Cold Brew Coffee (vs cold drip coffee)

After I saw my friend’s Hario bottle of cold immersion coffee, I started looking for parts that I could get to make my own cold brew coffee. I wanted a glass bottle or jar that was larger so I could have more coffee to drink, and glass that was thicker so it would not break easily. In the end, I settled for a stainless steel filter, a large Ball mason jar and a flip cap that did not fall and interrupt the flow of coffee during pouring.

cold brew 4

Filter within the Ball mason jar. The coffee powder is placed within the filter.

I used my usual organic coffee powder which is a light to medium roast, with a ratio of 1.5 cups of coffee powder to 8 cups of cold water. I actually had trouble filling 8 cups of water into the jar so it is less than 8 cups of water but the cold water is filled up to the neck of the bottle. The cold water has to be added slowly. Give the water time to seep through the filter into the jar. Slowly fill the water up to the neck of the bottle if you are using the ratio above. If the coffee is too strong, it can be diluted. But if the coffee is too weak, there is nothing that can be done about it. I brewed it for 18 hours.

My conclusion:

  1. The filter could not filter out residue coffee powder that had seeped through the filter into the coffee itself. As a result, the coffee that was near the base of the bottle was stronger and more bitter than the coffee that was above. The coffee could be filtered but it was a slow process and the residue was very residueThe coffee residue was very fine and when accumulated at the bottom of the paper filter, it slowed down the flow of coffee considerably.
  2. I read on the internet that some people use a ‘sock’ (not those that you wear on your foot) and even paper towels to filter the coffee. I did not do that with mine.
  3. Coffee oils are also not filtered out, unlike when a paper filter is used. This may or may not bother you. It does not bother me.
  4. Because the bottle is much larger, there is more coffee to drink, as I am not willing to ruin another water bottle to make a larger amount of cold drip coffee. I could just add more water to my 500ml water bottle but I usually do not.
  5. I prefer the consistency of cold drip coffee to cold brew coffee. I did not like the residue remains of the coffee getting into my drink and the bottom bit tasting more bitter than the rest of the coffee so care has to be taken when pouring the coffee.
  6. The longest I would cold brew the coffee is up to 18 hours. The suggested time is between 12 to 18 hours. I think if the coffee is not steeped long enough, the strength will not be there and if it is steeped past 18 hours, it can get too bitter.

So when does one do one and not the other? I think when a packet of coffee is just opened, I would cold drip it as the coffee is freshest then. If the packet has been opened for a while, I might cold brew it. However, if I am having several people over and I need more cold coffee, I’d cold brew it. There is no hard and fast rule — as one wishes, really.

Update: I found myself cold dripping my coffee when there is not enough coffee powder left in the packet to make a full bottle of cold brew.

So there you have it — cold brew versus cold drip coffee!


Cold Slow Drip Coffee DIY

I have my friend to thank for this. She had gotten herself a Hario and was telling me about how her cold coffee tasted. The Hario that she got was actually used to make cold immersion coffee where you pour cold water into coffee grounds and keep it in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours. I was quite sure that was not what I understood to be true cold brew coffee. I thought proper cold brew coffee should be cold drip coffee. I then decided to look for a way to make it the DIY way. I came across this in my search. Towards the bottom of the article, it talks about DIY cold drip coffee. Feeling quite pleased that some people used an Aeropress, plastic water bottle and cold water, I thought I would attempt it as well.

I did not want to use a disposable plastic waterbottle with a pricked hole in the cover, so I decided to use a proper waterbottle instead. In my first attempt, I used a 750ml sports waterbottle but that attempt was a complete failure as I did not take into consideration the vacuum effect which eventually stopped the water from dripping. Duh!

So I decided to cut open the bottom of another unused water bottle to pour my cold water into. I then adjusted the spout of the waterbottle to a reasonable drip rate. These are the steps I took but you may follow the link I posted earlier as well.

1.Wet the paper filter for the aeropress, put it into the cap and screw that onto the main holder of the aeropress.

I used a ratio of 1:8 for my coffee grinds and water. When the coffee powder reached reading no. 1 on the aeropress, I then leveled out the powder and placed a second piece of filter on top of the coffee powder. This is important as it prevents the coffee powder from splashing up when the water is dripped in. In the last picture below, bits of coffee powder got splashed up onto the sides. The filter also evens out the flow of water from the drip so that it covers more areas instead of only one part.

2. Pour in 500 ml of cold water into the waterbottle, which is the estimated 1:8 ratio. Cover the waterbottle so that the cold will last a little longer. Make sure the spout is closed when you pour in your water.

3. Adjust the spout such that the drip rate is about 45 drips to 1 minute. This was not easy to do as either too much or too little water came out. You can adjust the spout over the coffee powder or over the sink. If you adjust over the coffee powder, you can use the initial water that comes out to wet the powder. Be careful that you do NOT put in so much water until the coffee starts to drip out from the bottom. Just have enough water to wet the powder but not to start the drip yet. This helps to bring out the flavour of the coffee a little more evenly. If you think the coffee powder is already wet enough but you have not been able to get a decent drip rate, move the waterbottle over a glass bottle and adjust the drip rate. Once you are happy with a drip rate of 1 drip every 1-3 seconds or 45 drips to 1 minute, then move it back over the coffee powder. Or if you want to leave the coffee powder to saturate a little longer, then let the water drip into the glass for a while first. You can always pour the water back into the bottle when you are ready to start dripping into your coffee. I found that leaving the coffee saturated for 5 to 10 minutes before the dripping actually starts going through to the collection bottle below made the coffee taste better. Here is an article on cold blooming the coffee powder. I thought blooming required water at higher temperatures but perhaps it is not always necessary.

4. When you are happy with the drip rate, you can then leave it to drip for a few hours. I have not timed how long it would take to finish dripping. But do check the drip occasionally to ensure that it does not stop dripping.

The early part of the dripped coffee will be much stronger than the latter part. So if you are going to pilfer the early parts, don’t take the whole lot cos those who drink the latter parts will find that the coffee may not be strong enough. Best to leave the whole thing to drip until it is done and then mix the dripped coffee up before serving.

What I did not do:

  • I did not measure the temperature of the water for the dripping. I basically used cold water with some ice cubes in it.
  • I could not control the drip rate very well. I have ranged from 1 drop every 8 seconds (yawn!) to a slow trickle which I had to immediately shut off and retry. This was when I first tried it and I used that to saturate the powder so it turned out fine.
  • I do not roast or grind my own coffee. I used an organic medium roast for this.


P.S. There is a small device called PuckPuck made by a UK creative design company that is used with the Aeropress to make cold drip coffee easier. You can find out more about it here. A frustrating part of this process is adjusting the consistency of the drip and this little device may just solve that problem. (This publicity is free. I was not paid nor given anything for it.)

Sous vide coffee attempts

I chanced upon a recipe on sous vide coffee while reading a post by someone who tried sous vide coffee with the Anova. I first tried it with some organic coffee that someone had gifted me from England. After I had sous vide it, I kept it in the fridge and drank it as cold coffee. I loved it and thought I would try to make some more.

Another friend had gifted me with some coffee from the Middle East. Without thinking, I followed the same ratio as the coffee I had used before and proceeded with the sous vide. After a couple of hours, I cooled the coffee and proceeded to filter it. That was when I started noticing something was different with this coffee. The residue was so fine that the filter could not filter everything out. And because it was so fine, it took forever to filter. In fact, I had to filter one lot twice as some of the residue went through the filter. In the end, I left it to drip for hours. I found out what I had been given was Arabic coffee (after I YouTubed to find out how to make it) and the coffee was produced in Jordan. I learnt that to drink it, it had to be brought to a boil and then covered and cooled slightly before it is served. Here I was with almost two jars full of sous vide Arabic coffee that I had just made at 65.6 degrees C.

I was in a dilemma. Do I throw the whole thing out or do I try and still have it as cold coffee? Perhaps I should try and see what the difference in taste is first, between how Arabic coffee is normally made and my sous vide version.

I did not have a pot dedicated to boiling coffee so I washed out a pot that I normally used for boiling rice. According to the instructions on the packet, I am supposed to add a teaspoon of coffee powder to 60 ml of water. That was a very small amount, small even for my smallest pot. I decided to do a ratio of 1:8, which was the ratio I had used for the sous vide coffee. I used 1/4 cup coffee to 2 cups water. Due to the different methods of doing Arabic coffee on YouTube, I decided to boil mine until a nice froth had formed and I continued simmering it for about 10 minutes instead of 20 minutes. I noticed that the longer I simmered the coffee, the darker the froth became. So I stopped after 10 minutes and just let the coffee rest for the other ten minutes.

saffron coffee3

Firstly, I was amazed at the colour difference. I guess the reason why the boiled version ended up being lighter than the sous vide version may be due to the time that the coffee powder was in contact with the water. Sous vide coffee was made over two hours, while the boiled version was made over 20 minutes. (Side note: Apparently, Arabic coffee is only lightly roasted, which is why the colour of the roast is lighter than other coffees I have used for filter coffee. The light colour of the roast is not evident in this photo. Arabic coffee that is correctly prepared looks more like tea without milk).

The coffee packet I received already had spices added into it. In comparing the boiled version with the sous vide version, I thought the coffee taste was more obvious in the boiled version than in the sous vide version.

From what I had read before, boiling coffee tends to burn it, which is why sous vide coffee is supposed to be better for folks with stomach problems as it is less acidic. I am not sure if adding spices would moderate that somewhat. Boiling coffee also supposedly burns the coffee. In making Arabic coffee, depending on which YouTube video one follows, the coffee is either just brought to the boil or it is simmered for up to 20 minutes. Spices are added after that. This explains why the taste of coffee seems more obvious (as in the taste comes out more) in the boiled version than in the sous vide version. However, while the taste may be more obvious, it may actually be less concentrated due to the shorter contact time the coffee powder has with the water.

Which one do I prefer? I think I prefer the boiled version though I would not let it simmer throughout the 20 minutes. I am inclined to just bring it to the boil, turn off the fire, cover the pot and leave it for that 20 minutes. I tend to drink my coffee with milk and I do not add sugar.

What shall I do with my sous vide coffee then? I would probably heat it up a little in the microwave and drink it with milk, without sugar, and tell myself to check the coffee I am going to sous vide before my next attempt. Perhaps I should invest in a smaller pot for boiling coffee next.




The lovely fragrance of floral teas greeted us as we opened the door. The place was crowded on a wintry Saturday afternoon. Seated at the counter, we struck up an engaging conversation with the server who happened to be the owner. Seeing that I was not local, she spoke English and graciously translated the names of tea for me verbally. We were too late for the lunch sets which had more savoury options. We soon settled for an afternoon tea set. Though we only ordered one cup of tea and a tea set, we were given several different types of tea to sample which I thought was rather generous. We were particularly fascinated with moringa tea, having tasted moringa powder before which we disliked due to its strong unpleasant taste. But the herb itself was known for its numerous medicinal and health benefits and we asked the owner her opinion on the herbal tea. She offered us a tea blend of moringa, strawberry and something else whose name I forgot. The taste was rather pleasant as the moringa was present in a far more palatable amount, this being a tea blend.

The scone set turned out to be just nice and delightful. The scones themselves were light – not too buttery nor heavy unlike some scones I’ve tasted elsewhere – and slightly crunchy and coupled with tea sauce and whipped cream that could also be eaten with a tinge of salt, they turned out to be the perfect afternoon tea set.

I must confess that my knowledge of tea is limited to common ones found in supermarkets like Boh, Dilmah, Twinings and TWG (which is not found in supermarkets). This shop, Echelon Tea House, was like a boutique tea house for Mlesna tea and represented the brand very well.

We left happy and bought more tea as gifts for friends – a tealightful afternoon indeed. And I know just who to recommend this tea house to.

Echelon Tea House shopfront

Echelon Tea House

3 Chome-34-3 Yoshinohonchō, Tokushima-shi, Tokushima-ken 770-0802

Tel: 088-652-7078

Sous vide attempts

I first came across the word when a friend related to me a perfect meal of grilled beef that he had been served at another friend’s place. That friend had taken out a packet of vacuum sealed meat from the fridge, heated it up, seared it and served it perfectly. Piqued with curiousity, I decided to read up more on this method of cooking. Even though all I had on hand then was my airfryer, I decided to try and replicate some of the steps to do a ‘sous vide’ in my airfyer, using baking paper instead of vacuum sealed plastic bags. Without a thermometer on hand, I had to estimate the water temperature and then estimate how much I had to set my airfryer temperature to, in order to keep the water at a certain temperature. It was rather fun to try this and the result is below.   

I am putting the method here in [ ] for those who are interested. The photo shows the result after a second attempt. 

[First, I prepared the steak and marinated it. Then I boiled water until it was steaming, i.e. steam was coming out of the surface of the water but no bubbles had formed in the water yet. Hence, it is not boiling yet. According to what I read, this was probably between 75-85C. This was something I could visually estimate so I used this as a gauge. Singapore is at sea level so the altitude does not affect boiling temperature.
Then I put the water into my baking pan and put my 200g steak onto baking paper and lowered it into the water. Add in a little water first. The meat will not sink to the bottom as it is supported by the water.

Then I put another piece of baking paper on top of the meat and poured the hot water onto it. The weight of the water in the second piece of paper should allow you to shape the paper on top of and around the meat and you should be able to get most of the air out. I am trying to simulate the vacuum effect here though this is not airtight. I am trying to ensure the water in the second piece of paper is in contact with as much of the meat as possible WITHOUT being in direct contact with the meat. If there is not enough water at the bottom, you can add more hot water but make sure it does not overflow. Secure the papers to the side with stainless steel paper clips. Trim off the extra paper by following the shape of the pan.

Then I turned on the airfryer to 130C, for one hour. (Based on what I found out, this temperature would keep the water in the 70-80C range. Without a thermometer, this was just my estimate.) After one hour, remove the meat.

Turn up the oven to 200C. Baste the meat with whatever seasoning or sauce you want, then sear the meat on both sides! Voila! Airfried ‘sous vide’!]

Steps on how I tried ‘sous vide’ in an airfryer

To find out about sous vide, please click the link

Pleased with my first attempt, I decided to buy the necessary equipment in order to do it better. I purchased a gadget that could measure and control temperature off Amazon for under USD$30. There is a temperature probe attached that would cause the electricity supply to cut off once the desired temperature is reached. I plugged in my rice cooker into the socket and placed the probe into the water.

My rice cooker socket is plugged into the controller. The temperature has been set and it controls the switch on the rice cooker.


Temperature probe in the water of the rice cooker


Temperature measure and controller relay unit


The first attempt did not turn out well as the cut of meat was too thin and it was not exactly a good cut either.


I then tried it with a cut of lamb that was almost 2 inches thick and I cooked it at 54.5C for 21 hours. The result was much better. The meat was really tender and almost fell off the fork.


This was another attempt where I cooked another piece of meat for about 2 hours at 54.5C. It was too rare for my liking.


I finally tried cooking it at 58C for 1 hour. Bingo! I think I found the temperature that I am happy with. This is not too rare.


What I learned from trying to cook sous vide with beef and lamb.

  • Use good cuts of meat if you are going to cook the meats for 40 minutes to an hour. They should be one inch thick. I tried rib eye. Meats that are less than one inch thick do not seem to sous vide well. 
  • For thicker cuts of meat, they can be cooked for longer than 2.5 hours to days even, especially for tougher cheaper cuts.
  • 54.5C is the minimum sous vide temperature as that is the temperature that will pasteurise the meat when cooked for an hour. I have been rather nervous about cooking at this temperature as I worry that it will not kill the bacteria. I am a lot happier cooking at 58C plus I do not like my meat to be too rare.
  • Sous vide plastic bags seem rather difficult and expensive to get in Singapore. I use sealable Glad bags that are suitable for freezing and food marinade as they are made in the US and I like the quality a little more than the other brands around. I will still get proper sous vide plastic though as once I tried to sous vide potatoes at 90C and the bags got rather hot and I was concerned they could not take the temperature.
  • To vacuum seal the meat without proper equipment, I placed the meat in a sealable bag and then I lowered the bag into the water up to the seal. The water will push out all the air from the bag. Seal the bag on one end first and as the water pushes the rest of the air out, seal the other end. Be careful not to let any water into the bag as you are sealing it.
  • There is a whole range of sous vide equipment available. I picked a temperature and thermostat controller that I could use with an existing rice cooker or slow cooker. How serious you want to be with sous vide cooking is entirely up to you. I did not want an expensive white elephant in case I lost interest so I decided on something small and inexpensive first. However, it is important to get a reliable one so check out the reviews on the item. Some pieces of equipment come with a built-in circulator as well as temperature control. The built-in circulator is important as it keeps the temperature constant through circulating the water, ensuring that the meat cooks evenly. This also allows more pieces of meat to be cooked at one time. If I am to get a better piece of equipment, I would probably get one with a circulator.
  • There is also a lot of information available on the internet so do read up on the different temperatures to use especially for the different types of meat or dishes that you want to prepare. There are also youtube videos available. So have fun and feel like a king as you tuck into juicy and tender cuts of meat that used to be enjoyed only by those who could afford it.

Disclaimer: The information here is from my limited experience of sous vide attempts. I hope that what I have learned would help to shorten somebody else’s learning curve.

‘The day I made a chef …’

[This post is guest written by my travel blogger friend who blogs here. The following is her experience at the same omakase that we shared. I am posting it here as-is so readers can read about the same experience but from two different points of view. Her signature style is no capital letters at the beginning of  sentences. Enjoy!]

The Day I made a Chef Cry (well, almost)

that was not my intention, i promise. my friend (owner of this food blog) and I wanted to try out the omakase dinner at this japanese restaurant. she had been there for a meal and liked the food. we arrived at the restaurant from different places but were the same, late. anyway, my friend said they called when i asked her to let them know we would be late. when we finally stepped inside the restaurant, we were ushered to a private room (meant for six people)! ooh, i liked the service already… we ordered their hot yuzu drink and the wait staff told us she would inform the chef to start preparing our starter. in an omakase meal, you get served what is available for the day. after a short wait, the starter came. it did not disappoint. for starters (pardon the pun), it was visually stunning and it tasted as good as it looked. 

Minced pork and chicken on mini baguette slices

  after a promising start, we were then treated to chawanmushi with sea-urchin, oyster tempura and springrolls… that was when it started – i ate the springrolls and steamed egg but left the sea-urchin and oyster untouched. the wait staff was surprised. i told them it was my fault that I did not alert them that I didn’t like sea-urchins and oysters. 

the next course was delicious – it was a croquette of crab meat in an amazing sauce, with a side of salad (I couldn’t tell what it was. perhaps it was hollandaise, but I could only guess). it was absolutely superb. 

Real crab meat inside


sashimi next. Nothing to write home about but it was fresh and it was asthetically pleasing. chomped them down with fervour. Loved the wasabi – wondered if they made their own? 

the pièce de résistance finally arrived! slices of wagyu beef, sandwiched between two slices of foie gras, flanked by this delicate piece of daikon which was filled with rice (i earlier thought it was sauteed onions. seriously. how embarrassing.) and cherry tomato halves. unfortunately, i had to give the foie gras a miss. not eating foie gras is a choice and a dietary consideration. that got sent back as well. again, the wait staff gave me a look, as if to ask, why?? we were really full by then, but as i told my friend, i always have room for dessert. and rightly so. 

it was matcha madness – matcha crème brulee, matcha ice-cream and slice crepe on a matcha cake base. green tea heaven, luckily we didn’t order green tea earlier as we loved the hot yuzu drink, which was served in a glass teapot and refilled once with hot water. 

of course, the spanish (or in this case, japanese) inquisition was inevitable. the young japanese chef wondered why i did not eat the stuff that i had left behind. were they unpalatable? we asked if we could meet him so we could thank him for the meal and also explain why i had passed on the sea-urchin and the rest. he was apologetic, i was even more apologetic and had to reassure him that i enjoyed his wonderful culinary creations. he understood and soon left as it was the end of his day. i get that chefs are kinda egoistic when it comes to their creations and want people to appreciate them. but I did not send the food back uneaten intentionally. woah. next time, i have an omakase meal, i will have to tell the chef the long list of food I do not eat… yes, there will be a next time. we have decided we will eat here again. i hope the chef reads this.

Issho Izakaya, 1 Stadium Place, #01-13/K5, Kallang Wave@Sports Hub. Tel: 6702 4708.

Omakase a la française

It was only recently that I was at Issho Izakaya for dinner and their food was good enough that I asked if they did omakase for dinner and the chef said ‘Yes’. Then, a friend asked me if I knew of a place that served good Japanese food and I told her about this place and how I wanted to try the omakase. So we came here. It was a quiet Thursday evening and they gave us our own tatami room. Now that, I call service! We ordered the genmaicha at first thinking that it was not very strong until I realised that that tea had kept me awake the whole night the last time I had it. So we switched to yuzu tea instead. Whew! If this was lunch, I would have ordered the genmaicha as the tea was really fragrant the last time I had it. After calming ourselves down with yuzu tea as we had rushed to the place, we were then ready for dinner.

Before the omakase, we were asked if there was any food that we do not eat. Both of us do not really fancy eels and so I thought it was the end of the ‘forbidden food’ list. Unknown to me though, there were more things that my friend does not eat and I have asked her to post her experience after this post.

Yuzu tea

Sukini which consisted of chicken and pork on baguette, lotus root and renkon chips. I thought the renkon chips tasted like berlinjau and perhaps it is the same item but known by its Japanese name. Who knows? The lotus root was crunchy as were the chips. The meat on baguette was nicely seasoned and the baguette too was crunchy.

Next, we were served uni tofu chawan mushi, oyster tempura and pork springroll. I have not had sea urchin in a while and was rather pleased to be served it.

What a unique chawan mushi!

This was a rather standard sashimi platter. Small but adequate. We were given raw tuna, salmon and scallop.

This was another unique dish – kani croquette with tartar sauce. The crab was a real leg of crab meat which had been deshelled. The croquette was pretty well sealed with a lovely rich creamy sauce inside the crusty exterior.

I never thought we would be given wagyu but here it was. Wagyu with foie gras. What we thought was grilled onion on the side turned out to be rice encircled by daikon which was absolutely delicious and balanced out the meal perfectly. The rice also provided the necessary carbohydrate to our meal, for me anyway.

The dessert was a piece of art in itself. It seems that is the way with Japanese omakase. It always seems to end on a high. We were served creme brulee, crepe with a matcha cake base and matcha ice-cream. The matcha ice-cream was delicious. I did not appreciate the crepe as much. The rock melon had not ripened sufficiently but perhaps that was the intention or dessert may have turned out a little too sweet had the rockmelon ripened further. It was refreshing nevertheless and I liked the sourness of the strawberry at the side as well. The creme brulee had a little surprise inside – matcha mochi! A lovely end to the evening indeed.

What I like about Japanese omakase is that one never knows what one will get. This is now the fourth omakase I’ve tried. All four omakase have been different. There are those who stay more true to authentic Japanese food and others who venture out and combine it with other types of food. Tonight’s omakase clearly had French influence in it which I did not mind at all as I hardly eat French food. Foie gras, which I have not had before, was a completely new experience for me. The other thing I liked was the presentation. It was like being served art! The whole meal was at an affordable price of $80++ per person, not including the yuzu tea. I would definitely come back here and hope that I am given my own tatami room again. Just be sure that there are no major events going on at the arenas or stadiums at the location or you would not enjoy your meal in a relaxed, unhurried manner like we did that day.


Issho Izakaya, 1 Stadium Place, #01-13/K5, Kallang Wave@Sports Hub. Tel: 6702 4708.

Issho ni taberu

Issho in Japanese means ‘together’. I named the post ‘issho ni taberu’ which means ‘let’s eat together’.

We came here for dinner after an event at the Sports Hub. It was crowded but we were fortunate to get two seats at the sushi counter.

It was supposed to be a quick dinner before going home. We ended up ordering a little more than planned.

The genmaicha was really fragrant as it had roast grains in the tea.

Prawn tempura with rice.

One of their signature dishes – buta or pork shabu salad with goma or sesame seed dressing.

Ise Kushi set of ten grilled sticks as we were feeling rather peckish still.

Another signature dessert dish – Blacmange, black sesame panna cota with black sesame ice-cream. This was truly a piece of art.

All in all, we ordered three of their signature dishes. The food was fresh and of good quality, enough for me to enquire if they also serve omakase, to which they said, ‘Yes’. That will be for another time, hopefully when the place is not so crowded.

Issho Izakaya, 1 Stadium Place, #01-13/K5, Kallang Wave@Sports Hub. Tel: 6702 4708.

Omakase @ Kampachi Plaza 33

I have been thinking about trying the omakase at Kampachi for a while since my brother last brought me here for a meal some time ago. Today, I decided to go with my mother. Mum, being an elderly, thrifty Chinese lady, could not understand why I would spend so much on a meal that was half raw and served in such small portions. But I convinced her that it was the experience that people come for, as well as the freshness of the food. This was, after all, a Japanese fine dining experience, over a 7-course meal. Naturally the Chinese 8-course and serving portions came to mind, which was not the case here. Midway through the course, Mum asked if I was full. Well, not Chinese full but sufficiently full, I assured her. She had ordered a bento as well which she was having problems finishing. So she asked me to help her with it. Of course with omakase, the dishes are served in a certain way so as to enhance the palate and appetite progessively. If I had helped Mum with her bento, it would have ruined my palete but she was insistent; very insistent. I managed to convince her that I would help her at the end of the meal.

A sake ball hangs at the door.The ball is made of cedar twigs and is traditionally hung at the entrance of sake breweries to show the arrival of new good quality sake. By displaying it at its restaurant, Kampachi is pointing to its sake selection which is one of the largest in Malaysia, some of which are exclusive to Kampachi.

Kirara roasted rice tea. I love this tea because it is not caffeinated and it has a lovely roast flavour.

The detail that has gone into the furnishing of the restaurant.

Look at the cute rabbit at the top of the teapot! Isn’t this a lovely teapot set with a matching cup. It’s a restaurant, I know, but it’s still lovely.

The appetiser consisted of brinjal, mushroom, spinach and roe salad and hamachi. I have not eaten crunchy brinjal before and I actually do not like brinjal because those that I have eaten are usually mushy. But these were slightly crunchy, complemented nicely by the sea salt. The little salad was also nicely balanced between the vegetables and roe . And the lightly fried hamachi was good too

The appetiser consisted of brinjal, mushroom, spinach and roe salad and hamachi. I have not eaten crunchy brinjal before and I actually do not like brinjal because those that I have eaten are usually mushy. But these were slightly crunchy, complemented nicely by the sea salt. The little salad was also nicely balanced between the vegetables and roe . And hamachi was good too.

The next course was snapper soup. This was light and delicious.

A choice of three sauces.

Good serving portions of tuna, amberjack and flounder sashimi. The flowers too are edible. The flowers are hanaho and shokuyo hana respectively. Both are imported from Japan and are edible. The shokuyo hana was actually a little sweet.

For the sashimi, I was given a choice of three soy sauce choices – normal soy, low salt soy and tosa sauce. The tosa sauce was Kampachi’s own soy sauce and it had bonito in it. Next was the tasting. Which one did I like best, I was asked. Well, I liked the low salt shoyu the best. The contrast between the taste of the fish and the soy sauce was the best. As for the tosa sauce, it was already flavoured with bonito and hence the contrast in the taste did not seem as great. The tuna, yellow tail and flounder were a good size and they tasted very fresh.  I was served another fish dish which actually looked and tasted like cod but I did not take a picture of it. I was busy talking to the waitress who was explaining to me about the side fish. That is the name of the fish, makokare, or side fish. It was lightly fried and it tasted really good as well. Again, light and delicately balanced.

Grilled beef served with the famous Kampachi truffle shoyu sauce.

Next was the beef. This was not part of the menu but I asked if they had beef in the omakase. This was probably where the communication was not clear though it was not really the fault of the staff. I was under the impression that they could let me have beef in my omakase without realising that they had actually replaced one of the items in my omakase. I do not know what was replaced nor did I ask. I only realised this after the meal was over.I had been hankering for Japanese beef since I came back from Japan. The beef there was cheap and good. The beef here was not bad but it was not like the one I had just had in Japan for a fraction of the cost. It was definitely not wagyu nor did it melt in my mouth but neither was the one I had in Japan. I ordered it done medium and it was prepared correctly. Don’t get me wrong, the beef was good but just not the melt-in-mouth good that I was half expecting in a Japanese omakase.

Chirashi don in inari. I thought this was a novel idea. The vinegar in the inari, or beancurd, added a slight sour taste to the chirashi don that we normally know.

This was when my mum asked me if I was full. Well, I was not Chinese full but sufficiently full. The next dish was unexpected and so was the appearance of the chef. Chef Ishigami was as nervous with his English as I was with my limited Japanese. He explained how to eat the dessert, bowed and left. I thought this was a nice finish to my omakase meal.

Again, perfectly balanced in terms of taste. The Japanese dorayaki pancake with sweet red bean filling was just crunchy on the outside and spongey on the inside. The mint, pineapple, strawberry and rock melon balanced each other out nicely, along with the cold vanilla ice-cream and hot pancake. Chef Ishigami said to eat everything together and he was right. How zen is that?!

Two unhurried hours later, we were done. It had been a pleasant lunch.The taste of the food was clean, distinct and fresh.

Unhurried was really appreciated as all the omakase that I have had in Singapore had been rushed. This one was so much more pleasant. It was also the start of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims, and the restaurant was not busy. Each staff who served us was very polite and made sure that we were served well. Whatever question I had was answered in detail, something which would not have happened in Singapore at all. I also appreciated that I was not overly full and that this restaurant was in PJ and not KL because I would not have made that journey downtown for omakase in KL as much as I liked it.


For other Japanese fine dining posts, please check out here, here and here.

Kampachi, P1-02, 1st floor Plaza 33, Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: +60 3 7931 6938.

This was a last minute reservation for one omakase and they were able to accommodate us. Best to reserve if you are planning to have omakase there.

Tabemono 8: Grilled gyuniku @ Shinjuku

So far, we have had fish, chicken, seafood and pork for meat but not beef. And I really wanted to try some beef. Not the super expensive Wagyu or Kobe beef but some beef. So we wandered into a shop which we thought would serve beef. Up until this point, we had based our decisions almost entirely on pictures that were displayed in menus and if the restaurant mentioned that English menus were available in the shop. This particular shop mentioned that English menus were available so in we went.

The waitress handed us the English menu which we read very quickly. We decided on the cheapest portion of beef that we could see on the menu. We were not that hungry and as part of the meal, we had to pay for a drink and a side dish.

The waitress came back with a charcoal grill. The menu had instructions in it on how to douse a fire on the grill and such. Since we had not tried this before, this was starting to look exciting.

But first, we toasted to the last night of our trip with our compulsory drinks. See the old-fashioned charcoal grill behind the drinks. I had not seen one of those in a very long time.

Then our beef arrived, along with the ice cubes for putting out fires and the side dishes.

I proceeded to grill the slices. It soon became very smokey but the place had a rather efficient smoke-sucking system, provided the nozzle was in the right place. It was adjusted to the right position so it turned out to be fine. And no, none of the beef caught fire so we did not need to use the ice cubes.

The beef was really good. There was sufficient fat in the meat so despite being grilled, the meat was still juicy. I am not even sure I will be able to find something similar in SIngapore. The whole meal was about $15 per person, even with compulsory drinks and side salad. If we had not been in such a hurry, we could have ordered a second helping of beef. But we had to be somewhere else by a certain time. Also, the restaurant had been booked out and the place was a smoking restaurant. We managed to get a place only because we were early. We requested to sit near the door so that there would be better ventilation but it turned out that the tables near the exit were already booked and the waitress kindly alerted us to the possibility that the people who had booked the tables were likely to be smokers. So we ate quickly for that reason as well. In fact, we were done in half an hour.  

If I come back to Shinjuku, I’ll probably come back here again. Ja matta rainen!

This is the end of this series.