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)

 

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.

Japan 2015: Takayama Highlights Part 3

Sanmachi – the old streets that is preserved and the iconic district for sight-seeing in Takayama as well.

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Sanmachi is also nick-named ‘Little Kyoto‘ as it gives off the vibe of a quaint historic district, with the nicely preserved wooden machiyas (townhouses) with various shops selling various stuff (there’s one shop as above that sells various types of sake).

I personally like the ‘small-village’ feel of the place which is a nice slowdown in pace and not as commercialized as Kyoto is …… although that may change in the future once the main JR Takayama station completes its re-development in year 2017 with a brand new station and a shopping mall right beside it (which will result in more tourist inflows).

Walked down the entire stretch before proceeding to the our next destination – Miyagawa Morning Market.

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Unlike Jinya-mae which we went earlier, Miyagawa Morning Market consists of a longer stretch of makeshift stalls set up right alongside the Miyagawa River. There’s more variety of stuff too ….. from food items to small trinklets to fresh produce etc.

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Various types of goods on sale ……

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There’s also a cafe building on the other side of the market.

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More stalls selling various types of items. The apples looked so fresh and crunchy that we wanted to get some to eat …. but decided not to due to the lack of a fridge.

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Some of the more interesting cooked food stalls – one selling tomato-based fried chicken, another organic herb tea stall and another one selling award-winning hot pudding.

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Got a bottle of pudding to try. The pudding is actually a ‘hot’ pudding that is freshly made and then soaked in hot water. By the time I consumed it post lunch back at the hotel lobby, it was more warm than hot. The pudding is actually softer (and sweeter), with a more tofu-like texture when consumed hot/warm.

The surrounding Miyagawa River. Clear day and specks of autumn foliage.

After our tour of Miyagawa Market, we slowly walked back to Sanmachi for an early lunch at Sakaguchiya (separate review as linked). Whilst checking my phone during lunch, saw on Facebook that there’s actually this one thousand year old ginko tree right in Takayama, at the compound of Hida Kokubun-ji Temple just 5 min away from our hotel. And so we walked there to take a look right before heading for our half-day tour to Shirakawa-go next!

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Japan 2015: Takayama Highlights Part 2

More sights of Takayama! Got up early the next morning and the plan for the greater half of the day was to head to Takayama Old Town and the Morning Markets for a walk + Lunch before our 1/2 day tour to Shirakawago in the afternoon.

(Note: Shirakawago was the main reason why we set up base in Takayama)

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The Old Town area was a good 10 to 15 min walk from our hotel. As Takayama lies within the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, it is also a lot colder than in Yokohama (about 13 to 15 degrees in the daytime …… then drops to 10 degrees at nightime). But still, i it was a bright and sunny day. Also got to see some modern western/french restaurants along the walk (despite Takayama being more of a small quiet town) …… with the streets adorned with colourful autumn trees.

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Unlike in Kansai, Tokyo/Kanto (where I experienced the autumn foliage back in 2013) …… autumn in Takayama/Gifu Prefecture comes a lot earlier in September/October, so the colours are not as nice as it should be given that it is tail end of autumn season in Takayama / Gifu.

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Towards our 1st ‘targeted’ destination – the Jinya-mae Morning Market.

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The plan also was to grab breakfast along the way. Chanced upon this stall and got a Hida Beef bun to start off the day! The shop also sells Hida Beef sushi – which I regret not trying as I write now ……

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The shop next door that sells various types of Hoba miso.

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Came across another stall selling grilled mochi …… and we got that to try as well!

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After our food-stop, continued to make our way towards the Jinya-mae morning market. More sights along the way ……

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The Jinya-Mae Morning Market. This market sells mainly vegetables, fruits and various side dishes and spices. The apples and grapes looked so fresh that we would have loved to buy some to enjoy …… but we did not do as there’s no fridge to store them (due to having to change the room on the day itself).

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This is the Takayama Jinya – a historical government house that was officially use from 1692 till 1969. Only took pictures from outside (and not pay the 420 JPY admission fee to go in).

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Heading to the Old Private Houses (Sanmachi) next. More autumn foliage along our walk ……

 

Decluttering

Today is officially start of a new month & new quarter (Q2) …… and also April Fool’s Day! No other better way to commenrate April Fool’s by writing a blog entry 😛

To sum up 1st quarter of 2016 that has just passed, I must say that I have never done so much decluttering / throwing away stuff before in my life. Like I was sharing with a friend just the other day, have been throwing things since end Jan …… starting from office (where we had to do the table swap) …… then some last minute pre-CNY throwing at home ….. then more decluttering post CNY (both physical stuff + digital – data & emails) as part of 30DLBL task …… and more throwing back again at office since mid-March due to team transfer and re-organization.

And this is NOT counting decluttering out my wabrobe (the last time I did it was in year 2013, intend to do another round again some time in the future). Ha!

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The usual once-a-year pre CNY clearance. Could have thrown out more stuff if not for the food poisoning that got me down right before CNY.

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The above is probably only the ‘tip’ of the ice-berg where office clearing is concerned. Due to table swap, kept away the rainbow calligraphy which I NOW believe has affected my energy flow (resulting in food poisoning and many obstacles at work post CNY) …… and finally clearing out the ‘temp’ desk before my BIG move down to level 8 over the Good Friday weekend. Believe this seat has bad fengshui, so glad to see the back of it!