Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fu BBQ Seafood : BBQ Stingray is a must-order

I decided to try this stall that offers BBQ and Cze Cha dishes in a coffee shop out of convenience. I ordered their Salted Egg Chicken ($12) and BBQ Stingray ($12). Both dishes came about the same time. 

The relatively fresh BBQ Stingray was rather good and was served in a good portion, a bigger portion is available at $15, $20 and $25. It was nicely grilled then topped with their spicy sambal sauce and served on a piece of banana leaf. The well-balanced spiciness is good even for those that have a low tolerance for spicy food. 

The Salted Egg Chicken did not have much of the salted egg flavour though bits of the salted egg yolk could be seen scattered on the chicken pieces. It was also not as crispy as expected. This was amongst the worst of salted egg dishes that I have tasted so far. 

I would definitely come back for their other BBQ seafood dishes though not quite likely to order from their Cze Cha menu. They have 2 stalls at Chomp Chomp Food Centre, 1 stall at Feng Shan Food Centre and another stall in a coffee shop at Yishun as stated on their name card. 

Block 122 Ang Mo Kio Fu Avenue 3 Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 560122
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 12.00 am

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kwong Satay : pretty good Pork Satay

Kwong Satay is amongst one of the longest surviving satay stalls in Singapore. After all these years, they still stay true to their old recipe. It is used to produce traditional pork satay which is not as commonly available these days and their soft pork loin satay have been their customers' favourite. They also serve chicken and mutton satay using ingredients like cumin, fennel, coriander, lemon grass, turmeric, candlenut, star anise, nutmeg etc as part of their marinade. It mentioned on their website that the secret to their success lies in the use of saffron, one of the most expensive spices.

Their pork, chicken and mutton satay are at 0.50 cents each. I ordered both pork and chicken, it was well-marinated, nicely grilled to imbue a smoky flavour and not overly charred with its tenderness and juiciness still retained. Both pork and chicken were rather good but the pork fared slightly better. 

The ketupat was moist and they are probably the only one that is using pandan leaves instead of the usual coconut leaves in wrapping the rice cake. 

Their satay sauce is based on a Peranakan-inspired recipe and crushed pineapple is added to the peanut dip which imparts an appetising flavour but it is not as nutty as I would have liked it to be.

They have set up a factory in Bukit Batok Crescent and supply satay to other hawker stalls and eateries as well as to home parties in Singapore. 

549 Geylang Lorong 29 Sin Lian Eating House SINGAPORE 389504
Operating Hours: 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm (Closed on alternate Wednesdays)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Le Yi Shi Fried Carrot Cake : the nicest white carrot cake

When I stood in front of the stall and in the midst of deciding whether I should go with my usual order, which is the black carrot cake or to try the white carrot cake. Auntie smiled and asked me, "White one ah?" I nodded and said, "The $3.00 portion with extra chili." There is also a smaller portion available at $2.50. 

I was asked to take a seat first. While waiting, a customer came by then walked away without making an order. When my order was ready, there was another plate of a smaller portion of white cake and the same customer came by to collect it. I collected my plate of white carrot cake and ordered an iced coffee at the stall just next to it then walked away to find a table. 

I had tried their black carrot cake, it was good but not particularly memorable and thus, I did not expect much.

The chunky pieces of carrot cake were evenly pan-fried to a delightful crispiness and with a generous amount of egg as well as a handful of preserved radish (chye poh) and chopped spring onions. The spiciness of the chili added flavor and further enhanced it. I took a bite and quite unexpectedly, it was love at that first bite. 

This is easily amongst the nicest white carrot cake that I had. The other one used to be Ke Shuang Xing Fried Carrot Cake at North Bridge Road Food Centre but they are no longer serving the traditional fried carrot cake but a fusion version.

It was so good that I have to go back to tell that auntie and also to take away a packet to eat it later. 

She smiled when she looked up and saw me. I said, "The white carrot cake is really nice, I am back to take away a packet." She responded with a wide smile and said, "Thank you." Then, I asked, "How long has this stall been around?" She said, "I am doing this for more than 30 years." Auntie then asked, "Have you ever eaten before?". I replied, "I have tried the black one but the white one is even nicer." She smiled and replied, "Both are equally good.". Then I said, "I remember your hubby used to come by to help you." She replied, "He is only here on the weekends.". She was telling me that she is here as early as 4 am to start the preparation. She said, "After cutting those carrot cake, I am ready to start." I asked, "Do you still make those carrot cake?" She said, "No, no more."

She added 2 eggs to my $3.00 portion of carrot cake. She added extra chilli to fry it together. She said, "I made the chilli myself.". She raised up a metal pot to show the chilli in it. She handed my packet of fried carrot cake to me in just a bit. She said, "Next time, you just need to tell me the white carrot cake with extra chilli."

Block 93 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-38 SINGAPORE 310093
Operating Hours: 5.00 am to 1.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

[JAPAN] Gyukatsu Motomuta : a memorable eating experience

Gyukatsu is a deep-fried breaded beef cutlet and is quite similar to the Tonkatsu. And, the most famous Gyukatsu in Tokyo is at Gyukatsu Motomura, which is one of the most popular restaurants in serving this dish. The queue is usually quite long and it could easily be an hour or even longer than that, it is even so during the off-peak hours.

Their menu is simple as there is nothing else except Gyukatsu but it comes in different sizes. There are the 100 grams serving at ¥1,100, this followed by 130 gram at ¥1,300 and 260 grams at ¥2,100. There is an option to add grated yam for ¥100 and you are supposed to drizzle it over your rice. Some reviews that I came across actually advised going against it as it is not quite appealing and it did not taste like yam and so, I did not order it.

It served along with a pile of shredded cabbage, barley rice, potato salad and pickles with miso soup. The beef cutlet is deep-fried quickly for a slight crispiness on the outer layer but still fairly rare within. 

There is a stone grill for every diner and if you do not like it to be too rare, you could sear it a little to your preferred doneness and then dunked it into the wasabi & soy sauce or horseradish sauce or sprinkled with the rock salt. I did not like eating it with wasabi and soy sauce but I do prefer to have it with horseradish and a bit of rock salt to enhance the savory taste of the beef.  

This is one of the best meals that I ever had. I do think it is worth the long wait. And, there are currently 6 branches in the Tokyo and those in Shibuya are always very crowded so you might want to go the other less crowded branches for a shorter waiting time.

. 3-32-2, B1F, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm

Other branches:
. 3-18-10, B1F, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
. 2-19-17, B1F, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
2-15-13, B1F, Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
1-6-14, Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
2-5-1 Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jenny's Laksa : Nyonya laksa, cooked with love

I first came across this stall when a friend posted it on Facebook. He went to try and liked it enough to recommend it. They are located in the coffee shop that is directly opposite Teck Ghee Court Market along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, the same market that I used to visit with my late Grandpa. We used to go there for breakfast and for our usual coffee sessions then shopping at the wet market on a regular basis. I have not been going there that often ever since his passing about 4 years ago. This food centre and the market have always been bringing back a lot of fond memories. 

This stall started in October 2016 by a 28 years old next generation hawker using a recipe for Nyonya laksa that has been passed down from his grandmother to his mother. He even named this stall after his 63 years old mother. He started cooking at the tender age of 15 and eventually learned how to cook the laksa at 21 years old. This stall is a family business, he is doing the cooking, his mother is helping to prepare the ingredients and his elder sister is taking the orders as well as serving it. They usually sold about 60 to 80 bowls on weekdays and 140 to 170 bowls on weekends. And, to maintain the consistency of its standard, he is doing it by eating a bowl of his laksa each day. 

The taste is lighter though not as rich but it is flavorful enough. Coconut milk is added to actually make a difference, it is one of the main ingredients for a more authentic flavor. It tasted different as compared to the other laksa that is using condensed milk, a usual and cheaper alternative.  Everything is prepared from scratch including their rempah, which is also known as spice paste, and the sambal. It starts from the grinding, blending then followed by cooking all the ingredients and no MSG is added during this process. 

There are only 2 choices available and that is, with cockles or with shredded chicken, serving with other ingredients like quail eggs, tau pok and slices of fishcake. They run out of bean sprouts when I was there after 1 pm on a Sunday. Each bowl is reasonably priced at $3.50. 

They also do catering, their laksa set costs $45 for 10 pax and you have to order at least 3 days in advance. As for the coming Chinese New Year, they are providing their laksa base at $28.80 for 10 pax and the laksa set is at $48.80 for 10 pax, too. Delivery charges are applicable from $8 to $15 depending on the location and it is free if you order for 30 pax and above. The closing date for ordering is 22 January 2017, before 23:59 hrs. For more details, please visit their stall or check out the contact number on their Facebook page. 

It is heartening to see a family comes together to put in their efforts for a common interest. Though their laksa tasted quite simple but they cooked it with love and serve it with their hearts.

Block 338 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 SINGAPORE 560338
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 3.00 pm (Daily)

UPDATE: They have moved to Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 with effect from 15 March 2017.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beng Hiang Restaurant : Traditional Hokkien Dishes

This famous Hokkien restaurant was founded in 1978 and it has since to be one of the best Hokkien restaurants in Singapore. They used to be at Amoy Street before moving to Jurong East, next to JCube and directly opposite the Jurong East MRT station. 

This was my first visit. As they were 3 of us, we decided to go with their signature dishes like Spiced Sausage & Fried Prawns Balls ($8),  Steamed Bread with Braised Brisket (Kong Bak Pau) ($16), Traditional Hokkien Noodles ($8) and Fried Oysters with Egg (Oyster Omelette) ($12). We wanted to order more but the elderly Uncle that was taking orders stopped us from doing us. He said, "Wor, so many dishes, need to dabao already!" He said, "I'd suggest you take out the Fried Mee Sua, too much for just 3 people. Trust Uncle, ok?" And, we agreed.

Spiced Sausage & Fried Prawns Balls ($8) came first. It consists of a half portion of ngor hiang and the other half portion of prawn rolls. It actually tasted like the Hokkien spiced meat rolls that my late Grandpa would usually handmade for the Chinese New Year using an heirloom recipe. I would prefer the prawn rolls to the ngor hiang a little more though both were equally tasty.

Fried Oysters with Egg (Oyster Omelette) ($12). This was the best amongst all the dishes that we ordered. This is one of their star dishes and almost every table ordered it. The oysters were fresh and juicy and it was served together with the super crispy egg omelette which we enjoyed, to the extent that we actually prefer it to the oysters. 

We ordered the smallest portion of Traditional Hokkien Noodles ($8). It is something that my last Grandpa would have enjoy, it was perfectly braised in the dark sauce to a delightful softness with ingredients such as veggie, sliced pork and prawns then garnished with dried shallots to serve. It was homely and comforting. 

Steamed Bread with Braised Brisket (Kong Bak Pau) ($16) is a signature Hokkien dish, it is a must-order here. The pork belly was braised to perfection and is flavorful. It was perfectly complemented by the softness of the steamed buns when sandwiched it in between. 

We were also served complimentary Red Bean Soup to end the meal. 

It was a pleasant meal. The only regret that i have is not getting to know this place much earlier so as to bring my dearest late Grandpa here for a meal. Their prices are quite affordable and only service charge is applicable and not the GST. 

Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road #02-337 SINGAPORE 600135
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm / 6.00 pm to 9.30 pm (Daily)

Friday, January 13, 2017

[JAPAN] Izuei Honten : a 260 years Unagi specialty restaurant

It is exciting to dine in a 260 years old restaurant that is specialized in Unagi since mid-Edo period till now and it has been highly recommended for Unagi lovers. The location is just a stone's throw away from the Ueno Okachimachi train station, across the street from Ueno Park's Shinobazu Pond. The 7-storey building is quite prominent even from far.

They are still using the traditional methods of cooking eels that have been passed down for generations. Please ask for an English menu if you have difficulties in ordering, it has pictures of the set meals with its prices clearly stated and simple descriptions. The staff is mostly women in yukata, a casual summer kimono, evidently trained in their manners and serving procedures to bring forth the best hospitality experience.

The condiments like extra unagi sauce, sansho pepper, and soy sauce are available on the table.

ordered a Himeijyu, literally means 'Princess Box' which consists of a two-tiered bowl, the top layer is filled with various veggies and seafood as an appetizer and the bottom layer is 2 pieces of freshly grilled unagi on top of Japanese steamed rice glazed with their special homemade sauce and a dish of Kounomono, Japanese pickles. The traditional accompaniment to unagi is usually a small bowl of kimosui, eel liver soup.

The set is priced at ¥3,780. Everything was freshly made, handcrafted and nicely presented, it actually tasted as good as it looks. The unagi was charred-grilled to perfection with a hint of smokiness and a soft texture.

I also ordered a Tonojyu, which means 'Prince Box'.

It consists of 2 layers of unagi and rice, a layer on top of another layer and it also served along with kimosui and Kounomono at ¥6480. The perfectly crisp skin was infused with an aromatic flavor of the charcoal smoke but still soft and light within.

This is probably the best that I have ever eaten, it is utterly delicious though slightly steep in prices but definitely worth the experience.

2 Chome-12-22 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo-to 110-0005 JAPAN
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Don . 档 : Western-Japanese Fusion Donburi in Coffee Shop

It has only started on 19 December 2016, it is a hawker stall in a coffee shop serving Western-Japanese fusion Donburi. As it stated on their Facebook page that they "aim to bring you the best in Western-Japanese fusion Donburi through the finest selection of meats and fine-dining cooking method". They are serving 6 different types of Donburi: Wagyu Beef Don ($12.90), Salted Egg Tempura Don ($9.90), Mentaiko Salmon Don ($9.90), "Sio Bak" Don ($8.90), "Dak Gang Jeong" Don ($7.90) and Garlic Parmesan Chicken Don ($7.90). There are also side dishes like Blooming Onion ($5.00), Dragon Fries ($6.00), Dak Gang Jeong ($6.00), Buttermilk Crispy Wings ($6.00) and Over-baked Blue Ginger Wings ($6.00) to go with dips like Truffle Aioli ($0.50), Wasabi Mayo ($0.50) and Japanese Curry ($0.50). Miso Soup is also available at $2.00. 

I decided to go with the Wagyu Beef Don and when I could not decide on the other item to order, I asked for the recommendation. I was told that their 3 best sellers are Wagyu Beef Don, Salted Egg Tempura Don, and Mentaiko Salmon Don. The handsome chap that was taking my order said, "It actually depends on the type of texture that you want". I went with the Salted Egg Tempura Don. And, he asked, "Do you want to go with Miso Soup, it is only at $1.00 when you order a Don?". I decided to get just a bowl. I paid a total of $23.80. I asked, "Would you serve it to me?" as I overheard he was asking the customer in front of me for the table number. I did not take notice of the "Self-service" signage displayed near the right corner of their stall. That chap did not point it out but agreed to send it to our table. This is a part of good service. Both orders were served at the same time in about 10 minutes by the same chap, he said, "I will bring the Miso Soup over later as it's not hot enough". He brought it over in a couple of minutes together with the receipt which I was not given earlier.

Wagyu Beef Don consists of 54 degrees sous vide Wagyu beef with donburi sauce and served with 72 degrees onsen egg and japonica rice. 

Apparently, i did not like it as much. The texture of the beef was slightly tough and too chewy to my liking. Those sliced beef seemed to be overcooked based on its color.

And, I felt Miso Soup with only wakame and silky tofu is not quite worth the $2.00 and not even at $1.00 when order as a set. It did not have much of the miso flavor, a little too light and diluted. I understand the reasonably high costs involved in running a hawker stall but I still think that they might want to consider to give it as compliment together with an order of Donburi. 

The Salted Egg Tempura Don consists of tiger prawns and assorted vegetables fried in tempura butter then sprinkled with their special salted egg yolk mix and also served with 72 degrees sous vide egg and japonica rice. 

It might not be disappointing if they just named it Tempura Don as I could not taste much of the salted egg flavor from their supposedly special salted egg yolk mix. Those tempura pieces were lightly battered and deep-fried well to get that desired crispiness, it was nicely done actually. 

Though the overall taste was far from 'Oishi' but the stall is only less than a month old, they still need time to fine-tune as well as to make the improvement. I would just give it another go but not too soon.

DON . 档
30 Foch Road #01-02 Fusion Food Dynasty Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 209276
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.30 pm (Daily)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Garden Street Kway Chap : it used to be better

It was started at the already demolished Blanco Court decades ago before moving to the current location. This is another stall in this food centre that has a constant long queue though not as long as Ah Seng Duck Rice and Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle. It started by the father but it has handed over to the son now and this is good as they are still going to be around for a while. 

When ordering, you just need to inform it is for how many people and also whether you want a bigger bowl of flat rice noodles is also known as Kway. And, if you do not want or want a particular item to be included then you will have to mention it when ordering. The basic set that includes braised pork, big intestine, small intestine, tau pok and braised egg with a small bowl of flat rice noodles is only $4

The flat rice noodles were good though not exceptionally outstanding but it is smooth and soft serving in the tasty braising sauce. All the braised items tasted just average though passable, I remember it used to be better when the father was still taking charge of the stall. Now, something is just missing there. Perhaps should give it a more time and it should get better in time to come. The chili sauce has a mild spiciness and it served well as a dipping sauce.

49A Serangoon Garden Way #01-21 Serangoon Garden Food Centre SINGAPORE 555945
Operating Hours: 8.00 to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

[JAPAN] Shin Udon Tokyo : the best handmade udon that I have ever had

Udon Shin is a restaurant specializing in Udon, a kind of thick wheat-flour noodle of Japanese cuisine. They have been consistently ranked amongst the best udon restaurants in Tokyo since their opening in April 2011. It is located in an alleyway a stone's throw from Shinjuku station, about 5 minutes walk to its location, which is in a hidden alleyway of South West Shinjuku area. There are only 6 counter seats and 2 tables in there, only a total of 10 customers are to be served at the same time. This is a local's favorite and there is always a long queue, the waiting time can be quite long but it is worth the while. While waiting outside, the service staff was handing out the menu and started to take the orders. 

They specialize in handmade udon that is made fresh in-house with a strong emphasis on the quality as well as the freshness and so, the noodles are never made in advance. The handmade noodles are cut and boiled fresh only upon the order is made. They even adjusted the boiling time of the noodles by taking into the consideration of the temperature and humidity of the weather. 

Their menu has simple descriptions in English so it is easy to order. The price range is in between ¥1,000 to ¥1300 per dish on their menu. The prices are quite reasonable. 

There is a selection of Zaru Udon, Kake Udon, and Bukkake Udon. Zaru Udon is boiled and served cold on the plate by itself and the dipping sauce that has a richer flavor is served separately from it, its texture is springier. This is supposedly the best way to enjoy the delightful texture of the noodle. Next is Kake Udon, it is boiled and served in a lighter taste hot broth with, its texture is smoother as compared to the Kake Udon. The Bukkake Udon is boiled then served with a little broth, it is the middle of Zaru Udon and Kake Udon. After the selection of Udon, you could also choose your choice of toppings like tempura, beef or grated radish. 

I ordered Kake Udon with tempura set (¥1300) that consists of an assortment of shrimp with vegetable tempura. Even though the orders were placed while waiting in line but the preparation work would only start until we were seated then the kitchen started to roll out the dough for the noodles and cooking it. It took about 10 minutes before the tempura assortment was served. It consists of 2 pieces of shrimp and assorted vegetables. They were lightly battered then freshly deep-fried to ensure its freshness as well as the crispiness and not too greasy as well. 

The warm udon noodles were served in a dried bonito-based broth that was quite appetizing and I ended up slurping every drop of it. The texture of the udon is firm and soft with its tensile strength still intact.

I also ordered Bukkake Udon serving with a special soft-boiled tempura egg and cooked pork fillet (¥1200). The noodles were springy and cooked perfectly. I started by breaking the tempura egg gently and letting the egg yolk flow out before mixing it with the noodles. The balance of the flavors was superb. Those slices of pork fille were quite tender. 

I have had many good meals during this trip but these stood out. It is just so amazing that how something so simple can actually taste so good. Highly recommended. 

151-0053, Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi, 2-20-16, JAPAN
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Mon to Thu & Sun) / 11.00 am to 11.00 pm (Fri & Sat)