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。




























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

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.