All posts in the Japanese category

Inaniwa Yosuke 稲庭養助

Published March 2, 2018 by piggie

Japanese udon has been my favourite noodle ever since I re-discovered them (or rather they discovered me! LOL!) incidentally in Kagawa, the birth place of the most famous Sanuki udon. Prior to that, I tend to stay away from udon because the impression given me locally was terrible, even from some local Japanese restaurants in Singapore. Not until the arrival of Tamoya Udon here that I beginning to find authentic udon, prior to that, the colours, as well as the texture could be very contrasting to the real thing, let alone the taste.

Inaniwa Yosuke’s arrival excites me, because they are one of the 3 main udon in Japan (along with Sanuki and Mizusawa udon), and possibly with the most complicating manufacturing process, taking 4 days to make as all processes are manually done. I’ll leave the description simple here, those interested can google to learn more. But due to its tedious process, its udon don’t usually comes cheap (For Sanuki udon, it’s very affordable in Japan), as such, I have been waiting for promotion and finally my prayers are answered. They came out 2 set meals for $21.80++, choose any two of the 3 from their promotion menu comprising Unagi Kabayaki-Don Set, Ten-Don Set, and Curry Rice-Set. Among them, Unagi Kabayaki-Don Set ($21.80++) usually cost more than the other two, it looks more appealing anyway, so both me and my dining partner chose that. After that, we were asked to select from having it served hot or cold, we both wanted it cold. We went at a time when it happened we were the only customers, yet it took the chef quite long for the meals to be ready. Never mind, I ain’t hurrying him, the last thing I wanted was for the chef to expedite and skipping some procedures on the food. In truth, I appreciate his attention to details.

Unagi Kabayaki-Don Set, $21.80++

Conventional udon (usually means Sanuki because it’s more popular) comes in very thick form, still exceptionally chewy and smooth nonetheless. But Inaniwa udon is extremely thin, and because of that, when dipping into the sauce, is able to retain more sweetness of the sauce, and taste extraordinary wonderful! Its texture seems more smooth and slippery than Sanuki udon too, undoubtedly the best udon I ever tried! No wonder it has won so many accolades in Japan. The accompanied condiments include scallion, wasabi, dip them all into the sauce, and I absolutely love the kick it infused into the noodle! As for the Unagi Kabayaki-Don, not bad, not excessively sweet, and I quite enjoyed the texture, however, it pales in comparison to their udon, which is truly excellent.

Inaniwa Yosuke 稲庭養助
Japan Food Town
435 Orchard Road #04-45
Wisma Atria Shopping Centre
Singapore 238877
Tel: +65 62623279

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inaniwa.sg/

Opening Hours:…
Seriously, this is a little confusing here, their name card printed Mon-Sun, 11:00 hr to 22:00 hr, but their Facebook lisitng 11:30 hr to 22:00 hr with break between 15:00 hr to 17:30 hr. Please call to verify if necessary.


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

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!

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

il Cielo

Published October 8, 2017 by piggie

It was with much pleasure that me and my two dining partners were at Hilton Hotel’s Italian restaurant il Cielo for their Japanese Degustazione Tasting Menu on a Friday evening. We were literally offered the best seat in the restaurant with an awesome view of the pool and ION Sky in the prominent background.

il Cielo, which means ‘The Sky’ in Italian, is located on the top level (Level 24) of Hilton Singapore. They have recently welcome Japanese Chef Yohhei Sasaki of Aomori as their head chef some 4 months ago, and he rejuvenated an entire new menu with a Japanese touch! Chef Sasaki isn’t new to Singapore, having previously helmed Forlino at One Fullerton, and had honed his skill at Michelin stars restaurants in Tuscany and Lombardia, and of course, Tokyo.

To start with, I have to admit I am quite unfamiliar with Italian cuisine apart from pizza, pasta, Gelato, and Tiramisu. From what I know, Italian cuisine doesn’t sell that kind of presentation a glamourous French cuisine does, and at best, we can probably expect Mediterranean ingredients to be used. But Chef Sasaki is able to fusion all that. Being Japanese, he possesses a meticulous aspiration on quality and setting, integrating Japanese ingredients into Italian cooking, and presenting the dishes in very eye-watering manner.We were promptly served bread assortment upon seated, and I believed I tried every single variety there. I must say, although these bread aren’t the spotlight, they tasted absolutely great. The crispiness, fluffiness of respective bread naturally offer a very interesting flavour that I feel, anything better would have to be straight out from the oven. Olive oil was also provided to offer an option to appreciate the bread in typical Italian’s way.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche is a single, bite-size hors d’œuvre. Over here, there are some macarons, to be savour as it is, or can be dipped into the accompanied sauce for an alternate flavour. Also on the wooden platter are Burrata cheese with cured meat, topped with caviar and roes. This was my first time trying Burrata cheese actually, and I was overwhelmed with its texture, its complexing taste with the cured meat and caviar was absolutely marvellous!

Carpaccio di Kinmedai

Carpaccio di Kinmedai has got to be one of Chef Sasaki’s most notable signatures, comprising Kinmeidai Carpaccio, Seaweed Tuile, Madeira wine dressing, and graced with pink grapefruit snow. Carpaccio is a Venice invention of thinly sliced raw meat or fish usually served as appetiser. Right here, Chef Sasaki uses typical Japanese ingredients to re-create it with a touch of Japanese flair, somewhat refreshing in my humble opinion, and what absolutely memorable was when Chef Sasaki personally sprinkled the pink grapefruit powder in front of us, it created an instant mist that reminiscent the cloud, and with the green seaweed tuile representing the earth, what an awesome impression of heaven and earth!

Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare

il Cielo’s spaghetti is specially house made, and tasted al dente. Nevertheless, the focus is definitely on the sea urchin, which hailed from Hokkaido. I understand from the chef that the restaurant is also using ingredients from his home town Aomori as well as from Sanriku region, the latter famous for the Japanese serial Amachan (あまちゃん). In addition, the spaghetti is blended with Sardinian bottarga, a type of salted, cured fish roe, as well as a zest of Yuzu. Overall, this is a beautifully fusion Japanese and Italian cuisine at its very best, it’s savoury but not overpowering.

Giapponese Orata Grigliata

The main course is a choice between Giapponese Orata Grigliata (Grilled Japanese Seabream) or Costina di Manzo ‘Toriyama Wagyu A4’. The latter comprises of caramelized Toriyama wagyu A4 short ribs, sauteed saffron risotto, lemon gel, with Italian Parsley sauce, while our chosen grilled seabream came with Portobello mushroom, sauteed Porcini risotto, with green tea crumbles. But whichever option you chose, both courses involve risotto, and again, the Japanese ingredients here seamlessly integrated with Italian risotto in generating a rather unique flavour, at least I can say that for the Giapponese Orata Grigliata I tried. The tender mushrooms are tastefully sauteed yet not excessively salty, while the leek tasted so fresh I could feel the moisture inside was as juicy as I can taste from a freshly pluck. The crispy rice crumbles provides additional dimension to the seabream, which was truly delicious even without the sauce. I need to reiterate, the risotto here is certainly the best I have ever tried, far far better than what I had tried from a certain local celebrity chef here.

La Sfera

To cap a fine evening, dessert was La Sfera (The Sphere), and you think it’s just a perfectly rounded ice cream? It’s actually sorbet. But it ain’t ordinary sorbet, it’s a Lemon sorbet coated in Yuzu sphere and Ricotta Cheese Espuma with Acacia honey gel. First and foremost, it’s visually a flashy interpretation, giving me a static impression of our galaxy surrounding the sun. But most significantly, it was absolutely appetising, suppressing my burp and by then a bloating stomach with its citrus zest.

Our meal was also accompanied by three glasses of Italian wine in 2015 Lunae Colli di Luni Vermentino (Liguria), 2015 Valpolicella, Rio Albo, Ca’ Rugate (Veneto), and 2012 Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Reyna, Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont).

Apart from the bread assortments and the Amuse Bouche, all the courses we tried here are actually Chef Sasaki’s signatures. I have to confess my vocabulary skill ain’t doing sufficient justice to the quality of the food here, in part complemented by the crew’s excellent service. They took the trouble to explain every dishes, but frankly speaking, most of the names are strangers to me and I needed to Google them before I can pen this post, and even then, I probably missed out a lot, and quite humbly, many blog posts you can find on il Cielo (under Chef Sasaki’s tenure) are more well written than yours truly’s. The waitress, as well as Chef Sasaki himself, asked us on the food quality after the meal. Well, what could we say? Terrific! I also understand from the waitress that il Cielo’s bookings have picked up significantly ever since Chef Sasaki’s arrival, and he thrives to revise his menu every couple of months to entice diners to return.

Last but not least, before ending this post, I understand some Italian cuisine evangelist may be critical of such fusion concept of losing authenticity. Well, firstly, il Cielo still serves traditional Italian cuisine. Secondly, evolution is an important aspect in culinary scene, particular for the French, notably at the pinnacle of all cuisines in the world. Even modern day Japanese cuisines are very much modelling after the French, with some innovation of their own. So long as the foundation of the cuisines is retained, anything else should be regarded as creativity. Even Leonardo da Vinci might not be the genius he is if he was restricted by conventionality.

il Cielo
Level 24, 581 Orchard Road
Hilton Hotel
Singapore 238883
Tel: +65 67303395
Website: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/singapore/hilton-singapore-SINHITW/dining/il-cielo.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hiltonsingapore/
Email: ilcielo@hilton.com

Opening Hours:
Mon~Fri: 12:00hr – 14:15hr, 19:00hr – 22:15hr
Sat: 19:00hr – 22:15hr

Rive Gauche Patisserie

Published September 26, 2017 by piggie

Yuzu Cheese Cake, $8

I used to have very good impression on Rive Gauche Patisserie, and thought they are making premium cakes. Well, I found out in pricing and presentation maybe, but sadly, the quality betrayed its image drastically. Before I had my first try, I actually bought them for the old folks at home, and when they told me the taste was at best average, I found it unbelievable. When I eventually tried it for the first time, I regret ever walked in.

I actually got this offer of any sliced cake with tea for only $7 at Rive Gauche Patisserie. Otherwise selling for $8 alone, their Yuzu Cheese Cake certainly looks tantalising. However, the white chocolate and the glazed Yuzu mousse are perhaps the only plus point that this cake has to offer. I like the fresh citrus zest it brings, but when it comes to the texture of the cake… umm… can’t make it. The texture of the cake taste like as if it had been left overnight (maybe it did, but I was there in the afternoon, not morning), and at such price, this is not what I would expect of a Japanese or French Patisserie. In fact, cakes I bought from neighbourhood confectioneries taste better, but appearing less fancy and cost merely a fraction of its price.

Black Velvet Cake, $7

My friend ordered their Black Velvet Cake, likewise in their $7 sliced cake + tea deal. Even worse. The Oreo on top was no longer crisp, likewise for cake texture, which hinted it had been left overnight. I won’t say it’s terrible, just that the quality wasn’t there, and definitely not worth that price tag.

Was it just me? No. So far, of all the 4 associates I asked, 100% responded it’s forgettable. That is the comment they would normally reserve for neighbourhood confectioneries. Then what on earth was I paying a premium for? Maybe I should have tried their Guanaja instead, which is what they are famous for. But I probably ain’t likely getting their cake again.

As for the tea, it’s TWG tea. I had an Earl Grey, I think there are about 4 variation to choose from. No milk or creamer was given, only sugar.

Hokkaido Ice Cream Short Bread, $7.80

Over at their CityLink Mall franchise, their only one to date that sells ice cream, offered all Yotsuba Hokkaido Milk Ice Cream at $5 each during a promotion sometime back in August. Naturally, I got the most expensive one, Short Bread.

Their Short Bread ice cream is actually soft serve made with premium Hokkaido milk, along with their soft sponge softcake, corn flakes, mini eclairon and jelly. Though it may just look like a giant McDonald’s sundae with extra condiments, this one tastes a lot more fragrant, notably from the richer taste of Hokkaido milk, we found it thoroughly enjoyable! Though the plastic container looks a bit cheapskate, but saved the staff’s hassle from cleaning.