Early Anniversary Mini Kaiseki Dinner @ Maru 丸 on 31May2018

weekday promos

had early anniversary dinner with wife at maru 丸 at icon village 12 gopeng street on 31.5.2018. ^^

unagi & aburi hotate don lunch

the bar restaurant offers various promotions that look quite interesting…

maru omakase set dinner 1 for 1 at S$78 inc 250ml free sake

excellent food & value.

we took the special 8-course mini kaiseki  1 for 1 S$78 mini kaiseki inc free 250ml sake 👍some more…

250ml free sake

& the sake was good standard. this alone would cost like S$18 easily..

#1 sensai 前菜edamame, tuna, marinated octopus

the appetizer plate included a tuna ceviche, marinated octopus & edamame.

the  tuna was very good…the octopus was tough…edamame the usual…

#2 oyster

not the very large oyster at hachi, but neverthelessthe oyster was very fresh & sweet, not big, quite ok, and came with a tasty tomato sherbet..

#3 5 kinds of sashimi – maguro, salmon, amaebi, tai, hamachi

#3 5 kinds of sashimi – maguro, salmon, amaebi, tai, hamachi

sashimi was nothing special, still quite good standard, fresh & sweet.

there were 5 kinds = sashimi – maguro, salmon, amaebi, tai, hamachi, one piece each for the 2 of us… 🙂

#4 kappa – grilled fish cheeks

#4 kappa – grilled fish cheeks

the shio (salt) grilled kappa (fish cheeks) very good 👍👍

wife found it slightly fishy, so took only 1/2…i took all of it & her 1/2 piece too. lol!

#5 sushi (aburi salmon & anago)+ #6 bara chirashi don

the aburi sushi & barachirashi don were served together.

sushi (aburi salmon & anago)

the aburi sushi were great…salmon was good & of course anago sushi 👍was special. sauce though was a bit sweet.

the bara chirashi don was ok. fish was fresh though odd cuts letfovers like any bara, the sushi rice not that great.

& there was a #7 soup…it was good too, nice tasty clear soup with asari (la la clams)…

#8 yuzu sorbet

yuzu sorbet lagi shiok!…very flavourful & refreshing. great dessert ite….

bara chirashi don

a very enjoyable early anniversary dinner with wife…

this place i will definitely come back again..don’t mind to take this mini kaiseki set again, alaos to try the weekday special & lunch specials..

c.h.e.f andy

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Maru Dine & Bar  丸 

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Great Lunch @ Mikuni on 27Nov2015

mikuni business bento

mikuni business bento

went lunch with a friend to mikuni on 27.11.2015. ^^

mikuni is my favourite japanese restaurant, along with kuriya dining.

if i want kaiseki or omakase, it would be hachi.

& for a cheap & really good chirashi don (or maybe it is large cube cut barachirashi) don then sumiya.

mikuni robatayaki counter

mikuni robatayaki counter

today we wanted to take the teppanyaki or robatayaki set, so we sat at the robatayaki counter.

it’s quite an excellent seating actually, very private corner area.

robatayaki 炉烧 is like a charcoal bbq where skewered meats are barbequed. the chef then serves the food with giant oars to reach over the counter.

kinki

kinki

i was chatting with the chef before my friend arrived.

this ugly fish is kinki, a quite tasty japanese delicacy, a bit expensive.

kinki

kinki

looks a bit like the kinmedai, golden eye snapper.

lobster & king prawn

lobster & king prawn

they was lobsters & king prawns. cannot tell from photo but the lobster was 650g size & the prawns were very large king prawns.

alaskan king crab & oysters

alaskan king crab & oysters

& there was the alaskan king crab & large oysters.

sous vide kurobuta belly

sous vide kurobuta belly

the kurobuta belly were sous vide before bbq.

i am testing one belly now (being pressed with weights) in the fridge (tea brined & 16hrs in the oven at 70degC), and will pan fry skin side tomorrow. let’s see how that goes. 🙂

prawn crackers & salad with goma dressing

prawn crackers & salad with goma dressing

my friend ordered the teppanyaki set.

i had the teppanyaki set previously so i decided to try out the business bento (top photo) this time.

1/2 lobster uni yaki

1/2 lobster uni yaki

server told me lobster uni yaki was 1/2 lobster.

but then this a very tiny lobster, maybe 350g size, so 1/2 very small serving.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi was good standard but not special, just 2 pieces salmon & a hotate.

futomaki

futomaki

futomaki was ok.

tofu, daikon & shimeji

tofu, daikon & shimeji

yam & mushrooms

yam & mushrooms

the small sides were very average, nicely presented.

if you take the menu prices before discount, 1/2 lobster = S$24, so the remaining almost nothing dishes added up to S$44=S$68-S$24, i would say the set is not worth at all, might as well order a lobster to share.

of course if you take the whole lobster business bento set at S$34 (after 50% feed at raffles discounts) in such a restaurant. i guess it’s ok.

but i would take the chirashi don anytime.

chawanmushi for teppanyaki set

chawanmushi for teppanyaki set

my friend’s teppanyaki set included a chawanmushi. 🙂

golden prawns, miso cod, tenderloin, garlic fried rice (teppanyaki set)

golden prawns, miso cod, tenderloin, garlic fried rice (teppanyaki set)

the golden prawns one of the popular dishes here, & miso cod was also good.

the tenderloin was so so here (i tried previously). my friend thought so also. garlic rice was ok.

caramel mousse ice cream

caramel mousse ice cream

the dessert was a mousse ice cream. quite nice really & my friend liked it.

i prefer the previous panna cotta though.

ambience was super & we had good time together. overall the food & place were great for the price. not the best i had at mikuni. but it ‘s good to try different dishes also.

c.h.e.f andy

Wafu 和风 (Japanese Style) Braised Eggplants – Simply Wonderful!

#5 wafu 和风 (japanese braised) eggplants - this dish was simply excellent!

wafu 和风 (japanese braised) eggplants

japanese is a very wide cuisine like chinese, indian, french, italian (whereas my impression is korean cuisine is quite limited).

in japanese cooking there are so many very nice side dishes and great combination of different dishes even in a simple bento at the railway station.

& in kaiseki they always have many diffferent types of appetizers, steamed, broiled, poached, boiled, stewed, braised, vinegared, cured, stir-fired, grilled, hotpot, really endless array of dishes.

for my recent 9pax japanese course dinner on 28.9.2015, i paired the shabu pork with grated radish & small japanese cucumbers.

& i wanted to pair the wafu (和风) pasta with teriyaki cod & a veg.

after surfing/looking up a bit, i found a simple interesting wafu (和风) braised eggplant recipe from japanesecooking101 here.

following the recipe, i cut 2 egg plants in 1/2, then sliced the egg plants (this to let the sauce infused into the egg plants), then cut in 1/2 again, so i have 8 quarters. i fried them a bit, turned over, then added 1 cup dashi (i used chicken/vegetable stock), 1 tbsp tsuyu, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp sake (basically to taste) & reduced & set aside. when serving i reduced a little further while warming up & served. 🙂

wafu 和风 (japanese braised) eggplants

wafu 和风 (japanese braised) eggplants

the wafu 和风 (japanese braised) eggplants was simply excellent! this the first time i did a japanese braised eggplant. it’s so easy & the taste was just fantastic!^^

egg plant is really a very nice veg. you can do it in so many ways.

i had very nice eggplants with minced pork in hong kong at 富记大排档 at tai wai, and i recreated the minced pork egg plant dish at home,

and later a vegetarian version of the egg plant dish. 🙂

& i still want to do the chinese version though (i like the ye shanghai one very much). don’t think much difference, probably just use oysters sauce instead.

a wonderful, most satisfying dish! ^^

c.h.e.f andy

A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 2 The Good Ending – A Marvellous Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 26Jan2015

excellent uni

excellent uni

after the excellent ryokan breakfast this morning, we now had cause to anticipate a nice kaiseki dinner on 26.1.2015.

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

this time we were not disappointed.

hence i had termed these 2 dinners on 25.1.2015 & 26.1.2015 “a tale of 2 dinners”

what a difference a menu change made.

see the sub-par dinner on 25.1.2015

with a good kaiseki dinner & breafast, Gettoan 月灯庵 did fully meet our expectations of a good ryokan.

umeshu梅酒

umeshu梅酒

for this evening, dinner started with umeshu梅酒.

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

the chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) was outstanding. there was bits of minced ginger on top. the texture & flavours were exquisite. maybe i will try this at home.

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

the braised wagyu & tendons was just superb. texture was almost like gelatinous, had bite yet dissolving in the mouth, and nice mellow beefy flavours, mildly sweet. this was par excellence! ^^

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

grating own wasabi

grating own wasabi

ika

ika

fish sashimi

fish sashimi

we grated our own wasabi roots!

sashimi moriawase was nothing like last evening’s which was below those at sun with moon, or for that matter any supermarket basement sashimi picks in japan!

this time we had good serving each of uni, very sweet! ika was pretty good & the fish slices were very good too. the same lady server initially said it was swordfish, but when i mentioned it did not look remotely like kajiki, she corrected herself but we did not understand what fish it was actually. whatever, what counted was it’s good!

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

& we had an excellent tempura!

the 2 large pieces each of anago (sea or conger eel) was a large helping. the tempura batter was just great & the whole experience wonderful.^^

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

& we had a wonderful bungo wagyu 丰后和牛 shabu shabu. there were 10 large thick slices of wagyu for 2 pax, beef was well marbled and flavourful, very good indeed!

shabu shabu

shabu shabu

noodles, mushrooms, veg

noodles, mushrooms, veg

we had the usual noodles, mushrooms, vegetables.

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

i can have this again! 🙂

if we were to make a comparison with mikuni’s excellent kagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe, certainly what we have at Gettoan was much more marbled & better beef quality. in terms of satisfaction, mikuni’s was almost as good & a good approximation to this.

pickles

pickles

we had pickles with the gohan (rice).

cake dessert

cake dessert

dessert was ok. we did not have much interest for the butter cake. it maybe that gettoan indeed is trying to be fusion, with the foie gras tofu last evening (tonight’s chawanmushi would beat tat hands down), and these cake stuff, which some restaurants in Singapore like kuriya etc does too.

anyway, we were immensely satisfied with the kaiseki dinner this second night. ^^

c.h.e.f andy

A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 1 – Disappointing Totally Below Par Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 25Jan2015

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

we were booked for 2 nights at Gettoan ryokan 月灯庵 at yufuin 汤布院. Gettoan ryokan & its kaiseki dinners had very good reviews, and we were expecting a very good dinner on the first evening we checked into the ryokan on 25.1.2015.

it turned out to be really disappointing. i would say this dinner was below just about every ryokan dinner i had in tohoku (we visited just before the tsunami, sadly cannot go back now), and way below (say) mikuni or hachi or kuriya in singapore.

i need to add here though that the japanese breakfast the next day was excellent (& the day after too) & the shabu shabu kaiseki on our second night 26.1.2015 was just exquisite, par excellence, so i term this a tale of 2 dinners. ^^

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/a-tale-of-2-dinners-part-2-the-good-ending-a-marvellous-kaiseki-dinner-gettoan-on-26jan2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/wonderful-breakfast-a-redemption-gettoan-ryokan-yufuin-kyushu-on-26-1-2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/another-wonderful-breakfast-to-savour-gettoan-ryokan-月灯庵-yufuin汤布院-kyushu-九州-on-27jan2015/

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

sensai

sensai

sensai-seaweed wrapped mentaiko

sensai-seaweed wrapped minced salmon?

sensai - fish roes

sensai – fish roes

the sensai was ok, but really unexciting for this class of ryokan (i.e. very expensive ryokan). the mini kaiseki lunch at kuriya had far better sensai (前菜). and the omakase lunch at GOTO had just as good sakizuke(先附).

tofu dish with foie gras

tofu dish with foie gras

the foie gras flavoured tofu dish was a nice dish, but really average by japanese kaiseki standards, non descript really.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

the sashimi moriawase (kampachi, tai maybe?? & hirame) was an immense let down, completely substandard. for me, even sun with moon sashimi is much better standard than this! sashimi was not sweet & was tough – a really low grade cut!

yuba pot

yuba pot

there was a egg, yuba pot with veg. i would give same assessment as the foie gras tofu…underwhelming, just like the entire dinner.

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

the clear soup came with a nice tasty piece of fish, maybe snapper? anyway for this dish alone, maybe one could say “normal service resumes??” but this was a non-substantial by-the-way dish in a kaiseki.

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

of course the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧 was just excellent. like my wife said, ishiyaki is self service & they did gave a very good beef cut. in a good or at least par-for-the-course kaiseki, one expects to taste good cooking, some creativity & great matching of taste. those were non existent in this dinner!

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

other than the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧, the ochazuke (お茶漬け) was the only other dish throughout the dinner that we consider of good standards. the kampachi cut was good & could be taken as sashimi or slightly poached with the rice. the yuzu miso paste was great & the dashi 上汤was just excellent! a very good dish.

deseert

deseert

the dessert was just as bad. any dessert in sun with moon would be better!

one comment on the service. the overall service of the ryokan was top notch as expected of any ryokans of this standard. we were assigned a server who spoke very good english & we were kind of expecting top level service.

but the service was really superficial! the server tried to get us to order red wine instead of sake claiming that the dishes suited wine better. i would say none of the dishes qualified at all as western or fusion & why would one take red or white wine instead of sake for a japanese dinner, they were just not very good japanese food! & it was quite blatant way to get us to spend more money. this the first & only time we encountered that in japan. even in Singapore these days, server will advise you NOT to order things you don’t need/want!

and worse, after the beef before ochazuke she asked us whether we wanted tea. we asked for ocha & was later billed 950yen! of course it was not about the money. she did not tell us it was chargeable, and the way she asked it was evident that she did not intend to reveal it was chargeable. immediately after the ochazuke, we were served another ocha, this one free. does that make any sense??

for me it was a lowly tactic suited for yesteryears, like london chinatown in the 1970s, not a top class ryokan in Japan, or for that matter any ordinary restaurants in Singapore.

fortunately for us, the ryokan redeemed itself the next few meals. we were asked again the next dinner if we wanted tea by the same server, again w/o telling us it was chargeable! some bad habits just do not go away!

c.h.e.f andy

Tai Hwa Bakchormee at Blk 466 Crawford Lane on 23Oct2014

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

S$5 tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

went to immigration checkpoint authority (ICA) to take passport size photo today.

i applied online for passport extension but my scanned photo for e-submission was rejected.  anyway it’s about time i took some current day photos. heard from b-i-l that the studios outside now charged S$22 for 8 (or maybe 12) photos, and better off for me just to go to ICA & pay S$5.50 for 4 photos. that’s what i did, and no hassle.

was planning to skip lunch as i have a kaiseki dinner at GOTO this evening. but since i already parked, and i have not been to this stall for the last maybe 10years and the time 11am looked promising, i decided to walk over to tai hwa bakchormee @ blk 466 crawford lane. this the original stall from hill street 1932.

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

i joined the queue at no.7. no one ordered like 5 bowls or packets, so i got my bakchormee in just over 15mins.

a very pleasant surprise. the stall proprietor was very polite & friendly, not the usual nazi chef! 🙂

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

S$5 tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

S$5 tai hwa bakchormee at blk 466 crawford lane

well, the  S$5 tai hwa bakchormee was good. 🙂

noodles were qq (al dente) and tasty mixed in the sauce. ingredients minced pork, pork balls, pig liver, soi kao (fish/meat dumpling) & tipoh were good. i thought this style bakchormee had mushroom sauce, but there was none, just the very nice vinegar, chilli sauce taste. very good. overall i think i like the bakchormee at ming fa bakchormee upper thomson a bit better. close fight anyway.

but after all these time, i think i now prefer the S$4 jalan tua kong meepok tar at 6th avenue. & don’t think i will wait 1/2 for this tai hwa bakchormee.

c.h.e.f andy

Good Quality Lunch Kaiseki @ Hachi on 17Jan2014

kobachi (amuse bouche)

kobachi (amuse bouche)

had a good quality lunch omakase at hachi with my wife on 17.1.2014. see also the excellent dinner omakase on 9.11.2013. 🙂

omakase is like a chef’s table, no menu but usually follows the course preparations for kaiseki. the chef selects the “freshest” ingredients of the day, checks whether you have dietary restrictions & supposedly dishes out an excellent meal to you…well they usually do..

we ordered the S$68pax lunch omakase & the S$88pax ohmi wagyu omakase.

#1 we had a very good amuse bouche of tofu toped with ikura & yuzu jelly.

sensai platter

sensai platter

sashimi moriawase (shima aji, tai, hamachi)

sashimi moriawase (shima aji, tai, hamachi)

#2 next we had a sensai (前菜) dish = tofu, sweet black beans, tasty egg plant, some vegetables & nice barley miso.

#3 a sashimi platter of shim aji, tai & hamachi followed. they were sweet & fresh, but not comparable with the sashimi in the superb kuriya dining lunch kaiseki we had on 16.11.2013.

miso soup with mochi & chicken

miso soup with mochi & chicken

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tempura

tempura

gohan (rice) set

gohan (rice) set

my wife took the lunch omakase.

#4 a tasty miso flavourful & intense was served, with chicken & kochi.

#5 then came a large oyster sashimi (S$12 ala carte). this was similar to what we had for the dinner omakase & it was very good. 🙂

#6 next was tempura, good quality batter, and #7 the gohan set.

ohmi wagyu tataki

ohmi wagyu tataki

shabu ohmi wagyu

shabu ohmi wagyu

shabu ohmi wagyu

shabu ohmi wagyu

grilled ohmi wagyu

grilled ohmi wagyu

grilled ohmi wagyu

grilled ohmi wagyu

wagyu gohan set

wagyu gohan set

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for my ohmi wavy omakase, i had #4 ohmi wagyu tataki. it was good, very sweet & tasty.

#5 i liked the shabu ohmi wagyu as well. its like the korean bulgogi or gyudon sliced beef but good quality & w/o the overpowering teriyaki sauce. 🙂

#6 there was also the grilled ohmi wagyu steak. the wagyu was not very marbled, but still very enjoyable & my wife preferred less marbled wagyu.

#7 the gohan set had wagyu tips, small chopped pieces. a very nice rice indeed. i though maybe i could try this dish at home actually to complete a good meal. 🙂

kuro goma (black sesame) ice cream

kuro goma (black sesame) ice cream

#8 we had the black sesame ice cream – must say i was getting tired of this or the macha ice cream & would have preferred yuzu flavour instead. 🙂

i would still rate kuriya dining’s S$58 kaiseki lunch over hachi’s S$68 omakase but not by much really, so i would go back for both. if one has a fix for ohmi wagyu i guess the wagyu omakase (which i do) is an excellent choice, otherwise the S$20 upgrade to tokusen sashimi at kuriya dining would be the one i go for.

c.h.e.f andy

Superb Lunch Kaiseki @ Kuriya Dining on 16Nov2013

tokusen (特选) sashimi moriawase

tokusen (特选) sashimi moriawase=chutoro, akaebi, mirugai, uni wrapped with tai

had a most enjoyable lunch kaiseki at kuriya dining @ great world city with my wife on saturday 16.11.2013. they served an excellent daily S$58 lunch kaiseki (there was also a S$48 option which has sushi instead of sashimi). 🙂

this lunch was even better than the S$138 kaiseki dinner on 4.6.2013 i had here! the only caveat is that as the menu changes monthly, some months’ menu maybe more attractive than others, so it makes sense to check the website menu. for this day everything was par excellence!

kuriya dining november lunch kaiseki menu

november lunch kaiseki menu

sensai (前菜)=fish liver, chestnut, pumpkin jelly, reef squid, mushroom

sensai (前菜)=fish liver, chestnut, pumpkin jelly, reef squid, mushroom

angler fish liver

angler fish liver

chutoro

chutoro,mirugai(geoduck) in foreground

sashimi =maguro, kampachi, sake

sashimi moriawase =maguro, kampachi, sake

akaebi (red prawn) head

akaebi (red prawn) head

grilled prawn & fish with superb truffle sauce

grilled prawn & fish with superb truffle sauce

simmered cod in plum sauce

simmered cod in plum sauce

the first course, sensai (前菜) consisted of angler fish liver, chestnut, pumpkin jelly, reef squid, mushroom. angler fish (ugliest in the world?) liver was such a fine sublime dish, simply delish! the other items – bigfin reef squid etc were all good too. 🙂

the sashimi moriawase (maguron, sake, kampachi) was very good, sweet & fresh. for 1 set we topped up S$20 for the sashimi & got an exquisite tokusen (特选) sashimi moriawase with chutoro, akaebi, mirugai, uni wrapped with tai (top photo). this was super good value upgrade. the akaebi was the size of botan ebi (or bigger for this one) but not as sweet. we asked for the head to be deepfried. it was excellent every time. perhaps next time we would ask for aburi (torched) chutoro. 🙂

the grilled prawn & fish were good if ordinary but the truffle sauce was super.

the simmered cod with plum sauce was another par excellence dish. sweet, firm cod with slight sour sauce, the best! 🙂

ikura sake chirashi don set

chirashi don set (ikura, sake, tai)

dessert=macaron,fruits & vanilla ice cream

dessert=macaron,fruits & vanilla ice cream

& after so many quality dishes we got a very nice chirashi don (with loads of ikura, sake & tai) to finish off. this lunch was so gooood!

i always wonder why japanese cuisine had such a wide menu & yet almost no dessert, like only fruits & ice cream & maybe jelly…my impression is all japanese dessert are tea dessert of the red bean kind, and the best dessert in tokyo, shinjuku etc are all the western dessert which the japanese do so well, maybe better than most western places.

anyhow we had a good combination of western dessert – a macaron with vanilla ice cream (instead of jam), fruits & 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream).

this an excellent lunch menu that i would return for everytime. c/w keyaki’s weekend S$60pax brunch mini kaiseki, i would consider both the S$58pax menu & the upgrade S$78pax menu at kuriya dining a much better offering. 🙂

c.h.e.f. andy

Excellent Omakase @ Hachi on 9Nov2013

excellent kobachi (小钵) -amuse bouche

excellent kobachi (小钵) -amuse bouche

we had an immensely satisfying omakase dinner for 3pax at hachi on 9.11.2013. 🙂

omakase is like a chef’s table. there is no menu & the chef dishes out the freshest ingredients of the day. generally it is done like a kaiseki course dinner. at hachi we were served a 12-course autumn-theme dinner. the restaurant asked whether we had diet restrictions, as was customary. we of course ate anything & everything..haha. 🙂

the first dish was an excellent kobachi like an amuse bouche. i can’t really remember what it was except for the slice of japanese persimon sticking out. 🙂

sensai (前菜) platter - tofu, ginko nuts, a momiji (maple) flour cake. chestnut etc

sensai (前菜) platter – tofu, ginko nuts, a momiji (maple) flour cake. chestnut etc

sashimi moriawase (shima aji, hirame, hotate, kampachi)

sashimi moriawase (shima aji, hirame, hotate, kampachi)

oyster

raw oyster

sensai (前菜) platter was lovely – tofu, ginko nuts, chestnut & a momiji (maple) flour cake etc befitting the occasion.

next was a dobin mushi (teapot soup) which was simple & nice. didn’t take a photo though!

the sashimi moriawase consisting of shima aji, hirame, hotate, kampachi was excellent, very fresh & sweet. 🙂

we also had a very large plump juicy oyster. very good indeed!

hamachi kama (fish cheeks)

hamachi kama (fish cheeks)

steamed crabmeat, tofu, seaweed, melon dish

simmered crabmeat, tofu, seaweed, melon dish

ohmi wagyu rare

ohmi wagyu rare

hokkaido tomatoes

hokkaido tomatoes

light noodles with tempura batter

light noodles with tempura batter

next up was the hamachi kama (fish cheeks). this was among the best for this evening. i don’t order kama at japanese restaurants because it is usually quite a large helping & not everyone likes it. for this evening though it was excellent, 1 of the best kama i had, very well marinated, sweet (not too sweet) & tasty. we all liked it. 🙂

next was a simmered dish of crabmeat, tofu, seaweed, melon etc, delicate & tasty.

following that we were served ohmi wagyu (ohmi is 1 of the top 3 kuroge wagyu after matsuzaka & kobe) – the highlight of the evening. it was very flavourful & a nice rare. after that we had hokkaido tomatoes. they were super, sweet & refreshing. these are now served in many restaurants in Hong Kong & Singapore & xiyan served them as a starter dish in their rather expensive course meals.

to round off the meal, we had, in place of the usual gohan set (rice & pickles), a light noodle with some tempura batter. it was very satisfying.  after that we had a nice macha ice cream. 🙂

the price of the omakase was S$118pax. it was very good in quality of cooking & ingredients & also quantity. it was certainly a much better deal c/w the S$138pax kaiseki at kuriya dining & the S$170pax kaiseki at keyaki. c/w mikuni at 50% FAR discounts and Andy’s kaiseki (in jest only la! haha), mikuni was still the better deal. still hachi was an excellent alternative for good japanese kaiseki. will certainly be back. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Very Good Dinner @ Fukuichi Level 2 Triple One on 30Oct2013

good bento S$40

good bento S$40

very good friend of mine insisted on buying me birthday dinner. i had many meals already last few days so suggested crystal jade lamian xiaolongbao etc. he would have none of it. he wanted to go nandaman or keyaki. i was not keen for him to spend money at those places (nandaman i didn’t want to go at all, and i would only go for nice sunday brunch mini kaiseki at keyaki &  very occasionally for kaiseki dinner depending on what was served on the menu). i told him if he was buying me dinner he should at least listen to what i wanted, but he just waived away & said when i made those suggestions, it was to be discounted & not to be listened to..hahaha. 🙂 anyway the compromise was fukuichi. 🙂
Fukuichi was located at level 2 of triple one. we arranged to meet at 8pm on 30.10.2013 as he had to finish a phone conference. i was having repeated problems with my dell pc even though it was only 1.5yrs into a 3yr warranty & the motherboard had already changed once. i had to make 3 factory image restore and wasted away hours. that was the last straw & i decided to get a mac. i arrived 20mins early & walked over to epicentre @ 313 just across the road. good side trip & i kind of decided on which mac i wanted. 🙂
fukuichi @ triple one level 2

fukuichi @ triple one level 2

fukuichi @ triple one level 2

fukuichi @ triple one level 2

kobachi - complimentary chopped tuna appetizer

kobachi – complimentary chopped tuna appetizer

salad with ponzu dressing

salad with ponzu dressing

bento (sashimi, sushi, maki)

bento (sashimi, sushi, maki)

kani tofu

kani tofu S$6

hoba beef S$38

beef hobayaki S$38

hoba beef

beef hobayaki S$38

we decided to order a bento each. my friend was not satisfied & insisted to order a sake (he was evidently in greater birthday mood than i & took 90% of the sake as i told him he would)  & beef hobayaki S$38. i ordered a S$6 kani tofu to share as i read about it & wanted to try.

we were served a complimentary kobachi to get started – a small dish with chopped tuna. this was tasty, a good appetizer. the bento also came with a salad, simple cut cabbage that was very refreshing & enjoyable with the ponzu dressing. the kani tofu (basically pitan tofu with crabmeat) was good, tasty though i thought the one with tobiko at hokkaido sushi was better.

the bento was good quality. the sashimi (maguro, ika, sake) were all very sweet. the sushi & maki were competent. the pan-fried salmon was good, very tasty. the tempura were above average. 🙂

the beef (aussie) hobayaki(朴叶烧) with shitake mushrooms was quite good. i first came across this preparation at takayama. the local hida beef (飞弹牛) was an excellent wagyu, and was served on a magnolia leaf (朴叶). i would rate this beef as equal to that served at dozo, not as good quality as that served at the clan. 🙂

in all, a very enjoyable dinner. though we meet often, we had very good chat before calling it quits for the night.

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

Excellent Kaiseki Lunch @ Keyaki on 18Aug2013

teriyaki cod

teriyaki cod

see also keyaki update on 27.10.2013.

pan pacific hotel had undergone a period of retrofitting last year.  we used to head for kaiseki at keyaki especially during year end where the menu items were more attractive (with lobster, Jap wagyu etc). i had not been back to keyaki since end 2011. the only other time i visited pan pacific was for the buffet lunch at the edge, though at S$58pax i did not find it a compelling offering even with 1 free for 3 paying.

recently i noticed that keyaki has a S$60 8-course weekend kaiseki brunch (we had tried the brunch there a while back but didn’t find reasons to return). this time i also had added incentives to redeem some accumulated points which would expire Jan 2014, it was an excellent lunch (or brunch?) – don’t quite see how was it brunch? 🙂

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

we had a otoshi starter – a small simmered pickled fish dish. next was mixed sashimi comprising salmon, hamachi & akamai (lean toro). it was good. 🙂

chawanmushi

chawanmushi

the chawanmushi was good too – very smooth & tasty for a ordinary chawanmushi though many places like (say) hokkaido sushi serves one with ikura which is much sweeter.

20130818_140929 20130818_140915

the tempura came with 1 prawn, 1 fish & 2 vegetable items. it was a good tempura, the batter was light, fluffy & crisp. 🙂

the teriyaki cod (top photo) was best! i don’t like sweet teriyaki sauce much but this was lightly flavoured which enhanced the very flavourful cod.  excellent dish! 🙂

beef teppnyaki

beef teppnyaki

the beef teppanyaki was good too. on this day though the service, usually impeccable, left much to be desired. the kitchen had somehow missed our order (or misplaced the beef? haha) & they served it to 1 of us while the rest (4pax) waited good part of 1/2 hr before we were served the dish.  we had all ordered medium rare but it came all effectively well done. still surprise, surprise the USA sirloin was tender and tasty, not superb but quite ok really. 🙂

maki

maki

maki was quite ok too,

the set came with macha ice cream (& it was good here NOt the cheap sweet variety).  i asked for 2 kurogoma (black sesame) ice-cream & they served to us. that was really good 🙂

the food items were of good quality & standard, & good value for S$60++. will probably go back again. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Japanese Dinner @ Mikuni at Fairmont Hotel on 24Mar2013

20130324_194557

truffle kampachi sashimi

Note – see also update = FAR Card 50% for up to 5pax. 🙂

I go to Mikuni a lot as my wife & I really enjoy the food there, and with Feed@Raffles discounts (50% discount for 2pax), that is the best value eat we can get anywhere. 🙂

We always order ala carte so we pick only dishes we like and also it is much better value than ordering the Seasons Menu or the Grand Tour Tasting Menu. We explore the menu quite a bit & zero in on the dishes we like. In fact, we have now taken the same few dishes so many times that I can almost call it a “Andy Kaiseki Menu”..haha…just kidding. 🙂 It is just 5 course, but while it may not have like 10 courses to be a full kaiseki menu, every dish is very substantial when compared with individual course of a kaiseki or mini kaiseki.

My selected courses (shared by 2pax) as follows-

  1. truffle kampachi (S$28)
  2. botan ebi sashimi (3 large prawns for S$35)
  3. united nations futomaki (9 ingredients 6 pieces maki S$28)
  4. sous vide then deep-fried octopus (S$30)
  5. 2xkagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe (individual hotpot at S$48 each)
  6. 1 plain rice to share – they will split for you (S$5)

As you see, the price comes to S$222, and at 50% discount, it is S$111 or S$55.50++pax. 🙂

Now to the dishes.

The first dish, a truffle kampachi is a wonderful, wonderful dish, and as you can see in the top picture, it is so pretty. It is in a small way a fusion sashimi dish by the Korean Chef with kampachi sashimi fanned out in probably tsuyu sauce as the sauce is not so salty, and a dash of truffle oil – so very fragrant, fresh, sweet & tasty! 🙂

20130324_195940

botan ebi sashimi

20130324_195835

botan rbi heads deep-fried

The second dish is botan ebi sashimi – you get 3 prawns for sashimi & 2 if you order sushi. These are large (3x the size of regular ama ebi), plump & sweet prawns with the same pleasant slightly sticky to the bite texture as regular ama ebi.

and they deep fry the large prawn heads. We eat up almost the entire crispy deep-fried prawn heads every time so no need to elaborate la…haha. 🙂

united nations futomaki

united nations futomaki

Next the united nation futomaki. The name sounds like a disaster but there are 9 ingredients (I can see there are unagi, ebi, tamago, avogado, different fish roes, maybe crabstick etc) & it is good – may not be the best as there are many specialist maki in many restaurants these days, but it is good!

20130324_200837 20130324_200817 20130324_200920

Then we have the tako (octopus) sous vide & deep-fried in light batter. This is really very good as the meat is totally tender & consistent throughout because of sous vide (vacuum low temperature slow-cooking). it goes very well with just a little wasabi mayo (provided) – we always add more wasabi on our own.

20130324_201833

kagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe (小钵)

& the the finale – kagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe (小钵).

20130324_202132 20130324_202121

It is very, very good! there are 3 pieces of wagyu, and you can see from the photos that they are large & thick pieces – I reckon the 3 pieces to be at least 80g, probably 100g! these are Jap wagyu NOT australian wagyu, & they are so, so tasty,  the sukiyaki also comes with the usual vegetables, thick Japanese glass noodles & mushroom, and oh such great flavours! you can add the soup to the rice afterwards (and remember to add wasabi to it as well).

c.h.e.f andy

Restaurant Week $35nett Lunch @ Kumo Kaiseki Restaurant on 19Mar2013

Menu-Restaurant Week $35nett set lunch at Kumo Kaiseki Restaurant

Menu-Restaurant Week $35nett set lunch at Kumo Kaiseki Restaurant

A friend bought lunch today. We had great time chatting about the charity he was actively leading last 25years, travel & food.

As it was DiningCity Restaurant Week (18-24mar2013), I suggested the $35nett lunch set at Kumo Kaiseki Restaurant. There was just a little confusion as many restaurants were awarded DiningCity Star (and Kumo Kaiseki was 1 of them), and this meant they charged additional S$15 & S$20 respectively on top of the standardised S$25++ lunches & S$35++ dinners. Most if not all ‘Star’ restaurants would simply indicate lunches as S$40++ & dinners as S$55++ to avoid confusion but Kumo did not. So we called up to make sure that we would be paying S$35nett and NOT S$50++ & that was indeed the case (good to be certain than have wrong expectations and be disappointed..haha..). 🙂

I have stopped going for Restaurant Week these days as there is nothing much on offer. S$40 lunches & S$55 dinners at the ‘Star’ restaurants like Oso, Gaia, Absinthe etc are not cheap and also usually restrictive on the menu items especially mains c/w their daily lunches. Last year for example, UOB had very good 1 for 1 Young Chef Creation Menu in many restaurants and you get a 4-course S$68 1 for 1 menu at Gaia vs a S$40 3-course Restaurant Week menu at the same restaurant! Even at La Cicala Gastrobar (which has no Star), the usual S$25 set lunch menu is to me better than the same-priced Restaurant Week menu.

This Kumo S$35nett menu looks good though.

I had a kaiseki dinner only once at Kumo using a $50 Kitchen Language (which owns Kumo, Salta, Ochre, Saltwater cafe) voucher. Kumo’s food is good but not great for the price c/w say Hachi, and if you are not overly enameled with kaiseki presentation, I think Kuriya Dining’s monthly sets offer better value. For me, none of them can compare with Mikuni using the Feed@Raffles card with 50% discount for 2pax, so I usually frequent Mikuni, but it is good to have a change once a while.

The first course, tai (sea bream) sashimi topped with ikura (salmon roe), was truly delightful in all departments – taste, colour, presentation! the jelly  (can’t remember what it is) went really well with the tai sashimi. every item (broadbean, petals & all) was edible. This dish was very impressive even for a full course kaiseki! 🙂

tai sashimi topped with ikura - so pretty (every item edible!)

tai sashimi topped with ikura – so pretty (every item edible!)

The lotus & prawn dumpling were ok & tasty, nothing to wow about. the bonito soup was also ok with a nice after taste.

20130319_122611

lotus & prawn dumpling in bonito soup

The main course comprised a braised saga wagyu shank & some vegetable items in batter & the usual gohan set of rice, pickles & miso soup. This really was quite so-so, very average taste wise.  As a braised item, one could not tell much between wagyu (& Japanese wagyu at that!) & normal beef.

braised saga wagyu shank & yasai furai

braised saga wagyu shank & yasai furai

also done this way it is more commonly served as an appertiser item (eg Dozo serves a japanese braised beef as an appertiser item in their 6-course lunches which maybe tastes same or better), and is no comparison with the modern european braised lamb shanks served in many restaurants here.

braised saga wagyu shank in miso

braised saga wagyu shank in miso

The yasai (野菜) furai (not a tempura batter) was a good complement to the braised beef.

yasai furai

yasai furai

Well at S$35nett (S$30++ just for comparison though Kumo actually does not charge 10% service) for such a lunch, I guess there was little to complain about except for the parking costing S$10 at neighbouring Amara Hotel. 🙂

sakura mochi with Japanese strawberries

sakura mochi with Japanese strawberries

The dessert was a nice red bean mochi which I liked & 1/2 a strawberry.

Overall, it was a very pleasant meal and also nice way of keeping up with a friend.

c.h.e.f andy