bun

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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. 😀

Subsequent Visit

On a subsequent visit, again to their Star Vista branch, I had this weekday lunch time set meal promotion, one of the chosen main course, plus an ice green tea for S$12.80++

I selected their Zero Ramen, presumably the very first creation of Ippudo’s founder, a Nagahama styled ramen.

To side track a little, we often associate Kyushu ramen with Tonkotsu broth, that is generally true. But Kyushu has 8 prefectures, each of them may have their signature noodles, and not necessary ramen. For example, Nagasaki is Champon, and Oita is Beppu Reimen. There is no question though, that Fukuoka is the main ramen battlefield, so in actual fact, Kyushu ramen is more synonymous to Fukuoka ramen than anywhere else. Ramen culture typically started from Yatai around post WW2 era. Yatai is those mobile carts which vendors dragged to populated spots and usually began business in the evening time. These days, Yatai in Fukuoka can be found mainly in 3 regions, the most famous Tenjin region, the lesser known Nakasu region, and last but not least, the more conventional but less touristy Nagahama region. Ippudo started off from a restaurant in Daimyo district, a few streets away from Nagahama and Tenjin, probably closer to the latter. What I didn’t know was that Ippudo started off with Nagahama styled unsophisticated ramen, that is, very simple Tonkotsu broth without much fanfare. Ramen, as we all know, was very much a China import, but throughout these decades, Japanese had so much evolution on them that almost each broth has a ‘secret’ recipe. So to speak, since Ippudo named the following ramen Zero, and specifically stated that it’s the founder’s first creation, expect no surprises.

Zero Ramen

Very basic ramen using typical Kyushu styled thin noodle, even the chashu looks very yesterday, lean and without much process. For this price, really can’t expect much, but I have to say, I can get for around ¥400 in Fukuoka, though not from Ippudo. I hate to compare, but even old school Ajisen Ramen can do much better than that for this price.

Spicy Black Tamago Ramen, S$22++

This one from Ippudo Westgate is delicious! I have a knack for spicy food, I love that peppery touch infused with meat miso paste, and the charshu in this bowl certainly doesn’t fail to impressed! Good thing the broth is not as thick as I first worry, and overall, it’s pretty appetising.

 

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Hattendo 八天堂

Published August 4, 2017 by piggie

I came to know Hattendo during a Japan Rail Cafe event late last year, when they were still under renovation (they actually started business here in Jan 2017), but I didn’t try it until recently. Hailing from Hiroshima with a history dating back to 1933, I really regret didn’t hear of it during my my three visit to Hiroshima since 2008, but actually their main outlet in Hiroshima prefecture is based in Mihara, some 70km away from downtown Hiroshima. I thought it was just another ordinary pastry when they ventured into Singapore, and how wrong I was!

Prior to trying Hattendo, I thought what wrapped underneath was some type of biscuit. I was wrong. It’s more like soft bun. They do offer more than just these cream buns of course, but undeniably, cream buns are their forte. Hence naturally, I’m trying their cream buns for a start.

Not sure if there’s any minimum quantity for a box purchase, but they included two ice pack in mine to keep the bun cooled. If you haven’t guessed by now, that gives you a strong hint what its content is like. I was told the ice pack can last for 2 hours, then you will have to keep them in fridge, and the buns have to be finished by the next day.

Each of these cream bun cost S$2.50, but 5 of these in a box cost S$12.00 nett. Their pricing here is surprisingly cheaper than what you will be getting in Japan, at ¥250 (before tax) each. I suspect they may be localising some of the ingredients here, anyway since it tastes this great, I won’t have mind. In general, Hattendo has 5 basic flavours, including Azuki Sweet Bun (Red Bean, clockwise from top left), Custard, Whipped Cream, Chocolate, and Matcha. Recently, they also launched a Melon bun for a slightly higher price, the filling will still be the same, just that the soft bun is replaced by Hong Kong styled melon bun.

The cream bun is indeed a bun, at least on the exterior. Be warned (and I hinted you on ice packs, remember?), don’t leave it in the open for too long before you consume it. Inside, was something with texture like molten ice cream, probably because I ate it as soon as I brought them home, which was still not as bad. It’s actually best to fridge them for some time before consumption, otherwise, you will find that the content melted and before you knew it, you may need to clean yourself and/or mop the floor. Now I understand why my friend told me it’s best to consume from their store (So that’s why they have seats in their outlet! Just kidding, it’s a café really, with their coffee created by Itsuki Coffee from Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture).

As for the taste, it’s rich, creamy, and flavourful, miles better than the ice cream produced in this region, and quite unlike those world renowned premium ice cream, if you know how Japanese ice cream tastes like, you will know what I mean. Among them, only the Azuki Sweet Bun contains beans, the rest are very much just cream.

Notice the packaging indicates ‘Singapore’, which makes me wonder whether if it tastes much better in Japan. Mihara, where Hattendo originated from, is not a place where tourists normally stop by, unless you are going to/fro Hiroshima Airport, and that’s where you will find the nearest Shinkansen station. Anyway, they have an outlet right at Hiroshima Airport too (Oh, the airport is hidden deep inside the mountain by the way, very far from city center)! Come late October, SilkAir will fly Hiroshima, and if you fly there, do try out Hattendo there and let me know the difference! By the way, Chugoku (where Hiroshima prefecture is) is really a nice place to visit, I would say right after Kanto, Kansai, and Kyushu, ahead of Hokkaido because the latter is only wonderful over summer. Chugoku is a gateway to many hidden gems in Japan that many Singaporeans have yet to uncover! Oh, before you get the wrong idea that this article is sponsored, I assured you it’s not, and certainly not from SilkAir, LOL! I just got excited whenever the topic involves travelling in Japan, not just Japanese cuisines, and I actually write a lot better on travelling than food review! 😛

Subsequent Visits (2019)

OK, I have got some Tanjong Pagar Center vouchers to spend, and eventually decided on Hattendo, I was surprise to find that apart from cream bun, they actually offer a lot more!

Hattendo do not have an extensive menu besides their cream bun, but they do serve burgers and hot dogs set that come with a side of either truffle fries or mini salad, as well as a beverage of your choice. I came to understand that these are somewhat similar to what they are currently offering in their Cafelie in Japan near Hiroshima Airport, not something that you can find in their other pop-up stores all over Japan.

Pork and Kimchi Burger Set with Caramel Latte, $16

I ordered their Pork and Kimchi Burger Set, and paid another dollar more for their premium beverage Caramel Latte. To be honest, I expected it to be mediocre, but how wrong I was!

The truffle fries have every signatures of how good fries should taste, adequate crunchiness, mild aroma, and perhaps a healthier choice than my favourite McDonald’s fries. But the spotlight certainly has to on their burger, which comes with extremely fluffy bun to begin with, generous vegetable salads inside, and most significantly, delicious bacon with Kimchi! The pork are marinated to an extent that it’s sufficient to ensure the Kimchi ain’t overshadowing it. And I have to add, my chosen Caramel Coffee is an absolute delight, way better than most beverages found on Starbuck’s menu! It’s rich and flavourful, exemplifying how a cup of satisfying coffee should taste.

Chicken Nanban Burger Set with Hazelnut Mocha, $16

My dining partner had their Chicken Nanban Burger Set, pairing with a Mini Salad instead, as well as a Hazelnut Mocha. She had some reservation about the Chicken Nanban Burger, and certainly felt the salad ain’t as fresh as what we would have found in Japan. As for the Hazelnut Mocha, it was simply excellent! I can smell the tempting aroma from across the table, and she said it was the best coffee she had for quite a while, which I presume apart from the fragrance, possess a remarkable depth for her to say that.

Upon our return from Japan, ironically Hiroshima, we returned to Hattendo for lunch. This time, we spotted something new, Chicken Nanban Set Lunch and Ginger Fried Pork Set Lunch. I was tempted to order one of each, but was told they only serve the latter on the day. Well then.

Ginger Fried Pork Set Lunch, $13

The set comprise of the main course along with a bowl of rice, miso soup, and a mini version of their signature cream bun. Having tried their Pork and Kimchi burger not long ago, I know how great their pork can taste. And this certainly carries on the feel good factors ever since I first visited them. It seems to me that Japanese ginger doesn’t get as spicy as what we normally had in the region, as me and my dining partner couldn’t really feel the gingerly taste. But that ain’t important, what’s essential is its overall taste, which was rather flavourful, and well supplemented by generous vegetable salad and a very juicy slice of tomato. Pity it didn’t come with any beverage, but the mini chocolate cream bun somewhat made up for that.

Hattendo 八天堂
7 Wallich Street #01-05
Tanjong Pagar Centre
Singapore 078884

Opening Hours:
10:00hr – 21:00hr (Mon~Fri)
11:00hr – 20:00hr (Sat~Sun, PH)