Japanese

Sama Curry’s Lunch Promo

Hokkaido is famous for its soup curry and yes, the gravy is drinkable by itself, unlike the thicker Singaporean/Malaysian/Indian curries that most people are familiar with. It’s interesting that one of the Japanese soup curry restaurants has set up shop in Singapore!

Sama Curry offers a choice of 4 different soup bases – Tomato, Coconut, Shrimp and Japanese.

When I visited, there was a lunch promotion, which had a limited choice of soup curries that could be ordered, but it was inclusive of a side dish (choice of Shrimp Gyoza or Hokkaido Imomochi Cheese) and a drink.

We asked the wait staff for her recommendations on the soup base and she said it was down to personal preference, but she did explain that both tomato and coconut were creamier, whereas the other two were much lighter in soup consistency.

This was the regular menu:

After making our selection of curry, we had to decide on the level of spiciness (from 0-30, with 30 being the spiciest level!)

Instructional guide on how to eat the soup curry:

My friends and I ended up ordering the following:

Marathon Chicken (tomato)
チキンと野菜カレー (トマト)
Spiciness Level: 5

This was my choice, as I love tomato soup, although initially I couldn’t fathom how a combination of tomato and curry would taste! Surprisingly, it was really good! (and in my opinion, the best out of the 3 soup bases that we had ordered)

The chicken leg was very tender and could easily be removed from the bone. I liked that the veggies were pan fried before being added to the curry, as that added another dimension of flavours to the dish. In addition, the tanginess of the soup curry made it quite appetising and I liked it very much! My friends each took one spoonful of my curry to try and the spiciness seemed to hit at the initial mouthful and thus they were a little worried, as they had ordered levels 13 and 15 for theirs.


Special Soup Curry Udon (coconut)
特別スープカレーウドン (ココナツ)
Spiciness Level: 13

This was rather rich and your taste buds may get tired of the flavours halfway through. The soup curry was creamy, but in terms of flavours, my preference leans towards our local curries if I want to have coconut-based ones. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that spicy and didn’t have that same initial impact on the first mouthful as what we had experienced with the tomato (and that was only level 5!)


Special Soup Curry Udon (shrimp)
特別スープカレーウドン (エビ)
Spiciness Level: 15

The shrimp soup curry was indeed a thinner soup than the previous two above and it had a strong seafood taste. As for the spicy factor, when we took the first mouthful, we didn’t feel a thing and were quite surprised as it was level 15, but before we had enough time to react, the burning feeling of the chilli suddenly hit us! It’s the same effect as those mala (麻辣) chilli dishes, where the chilli burn has a delayed impact. My friend seemed to enjoy this, but I still stand by my preference for the tomato based one.


The side dishes that came with the lunch sets included a choice of Shrimp Gyoza (2pcs) or Hokkaido Imomochi Cheese (1pc).

Shrimp Gyoza「エビ餃子」

If you order this ala carte, 6 pieces will be included in one serving, but as part of the lunch set only two were given. I felt that the filling tasted similar to those Japanese shumai that can be found at the supermarket’s frozen section.


Hokkaido Imomochi Cheese「北海道芋餅」

This was not bad and even my non-cheese loving friend liked it! It was a little chewy and tasted more like potato rather than cheese. As part of the lunch set, we were given one piece, but if you order this ala carte, you will get two pieces.


Overall, the food was good and I would highly recommend the tomato soup curry, if you are a fan of tomatoes!

Address:
Sama Curry
68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura, #06-11/12
Singapore 238839.

[Map]

Telephone: 6445 2033

Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm

Nearest MRT station: Dhoby Ghaut

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Categories: Eating in Singapore, Japanese | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lunch Sets at Katanashi An「型無庵」

Katanashi An「型無庵」 is a hole-in-the-wall Japanese izakaya located nestled between some old shophouses. I had heard that they serve reasonably-priced ochazuke lunch sets only on weekdays and thus went to check them out.

At the very moment that I stepped in, I was greeted in Japanese by a Japanese wait staff and ushered to one of the few remaining empty tables in the pub restaurant. Lunch hour can be quite packed, so do try to arrive before 12pm to get a table.

月曜日から金曜日までに居酒屋「型無庵」はだし茶漬けのランチセットがあります。

The lunch menu is limited and revolves around the theme of ochazuke, with different variations available, including some monthly specials. In this instance here, the “tea” is actually dashi broth and thus referred to as dashi-chazuke.

I was amused by the drawings on the disposal wet tissues that were provided at the table. When I looked around, I could see different designs on every table. Hmm…I wonder how much time the staff spend daily to draw them?

According to the information given at the table (see photo above), the food can be eaten in two ways, but I prefer to follow the Nagoya-style for eating unagi hitsumabushi and thus eat this in three different ways!:
(1) Scoop the rice and its toppings into a bowl and eat it as it is.
(2) Do the same as (1), but eat it together with pickles.
(3) Pour the dashi broth over the rice before eating. It will be like having rice porridge (but with firmer rice).

You will find a marked contrast in the flavours, especially between (1) and (3).


The lunch sets typically come with two side dishes of seasoned seaweed and tofu, plus a teapot containing dashi broth. Some roasted rice pops, pickles and wasabi are also provided as additional toppings. My preference is to use the roasted rice pops as a topping for my “porridge”.

Tori Sansai「鶏山菜」– $12
Roasted Chicken and Japanese edible wild plant

This was surprisingly good! The chunky pieces of chicken were tender and had a nice flavour.

All 3 methods of eating go well with this set.


Salmon & Maguro「サーモンと鮪」– $15
Fresh Salmon Sashimi & Fresh Tuna Sashimi

My friend ordered this and she liked it, but didn’t use that much of the soup broth, as she preferred just eating it chirashi don style.


毎月もランチスペシャルセットがあります。三月のは豚そぼろセットと北海道丼セット (鮭、ホタテ、かに、いくら)。

These were the monthly lunch specials for March:

Buta Soboro Set「担々豚そぼろ」– $12
Spicy Minced Pork & Takana (Japanese pickled vegetables)

Mmm…this reminded me of a Chinese dish (i.e. 梅菜扣肉). It was extremeful flavourful and the combination of ingredients tasted better without the soup stock, so I decided to consume them separately.


Hokkaido Set「北海道丼set」– $20
Fresh Salmon, Scallop, Boiled Kani (Crab) & Ikura (Salmon Roe)

The seafood was fresh and I felt that just eating the main dish by itself was extremely satisfying (i.e. without the dashi stock).

If you still want to try it with the “tea”, then my advice is to leave out the salmon and the scallop, as those taste much better when eaten raw (i.e. after you pour the soup stock over, the sashimi will be cooked and thus leave a different feeling and taste in your mouth!), but at the end of the day it is down to personal preference on how you wish to eat it.

Regardless of which method was used to consume the food, it was value for money as the prices were nett, the ingredients were fresh and the service was friendly. Simple fare and yet satisfying.

美味しかったですね!

Address:
Katanashi An「型無庵」
1 Boon Tat Street, #01-01, Singapore 069611.

[Map]

Telephone: 6221 5101

Opening Hours:
11:30am-2:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

Nearest MRT Station:
Telok Ayer

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[Invited Tasting] 8-Course Omakase Menu at Big Sake Bar

In conjunction with Big Sake Bar’s first year anniversary, an eight-course omakase menu has been introduced and it features premium ingredients like grade A4 wagyu beef and otoro, plus an optional sake pairing option, with a choice from three seasonal sakes to suit the different customer preferences.

Located at the Concourse Skyline Building, Big Sake Bar is an izakaya concept restaurant, which boasts a large selection of over 40 different kinds of Japanese sakes and whiskeys. When I first stepped in, my eyes were immediately drawn to the back wall with all the various bottles on display!

The rest of its interior has pre-war Japanese beer posters on its brick walls and is reminiscent of a nostalgic era.

This Japanese gastropub’s trademark “大” (Japanese kanji character for “big”) emphasizes its philosophy, to be “big on food, big on service, big on sakes”. It is run by three good-looking young men, (from left to right) Co-Owners Jeremy Goh, Daniel Kwok and Head Chef Andy Quek.

In order to preserve the freshness of the ingredients and to ensure a great experience, Big Sake Bar will only seat six guests at the main sushi counter each night for their new omakase menu.

This will ensure that diners get to enjoy the full omakase experience as they watch Chef Andy at work. You can even chat with the friendly chef between courses, especially if it’s immediately after the dish has been served to you (i.e. before he starts to get busy preparing the next course).

Big Sake Bar’s new omakase menu will be available for a limited time only from 23rd October to 31st December 2017.

8-Course Omakase Menu
(Available for Dinner from Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 11pm, with advance reservation)
SGD$88 nett per person for the eight-course omakase menu.
SGD$108 nett per person for the eight-course omakase menu with sake.

Century Egg Tofu

This to me is somewhat of a fusion dish as it is usually found on the menus of Chinese restaurants. The century egg has been marinated with Chef Andy’s secret sauce, which is sweet and masks the strong flavour of the egg, so those who aren’t fans of the “100-year-old egg” may find themselves liking this! In addition, the silky smooth tofu is made in-house by the chef and is topped with sprinkles of crispy tempura flakes and slivers of spring onions. Overall, it was a nice start to the meal.


Sashimi Platter

This comprises of botan ebi, mekajiki (swordfish), salmon and aburi (i.e. seared) salmon. The seafood was fresh, the prawn was plump and firm and my favourite was the aburi salmon.


Wagyu Beef Sirloin

At first glance, this may look like a humble dish, but these are slices of grade A4 Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Sirloin flown in from Kyushu, Japan and is definitely a must-try! Although the accompanying ponzu sauce complemented the flavourful beef, I felt that it tasted just as good on its own. The marbling of the meat wasn’t overly fatty and was just right. For more information on beef grades, you can click here.


Sushi Platter

When we first set our eyes on this dish, the initial thought was on what that strange spiky thing at the far end was! It’s actually the prawn head from the botan ebi sashimi that we had earlier and a clever re-use of ingredients so that nothing is wasted.

We were told to start off with the shoyu ikura (salmon roe) and work our way down from left to right to gradually build up the flavours.

I don’t like eating ikura in Singapore, as it usually tastes a little fishy in the country’s hot and humid weather, but the one here was quite alright to me. The next morsel to chomp on was a piece of maki, topped with yuzu infused tobiko and the flying fish roe was really fresh and crunchy. Following on was the tamagoyaki, which was a bit overly sweet to me and I couldn’t really taste the flavour of the dashi stock in it (I’m quite particular when it comes to tamagoyaki, as this is one of my personal favourites).

The final bite was a challenge to eat as it was a deep fried prawn head, sat atop a blob of mentaiko mayo sauce. Now this is the typical sort of unusual food item found at Japanese izakayas and goes well when downed with alcohol. Don’t worry, it’s really crispy and you can swallow everything, plus it’s extremely flavourful! The trick to eating this is to chew off all the protruding sharp ends, which are very crispy, then munch carefully until you reach the main section of the prawn head.


Wagyu Beef Maki

This is actually a temaki (i.e. hand roll), made with wagyu beef as its key ingredient. The beef was seasoned with salt, which made it a little salty, but when eaten together with the other ingredients in one bite, the flavours actually went well together. I much preferred the previous beef dish to this one, although this was good too.


Negitoro Don

This dish uses otoro (the fattiest portion of the tuna, found on the very underside of the fish – this cut is fatty almost to the point of falling apart and can literally melt in your mouth) and is topped crisp green onions sitting atop a bed of premium Japanese rice from Akita prefecture in Japan. A raw quail’s egg is served on the side and you are supposed to add the egg into the rice bowl and mix well before eating.

Thus, I poured the egg in and voila – this is how the dish typically looks like at most restaurants in Japan:

This particular dish is probably what most Japanese will consider to be luxurious, as it contains the most precious part of the tuna.


Asari Miso Soup

People usually think of miso soup as an ordinary and simple soup dish, but the flavours of the soup stock may vary and the ingredients found in the soup may differ too. This one contained plump and firm asari clams, enoki mushrooms and cubes of tofu and the white miso-based soup had a fuller body and flavour, as the stock was made from boiling the clams.


Goma or Yuzu Ice Cream

We had the yuzu ice cream and its zesty flavour was really refreshing, plus it contained bits of peel, which gave each mouthful an extra dimension. It also helped to cleanse the palate from all the flavours from the entire meal.


(Optional) A tokkuri「徳利」 of guests’ choice of sake from a selection of three premium sakes, Toyo Bijin, Nabeshima “Pink Label” or Karakuchi Ki-ippon. Diners will first do a tasting of all three sakes, then pick their favourite one to accompany their meal.

From Left to Right: Karakuchi Ki-ippon, Toyo Bijin and Nabeshima “Pink Label”.

More information on the three different sakes:

Masumi’s Karakuchi Ki-ippon「純米吟醸 辛口生一本」 is a delightfully dry junmai ginjyo (milled to 40-50% removal of each grain of rice) from Nagano Prefecture. The word “karakuchi” means “dry” and this sake is said to be popular with drinkers.

Toyo Bijin「東洋美人」, a junmai daiginjyo (milled to at least 50% removal of each grain of rice) from the Sumikawa Shuzojo Brewery in Yamaguchi prefecture, has a clean entry with a slight sweet finish. This was previously served to President Vladimir Putin during a dinner party at the Japan-Russia summit meeting in December 2016 and it is said that Putin enjoyed the taste of this sake.

Nabeshima “Pink Label”「鍋島 特別本醸造 ピンクラベル」 is a tokubetsu honjozo (milled to 30-40% removal of each grain of rice) from Kashima City in Saga Prefecture. It is a refreshingly sweet sake, with slight effervescence and an excellent aftertaste. This was my personal favourite as I like my alcoholic beverages to be on the sweet side.

Regardless of which sake you choose, all of them go down well with the entire meal.

Overall, the meal was quite satisfying, the ingredients were fresh and my favourite dish was the Wagyu Beef Sirloin. Surprisingly, I did actually enjoy that crispy prawn head although it looked more intimidating than appetising – do give this a try and you may find that you’ll want seconds!


Address:

Big Sake Bar
302 Beach Road, #01-02 The Concourse Skyline, Singapore 199600.
[Map]

Getting There by MRT:
Nicoll Highway station exit A, take the connecting overhead bridge to cross the highway to get to The Concourse (about a 5min walk)

Seating Capacity
Indoor Table seatings – 24
Indoor Bar counter – 6
Outdoor – 12

Contact/Reservations Tel: +62912700 / 96567105

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 5pm–12am
Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays.

Email: enquiry@bigsakebar.com

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Ramen Keisuke Lobster King

When I first heard that Keisuke was opening a branch specialising in lobster broth ramen, I was looking forward to it as I had tried this unique ramen dish at their anniversary celebrations two years ago.

Located at Clarke Quay, this ramen shop opened on 20 Feb 2016 but we only went to try it several weeks later on a Thursday night and found that at 7pm there was already a huge crowd of people queuing to get in!!

Here’s another picture below of the entrance – as you can see from the lighting in the photo, we were still in the queue after the sky had turned dark.

Nothing much to do whilst queuing, so I entertained myself by taking pictures of the menu displays outside the shop. :p


We finally got a table 2 hours later! The interior has a huge bell as its centrepiece.

As it was already 9pm and I was both tired and hungry, the only picture which I took of the menu was of what I was planning to order!

Order sheet

I decided to try the version with Rich Soup, whilst my hubby opted for the Miso version. Plus since we had queued for ages, we ordered their “Special” which included ALL toppings!

We had tried Green Tea Cola previously at other Keisuke outlets and quite liked it, so we ordered it again here.

Similar to their other branches, free beansprouts and hard-boiled eggs are provided to all customers.

Each bowl of ramen is served in a pretty bowl with lobster motifs!

This was my bowl of Lobster Broth “Special” Ramen (Rich Soup) with seaweed, flavoured egg, bamboo shoots, prawn wanton, deep fried prawn balls and a slice each of pork chashu and chicken chashu.

Would I queue 2 hours again for this ramen? Perhaps not but I think 30 mins would still be bearable.

I was somewhat disappointed by the flavour as I had eaten Keisuke’s lobster ramen previously as part of their anniversary celebrations and it was really good but somehow the soup stock at this shop seems to pale in comparison. However, I did think that the Miso version here somehow tasted better than the Rich Soup!

If you have no basis for comparison, you’d probably like the lobster broth at this place. It actually is quite palatable but I will probably go back again when the queues have disappeared.


Address:

Ramen Keisuke Lobster King
3C River Valley Road, #01-07 The Cannery, Singapore 179022.

Tel: +65 6255 2928

Opening Hours: 6pm – 5am Daily (Last Order 4:30am)

Nearest MRT station: Clarke Quay

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Yummilicious Pork Dons at Butahage!

Walking around Liang Court, I stumbled upon Butahage「ぶたはげ」, a restaurant which specialises in Buta Don (i.e. a bowl of rice topped with grilled slices of pork) and so I decided to have lunch there.

The main branch of this restaurant hails from Tokachi, Obihiro in Hokkaido and they had just opened their first branch in Singapore in the recent months.

You may find that the menu is quite limited, but this is typical of most eateries in Japan which specialise in a particular food item. In this case, the menu items revolve around the grilled pork which is coated with their special sauce that has a recipe dating back to 1934!

 

 

The waiter told us that the cheaper set uses pork from Spain, so we decided to order their Premier Butadon set「プレミア豚丼セット」 as it uses premium Japanese Pork and only 30 servings are available per day! All their rice sets use Japanese Yumepirika rice and that makes it even more delicious! This premier set comes with a tofu salad and we each added on a half boiled egg (Ontama) to our order.

A closer look at the grilled pork bowl – just look at the juicy succulent pieces of meat!:

We first tried the pork on its own, with the rice, then decided to put the half boiled egg on top of the pork and broke the yolk, so that it oozed out and covered the ingredients in the rice bowl…

Both methods of eating (i.e. with/without the egg) are equally good but the egg yolk added a new dimension of flavours. ^_^

Whenever I see Hokkaido Crab Cream Croquette 「北海道カニクリームコロッケ」 on the menu, I simply cannot resist ordering this item! It was a little pricey at $6.50 but well worth the money in my opinion, as it is exactly like those better quality ones that you can find in Japan!

Sorry, this croquette was just too delicious that I ate half of it before remembering to take the picture below! :p


VERDICT:
The food here is really good and has the real authentic Japanese taste! Eating here just makes me miss Japan so much and I’ll definitely be back again!!


Address:
BUTAHAGE SINGAPORE
Liang Court, #02-32/33, 177 River Valley Road,
Singapore 179030.

Opening Hours: Daily, 11:30am to 10:00pm (Last Order 9:15pm)
(The restaurant may sometimes close between 3:00pm to 6:00pm)

Telephone: 6268-4821

Nearest MRT: Clarke Quay (then walk for about 5 min to get to Liang Court)

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Japanese | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons – 1st Anniversary Ise Ebi Lobster Tonkotsu Ramen!

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons at Bugis Village was celebrating its 1st anniversary today with a special ramen created for this occasion – Ise Ebi Lobster Tonkotsu Ramen at SGD$10 nett per bowl!

This ramen will only be served all-day, for one day only on 11th May 2014 and is available from 11am-3pm (Lunch) and from 5pm until the soup stock runs out (Dinner)! According to their Facebook page and the flyers on the door, only 500 bowls will be available.

I arrived at about 2pm and there was a queue outside the entrance. My hubby and I joined the line and were given numbers 296 and 297 – yay…was initially worried that it would be sold out by the time we got there!

Whilst in the queue, the staff entertained us by getting us to play some games, with a chance to win some prizes.

Each customer got a chance to try their hand at the Japanese Kendama game「けん玉」.  けん玉の技が非常に難しいと思います! I tried to get the ball into the cup but failed miserably! 😦

My hubby on the other hand, succeeded twice and won some Green Tea Cola!! I’ve tried this drink before and it’s nice!


We finally got a table and saw the chefs busy at work.  お疲れ様でした!


Here’s my bowl of delicious Ise Ebi Lobster Tonkotsu Ramen「伊勢海老豚骨ラーメン」.  美味しいそう?

伊勢海老スープはいい香りですね!美味しかったです!

The lobster soup was flavourful and its taste wasn’t overpowering. It had a nice colour and you can tell from its rich flavour that the soup stock had been boiled for a long time. The noodles came with generous servings of pork slices, menma (bamboo shoot), some greens and half an egg.

They used to serve a crab stock ramen at their Parco branch, which has since ceased operations after the closure of Parco. I prefer this lobster version over the crab, which had a stronger seafood taste.

I do hope they will consider making this lobster ramen a permanent item on their menu! It is really good and would be a shame if other customers who haven’t tasted it yet don’t get an opportunity to try it! I’m sure those who have tried it would definitely agree that they will go back and order it again if it’s available!


Address:
Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons  豚骨王四季(春夏秋冬)
158 Rochor Road, Bugis Village,
Singapore 188433.

Telephone: +65 6333-5740

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri 11:30~14:30 / 17:00~22:30
Sat-Sun & holidays 11:30~22:30

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Japanese | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(CLOSED) Shinkei Japanese Restaurant 「しんけい」

I was invited for a food tasting session which took me to this restaurant in the HDB heartlands…

Shinkei Japanese Restaurant 「しんけい」 opened for business on 10th Oct 2013 in Toa Payoh, offering a Japanese ala carte buffet. On weekdays, they also have a set lunch menu with 6 different choices of bentos.

A selection of 145 dishes are available on the ala carte buffet menu and customers will be spoilt for choice! Crowd favourites are the sashimi, tempura and yakitori dishes.

Before we talk more about the food, here’s a look at the interior of the restaurant…

If you are planning a large family gathering, or dining with friends or colleagues, the restaurant has some private rooms available at no extra charge. You can request for a private room for your party when you make your reservation, but do note that there is a minimum headcount of 10 persons to get a private room.

This particular room can host up to 35 people but if the groups are not that big, then the space can actually be divided into two rooms by moving the folding partition across the middle of the room.

These were some of the dishes which we had tried…

IPPINMONO (Appetizer)

Goma Tofu (Sesame Tofu) – This complimentary appetizer (changes daily) was a cold tofu, with a creamy sesame dressing which was very fragrant.


Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard) – The egg was smooth and had a piece of chicken, shimeji mushroom and gingko nut in it.

  


Shabu Salada (Pork Salad) – Quite a nice salad which had a fragrant sesame dressing and the pork slices were cooked just right.


Jagimo Salada (Potato Salad) – The potato in this salad was quite firm and had vegetable bits in it. I managed to pick up one serving intact with my chopsticks! Tastewise it was not bad but I think this dish may be a bit heavy and not leave much room in your stomach to try out the other dishes. ^_^


Shake Miso Jiru (Miso soup with salmon) – I didn’t really like this miso soup as I found the salmon to be a bit fishy. My preference is for salmon to be grilled or baked, rather than cooked in soups as I don’t think this fish tastes good in soups!


Seafood Somen Salad – This was one of the Chef’s specials which changes daily. The cold noodles come with a prawn, shreds of crab meat and is seasoned with a salad dressing which made this dish quite refreshing.


SASHIMI / SUSHI

Ebi Tempura Maki (Tempura Prawn Sushi Roll) – This sushi roll is stuffed with a fried prawn and avocado. It was okay.


California Temaki (California Handroll) – I didn’t eat this as there were more dishes to come and I had to leave room in my stomach! It looked pretty though…


Spider Temaki (Soft Shell Crab Handroll) – The soft shell crab was nice and crisp but the seaweed was a little limp and soggy. I’m not sure whether that was due to us spending too much time photographing it and thus it was left sitting for some time! LOL…


There’s quite a variety of sashimi options and they are very fresh! Spotted a typo error on the menu as #5 should have been spelled as “Shake Aburi Sashimi” and that partially roasted salmon was nice.

Sashimi Moriawase (Assorted Sashimi Platter) – For starters, you can order this sashimi platter (the portion shown here serves 4-5 persons but 2 of us shared this and almost finished the whole plate!), then re-order just the ones that you like best. I thought the presentation looked good with the salmon rose and the wasabi shaped like leaves.


SHIN Sushi Set (Sushi – Tuna/Salmon/Swordfish) – This looked pretty and the sushi rice was pressed quite compactly but it lacked the taste of vinegar. The raw fish was fresh but the rice didn’t have that authentic Japanese flavour so I was a little disappointed.


KEI Sushi Set (Sushi – Shrimp/Crabstick/Sweet Egg Omelette) – Only tried the egg one as I love tamagoyaki but I think I can cook a better version of it! The taste of the dashi stock and mirin in the egg was quite light and I prefer if it had a stronger flavour. Being a seasoned traveller to Japan, one of the dishes that I tend to judge restaurants by is their tamagoyaki. Anyway, those who can’t tell the difference may like the one here.


YAKIMONO (Grilled Dish)

The restaurant takes pride in the fact that this made in-house. As a result, it is rather labour intensive but they want customers to enjoy their grilled dishes rather than getting those from a supplier which may not have the same quality.

The grill used for cooking these dishes can be seen in the far right of the next picture but I was too busy enjoying my food and didn’t go take a picture of the chefs in action! :p


Yaki Tori (Chicken in skewer) – The succulent chicken pieces were juicy and well marinated. I think this was my favourite dish in the entire buffet!


Tsukune (Chicken Meat Ball) – This ranked second on my favourite list at this buffet. The minced chicken meat was well marinated and there were some crunchy bits in it which felt like cartilage and gave the meatball a different texture, but overall it was a flavour bomb!


Satsuma Age (Home-made Japanese fish cake) – Quite a nice fish cake which was pleasing to the palate.


Asuparagasu Be-Kon (Asparagus Wrapped with Bacon) – The bacon wasn’t that salty (which I like) but I thought the asparagus was a bit dry as the sticks were rather thin and probably grilling had removed all the moisture in it.


Shitake (Japanese mushrooms) – this was my least favourite of the grilled dishes as the mushrooms were dry and chewy.


AGEMONO (Tempura and Deep Fried)

Age Gyoza (Deep Fried Dumpling) – I’m not really a gyoza fan but I must say that this fried version was tasty and was still crispy even when we didn’t eat it immediately after it was served! I would definitely order this again the next time I’m there!


Tempura Moriawase (Assorted Tempura) – This assortment comes with prawns, kisu (fish), eggplant, etc.. I was quite disappointed with the batter as it didn’t taste like authentic tempura batter and was more like a local chinese-style deep fried dish!


Agedashi Tofu (Fried Tofu) – Those who love beancurd will like this as it was quite nicely done and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The outer fried layer doesn’t break away from the tofu when you pick it up, unlike at some other restaurants.


Tako Yaki (Octopus Ball) – This is a deep fried version of the octopus ball and its outer skin was quite crispy unlike those that you can find in Japan which is cooked on a grill. I’ve eaten the famous takoyaki in Osaka so this pales in comparison, but still it has a nice flavour and bite.


Satsuma Imo Roll (Sweet Potato Roll) – This was one of the last fried dishes that was served to us and by then it was towards closing time for lunch and the oil wasn’t fresh anymore, thus you can taste it in the batter. In addition, I felt the batter was a little too thick and didn’t like the texture of it but the sweet potato tasted fine. I am a hugh fan of sweet potatoes but unfortunately this dish didn’t really impress me.


Teppanyaki, Pizza, Rice

Yaki Gyuniku (Stir-fried beef) – Tastewise it was good but I felt that the beef strips were a little chewy and not as tender as I would have liked them to be.


Hamubekon Pizza (Ham Bacon Pizza) – This was quite a nice pizza and I enjoyed it.


Ninniku Yaki Meshi (Garlic Fried Rice) – I didn’t try this as I was already quite stuffed at the end of the meal (plus I don’t like garlic), but others who did eat it said that it was very fragrant!


Verdict:  Must try dishes are the sashimi, grilled dishes and age gyoza. I liked that this eat-all-you-can buffet has a wide variety of dishes to choose from.


Thanks to OpenRice Singapore and Shinkei Japanese Restaurant for the food tasting!


Address:
Shinkei Japanese Restaurant 「しんけい」
600@Toa Payoh, Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #01-06/07/09/10
Singapore 319515.

Phone: +65 6255 5598

Email: enquiries@shinkei.com.sg

Price & Opening Hours:

LUNCH: 11.00am -2.30pm (Last Order: 2.15pm)
Adult: $32++
Child: $22++ (Below 10 years old)

DINNER: 6pm – 10.30pm (Last Order: 9.45pm)
Adult: $35++ (Sun to Thurs)
Child: $24++ (Below 10 years old)

Adult:$38++ (Fri, Sat, Eve of PH)
Child: $26++ (Below 10 years old)

Getting there:
By MRT: Toa Payoh station, take Exit C and walk for about 5 min.
By Bus: 88, 157, 163, 535

If you are coming from the direction of Toa Payoh Library, the restaurant is located at the same building which houses McDonald’s and BBQ Chicken.

Walk through the glass doors and you should be able to find the restaurant.

Alternatively, if you are travelling along Toa Payoh Lorong 4, you should be able to easily spot the restaurant.

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Japanese Dining Bar by Mari 「まり」

I had walked past this Japanese Dining Bar by Mari 「まり」 several times this week but as it was quite inconspicuous, plus the door was closed and you can’t really peek inside, I did not pay much attention to it and whether they serve any food during the lunch hour. Well, my curiosity finally got the better of me and I stopped to take a look…

The entrance to Mari 「まり」 as you can see from the photo, has a sliding door which is typical of many traditional eating establishments in Japan. There is a menu board at the entrance which states they only serve curry for lunch.

I stepped in to find a cosy little bar with a motherly figure behind the counter. There is limited seating with only 3 tables which seat 2 people each. You can also sit at the bar counter or if all seats have been occupied, there is one more table for two which is located just outside the entrance.

The interior looks and feels like those small family-run izakaya type places which are found in Japan, with strains of Japanese music playing in the background.

Upon further scrutinization of the lunch menu which was in both Japanese and English, all items were indeed centred around Japanese Curry but with different variations. The one which instantly caught my eye was the Crab Cream Croquette Curry (カニクリームコロッケカレー) as I’m a huge fan of crab cream croquette and will always buy it when I go to Japan!

I signalled to the motherly figure behind the bar counter, who looked Japanese but I wasn’t 100% certain and was contemplating whether to order in English or Japanese. The funny thing was that I ended up pointing at the menu instead and she repeated my order back to me in Japanese “カニクリームコロッケカレー” (kani kurimu korokke karee), to which I replied “はい” (hai, meaning yes). (^_^;)

I was served with some iced “roasted” tea and was surprised when this was placed on my table (see photo) and thus wondered if the tea was free flow (but I usually don’t drink that much during lunch!).


Salad topped with a fragrant, creamy sesame dressing was served as part of the meal.


My crab cream croquette curry rice finally arrived and it was really good!! The only grumble I have is that there was only one croquette, which wasn’t enough to satisfy my tastebuds!! :p

When you cut the croquette in half, the cream will start to ooze out and it tasted very much like some of the best croquettes which I had previously eaten in Japan. The curry was similar to a home-cooked meal and what a typical Japanese mother will cook for her children at home. There were small chunks of potato and carrot in it and you can feel the motherly love that went into the dish. Overall, it made me reminiscent of Japan…

If you intend to dine here for lunch, do note that the seats fill up rather quickly and the place is full by 12:15pm. There were a few more people who tried to dine here but left as there were no available seats and the lady apologised to them in Japanese. Most of the customers seem to be male Japanese office workers who probably miss their mum’s cooking. Whilst I was enjoying my authentic Japanese curry, I could hear the other customers placing their food orders in Japanese. I must admit that I felt a little out of place there after receiving a few questioning stares (not sure if it was because I’m non-Japanese or because I’m of the opposite gender?).

Regardless, if I happen to be in the area again, I will definitely patronise this place and try the other options like the Fried Oyster Curry and perhaps ask if I can add on a crab cream croquette or two! (⌒▽⌒)


Address:

Japanese Dining Bar by Mari 「まり」
15 North Canal Road, #01-01, Singapore 048827.
Tel: +65 65354327
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00~14:00, 18:00~23:00
Closed on Sat, Sun and Public Holidays.

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Japanese | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tokusen Beef and Foie Gras Don at Ichiban Boshi

Ichiban Boshi is not a new restaurant in Singapore but it is one of the latest restaurants to have recently opened at Vivo City. I decided to drop in for dinner after work and this particular dish on Premium Menu caught my eye, so let’s just say that it was indulgence on a weekday night…

Tokusen Beef and Foie Gras Don 「特選牛とフオアグラ丼」 – Sliced premium beef on rice topped with goose liver and mentai sauce (this is served with miso soup which is not in my pictures below).

When it was served, the beef and foie gras were buried under a huge leaf of lettuce and you can’t really see what’s beneath.

Here’s how it looks without the veggies (couldn’t help it but I ate a few slices of the beef and foie gras before taking this picture). I guess visually it doesn’t look appealing without the greens but tastewise it’s really good! The mentai sauce went well with the beef and goose liver and the beef was tender and had a smoky grilled taste which made it very fragrant. The foie gras was done perfectly and even my hubby liked it (he normally doesn’t eat liver).

I was actually feeling under the weather and didn’t have much appetite but this was so good that I polished off everything down to the last grain of rice! ^o^


Ichiban Boshi
#B2-07/09 VivoCity
1 HarbourFront Walk
Tel: 6376 8318
Daily: 11:30am – 10:00pm (Last order: 9.30pm)

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Japanese | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bijin Nabe 「美人鍋」 at Tsukada Nojo 「塚田農場」

It was my day off from work and after the previous two futile attempts to eat their signature Bijin Nabe (美人锅 a.k.a. beauty hotpot), I had the sudden inspiration to go queue for it and found a friend to go with me as a minimum of 2 persons are required in order to order this hotpot.

Bijin Nabe 「美人鍋」 – It’s a hotpot using quality collagen soup of free-range JIDORI chicken from Miyazaki, Japan, served with various vegetables, shrimps and other nutritional ingredients. The chicken is boiled for 8 hours and the soup does not have any MSG in it. This costs $25++ per person.

ディナーメインメニュー (午後5時から)
自社で育てた「みやざき地頭鶏」のガラを8時間以上煮込んで作る、天然コラーゲンスープ鍋
「謹製 美人鍋」 $25.00 (すべての具材込み、おひとり様)

On weekends, you’ll need to start queuing as early as 4:30pm in order to ensure you get a table (the restaurant opens at 5pm for dinner). As it was a weekday, I thought there wouldn’t really be a queue and arranged to meet my friend at 5pm outside the restaurant (on my previous attempted visits for dinner, the restaurant staff had informed me that all tables are usually taken by 5:55pm).

I arrived at 4:50pm and a queue had already formed! They started letting people in at 5pm but my friend was late and thus I wasn’t allowed to enter as all parties need to be present before you are allocated a table. I would have gotten the last table but instead was placed on the waiting list (mine was the first name on the list) and was told it would be a 1.5 hour wait and they will phone me once a table is available.

In the meantime I went shopping and at 6pm, my mobile phone rang and I was told that my table was ready! Yeah!!

Besides the hotpot, these are some of the other items available on the dinner menu:

We didn’t order any other side dishes apart from the Bijin Nabe 「美人鍋」 as we weren’t sure if we would have room for anything else. It’s a good thing we didn’t as it was rather filling! (especially if you are planning to get refills of the collagen soup)

The hotpot arrived at our table containing lumps of collagen pudding, which was actually the chicken collagen soup in its solidified form (my friend said it looks like tau huay).

Left: How it looked in the beginning…
Right: As the pot was heated up, the collagen melted into a delicious concentrated chicken soup!

 

Chicken pieces are buried within that collagen goodness. Other ingredients to be placed into the hotpot are tori tsukune (i.e. minced chicken to be made into meatballs), prawns, yellow zucchini, watermelon radish, wintermelon, black and white fungus, yuzu, chinese water spinach, chinese cabbage, lettuce, deep fried tofu and mushrooms.

The hotpot set includes a serving of noodles and 3 options are available – Thin Egg Noodle, Rice Noodle or Thick Mochi-mochi Noodle. We decided on the Thin Egg Noodle, fearing that the other 2 options would be too filling.

There were instructions on the wall and also in the menu on how to eat the Bijin Nabe 「美人鍋」 but we thought it was too troublesome to follow all the steps and started to dump everything in… However, one of the staff intervened and insisted that we follow the steps and she systematically placed and arranged the remaining ingredients into the hotpot for us.

Ta da… the beauty hotpot full of all the yummy ingredients:

Cooking the noodles towards the end of the meal…

It was a satisfying meal – we had two refills of the collagen soup, the second time we started feeling that it was a little salty and by the third time it became really salty and we concluded it was probably because we didn’t have any more meat and veggies left to cook with (we only cooked the noodles with the third refill). After two rounds, your tastebuds will start to tire of the soup so I would recommend that one refill should be more than enough! Initially we didn’t put in the yuzu as we were afraid that the citrus flavour would be too strong but by the third round, we emptied the entire serving of yuzu strips into the hotpot as that helped us to retain our appetite.


A complimentary dessert was served to us – this comprised of 2 tiny cubes of konnyaku jelly and the plate was creatively decorated with chocolate sauce and some jam.


We were then each handed a “business card” and asked to write our names on them. These cards are given to customers and you are given a stamp with each dinner visit. First-timers will start from “Assistant Manager” level and you will be “promoted” to the next management level on your subsequent visit, plus you will also be given a free appetizer since you are a returning customer. Thus, make sure you don’t lose your cards!

 


I had previously seen this sign on the wall at the restaurant’s entrance but didn’t understand what it was about – well, now I know! The lady at the counter said they update the numbers daily so this is the count of the total number of customers (both new and returning) since the restaurant opened.

The Bijin Nabe 「美人鍋」 is only served during dinner, so if you drop by for lunch and want to try the chicken collagen soup, you can order some of the noodle soup dishes which are available on the lunch menu. You can read more about my previous lunch visit by clicking on this link.

Does consuming the beauty hotpot make you more beautiful? Well, you’ll need to try it for yourself to discover the effects! 😉


TSUKADA NOJO
Address: #03-81 The Atrium@Orchard, 60B Orchard Road, Singapore 238891.
Phone: +65 6336 5003
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30~15:00, Dinner 17:00~22:00


**UPDATE**

Their 2nd outlet opened at Chinatown Point on 15th July 2013 and this is the only branch which accepts reservations for dinner daily. In addition, starting 1st March 2014, Bijin Nabe will be served during lunch (only at this branch) on Saturdays and Sundays (reservations accepted).
Address: #02-37 Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059413.
Phone: +65 6444 8840

A 3rd outlet was opened at Westgate on 20th December 2013.
Address: #03-04 WestGate, 3 Gateway Drive, Singapore 608532.

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Japanese | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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