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All posts for the month January, 2021

Kyushu Pancake Cafe

Published January 4, 2021 by piggie

This is the pancake cafe I have always wanted to try, long before I visited Belle-Ville Pancake Cafe, and even during my trip to Kyushu almost 1 year ago. I am sold by their idea of using genuine Kyushu ingredients, and I tend to have the belief that, going by such selling point, it seldom fails. Well, having written that, I need to elaborate a little more at the end of this post in order not to take the spotlight off the pancakes.

It was quite crowded on a Saturday mid noon, and even though we came in a party of two, we could only find seats at the far corner, which is less desirable, because even the waiters struggle to serve us without asking the next table diners to move. I guess that spells their popularity here, although if otherwise, it may spell trouble for any businesses during such peak hours if patrons are far and few.

Kyushu Pancake Cafe claims that they are using wheat from Oita, millet from Unzen (Nagasaki), pressed barley from Saga, purple rice and red glutinuous rice from Kumamoto and Fukuoka, non-glutinuous rice from Kagoshima, raw brown sugar from Kagoshima and Okinawa, last but not least, Aigoma-farmed (合鴨農法) sprouted rice from Aya (綾町)(Miyazaki), basically all Kyushu prefectures are involved, hence their name. Actually, Kyushu Pancake Cafe originates from Miyazaki, a Kyushu prefecture least known to Singaporeans, and also the most difficult to reach (unless you transfer a domestic flight there), it takes at least 4 hours from Hakata via a combination of Shinkansen and local express train. But in my opinion, it’s also the most attractive, and serves some of the best cuisines in Kyushu.

Let me touch on a little about Aigoma farming technique.

Most farmers these days use pesticide and chemical fertiliser in their farm, this is by far the most productive and economical method. Aigoma farming is about as organic as it can get, by raising wheats along with ducks. These ducks prey on insects for food, while their waste act as fertiliser for the wheats. Hence, you can imagine prices in Kyushu Pancake Cafe won’t come cheap, not with Japanese import ingredients anyway, but it remains reasonable if you consider all these factors.

Matcha Tiramisu, $16.00++

I ordered their Matcha Tiramisu pancakes, which was served with matcha powder, Mascarpone cheese, Hoji-cha sauce, and a scoop of ice cream. It’s worth noting that the pancake texture itself was a little sticky and savoury to my liking, but the Mascarpone cheese and matcha powder are excellent complement to the pancakes. In addition, the vanilla ice cream is top notch, as rich as the milk from Japan. Those who love Japanese milk will know what I meant, it fully justifies its price in supermarket, though I can find it a lot cheaper in Japan. That little cup of syrup is what I believe to be Hoji-cha sauce, I was instructed to pour it over the pancakes before consuming, but my suggestion is to try the pancakes on its own first before doing so, then you can compare the diversification in taste.

BLT Burger, $11.90++

BLT Burger is a savoury type pancakes, with crisp fried hash brown, thick slice honey baked ham, lettuce, and tomato. I actually find their pancake goes better with such savoury ingredients though and my dining partner even claims this is the best pancakes she had ever tried.

High Ball Coffee Bomber, $8++

Well, you certainly expect a cafe to serve nice coffee, and this is particularly interesting, High Ball Coffee Bomber. What it actually is, concentrated coffee is frozen into ice ball, then gradually melts under room temperature, while milk is pour over it to experience a different concentration level of coffee. Kyushu Pancake Cafe is using Costa Rica beans from an altitude of 1,200m for this, which have undergone a certain Tarrazu honey process, and resulted with a sweet fruity note, good acidity with velvety body, as well as a smooth finish.

Kyushu Pancake Cafe have recently launched 3 types of premium artisan coffee, at time of my visit, they are having a promotion. And although I have just mentioned Costa Rica coffee beans been used in their High Ball Coffee Bomber, it is also served as drip coffee here, along with two other types of coffee, with the left most being the most concentrated, and Costa Rica the least.

El Salvador Drip Coffee, $9++

Ignore the High Ball Coffee Bomb in the backdrop, my El Salvador coffee was served without sugar nor milk. It came with a tin pot of hot water, plus a glass of coffee powder, which the waiter helped pour them into the dripper sitting on top of a cup. I think in this region, we regularly heard about Costa Rica and Ethiopia coffee, not so much on El Salvador coffee though, and I wonder how many have heard about this tiny Central American country? Anyway, this coffee is said to be having a deep, intricate note, with hints of plum, chocolate, hazelnuts, and a smooth finish. I’ve got to confess I’m not a coffee person, more of a tea fan actually. I do find its acidity moderate, with a rich body, certainly can make a good grade of coffee. Even the waiter jokingly mentioned, this coffee thoroughly complement the sweet pancake that I ordered!

OK, so much for the food & beverages.

Perhaps due to shortage of manpower (or whatever the reason), order and payment is made in advance at the cashier counter, while food are later served to the table. Good thing the service of the waiters was pleasant, and I didn’t have to dispute the service charge I paid upfront.

In addition, I remember this isn’t their first venture here in Singapore. Their previous premise is at Novena Regency, that exact same unit now occupying by Menya Kanae, which I patronise 2 months earlier. I remember mentioning something like ‘unless you have something truly exceptional, else you won’t succeed there’ in that review. That statement, although mentioned in somewhat similar aura, ironically holds truth for Kyushu Pancake Cafe. And I must confess, before my visit today, I didn’t know Kyushu Pancake Cafe was its previous tenant. What I am trying to stress is, unless you are offering something genuinely exceptional, the location of your outlet is predominant to your success.

Oh, and for those who are thinking of visiting their franchise while traveling in Kyushu, they currently have 3 outlets in Miyazaki, and 1 inside Takeo Library, Saga. None of them is easily accessible, nor are they within popular tourist spots. They do have oversea franchise in Taiwan though.

Kyushu Pancake Cafe
25 Lorong Liput
(Behind Holland Road Shopping Centre)
Singapore 277735
Tel: +65 63526265
Website: http://www.kyushu-pancake.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kyushupancake.sg/

Opening Hours:
Tue – Sun: 11:00 – 21:00
Close on Mon

Afuri Ramen

Published January 2, 2021 by piggie

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to try a unique cup noodle, and was awed by its flavour. But subsequently, I was either unable to find it in local supermarkets, or simply found it overpriced ($4.90 for a cup noodle anyone?? OK, it’s Japan made). I remember the lid of the cup noodle spells ‘Afuri Ramen’, thought of getting it during one of my Japan holidays, but believe it or not, I couldn’t even find it in any supermarkets I patronise in Japan.

So what’s so special about it? It has an aromatic Yuzu flavour that makes it stand out from the rest. I am a big fan of Japanese Yuzu, hence that really entices me. I was delighted when I learned that Afuri Ramen is opening a new branch in Singapore, at Funan Mall to be exact. Though I didn’t patronise them until they open another outlet in VivoCity.

Yuzu goes well with Shio (salt), and I actually always attempt to purchase Yuzu salt whenever I visit Japan, trust me, it’s not easy to find. So naturally, I had wanted to try Afuri’s Yuzu Shio ramen, but since my dining partner opted that too, I settled for their Yuzu Shoyu ramen instead, as always, wanted to try their different broth.

Yuzu Shoyu Ramen, $15.90++

When the noodles were served, I caught a tint of Yuzu fragrance, immediately I knew this was the aroma I crave for!
As expected, my Shoyo ramen broth turns out a little more salty than the Shio broth that my dining partner had. I believe they are both chicken broth with dry fish, konbu seaweed, along with some vegetables such as dashi. My bowl of ramen had a thicker Shoyu than I would have likened, and came with one slice of charshu, seaweed, bamboo shoot, and half a runny egg, likewise for the Shio version. I have to confess there is practically nothing much to brag about the ingredients, they are decent, though I like their charshu still retains the chewiness upon serving.

Yuzu Shio Ramen, $15.90

Yuzu Shio Ramen are having practically the same ingredients as their Shoyu counterpart, with the exception of course, being the broth. And in my opinion, this is by far the better broth than Shoyu, because I like its lightness which thoroughly complement the Yuzu flavour. I had tried Yuzu ramen from a restaurant in Beppu (Oita prefecture), Kyushu, but the end result was massively pathetic. This despite Oita being famous for their Yuzu, second perhaps to Kochi. And Afuri Ramen actually originated from Kanagawa, certainly not a prefecture famous for their farming products. This elaborates how much Afuri Ramen had done their homework resulting in a golden proportion on the seasoning in order to come out this balance. And they need to use chicken broth instead of tonkotsu so that the stronger flavour of the latter does not overpower the presence of Yuzu. Overall, this is brilliant, worth the extra dollars over something similar but without the Yuzu aroma elsewhere.

Yuzu Ratan Ramen, $15.90++

Just when I thought I had tried one of the best ramen ever at Afuri Ramen, I need to relegate their Yuzu Shio Ramen. Don’t get me wrong, not that it ain’t good enough, but I have just found something superior!

Yuzu Ratan Ramen, or otherwise their Yuzu spicy ramen, is very much like a spicy version of their Yuzu Shio ramen, still retaining that mild saltiness of a Shio broth, as well as a light Yuzu flavour. It is said that the chicken broth is made using fresh chili, not chili powder, hence I do feel the spiciness, but not the choking feeling of spices. Overall, this is a very appetising and flavourful bowl of ramen, absolutely fulfilling!

Crispy Gyoza, $5.90++

At time of my visit, Afuri Ramen was having 50% off selected sides with every order of a ramen. I added this one, Crispy Gyoza.

I like the crispiness of their gyoza, I feel Japanese gyoza should be done this way. The good thing is, other than just mayonnaise, Afuri Ramen also provides chili along with it.