Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kuro Maguro

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

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. 

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yomoda Soba - Handmade Soba and Udon from Tokyo Now Here in Wisma Atria

I am so honoured to have the chance to collaborate with J Passport, a website that specializes in premium Japanese products and services in Singapore. 

J Passport has invited me to do a review on Yomoda Soba, a newly-opened in Japan Food Town on level 4 of Wistma Atria from Tokyo specializing in handmade soba that is made on-site using 100% buckwheat flour especially imported from Japan. This review will also be available on J Passport's website:

Yomoda Soba is a small restaurant located to the right of the entrance to Japan Food Town. The small Japanese restaurant is decorated with wooden furnishings and warm lights that gives the place a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. The restaurant seats roughly 20-30 people in wooden tables and chairs. 

This is called the Tendon Set which consists of a small bowl of tendon and a choice of Seiro Soba (Cold) or Kake Soba (Hot). 

Side dishes of shibazuke (Kyoto speciality of cucumber, eggplant, perilla leaves, ginger and myoga pickled in plum vinegar), tamagoyaki and marinated mushrooms that will give you a boost in appetite. 

The tendon consists of prawn, braised pork, chicken, paprika, pumpkin and kidney beans tempura laid on top of fragrant Japanese rice, drizzled with delicious homemade sauce. 

Made using only the real center part of buckwheat and purified water, Yomoda's soba and udon are freshly-made everyday in-store. There is more bite to it that the packaged ones found in supermarkets. Kake Soba is the hot version, the broth is dashi stock made from mackerel, sardines, bonito, kelp and shiitake mushrooms. Seiro Soba is the cold version, served with dipping sauce made from a combination of dashi stock made from bonito and kelp and dark soy sauce.

Yomoda Soba serves both traditional-style soba such as Kitsune Soba and Hanamiki Soba and quirky soba such as Tomato Asari Soba and Hot Spicy Soy Milk Chicken Soba. There is a Daily Set me

There is currently a Special Lunch Set going on where you get to choose from Oyako Don Set (Chicken & Eggs Rice Bowl), Yomoda Curry Set (Yomoda Curry Rice), Buta Don Set (Pork Rice Bowl, Kakiage Don Set (Kakiage Tempura Rice Bowl) and Char Siu Don Set (Roasted Pork Rice Bowl) at just $15! 

Yomoda Soba
Address: 435 Orchard Road, Wisma Atria 4th Floor 
Telephone: 66946535
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 10pm (Last Order 9.30pm)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dim Sum at Mouth Restaurant (Marina Square)

I was telling my colleague the other day that I have just been to Red Star Restaurant and their dim sums are well-priced. My colleague went "no no no, when it comes to dim sum, none can compare to Mouth Restaurant in terms of value-for-money and quality", so we went down to Mouth Restaurant at Marina Square to see if their dim sum are really that good. 

I had my first taste of Steamed Chicken Feet at Red Star Restaurant and the fall-off-the-bone tenderness and flavorful taste left a great impression on me, so we decided to order the Steamed Spicy Chicken Feet. It is as tender as ever and the taste is superb. It is every bit as good as those served at Red Star Restaurant

Pan Fried Carrot Cake is commonly found in all dim sum restaurants and in many hawker centers and coffee shops around Singapore, so we decided to order the more exotic Sautéed Carrot Cake Cubes in X.O. Sauce. Chunky carrot cubes are fried together with bean sprouts and eggs. The carrot cake cubes are bigger than the carrot cake commonly found in hawker centers and they have more bite, the crispy bean sprouts adds crunch to the dish. I highly recommend this dish! 

I thought I will be a little more adventurous and order this Traditional HK Rice Roll but I regretted my decision. The rice rolls are too soft and mashy and the sauces are too sweet  for my liking. I still think Swee Choon's rice rolls are the best I have tasted so far. Any objections? 

Steamed Pork Ribs is another popular dim sum that you can find in any reputable dim sum restaurant and Mouth Restaurant's Steamed Pork Ribs in Garlic Sauce is as good any of them. The pork ribs here come without bones which makes it easier to eat, you may call me weird but I actually like them better with bones as half the joy of eating pork ribs comes from chewing the bones. 

Pork and Century Egg Congee is actually not part of the dim sum menu which is weird because congee is very much a dim sum item in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, you should definitely order this as the silky smooth porridge with a generous amount of pork and century egg totally blew me away. Definitely a "must-order" item. 

Wow, these Steamed 'Siew Mai' with Prawn are HUGE! They are almost twice the size of regular siew mai and they are delicious to boot. The sweetness from the fresh pork, huge prawn and fish roe will make you unable to stop after your first bite. Definitely one of my "must-order" item. 

I decided to swap the all-too-common Steamed Char Siew Bao for this Steamed Chilli Crab Bun but I was rather disappointed. The bun is too thick and the chili has totally overpowered the sweetness of the crabmeat. 

Deep Fried Banana Prawn Roll is not something you can find in many restaurants and the sweetness of the banana goes very well with the fresh prawn.

It is impossble not to fall in love with Pan Fried Beancurd Skin Roll because it is so good. The sweetness of the fresh prawn is heightened by the beancurd skin and the pan-frying  gives the it a satisfying crispiness. We were so in love with this dish we ordered a second serving. If I have to choose my favorite dim sum in Mouth Restaurant, this is it. 

Mouth Restaurant is very generous with the ingredients in the Steam Stuffed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf such as chicken, Chinese sausage, cured pork belly and salted egg yolk. The chorus of aromas hits your nose the moment you open up the leaf, each bite leaves a lingering fragrance from the lotus leaf. 

Mouth's Steamed Prawn "Har Gao" is not as good as I envisioned it to be. The prawn filling is juicy and full of crunch but the skin breaks easily and it tastes too floury. 

My colleague has proclaimed many times that Mouth Restaurant's Baked Cream of Salted Egg Yolk Bun is the best Salted Egg Bun he has ever eaten and I have to agree with him that it is indeed very special. Traditional Chinese steamed bun is swapped with a thin pastry skin that is baked instead of steamed. The salted egg yolk filling is runny and has the full flavor of the salted egg yolk with its distinctive grainy texture. Although I can't say it is the best Salted Egg Bun, it is definitely one of the "must-try" dim sum at Mouth Restaurant. 

Mouth Restaurant makes up for its limited variety and slightly high price when it comes to dim sum with great quality. Dim sums at available at both Marina Square outlet and China Square outlet.

Addresses, telephone numbers, emails and directions for both the Marina Square outlet and China Square outlets can be found here.