Monday, November 12, 2018

Meixi's Kitchen : Hakka Yong Tau Fu

This is a new stall opened in the recently renovated coffee shop just beside the food centre, serving handmade Hakka Yong Tau Fu. 

The standard order is 6 items with noodle or rice at $4.20 and at $5.00 if go with the laksa gravy. They will deep-fry the items again and serve it on a separate bowl if you order the soup and laksa version. The handmade items tasted relatively fresh and my all time favorite has to be the stuffed brinjal, meatball, ngor hiang and stuffed tofu. 

The condiments are available at the counter for self-service. There is also a pot of soya beans for you to add into your soup. 

This brand has been around since 1986 and they have a few outlets islandwide.

Block 630 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-972 SINGAPORE 560630
Operating Hours: 7.45 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

[JAPAN] A Foodie's Guide to Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital of Japan, it is the world's most populous metropolis and it offers seemingly unlimited choices of dining to its visitors. It has almost everything that is expected of a city and it has more Michelin-starred eateries than any other city as well. I am in love with this city and these are some of the best eats during my trips. 

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

This 260 years old restaurant is just a stone's throw away from the Ueno train station. 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.

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 unagi with rice, served with a Kimosui (eel liver soup) and a dish of Japanese pickles. The set is priced at ¥3,780.

Tonojyu, which means 'Prince Box', consists of 2 layers of unagi and rice, a layer on top of another layer and it also served along with kimosui and Japanese pickles at ¥6480.

2-9-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 9.30 pm (Mon to Fri) / 11.30 am to 3.30 pm / 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm (Sat, Sun & PH)

This Michelin Bib Gourmand-rated eatery is specialized in Anago Chirashi, it is quite a rare find in Tokyo as most of them are specialized in serving unagi. Their main outlet in Nihonbashi, located in an old Showa building that has a long history dated back to Showa 28 (1953). Hakomeshi is a must try if you are here, Hakomeshi is a term coined by Tamai to describe the style of eating their anago in the traditional Japanese lacquered boxes, which in the 1600s, were tiered into 3 to 5 layers as a convenient way to store and transport food. There are 3 different sizes, the small one at ¥1,750, the medium one at ¥2,950 and the large one at ¥3, 950. 

Do not eat it all but left a quarter for the chazuke, a Japanese dish made by pouring the dashi (broth) over cooked rice. This is done by placing the cooked rice and anago into the small bowl then pour the hot anago dashi over it. You may also sprinkle the remaining negi and yuzu to flavor it. 

To experience Tamai's Hakomeshi, first is to choose the type of anago, there is a choice of simmered in sweet sauce or cooked on the grill, you could also choose to have both, it is serving on rice. To start, have a few bites in the original flavor to experience the fresh and seasonal anago. Then, for a change in flavor, add a touch of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) for a spicy mustard taste. Next, try to sprinkle with some Japanese spices, like 'negi' (leeks) for a mild onion flavor and 'yuzu' for a fresh citric flavor.

1-5-4 Kyobashi Chuo-ku Tokyo 10-0031
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.00 pm / 4.30 pm to 9.00 pm (Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays)

Opened in 1921, they are specializing in yakitori using selected quality ingredients. It has maintains the same high standard all these years. The five-skewer yakitori-don at ¥1,850 during lunch is strongly recommended. It consists of a variety of different chicken parts like the liver and lean Sasami breast, featuring different flavors and textures. 

1-32-11 Tadadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm (Closed on Thur & Sun)

It is recommended on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list. There is always a queue and it is usually long, it extends from the basement stairway to street level mostly. There are 2 main types of pork for selection, there is Rosu (loin) and the other is Hire (fillet). Loin has more fats in the meat, it is usually more tender than the fillet. 

There are different types of tonkatsu, Kiramugi at 190 grams for ¥3200 is amongst the popular choices, using the Aguu breed pork from Okinawa. Another recommended item would be Snow-aged Pork at the same weight and price from Niigata. The orders are served with shredded cabbage, potato salad, Japanese pickles and a bowl of miso soup. Their tonkatsu, arguably, amongst the best in Tokyo. 

3-32-2 Shinjuku, B1F, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo, Japan
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm

Gyukatsu, a deep-fried breaded beef cutlet is as popular as the other Japanese cuisines that you got to try. It is like Tonkatsu but not quite so. This is arguably the most popular restaurant in Tokyo for serving this dish. There are a few outlets in Tokyo and the queues are usually quite long no matter which outlet, it is so even during the odd hours. The menu is quite simple, the only item there is gyukatsu at different sizes, starting from 100 grams (¥1,200) 130 grams (¥1,400) and 260 grams (¥2,100).  There is an option to have it with grated yam for an additional ¥100 and it is supposed to drizzle over the rice. 

The sliced beef is served rare but you could cook it to your preferred doneness using the small grill. It is served along with a pile of cabbage, barley rice, potato salad, pickles, and miso soup. There are also condiments available on every table to go with the gyukatsu. 

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

This is a restaurant specializing in Udon, just a stone's throw away from Shinjuku station, close to the popular Fu-unji ramen. They have been consistently ranked amongst the best udon restaurants since their opening in April 2011.

Their menu has simple descriptions in English. The price range is in between ¥1,000 to ¥1,300 per dish. There is a selection of Zaru Udon, Kake Udon and Bukkake Udon. Zaru Udon is boiled and served cold with the dipping sauce served separately, its texture is springier with a richer flavor. Kake Udon is boiled and served in a lighter taste hot broth, its texture is smoother as compared to the Kake Udon. The Bukkake Udon is boiled then served with a bit of broth, its texture is in between Zaru Udon and Kake Udon. The recommended dish to try is Kake Udon with tempura set at ¥1,300. 

2-14-3, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, 151-0053 Tokyo, Japan
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Mon to Sat)

This is a small shop hidden on a quiet street near Shinjuku Station and not too far from Shin Udon. They serve one of the best bowls of tsukemen in Tokyo. And, there is always a queue. You will order from the vending machine and wait further. There are 2 types of ramen and 2 types of tsukemen, the regular and the special option, and the special options included an egg and pork belly. Tsukemen is recommended as this is what they are known for. Deluxe Tsukemen, which also known as Special Dipping Noodle is priced at ¥1000, it is the same price for the portion size of noodles from small to the large serving.

The flavors and textures nicely complemented each other for a perfect balance. There was nori, pork belly, bamboo shoots and a soft-boiled egg in the broth with dashi powder. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Indulge : not bad, not good

This Western food stall has been in this coffee shop since January replacing the Aston Express. Their menu includes the usual Western dishes together with fusion rice and soba bowls. I decided to have the Chicken Chop Burger ($8.00). The order taker recommended that I should add an egg for $1.00. He said, "Very Nice." He also asked, "What sauce do you choose? BBQ, Teriyaki, Mushroom?" I decided to go with the BBQ sauce. My dining companion wanted Chicken Cutlet ($6.50) with salted egg sauce, the other choice is nachos cheese. Each dish is accompanied with 2 choices of side dishes from the selection of fries, coleslaw, and salad. We decided to go with the fries and coleslaw as I was told that are the default choices. We were given a buzzer for collection after payment at the kitchen window. 

The Chicken Cutlet that was served with salted egg sauce is quite a disappointment.  The salted egg sauce was quite diluted with little to none salted egg flavor. The chicken cutlet was not too big in size and it was rather bland. My dining companion, said, "It is not bad but not good either, just mediocre. The fries were just normal but the tiny scoop of coleslaw was nice."

My Chicken Chop Burger did not fare too well, too. I could only taste the BBQ sauce as the chicken chop did not have much flavor with a soggy skin, serving on a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato.  The fully cooked fried egg did not actually enhance the flavor nor the texture of the burger. 

My dining companion said, "Maybe We should have ordered the rice or soba bowls, it might taste better." While walking out of the coffee shop, we spotted a few bowls of unfinished rice and soba noodles left on the table. He said, "Luckily, we did not order those." 

236 Upper Thomson Road Red House Kopitiam SINGAPORE 574367
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.30 pm (Sun to Thur) / 11.00 am to 12.30 am (Fri & Sat)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Mr Lorbak at Hougang

William Liou, 31, the owner, first started it in a coffee shop in early 2017 at Bedok North before moving to Ubi Avenue 1. He subsequently started another stall at Hougang Street 21. He has also recently started House of Happiness, a stall in a coffee shop along Bedok Road serving claypot rice. Willaim used to be a Group General Manager of a restaurant and he has a diploma from SHATEC. He was inspired by his mother as she used to run a rojak stall in Tampines. He is using a recipe from his mother. 

We went to the stall at Hougang for dinner. This stall is not just selling Lor Bak Rice ($4.50), also known as Braised Soya Sauce Pork Rice but also Braised Pig's Trotter ($7.00), Braised Chicken Wing Rice ($4.50), Minced Pork Porridge ($3.50), Minced Pork Pau ($2.50), Oyster Vegetable ($1.50) and Side Dish Combo ($2.00) consisting braised mushroom, tau pok, braised peanuts and preserved vegetable. We decided to go with Braised Chicken Wings Rice and Braised Soya Sauce Pork Rice together with a Side Dish Combo. The friendly auntie that took my order, asked, "Do you want Oyster Vegetable? the vegetable is very nice today." And, She said, "I do not have enough black fungus so I will be giving you more pieces of braised mushroom."

The Braised Chicken Wing Rice consists of 2 pieces of chicken wings, braised mushroom, braised egg, and black fungus placed on a pile of white rice drizzled with braising sauce. My dining companion, said, "It is not as flavorful as its look."

The Braised Pork Rice consists of a piece of braised meat that was cut in a few piece, a hard-boiled egg, braised mushroom, and black fungus. My dining companion said, "This is better than the braised chicken wings." I have tried when the stall was manned by William at Ubi Avenue. Somehow, it was much better than. 

The only item that I liked of the Side Dish Combo was the braised mushroom, the rest tasted just mediocre. 

Though not the best, this simple taste is homely and comforting.

Block 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-349 SINGAPORE 530212
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm