Food Mission 2016: Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte

Another hidden gem in Western Singapore!

Walked past this cute cafe a couple of times in JCube and finally decided to pop in for dinner on a non-crowded Monday evening.

The food here is actually a mix of Asian (mainly Japanese/Korean) and Western Fusion. A snippet of their restaurant description from their official Facebook page:

Here at Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte, we seek to make casual dining a gastronomic experience. Our menu combines the quality and innovation of the Japanese (Tokyo), with the comfort of old-fashioned European cuisine (Latte). Come make yourselves at home at our humble space in JCube, and let us serve you quality dishes made with heart.

The menu is predominantly noodles. There were other main courses as well – as such Seafood Baked Rice, Tenderloin Steak, Fish & Chips etc.

Decided to have their signature Classic Grilled Seafood Tomato with ramen noodles**

** There was a choice of noodles, ranging from ramen, udon, cha soba & even nissin noodles.

Tomato soup brewed with herbs and spices and mixed together with an assortment of seafood (grilled sea prawns, white claims, squid) and vegetables that was very very flavorful. Most important, it was REAL tomato soup (as versus to canned tomato soup). Was also glad I chose the ramen noodles to go with this soup base as the texture of the ramen noodles goes best with tomato soup as compared to cha soba and udon.

The portion was not that huge though, but for $6.90 – it made for a pretty decent dinner. Most recently when I walked past, I noted that prices have since been adjusted slightly upwards. Nevertheless, the next time I go back again, would like to check out the Kimchi Beef combo.

 

Details:

Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte

#02-03 JCube, 2 Jurong East Central 1                                                                                                         Singapore 609731

Tel: +65 6262 6803                                                       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noodlebarbytokyolatte Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/noodlebarbytokyolatte/

Opening Hours:

1130 Hrs to 2200 Hrs (Last Order At 2130 Hrs)

Food Mission 2016: nahm

Using the 1st day of the new year (year 2017) to play blog catch-up.

While I had quite a few foodie adventures in year 2016 itself, one of the highlights was definitely dining at Nahm while I was in Bangkok in April 2016. Incidentally, this is also my one and only overseas trip/holiday for year 2016.

More specifically, the reason why we ended up at nahm was because it was meant to be a birthday treat for Z – who really really wanted to check out nahm!

Apart from the many awards and accoldales nahm has received, notably being ranked in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (No. 7 in Year 2015 and No. 8 in Year 2016),  nahm is also notable as a set-up by David Thompson – an Australian chef specialized in Thai cuisine. Also noted from Z that Nahm is the ‘parent’ of Long Chim @ Marina Bay Sands that also serves similar styled thai cuisine.

Location-wise, Nahm is not difficult to find as it is situated right at the ground level of the COMO Metropolitian Bangkok Hotel in the Sathorn district. Which in turn was just 10 to 15 min away by cab from Pratunam (where we were staying).

No pictures of the restaurant though as we were busy getting ourselves settled down and relaxed at our corner table, and was a bit tired to be snapping away at the restaurant interior after our early morning flight into Bangkok.

We went for the 1,600 baht (before taxes) set lunch that works out to be around SGD 75 to 76. Rather than ala-carte, I decided the set lunch would be better for the complete dining experience + it was intended also to be brithday treat for Z.

And so, how does Thai cuisine cooked by an Australian fare in a smart casual setting?

The set lunch consists of 8 courses – which I combined into a collage and posted it on my personal instagram.

In the order from left to right to downwards (and sideways and downwards again) – our meal kicked off with a complementary Amuse Bouche ‘Ma Hor’. This is essentially minced chicken, pork and prawn (which lumped together felt like ba kwa) covered with palm sugar topped with fried shallots on a pineapple. At 1st bite, it was refreshing, and the combination of sweet (i.e. the pineapple) and savoury (i.e. the pork) was perfect!

Next up, a canape (or rather appetizer) – Thai satay + egg nets with prawns, wild almonds and kaffir line, which made for another sweet and savoury combination as well.

Followed by the mains – Scallop salad with coconut & lemongrass …. Steamed coral trout fish with Bang rak yellow beans & prickled garlic (understand this was a signature David Thomson creation where the recipe can be found here) …. Beef rendang curry …. Hot and Sour Shop with chicken, prawns and wild mushrooms.

From the pictures, food wise and presentation wise, it looks like home cooked thai fare. The beef rendang curry was really fragrant, and while the hot and sour soup (aka tom yum soup David Thompson style) was not really that hot (in temperature), but was definitely spicy (although it looked otherwise). I personally liked the steam fish as there was a light lemongrass and garlic aftertaste that went well with the sweet soy sauce.

Thank god for the dessert – which was tropical fruits in scented syrup that took some of the spiciness from the soup off. And we were given a complimentary fruit as well.

Not a cheap meal by all means (as many Singaporeans travel to Bangkok with the expectation that food/dinning in Bangkok is cheap), but good experience to check out thai-style fine dining (as versus to thai-style street food) for a change. What I liked was that the food felt clean (as versus to street-like greasy), while retaining the basic thai sensibility of sweet and savoury flavours by using spices and condiments such as lemongrass.

Apart from the set lunch, Nahm also serves set dinner priced at 2,500 baht per pax – which is a full tasting menu which consists of a canapes, 1 dish from every individual main course section and desserts. We almost went for that, but it was impossible to get reservations for dinner as it was booked out 2-3 weeks in advance. Will love to go back for that next time!

Details:

nahm

COMO Metropolitian Bangkok                                                                                                                         27 South Sathorn Road                                                                                                                       Tungmahamek Sathorn,
Bangkok 10120, Thailand

Tel:  +66 2 625 3388
Email:  nahm.met.bkk@comohotels.com                                                                                                         Website:  http://www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok/dining/nahm

Opening Hours:

Lunch – Monday to Friday
12pm to 2pm

Dinner – Daily
7pm to 10.30pm (last order)

 

Food Mission 2016: Kohaku Tempura

Getting more up to speed with my foodie adventures before year 2016 comes to an end in a little more than a months time ……

Authentically tasty Tendon – in short for Tempura Donburi (exactly, or close to what I had eaten before in Japan) is not so easily to come by in Singapore. Until the Keisuke Group opened up Tendon Ginza Itsuki at a Tanjong Pagar shophouse corner. Never had the opportunity to eat at Tendon Ginza Itsuki proper due to its snaking quenes (both at lunchtime and at dinnertime).

Until Kohaku Tempura came along (as part of Suntec City’s Eat At Seven Dining Belt that houses various Japanese dining concepts under one roof) …… only then I finally get to have a proper Japanese style Tendon!

Kohaku is another tendon eatery that has been getting rave reviews online. Walked passed the place once when I happened to be in Suntec and saw the snaking quenes for dinner service (there’s about 15 people in the quene and that will probably take a good 1/2 hour to 45 min to clear). And so decided that if I were ever to try it, I have to do it slightly off-peak i.e. before the main dinner crowd streams in from 630pm onwards. Managed to schedule it a evening to do so – that was around end September when I was back again in Suntec to collect my Note7 replacement.

Eat At Seven is a new Japanese dining belt (in the revamped Suntec City Mall) that houses 7 different Japanese dining establishments under one roof. Kohaku is located right after the tonkatsu restaurant (which I have also read good reviews on), with a huge cloth banner right beside the entrance.

Didn’t manage to take pictures of the interior as my phone (was still using my old Note 4) was low on battery. Fortunately, there was a power point beside my seat 🙂 …… thus still able to take pictures of the tendon that I have been anticipating ……

Ordered their signature Kohaku Tendon ($15) that comes with fried vegetables, prawn, seafood (crab stick, squid) and chicken on top of hokkaido rice drizzed in a special sauce. As per my picture above, the portion looked really big until I had to segregate out some of the ingredients in order to eat and enjoy my meal properly (see below picture).

Despite all the items being FRIED (major diet killer) …… I must say it is worth killing your diet for 😛

The individual items were well fried, without being overly oily/greasy. From the pictures, it does not look as crispy …… but in my opinion, this is subjective. As with all fried food,  what is more important (for myself at least) is that I can still get to taste the freshness of the ingredients (particularly the tempura prawn, chicken breast, baby corn and pumpkin) …… and at the end of meal, feeling satisfied and not hot/dry at the throat. And the rice was fluffy and easy to the taste, and went well with the ingredients and sauce.

For $15 (before GST) – considering the huge amount of ingredients (the tempura I had at Teppei for lunch didn’t even have this much stuff, Kohaku is definitely a value eat and worth the queue!

Details:

Tempura Kohaku 天丼琥珀

3 Temasek Boulevard
#03-311 Eat At Seven, Suntec City
Singapore 038983

Tel: +65 6333 4386
Opening hours: 1100 Hrs to 2200 Hrs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kohaku.tempura/

Food Mission 2016: Ah Bong’s Italian

Finally a 1st food review entry for year 2016 after more than half the year has already gone by!

In the midst of daily life and the ups and downs experienced in year 2016 so far, new food and culinary experiences has been a bright spark that has brought some cheer into my life. And finally, I got to tick off Ah Bong’s Italian as one of the must-try on my list 🙂

Its not easy to find tasty pasta that is at the same time inexpensive, and this is where Ah Bong’s Italian comes in to fill the void. Ah Bong’s started off as a small coffeeshop stall @ 56 Eng Hoon Street (it was the original Two Face coffeeshop with a day and night concept before being replaced by Two Face – another set of owners).

In the daytime though, the place itself is a coffeeshop where a famous Yong Tau Foo store resides (as you can see from the huge lunchtime crowd). While Ah Bong’s takes its place at the other corner of the coffeeshop.

Overall, I would say both stalls have their own set of loyal customers.

The reason why I ended up at Tiong Bahru / Eng Hoon Street on a hot Monday afternoon for lunch was due to a craving for creamy-based pasta. Thanks to their regularly updated facebook page, I knew Crabby Mac and Cheese was on their menu …… and this fitted my intention perfectly 🙂

Unlike the typical Mac and Cheese which is usually very cheesy (i.e. has lots of thick cheese sauce) …… Ah Bong’s version differs quite a fair bit as they use a cheese sauce that is a lot less thicker, tinged with a mushroom taste. A note on the mushrooms – Ah Bong’s uses fresh mushrooms that come with a very earthly flavour. Thus overall, the lighter sauce will find flavor with some who prefer their sauces (and food) with a less heavy after-taste.

And yes, another important part of the dish is the crab meat. Unlike the foodcourt/coffeshop/hawker centre and even cafe pastas, this one comes with REAL crab meat (from crab legs) and not the manufactured crabs. For $12 at a decent portion, this made for a delicious and flavorful lunch!

I see that they have done well enough for themselves building up a loyal following amongst Singaporean food lovers (and on social media itself) to proceed on further expansion. This time to a eatery unit at Tan Quee Lan Street occupying the former GastroSmiths.

Just like their Tiong Bahru coffeeshop outlet, this cafe outlet is very simple (and almost no frills) in terms of interior …. which gives off a homely and rustic vibe. In that sense, Ah Bong’s has always been about serving good, unpretentious delicious pasta using fresh ingredients anyway.

This is what I had at Tan Quee Lan – Escaargot Pomodoro. Decided to try this at the waiter’s suggestion as it was late lunch post workout, and there were not many choices/ingredients left before the last order at 2pm. Besides, its pretty rare to have escargots together with pasta, hence something different for once.

Not only it was tasty, the escargots went perfect with the tomato sauce (freshly made and not from a can), with the taste further enhanced with fresh basil leaves. So once again, it does not feel overly heavy on the palate.

In case you are wondering where did the escargots go, they were hidden underneath.

Another reason why you MUST dine at Ah Bong’s – their everchanging menu that allow for experimentation and creativity. In addition, their Tan Quee Lan outlet offers starters and desserts to further enhance the dining experience …… which I will be back to check them out in the future.

Details:

Ah Bong’s Italian – Tiong Bahru                                                                                                             56 Eng Hoon Street #01-46                                                                                                           Singapore 160056

Opening Hours                                                                                                                                              1000 Hrs to 1430 Hrs, Monday To Saturday

Ah Bong’s Italian – Tan Quee Lan Street                                                                                                103 Beach Road #01-02 (Below Marrison Hotel)                                                                                 Singapore 189704

Opening Hours                                                                                                                                                Lunch: 1200 Hrs to 1400 Hrs                                                                                                               Dinner: 1800 Hrs to 2100Hrs                                                                                                                         Daily

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abitalian

 

 

 

Michelin Half Star

One of the major news in July was the publication of Singapore’s first ever Michelin Guide.

https://guide.michelin.sg/

And one unique feature of Singapore’s Michelin Guide would be its Bib Gourmand section which includes more hawker stalls and restaurants that offer good value for money (capped at SGD45 max).

Co-incidentally in the week that the Michelin Guide raitngs were annouced (Week 3 July), I happened to have tasted 2 dishes in the guide itself.

One being my usual Ba Chor Mee (Minced Pork Noodle) at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, and the other being my usual Fried Hokkien Mee whenever I lunch at Tiong Bahru Market (Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee).

Only slight catch was that the Bar Chor Mee that I had was from a relative-run offshoot of the original Tai Hwa located at Hong Lim Food Centre. Thus this explains the blog title – Michelin Half-Star 😛

There has also been a fair bit of discussion online on why this particular hokkien mee stall in Tiong Bahru Market was given the Bib Gourmand market made it to the list …… as versus to much more well-known & better rated Hokkien Mee from the likes of Nam Sing (Old Airport Road), Ah Hock (Chomp Chomp), Hainan (Beach Road), Geylang Lor 29. Well I would say its a decent plate of hokkien mee, where you can feel the wok hei, plus it is really reasonably priced with decent portions (starting from $3). Of course, having tried Ah Hock and Hainan, I have to say these 2 stalls are better in my personal opinion and are the ‘gold standard’ of hokkien mee in Singapore.

Japan 2015: Kobe Re-Visited

Totally unplanned but ended up re-visiting Kobe (for myself that is, sis has not been to Kobe before) for a day trip on Day 7 of our trip. It was a last minute tweak to our itinerary as we had originally planned to visit Ise (from Nagoya) – only to abandon it due to the longer journey it would take if we were to cover it using the JR Pass all the way.

Originally, the initial plan was to stay in Kobe for 2 days, and from Kobe, do day trips to Osaka/Kyoto/Himeji. However due to difficulty in securing accommodation for Kobe on weekend dates, we ended up in Takayama instead. The journey took about 1 and a half hours, via shinkansen to Shin-Osaka, then direct rapid service all the way to Sannomiya Station – the main hub of Kobe City …… and all covered by the JR Pass.

Started off our Kobe daytrip with a visit to Ikuta Shrine, located right in the heart of Sannomiya.

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Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto Shrine that is one of the oldest in Japan, with a history of over 1800 years. Apart from protecting the deity of Ikuta (Ikuta means the place with vibrant energy), there is another interesting piece of history surrounding the shrine. In AD 80, 44 kambe (神戸) or court officials (fuko) who served shrines, were sent by the court to serve at this shrine. Thus gradually the area around the shrine became what is known as Kobe (神戸) city today. The shrine is also of great significance to the people of Kobe – as a symbol of resurrection …… as it has survived many wars and natural disasters over the years, with the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 being the latest.

Sources: Ikuta Shrine Official Website, Japan Experience

Thus it was also the place to offer some prayers right at the mid-point of our trip as well.

After visiting the shrine, crossed the road opposite to the huge Tokyu Hands – a building by itself about 5 stories high, with another basement floor. Looked around a bit before deciding to head off for lunch.

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Quaint looking European style shop/building in a corner of Sannomiya. Walked in to take a look and the shop sells exclusively Baumkuchen cakes.

We decided to get lunch in Sannomiya area itself. As sis does not eat beef, as such Kobe Beef is not an option , and eating at Wakkoqu was a no go! Did some googling and decided we could check out Nishimura Coffee for lunch – as they have an outlet right along the stretch beside Hankyu Sannomiya Station. Nishimura Coffee was also the same cafe where I packed a strawberry shortcake back to my hotel room during my last trip back in November 2013.

(Note: We did not manage to locate their iconic red brick outlet at Kitanozaka, which is around the corner from Ikuta Shrine)

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The cafe itself has a very 1960s vibe. And to our surprise, they allow smoking inside the cafe! So it was not that comfortable eating in a smoky cafe of sorts ……

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The dessert counter. Spoilt with choice with so many different varieties of cakes and pies to choose from.

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My lunch set! A little disappointed not to see any Kobe Beef on the menu ….. so opted for one of their set lunches instead. Can’t remember the exact name of this main course. Basically it is baked balls – one with bacon and cheese, another with an assortment of seafood ….. accompanied by a salmon & ham (within a jelly) ….. and minestrone soup. I must say the way they baked the balls is very creative & igneous …. retaining the western influence while incorporating some Japanese sensibility and creativity.

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Sis had a more traditional ham sandwich accompanied with salad and minestrone soup.

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Kobe – as a major port city, is also a gateway to western culture and influences. As such, they are well-known for their bakeries and pastries.  So having a dessert is a must! Got a baked cheese cake to share as it is not so rich/heavy as we were to take a fruit tart / mount blanc / cream-based cake ……

Off to Kobe Harborland after lunch ……

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The iconic ferris wheel right beside the Anpanman Museum ….. with the Old Kobe Harbor Signal Tower in the distance @ the end of the harbour.

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Takahama Quay that is right below the Mosaic shopping area ….. which overlooks Meriken Park and the iconic buildings that flank it – from left to right …… Kobe Port Tower, Hotel Okura, Kawasaki Good Times World (Maritime Museum) and the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel (that I stayed in during my last trip).

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As you can see, it is also a cloudy and pretty ‘grey’ day, ready to rain anytime. Still feel the million-dollar night views that I experienced back in year 2013 were way superior …….

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Flowerbed at the other end of the quay.

We wanted to proceed to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway next ….. but by the time we reach there, it will be around 1630 Hrs. With sunset starting at 1645 Hrs and the Ropeway closing at 1700 Hrs …… and considering that its such a cloudy day with high chance of rain, went back to Sannomiya to do some omiyage shopping to end off the day trip (technically half-day only) to Kobe.

Food Mission 2015: Sakaguchiya

Ending of my Takayama series with a food review entry!

Sakaguchiya is another restaurant/eatery that we didn’t plan to visit initially. After reaching Takayama, we reviewed our hotel’s list of recommended restaurants, plus with some googling …… and from there, decided to pencil in a visit to Sakaguchiya for an early lunch after our morning walkaround the markets and in Takayama Old Town (Sanmachi).

It is also great that Sakaguchiya is located right in the row of old townhouses in the Sanmachi district ….. and which we will need to walk pass by again after visiting the Miyagawa Market and on route back to our hotel.

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Didn’t mange to snap pictures of the entrancce, but got some of the interior. The restaurant itself has a more rustic feel, in part due to the dark brown wood interior.

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After ordering and while waiting for our food, I ventured a bit around the restaurant and spotted this garden at the back of the restaurant. They did a great job in preserving this garden – as a reminder of Takayama’s history.

Based from what I have googled, Sakaguchiya is famous for their Hida Beef dishes. With reference to the English menu here – one can indeed be spoilt for choice 😛

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In the end it was a close call between the Hida Beef Bowl, Hida Beef Steak Bowl and Hida Beef Soba. Since we decided in the morning to go back to Keichan-ya for dinner  to check out their other dishes (my plan is to try their Hida Beef with Hoba Miso) …… my final choice was to have the Hida Beef Soba – given that it was an early lunch, and my preference for something soup-based (after having buns, sandwiches along our walk).

The soba which most of us have more commonly will usually be cold soba (i.e. zaru soba), warm soba (with tempura), cha-soba (i.e. green soba). So to me, hida beef with soba is probably something different as I do not see this combo back in Singapore whenever I dine in Japanese restaurants.

The nice thing about the entire dish is that hida beef gives the broth sweetness – which is something different from the more common kake (hot) soba. However, with the hida beef in thin slices, it was a bit difficult to savour the taste and texture of it. As I blog now 6 months later, I regretted not trying the Hida Beef sushi or the Hida Beef Steak bowl to better savour the Hida Beef taste.

On another note, the local hida soba was very flavourful, together with the hida beef infused broth, made it a very refreshing combination.

Sakaguchiya’s menu has a great variety of items, including non-hida beef based items for some who may not want to have beef. All in all, one of the restaurants to visit if you are in the Sanmachi district.

 

Details:

Sakaguchiya 御食事処 坂口屋

90 Kamisannomachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0846, Japan

Opening Hours: 1030 Hrs to 1500 Hrs, Closed On Tuesdays

Website: http://hidatakayama-sakaguchiya.com/

Google Maps – 10 to 15 min walk from JR Takayama Station into the Sanmachi Traditional Preservation ARea