Fine Japanese Dining (II)

This is the second ‘high class’ restaurant I went to, and this time it was to try out the omakase menu. Unlike the experience at Tatsuya before, this restaurant had options for omakase in their menu which gave me an indication of the amount I was going to spend, and for how many dishes. The exact details are not mentioned and are in fact not necessary as most customers just want an idea of the price range. For someone who was trying out omakase for the first time, this was very helpful.

My friend and I decided to try the meal that was around S$150. The following was most of what we got. The food was very fresh and even though each serving is rather small, one does fill up significantly in the end.

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This was like a light salad appetizer. I was quite fascinated with the ‘holey’ vegetables.

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Simple salad in a light citrusy soy sauce.

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This array of sashimi was delightful. The Shiso flower that was served was beautiful to look and added to the aesthetics of the dish. The prawns on the right were fresh but one was fresher than the other. What amazed me was that the degree of freshness was discernable.

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A closer shot of the pretty flower.

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Lotus root with sesame seed.

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What’s in the bowl?

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Soup that was tasty but light. It was simply flavourful.

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Grilled Yellowtail cheek. Yum.

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Melt-in-your-mouth unagi sushi.

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Battered vegetables.

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Sushi that was densely packed to the right temperature. It was actually slightly warm.

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Ikura (salmon roe)

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Sliced pickled ginger.

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Tamago (egg)

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Jelly dessert with rice wine in it!

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The unassuming entrance to the restaurant. I did not even recognise this as the entrance at first.

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Chefs hard at work who hardly spoke to each other or to any of the guests.

I would definitely come back here for lunch again. There were two time slots of an hour and twenty minutes each which I felt was a little insufficient. Firstly, we had trouble finding the place and that took a few minutes off the time. Then as we got fuller, we ate slower. In the end, we had to rush in order to finish the food on time as the next batch of guests had already arrived.

Aoki is part of the Les Amis group of restaurants. Reservations are a must.

Aoki Japanese Restaurant, 1 Scotts Road, #02-17 Shaw Centre, Singapore 228208. (Opposite HSBC Bank, Tanglin Branch). Tel:6333 8015

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Wrap & Roll

Staff from the restaurant was handing out flyers of the restaurant and we decided we would give it a try. My friend was recovering from a stomach bug and the noodles sounded good so off we went.

This place looked rather new and it also seemed to be competing against the other Vietnamese and Thai restaurants in the area. With three outlets in Singapore so far, it will be interesting to see how well they do.

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Their mustard lettuce wrap rolls were new and we tried the ones with beef in them. I love rolls and I especially like that they are light, with only the sweet and sour sauce to flavour the rolls. The mustard in the rolls provided a nice extra bite. I loved the edible vege ties as well.

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The other side of the wrap.

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The extra bean spouts, mint and chilli that came with the beef noodles I ordered.

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Pho Beef noodles Soup.

A completely healthy meal that was just right. As its name implies, this is one place to come to, to wrap and roll your own rolls, which we did not get to try this time. This is a franchise, with three outlets in Singapore presently.

Wrap and roll, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, #B3-19, Singapore 238801. Tel: 6509 1555.

Unlikely Hero

We passed this place on the way to another place for coffee. But when we got there, it was crowded. Too crowded for 2pm on a weekday afternoon. Shouldn’t these people be at work? They were probably thinking the same about us. The place was completely self-service, right from the time we entered the place to finding our own seats to joining a long queue to order the coffee. While in queue, we decided to leave and give Hero a try.

It was a good decision. There was ample seating, we were greeted with smiles and even though it was a self-service place, we were actually led to seats and handed menus which had a greater variety of food, though not of coffee.

We sat down and ordered our food. It happened to be a hot weekday afternoon — which weekday afternoon is not hot in Singapore — and the iced water we were served were welcomed relief.

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Cappucino, which my friend was happy with.

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This place had wise cracks like this and other knick knacks for sale.

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Truffle Eggs lunch which my friend dug into rather quickly.

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The Americano I ordered was too strong. They had put two shots of coffee in it instead of one. So I sent it back. What they should have done but didn’t do was make me another cup. It looked like they just poured away half the cup of the earlier coffee and added more hot water to it. I had already added milk to it before. Out of consideration in case the coffee was still too strong, they gave me a miniature watering can of hot water for me to dilute the coffee further should I choose to. The can was more quaint than functional but it did add to the uniqueness of this place. I finished my coffee after adding a little bit more milk to it.

This place ranks very highly for service and conscientiousness. Food was fine. If it is good coffee one is looking for, there are other places that serve really good coffee. Otherwise, this is a place to come to, to chill out over a sufficiently large variety of food and drinks. Oh, meet St Antonio, the wise crack, I mean cat, and try out the tiramisu desserts while here. Certainly, an unlikely ‘hero’ of a place for us.

Tiramisu Hero, 121 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207548. Tel: 6292 5271.

Durian Tea Break

I do not remember the last time I went to a hotel for a nice cuppa, cake and a loooong chat. Today was like that.

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The durian crepe.

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Halved to show the inside of the crepe.

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Sumatran Mandheling Coffee.

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Cappuccino.

This place is known for its durian cakes and it was delicious. The durian was pretty authentic and not overly processed. It was also good durian. I’d certainly come back here for the durian again. The cafe also serves high tea sets. The cups, saucers and plates used in this place were very pretty, giving the place a British high tea feel, yet not so high class to be uncomfortable. Why didn’t I know about this place before?

L’ Espresso Cafe is located within Goodwood Park Hotel on 22 Scotts Road.

Japanised Chinese food!

I love Japanese food even if they are Japanised versions of Chinese food. The 4th floor of Plaza Singapura has had a change of restaurants with Osaka Ohsho replacing Ajisen Ramen. Osaka Ohsho is known as the King of Gyoza in Japan and it has several hundred outlets outside of Japan. In Singapore alone, I am aware of three outlets.

The Kansai area including Osaka in Japan is pretty influenced by Chinese food, which the Japanese has Japanised. I liked it when I had it in Japan before and this place reminds me of the time I was there.

We had the gyoza and vinegared fried chicken. I liked that they added lotus root to the fried chicken dish. The price of their sets were very affordable.

Oishikatta desu.

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Osaka Ohsho, #04-01, Plaza Singapura.

Bagus Makan: Bak kut teh in PJ Old Town

We were in the mood for bak kut teh (pork bones soup) dinner. The best place we knew was in Old Town.

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It was so nice to see generous amounts of freshly chopped garlic and chilli at each table. I don’t eat bakkut teh very often but if this generosity is any indication, the food here must be good. We shall see.

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We ordered a conbination of fatter meat and pork ribs. The fatter portion is served as well as it balances out the leaner pork rib portions making it ‘smoother’ to eat. One may remove the fat portions at will if one so chooses. The soup is herbal and slightly sweet, as opposed to more peppery ones in other bak kut teh places.

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Beancurd in soup.

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I also ordered a separate bowl of mushrooms. Items like taupok (beancurd) and mushrooms can be ordered separately. The portions were generous and they even provided tissue for customers. This is a big deal as in Malaysia or Singapore, food shops usually do not provide such things without charging for them. The place only opens for dinner. This place is value for money, the meat is tender and when dipped into the chopped garlic and chilli in dark sauce, it is simply delicious. A local Chinese newspaper has ranked it among the top 20 BKT places in Malaysia.

A Google search of this place resulted in three places with the same name but at different locations. It is not clear to me if the places are related to each other. Make sure you go to the right place.

Heng Kee Bak kut Teh, No. 1, Jalan 1/10, 46000, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, 46000, Malaysia. Tel: +60 3-7785 1663. This is located in PJ Old Town.

Bagus Makan: Noodles lunch

It was going to be noodles for lunch. So off we headed to this noodles place.

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Fishball noodle soup.

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Garoupa fish soup with mee sua. A healthy option for a change.

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Curry laksa beehoon.

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There was a wide variety of noodles sold here in this coffee shop, ranging from yong tau foo to fish soup and fish ball soup. This place was quite popular with those who live in the area.

Restoran Sun Yun Heong Yun, No. 34, Jalan Damai Utama 1, Taman Damai Utama, 47180, Puchong, Selangor. Tel: 012 366 7131.

Bagus Makan: Coffee Shop dinner

Growing up, it was very common for us to go out to a nearby coffeeshop for dinner. Dining out is quite common in Malaysia, unlike in western countries, and it did not cost a lot unless one went to fancy restaurants. With tasty food being so affordable, one is spoilt for choice for places to eat. Tonight was no different. We simply went to a coffeeshop nearby for a good meal.

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Omelette

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Beancurd dish

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Marmite pork ribs. I have had coffee pork ribs before. This tasted quite good.

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Blanched lettuce. Lettuce was cooked just nice.

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Steamed garoupa. The fish was fresh.

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The name of the restaurant.

The food here was good and reasonably-priced. It was a very popular place and as the night wore on, more customers showed up. I would eat here again.

Restoran Yuen Yuen, 47100 Puchong Batu Dua Belas, Selangor.

Bagus Makan: Nasi Kerabu

This is the first time I had nasi kerabu. This restaurant reminded me of Madam Kwan’s and certainly several of such restaurants serving more pricey local food have started mushrooming in malls all over Malaysia, and they are doing well. It looks like local food is now going upmarket through the setup of these restaurants as customers prefer to dine in air-conditioned comfort rather than sweating it out in hot coffee shops or hawker centres. The value now lies in the whole dining experience and not just the food per se. Serai started out by serving Northern cuisine including certain Thai recipes. Today, they serve a variety of Malaysian, western, Thai and Middle Eastern food. They also serve desserts.

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This meal was served with toasted coconut bits, half a salted egg, fish crackers, raw cut salad combination of cucumber, onion, lemon grass, and curry leaves, one green chilli with meat filling and ayam percik. This was a substantial meal and a little too much. The blue in the rice comes from butterfly pea flower.

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Nasi lemak that did not disappoint. The ayam goreng berempah (spiced fried chicken) was nicely done, with achar (pickled vegetables), and sambal prawns on the side.

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Chicken satay with rice ketupat and satay sauce. It was pretty good though the satay in Penang was nicer than this one. The size of the sticks here may be larger but the smaller Penang satay (or those in hawker centres in Malaysia for that matter) were tastier.

 

 

If we had not been so full, we would have tried their desserts. Next time.

Serai, LG37, Lower Ground Floor, Empire Shopping Gallery, Jalan SS16/1, Subang Jaya, 47500. Tel: +603-5611 3200.

 

Bagus Makan: Sambal Grilled Fish

We decided to try this place because it was not crowded and we were in a hurry. The waiter recommended that we try the grilled fish special. We ordered one and we were so pleased with the freshness of the fish that we ordered a second set, with a different fish. The first one was a grilled pomfret while the second one was grilled kembong. Both were good. We were very pleased with this.

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The fish is topped with sambal chilli paste blend, onions and wrapped in aluminium foil and grilled. What it didn’t have was banana leaf which would have affected the taste but we were happy that the fish was fresh and did not taste fishy. Apparently, the Portuguese have a version of this type of fish but I could not tell which part of it was Portuguese isince I do not know enough about Portuguese food.

Le Garden Cafe, Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall, FG 028;;FG029 Jalan Merdeka, Melaka, Malaysia.