Food

All posts in the Food category

Machida Shoten 町田商店

Published February 4, 2018 by piggie

Japan Food Town in Wisma Atria is another Japanese restaurant project involving ANA (along with many others), a year back I had the privilege to visit Yomoda Soba, but I haven’t been back since. I must say, most of the restaurants here came with a reputation, and the price is a little upmarket, which is the main reason why I don’t come here regularly.

As a ramen fanatic, I have been eyeing Machida Shoten for some time, since they are the only dedicated ramen restaurant in Japan Food Town. I finally made my move when they came out a one-for-one promotion early 2018. Firstly, I must confess I didn’t do my homework prior to visiting, but thinking that they came from Tokyo (well, actually Yokohama), I wanted to try their Shoyu based ramen. However, my dining partner wanted that too, hence I thought I might as well try out a Miso based ramen instead, so we can try out different broth.

Miso Seasoned Egg Ramen, $16++

I had their Miso Seasoned Egg Ramen. But before elaborating further, I have to highlight that Machida Shoten classified themselves as Iekei (家系)styled ramen restaurant, which in Mandarin meaning ‘House Type’. I actually only notice this after finishing my ramen, I was quite puzzled what that meant, and only after getting home that I had time to google about it, which generally referring to a combination of Tonkotsu broth with Shoyu. Truth be told, that’s not what the words mean, I suppose they meant it’s styled like how mum would have cooked it.

Upon ordering, patrons are asked to select the texture of the noodle as well as richness of the broth from “Hard, Japan Taste, Soft” and “Strong, Japan Taste, Light” respectively. We left everything at medium, which is the Japan taste here. When the noodle was served, I noted they are using round thick noodles, typical of Tokyo-styled ramen. However, the noodle was too hard for my preference, so agreed my dining partner too, and tasted like under-cooked spaghetti. I wonder whether they mixed up our order with the hard noodle. By the way, it’s worth noting that they made their own noodle in-house, an effort I truly appreciate. That said, if I took long enough to finish the noodle, it would at least get to a more desirable firmness. As per classic Sapporo Miso ramen, the main ingredients such as sweet corns, butter, are all there, so are an un-sliced egg, which wasn’t very runny like their picture suggested, and the only ingredient that impressed me was the medium size thick charshu, it’s chewy and offering a good tenderness.

The ramen broth was creamy and ultra rich, to such extent it reminds me of those use for Tsukemen, but less salty. So far, I hardly had problem finishing up ramen broth, I was struggling with this one. Actually, if the noodle wasn’t that firm, my impression won’t be that bad, but adding up the cons really left me a poor impression of this. Nevertheless, I reminded myself Miso ramen is not really their forte, Shoyu is.

Shoyu Seasoned Egg Ramen, S$16++

As mentioned, my dining partner had their Shoyu Seasoned Egg Ramen, which is their signature ramen. Again, the noodle was too firm, and the broth was pretty thick. In my opinion, the broth does taste slightly better than my miso broth, but that’s as far as I would go. All I can say is, I’m afraid Machida Shoten ain’t really my cup of tea. That said, I must credit their nice ambience and the warm services.

By the way, ice water and warm water are chargeable at $1.

Machida Shoten 町田商店
Japan Food Town
435 Orchard Roadd #04-40
Wisma Atria Shopping Centre
Singapore 238877
Tel: +65 62623214

Opening Hours: 11:30 hr – 23:00 hr

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Express by Chatterbox

Published January 29, 2018 by piggie

The history of Singapore chicken rice goes back many decades, but before the local hawker chicken rice fanfare gaining steam thanks to the popularity of blogging and reviews, Mandarin Hotel’s Chatterbox was said to be the pinnacle of this Singapore cuisine. I know our northern neighbour and probably China may lay claim on its origin, but that to me is insignificant, I’m sure by now the differences must be getting more diversified that it may no longer be an apple to apple comparison anymore. Anyway, the last time I patronise Mandarin Hotel’s Chatterbox was more than a decade ago, and to be honest, apart from some very positive impression then, I couldn’t remember in detail. So before I start, I need to reiterate I am not able to relate any differences between the Chatterbox in Mandarin Hotel and their subsidiary here. Let’s just take this as an independent review.

Express by Chatterbox is located in a rather inconspicuous spot in Downtown Gallery along Shenton Way. It’s half hidden behind the escalator on the ground floor, where one can easily overlooked. The ambience itself is probably half their outlet at Mandarin Hotel used to offer (I haven’t been there since they shifted from ground floor to Level 5 many years ago), and hence reasonably reflected in their price. In fact, Express by Chatterbox offers minimal services whereby customers order and pay for their food at the counter, and then given a number chit for their order. They then proceed to the food counter for their order when the number is flashed. As such, Express by Chatterbox doesn’t charge for services, and their price already included GST. However, it must be noted that their charges is merely a fraction they were charging at Mandarin Hotel.

Signature Chicken Rice, $8.50

Perhaps I have a weak recollection, but I thought the portion at Mandarin Hotel was a bit larger. Nevertheless, the quality of the chicken rice here is truly class! Although the prices still a little pricey comparing to hawker fare,  after all, I believe so is its rental, and a better ambience naturally. I suppose the portion of the chicken here is randomly allocated, but if you specifically asking for chicken thigh, you will have to top up $2. As can be seen from the picture, their chicken was adequately moist, and the meat was rather tasty. The fragrant oiled rice was delightful, all in all, Express by Chatterbox certainly did not fail.

Yang Chow Fried Rice with Fried Egg, $10.50

I also ordered their Yang Chow Fried Rice with Fried Egg, which was exceptionally tasty! Firstly, they are using fragrant oiled rice, so its taste already gained an head start. Next, they know what ingredients really bring out the taste in fried rice, notably roasted pork and shrimps. The accompanying egg was a disappointment though, I would personally prefer scrambled egg fried with the rice. As for the fried chicken, I love its crispiness, though somehow it just made this dish looked more like Nasi Lemak than a Yang Chow fried rice. But frankly speaking, identity aside, this is truly delectable.

Express by Chatterbox
Downtown Gallery
6A Shenton Way #01-04
Singapore 068815
Tel: +65 62200758

Opening hours:
11:00 hr – 21:15 hr

 

Fugetsu 鶴橋風月

Published January 10, 2018 by piggie

Fugetsu is the latest restaurant to join Eat At Seven in Suntec City, situated at the location where Nikunoji used to be. With a bragging right being Osaka’s No 1 Okonomiyaki restaurant, it certainly comes with a big reputation, and a history dating back more than 60 years. Their old shop is still in Tsuruhashi (鶴橋), Osaka, hence the name 鶴橋風月, but they now have close to 100 outlets in Japan, a few more in Taiwan, USA, and now Singapore.

So what is Okonomiyaki(お好み焼き)? On their website, they simply put it as Japanese pizza. I beg to differ, it’s more like an integration of fried noodle with different ingredient toppings ranging from seafood to meat. And in Japan, there’s actually two main variety, the Osaka-style, and the Hiroshima-style. The former is more popular outside Hiroshima, more fanciful and flavourful, while Hiroshima-style tends to be more layered, and with lots of cabbage. Needless to say, Fugetsu is Osaka-styled.

Grilled Edamame, $5.50++

For a starter, I ordered their Grilled Edamame. I’m not one who actually like Edamame, but it definitely exudes a very aromatic grill flavour, quite appetising too!

Fried Potatoes and Asparagus with Soy Butter Sauce, $8.80++

Although the name of this dish sounds like a vegetarian dish, but as seen in the picture above, there are slices of bacon too. The potatoes are delicious, but the same cannot be said of the asparagus, too old and rough for most diners’ taste, hard time digesting these.

Fried Noodle with Pork in Yaki Soba Sauce, $10.80++ (Regular)

This is the basic Okonomiyaki. Actually, there is only a very thin line between Okonomiyaki and Yaki Soba. The way I see it, is that Okonomiyaki usually has a poached egg on top, but this ain’t always the case. Besides, some restaurants offer both Soba and Udon noodle for their Okonomiyaki, my personal preference is that so long as it’s fried, I prefer it in Soba. To be honest, I have tried better and cheaper Yaki Soba in Japan, I only find this Fried Noodle with Pork in Yaki Soba Sauce average, mainly because of its lack of ingredients for its price, but noodle wise, good thing it ain’t too dry, moderately oily, and the pork is rather tasty.

Fried Noodle with Squid, Prawn and Oyster in Soy Butter Sauce, $20.00++ (Regular)

Up till this point, I was still satisfied with their basic Okonomiyaki, until I tried this…

The seafood are actually besides the point, but I simply love anything buttery, in fact I love to add butter when I cook my own spaghetti, and this simply nails it. Not surprisingly, the taste blend well with the seafood, though the price almost double with the addition of the oysters. Now this one here is really better than almost every Yaki Soba I’ve ever tried in Japan, not to mention Singapore.
By the way, Fugetsu in Suntec City ain’t their only outlet in Singapore, they have another branch in Changi Airport T2 too!

新故乡酒楼 Xin Cuisine

Published November 27, 2017 by piggie

据知新加坡雅庭假日酒店(Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium)的新故乡酒楼有一定的历史,但我初次听闻却只是几年前的事,而且还是从月饼开始的。新故乡酒楼主打粤菜,不过我这次前来是享用点心自由餐,而自近年来翻新后迎来了新香港总厨陈顺煌师傅,也带来新的点心菜色。

桌上的开胃菜,炸豆皮,偏硬,我不怎么喜欢

海鲜酸辣汤

我先来碗海鲜酸辣汤,一看就知道醋加了不少,口感酸酸辣辣,加上芫荽、带子、鲜虾,非常开胃!

竹笙鲜菌鸡片汤

小笼包

新故乡的小笼包卖相虽然一般,包皮不会太厚,不过包里的高汤还是没轻易渗出。

假日名牌流沙包

个人觉得流沙包只是一般,不过不失,松软的包皮还算爽口,才咬一口,蛋黄就迫不及待流出来了,我还是比较喜欢浓稠一点的蛋黄。

豉汁蒸鲜竹卷

一般的鲜竹卷大多着重于酥脆,不过新故乡的豉汁蒸鲜竹卷则拿捏得恰到好处,外皮微脆,内馅则丰实,在豉油的点缀下更为显得特别。

海鲜带子鲜芋角

海鲜带子鲜芋角由于要突显芋头的存在,我倒是觉得馅里的海鲜口感被压制了,好在酥脆的外层与芋头有相得益彰的功效(其实也就是佛钵飘香的翻版),总体来说还算不错。

三杯汁风尾虾烧卖

三杯汁风尾虾烧卖卖相佳,把虾放置在烧卖上,再加上虾卵,美观加分!而且,没想到烧卖在三杯汁的衬托下风味更是生色不少,这大概是我吃过最好吃的烧卖!

炭烧猪颈肉

港式烧腊无须多加介绍了,不过由于木炭已经逐渐被石油气取代,现下已经很少有炭烧烧腊。新故乡的炭烧猪颈肉肉质嫩,口感鲜甜,但若是外层表皮能烤得更为焦脆些就更是绝配了。

烧鸭双拼

嗯,炭烧猪颈肉加上烧鸭双拼可说是港式烧腊的精华了。这道烧鸭双拼其实指的是烧鸭与烧肉的组合,可是菜单上的翻译看似全是鸭肉。我本身不太喜欢鸭肉,对于这道菜色的鸭肉,我看还是持保留意见好了。至于烧肉肉质弹牙,不会过于干硬或肥腻。

招牌龙须火鸭卷

这道…不好意思,我不怎么记得,只记得表皮酥脆,但对于内馅鸭肉实在没什么印象,基本上是什么肉都大概都没多大差别的,因为酥脆的外皮有些喧宾夺主了。

豉汁百花酿青蚝

这道豉汁百花酿青蚝有点像烧卖,不过内馅换做青蚝,上头再加上香菇,口感虽不如烧卖出色,但加上豉汁带味,别出一般风味。

杏仁茶汤圆

甜点有限制每人一份,我选择了杏仁茶汤圆。这杏仁茶口感浓郁,却没有过度的杏仁香味,应该是原汁原味的杏仁汤,没有使用香精的关系。不过汤圆仅有一粒而已,要不是甜点有限制,我倒是还想再来几碗!

秘制龟苓膏

这秘制龟苓膏口味偏苦,我朋友颇有微词,不过我想所以才附加蜜糖呀!但她说其他餐馆的龟苓膏也没那么苦,我倒认为那可能是制作过程中加入糖浆的关系,而且良药苦口啊!哈哈~

坦白说,新故乡酒楼的点心自由餐菜色不算多,而且某些点心还有限制,但好吃的食物贵精不贵多,而且除非你很会吃,我觉得即使三人用餐(很多菜色都是一笼三个)也未必吃得完菜单上所有菜色,我即便没吃早餐,最后也还是吃到投降。很多点心店都趋向油炸食物,但新故乡却有很好的平衡。虽然新故乡酒楼的点心没获得米其林食探的青睐,但我吃过某米其林1星的点心铺总店,总觉得还是新故乡精致些,口感好些(当然也贵得多,成人$49.90++)。

新故乡酒楼 Xin Cuisine
Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium (新加坡雅庭假日酒店)
317 Outram Road, Level 4
Singapore 169075
Tel: +65 67317173
Website: http://singaporeatrium.holidayinn.com/xin-cuisine-chinese-restaurant

Opening Hours:
12:00 hr – 14:30 hr
18:30 hr – 22:30 hr

Gudetama Café

Published November 27, 2017 by piggie

Gudetama Café came to Singapore in Nov 2016.

This lazy egg, a Sanrio product, was a character designed for their Food Character Election back in late 2013. Surprisingly, it didn’t ended up being first, which was in fact, won by Kirimi-chan. Who is Kirimi-chan you asking? Good question, it’s still relatively unknown outside Japan, maybe within Japan too. But honestly, I don’t find Kirimi-chan charming, how it won really puzzled me. Anyway, Gudetama’s very passive attributes earned more fans even than many of Sanrio’s all time favourite characters, its character really calls out the internal desire in us to ‘nua’ (a Hokkien word for idling) amidst our busy endeavour.

Come 30 Nov, it’s going to be Gudetama Café’s first year anniversary. Although the fever has somewhat subsided, but given their prime location in Suntec City, you may still need to queue for a while during weekend dining hours, especially if you want one of their four specially decorated tables by the wall. I booked a table for a weekend lunch, and a couple queuing just in front of us wanted our table, however upon learning it was reserved, they disgruntledly walked away. Hence, it’s advisable to book advance if you are coming during peak hours.

Table 1

The 4 different semi-enclosures (Picture credit: Gudetama Facebook)

We were allocated table 1, so I guess that probably means we were one of few who made reservation for that time slot. The egg-shaped semi enclosure has a large Gudetama placard hung by the wall (each enclosure having a different Gudetama), with two Gudetama cushions on the seat, and a wet tissue box in Gudetama design.

Their menu in my opinion, doesn’t offer as much as conventional restaurant, guess that’s why they are just a cafe, not entirely a restaurant, and let’s not forget the main objective is to immerse in that Gudetama experience anyway. Each and every item on their menu certainly feature our beloved mascot with its passive but adoring look.

Truffle Fries in a Cone, $16.50++

To start with, we had a fries to share around. The fries came wrapped in a cone-shape container, although its appearance is far from appealing given the price tag, the taste was great. The Parmesan cheese sprinkled on the fries certainly raise the flavour up a few notches, particularly with the accompanied Aioli and Sriracha sauce. This was the first time I’m hearing these sauces, but I won’t say the taste was remarkable. We asked for chilli sauce too, and as a chilli lover, I was more impressed by the chilli sauce instead.

Big “NUA” Breakfast, $25.90++

I had their Big “NUA” Breakfast, featuring two eye-catching Gudetama sunny side on top of a piece of buttery brioche toast, baked beans in a Gudetama bowl, sauteed mushrooms, spicy pork bratwurst, bacons, and salad. I’ll be very honest, the taste is nothing outstanding, above average at best, the spotlight of course, lies on the cute Gudetama features.

Gudetama Lobster Onsen, $16++

Dad had the Gudetama Lobster Onsen, basically a soup with a Gudetama in it, reminiscing soaking in an onsen. Dad finished the lobster bisque inside, but struggled to finish the bread bowl. I guess he still like the soup, but he wasn’t quite enjoying the bread.

Eggcited Cajun Chicken with Waffles, $23.90++

Mum ordered their Eggcited Cajun Chicken with Waffles. This is a blend of dessert with main course, and came with buttermilk waffle and grilled Cajun chicken, as well as a Gudetama, with whipped cream inside the egg shell, salad, and maple syrup. I think as a consensus, we generally agreed this was the better one, in terms of taste, that is. The chicken still retained the tenderness, and their waffle was a delight in comparison with my toast and dad’s bread bowl. Seriously, I would have ordered this if mum wasn’t a step quicker than me.

Gudetama Café Singapore has unique items on their menu in contrast to their other franchise elsewhere (right now, I only know of Osaka and Taipei), in part because it’s a partnership between local restaurants The Soup Spoon and Joe & Dough after all. So, some of us may find the taste a tad familiar, but almost certainly not the look, in part, kudos to Little Miss Bento for the creative styling. However, if you think the cafe’s food are merely about having Gudetama theme, then you can be very wrong. What I find fascinating is that, some food here just ain’t what you think they are. Like, an egg may not be an egg, or noodle may not be noodle. We didn’t order those specialities during this visit, because I was skeptical about trying them in my first visit, but I will be more adventurous in my future visit.

Gudetama Café
3 Temasek Boulevard, 01-361
Suntec City Mall
Singapore 038983
Tel: +65 66776195
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gudetamacafesg

Opening Hours:
10:00 hr – 22:00 hr

Ippudo 一風堂

Published November 8, 2017 by piggie

Akamaru Shinaji, $14.80++

Ippudo just opened a new franchise at Star Vista, offering 1-for-1 ramen on their opening day, 06 Nov 2017. This is a special franchise because they don’t just sell ramen like what their other outlets do, they also serve cafe-inspired dishes like Lasagna Gyoza, Hattendo cream buns, coffee, as well as exclusive ramen dishes Maze Soba and Tantanmen (I thought I just blog about Santouka serving Mazesoba and Tantanmen not too long ago, and now Ippudo following suit? These are about two of Singapore’s best ramen chain anyway!).

My dining companion and I deliberately arranged to meet 2pm to avoid a possible lunch crowd, but what we could not foresee was the massive student fans from the nearby institutions joining in the ramen craze, eventually we waited for a good 60 minutes, by then I was already in a state of famine.

We both ordered their Akamaru Shinaji ramen, the basic version that comes without Tamago (additional $3, which in my opinion was a tad expensive). It really came very promptly that I suspect they were already cooking it even before we placed order (at least for the noodle, so what left was probably adding the ingredients).

The broth was Tonkotsu, with special blended miso paste along with lots of lard. It was then added with garlic oil, and of course, as its name suggested, chilli oil. The broth offers a rich milky taste, so delightful that my dining companion, who usually doesn’t finish her ramen broth, literally gulped everything that came inside the bowl. As for the noodle, we were asked how we’d prefer the noodle to be done, we wanted it to be medium, and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. The noodle, my favourite Kyushu-style Hosomen, was accompanied by the usual suspect of charsiu made of pork belly and loin (2 small pieces), bean sprout, black fungus, and spring onions. As expected, Ippudo ramen is quite satisfying.

After the meal, we were each given a Hattendo matcha bun for being among the first 500 patrons, which would have cost $2.50 each if bought from Hattendo’s outlet at Tanjong Pagar Plaza. 😀

 

Japan Rail Cafe

Published October 30, 2017 by piggie

Credit: Japan Rail Cafe

I have been to Japan Rail Cafe many times, although mostly for their exclusive events rather than having a proper dining there. And actually, I have recently done a post on them for Jpassport but for some unscrupulous blogger to plagiarise for her own benefits that I had to take it down before more people are taking advantage. Hence, this time round, I ain’t gonna elaborate into details and only giving a brief introduction on the cafe.

Japan Rail Cafe is the brainchild of East Japan Railway. It is probably the first of its kind in the world where a cafe integrates with retail, travel desk, and most significantly, to promote interest in visiting Japan, hence the reason in hosting many events to introduce different regions of Japan each month, not just the regions where their rail network plies. And this month, it’s Kagoshima.

Japan Rail Cafe does not have a ‘proper’ menu, instead they publish their menu on a monthly tabloid which also serves as their magazine. It’s practical in a sense, because in doing so, they can conveniently include seasonal and regional food they serve only for one particular month, in conjunction with special festive or the featured region of the month.

Buri-don Amberjack Fish Rice Bowl, $22

This month being ‘Kagoshima month’, they have 4 seasonal orders in their menu, including this Buri-don Amberjack Fish Rice Bowl, Satsuma-age Fried Fish Cake (which you see it inside the bowl in the picture above), Yakushima Log Cake, and Kokuto Matcha Latte.

I ordered their Buri-don Amberjack Fish Rice Bowl, which came with Amberjack fish, omelette, and cucumber dice, two halves of Satsuma-age fish cake. The accompanied condiments are sesame, wasabi, and the soy sauce for the Satsuma-age. This yellow tail donburi can be consumed as it is, or upon pouring the pot of dashi broth over it as an ochazuke. Truth be told, the taste, I found, was just moderate. Perhaps it was just me, but somehow I just found the taste of the Satsuma-age couldn’t blend well with the sashimi. The Satsuma-age Fried Fish Cake was also available on its own for $6 (two pieces), a bit pricey if you ask me, but this is a restaurant after all, and the product is Japan made, air flown I presume.

Kaisen Avocado Don, $18

I was actually more impressed by their Kaisen Avocado Don, which is a permanent feature on their menu with salmon sashimi, Aomori scallops and avocado, and likewise, can be eaten as it is, or as an ochazuke with a choice of dashi broth or original broth, the former is a chicken base, the latter a fish, if I remember correctly. The look is more appealing and I do find the taste blend well as a donburi.

Avocado B.L.T. Sandwich, $16

Their Avocado B.L.T. Sandwich is also another regular feature in their menu and came with a choice of any two side order, choosing from french fries, seasoned wedges (mild spicy), mini salad, and original pork soup. I selected wedges and salad here. You may be wondering what does B.L.T. stands for? It literally means Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato as the main ingredients of the sandwich. They have the standard version for $15 (without avocado), right here, it’s an additional dollar for added avocado.

This is obviously a Japanese touch of western food, and for the price I paid, it definitely tasted far better than what we normally expected from fast food restaurants, you can already tell by the look of the bun that it has better fluffiness and was actually rather appetising.

Yakushima Log Cake

This is their Yakushima Log Cake, I don’t know the price because I didn’t pay for it. It was actually served in slices on a separate event hosted by H.I.S. Travel at Japan Rail Cafe the following week, and available only until 27 Oct. It took the design of Yakushima island (the word ‘shima’ actually means island in Japanese), the very first of Japan’s Natural World Heritage Site back in 1993, and believe to be the inspiration behind Hayao MIYAZAKI’s anime Princess Mononoke.

Since I wasn’t given the opportunity to select my own slice, I believe the green moss is matcha powder, whereas the white coating is sugar powder. This is basically a chocolate log cake, and I do find the taste and texture delightful, not overly sweet nor heavy. Pity though, Japan Rail Cafe does not carry as many dessert as I anticipated, and this is likely to be one-off.

In addition, their Kokuto Matcha Latte ($6.20), a brown sugar matcha Latte, was absolutely wonderful, very unlike other matcha latte you can find elsewhere. Again, for the time being, it’s unlikely to be featured again.

On paper, it seems though Japan Rail Cafe’s pricing is slightly higher than other similar restaurant. However it’s worth noting that their prices are inclusive of taxes and service charge. I do feel this is the correct approach, I still cannot understand Singapore government’s double standard between retail purchases and restaurant dining after all these years.

Japan Rail Cafe
5 Wallich Street, #01-20,
Tanjong Pagar Centre
Singapore 078883
Tel: +65 63855422
Website: http://www.japanrailcafe.com.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JAPANRAILCAFE/

Opening Hours:
11:00 hr – 21:00 hr