kurobuta I have tried. As for Shio-Kouji (塩麹, 塩糀), it’s a natural seasoning made of salt, water, and rice kouji (Kouji is the key ingredients in making miso), and Ootoya’s menu mentioned that they are adhering to a recipe passed down from Sendai 300 years ago.

You would usually associate salad with French dressing, Thousand Island dressing etc, but that’s not what Ootoya did here. They use soy sauce, and the outcome was rather interesting! But to be honest, the pork is so good which rendered the accompanying salad as mere decorations.

Yakko, $4++

Oh, I also ordered their Yakko (a.k.a. Tofu). As I mentioned, I don’t feel right walking out after meal without paying, so I ordered this Japanese Tofu (as well as green tea). I have done my research before heading down for the food tasting, Ootoya claimed that their tofu is house made, and in their menu, this is suppose to come with freshly grated dried Bonito flakes, but the Bonito flakes never came (I only remember that when I’m reviewing my pictures for this post). I ended up pouring some soy sauce to ‘enjoy’ it with the tofu, along with the supplied ginger, which otherwise tasted bland. Sorry, but this failed, especially without Bonito flakes, the chief ingredient that lifts its flavour.

Maccha Parfait

I had the Maccha Parfait ($8++) as dessert, and it can be noted Ootoya is sparing no effort to mark off a hearty dining with this. In the picture, you will find Maccha ice cream, red beans, and the cube stuffs behind are the Warabi mochi dipped in Maccha powder. What you can’t see underneath are Castella (sponge cake) cubes, Maccha Jelly, Maccha Pudding. Take my words, it’s a very fulfilling dessert for someone who loves Maccha!

I have come to the end of this post, and as a pre-requisite for the food tasting, I am obliged to include a link for Ootoya’s offer tie-in with J Passport. J Passport members get to enjoy free Limited Seasonal Pumpkin Parfait with every meal ordered. Kindly refer to the following link for details:

http://bit.ly/ootoya_parfait

The above offer is valid until 31 Jan 2019, but you can always refer to their page in J Passport for more ongoing promotion. If you ain’t a member yet, you can join J Passport for free to enjoy these benefits. Ootoya currently has 3 outlets in Singapore, kindly refer to their website for information and promotions. Lastly, many thanks to Ootoya and J Passport for hosting us!

Sumire Yakitori House やきとり家すみれ

Published December 31, 2018 by piggie

A week before I visited Sumire Yakitori House in Bugis Junction, I was in Matsue, Shimane, Japan. As their branch there opens till late night, I planned to have late dinner there, but for some reason I didn’t go there eventually. A week later, I found myself at Sumire back home, on actually my first visit!

Sumire means ‘Smile’ in Japanese, they first started in Tokyo in 2009. Although the name of Sumire list them as Yakitori House, and grilled chicken is their forte, but practically, they do serve more than that. It’s more like Kushiyaki (串燒) plus some better known Japanese cuisines and beverages.

Back in the olden days, and in fact not too long ago, Kushiyaki was very much a men’s thing, more for them to enjoy with a mug of beer or sake after work in an Izakaya (居酒屋) with friends or colleagues. I heard men in Tokyo cannot go home early or their wives will nag, so they need a spot to hang around after work, that is, if they finish work ‘early’, and ‘early’ can mean anytime before 9pm! That’s why typical Izakaya usually opens for business from early evening to over midnight. Anyway, Sumire’s owner saw the potential to bring Yakitori to a more general patrons, which include ladies and families, and so he decided to change the conventional Izakaya to a restaurant-liked concept.

Gathering these facts, it’s natural that my maiden visit has to order some Yakitori, or for that matters, Kushiyaki (By the way, for those not so versed in Japanese, Yakitori typically means grilled chicken, and is a form of Kushiyaki, which literally means skewers).

Sumire Salad, $6.80++

Let’s begin with their house salad, which include chicken and sesame dressing. This is rather appetising and the veggie are very fresh.

Yakitori Mentai Jyu, $15.80++

My dining partner wanted some rice, so she ordered this Yakitori Mentai Jyu, which comprises of assorted skewers, rice, marinated cod fish roe, and seaweed. The taste is rather good, but diners don’t get to choose the skewers, and it may or may not come with something you less desire. For example, Sumire also serves chicken heart, chicken skin, chicken liver etc, some may not like those, but fortunately, I think those didn’t feature here.

Asparagus Bacon with Garlic Soy Sauce (L) $3.90++, Enoki Bacon with Garlic Soy Sauce (R) $3.90++

Both Asparagus Bacon and Enoki Bacon skewers come with either their own Yakitori Sauce or Garlic Soy Sauce, I had them both in Garlic Soy Sauce. The Enoki Bacon was yummy, but I find the Asparagus a bit stringy, overall, the taste was good.

Momo Green Pepper (Shio), $2.90++

Momo Green Pepper is basically chicken thigh meat with green pepper, I had it with light salt, and found it marvellous! Not overly grilled, and the sparse salt really brings up the flavour than having sauce in my opinion.

Momo (Tare), $2.90++

This is grilled chicken thigh, I had it in their original Yakitori sauce. But I have to confess, having tried their Momo Green Pepper in Shio, I somewhat regret didn’t have this in light salt too. Nevertheless, the meat’s still tender and nicely grilled.

Tsukune (Cheese), $4.90++

I don’t usually like chicken meatball, but here I was enchanted by the cheesy gravy, I though the composition sounds interesting, but eventually the only wow factor was the cheese. It’s not Sumire’s fault really, just that I find chicken meatball tastes mediocre, and Sumire ain’t able to change my perception on that. That said, their Tsukune comes in 2 different sizes, the big balls you see here comes with 2 on the skewer, the small balls come in three. Same price, and diners get to choose between Yakitori Sauce, Teri Mayo, Cheese, and Raw Egg.

Chipi Bacon, $5.90++

This is the most expensive among the Kushiyaki I ordered, and it certainly didn’t fail. With Japanese green pepper and cheese wrapped within bacon, it’s my kind of tea. The savoury of the cheese, blending with sweetness of the bacon, along with the neutralising green pepper, it’s absolutely tantalising!

Tori Kawa (Shio), $2.20++

This item kept me waited the longest, until I almost forgotten about it. This is chicken skin, I have it lightly salted rather than coating with their Yakitori sauce. Again, that proved to be a wise choice. Having it crisp with sparse salt brings out its best taste in my opinion.

To conclude, although Sumire classified themselves as a Yakitori restaurant, but you have seen here they offer more than just grilled chicken. In fact, they also have some very interesting ingredients on their menu, such as Wagyu, Foie Gras, and even Daisen chicken specially imported from Japan! Although Daisen chicken is not one of the best three chickens in Japan, but it’s very famous in Sanin region, where I just came back from, the locals there are very proud of agricultural products from around Daisen area. Even in Japan, Daisen chicken are not easily found outside that region.

Sumire Yakitori House やきとり家すみれ
80 Middle Road
#01-88/89
Singapore 188966
Tel: +65 63389963
Email: sumirebugis@dinsg.com
Website: https://www.sumire.com.sg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SumireSG/

Opening hours ~
Daily: 11:30 hr – 22:00 hr
(Closed between 15:00 hr – 17:00 hr from Mon – Thu)

Marks & Spencer Luxury Gold Teabags Strength No.2

Published November 27, 2018 by piggie

Picture credit: http://www.rohlik.cz

Oh, it has been like ages since my last post, much as I still possess hugh passion in writing, I find myself strangled for time over my other interests and priorities. I guess I’ll just delve a few minutes for this which I feel a compulsion to pen.

I am a tea fanatic, more so over coffee, but fine tea have been far harder to come by, when I come across one, I would love to document it here, so that I can always reference back in future. First and foremost, this came as a gift, so other than I understand it can be purchased from Marks and Spencer, I ain’t aware of its price. The picture above is taken from a Czech Republic portal because I am too lazy to snap a picture of my own. So what made this stands out from many other more established tea makers that I absolutely have to write about it?

Marks and Spencer is a UK brand, we knew for centuries that the British are great appreciators of fine tea, but that they rarely produced tea of their own. It was printed on the packaging that M&S sourced their tea from various sources in compliance according to Fairtrade Standards. What this means is that the tea leaves are purchased at a Fairtrade Minimum Price (and added premiums) to uphold sustainability and improve trading and working conditions for farmers and other related workers in developing countries. Marks and Spencer further emphasise that they use the finest teas from the best tea gardens in the world, and “only the young top two leaves and a bud are hand picked for this blend when they are at the right stage of maturity, coupling with gentle handling and careful selection to ensure tea leaves aren’t bruised or damaged before the tea making process”.

Well, after such introduction, the bottom line still comes back to the taste isn’t it?

I received this tea close to its best before date, and only managed to finish them all 6 months later. Even up till the very last teabag, I am still impressed by its rich aroma with a full and smooth taste, so much so that I can still squeeze out a second cup from the teabags, albeit with lighter taste, but still go well as a light tea without tasting bland. In general, it has a much richer taste than conventional British Breakfast tea, it is rich in tea aroma, but not to such fragrance offer by an Earl Grey bergamot. On the packaging, it is listed to have a strength of medium flavour (level 2), presumably, they have something lighter, and probably a thicker one. This being that good, I can’t help wondering how the level 3 will taste like. So to speak, this is probably one of the best black tea I have ever tried. And it being available at Marks and Spencer means that it may cost a little premium, but overall it should be considered affordable for its excellent quality. It’s available for $8.90 at M&S.

Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry(天川北海道ホワイトカレー)

Published July 17, 2018 by piggie

First and foremost, this is a food tasting event initiated by JPassport, where invited guests get to sample actual portion of Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry’s 0-4 degree aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set and their Spicy White Curry Ramen/Udon Set.

Located at probably the most prominent spot of Millenia Walk’s Nihon Street, Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry is the first and only restaurant in Singapore specialise in Japanese white curry. When they just started, they only had 3 types of set meals on their menu, but have now progressively increased to around 8. Their set meals generally comprise of main course, Chawanmushi, and soup.

Spicy White Curry Ramen/ Udon Set (Chawanmushi and Clam soup not in picture), $16.80++

Patrons get to choose between ramen noodle or udon for their Spicy White Curry Ramen/Udon set. I stick with ramen because that’s what Hokkaido is famous for. And the ramen was served rather promptly upon ordering, so much faster than the accompanying Chawanmushi, that we had to wait another 10~15 minutes for the latter. I couldn’t wait for the Chanwanmushi, as I needed to take this picture before the noodle turned soggy. I’ll touch on the Chawanmushi and the soup when I come to the 0-4 degree aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set later.

Let’s begin with their signature broth.

The ramen broth was light, sweet, and milky when it was served, with little hint of spiciness. It is no secret that milk is the main ingredient for the creamy flavour in the bonito broth, but what impressed me was the use of imported Hokkaido milk! To sidetrack a little, Japan milk is on a class of its own, I don’t know how the Japanese farmers did it, but the richness is top notch. And among them, Hokkaido milk is generally regarded as the best and is often used in premium desserts. It is hence, no surprise that Tengawa also serves Hokkaido milk amongst their list of beverages. I’m sorry, I often get carried away whenever it comes to Japanese milk. Let me get back to the noodle. As I mentioned, the broth was not at all spicy, at least not until it was stirred along with the dried chilli in the broth, which then gave the broth a good spicy kick. And then, the presence of onion also adds additional dimension. Rather unconventionally, the ramen did not come with the usual charshu, but Iberiko (Iberico, pardon me, Japanese tends to use the letter ‘c’ and ‘k’ interchangeably) pork belly, which in my opinion, is much sweeter. The ramen noodle used is the conventional Hokkaido medium curly noodle, thought to be the best in retaining broth, and very true in this case. In addition, the usual suspects, tamago, seaweed, and scallion made their presence too. Overall, the taste is rather appetising, and tasted somewhat like Laksa, substituting the sinful coconut milk with Hokkaido milk here of course.

0-4°C aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set, $19.80++

Literally, why it was named as such truly puzzled me. It was explained to me that the pork was seasoned in Spain between 0-4°C to achieve that firmness before shipping here (I hope I get it correctly, it’s getting a little technical). I guess such term mostly appeals to professionals in this trade, general diners like me tend to scratch our head. (=.=)”/) LOL! For all I care, I only know Iberico pork is the premium pork, well and above Japan’s very own Kagoshima Kurobuta (widely known as the best pork otherwise, and already commanding a premium price), though honestly I can’t tell the taste difference between them. But if you asking me, my level can only tell they are both superior in taste than Indonesian and Australian pork that are widely available here. Nevertheless, Tengawa certainly didn’t attempt to hide the fact that they are proudly serving premium ingredients to their customers. Not to mention their effort in presenting this dish. Ever notice the floral pedals? They are genuine, not painting. These are specially imported from Japan too! It is thus an injustice to claim their food plating is mere Instagram savvy, over and above, this is an art! Strictly speaking, you usually only expect to find such treat in posh restaurants, but dining at Tengawa won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Though naturally, it’s unfair to expect the ambience of a posh restaurant here. If anything, I do find the plate excessively large, so big that it almost cover half the width of my table, a stark contrast to the food portion in it. Having said that, Tengawa offer free flow curry, soup, and rice (Note: to be fair, it’s not meant for sharing!), I would have asked for refills if I’m paying my own bill! So, I suppose I can say, the portion is practically unlimited but was given as such to avoid wastage (and possibly more picturesque too).

Anyway, the tonkatsu has a good balance of tenderness and firmness, embedded within crisp breadcrumbs. The spotlight, of course, has to be on the curry. It is very unlike the one found in their ramen, the gravy here is reasonably thicker, less flavourful than conventional Japanese curry, but possesses a more intense milk aroma. I’d say the taste is rather exceptional. Let’s not forget the rice, which I heard Tengawa is using Akitakomachi. The tastiest rice on Earth is said to be Niigata Koshihikari, notably those from Uonuma. My understanding is that Akitakomachi is a close second, on par with Hokkaido’s Yumepirika. It is cheaper and easier to acquire Akitakomachi. But for general diners, usually it’s not easy to distinguish. To a certain extent, much also depends on how it’s cooked. And I have to say Tengawa has cooked it rather well balance, not overly sticky, thus complement well with their curry.

About their Chawanmushi, I must say, it’s very well received from many other diners too. I have a feeling it’s only cooked when we placed order, because it took well over 10 minutes for it to be served, about the same time required to cook a Chawanmushi (excluding time for preparation). Tengawa’s Chawanmushi emphasise on taste and simplicity, with only a small slice of chicken underneath, a fresh prawn and broccoli on top, and infused with truffle oil. I feel its appearance is rather Zen-like, but what’s important is that it has a silky texture with an excellent aroma, and not excessively salty. Very few restaurants have their side dish in the spotlight, Tengawa is one of those exceptional ones with their Chawanmushi.

In any other Japanese restaurants, Miso soup is expected to be served. I am surprise to find out Tengawa is offering clear bonito clam soup instead, which is rather refreshing. It seems Tengawa aspire to be a little different, and certainly demonstrating sufficient efforts to show for it. What I haven’t mentioned, is Tengawa’s impeccable service. At first, I thought we were treated indifferently because we were invited guests, but a check on internet and their Facebook page reveals otherwise. If you come to this page via search engine, chances are, you will also find many more good reviews on them. In conclusion, I’m looking forward to visiting Tengawa again, next time as paying guest.

Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry 天川北海道ホワイトカレー
9 Raffles Boulevard
#02-16, Millenia Walk
Singapore 039596
Tel: +65 62651314
Website: http://japanesecurry.business.site/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TengawaWhiteCurry/

Opening hours ~
Daily: 11:30 hr – 21:30 hr

Himonoya ひもの屋

Published June 25, 2018 by piggie

One famous local food blogger whom I hold with high regards who favours Japanese cuisine once commented, “if you spot real Japanese at a Japanese restaurant in Singapore, just go for it. You can’t fool around with the Japanese in terms of food.” I saw plenty of Japanese diners at Himonoya, I suppose these words apply for them too! And if you have seen the range of Japanese liquor they carry, you will lose any remaining doubts of their genuineness.

Hidden in a quiet spot (formerly of Hummerstons) on level 2 of Robertson Walk, Himonoya is more than your usual Japanese restaurant. I’m saying that because apart from the conventional Japanese food you probably already heard of, Himonoya have something rather unique here in Singapore… dried fish, or what “Himono” means in Japanese. Now, don’t get confused with salted fish which our older generations here crave about back in the olden days, it’s totally different and certainly much healthier, chewy, and in my opinion, tastier too. So if you didn’t try Himono while dining at Himonoya, you probably ain’t been there. That said, Himonoya also serves common items such as sashimi, sushi, as well as a wide range of Japanese cuisines which you can normally associate with an izakaya.

I’d call the exterior of the restaurant deceiving. Despite looking like a high class restaurant from the outside, its interior is anything but. I thought I walked into a maze of Japanese Edo era eateries upon entering, before been led to my reserved table with a curtain that instilled some privacy, not that I specifically requested for it. Not all tables come with a curtain though.

Seriously, after going Japan four times in the last 12 months, I am getting numb over sushi and sashimi here already, the fact being, you can’t get any fresher than having them there, so I practically skipped most thing raw during my visit. As such, I was expecting my meal to be on the saltier side, and had ordered Japanese steamed rice to go along. But allow me to elaborate a little bit, Himonoya serves different variety of rice too, such as serving with raw egg, with salmon roes, and even grilled rice ball as well as Ochazuke! I stuck to the plain steamed rice.

Hotaru Ika (Firefly Squid with Wasabi), $5.90++

Our first order, Hotaru Ika came promptly. One look, and it was obvious it’s on the salty side, it’s great that it came with wasabi too, nullifying some of the saltiness and made it rather appetising with the rice that we ordered.

Daikon Salad (with Shirasu & Wakame Seaweed), $10.90++

Strictly speaking, the portion of this salad is good enough for one simple meal. The flavour has been enriched somewhat with the inclusion of Shirasu (whitebait).

Himono Hokke (half), $22.90++

This is the signature dish of Himonoya, Himono Hokke (half), served with lemon and grind radish. Himonoya indicated that this fish is the “Shims-Hokke” type of Mackerel which has a muscular and chewy texture that comes with an excellent umami flavour. We only ordered half of it, and it came grilled with a crisp skin, its flesh still retaining a chewy but certainly not over dried texture, hard to imagine it was actually dried fish.

It’s worth noting that while Japan is known for fresh catch, they are a country with very distinct seasons, hence at times, it is necessary to preserve their catch for various reasons. But I am rather surprise dried fish can still retain such chewy texture. Although it wasn’t stated, but the Hokke used was believed to be from the sea of Okhotsk, just North-East of Hokkaido. How this name came about is quite interesting too! It was said that this fish was first discovered by a Japanese monk named Nichiji, who named it after the Lotus Sutra (法华,Hokke).

Grilled Enoki, $5.90++

I was expecting this Grilled Enoki Mushroom with Butter to be more flavourful, but in truth, it’s simply mushroom with butter, rather mediocre.

Potato Salad, $7.90++

The Potato Salad came with crab miso, crab meat, and salmon roes. Although cheaper than the Daikon Salad, the portion is much smaller too. But the potato salad is itself very filling, and the combination with crab miso and crab meat makes a wonderful integration, not to mention that citrus zest which spices it up significantly!

Himono Sandfish (Hatahata), $9.80++

Hatahata Sandfish is a signature in Shimane prefecture (Although it’s also widely available in Akita prefecture, both prefectures siding the Sea of Japan). I have long heard of it, but think never had the chance to try it. And since I have also not visited Shimane before, with no tentative visit in sight, I was very tempted to order this. In Japan, it’s usually lightly salted before grilling, Himonoya also included mayonnaise here. What I’m trying to say is, it’s already good enough without the latter!

Crab Croquette, $7.80++

To be honest, dessert aside, this is actually my favourite from Himonoya. Their Crab Croquette is creamy in the inside, and crispy on the outside, with a dash of crab miso and crab meat on top, it’s absolutely delicious! I can go many rounds with this.

Kinako Ice, $4.90++

Kinako Ice is actually ice cream with black honey. The texture is rich and creamy, not excessively sweet, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Daifuku, $8.90++

The other dessert I ordered is Daifuku, it’s actually mochi stuffed with green tea ice cream inside, and toppled with red beans. This really impressed me, although I had a hard time slicing the mochi, but the green tea ice cream was so fragrant and have an impressive balance of sweet and bitterness, it compliments the red beans very well.

All in all, I find that food wise, Himonoya is as authentic as one can find in Japan, so are their beverages. Genuine sake (and shochu) lovers will find this a heaven with their $35++ free flow drinks. Of course, diners can also order drinks by the cup. Having mentioned that, I find that most diners are actually ladies when I visited over the weekend, that means they went there for the food, not drink.

Apart from Singapore, Himonoya also has outlets in Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Himonoya ひもの屋
11 Unity Street
#02-14, Robertson Walk
Singapore 237995
Tel: +65 62359110
Website: http://www.singaporehimonoya.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/singaporehimonoya/

Opening hours ~
Daily: 18:00 hr – 24:00 hr

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka らーめん山頭火 (2018)

Published April 19, 2018 by piggie

This is another complimentary tasting session by Santouka, who is introducing their new Spicy Shio Ramen, Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba, and dessert Parfait Strawberry. Hence, I am segregating this post from my other posts on Santouka.

We were not allowed to choose the location, but were allocated their outlet at Cuppage Terrace. I have been to their The Central (a.k.a. Clarke Quay Central) outlet many times, but this is the first time I’m visiting their outlet at Cuppage Terrace.

Cuppage Terrace is a happening area, particularly popular for those seeking a drink after work, and I suppose that’s the reason why many restaurants there are having a break in-between lunch hours and dinner hours. In view of that, we made an attempt to be at Santouka’s Cuppage Terrace at 5.30pm, the moment they resume business in the evening, before the madding crowd comes in. The crew at Santouka Cuppage Terrace are mostly very young and energetic, and seems excited at our presence, they spent extra effort in explaining the new items to us, which really makes penning this post a lot easier.

Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba, $12++

The Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba was the first item served. Before I go on further, let me elaborate, that Kaisen is Japanese for Seafood, Hiyashi means chilled, and Maze is mixed, soba is of course the noodle. Just like many other ramen restaurants, Santouka ain’t using the buckwheat noodle in their Mazesoba, they use the same noodle as in their ramen. Me and my dining partner were quite surprise at its price, as most ramen restaurants serving Mazesoba usually charging very much more, but mainly using other ingredients. As you can see from the pictures, Santouka’s Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba was served on a rectangular plate, which almost taken up the entire width of our single table, so that gives a rough idea of its generous portion.

That’s not all, diners who order Santouka’s Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba also get to choose three additional toppings (1 meat and 2 veggie) from charshu strips, eel, beef slices, bamboo shoots, egg, black fungus, broccoli, garlic, coriander leaves etc. Now that really makes the noodle more appealing!

In general, taste wise, there’s a rich nutty fragrance, and I sense the presence of sesame sauce, overall it’s very appetising! In Japan, chilled noodles such as soba and udon are very popular over summer, it’s very much like chilling down a hot summer with a mug of beer. Although in Singapore, it’s quite different, most of us still favour a hot broth despite our monotonous hot and humid climate. As the name suggests, the key ingredients here are the seafood, which include salmon, scallops, shrimps, salmon roes, and apart from the shrimps, all others are served raw. Such ingredients go down well with chilled noodles, not hot, hence I can understand why Santouka only come out with a cold version of their Kaisen Mazesoba. I suspect this may well be a testing balloon of patrons’ reception, that if popular, they may start introducing more flavour and premium ingredients such as crabs and sea urchin. Let’s wait and see!

Spicy Shio Ramen, $16.50++

Santouka’s Spicy Shio Ramen came a little unconventional, firstly, it’s missing their signature plum found on their usual Shio ramen, secondly, the presence of fried onions (which is rarely found in Japanese ramen). Other ingredients include leek, coriander leaves, sesame, and of course, charshu. It is obvious their intention is to raise the flavour amidst a stronger spicy broth, so as to bring out the character of the ramen. And despite the spiciness, the sweetness of the rich and smooth tonkotsu based broth is still very noticeable. Unless I’m mistaken, I didn’t observe any obvious presence of chilli oil, which means the spiciness is likely the result of chilli powder, which of course, makes it less oily. All in all, I find this ramen packs a good punch and balance for someone who likes hot stuff. If anything, I feel it possesses a very prominent local flavour with a good fusion of Japanese touch.

Parfait Strawberry, $12.50++

Wait, I know it’s a far cry from its look in Santouka’s pamphlet, but I have to reiterate this parfait was really how it looked when it was served, we had not yet eaten it. First and foremost, the crew were quite apologetic that they didn’t have the correct glass available for it. Secondly, they informed us that the parfait melts very fast, and they assured us they tried their best to squeeze in as much ingredients (which also include corn flakes in the middle of the parfait) as possible. But cosmetic issues apart, the fact being there weren’t as many strawberries as I was anticipating, perhaps due to the fast melting whip cream that they couldn’t squeeze in more. In addition, the strawberries didn’t taste very fresh. Despite these down sides, I still quite enjoyed the parfait overall. Ultimately, Santouka is a ramen restaurant, not exactly a dessert bar. Let’s hope the restaurant irons out these technical matters before the Parfait is officially made available.

Kazan Wing, $5++

As per my normal practice, I tried not to leave the restaurant without paying anything, so we added this Kazan Wing. It was much better than ‘finger-licking good’, capable of giving those fried chicken franchise a run of their money! On their menu, it was stated that preparation takes about 10 minutes, that means it’s freshly fried, and the meat still retained that tenderness, not stale. What really made these remarkable is firstly, the lemon, excellently complementing the miso onion paste, truly spicy and delicious! This is not part of their new item, but I would highly recommend it.

Last but not least, a little information about Santouka’s upcoming promo, for more information and promotion, do follow their page on JPassport.