Great Brunch Mini Kaiseki @ Keyaki (quick update) on 27Oct2013

teriyaki cod

teriyaki cod

1392548_10151937112689494_1459600757_n 1385295_10151937112754494_1464708928_n

(we had a superb S$58 november lunch kaiseki @ kuriya dining on 16.11.2013 & the food was much better than this).

a quick update. last had excellent brunch here on 18.8.2013. everything was good as before. the mini kaiseki brunch was truly good quality & great value. thumbs up! 🙂

kobachi 小钵 - some pickled radish

kobachi 小钵 – some pickled radish

sake

sake

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

good tempura moriawase

good tempura moriawase

aussie beef teppanyaki

aussie beef teppanyaki

kagoshima pork

kagoshima pork – better than beef!

maki

maki

1375856_10151937113034494_1032199507_n1382400_10151937113604494_1001546_n

kuro goma ice-cream

kuro goma ice-cream

menu items same as before. sashimi (kajiki, sake, maguro) were good quality – sweet & fresh! cahwanmushi was very good – very smooth & tasty! tempura also was among the good ones. the teriyaki cod was the best – good helping & really nice! i must try this at home! 🙂

the teppanyaki beef tenderloin rare was good, but the kagoshima pork was better! 🙂

& we had 3 pieces of maki. nice too.

we asked, & they let us changed to black sesame ice cream, but the macha ice cream was good here too! 🙂

for S$60++pax, it was really very good value for the quality of food. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Advertisements

Expensive Average Dinner Poor Service @ Cherry Gardens on 26Oct2013

braised abalone & tofu

braised abalone & tofu

was looking for a place for my birthday dinner with family. comparing the set menus between cherry garden at oriental & peach blossom at marina mandarin, cherry garden’s came up tops PLUS they have 15% discount on set menus. we had not gone to cherry gardens for many years & the last we were there the weekend ala carte buffet lunch was pretty good, the ambience was good too, we chose the S$88pax menu with 15% discount. 🙂

cherry gardens restaurant @ mandarin oriental hotel

cherry gardens restaurant @ mandarin oriental hotel

7-course orchid menu

7-course orchid menu

small starter dish - jellyfish & topshell

small starter dish – jellyfish & topshell

roast duck, roast pork & char siew appetizer

roast duck, roast pork & char siew appetizer

sweet soup seafood soup

sweet soup seafood soup

braised abalone & tofu

braised abalone & tofu

prawns done 2 ways

prawns done 2 ways

fish fillet with tofu

fish fillet with tofu

rice with black sesame, garlic

rice with black sesame, garlic

杨支甘露 & lime sorbet

杨支甘露 & lime sorbet

the small starter dish (like japanese kobachi) of jelly fish with sliced top shell was ok(looked pretty on photo). they called it amuse bouche but hardly qualified,,haha. 🙂

the first course roast combination of roast duck, roast pork & char siew was very average or perhaps below average,

the second course sweet & sour seafood soup was an excellent dish, just slightly sour, enough of trademark peppery taste, and a very tasty soup & pleasant to the eye as well, much better than most places, and something i would enjoy though its not my favourite soup like most lie tong were. 🙂

the third course of braised abalone with deep-fried beancurd was par excellence. the abalone was tasty & had great bite, and the braising sauce was super, like in all good braising dishes – abalones, sea cucumber or goose webs. the beancurd was excellent as well. 🙂

the next 2 courses though were very average for this quality of restaurant. individual serving & prawns in 2 ways did not make it fine dining (the deep-fried prawn was done wasabi prawn style but with sweet & sauce) and they did not come out better than or as good as a good zi char stall. i think a wasabi prawn like the excellent ones i just had at tunglok signature would be far better. & the fish fritter with tofu hardly fit the fine palate. kok sen zi char would do better for these 2 dishes.

the black sesame crabmeat fried rice was an unique, interesting dish & quite nice & tasty. 🙂

the dessert, the usual 杨支甘露 served with lime sorbet, was good. 🙂

overall rather surprisingly, my recent excellent dinner tunglok signature @ central was so much better than this – taste-wise the sea cucumber was superb & as good if not better than the abalone here, and all the other dishes were better!

overall the food, ambience etc was quite pleasant & enjoyable, the service though was very average for this class of restaurants, made worse by the attitude of the restaurant manager. we asked for carpark redemption and was first told only valet parking could be redeemed. we don’t usually valet park however it was jam packed that evening & we did valet park (S$15). the server came back with our valet parking chip which was signed over & i asked “so is parking free?” first she said “you pay S$15” but when i asked her to ask the manager she came back after some time & said it was free. as she obviously had difficulty speaking & understanding english as we were leaving the restaurant i asked a second time the reception lady (maybe filipino). she understood but she had no idea so i asked her to call the restaurant manager. it was a small place & i could see the manager taking an inordinately long time to come over after adjusting tableware etc for an empty table (quite unnecessarily). and when he came, he flashed an artificial smile and made an incredibly senseless comment “ö…did you dine at the restaurant?” when he was the one who helped usher us in when we arrived.  he was no help at all, the staff were good in attitude poor in language & training & the manager needed to take lessons from his staff on service attitude & how to nicely cheerfully reassure customers & make warm friendly buddy gestures.

hope it was one off..anyway it mattered not as customer would just vote with their feet. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Kaiseki Dinner (Below Par) @ Taisyoike Ryokan at Kamikochi on 14 &15Oct2013

1st kaiseki dinner at taisyoike   ryokan 14.10.2013

1st kaiseki dinner at taisyoike ryokan 14.10.2013

we made a last minute change to our itinerary, dropping unazuki (would have required a rushed scenic rail journey through the kuroge gorge) & realising that we didn’t need too many days at the alpine route, picked kamikochi (上高地) which was an excellent choice. 🙂

we wanted to catch the 1020am direct bus from matsumoto to kaimikochi to arrive at our taisyoike (大正池) ryokan bus stop (which was right outside the ryokan) at 12pmon 14.10.2013. hence we planned the journey to arrive at matsumoto in the late afternoon of 13.10.2013.

with that we managed to cover the entire easy 14km 4hr+ walk all the way to myojin-ike (明神池) pond & back to hotel in time for a nice bath & kaiseki dinner.

the ryokan service was EXCELLENT. first we booked directly with the ryokan at 14000yen pax for 2nights. but then my wife saw there was a 10% discount if we had made the booking via http://www.kamikochi.org/special-offers & quoting the website. i called the ryokan & they gave us the 10% discount anyway so it was 12600yen pax & 25200yen for 1 night.  will talk about the service again later. 🙂

we had the western room with attached bath & toilet so back to the usual ryokan routine. the yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths) was small c/w green-tateyama & most ryokans we had been previously (at hokkaido, tohoku, arashiyama, tateyama, hakone etc) but it was ok.

the kaiseki dinner though was a huge let-down, way below par!

kaiseki menu for 14.10.2013

kaiseki menu for 14.10.2013

though we could not read japanese, the menu had looked decent enough like most kaisekis we had. but ingredients & quality were just not there.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

prawn,tofu, yam & roll

prawn,tofu, yam & roll

1379270_10151907821764494_1762034019_n 1379812_10151907821684494_1975192939_n

iwana shioyaki

iwana shioyaki

1385254_10151907821859494_1700732186_n 1381325_10151907822319494_597866019_n

ham wrapped in leaves over hotpate

ham wrapped in leaves over hotpate

pan-fried hida beef

pan-fried beef

japanese grapes

japanese grapes

the sashimi were just average (those from supermarket were fresher & sweeter). the zensai was ok.the yam & sausage items were ok. the iwana shioyaki (岩鱼盐烧) was quite good i guess but not much our kind of food. the meatball with soup was ok. the duck again non-descript.  the ham on hot plate (they seemed to like to wrap meat in leaf over a heated plate) was much ado about nothing. the beef was quite poor really, not tasty & probably cooked at wrong temperature w/o proper browning & maillard reaction ring. at least the grapes were nice japanese grapes – sweet with a bit of wine flavour – & squeezed right out of the skin. 🙂

in all, a rather poor dinner, despite so many items. c/w many jap dining places in Singapore! nothing like the kaiseki we had come to know.

we were wondering what we might get the next day – & it was actually worse.

kaiseki dinner on 15.10.2013

kaiseki dinner on 15.10.2013

kaiseki menu for 15.10.2013

kaiseki menu for 15.10.2013

cured salmon & sayori

cured salmon & sayori

1385080_10151916333619494_38635172_n 994355_10151916333444494_254050191_n

vege nabe

vege & tofu nabe

1395928_10151916333279494_560713205_n 1394310_10151916333199494_1203711095_n

there was nothing to be said about the second night kaiseki dinner on 15.10.2013. only the cured salmon & sayori (flying fish) was good. the iwana 岩鱼was back this time in a miso paste grill. the beef was back this time a greater disaster –  never had beef with batter like pork, fish or lamb cutlet (of course there is beef wellington but that’s quite different a pastry & not a batter).

taisyoike ryokan @ kamikochi

taisyoike ryokan @ kamikochi

well, kamikochi is such a lovely place, walking aorund the lake enjoying the reflections at taisyoike pond, looking at the mist on the still active yakedate & hiking round the lake to kappa bridge & myojin-ike. the ryokan room & bath were ok & the service was excellent. they came to inform us during 15.10.2013 dinner about typhoon approaching tokyo on the day of our departure 16.10.2013 & likelihood that morning shinkansen originating from tokyo would be cancelled.  on the morning when we had to wait opposite the hotel to catch the bus coming from kamikochi terminal about 10 minutes away, they brought us 2 umbrellas and told us we could leave them on the bus stand when we boarded the bus. 🙂

so some gain some loss. however we still felt mostly loss as japan’s service is legendary & so is the ryokan room, bath & food, and for this trip, the good food we had were all from kyoto & matsumoto restaurants & not from the ryokans, except perhaps (ironically) the (non-ryokan) mingshuku senjusou. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

My Favourite Ramen @ Hanamaruken(花丸轩) Dotonbori Osaka on 21May2013

pork soft bones ramen at hanamaru dotonbori osaka

pork soft bones ramen at hanamaruken dotonbori osaka

was posting my recent ramen experience at toyama black (富山ブラック) by menya iroha at ramen village (拉麺小路) at level 10 kyoto station, and got motivated to look up my dotonbori photos during my may2013 trip with my sister.

we visited this stall, hanamaruken ramen (花丸轩) at dotonbori osaka on 21.5.2013. it is my favourite & only ramen that i really want to eat. 🙂

hanamaru dotonbori osaka

hanamaruken dotonbori osaka

hanamaru dotonbori osaka

the kitchen – hanamaruken dotonbori osaka

pork soft bones ramen at hanamaru dotonbori osaka

pork soft bones ramen at hanamaruken dotonbori osaka

they served the ramen with a 10″ (maybe 12″) long pork soft bones which had been cooked & flavoured for don’t know how many hours the taste & texture was just sublime! 🙂 of course there were the scallion, nori (seaweed), & you can get your own water, pickled ginger & 1 hard-boiled egg for every bowl of ramen you ordered.

see the youtube video of the wondeful bowl of ramen here.

being the carnivore i am, 2 slices of thin chashu are ok for me but a 10″ long pork soft bones infused with all the supreme flavours was about my only motivation to devour 1 large bowl of carbs…but of course it was about taste & texture contrast, so carbs was quite welcome together with the pork. 🙂

i will take this w/o fail everytime i am in osaka. other food can wait…haha. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Ramen Toyama Black (富山ブラック) & Greentea Jelly @ Ramen Village L10 Kyoto Station on 9.10.2013

ramen - tomiyama black (富山ブラック) from menya iroha

ramen – toyama black (富山ブラック) from menya iroha

i don’t take ramen much in singapore. think they are very ex like S$14++. 🙂

during my recent tateyama alpine route trip, i had ramen at the ramen village (拉麺小路) at level 10 kyoto station on 9.10.2013, the day i arrived at kyoto. there were like 15 stallsto choose from & we shared a 800yen (S$9++) at toyama black (富山ブラック) stall by menya iroha.

ramen - tomiyama black (富山ブラック) from menya iroha

ramen – toyama black (富山ブラック) from menya iroha

seriously eating ramen

seriously eating ramen

tomiyama black (富山ブラック) ramen stall by menya iroha

toyama black (富山ブラック) ramen stall by menya iroha

ramen village (拉麺小路) at level 10 kyoto station

ramen village (拉麺小路) at level 10 kyoto station

the ramen & broth were excellent very tasty! & so was the chashu & the egg which was tasty even though the yolk was not runny (didn’t have to!). 🙂 still my personal favourite ramen was at hanamaruken ramen (花丸轩) at dotonbori osaka that served a 10″ softbone, i being the carnivore. 🙂

greentea jelly mochi dessert at L10 ramen village kyoto station

greentea jelly mochi dessert at L10 ramen village kyoto station

greentea jelly mochi dessert at L10 ramen village kyoto station

greentea jelly mochi dessert at L10 ramen village kyoto station

we also had the cheap version about 550yen greentea parfait (jelly & mochi) at a stall there. just for convenience. it was not really cheap as you could get the 900yen or 1000yen versions at kiyomizu or kawaramachi which had the soft brown mochi dusted with powder & macha tea.

c.h.e.f andy

Birthday Dinner to Remember @ Tung Lok Signature Central on 22Oct2013

roast pork

roast pork

a good friend organised an early birthday dinner for me at tunglok signature @ central which is next to his office on 22.10.2013. we had 4pax for the evening including my wife & a mutual friend. 🙂 my friend’s god-sister pre-ordered an ala carte menu which turned out to be very good indeed!

we had the usual roast pork as a starter.  the look wasn’t that great. taste-wise it was good as usual, especially with the mustard. 🙂

lie tong 例汤 (soup of the day)

lie tong 例汤 (soup of the day)

4992_10151926548709494_1480346769_n 1395234_10151926548829494_1533657736_n

wasabi prawns

wasabi prawns

sea cucumber with jinbai (津白)

sea cucumber with jinbai (津白)

deep-fried tofu with enoki mushorroms

deep-fried tofu with shimeji mushrooms

fried garoupa fillet with brocoli

fried garoupa fillet with broccoli

we had a very good lie tong 例汤 (soup of the day) with chicken stock & some roots, again a very competent & enjoyable dish as usual for tunglok restaurants.

the wasabi prawns with light mayo topped with some mangoes were excellent, better than what we had recently at peach garden.

the best dish for the evening was the thick sea cucumbers. this was served in a very nice brown braising sauce which was served commonly with abalones or goose webs. the taste was exquisite, & i liked the jinbai (津白) as well.

next up was the star garoupa fillet with broccoli & lily bulbs. the wok hae was super – another excellently executed dish. & i liked especially the deep-fried tofu with shimeji mushrooms, very flavourful. 🙂

birthday cake & 流沙寿桃 presentation

birthday cake & 流沙寿桃 presentation

birthday cake & 流沙寿桃

birthday cake & 流沙寿桃

alacarte birthday dinner menu

alacarte birthday dinner menu

my friend also arranged for a very nice chocolate truffle birthday cake from swiss bake,and the restaurant made a great presentation with the longevity buns (which came as mini 流沙寿桃) on a plate with calligraphy of meaningful verses by their manager. the servers sand recited the verses & happy birthday song.  service was excellent here – the server had advised us not to order more dishes earlier when my friend asked.

it was a very enjoyable dinner with the company, food & conversation. 🙂 i didn’t ask how much the dinner cost. i estimate the 6 dishes + dessert (excluding the cake to cost S$250. there was a 25% palate discount for 4pax ala carte, so probably about S$220nett.

c.h.e.f andy

Best Kambing Rib Soup @ Bahrakath Adam Road FC on 21Oct2013

excellent lamb ribs kambing soup

excellent mutton ribs kambing soup

excellent lamb ribs kambing soup

excellent mutton ribs kambing soup

not taken kambing soup for a year felt like having some so dropped by adam road food centre on 21.10.2013. 🙂

excellent lamb ribs kambing soup

excellent mutton ribs kambing soup

i take the leg & tripes too but for this time just wanted some mutton ribs & soup & ordered a S$5 bowl at this Bahrakath Mutton Soup King stall. the ribs were excellent – falling off the bones, soft & tender to the bite & tasty!  the soup was very tasty & enhanced by the scallions & toasted onions, absolutely delicious. i could do this a lot more times if not for the high cholesterol etc.

c.h.e.f andy

Best Lobster 6-course Dinner @ Tunglok Signature Orchard Parade on 19Oct2013

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

(P.S. also had dinner ala carte orders here at tunglok signature on 28.11.2012).

had a best value dinner & among the best lobster dinner at tunglok signature at orchard parade hotel on 19.10.2013. 🙂 tunglok has a rather unusual arrangement with palate/amex where you get the usual 1 person off ie 50% discount for 2pax but then only for alacarte during weekdays and only for set meals during weekends. the latter is odd (surely if you give discounts for sets you should also give discounts for alacarte?) but quite fine with me as long as i get my discounts….haha. 🙂

sharksfin with crabmeat & roe

sharksfin with crabmeat & roe

1377269_10151919206819494_767336453_n 1376385_10151919207004494_1581788564_n

steamed soon hock fillet in light soya sauce

steamed soon hock fillet in light soya sauce

1395899_10151919208219494_586598822_n 1380436_10151919208449494_1804885463_n

lobster noodles

lobster noodles

1385962_10151919208994494_1528990606_n1380324_10151919208684494_1075027924_n

we chose the S$98 lobster & seafood set. it was of exceptional quality, both in terms of quality of ingredients & quality of cooking. 🙂

the first course was a foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap (top 2 photos). this was excellent. fusion stuff are novel but frequently fail in taste (and/or matching) departments, but this was excellent! the texture & flavours of the foie gras & smoked duck & beancurd skin combined with the thick pancake wrap was unique & wonderful. 🙂

the crabmeat & roe soup was chokeful of ingredients – sharksfin, crabmeat & lots of roe (the photos tell it all). it was sweet & tasty enough but still lacking c/w the very flavourful braised crabmeat sharksfin soup (or the fishmaw soup) at majestic. we added vinegar & it tasted better (we don’t add vinegar when savouring the soup at majestic). still it was a rather good soup.

the steamed soon hock in light soya sauce was likewise super. flavour-wise almost as good as a chilean seabass done the same way, though soon hock would be inferior in taste & texture c/w chilean seabass. 🙂

the kurobuta was for me the least competent among the very good dishes. it was quite “well done” & little dry & did not taste much different from an ordinary pork chop, and not as good as the kurobuta steak served at the lobster set at chao yue xuan.

the lobster noodle though was par excellence. the lobster & superior sauce flavours were much better than chao yue xuan & as good or better than that offered at the lobster & abalaone set at xin cuisine. the lobster at the recent set we had at ah yat would be far down the list. 🙂

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

lime watermelon drink?

lime watermelon drink?

the 6-course menu

the 6-course menu

& the dessert 杨枝甘露 with ice cream was super as well. in other joints like ah yat & chao yue xuan, they often give you red bean soup etc for dessert just to pass off the course numbers. here we had very good tasty dessert, as we did also at xin cuisine.

the cost for the scrumptious meal was just S$98++ for 2pax PLUS S$3++ for 2 tea covers (ah yat charges S$2.40pax tea covers).  this is one excellent deal which i will certainly do again, & i would also try the other S$78pax set.

c.h.e.f andy

Yong Tau Fu Lamian @ Bagus at Changi Road on 21Oct2013

bagus yong tau fu @ changii road

bagus yong tau fu @ changi road

must say yong tau fu does not feature anywhere in my list. we were having meeting at chai chee & looking for some quick lunch place that was easy to park. driving/parking is such a chore sometimes.

our friend whose office is at chai chee & so the kingpin for the hour, decided on this bagus place which sure enough had plenty of parking next to the shophouses at changi road.

bagus yong tau fu @ changii road

bagus yong tau fu @ changi road

1377549_10151923957979494_878813582_n 1380691_10151923957909494_1833963932_n

the 2 places i had yong tau fu very occasionally were chinatown’s “江鱼子” & tiong bahru yong tau fu at the corner coffeeshop at tiong poh road, PLUS the one at ghim moh market which my wife & daughter used to go more often before but not much now.

anyhow at bagus which is halal, they served a few variations – hakka, spicy chilli, laksa & the tau you la mian. i had the dry tau you la mian recommended by my friend & it was really quite good. the yong tau fu were good too, looking fresh & firm not soggy & tasty with the chilli & sweet sauce, except the red chilli piece which could look better but tasted ok. 🙂

it was quite ex though about S$17 for 3pax. i had 6 items + noodles, but these days most food court prices would be near S$6 anyway & if it were la mian, even more costly. yong tau fu not something i would look out for but if i were at the vicinity probably go there for simple healthy light lunch & ease of parking if cannot think of other eats. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Excellent Yakiniku @ Gyukaku at Matsumoto on 13Oct2013

kuroge wagyu

kuroge wagyu – 980yen

we modified our trip plans last minute, dropped unazuki & included kamikochi which my wife had always wanted to go, so switched our hotel bookings from omachi onsen to matsumoto on 13.10.2013, as there was a direct bus 1hr 50mins journey from matsumoto to arrive at kamikochi at 12pm the next day.

after traversing the alpine route, we took a 1 hr train from shinano omachi to matsumoto, and was very happy to be greeted with our forwarded luggage the moment i mentioned my name at check-in to matsumoto tourist hotel at 4pm. the legendary japanese luggage forwarding was well, legendary! 🙂

i was walking around the hotel for dinner place & found a name i knew – gyukakau, a yakiniku restaurant which i had tried the hollandv outlet once (ok but we prefer aburiya). in japan though i guess its different. we got very good wagyu beef at much lower prices!

wagyu karubi

wagyu karubi – 680yen

some thick cut beef

some thick cut beef – 590yen

thick belly ham

thick belly ham – 390yen

yakiniku

yakiniku

ishiyaki bibimbap

ishiyaki bibimbap – 690yen

seafood kimchi chigae

seafood kimchi chigae 490yen

the bill

the bill

the kuroge wagyu sirloin was excellent, marbled & tasty. but so was the wagyu karuni, very flavourful! (we made a second order but now looking at the bill, the second order might have been different & with too much garlic on it). the thick cut beef which was flamed or lightly smoked was quite tasty too, but inferior to the other 2. the thick cut belly bacon was ok but of course it was not to be c/w kurobuta.

they ran out of bibimen so we ordered bibimbap. it was ok but the seafood kimchi chigae was bad (i guess kimchi chigae must always be the belly pork version to give it the flavours & umami). for these last 2 items, aburiya‘s were much better! & my wife had her usual hakkaisan sake (八海山).

anyway the bill with taxes came to 5274yen = S$58++! 🙂 at aburiya the plate of kuroge wagyu alone would be like S$28!

this was 1 excellent dinner. of course it was no comparison with the one we had at moritaya at kyoto station but still a most enjoyable one. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Bad Food in Japan? @ Tateyama Murodou Sansou on 12Oct2013

dinner @ tateyama murodou sansou

dinner @ tateyama murodou sansou

recently a friend was relating his experience to izu several years back when it was hit by earthquake (i think it was 2009). they were rushing for the train & had bad food then. a few of us were surprised that one could have bad food in japan as even the cheap train station bentos & supermarket food were all pretty good.

well now i had my own experience of singularly bad food at tateyama murodou sansou (立山室堂山庄) – or google translate to mountain hut. the food was downright sucky. i guess it was to be expected as it was more like a “mountain hut”, and in fact a rather cosy place for serious trekkers c/w camping in the mountains, except that we paid 22000yen for 1 night with 2 meals for a room with no attached toilet & they gave you 1 face towel (no bath towel) for the onsen bath.

tempura

tempura

pickles

pickles

grilled salmon

grilled salmon

looking at the dinner items, i would not pay 1000yen for it & many 1000yen bentos would be better. in fact the same kitchen was open till 3pm & we had a very passable curry rice for 700yen (& the same with soba & gyudon ie beef on rice etc) which would be as good as the tempura, salmon & rice with pickles for dinner. compare this with the kaiseki dinner @ greenview-tateyama which cost 25000yen for 2pax with attached toilet & bath & 2 meals, and with a good size yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths). or with senjusou which costs 15800yen, equally basic but far better dinner & breakfast meals.

breakfast @ tateyama murodou sansou

breakfast @ tateyama murodou sansou

another grilled salmon

another grilled salmon

breakfast was an equally bad affair.

the place was ran by a team of youngsters like students, with only 1 older man in the kitchen & 1 at the front desk. it was efficiently run though and service was polite & competent. everything is relative, so i guess a hut is a luxury c/w camping in the mountains but it is also relative to price. to me the 2 meals should be charged at no more than 2000yen pax & the room maybe 8000yen so it should be more like 12000yen than 22000yen.  still this was 2450m, and not so many options available (we could not get the tateyama hotel at murodou station & raichoso would really be a bad choice some distance up the mountain route).

in the end it is all about matching needs. for those doing serious trekking and rather not camp out, there would be reason to take this option. in our case for the current trip, we needed no more than 2hrs to walk around the ponds route & overlooking the hell’s valley(& likewise 2hrs max for the boardwalks at midagahara), so we would be better off just passing through midagahara & murodou on a day trip. rather than staying at tateyama or midagahara or murodou, we would be better off staying at toyama & omachi onsen ryokans. if we should decide to do more serious trekking, we could then plan differently & perhaps we could still stay here but LESS the meals. i would much rather have a 700yen gyudon from their kitchen & a soba from murodou station. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Nice Dinner @ Senjusou (千寿庄) Minshuku (民宿) on 11Oct2013

dinner @ senjusou (千寿庄)

dinner @ senjusou (千寿庄)

despite planning our trip several months ahead, i could not get the dates we wanted at midagahara hotel & tateyama hotel (at murodou), so decided to stay at tateyama cablecar station location. i also could not get a second night at greenview-tateyama but managed to book senjusou (千寿庄) which was just few steps (like 20m) from the cablecar station. 🙂

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

nice tofu, yuba & rolled fish

nice tofu & rolled eel

grilled fish

grilled fish

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, yuzu

edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, orange

senjusou charged 9500yen/night for 2pax w/0 meals & 15800yen with 2 meals, so it was 3150yen pax for dinner+breakfast (all w/o attached toilets). so i guess there was no expectation of any sorts of kaiseki dinner.

anyhow the homecooked meal actually turned out pretty well. the sashimi moriawase though basic with maguro, salmon & ika, actually tasted a lot sweeter than what we had the night before at greenview-tateyama. 🙂

i like fish a lot more than my wife so the dishes agreed with me more.  the rolled eel was tasty (japanese food tended to be a bit salty) & the tofu & japanese taupok were nice. the grilled fish was usual fare average but which i liked anyway. the ebi furai (fry) was crispy & fresh & good with the salad. seemed like they also like oyster gratin here.  just ok. the ham hobayaki not something i really appreciate.  hobayaki is like grilling over a hoba leaf (朴叶 magnolia leaf)  over clay pan under fire, usually with salty miso paste. for me only hobayaki  i like is hida beef (飞弹牛), anything else is just elaborate effort & average result.

there were some edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, plus a small orange for dessert fruit & the usual gohan set (rice set with pickles). here we scooped our own rice from a rice cooker. japanese breakfast we had was basic, nothing much to write about.

as for the mingshuku, we got a front japanese tatami room on level 2 which was small but larger than several we saw at the back. we were also offered & took a look at a level 3 western room with 3 beds which looked more like a dorm.  looked like all rooms were w/o attached. the room had a powerful aircon which was important as it was still hot (about 29degC) at 3.30pm when we checked in.

we had both men & women common toilets at level 2, and it was very closeby as the mingshuku was tiny really. there were men & women yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths) which were tiny rooms more like a large bath tub. the changing room was like an ante-room before the bath where the access door slided open, so there was like zero privacy. service was basic but competent. we asked them in email if they could forward our luggage but they referred us to tateyama train station to do that so that was why we forwarded from greenview-tateyama. anyway all these to be expected for this tiny family-run place. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Average Kaiseki Dinner @ Greenview-Tateyama Ryokan on 10Oct2013

kaiseki dinner @ greenview-tateyama ryokan

kaiseki dinner @ greenview-tateyama ryokan

we stayed at almont hotel (hokke group) in kyoto to break journey, and arrived at greenview tateyama ryokan just few minutes walk from the tateyama train station (& cable car station).

was looking forward to kaiseki dinner having booked a menu with 2 wagyu items. as it turned out though this was still among the better dinners we had over the alpine route lodges, it was just very average & a far cry from the very good kaiseki we were accustomed to in japan.

wagyu beef & scallop

wagyu beef & scallop

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

chefquak7 chefquak3

we had grilled wagyu & scallops. i thought they were both quite ok (though we had far better in every ryokan we been to previously, especially in all the ryokans in tohoku, and also in hokkaido, takayama, arashiyama, hakone, kawaguchiko). the cold beef came with jelly – seemed like a fusion western treatment. just ok.

the sashimi moriawase included maguro, tai & a seaweed wrapped fish, which seemed to be a common dish in this region, as was the local apples. the sashimi though was not great & was in fact inferior to the far cheaper ryokan (or maybe mingshuku senjusou) which we stayed the following night.

ikura with radish strips & crabstick

ikura with radish strips & crabstick

prawn on mountain yam

prawn on mountain yam

chefquak8 chefquak9

soba & fish with miso

soba & fish with miso

fish with miso

fish with miso

gohan (rice) set with pickles

gohan (rice) set with pickles

nice fruits

nice fruits

the ikura was ok, non descript.  so was the prawn with mountain yam.  the oyster gratin with some yam was ok, quite good.  the soba again carbo we could do without. the fish with miso was ok. the rice & pickles which often included a miso paste in this region was ok. the dessert was quite nice – the persimon, and japan grapes (which flesh come out easily from the skin & are sweet & with kind of alcohol feel) were great & refreshing.

& here there was a decent good yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths), which was the other important ingredient for staying in a ryokan.

the service was very good. we had missed the birthday special as we booked late (past the promotion date) so they took a photo for us during dinner & gave us a print next day. good gesture & memory i supposed & the effort well appreciated of course. these days though all our phone cameras & photos & e-copies were quite fine. 🙂 also we had to forward our big luggage to matsumoto (japan’s efficient luggage forwarding was legendary & we were bringing only a backpack each up the mountains). the lady was very helpful & photocopied our matsumoto hotel booking & filled up the forwarding address form for us & let us checked before dispatching the luggage when we checked out the next day. so service-wise it was good, not better than those at many japanese ryokans we came to be accustomed to, but good nevertheless. 🙂

over the next few nights, we came to the conclusion that for good stay & kaiseki it would be better to break journey at unazuki, toyama & at omachi onsen, though the good ryokans would be more expensive (but 25000yen here for a room with attached bath & 2 mealsfor 2pax was not exactly cheap for the food we had relative to many other ryokans we had been to. the kaiseki here was really much below expectation).  the alpine route could be traversed in 1 day & unless one was doing serious trekking & mountain climbing there was no need to stay at tateyam, midagahara or morodou.

c.h.e.f andy

Good Fishball Noodles @ Hup Kee at Mei Chin Food Centre on 17Oct2013

meepok tar @ mei chin food centre

meepok tar @ mei chin food centre

fish balls & "her kiau"

fish balls & “her kiau”

hup kee fishball noodles

hup kee fishball noodles

wanted to have fishball noodles at xin lu (新路) teochew fish ball noodles @ mei chin food centre yesterday, but it was closed (thrsday?). so looked round & found this stall, hup kee.

price was slightly cheaper at S$2.50 (xin lu now S$3). there were 3 fishballs but also 2 fishmeat dumplings (her kiau) c/w 6 fishballs at xin lu. fishballs were almost as good, little less bouncy but sweet. 🙂 noodles were good too, qq & with good chilli mix though i still think xin lu is better. this was certainly far better than the one i had at food opera ion orchard b4 recently.

still the jalan tua kong meepok tar remains my favourite. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Wagyu Yakiniku & Sukiyaki Dinner @ Moritaya at Kyoto Station Isetan L11 on 9.10.2013

wagyu sukiyaki

wagyu sukiyaki

wagyu sukiyaki

wagyu sukiyaki

gozanbo at L15 granvia hotel at kyoto station has been our favourite place for wagyu lunch. this time on route to tateyama alpine route from kansai, we found another excellent wagyu restaurant – moritaya. 🙂

we decided to share a sukiyaki. there were 4 grades. we ordered the 3rd grade (2nd cheapest), a 200g portion at 6250yen (the usual 150g portion was 5000yen). we also ordered 2 portions of wagyu sirloin yakiniku at 2415yen per portion.

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

chefquak2 chefquak1

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

wagyu yakiniku

the yakiniku sirloin was excellent, very marbled & flavourful. purely on the meat taste & texture, it was much better than what we had at gozanbo for lunch. we loved it! 🙂 (i guess this cooking method common in ryokans also was not exactly the korean yakiniku style but i have not found out the name yet).

sukiyaki condiments

sukiyaki condiments

wagyu sukiyaki

wagyu sukiyaki

the sukiyaki was again superb. just on price comparison, it was much better than what our other favourite place, chinya at asakusa tokyo. there were 3 very large pieces of meat, the first piece much higher quality & marbling than the other 2 (they served the same way also in chinya).  it came with the usual jap glass noodles, tofu & leeks etc.

it was such an excellent dinner & we could not have enough. we stopped at kyoto & went back again on our return journey from kamikochi & ordered the same items.

(if i have to make a comparison, gozanbo is located within granvia hotel & a more expensive place. the courses have a slight fusion flavour with good western soup & cold dishes prepared by very good teppanyaki chefs, and came with dessert & coffee. but to get the same quality of beef one would pay quite a bit more).

subsequently, we had a very good yakiniku dinner at gyukaku at matsumoto on 13.10.2013 at <1/2 this price, but of course the quality of wagyu cut was no comparison.

c.h.e.f andy

Not Great Teochew Fishball Noodles @ Food Opera Ion Orchard on 8Oct2013

teochew fishball noodles

teochew fishball noodles S$5

meepok tar

meepok tar

6 bouncy fishballs

6 bouncy fishballs

went to daiso at ion orchard to pick up something on 8.10.2013. thought i would try out some stalls at food opera at B4. 🙂

i tried the bakchormee the other time i was here so decided to give the teochew fishball noodle a shot. i ordered meepok tar. its S$5, i guess they have to pay for rent so ok. the fishballs looked great & they were good & 6 of them, quite satisfying. even though i am low in carbo preference, still a good chilli noodles is what makes it shiok! otherwise might as well eat fishball soup? anyhow the noodles were much below par, just a little done which was ok still fairly qq, but made it unpalatable was the heavy mix of sweet sauce. somehow it managed to taste like yongtaufu! it was way off xin lu’s S$3 fishball noodles (former margaret drive now at mei chin food centre) and of course nothing like the jalan tua kong stall at 6th avenue. won’t do this stall again but the bakchormee stall here was ok, will try that again next time.

c.h.e.f andy

Restaurant Week 6pax Lunch @ Summer Palace Regent Hotel on 7Oct2013

mango puff, har gao, crispy char siew pao

mango puff, har gao, crispy char siew pao

S$40++ restaurant week lunch menu

S$40++ restaurant week lunch menu

for october G8 get-together, we decided to go for the S$40++pax restaurant week lunch at summer palace at regent hotel on 7.10.2013. 🙂

i don’t do restaurant week lunch these days as the offers are not great at dining city ‘star’ restaurants (often worse than credit card like UOB offers & more restrictive in menu than cheaper set lunches). also many ‘star’ restaurants do not provide menu so it is a “trust me” deal, when there are so many other good deals to pick & choose from? 🙂

anyhow summer palace provided the menu which looked fine. & we checked at the restaurant the usual lunch menu started at S$68++pax & the restaurant week menu looked better by comparison. 🙂

crispy char siew pao

crispy char siew pao

sliced fish century egg tan chai soup

sliced fish century egg tan chai soup

1/2 baby lobster in superior sauce

1/2 baby lobster in superior sauce

siew york meen sin

siew york meen sin

trio of dessert

trio of dessert

we had trio of dimsum. the mango puff  was ok, har gao with birds nest was good consistent with good dimsum restaurant but bird nest was too small a helping to be relevant. the puffy char siew pao was good  too sweet like a char siew soh (the reason i don’t take char siew soh) whereas HK Timhowan’s version was a crispy not puffy dough & less sweet & much better.

the sliced fish century egg tan chai soup was quite strange as 1 of my friends observed. it was quite tasty (though no better than a good lie tong), a bit heavy & confusing in taste & kind of poor in presentation for fine dining.

the 1/2 baby lobster in superior sauce (those small 300g ones), which ought to be the centre-piece attraction, was kind of disappointing to me taste-wise. the meat texture was also not bouncy like usual live lobsters & the superior sauce not flavourful enough.

the 烧肉面线 – mian sian was ok not as tasty as chui huay lim. the roast pork however was a disaster. hard & tasteless. i thought it was a poor dish for such a classy restaurant.

the trio of dessert was very average. the osmanthus jelly was ok but harder jelly not as soft & tasty as HK Timhowan’s or the ones they served at the Lantau Big Buddha vegetarian kitchen. the aloe vera & mango were just ok, average.

water & cashew nuts were free. they charged S$2.50pax for chinese tea, quite fair. 4 of us took the poh lei tea. ambience was great, service professional, but the food standard was kind of below par c/w majestic or even tunglok! there was a 1/2lobster but overall taste wise this specially discounted S$40++pax menu gave less satisfaction than a similar priced 6-course lunch set at majestic. of the menu dishes, actually the dimsum were better items (except for dessert) so maybe dimsum here but it sure would be ex.

one last thing, because it was restaurant week, they gave only 1 complimentary parking coupon for 6pax. there were 3 of us who parked at the hotel & my friends kindly let me have the coupon & i noticed on leaving the carpark that the charge was S$10.75 or something! goodness!

c.h.e.f andy

Beef Noodles @ Thai Noodle House on 6Oct2013

beef soup noodles

beef soup noodles S$8

update = had cheap, nice thai food at le wu cafe (乐屋) on 10.12.2013. it is near to thai noodle house & a good alternative. 🙂

wanted a quick bite, and crystal jade la mian xiaolongbao was full, so went to thai noodle house near coronation plaza on 6.10.2013. we all like the beef noodle soup there so it was a place we go sometimes when ran out of dining ideas & tired to go far. 🙂

Thai Noodle House

Thai Noodle House

beef soup S$10

beef soup S$10

fried rice with prawns S$9

fried rice with prawns S$9

green curry chicken

green curry chicken S$8

the place was quite full, but turnover was quick too so we got our table for 3pax quickly. we ordered 1 beef soup w/o noodles to cut down the carbo. daughter wanted to try the fried rice & green curry chicken, so we skipped our usual favourite – the stir-fried basil beef & sweet potato leaves.

the beef soup noodles were good as usual. the braised beef briskets were excellent, beef balls, sliced beef & soup were great. though it was still not authentic like in bangkok, it was still the best we had (we tried e-sarn sometime back & though ambience was great, the beef noodle taste were poorer). i didn’t think much of the fried rice & green curry chicken. it was like food court stuff, & a S$3 or S$4 fried rice from old holland road coffeeshop would be better. overall S$37 was rather ex for the quality of food we had whether c/w coffeeshop or hawker food (even club food at sicc). still, it was just because i didn’t like the food we ordered except for the beef noodles. it would be ok if it were the usual basil beef, sweet potato leaves, & deep-fried beancurd, so it depends on food orders & preferences.

c.h.e.f andy

Great Lunch Kaiseki @ Hokkaido Sushi on 4Oct2013

kagoshima wagyu 3 small pieces

kagoshima wagyu 3 small pieces

hokkaido sushi at M Hotel had a wagyu kaiseki groupon promotion. i always like hokkaido sushi but it is kind of ex w/o promotions. 🙂

they had the S$46.50 for 7-Course kagoshima wagyu sirloin kaiseki & a S$62.80 5-course kagoshima & ohmi wagyu set. there were 6 of us & we arranged to have the S$46.50 lunch. they charged S$1 for refillable tea & S$0.50 water, quite fair. 🙂

pitan tofu with tobiko

pitan tofu with tobiko

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

ebi & fish tempura

ebi & fish tempura

ginkarei shioyaki

ginkarei shioyaki

kagoshima wagyu

kagoshima wagyu

bara chirashi don

bara chirashi don

the 7 courses included a pitan tofu with tobiko (flying fish roe), and it was very well done here, as always. next was a sashimi moriawase. this time there was no botan ebi, being replaced by a small truffle kampichi item. the other sashimi – salmon, hamachi, tai & maguro were all good, very fresh & sweet. 🙂

the fish + 2 ebi tempura were good, nothing special. the ginkarei shioyaki was very good, and a good helping too. the kagoshima wagyu (star of the show) was very good, but a very small helping just 3 pieces. the bara chirashi don with salmon, tai & ikura toppings was good too, though not special. it was really 6 course & not 7 (they just count the soup as 1 course). 🙂

i thought it was very good value, though a smaller set c/w with previous offers & having kagoshima wagyu replaced a bigger portion of australian wagyu.

truffle sashimi

truffle kampachi

kagoshima wagyu & ohmi wagyu

kagoshima wagyu & ohmi wagyu

wagyu fried rice

wagyu fried rice

i had earlier gone for a lunch with my family & 2 of us took the $62.80 set. the truffle kampachi was ok but i thought the cheaper set sashimi moriawase which then included 1 botan ebi was far better. when it came to wagyu though, there were both kagoshima wagyu & the more ex & fatty ohmi wagyu sirloin & a good portion (100g) & they were just fabulous. when the promotion is back i will certainly do it again especially the ohmi wagyu set. it is best paired with the cheaper 7-course set to share among 2pax. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Fine Dinner @ 1 Michelin Star Tim’s Kitchen 桃花源小廚 Sheung Wan on 29Sep2013

1/2 roast goose HK$230

1/2 roast goose HK$230

before our hk trip, a successful banker friend who had lived in hk for several years recommended us a list of good restaurants to try. in addition to 1 michelin star tim’s kitchen 桃花源小廚, there were the chairman & cuisine cuisine etc. i looked at the web menu & prices, and they were in the realm of the stars too. 🙂 anyway i selected tim’s kitchen as though the per pax specials were really illogically expensive, there were quite a number of reasonably priced good chinese food orders.

the restaurant, located a short walk from sheung wan mtr station, was pleasant & cosy & understated. there were quite many nice chinese verses in picture frames decorating the walls.  we were quite tickled with the english translations, kind of reminded us of google translate.

as many of the 7 diners were still full from lunch & snacks, we ordered just a few dishes and fewer of the per pax expensive signature dishes.

century egg with pickled ginger

century egg with pickled ginger

soup ingredients (腩肉,鲮鱼 & 粉葛 arrowroots)

soup ingredients (腩肉,鲮鱼 & 粉葛 arrowroots)

lie tong 例汤 - HK$150

lie tong 例汤 – HK$160

steamed minced pork with salted fish

steamed minced pork with salted fish

pork ribs with bittergourd in black beans - hk$75

pork ribs with bittergourd in black beans – HK$75

garlic fried hk kailan

garlic fried hk kailan

crystal prawns HK$160

crystal prawns HK$160

braised pomelo skin in prawn roe - HK$80x3

braised pomelo skin in prawn roe – HK$80×3

杏仁茶

杏仁茶

we had a nice century egg with pickled ginger appertizer.  the 1/2 roast goose @ HK$230 (top photo) was very flavourful. however the meat was a bit tough (in teochew we say “joon”). 1 friend thought the skin was poor & not crisp. i thought it was ok though preparation & presentation-wise, not sure if it should be in a claypot & if it was covered before serving – the heat retention would steam up the goose & made the skin soft. this really should be served on an open plate & not covered or even in a claypot??

the lie tong 例汤 @ HK$160 for large  was superb & matching the standards of lei gardens. it came with very good ingredients (腩肉,鲮鱼 & 粉角 arrowroots). 🙂 another excellent dish was steamed minced pork with salted fish – this comfort food was ourite dish (along with the soup). the salted fish was superior quality. 🙂 1 more comfort food was the pork ribs with bittergourd in black beans – pork ribs were very well braised, tender & tasty. bittergourd was ok for me but too bitter for the others, more bitter than my own preparation (i soaked in sugar water) & i like it spicy (this was not). the kailan was ordinary but hk vegetables were just great – green, juicy, tasty. 🙂

we ordered just a couple of the fancy stuff.  first the crystal prawns @ HK$160pax serving. 1 friend didn’t think anything of it. it was quite ok for me, rather unique bite, presentation & sweet taste. we cut it into 7 pieces for sharing so couldn’t really tell much. the price is absolutely out for me though. next was 3 servings of braised pomelo skin in prawn roe @HK$80pax = HK$240. didn’t know pomelo skin could be eaten. this dish was unique & imaginative to me (but seems that HK-ers do this at home too). it was very well done in texture & taste & should go better with rice. not a favourite for me but don’t mind to have just 1 HK$80pax serving to share among 4pax.

last, we had 杏仁茶 (1 friend thought it was too dilute. it was not a 露or a 糊) & red bean soup. 🙂

dinner was HK$1400 for 7 so HK$200pax. of course we ordered very few dishes but we could also have substituted the expensive per pax dishes by more ordinary comfort food. overall, i quite like this place, ambience & everything, and i would come back the next time. the soup was excellent & the pomelo dish showed that they could produce high quality fine food, though at a price i was unwilling to pay. but there were the ordinary chinese comfort food at reasonable prices produced by a fine 1 michelin star kitchen.

c.h.e.f andy