5pax Dinner @ Tao Heung 稻香超级渔港 Mongkok on 12May2013

steamed garoupa - this was very good everyone liked it

steamed garoupa – this was very good everyone liked it

Taohueng 稻香group operates a number of mid-range restaurants catering to different cuisine like cantonese, teochew, shanghai & hakka etc. In my previous visits, I found the individual sets at 迎Joyous One at Tsimshatsui (which was the newest & more up-market within the group) and at Chung Cuisine at Times Square quite ok and good value.

I had a very enjoyable dinner at 稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok with my sis when we visited in Jan2013. However there was always the concern about consistency in these type of restaurants – that one could not really tell the quality of the dish just by looking at the online menu. indeed we had a “not so great” dinner at 潮楼 (another Taohueng restaurant) just the night before (though the set menu had looked very impressive), and we had wanted to change to a late dinner at beef hotpot @ budaoweng 不倒翁 instead. 🙂 however KCP, who was joining us for dinner this evening, could not make the change, so we went ahead with  稻香超级渔港.

酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters

酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters

蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork

蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork

still shy of the set menu the evening before, we decided to go for ala carte instead.  the 2 cold dishes we ordered – 酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters & 蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork (JK thought this was very good) – were both good & not pricy, so that gave us some confidence. 🙂

scallop seafood soup in wintermelon -

scallop seafood soup in wintermelon

the scallop seafood soup in wintermelon, which the restaurant was promoting was kind of disappointing c/w the usual very good cantonese 例汤…so it looked like we were in for some hits & misses.

thankfully we had a really wonderful steamed garoupa next. this was very good & everyone liked it. 🙂

roast goose 烧鹅

roast goose 烧鹅

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

the roast goose was quite good really but we just had a really good one that morning at Yat Lok 一乐@ Stanley Street which was more crispy & tasty. 🙂 JK complained that the garlic 油麦菜 romaine lettuce did not look like romaine lettuce, and it was just so-so – lacking in “wok hae”.

lobster noodle

lobster noodle

we ordered a lobster noodle. the lobster was good but the yi min noodle 伊面 was quite lacking in flavours. it used to be that Mandarin Kitchen in London was the “go-to” place for lobster noodles in London like for 30 yrs. these days any restaurant in Singapore could do a good lobster noodle. it was surprising that the noodles here should be so below par!

稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok

稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok

we had 7 dishes including steamed garoupa & lobster for 5pax for HK$930. that’s about S$30nett. price was not high for just above average food but we were really expecting better. the tricky thing about ala carte was ordering the right dishes which were good for their price. in this case we did just ok but probably still safer than going with the set. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Cheap & Good 大牌档 Dinner @ Keung Kee 强记鸡粥 at Tai Wai Hong Kong on 10May2013

chicken porridge-强记鸡粥

chicken porridge-强记鸡粥

<had another fun dinner at keung kee 强记鸡粥 on 28.9.2013>.

JK had been talking about this 强记鸡粥 in Shatin (which was located at Tai Wai 2 MTR stops from Shatin). 🙂

so we went there on our first night in Hong Kong on 10.5.2013.  JK ordered the popular dishes.

the chicken porridge – their 招牌鸡粥 (top photo) was the best dish for me..the chicken was so sweet juicy & tender like a very good chicken rice chicken & the porridge was so smooth & tasty. 🙂

红烧乳鸽 roast pigeon HK$58

红烧乳鸽 roast pigeon HK$58

椒盐濑尿虾 mantis shrimp HK$80

椒盐濑尿虾 mantis shrimp HK$80

the 红烧乳鸽 roast pigeon was to me just average.  we also had the 椒盐濑尿虾 mantis shrimp.  the 椒盐 deep-fry was actually very well done & tasty..however the shrimp were really “shrimp”, quite small so not fleshy & juicy..so the dish was passable just ok for me.

soy sauce beehoon 豆油米粉 HK$48

soy sauce beehoon 豆油米粉 HK$48

the simple soy sauce beehoon 豆油米粉 was really nice, & we duly polished off the pile of carbo with the porridge. 🙂

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

炸大肠 deep-fried big intestine HK$60

炸大肠 deep-fried big intestine HK$60

the romaine lettuce 油麦菜 in bean curd sauce was nice though JK felt it had not enough “wok hae”..I thought it was because of wet beancurd sauce whereas usual garlic fry would be “high heat dry wok” & good “wok hae”.

the only 败笔 (point of failure) in an otherwise quite wonderful dinner was, oddly, the 炸大肠 deep-fried big intestine – thought that was like the common standard food?? but looked like even the street stalls did better ones than these.

the whole dinner was HK$396 (S$64nett) for 4pax! 🙂 to me it was a really enjoyable meal & experience, and I would want to do more of these tai pai tong 大牌档 dinners when in Hong Kong. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Dimsum Lunch @ 迎 Joyous One on 11May2013

HK$38 BB pigeon

HK$38 BB pigeon

we completed our morning’s 5.7km 2hr hike at Dragon’s Back (Shek O Country Park) on 11.5.2013 a bit early & decided to make our way back to Tsimshatsui where we had made prior lunch reservation at 迎 Joyous One at Nathan Road. 🙂

we had wanted to take the HK$238pax 6-course set inclusive of a glass of wine, but that was not available so we settled down to a good dimsum instead, which could not go too far wrong in Hong Kong. 🙂

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we made the usual dimsum orders. the 潮州粉果. this was ok but i thought Timhowan was better. the steamed fu pei quin was quite good too.

steamed chicken feet

steamed chicken feet

steamed pork rib

steamed pork rib

the steamed chicken feet was good & much better than Timhowan (we later found the one at Lei Gardens was better than both). the steamed pork rib was also a lot better than Timhowan-the sauce was tasty but the pork rib pieces were just average but at least they were not mostly fat like at Timhowan.

mustard veg pig stomach soup

mustard veg pig stomach soup

mustard veg pig stomach soup was just HK$38! this was good we all liked it.:-)

the BB pigeon (top photo) was HK$38 & smaller than the one at 强记 which was HK$58..the skin was more crispy but overall i think 强记’s tasted better.

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the 香煎萝卜糕 was again below average.  it was really surprising that both Timhowan & here could not do this well. the steamed fishmaw was quite tasty, above average…I thought 糖朝 sweet dynasty was better. the 珍珠糯米鸡 was also below average, Timhowan’s much better though that had lots of glutinous rice & not enough ingredients.

char siew cheung 叉烧肠粉 -

char siew cheung 叉烧肠粉 –

the char siew cheung 叉烧肠粉 was good better than the liver cheung fun at Timhowan but i think many HK restaurants did this better.

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the 奶黄流沙包 custard egg bun was just average not as good as Imperial Treasure & Royal China. the 水晶包, a teochew dessert more commonly available in Hong Kong than Singapore was good, except they really should serve this & the custard bun last as a sweet but instead they served both first.

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we had 12 dimsum item + tea + 10% = HK$388 (about S$62 for 4pax). though I made many comparisons here, the lunch was really quite good overall with some pluses & minuses :-), very relax and very enjoyable, and of course it’s still much cheaper dimsum lunch c/w Singapore. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Enjoyable Lunch @ Lei Gardens(利苑) Mongkok on 13May2013

lobsters steamed with superior sauce (上汤局)

lobsters steamed with superior sauce (上汤局)

on the final day of our Hong Kong trip, we did not plan a restaurant to go to.

we first wanted to lunch at the seafood place Rainbow Restaurant at Lamma Island (南丫岛) after the excellent food pictures of mantis prawns, lobsters & what else in my friend’s Facebook set off our “tam chiak” (means greedy for food) cravings…alas we should have done that earlier as Rainbow was only open for dinner & we were taking the 8pm flight.

next we thought to go to Caprice @ Four Seasons, a 2 michelin star restaurant after looking at the online menu for Joel Robuchon, Pierre, Ember & Caprice set lunch. unfortunately Caprice was full for the Monday lunch.

we finally got Lei Gardens(利苑), which I always thought was among the best Hong Kong traditional chinese restaurants, especially their soup (例汤). the one nearest was at Tsai Yee Street洗衣街 ‎Mongkok outlet (as we were staying at Sam Shui Po) and that also happened to be the only 2 michelin star outlet (the other outlets were 1 michelin star). 🙂

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鲍汁凤爪 braised chicken feet in abalone sauce

CJ ordered 3 dimsum items. the first – 鲍汁凤爪 braised chicken feet in abalone sauce – was the best we had thus far c/w Timhowan添好运 & 迎.  the abalone sauce was similar to that for abalone & goose webs so it was very tasty. 🙂 I guess the preparation was different from the usual deep-fried then steamed with black beans chicken feet so may not be fair to compare.

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the soup (例汤) was good as expected,much better than Tao Heung 稻香 restaurants (which was also to be expected). however for this particular soup  it was no better than, & indeed not as good as, the many 例汤 I had at Imperial Treasure Nanbei (from green papaya to 鸡脚草). 🙂

小笼包

小笼包

the 小笼包 didn’t look that great, skin looked thick but actually it was very good, the sauce/soup was very sweet & the skin was normal thin. 🙂

2 small lobsters halved with golden mushrooms

2 small lobsters halved 上汤局 with golden mushrooms

JK was pining for lobsters so we ordered a HK$598 twin dishes combination (common in Hong Kong). the star dish was 2 small lobsters halved 上汤局 steamed in superior sauce with golden mushrooms – this was very good. 🙂

1/2 roast chicken - very crispy skin & tasty chicken

1/2 roast chicken – very crispy skin & tasty chicken

the 1/2 roast chicken had very crispy skin & was tasty so no need the usual 5-spice salt dip. in Hong Kong they called this the 龙凤 dragon phoenix pairing. 🙂

海斑 (garoupa) in claypot

海斑 (garoupa) in claypot

we had another HK$298 2-eats combination.   the 海斑 (garoupa) in claypot was also good tasting very flavourful. it was different preparation, not better than a steamed whole live garoupa but very good the way it was done. 🙂

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the other dish was a thick beehoon in seafood soup – no fish or seafood but very tasty like our good fish beehoon.

garlic heng chai

garlic heng chai

and in Hong Kong, always order vegetables. the garlic heng chai was very good & flavourful too. 🙂

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both JK & I were fan of 奶黄流沙包 custard egg bun. this was good, but I guess no better than Royal China or Imperial Treasure in Singapore.

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we had 3 dimsums & 6 dishes for HK$1320 for 4pax (about S$55nett per person). it was a premium to Tao Heung but for a great deal more satisfaction & “shiokness”.

c.h.e.f andy

Great Value Dimsum @ 1 Michelin Star Timhowan Fuk Wing Street Hong Kong on 10May2013

脆皮叉烧包 crispy char siew bun

脆皮叉烧包 crispy char siew bun

1 michelin star Timhowan 添好运 recently started a Singapore branch at Plaza Singapura queue reputed to be 1.5hrs long. I am not one to queue for dimsum. fortunately there was no queue when we arrived at the Fook Weng shop @福荣街 in Hong Kong just before 12pm on 10.5.2013. 🙂  there was some 5-6pax waiting though when we left the restaurant.

1 of my good friends, who was the chief instigator for this HK Eat & Hike (or maybe Eat & Eat) trip, was much fixated with Timhowan, so it was wise that the first thing we did was to satisfy her cravings. 🙂

Timhowan 四大天王 - crispy char siew pao, pig liver siew mai, waxed meat pan-fried carrot cake, & a mala cake

Timhowan 四大天王 – crispy char siew pao, pig liver siew mai, waxed meat pan-fried carrot cake, & a mala cake

Timhowan has 4 famous dishes 四大天王 – crispy char siew pao 脆皮叉烧包, pig liver siew mai, waxed meat pan-fried carrot cake腊味香煎萝卜糕, & a mala cake马拉糕, as in their paper placemats above. 🙂

I liked the 脆皮叉烧包 crispy char siew bun best! – fillings were that of a great charsiew pao & the crispy skin was unique. I also liked the pig liver siew mai (unfortunately I did not take a picture). It was good, but I guess somewhat less unique as many dimsum places like Star of Canton had abalone siew mai & the 1 michelin star Bo Innovation (& I am sure many others) had foie gras or caviar siew mai. 🙂

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pan-fried carrot cake 腊味香煎萝卜糕

I was much less enthusiastic with the pan-fried carrot cake 腊味香煎萝卜糕. It was really quite average, too average. we have very good ones in Singapore like Imperial Treasure & Crystal Jade etc.

mala cake 马拉糕 (left)

mala cake 马拉糕 (left)

mala cake 马拉糕 was an enigma to me???…my very enthused friend obviously liked this,  said it had very nice flavour (I wonder why haha?) 🙂 the steamed chicken feet – again this was ordinary & below par c/w many Singapore & HK dimsum place

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the steamed fu pei quin -苻皮倦 was good, quite ok. 🙂 the steamed pork ribs were much below par, more fat than meat.

糯米鸡

糯米鸡

the 糯米鸡 was good & flavourful though the small amount of filling were overwhelmed by the very large helping of glutinous rice. still taste-wise it was better than the 珍珠糯米鸡 we had at 迎 later.

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the 潮州粉果 was very good, both skin & fillings, again much better than we had at 迎 later. the har gao was good but usual I guess

桂花糕 osmanthus jelly

桂花糕 osmanthus jelly

the 桂花糕 osmanthus jelly was very good, very fragrant. 🙂

1 michelin star 添好运 Timhowan at 福荣街 in Hong Kong

1 michelin star 添好运 Timhowan at 福荣街 in Hong Kong

we had 12 dimsum items & total bill included tea & service=HK$208 nett (like S$33 for 4pax). well I guess that’s why we came to Hong Kong to eat! 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Kurama (鞍马) & Kibune (贵船) Hike on 20May2013

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Kurama and Kibune are small towns in the hills north of Kyoto & excellent for a short day hike. It is just 30mins ride on the Eizan line from Demachiyagi Station, and about 1 hr all-in starting from (say) Gojo. 🙂 the hill is only 266m and the hike distance is about 2.6km and can be comfortably completed in 1.5hrs (though in our case we took 2 full hrs). 🙂

we started late and decided to take an early lunch along Kawaramachi so we got a 600yen subway pass & took the subway to Shinyakusomae station and walked down Kawaramachi. we found a cheap eat Yayoiken (see  Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto) and took a 690yen bento lunch each.

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we then took the Tozai line to Keihan Sanjo station and changed to Keihan line to Demachiyanagi station & hop on the Eizan line for a 30mins journey to Kurama. 🙂 the train carriage had a few rows of seats facing out the windows. we could see momiji (maple trees) right by the window as the train passed. one needed only imagine how it would be like during autumn koyo (falling leaves) time. At Kurama station there was a poster of the Eizan train driving through the myriad of autumn colours. 🙂

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we started the hike from Kurama side.

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there was a 200yen entry fee (爱山费) at Niomen (仁王门) head of the trail from Kurama side. we did not take the cable car which was just a very short ride & cost 100yen.

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the entire hike was largely shaded even though it was a hot day. we were armed with the usual bottled tea from the vending machine, liquids were something important to have.

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the hike was really pleasant with some steeper slopes and stairs, though it was a bit tiring for my sis.

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there were lots of maple of course (but we already knew that the best time for visiting Japan were during autumn and sakura, so we could only imagine the autumn colours but it was expected and ok). there were lots of giant cedar trees.

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we reached Kuramadera, the main temple.

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we reached the top. there was clear direction signs with distances to Kurama & Kibune. 🙂

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the stretch of cedar woods (with rows & rows ramrod straight cedar trees) was impressive. 🙂

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we reached Kibune about 3.11pm (Japan Time – camera is set to Singapore time), about 2 hrs after we started. 🙂

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we climbed up to Kibune Jingu (贵船神社). surprise surprise they had free wifi…useful if unusual. 🙂

Kibune is also popular for its kawadoko dining, where you sit on some floormat platforms secured over the flowing river beneath and watch the rapids & falls. some say the temperature can be up to 5degC cooler than ambient.  there is also the  nagashi-sōmen (流しそうめん flowing noodles) where you try to catch somen flowing really quickly down a bamboo pipe & dip in sauces like you eat cold soba. 🙂

while we were walking along Kibune river side where all these restaurants were located, there were hardly any customers. perhaps this was not the season & the costs was quite high.

anyway we walked along the Kibune road by the river and came upon a bus station where we paid 160yen each and got to Kibuneguchi station to catch the Eizan train back to Kyoto. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Southeast Kyoto Tour of Tofukuji, Uji & Fushimi Inari on 17 & 18May2013

Fushimi Inari -1000 torii gates 鸟居

Fushimi Inari -1000 torii gates 鸟居

arrived Kansai Airport 6am on 17.5.2013.

there was no queue at immigration and no queue at JR (Japan Rail) office, and we managed to get the 4000yen “Haruka & Icoca RETURN” which comprised RETURN tickets by Haruka Express between Kansai Airport & Kyoto & an Icoca card with 1500yen store-value and 500yen refundable deposit. 🙂

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we bought some burger & salad & got on the 7.27am Haruka Express No 4 for a 90mins journey and arrived Kyoto station at 9am. 🙂

Umeda Sky building at Osaka 173m 40 floors built in 1993

Umeda Sky building at Osaka 173m 40 floors built in 1993

passing Osaka on Haruka Express we saw Umeda Sky building, 1 of Osaka’s 2 famous tall buildings. 🙂

370yen kitsune soba

370yen kitsune soba

there was a soba shop at the station so we shared a 290yen soba + 90yen kitsune (a Japanese fried tofu). 🙂 then we took the Karasuma subway line 1-stop to Gojo.

our hotel Citadines Gojo was located a few steps (like 20m) from Gojo station – so access wise for arrival & departure, it was really convenient. 🙂 for comparison, Karasuma Shijo hotel would be more convenient as it was similarly located at the doorstep of Shijo station on Karasuma subway line, and you can also walk to Daimaru, Takashimaya, Nishiki market, Teramachi, Kawaramachi, Kamogawa etc. however if your plan is to get the subway 600yen Subway Card (for unlimited travel on Karasuma line & Tozai line) anyway as we did for 2 days, then it makes little difference. 🙂

seemed that Citadines Japan credit card machine did not allow for card guarantee. I made the front desk call my Singapore credit card hotline, and was told that the transaction showed up as a wrong security number entry. I then asked the front desk to charge my card instead of just doing a card guarantee, and this time the card transaction went through. this was really strange experience but well we were not in a hurry & it was happily settled. 🙂

it was too early to check in Citadines so we left our luggage & set off for the Everytrail Southeast Kyoto tour of Tokufuji (东福寺), Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷) & Uji (宇治). 🙂

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torii gate at road junction on way to Byodo-in 平等院 temple in Uji (宇治)

we made our way first to Tokufuji (东福寺) 140yen by JR Nara line from Kyoto stations. next we went to Uji (宇治) 230yen by JR Nara line. 🙂

there was a bit more to see at Uji than Tofukuji. still I did not take good photos at both places. also the Pheonix Hall at Byodo-in was under renovation. we did walk through Byodo-in’s garden & museum, and also saw the Ujigami shrine & Uji shrine. the weather was hot & we were a bit tired & decided to skip Fushimi Inari & return to Kyoto.

On way back to JR Uji station, we found & shared a nice 1580yen set at a 中华料理. & later in the evening after checking in to our hotel room, we walked to Shijo & Kawaramachi & found a nice little family styled izakaya 居酒屋 called 百练near the junction of Shijo & Kawaramachi where we had nice beef teishoku & pork shabu shabu. all this were recorded in the post Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto.

On Day 2, we slept late but were all ready for our most wonderful teppanyaki course lunch at Gozanbo (五山望) at 15flr of Hotel Granvia at Kyoto Station. I had arranged this with the head chef Yoshio Doi-san & he had kindly made arrangements even though he was on home leave then.

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we had some time before lunch so I brought my sis to the 8th floor Ramen Village at Daimaru building at Kyoto Station west side. On the 9th floor, you can look down at Kyoto Station (above left photo).

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skybridge linking the west & east buildings at Kyoto Station

There was also a skybridge linking the west & east buildings at Kyoto Station (some might have missed this) that could be accessed from the 8th floor Ramen Village & you could get a great view of Kyoto Tower (above centre photo). On our way to Gozanbo, we took a photo from the 3M level connecting passage just above Kyoto Station central exit (above right photo).

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Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷)

we set off to Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷) 140yen by JR Nara line to Inari 稲荷 station. The first torii gate entrance was right by the station. we each grabbed a tea from a grocery, ready for the 2 hr walk. 🙂

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each torii gate was donated by a corporation or individual

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each of the 1000s torii gate was donated by a corporation or individual & their names were written on the side viewed downhill direction – that kind of acted as our direction guide…haha. 🙂

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Fushimi Inari picture map

Mount Inari is 233m high & the whole walk took 2hrs.

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at the top of Fushimi Inari @ 一峰

somewhat long way up but anyhow we made it to the top @ 一峰.

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kannon (观音) at the bottom near exit of Fushimi Inari

on the way down at the bottom near the exit, we found this kannon (观音) and took some photos.

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bbq quail @ Inari

my sis wanted to eat bbq quail – she was fearless (of bird flu) when it came to food adventures..haha. 🙂

we took a short walk to see the streets in Inari, crossing the JR Nara railway line & arriving at Keihan Inari station.

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here we took Keihan line to  Keihan sanjo (三条) station and walked over the bridge for a view of Kamogawa (鸭川).

then we walked down Kawaramachi and had a great kuroge wagyu shabu shabu & sukiyaki dinner at kashin 花心. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Kyoto & Osaka Trip with Sister @17-22May2013

my Kyoto trip(17-22may2013) planning was somewhat disrupted by the Hong Kong trip (10-13may2013).

anyhow I had booked earlier in Feb2013 a Jetstar promotion fare to Osaka for 2pax for just S$545. 🙂 when planning the trip I also searched for a cheap hotel, and booked a 5-nights stay for 48,510yen (about S$600 or S$120/night) at Citadines Gojo Kyoto.

my wife told me recently JR (Japan Rail) had introduced new tourist friendly & great value “Haruka & Icoca” card. this costs just 3000yen for 1-way by Haruka Express from Kansai Airport to any of Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe etc and 4000yen RETURN and include a Icoca store-value card with 1500yen store value PLUS 500yen deposit which you can get full refund. this means in my case I only pay 1000yen by Haruka Express between Kansia Airport & Kyoto 🙂 & the current fare for non-reserved seat is 2770yen 1-way.

previously you could only purchase a JR West 1day pass for 2000yen (or 3days or 5days if you plan to do lots of travelling) and you could only buy a 1day pass once. so I used to get a 1day pass on arrival to Kyoto on a 90mins journey on Haruka Express, and pay the full fare returning from Kyoto to Kansai Airport.

with airfare, hotel & train connections taken care off, next was to have some plan of the sights we were visiting, and to check the best & cheapest subway/train connections & timing to get to the sights etc

we wanted to have mostly walking/hiking outings & lots of eating of course, and so I planned to cover-

  1. southeastern tour of Kyoto including Tofukuji, Fushimi Inari & Uji
  2. walk from Heian Jingu through Maruyama Park to Kiyomizu
  3. hike from Kurama to Kibune
  4. day trip to Nara & Osaka – this was later changed to a day trip to Osaka visiting a few places I selected, namely Tenmangu (天满宫), Osaka Castle(大阪城), Sitennoji (四天王寺), and walking the shopping streets of Tenjinbashi suji, Sinsaibashi, Dotobori & Namba.

c.h.e.f andy

Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto 17-21May2013

super-value Japanese beef (国产牛) teishoku (set) at 900yen

super-value beef teishoku (set) at 900yen

not every meal has to be kuroge wagyu, teppanyaki course or expensive sashimi. there are lots of great value meals to be had in Kyoto, Tokyo or anywhere in Japan. 🙂

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on the first night of our arrival on 17.5.2013 we chanced upon a very interesting eat at Teramachi/Kawaramachi corner just opposite Takashimaya called 百练 (it is at level 2 of a small building). It  was kind of a family-style izakaya 居酒屋- we were the only non-Japanese around. we visited again at dinner on 21.5.2013, and we were still the only non-Japanese around..haha. 🙂

I ordered this super-value beef teishoku (set). I asked for medium rare & it was nicely done & tasty. It came with the gohan aka rice set including pickles & miso soup.  the beef was served with some pasta (which were ok but irrelevant) – all these for just 900yen. 🙂

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pork shabu shabu for 1500yen

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my sis ordered a pork shabu shabu for 1500yen. It was NOT kurobuta but it was really good, very sweet & tasty. 🙂

thick-cut bacon with asparagus for 500yen

thick-cut bacon with asparagus for 500yen

I saw that our neighbour, a Japanese couple, ordered what looked like ham & asparagus dish, so when we went back 2 nights later, I managed(despite the lack of communications) to get the chef to do up this dish – which was a thick-cut bacon & asparagus for 500yen – it was very good! 🙂

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on arriving on 17.5.2013, we visited Tofukuji then Uji. 🙂 on the way back to Uji JR station about 3+pm, we decided to share a set as a late & light lunch, & was lucky to pick out this rather nice 1580yen set at a 中华料理. the tempura was good, and so was the sashimi & the 2 side dishes – one was just egg, the other was rather more elaborate, and nice too! 🙂

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690yen set @ Yayoiken-kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato croquette, tofu, egg & vege etc

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690yen set @ Yayoiken-kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato croquette, tofu, egg & vege etc

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on 20.5.2013, before setting off for our hike from Kurama (鞍马) to Kibune (贵船), we were looking for a place for early lunch and found this joint Yayoiken @ Kawaramachi. 🙂

the meal was just 690yen, and was quite good too, with kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato korokke (croquette), tofu, egg & vege etc 🙂 maybe Singapore should consider this meal ticket machine system common in Japan. it’s very labour efficient & staff have no need to manage cash too. 🙂

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mini chirasi don set with 5 delightful side dishes for 1190yen

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returning from the hike, we took the train to Keihan Shijo & walked across Kamogawa (鸭川) to Kawaramachi (河源町) side. we found this restaurant on the 7flr of OIOI building along Kawaramachi across the road from Takashimaya.

this fabulous mini chirasi don set with 5 delightful side dishes was just 1190yen & they provide a very tasty soup which you later add to the rice like ochazuke. the mini chirasi don came with amaebi, crabmeat, ikura, 2 pieces hotate, maguro, tamago. the 5 delightful side dishes were ikan bilis, braised beef, tamago & tofu PLUS a  red bean/jelly dessert. 🙂

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we had another set which was somewhat less good (by comparison) also for 1190yen. it was a salmon tekkadon(鉄火丼) – this was quite good – with 4 side dishes.

so good food were aplenty in Kyoto & at very affordable prices too 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Kuroge Wagyu Shabu Shabu & Sukiyaki @ 花心 河原町店 Kashin Kawaramachi Kyoto on 18May2013

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

after a very pleasant afternoon & surprisingly shaded walk at Fushimi Inari, we took the Keihan line from Fushimi Inari station to Sanjo station, and walked back along Kawaramachi towards Shijo.

we wanted to have some good shabu shabu & saw that 花心 Kashin was offering 2980 yen Japanese beef + pork & 3980 yen kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat).

we had some problems (the usual lost in translation) at the 9flr restaurant when we showed the waitress the brochure we picked up at ground floor which said it was kuroge wagyu (all you can eat) whereas the restaurant menu showed kuroge wagyu + pork (all you can eat). we were just there for the kuroge & did not want to have pork to fill up our stomach..haha. 🙂 anyway we settled in for what they had on the menu rather than spend time miscommunicating. 🙂

1/2 shabu shabu (chicken broth) & 1/2 sukiyaki

1/2 shabu shabu (chicken broth) & 1/2 sukiyaki

there was another hiccup. we were asked to choose 2 from 4 different soup base, and we chose chicken broth & sukiyaki. this was a departure from the usual shabu shabu which was just kunbu water no soup base to talk about..anyway we did not get the usual shabu shabu sauce (sesame & shoyu) and the waiter informed us that the soup base we selected did not include any sauce. he brought the 2 sauces with a sign showing 100yen. We said we were not told otherwise we would have picked the kunbu with the sauce..anyway this time their turn to give in & they let us have the sauce free (or in Japan they say “service”)..as it turned out the restaurant was right & we did not really need the sauces. 🙂

tofu appetizer

tofu appetizer

dinner started (again) with a tofu starter with wasabi & sauce. it was nice so no complaints. 🙂

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there was a tube of minced pork with the vegetable basket. it was good! we did not put any additional orders for this or the vegetables as we just wanted to eat kuroge wagyu!

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

& the long awaited kuroge (top photo & above) – they were good! not as good as the thick-cut kagoshima wagyu konabe at Mikuni, but it was a sweet, flavourful beef. 🙂

it was a double-decker box & we soon asked for a second. this was however replaced by pork. the pork was not too bad too, but it really spoiled my appetite. fortunately our third & fourth orders of the double-decker box were all kuroge wagyu. satisfaction! 🙂 I thought I might get tired of the beef but in fact I enjoyed the last box the most, perhaps it was better cut than the first box & in any case I had gotten over the disappointment of the “interfering” pork. 🙂

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the photos above were the shabu-ed (it means 涮 which I think by definition means 7 or 8 swipes in boiling water) beef – sukiyaki with raw egg & shabu shabu. the sukiyaki beef was best taken together with a small spoonful of sukiyaki sauce. the shabu-ed beef was good on its own & by-the-way the chicken broth was very tasty.

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the set actually included selection of dessert. we picked a mochi ice cream (vanilla inside mochi skin – quite good), and an almond tofu (杏仁豆腐). I absolutely enjoyed the dinner- though I should avoid having buffets.

view of Kawaramachi Kyoto from 花心 Kaisin on 9Flr

view of Kawaramachi Kyoto from 花心 Kaisin on 9Flr

& the view of Kawaramachi from 花心 Kaisin was good too!

c.h.e.f andy

Teppanyaki Course Lunch @ Gozanbo Hotel Granvia Kyoto Station on 18May2013

teppan Japanese beef (国产牛) tenderloin

teppan Japanese beef (国产牛) tenderloin

Gozanbo 五山望 @ HOTEL GRANVIA KYOTO remains my best non-kaiseki teppanyaki course lunch restaurant in Japan since we first had our teppan lunch there in 2008 while staying at Granvia. 🙂

The view is excellent of course looking out over Kyoto Tower & cityscape and at the surrounding mountains. the service is always impeccable & the courses & plating (like the creamy soup, appetizer & teppan fish dishes) have good european influence. the teppan beef of course is totally great Japanese taste. 🙂

every time we visited Kyoto I made sure we had a lunch at Gozanbo. my wife & daughter did recently & I had lunch there with my sister yesterday. 🙂 we had the 400o yen & 6000 yen set.

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I just loved the garlic. really “shiok”! I tried it at home quite successfully once with butter & sea salt. I think I am going to do this for my friends next dinner, together with wagyu steak. 🙂 always like their bread roll (like a baguette) toasted on the teppan.

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our starter was a tofu dish with wasabi & some sauce – nice!

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the 6000 yen set came with poached anago (conger eel) topped with an “ice cream”of blue cheese. I love blue cheese! this was pretty & taste was good, plating was like any French restaurant – so looked nice tasted good. but I not sure about this – think the usual grilled sushi or sashimi anago would be much better taste experience. 🙂

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the 4000 yen set came with a seabass sashimi with some sauce & leek garnishing. this was very nice – maybe I just like sashimi FULLSTOP!

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we both had a creamy white bean soup with tomato foam (this tasted really good!) and a nice refreshing yasai(野菜) salad.

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the 4000 yen set came with a teppan tai (sea bream)…the young chef did this really well – the fish, the skin & the french beans. 🙂

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the 6000 yen set came with a teppan prawn & asparagus & topped with an onsen egg – very much like modern european fine dining. the egg added a great combination of texture to a very tasty dish! 🙂

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here you see the young chef at work on our teppan Japanese beef. the head chef Doi-san whom we knew was away on home vacation, but anyway he made arrangements for our prior lunch booking. 🙂

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teppan kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛

according to the menu, the 4000 yen set came with 80g  japanese beef tenderloin (国产牛) and the 6000 yen set had specially selected 和牛 (which should be kuroge 黑毛和牛) but a smaller 60g portion; BUT translation had always been notorious! the smaller beef from the 6000 yen set did not taste anything like kuroge wagyu. it was indeed more tender but the larger beef from the 4000 yen set seemed more marbled and tasty!

whatever – both were good but considering the price 6000 yen vs 4000 yen and the quality of the end result, I would say the 4000 yen was extremely good value (previously this was priced at 3500 yen however that was the time when the yen was 100yen to S$1.6 to S$1.7, but it is 100 yen to S$1.235 now!).

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the chef served us both with kamameshi (釜飯) instead of plain rice for the 4000 yen set. I was never quite a fan of this. it did come with 4 tasty pieces of bonito and was quite nice really. 🙂

cake & sorbet dessert

cake & sorbet dessert

we had a nice cake & sorbet for dessert and ended lunch with an all satisfying brewed coffee (good!). usually we would adjourn to an area for after-meal coffee (remember Gozanbo offers great views of Kyoto city!) but this time they said it was full. when I paid the bill I saw that the dessert area was in fact completely empty so perhaps they did not want to open up the section – fair enough I guess! if they closed the section, they need not open it just for me.

c.h.e.f andy

Degustation Dinner at My Favourite Restaurant @ Jaan on 8May2013

prawn cannelloni on crustacean jelly decorated with ikura & topped with oscietra cavier

prawn cannelloni on crustacean jelly decorated with ikura & topped with oscietra cavier

recent update = the-best-dinner-degustation-jaan-on-20jan2014

dinner at Jaan has always been a most enjoyable experience. we used to go Jaan quite a lot when Andre Chiang first arrived, and while we enjoyed his degustation dinners we liked his ala carte menu even more. 🙂

when Andre left (predictably) to set up his own restaurant & some swedish chef joined Jaan, we had given it a miss for most part of 1+ years, but somehow managed to rediscover Jaan a year+ ago when it was helmed by Julien Royer, the young current Jaan Chef, and we liked his degustation menu just as much now. 🙂

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7-course Menu Prestige

The Menu Prestige was a 7-course affair. as usual there were 2 great to super & very substantial amuse bouche, as well as a pre-dessert, so it was no less a 10-course meal. 🙂

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the first amuse bouche was 3 small items – a rye cracker with a very nice hummus dip, another cracker & a wonderful eel with jelly stick & croquette.

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the second amuse bouche was a cepes mushroom tea. this was truly sublime with such intense flavours & the best soup I had ever taken anywhere. 🙂 the bread basket came at this point as they baked them fresh. 🙂 I had truffle bread (very nice) and sour dough.

the FIRST course was prawn cannelloni on crustacean jelly decorated with ikura & topped with oscietra cavier. this was wonderful in taste as it was a beautiful picture to behold (see top photo).  I did though find the jelly just a little bit salty.

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the SECOND course was a 55min (at 60degC) rosemary smoked organic egg with iberico chorizo. It had wonderful smoked rosemary flavour. the texture & flavour combination of a very smooth, somewhat sticky egg yoke with savoury chorizo was excellent.

bread & butter crusted Norwegian scallop with pumpkin puree

bread & butter crusted Norwegian scallop with pumpkin puree

THIRD course was a bread & butter crusted Norwegian scallop with pumpkin puree, a great dish. the scallop meat was very sweet & totally consistent – looked like it was sous vide (vacuum low temperature cooking) then deep-fried.

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next, the FOURTH course was pan seared foie gras in 3 large bite-size pieces topped with strawberries & a very good fish broth or dashi stock – this was somewhat new variation to the usual caramelised version & it was easy to eat too with a spoon. 🙂

confit atlantic turbot with squid, grilled leek

confit atlantic turbot with squid, grilled leek

the first Main –  the FIFTH course was an excellent confit atlantic turbot with squid, grilled leek. they called it confit here but they were all sous vide to produce the very excellent consistency & sweetness. My wife liked this very much. I was a bit undecided as while it was good I might actually have preferred a good pan-seared version of this great fish. 🙂

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hay roasted bresse pigeon confit leg with barley & morel mushrooms

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the second Main – the SIXTH course – was hay-roasted bresse pigeon confit leg with barley & morel mushrooms. I had always loved this dish, very sweet & tender both the breast & leg. again, it was sous vide then hay roasted. the barley was excellent touch. 🙂

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very nice pre-dessert sorbet palate cleanser

this was followed by a very nice pre-dessert sorbet palate cleanser.

choconuts version 4 - different flavours of chocolates

choconuts version 4 – different flavours of chocolates

the SEVENTH & last course was a choconuts version 4 – different flavours of chocolates. every version at Jaan was good, basically it was just re-decoration of the same items but showing off the chef artistic plating skills. 🙂

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coffee was served with petite 4 – marshmallows, nutty chocolate, a rock melon sorbet stick, and a rosemary infused profitero lollipop.

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Jaan the restaurant – we had a window seat great view

we managed to get window seat for the evening. the view was great! MBS, Esplanade, the Flyer – very enchanting skyline. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

My 550km Run to Raise Funds for Children of Special Needs at Rainbow Centre

today (9may2013) I ran 7km & completed 200km of my 550km fundraiser run. it felt good. 🙂

I was at 193km at yesterday run with a close friend who I run weekly with. I am going Hong Kong with some friends 10-13may & to Kyoto 16-22may & will not run much for a while so I wanted to do this.

my 550km run is to get 55 or more of my friends to celebrate our 55yrs as a fun contribution to children of special needs at Rainbow Centre by donating $55each =$1 for every 10km I run. 🙂 🙂

So far 15 friends have donated $2,660. 🙂 🙂
the aim of this Fundonate fundraiser is just to share our experience that giving is really a “fun & feel-good” thing to do, and while every $ donation is important to the beneficiary children, Fundonate is more about sharing & involvement & NOT just the absolute $ raised.

c.h.e.f andy
please “Like” Fundonate here=https://www.facebook.com/Fundonate?ref=hl
 The Fundonate concept = Do Something for yourself or loved ones & raise funds for the needy & less fortunate while you commit to achieve your personal goal.

Lobster 5-course Lunch for S$22 @ Naked Dining & Bar on 6May2013

lobster tail in creamy homemade pasta

lobster tail in creamy homemade pasta

we bought streetdeal vouchers for a Mother’s Day 5-course lobster set for S$22 for our dining quartet lunch. the restaurant is located at Joo Chiat which was notorious for parking. fortunately this time I was able to secure a roadside parking lot a short distance away. 🙂

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The Restaurant – Naked Dining & Bar!

the restaurant was empty through lunch save our 4pax table. they explained that they were worried about the supply of lobster arriving late so they had asked the diners to move their reservations to dinner or another day. looked like we were the only ones who could not be moved. our reward – we had the entire restaurant for our private 4pax tete a tete. 🙂

tom yam pumpkin soup with tiny lobster morsels

tom yam pumpkin soup with tiny lobster morsels

we had earlier whatsapp among ourselves to temper our expectations (after all it was just S$22pax nett) so we would not be disappointed! anyway the lobster tom yam pumpkin soup was good enough for me –  it was not super but an ok soup in a fairly good restaurant, not the watery soup of the day or canned soup type.. my 2 friends though found it too salty (after the restaurant replaced the soup they were happy so it must be ok). 🙂

lobster (in vietnamese rice) roll

lobster (in vietnamese rice) roll

the lobster roll was ok too, and the sauce was quite nice really.  it was nothing special & if anything the skin was really too thick!

the main event was of course the lobster tail in creamy homemade pasta (in the top photo). I liked it a lot actually. The lobster was good size (I estimated about 400g to 450g size), w/o the pincers, and very fresh and tasty; & I liked the home-made pasta which was just slightly creamy. This the version of creamy pasta that goes with veal ragout or wild boar or duck, and not the very creamy ones that go with carbonara or the Valentino’s lobster in pink sauce (which I also like). good! 🙂

tiny dual dessert - choc lava cake & lobster creme brulee

tiny dual dessert – choc lava cake & lobster creme brulee

for the twin desserts, the lava cake had good lava but the choc taste was too sweet & not the best. the creme brulee was interesting – it was a savoury lobster mousse thingy with a nice burnt cream top. 🙂

overall, I thought it was really a good deal.  the lobster pasta alone would be worth the S$22nett! 🙂 while the soup, lobster roll & desserts were nothing too special, they were of ok to good quality both in taste & presentation, and not just after-thoughts or to make up the numbers for 5-course.

Looking at the ala carte & set menus,, the prices were also quite average w/o this promotion & there was some credit card promotion where 1 free with 2 paying adults, so effectively 33% discount.  there was just some lingering doubt & confidence level thingy about the quality & consistency of cooking, whether I might try the other dishes outside the current promotion.

c.h.e.f andy

RI Celebration of 55 Yrs of Our Lives Dinner on 5May2013

we had our RI celebration of 55 years dinner on a cool pleasant evening on 5.5.2013. 🙂 it was good fun, great company, enjoyable makan, and strawberries brought by Tiang Chye, and we had our 55th birthday cake courtesy of Choon Hung lit with 5+5 candles. 🙂 all 55ers were singing birthday songs for Chong Lee & Kum Heng, the 2 with the nearest birthdays, and later for ourselves..haha.. 🙂

I cooked a 21pax buffet dinner. I must say that this the best I have done, every dish turned up very nicely. 4 of my 5 dishes (& 2 of aunty Bes’ dishes) were precooked & ready to serve, and I only had to do the prawns (& aunty Bes the fish & kailan) when friends were already tucked in, so it was very relaxed and at the same time a really shiok, thrilled feeling! 🙂

55yrs Get Together - Andy Homecooked 22pax Buffet Menu 7pm Sunday 5.5.2013

Dinner was a  homecooked 9-course buffet + birthday cake courtesy of Choon Hung. 🙂

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we started with a layout of 6 dishes. aunty Bes’s thai tanhoon salad was a great appetizer – spicy, tangy, tasty.

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the pan-roasted brined chicken breast was moist, tender & sweet-This is a great tapas dish I always do for sit-down dinners. 🙂

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teochew braised duck

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I was especially proud of my teochew braised duck today. Chong Lee liked this especially. the flavour was superb & the colour & looks were great! the cutting was also good w/o torn edges,pieces etc. 🙂 the lor neng was just putting to good use the braised duck sauce & was quite a homely addition.

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I also did chashu, which is a Japanese style slow oven-cooked belly pork. This is commonly used in ramen (for chashumen) where the meat is rolled up & cut into thin circular pieces. 🙂 It was much better than the kakuni I did previously (which was also a good Japanese styled slow-braised belly pork), both the texture/bite & the taste. 🙂

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nonya curry chicken

this was a good day for me. my curry chicken were usually quite ok, and today’s curry chicken was truly my best, really tasted like Zion Road nasi padang green curry, sweet, fragrant & lemak. 🙂

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next up – aunty Bes’ spicy bean sauce prime ribs, always good! 🙂

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I cooked my usual dry wok high heat garlic prawns at this point. Wee Woon liked this especially. 🙂

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aunty Bes then brought out her very good spicy tau jeon seabass – quite remarkable that it turned seabass which had mud taste & mushy not great texture to a very different tasty dish.:-)

forgot to take photo of Choon Hung’s very nice chocolate cheese cake, and also aunty Bes’ blanched HK kailan with shitake mushrooms in oyster sauce. 🙂

everyone had a really, really great fun time together. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Nobu Miso Cod

Nobu miso cod - the usual lovely firm, bouncy, slightly oily cod texture & full of flavours

Nobu miso cod – the usual lovely firm, bouncy, slightly oily cod texture & full of flavours

6feb2015 update –

subsequently i was lazy & just roast the cod in a roasting rack with dripping pan below and achieved the same results.

I also reduced the sugar & the miso

so proud of my Nobu miso cod! 🙂 successful at the very first attempt! wow! 🙂

my prize= the usual lovely firm, bouncy, slightly oily cod texture & full of flavours! 🙂

was planning a menu to cook for my wife for Mother’s Day…I now do a good pistachio crusted rack of lamb, slow-cooked Spanish beef ribs and pan-fried wagyu. but my wife is off lamb basically; slow-cooked, braised stuff never really up her alley; and while she is ok with pan-fried wagyu, it’s not something she’s into too much..so I was thinking what main course I could do..kurobuta was one which I started to do recently, pan-fried in a similar way as wagyu. I thought miso cod could be the other!

I found the Nobu miso cod recipe in a blog TastingMenu which I followed, and though I had some confidence the dish should turn out ok, one could never be too sure, and I was really quite elated that it did turn out so nicely! 🙂

I bought some frozen cod (<600g) from mmmm during their periodic promotion at S$41/kg. I later found that you could get cod fillet at Chinatown basement wet market for about same price S$40/kg (which I presumed was also cut from frozen whole cod).

I followed the miso marinate recipe (80gml mirin, 80ml sake, 3/4 cup miso paste, 3 heap tablespoon sugar). I boiled the saké and the mirin  in a medium saucepan over high heat for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol, turned to low and added the miso paste, stirring to dissolve the miso completely, then turned to high again and added the sugar, stirring constantly so that the bottom of the pan didn’t burn. I then cooled down the marinate mix to room temperature.

600g cod fillets in miso marinate in ziplock bag

600g cod fillets in miso marinate in ziplock bag

I placed the cod fillets in a ziplock bag & poured in the cooled marinate and left it in the fridge for 3 full days. turning over once in the morning & once in the evening to ensure all sides were fully coated.

miso cod - pretty light translucent yellow colour

miso cod – pretty light translucent yellow colour

After 3 days I removed the cod fillets from the miso marinate, patted dry with kitchen towels & placed the cod fillets on a rack over an aluminium foil lined baking tray. The miso cod is totally coated with a pretty light translucent yellow colour. 🙂

Nobu miso cod - the usual lovely firm, bouncy, slightly oily cod texture & full of flavours

Nobu miso cod – the usual lovely firm, bouncy, slightly oily cod texture & full of flavours

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I preheated the oven to 250degC on the circulation function, and put in the miso cod for 4 minutes. I then switched to the grill function at 210degC (the maximum for my oven for grill function) and roasted the cod for 3 minutes then turned over for another 4 minutes – a total cooking time of 11 minutes.

miso soup with shimeji mushrooms & garnished with scallions

miso soup with shimeji mushrooms & garnished with scallions

and the used miso marinate? why discard it? it was full of flavours from the cod & miso. I cut & threw in 1 packet of 200g shimeji mushrooms from China (these were selling S$0.65 at Sheng Shiong!), added some chicken stock & water to taste and cut some stalks of scallions for garnishing. nice miso soup! 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • 600g cod fillet 

for miso marinate-

  • 80ml mirin
  • 80ml sake
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Directions:

  1. boil saké and the mirin  in a medium saucepan over high heat for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol, turn to low and add the miso paste, stirring to dissolve the miso completely, then turn to high again and add the sugar, stirring constantly so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. cool down marinate mix to room temperature.
  2. place cod fillets in a ziplock bag & pour in the cooled marinate and leave in fridge for 3 full days. turning over once in the morning & once in the evening to ensure all sides are fully coated.
  3. remove cod fillets from miso marinate, pat dry with kitchen towels & place cod fillets on a rack over an aluminium foil lined baking tray.

    preheat oven to 250degC on the circulation function, and put in the miso cod for 4 minutes. switch to the grill function at 210degC and roast the cod for 3 minutes then turn over for another 4 minutes –  total cooking time of 11 minutes.

6feb2015 update –

subsequently i was lazy & just roast the cod in a roasting rack with dripping pan below and achieved the same results.

I also reduced the sugar & the miso

A5 Wagyu Shabu Shabu @ Azmaya (东屋) on 30Apr2013

A5 wagyu shabu shabu beef

A5 wagyu shabu shabu beef

went to try out Azmaya (东屋), a new Japanese shabu shabu place at Robertson Quay on 30apr2013.

there was a huge crowd and many Japanese, which meant 1 or all of the followings-

(1) it should be good

(2) Singaporeans (& I guess Japanese living here) love a new eatery

(3) its a izakaya (居酒屋) drinking joint (so many Japanese) and there is still not enough casual (aka lower price) places serving Japanese wagyu.

Azmaya opened in late mar 2013, so was still offering 50% opening discount for 2 ala carte buffets – pork at S$24 and A5 wagyu beef+pork at $90 (website said till end may 2013).  I guess at 50% off the pork shabu shabu ala carte buffet was a steal, but we came of course to try the A5 wagyu beef. In any case the 50% discount did not apply on public holiday (PH) or eves.

The A5 wagyu shabu shabu sets started with S$40. I think there was a S$50 and another S$70 sets probably for better cuts. We saw they had course sets at S$49 and S$59 (but it was in Japanese only on the website) so we thought we gave it a try and ordered 2xS$59 w/o knowing the content.

That proved to be a mistake! 1 plate of A5 wagyu came (in top photo) to be shared by both of us. We had asked specifically before ordering whether the course sets included the same A5 wagyu beef & quality in the S$40 set and was told it did (I guess a case of “lost in translation”). Though we still didn’t know what was the difference the S$49 and S$59 course sets, we decided to order the S$59 set anyway. So we asked the server was there another plate of wagyu on the way or we were expected to share the plate. He said that was all the wagyu in the course set & it was because we had other items like pork & adegashi tofu etc. Obviously we were not thrilled as we came specifically to try the A5 wagyu & in choosing a S$59 course set we ended up having 1/2 the wagyu c/w the S$40 set & the compensation was to have some pork & adegashi tofu (& probably something else). So we requested to change the order to the S$40 set.

Initially the server came back saying the order could not be changed or we would have to pay 50% penalty for cancelling the order  (I guess you could try that but it would not work with Singapore diners la!). He went back to try again after we told him that there was no english course menu & we asked if it had the same A5 wagyu & quality as in the S$40 set & we had no clue what was included in the course set but was prepared to pay additional S$19 above the S$40 set for whatever additional items they provided. most importantly we came for the A5 wagyu & could not be paying more & getting less A5 wagyu. back the server went (all these took quite long because they were really busy but we were relaxed and not really in a hurry but would certainly refuse to take the S$59 course set). anyway we were allowed to change to the S$40 set so problem solved & no harm done. 🙂

One word about the service & attitude. I thought the service attitude was superb really! 🙂 especially because of the difficulty in communicating, the server was actually very professional, attentive, well-mannered, serious in giving his best to do a good job. that said, I am not sure if the service could be graded excellent if important information were not communicated whether due to language or otherwise. 🙂

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now the A5 wagyu beef. It was good beef, tasty with the fragrant taste of marbling (“pang”). It was certainly better than the ala carte buffet beef served at En Japanese Dining & their sister restaurant Zen which were australian MBS4 wagyu, and at Himawari. 🙂 and the S$40 set price was not cheap but I guess quite ok. 🙂

but for our expectation of Japanese A5 wagyu, I thought it was quite far off. The kagoshima wagyu konabe at Mikuni would be far superior to this (& that was S$24 with Feed@Raffles discounts for 2pax). We also had very good wagyu sukiyaki set at Chinya at Asakusa in Tokyo for 3500yen & again far better than this, & they were all not the top grade A5 (I think the 3500yen beef at Chinya was just 国产牛 and not even kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛 so no A grading to talk about).

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big tub of udon for 2pax shabu shabu set

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Still, comparisons aside, it was good beef and a very nice dinner. For S$40, its ok though I won’t do it often. I was thinking of going back while may2013 promotion was still on for the S$90 (S$45 after 50% discount) A5 wagyu beef & pork shabu shabu ala carte buffet. just to go back to the point on service, I guess if nothing needed to be communicated eg a straight forward order of the S$90 ala carte buffet, then service was indeed excellent! 🙂

the set also included the usual udon & vegetables.

P.S. (1)I subsequently went back with a group of friends on 18.6.2013 for pork shabu shabu 2hrs 放题 (all you can eat) which was S$12pax after 50% discount (promotion extended till end Jul2013). It was awesome! (2) See here for Restaurant Promotions update

c.h.e.f andy