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.

Advertisements

Tabemono 7: Coffee and Pancakes @ Odakyu, Shinjuku

After a couple of days of not having afternoon tea, I had to have it. We were in Japan after all and if there was one thing I must have on this trip, it was nice afternoon tea so we came here.

Initially I thought the place was rather expensive. We could have a proper dinner for the price of our afternoon tea. That was until we saw the food.

Talk about perfect pancakes! They sure looked perfect.

The organic wheat pancakes were served with a choice of three condiments – maple syrup, strawberry and blueberry jam.

This coffee was a little expensive but it was really good. A plain Americano that was intoxicatingly delicious. I found out later that the coffee beans are organic.

The cafe was on the second floor of Odakyu. At the street level, someone was wearing a yukata and a face mask to promote an event.

Cafe Nature, Odakyu Departmental Store, Shinjuku Main Store, Shinjuku Train Station, Higashi exit.

Tabemono 6: Thai food @ Shinjuku

We had not intended to eat Thai food but we came across two restaurants who seemed to be doing very good business during lunch hour and we decided to try one of them. The first thing I noticed was the size of the noodles in the Pad Thai. They were finer than the usual thin noodles. In fact the size was closer to fat bee hoon size than the thin rice noodles we usually have in Singapore.

Basil Chicken rice


Pad Thai with the much thinner rice noodles.


Both orders came with a small side dish.

The meal was surprisingly good and the food actually tasted better than the Thai food we normally get in Singapore. And no, I did not take a picture of the restaurant front. This was in the side lanes of Shinjuku.

Tabemono 5: Japanised Chinese food @ Shinjuku

There are different types of eating places in Japan. Many of the cheaper places that sell noodles and rice are run by Chinese. Tonight was one such shop. Very little English was spoken here and we communicated in Mandarin instead. After pressing a few buttons on the machine, dinner was served.

This was basically fried pork on rice with a lot of shallots on the top. That was my vegetable portion for the day.

The gyoza were probably frozen gyoza that were fried. The skin was hard in different places and they were oily.

It was only after the meal that I felt the effects of too much MSG in the food. It took three cups of tea to rid myself of the effects of the MSG.

Tabemono 4: Soba and yaki things @ Kanazawa

We met a friend for dinner while travelling through Kanazawa. We settled for a soba dinner as we were not very hungry. What I really struggled with was the smoke from people smoking in the restaurant.

Soba with duck and leeks.


Hot soba with prawn tempura on the side

Grilled sardines which I had mistook for shishamo as they looked similar


Grilled sausage, chicken, chicken gizzard and pork.

The unique part of the dinner was grilling the sardines ourselves. Our Japanese friend told us that the fish was probably already half-cooked so the grilling bit was probably more of a novelty.

Tabemono 3: A Light meal @ Senmaida, Ishikawa

Our next destination was Senmaida, Ishikawa, or 1000 terraced rice paddies. This shop was the only place that sold souvenirs, food and drinks. We ordered a cold udon and vanilla and blueberry ice-cream. Both were really good and inexpensive. I was impressed that this place did not overcharge even though they had a monopoly on the food and souvenirs in the area. 

There are about 1004 paddies, managed by hand, by locals and volunteers.

 

Yummilicious cold udon

Vanilla and blueberry ice-cream

Shiroyone Senmaida

Tabemono 2: Toyamawan sushi @ Iwasehama

Toyama is famous for its fresh sea produce. Seafood like the firefly squid (yes, they actually light up like fireflies) and shiroebi, i.e. white or transparent prawns are quite well-known here. They are also well known for the fishes that are found in Toyama Bay. The bay has been likened to a very deep natural fish tank that is also very near the shore. As a result, seafood could be brought to the table very fresh and quickly.

Our plans had to be changed in the last minute and we were looking for a place to visit before we moved on to our next destination. We decided on Iwasehama. One of the things I wanted to do was to have the seafood. We were referred to this place by the Toyama Tourist Information counter since we were in the area.

Squid

Bento set with fried shiroebi on the side. This bento came with pumpkin croquette and cold soba. It was delicious.

Fresh sashimi.

Toyamawan sushi – a set of ten sushi. The crab was delicious. The taste of the other sushi pieces were more subtle. I am very used to eating tuna and salmon in Singapore. The fish here was obviously fresh but the taste was very subtle. It would have been nice to be able to explore a little more but language was a barrier and there was no English menu which limited my options somewhat.

Miso soup with mushroom and tofu.

The restaurant where we had our lunch.

Since Toyama Bay seafood is famous, I should have researched this a little more and be clearer on where I wanted to go for my seafood. To enjoy good and fresh seafood at Toyama, Toyama City itself may have been a better option.

Tabemono 1: Saizeriya @ Toyama City

For the next few days, I’ll be blogging about different places I ate at, while in Japan. This is the first over several days. Tabemono in Japanese means food or literally (eat + things).

Toyama City is actually well-known for its fresh seafood. But my friend was not keen on raw food so we settled for a place that had enough variety and was affordable.

Saizeriya is a famous chain of Japanised Italian food at very affordable prices. Since I liked the chain in Singapore and knowing that it had originated in Japan, we decided to go there for dinner.

The corn soup was delicious. I could have had another serving.

I ordered this without the bacon bits as I did not want it too salty. It wasn’t salty but it was a little too oily.

These were understandably not spicy enough for Singaporeans but good.

The pizza was a thin crust and just nice to share between two people. No complaints here either.

I love eating their focaccia in Singapore and I love them in Japan as well.

All in all, a very satisfying meal for our first night in Japan. I love that one can eat well and affordably in Japan and regardless of where you go, there is a certain standard of food quality because the food is first catered to a predominantly Japanese clientele. There are places that cater to other races like the Chinese or Koreans, for example, but those places tend to be individual shops rather than restaurant chains.

Saizeriya, 38-11, Kamiiino, Toyama-shi, Toyama, 930-0827/

Sliced beef with red wine sauce, wild rice blend and stir-fried vegetables

I tried this earlier but did not share it as there are so many great cooks out there with wonderful recipes. As with most posts that we read, sometimes it’s just for an exchange of ideas, so here is mine.

Beef preparation:

  • 200g of sliced beef (I like the shabu shabu kind as they are easy to cook and not overly heavy for a meal)
  • Crushed ginger juice
  • 1 to 2 tspn brown sugar 
  • 1 tbspn of soy sauce
  • Crushed garlic
  • Crushed black pepper
  • Dried rosemary herbs

Marinate the beef with the ginger, soy sauce, garlic and sugar, pepper and rosemary herb. Set aside for half an hour in the fridge.

Cooking the beef:

  1. Heat up some oil.
  2. Add in the beef. Beef cooks rather quickly.
  3. Remove when cooked.

Red wine sauce preparation:

  1. Add in a small glass of red wine to the pan where you had just cooked the beef.
  2. Add in 1 tspn of sugar.
  3. Add in 1 tbspn of soy sauce.
  4. Simmer for a little while.
  5. Remove from the pan and place in a small bowl. 
  6. Pour over the beef when eating.

Cooking the organic wild rice blend:

  1. Wash 1 cup of wild rice. 
  2. Soak the rice in 1.5 cups of water. 
  3. Leave for 30 minutes.
  4. Rice to water ratio is 1cup : 1.5 cups.

Method:

  1. After soaking for 30 minutes, bring the rice to boil. The moment the water boils, turn the flame down to the smallest flame. Make sure the pot is covered.
  2. Simmer in low heat until the rice is cooked.
  3. At the end, when the rice looks cooked and the water has dried up, put in a few cherry tomatoes to cook them lightly. Tomatoes should only be lightly cooked and not too overcooked. The moment the skin of the tomatoes are wrinkly or broken, that is when they are ready to be eaten. Tomatoes may also be eaten raw but cooking them lightly enhances their antioxidant activity without destroying too much of their vit C through overcooking.

Please note that not all rice blends need soaking. Follow instructions on packet.

Cooking the kailan:

  1. Wash and cut the kailan into pieces. Separate the stem from the leaves. Heat up some oil in a frying pan. Stir-fry the garlic pieces and stems first.
  2. Add in the leaves, a bit of water and sprinkle some sea salt for taste.
  3. Serve when all the vegetables are cooked.

On a plate, serve the beef, vegetables, rice and tomatoes. This serves two. 

The red wine sauce was separated

Red wine sauce

  

Shiok a do do?

Shiok is a colloquial term for something that tastes so good it has a kick in it. It is usually used with food though at times, it can also be used in relation to a good game or an enjoyable event. Shokudo, on the other hand, means dining or cafeteria or eating place. The title is a play on words.

The outlet at Heartland Mall has been opened for about three weeks at the time of posting. We came here for lunch.

Sliced Teriyaki Beef Omu Rice from the Taste of Hanami menu

 

Wrong order

The reheated version. Huh?

  

The correct order


I had their lunch special which I was quite happy with. There was a mix up in their orders which I did not notice at first. We were served tako balls which we clearly did not order and we told them so. Then I was mistakenly served cappucino which I did not realise was a mistake until I noticed that the coffee was rather cold. I thought it was a little odd that the milk in the coffee was barely warm. I mentioned this to a staff who proceeded to warm up the remainder and served it back to me again! By now I was quite shocked. For a cup of coffee that cost $5.80, I thought the least they could do was to replace it. So I asked them for a new cup, explaining to them that milk that goes into cafe latte has to be a certain temperature but not boiling hot. It turned out the tip was not necessary and the result was my corrected original order. It was then that I realised that I had been given the wrong order before. But they made good and that was important. 

My friend had the Mt Fuji Curry Omu Rice and it was not a good choice. The patty was of poor quality and too salty. The curry was also too oily. She didn’t finish her meal. 

The Sliced Teriyaki Beef Omu Rice was clearly the better value and tasting of the two. Oishikatta deshita! I’ll be back for that.

Being as new as it was, the cafe was still trying to cope with its running during the busy times. There was a nice, smiley uncle who enthusiastically refilled the tea and he made everyone feel welcomed – never underestimate the power of a genuine smile.

Shokudo, #02-00, Heartland Mall, 205 Hougang Street 21, Singapore 530205.