Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hkata Ippudo (Westagte) - I Am So Disappointed

It has been more than a year since my first visit to Hakata Ippudo (Westgate) and the ramen were mouth-watering good back then. I have been wondering if they have managed to keep up the quality of the food, so when my girlfriend and I met up I brought them to Ippudo (Westgate). 

The spiciness of the Spicy Chicken Wings is manageable even for non-spicy-lovers like me so anyone should be able to eat them. It is sweet and spicy and the marination has worked its way into every fiber of the the chicken, but 
my girlfriends and I find it a little too salty. 

Shiomaru is the signature ramen at Ippudo. This is the classic Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen served with thin straight noodles, pork belly and pork loin, bean sprouts, black fungus and spring onion. There are 3 styles to choose from, each with different ingredients: Shiomaru Chushu, Shiomaru Tamago, Shiomaru Motoaji or the all-ingredients Shiomaru Special. Everything is alright except that the tonkotsu broth is so salty, my girlfriend had no choice but to leave almost half of her noodles untouched. 

Akamaru is a blend between Ippudo's tonkotsu broth with miso paste and garlic oil, giving an extra depth of flavor to the creamy tonkotsu broth. There are 3 styles to choose from, each with different ingredients: Akumaru Chushu, Akumaru Tamago, Akumaru Motoaji or the all-ingredients Akumaru Special. Again, the broth is salty. 

Karaka is the one for spice-lovers where tonkotsu broth is mixed with spices, sweet and spicy miso bean sauce, hot chili oil and Japanese peppers. The spiciness is tolerable and it would have been even more addictive if the tonkotsu broth had not been so salty. There are 3 styles to choose from, each with different ingredients: Karaka Chushu, Karaka Tamago, Karaka Motoaji or the all-ingredients Karaka Special. 

This homemade Japanese-style Matcha Tiramisu had me swooning with love with my first bite. The matcha cream, mascarpone cheese and matcha sponge cake all come together to create a rich and creamy dessert with just the right intensity of matcha, housed in a beautiful black box that gives it an air of elegance. This is the one thing I will come back to Ippudo for, time and again. 

Matcha Ice, which is more commonly known as Green Tea Ice-Cream, is smooth and silky. It would have been a great dessert to end a (salty) meal, but it pales in comparison with the rich and creamy Matcha Tiramisu.

I am guessing that Hakata Ippudo is having an oversupply of salt when we visited so they decided to over-season the ramens, I hope that this is an one-off incident and I will be back after I have managed to forget this nightmarish dining experience. 

Addresses, telephone number and opening hours of all Hakata Ippudo outlets can be found here on their website.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tengawa Hokkiado White Curry

Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry is one of the newest restaurant on Nihon Food Street in Millenia Walk. The term "white curry" fascinates me so I decided to try it out. 

White curry is made with fresh Hokkaido milk without the addition of tumeric which gives curry its yellow to brown color.

The 30-seat eatery is just over 1 month old. In fact, it is so new that there are only three items on the menu: Premium Ebi Fry White Curry Set, Juicy Japanese Style Hamburg White Curry Set and Crunchy Chicken Katsu White Curry Set. More varieties will be intorduced over time. 

All meals are served with Truffle Oil Chawanmushi which is velvety-smooth although I can't really taste the truffle oil and free-flow of pickles, miso soup and Japanese rice. 

We were recommended Premium Ebi Fry White Curry Set. Served on a huge shallow black plate, Japanese rice are covered with a generous amount of milky white curry and topped with three golden fried prawns with cauliflower and tomato on the side of the plate as garnish. The impaccable presentation makes me even more excited to try out the taste of the dish. The prawns are of good size and fried till golden-brown crispy. The white curry is creamy but there is a graininess to the texture which I did not like and I can't really taste the robustness of curry. 

Crunchy Chicken Katsu White Curry Set features chicken cutlet that is tender and the golden-brown crispy skin gives a satisfying crunch to every bite which reminds me of Soboten (Millenia Walk) two shops away. The white curry has a grainy texture and I can't really taste the fragrance of curry in the white curry. 

Hokkaido white curry is still a new concept in Singapore and people will be drawn to the novelty of the idea, but if Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry wants to stay for the long run, more needs to be done in perfecting the white curry receive. 

Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry
Address: 9 Raffles Boulevard, Millenia Walk #02-16
Telephone: 62651314
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 10pm

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Uma Uma Ramen - New Ramen Restaurant at Millenia Walk

I was in Millennia Walk during lunch when I saw that a new Japanese ramen restaurant has opened up on Nihon Food Street, so I decided to check it out. 

Uma Uma Ramen is a ramen restaurant by day and a bar by night. It is fully stocked with everything from gin to tequila and bourbon to scotch, not forgetting Japanese sale such as Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve and Hakushu Distiller's Reserve. There is currently a promotion going called Single & Twin Bottle(s) where you can get full bottles at a steal. 

Lunch Set allows you to choose an additional topping for your ramen, a side dish and a drink. 

This is the signature Uma Uma Ramen, served with mentaiko, chasiu, freshly-chopped spring onions, seaweed and a flavored egg. The tonkotsu broth is not as spectacularly rich and creamy as Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King, but the al dente thin straight noodles makes up a little. The flavored egg is nicely done with a runny center and the additional topping of menma (bamboo shoots) taste pretty good after being soaked in the broth for a bit. 

If you want something a little stronger in taste, I would like to recommend Garlic Ramen, where the aromatic garlic oil adds a nice garlicy touch to the broth. Served with fried garlic, chasiu, white onions, flavored egg and fresh crispy green sprouts, it is not that garlicy once you mix everything up, but if you are still worried about having garlic breath after eating this, just drown a cup of green tea after your meal and you should be fine. 

Two of the side dishes I have tried are Pork Belly Kushikatsu and Yaki Chasiu (Half). The Pork Belly Kushikatsu is a piece of pork belly on a skewer that is breaded and deep-fried, but it tatses pretty bland and the shoyu sauce and mayonnaise doesn't make it any better. Yaki Chasiu is a little over-marinated which makes it a little too salty but it is really the toughness of the meat that puts me off.

Uma Uma is a great little place for a quick meal of ramen in Millenia Walk, just don't be expecting astounding ramen and you should do just fine. I think the side dishes will go better with drinks and they should be taken out of the Lunch Set because they do not add value to the ramens which are good by themselves. 

Uma Uma Ramen (Millenia Walk)
Address: 9 Raffles Boulevard, Millenia Walk #02-06

Uma Uma Ramen (Orchard Road)
Address: 583 Orchard Road, Forum The Shopping Mall #01-41/42/43
Telephone: 62350855
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 10pm (Last Order 9.30pm)


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sanpoutei Ramen - Supposedly One of The Best Ramen in Singapore

Sanpoutei has been voted as one of the best ramen restaurant by influential food bloggers such as sethlui and the honeycombers, but now that even my colleague has started ranting about how good the ramen is at Sanpoutei, I can't help but be curious so I decided to try it out. 

Niigata Shoyu Ramen is the speciality here and this light broth is served with springy handmade noodles, charshu and bamboo shoots. I swear, the noodles are the best I have ever tasted in a bowl of ramen and I like the slight charred chashu although the lean part are a little leathery. 

My colleagues swears that W Soup Tonkotsu Ramen is simply the best ramen she had ever had, so I actually went back a second time just for this ramen. The thick broth is a result of 12 hours of cooking and the handmade noodles are definitely the best. This is my second visit so I can conclude that although I like the slightly charred chashu, the lean part of the chashu is rather leathery and the flavored egg definitely loses to Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King

Onigirazu are rice sandwiches made with Niigata Koshikihari rice, filled with various fillings. Besides Salmon Onigirazu which has cooked salmon, there is Ikura Onigirazu filled with salmon roe, Tarako Onigirazu filled with salted cod and Aburi Chashu Onigirazu filled with flamed pork slices. 

Butariki Niigata Rice Mini Don looked so good on the menu, I couldn't resist ordering one. It is a simple bowl of shoyu-flavored pork on top of Niigata Koshikihari rice and a beautiful egg yolk, but it tastes absolutely divine when everything is mixed together. 

There is currently a promotion going on for the two new ramen that Sanpoutei is introducing, Amaebi Miso Ramen and Amaebi Tsukemen. 

Sanpoutei Ramen is good, but it doesn't quite have the kick that Ramen Dining Keisuke Tokyo and Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King has. 

Sanpoutei (Shaw House) 
Address: 350 Orchard Road, Shaw House #B1-04/05
Telephone: 68364644
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 11pm (Last Order 10.30pm)

Sanpoutei (Holland Village) 
Address: 253 Holland Avenue #01-01
Telephone: 64637277 
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 11pm (Last Order 10.30pm)


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kuro Maguro - New Japanese Restaurant Sells Amazing Donburi

I leant from Honeycombers's Hot New Tables in Singapore: March 2017 that a new Japanese restaurant called Kuro Maguro has opened in the new Tanjong Pagar Centre, specializing in sashimi rice bowls which are known as donburi, so I dropped by one day after work to try out this restaurant. 

The word "Maguro" should have made me realize the connection, but somehow it escaped me. It was only when I was standing in front of the restaurant and I saw the words "Miura Misaki Port" and "freshest seafood" did I realize this restaurant has many similarities with Eat at 7's Magurodonya Miuramisakikou Sushi & Dining in Suntec City. I did a little research and, bingo! Kuro Maguro is the newly-established sister restaurant of Magurodonya Miuramisakikou Sushi & Dining, that restaurant where I had the fantastic Maguro Otoro Don Set.

Unlike big sister Magurodonya Miuramisakikou Sushi & Dining, Kuro Maguro is a small bar restaurant that has a seating capacity of roughly 30 people. 

The restaurant has festive promotions from time to time and I happened to visit when they are having a Spring Festival promotion. I felt that I would be doing this special menu injustice if I did not order something from it so I got myself a Grilled Scallop although it was a little expensive. I exclaimed "wow" in surprise when I was presented with this HUGE scallop, arranged beautifully in its own shell on top of a bed of rock salt. My amazement must have been quite comical because the waitress went "wow" with me. The scallop itself is delicious to boot. Grilled in its own juice, the scallop is cooked just right where the meat is tender yet firm, and the chef has thoughtfully cut everything into bite-sized portions to facilitate eating. My only suggestion is to cook the scallop with just a sprinkle of sea salt which should help to bring out the freshness of the scallop even more. 

I agonized for a long while whether to order the Sansyoku Meshi which will give me a taste of the three best parts of tuna sashimi or Kiwami Meshi which includes other luxurious seafood on top of the tuna sashimi, and it's really the uni (sea urchin) that made me decide to order Kiwami Meshi because I have not tasted sea urchin and I am dying to try it when everyone keeps telling me how wonderfully delicious it is. And, boy, Kiwami Meshi does not disappoint! Two pieces of (clockwise, right to left) chutoro, akami, otoro, kanpachi (amberjack), sake (salmon), amaebi (sweet shrimp), topped with uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe). The sashimi pieces are bigger than average and they are so fresh you can almost taste the sea in every bite. I would highly recommend that you get this if you have the money to spare.  

The restaurant has a good selection of Asahi beer, hitotsubunomugi (barley sochu), red and white wine and whiskey. Many Japanese working in the Tanjong Pagar area liked to enjoy a drink with friends after a day of work so the place can get quite crowded on weekday evenings.

Kuro Maguro is a great little restaurant at Tanjong Pagar Center that reminds one of izakaya restaurants in Japan, except that instead of fried finger foods sold in most izakaya restaurants, you get to have some of the best tuna and seafoods flown in directly from Miura Misaki Port in Japan. 

Kuro Maguro 
Address: 7 Wallich Street, Tanjong Pagar Centre #01-04
Telephone: 63868561
Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday 11.30am - 2.30pm (Last Order 2pm, Sunday Last Order 2.30pm); 5.30pm - 10.30pm

Magurodonya Miuramisakikou Sushi & Dining 
Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall #03-310 Eat at Seven
Telephone: 66845054
Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday 11.30am - 2.30pm (Last Order 2pm, Sunday Last Order 2.30pm); 5.30pm - 10.30pm

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kok Sen Restaurant - Old School Zi Char Restaurant

Kok Sen has been in operation on Keong Sai Road for almost 50 years, the restaurant has now been passed down to the 3rd generation. Apparently, Kok Sen has been mentioned in Michelin Guide 2016 under the category "inspector's favorite for good value under S$45". 

Kok Sen has been the recipient of the " Best Food Award" for many consecutive years. 

Claypot Yong Tau Foo is one of Kok Sen's signature dish and I can attest to the tastiness of this dish. This is actually the first time I am eating yong tau foo cooked in a claypot instead of the normal clear soup, curry or tom yam that can be found in coffeeshops and hawker centers all around Singapore. There are assorted pieces of beancurd, eggplant and capsicums stuffed with their homemade squid and prawn paste which gives the yong tau foo more bite and a subtle sweetness. 

Big Prawn Hor Fun is another bestseller at Kok Sen and it can be spotted on almost every table. As the name suggests, the prawns are huge and the hor fun has the smokiness of wok hei. Died red chilli are added to give the dish an extra kick. I do wish there was more sauce.

I have never been a fan of bittergourd but this Bittergourd Braised Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce is actually pretty delicious. The pork ribs are tender and the black 

Deep Fried Prompret was recommended by the staff and it was a really good recommendation.  

Besides the more common Black Pepper Crabs, Chilli Crabs, Sti Fried Crabs with Spring Onions and Steamed Crabs but those are all too common so we decided to order Curry Paste Crabs with Sambal Kaffir Lime Leaves instead. It is a little spicy but you get used to it. The crabs are huge and full of meat and crab roe. 

Prawn Paste Chicken which is more commonly known as Har Cheong Gai, is rather disappointing. You can't really taste the prawn paste in the chicken which can be probably attributed to under-marination and the chicken pieces are dismally small. 

Romaine Lettuce Stir Fried with Fermented Beancurd is traditionally a Hakka dish where the crispy vegetable pairs well with the creamy and salty fermented beancurd. It is a simple yet satisfying dish.  

I personally feel that the prices are a little steep at Kok Sen Restaurant especially if you order a lot of seafood, but there is no question about the quality of (most of) the food here. 

The queue gets alarmingly long after 6pm so I would recommend making a reservation at least 1 week in advance, but the reservation hotline is impossibly hard to get through, so good luck with that. 

Kok Sen Restaurant
Address: 30 Keong Saik Road
Telephone: 62232005 
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm - 2pm; 5pm - 11pm

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hakata Ikkousha Ramen - New Hakata Ramen Restaurant in Tanjong Pagar Plaza

I am so honoured to be given given the chance to collaborate with J Passport again. J Passport is a website that is dedicated to bring a truly authentic Japanese experience by recommending premium Japanese services and products in Singapore. 

This is my second invitation from J Passport and this time I will be reviewing Hakata Ikkousha Ramen. This review can also be found on J Passport website.

Hakata Ikkousha Ramen is a small and cosy little restaurant decorated with wooden tables and chairs and warm lighting. Seating capacity is roughly 20-30 people with communal table and indivisible seats. 

There are altogether 7 options to choose from, but the most popular are the Special Tonkotsu Ramen and God Fire, a special fiery-hot ramen that is especially created for the Singaporean palate. 

Order chits are available in both English and Japanese. 

Besides the usual condiments such as salt and pepper, there is also Japanese rice seasoning known as furikake, gyoza sauce, ramen sauce and free-flow of hard boiled eggs and Japanese pickles. 

This is the signature Standard Tonkotsu, which comes with thick and creamy tonkotsu broth and thin straight noodles, accompanied by handmade chashu, wood eat mushrooms and green onions. Order the Special Tonkotsu Ramen if you want the full works. The tonkotsu broth is not quite as thick as Keisuke's Tonkotsu King but it is still tasty. 

Hakata Ikkousha Ramen has collaborated with J Passport to launch Ikkousha-Hakata Loyalty Program where you get 1 point for every $5 spent at Hakata Ikkousha Ramen and the points can be used to offset a portion of your meal at the next visit.

J Passport offers many exclusives to their members such as free kaedama (extra noodles), buy 3 get 1 free, collect 100 points and get free ramen, 10% off every Monday - Wednesday, 8% off Thursday - Sunday. Do check J Passport's Ikkousha website for more promotions.   

Ikkousha Hakata Ramen
Address: Block 7 Tamjong Pagar Plaze #01-104
Telephone: 65381880
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 10pm