26 March 2014

Lady M Confections

There are some food that you can never forget. For me, Tim Ho Wan's Baked Char Siew Pau is one example. I am very fortunate that my list of unforgettable food has expanded to include Lady M's Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake ($8.50). Layers of buttery flaky crepes were coated with green tea mousse. The mousse was so soft and it sticks to the fork. Loved how it was not overly rich or sweet, and also not overly bitter. Combined with the flaky milky layers of crepe, this was a well balanced dessert.  How can it be? How can a dessert be so perfect leh?

Here are the different poses of my new found love. Yes I am perverted, so what?

The mysterious pose
The innocent pose
The come-and-devour-me pose
The 5/5 pose

Omg life will never be the same again! Green Tea Mille crepe, I love you!

It's other cousins were less memorable for me. They include the plain vanilla mille crepe which was average, buttery and had a caramelized top. Each layer tasted similar - too milky for my liking and soon I was tired of it. The banana mille feuille had a piece of small banana in the middle, which was engulfed by layers of fattening whipped cream which made me cringe.

Plain Vanilla Mille Crepe ($8) - 3.5/5
Banana Mille Feuille ($8.50) - 3/5

It was surprising to find that the outlet was pretty empty on a weekend. Are we not at One Fullerton? It's a bit weird because there were throngs of passer-bys and tourists outside.

1 Fullerton Road
Singapore 049213

23 March 2014

Tokyo | Ichiran Ramen

I went for a Tokyo work trip and managed to extend for half a day. 

A very precious half day it was. It was the only day which I can explore Japan on my own and eat at my wish. Not that my work-related meals were not good. They were in fact impressive and interesting, ranging from a suspicious Italian-style blowfish to a simple pork chop drizzled with delicious special brown sweet sauce. 

Japanese is my favourite cuisine, along with Singaporean. And nothing beats a savoury umami-rich piping hot ramen. I decided to drop by this highly raved Ichiran ramen, which is a popular ramen chain in Japan. The last time I checked, it had a 4.5/5 Tripadvisor rating. I visited the outlet which was less than 5 minutes away from my hotel in Shimbashi. 

The concept is gimmicky. Basically you eat in cubicles that are separated so that you only focus on the ramen instead of talking to your friend. It is also a loners' haven. You could bring a frenemy here in case you need to eat with him. But it would definitely be unwise to bring a hot date here.

They make sure ordering a bowl of Ichiran ramen is idiot-proof. 

First : Select your ramen at the vending machine outside the restaurant. Egg is sold separately. Collect the ticket.

Second : Look at this electronic board which will show you the empty (空) seats that are available.

Third :  Settled down at my seat which I swore was just a comfortable size for XS me and might be claustrophobic for larger sizes. Ask the waiter for an English order sheet. Tick your preferences. 

Fourth : Press the button below to call for waiter (hidden behind the screen in front) to take your order sheet as well as the meal tickets you paid for at the vending machine

My mother would probably frown at this anti-social restaurant that promotes non-cohesion culture and communication breakdown. Nevertheless, I am fine with it. Sometimes you just want to eat ramen in peace right?

The waiters move around behind the half-lifted bamboo shield in front of my cubicle, chanting lines of Japanese which I assume are courtesy greetings. I can't see their faces. About 5 minutes later, the hands of the waiter served the bowl of tonkotsu ramen. And the shield is drawn down fully. That was the last time I saw of my waiter.

The broth was flavorful and specks of red pepper made it spicy. But it was certainly not the most flavorful one that I had before. The pork was tasty but slightly overcooked. I would have loved the pork to have a melt-in-the-mouth texture. The perfection was in the runny egg and the noodles which were springy and had the right thickness.

I noticed the spoon had a design which allows it to be hooked against the bowl, thus prevent it from sinking into the soup. Hmmm innovative.

To conclude, I had better ramen. The best one is still Keisuke Tonkotsu Ramen Four Seasons followed by Totto Ramen in NYC. Both were amazing.

Address: Various outlets -  http://www.ichiran.co.jp/english/html/map.html

22 March 2014

Tokyo | Tsukiji Market & Sushi Daiwa

There are three types of people who visit the Tsukiji wholesale fish market : 

(a) those who can't be bothered waking up so early. They choose to visit the fish market after 9am when the action is mostly over 

(b) those who are able to defy all odds to wake up and get one of the 120 first-come-first-served tickets to the two must-see tuna auctions at 5.25am and 5.50am

(c) those who are able to defy all odds to wake up but fail to get the ticket to the tuna auction.

Unfortunately, I belonged to the last category. Despite waking up at an ungodly hour of 4am, I was faced with the disappointing truth that all tickets were given out when I arrived at 4.50am. So sad because I am not usually a rise and shine girl. It was probably going to be the only day in 2014 that I woke up at such a freaking time. Damage: irreplaceable restorative beauty sleep, disappointing truth that hard work doesn't pay off, and ¥1000 (~S$12) taxi fare (trains don't run before 6am). 

So I took a walk in Tsukiji market at 5am, and snapped some pictures before a uniformed security guard rushed to us to inform us that the market is not open for visitors until after 9am. 

They used these small and nimble motorised vehicles to move around in the market and transport the freshly caught seafood!

Glorious seafood as fresh as you can get.  Freshly caught by hardworking fishermen in the wee hours of morning while we were still in zzz-land.

Really huge tuna!

I love scallops. They are my favourite!

A sushi breakfast at Tsukiji is a must per Lonely Planet. At 5.15am, the queues outside the famous Sushi Dai restaurant and it's next-door neighbor Sushi Daiwa were already formed. Sushi Dai had a much longer queue which continued at the corner of the block after skipping a shop (the photo below doesn't show the end of the queue). I kept in mind the wisdom of a colleague who said Sushi Dai was not worth the time queuing, hence I queued for Sushi Daiwa instead. And got in after 20 min after the first round of customers completed their omakase style sushi breakfast.

How come these people no need to sleep?
The sushi is served omakase style, which means "leave it to the chef". Meaning the sushi chef makes whatever sushi he wants (ok I think it's based on what are the fresh seafood available that day), and you just eat. The sushi is served with wasabi inside the rice and glazed with soya sauce. At 5am, you can expect fresh seafood that was caught just hours before you woke up on the day itself.

Our chef today. With his limited mix of English and Mandarin, he's still quite entertaining. Kept asking us if it's oiishi (delicious in Japanese). 

In no order of preference but in the precise order they were served, I present to you the best sushi of my life:

Toro (tuna) - Very fresh piece that's worthy to be my first bite of the day. It melts!

At that moment I was thinking, "Damn the start is already so good."

Toro (tuna)

Squid - Yup it is as fresh, smooth and chewy as it looks. 

Prawn - Per chef, this was still alive when served!

Sea urchin (uni) - The world changed when I put this in my mouth!!! The creamy sweet uni just melts. You know, like melts. I thought the entire ocean was inside my mouth.
Sea urchin (uni)
Tuna and Ikura (roe) rolls - I love the Ikura roll which was sweet.
Tuna (left), Ikura (right)
Prawn head - Which was fried and omg it was so good and fragrant and crispy.
Prawn head
Otoro (medium fat tuna) - Best tuna ever. The fats disintegrated automatically in my mouth. Enuff said.

Kampachi (yellow tail fish) 
Kampachi (left), Otoro (right) 
Sea eel - This also just disintegrated automatically into bliss. Best eel ever. Enuff said.
Sea eel
Tamago (egg) - Soft, fluffy and fragrant
Tamago (egg)
Hotate (scallop) - this was the extra sushi that we ordered, at the recommendation of our chef. Freshest scallop ever.
Hotate (scallop)

Akagai (clam) - chef keep saying it is "action". This was also still alive when presented. 
Akagai (clam)
Hot green tea and fish clam miso soup were served.

The meal ended at 6.15am. I paid ¥4,200 (~ S$50). Thanks to the weakening Yen. 

At the end, I asked myself why I visited Sushi Daiwa. Because after that fateful day, sushi will never be the same again. Every piece represented the freshest form of seafood I had ever ate. The chef asked me to come back the next day. I told chef next year.

I went back to the hotel, with the prawn and the clam fighting each other in my tummy. Not sure who won but it must have been a tiring fight because I fell into food coma after that.

Sushi Daiwa (大和寿司)
Tsukiji Market Part 6 Building, 5-2-1 
Opening hours : 5am to 1pm 

Nearest train station: Tsukijishijo station

16 March 2014

Ssikkek Korean BBQ

My first thought of this place was the name was so difficult to pronounce. 

Well what's in a name? As long as the food is great! Anyway I think the name translates to Food God. 

It's a self-service korean BBQ, which means take-till-you-happy, eat-till-you-drop, stay-till-you-smell.

They have a wide range of different types of chicken, pork, beef and seafood.  After taking a small portion of each to try, we discovered our loves to be the prawns, pork belly, pork collar, pork and chicken marinated in special sauce, golden mushrooms

There were also cooked korean food such as rice cake, omelette, sweet potato. The cooked food was decent despite being left at room temperature. A few types of soups were available.. I had the seaweed soup which was filled with chunks of seaweed.

After cooking and finally ready to eat! The meat was tender and flavorful, slightly charred. 

Favorite pork belly - layers of fat and lean meat served a wonderful variation in texture.

My eyes lit up when I put the marinated pork and chicken (below) into my mouth. The sweet special savory sauce, charred BBQ smoky goodness, and melt-in-the-mouth tender meat was a heavenly combination. 

Desserts include corn soup or red bean soup. We had the red bean soup which was not overly sweet and great for cleansing the palate.

At $25++ per pax, this is a value-for-money buffet that we all ate till we drop. 

They have a few branches but I went to the Tampines outlet.
Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central 1 #04-22/23 s529536

Other outlets:
Oriental Plaza, 291 New Bridge Road #01-01 s088756 (Chinatown)
United Square Shopping Mall, 101 Thomson Road #B1-15 s307591 (Newton)
Junction 10, 1 Woodlands Road #01-21/22 s677899 (Teck Whye)
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