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Osaka: Sutoraikuken (ストライク軒)

We were starving and it was about 8.30pm when our Shinkansen pulled into Shin-Osaka. It was a mad scramble to find a hearty ramen joint to fill our rumbly tummies and a quick search on Instagram (yes, instagram!) unearthed this gem.

It has a non-descript, unassuming front which we passed by before doubling back. Pushing aside the plastic blinds, we were greeted with…a vending machine which we had to make our orders, completely in Japanese. Without the help of a fellow customer I think we would have spent about another 15 minutes deciphering the Japanese.

There are only two choices; shoyu or shio (salt). Both KYW and I have never been fans of either, but there were two of us and two types to try, so a bowl each we ordered. We got the ‘mini’ size, with an add on egg each.

It’s difficult to describe the taste of the shoyu – how something so simple can have a lot of depth is beyond me. It was comforting and exactly what I needed after a long day of traveling. I loved the bamboo accompaniment!

On the other hand, the shio came with slices of tender poached chicken and some clams. It was a lovely mix of seafood and chicken shio broth, and was reminiscent of a tonkotsu broth in that it was creamy, but the difference being that this was much lighter, and a lot more unique – both of us had never had anything like that! I think it was lighter on the palete than the shoyu and if I really had to pick one, I’d go with this shio though I’d recommend going with a friend to try both.

On the way out we spotted a sign on the wall where Sutoraikuken was awarded 373th out of 38,000 in Tabelog’s list of best ramen-ya. Didn’t even realise they were in the top 1% but they truly deserve this award. I’m definitely coming back the next time I’m in Osaka.

Address: 5-8-8 Tenjinbashi Kita-ku, Osaka

Macau: the meal that made the trip

I’ve left this in my written drafts for so long I think it’s time to finally complete and publish it…

Well, Macau. Prior to this trip I had never been to Macau despite having been to Hong Kong a couple of times. This joint that Hysan brought us to was situated at the second storey of a local market and we had to walk through rows of butchers to turn into a canteen where this place was located. Even with its obscure location, this was incredibly popular and we had to wait a good 20 minutes before we were seated!!

How it works: you tell the bosslady what you feel like eating, she goes downstairs to the seafood stalls to shop for whatever’s fresh, comes back and shows you the goods (she literally shows you what’s in the bags, yes), and then magic happens.

This, my friends, is the greatest crab porridge in the history of mankind. I could totally do without the crab but man, the porridge!! How they managed to get the right mix of the taste of the crab & the sea & not overwhelm with fishiness is really remarkable. Hands down, best thing I ate of the trip (bake cheese tarts are second).


How lucky were we to get the last plate of 鱼饼 for the day! The closest phrase to describe it in English would be ‘fish pancakes’ but that makes it sound so unappetising. This was crack, and I suppose if deep fried beancurd skin and fish cake had a baby, this would be it. Sarah could not get enough of this!

img_3235Speaking of Sarah, she was craving sweet and sour fish (time away from home etc etc) that very day and had requested for the bosslady to make the dish. Bosslady was reluctant at first as she didn’t want to deep-fry stuff in her stall. HOWEVER, after finding out that we were from Singapore, but mostly due to Hysan being a total aunty-killer, bosslady was so excited and promptly made an exception for us!!! She was also very impressed by Singapore’s cleanliness. But I digress – this sweet and sour fish was not your typical neon orange sauce coated deep fried gunk. The sauce was sweet (not really sour), and I was really impressed by how bosslady and the bossman came up with this sauce from scratch. This was a surprise, unexpected favourite. The fish was soft (I think it was steamed as opposed to deep fried) and with the magic sauce, I think this was interesting, in a great way. I am just very impressed by how bosslady and bossman have no menu and customers can request roughly what they feel like having and bosslady and bossman both decide how to make the best out of the ingredients of the day.

img_3226img_3234 I suppose this is nothing special – steamed scallops with plenty of garlic and glass noodles but it’s been ages since I had it. I am a garlic fiend so I liked this too. Let’s just say I could have warded off an army of vampires after.

img_3232Between the 5 of us we paid about S$40 each per person, which is relatively pricey, objectively speaking – but I think the experience, interaction plus cost of ingredients was well worth the trip to Macau AND the price of the food (and I’ve yet to factor in the labour cost). Plus, I would go back just purely for that crab porridge.

Bosslady had told us that we should have called ahead to make reservations so that she could reserve the best seafood for us. Now we know. I would highly recommend this place – canteen-style seats, in the middle of a wet market, but so much heart poured into the food. It doesn’t get more local / authentic than this.

Thanks for the great day out, Onyee, Hysan & Sarah. Can’t wait to see everyone again!

中国名粥
Address:  1/F., Patane Temporary Market, Avenida Marginal do Patane, Macau

P.S. All these people on Openrice cannot be wrong.

Tokyo: WHAT TO EAT

I feel like I have to blog about Tokyo before I get all lazy and forget about it, and then the post never materialises. This Tokyo trip was highly highly spontaneous, meaning that other than Disney, Nick and I didn’t plan ANYTHING at all. The only planning that we did was what to eat, and that was done about an hour before we were supposed to eat. So, this list is probably still a work in progress, but… I did discover new gems, and found new places that I’d like to make a return trip to again.

1. Matsurokuya


Right. If you follow me on social media, you’re probably really sick and tired of hearing me rave about this place. Located in a small alleyway parallel to the Roppongi-dori, if you don’t know about it, you will NOT stumble onto it. Thankfully I stalk food blogs. Anyway, this is the kind of ridiculously expensive place that I would not have the moolah to fork out for dinner, but lunch sets are INCREDIBLY affordable at about 1500yen per set. And you get a full tray of pickles/appetizers AND extra rice after (to make your own ochazuke!) If you pry beneath the beautiful layer of marbled beef, you’d uncover another surprise of… COOKED BEEF!! Soaked with some kind of amazing beef shoyu/marinade, this was a meal that I wished had never ended.

If that wasn’t enough, it’s a private dining concept so Nick and I had a small room all to ourselves, with no other humans around!!!!!!!! Overall, I’d say this was more an experience than a meal, and I wish I ate it earlier in the trip so I could’ve gone back AGAIN. It opens at 11.30, and when Nick and I joined the queue at 11.10 we just missed the first seating, so we only got in at 12.30. Come at 11 to queue.

2. Tenya


I know, A CHAIN!!! A tempura one at that. This is one of the most affordable meals ever in pricey Tokyo; and 500yen can get you a heartwarming bowl of tendon. Imagine: crisp tempura over a bed of pearly rice and a drizzle of that tempura sauce……. I’d add on the onsen tamago for a greater umami kick. Depending on where you go and your luck, sometimes the tempura is a bit soggy, but it is very hard to complain for the price that we paid (less than 1000yen vs Tsunahachi’s minimum of 2000yen per person). The Shinjuku branch near Mizuho building was quiet on a Saturday at lunchtime and my tempura was perfectly crisp when it got to me – the Ueno branch was soggy as hell (also on a weekend). I usually get the fancier stuff and paid 880yen for the set above.

3. Gogyo


Introduced to me by my fellow Tokyophile (is this a proper term to describe people who like Tokyo??) Marcus, Gogyo left an impression on me when I visited it for the first time in 2013. Gogyo’s ramen is unlike any I’ve ever tried, and I’d say this is THE ramen to beat. Burnt miso ramen is what you should get, and I always get extra cabbage because I always feel unhealthy without having any greens! The noodles here are thicker than normal noodles (think: the middle ground between hakata ramen noodles and tokyo ramen noodles) which helps to soak up that thick burnt miso. It packs quite a flavour punch and is a VERY VERY HEAVY MEAL. Two small eaters can share one portion. If all that I said wasn’t enough reason: Gogyo has the same owners as Ippudo – the ramen is bound to be pretty damn good.

4. Bochi Bochi


We only came to Bochi Bochi because the place we wanted to go to was full. This is the kind of place you shouldn’t go to if you hate smoke because well, people smoke inside. I wanted to cry. Okonomiyaki, it should be noted, is a dish that comes from Osaka and actually, Tokyo has its own version (which I’ve never tried. and not really interested in….). The star of Bochi Bochi however, wasn’t the okonomiyaki but the GRILLED BUTTER SOY SAUCE SQUID. I can’t believe I’ve never had butter soy sauce squid when these ingredients are so easily available and together, they seriously create some form of mad magic and results in a crazy ass combination!!!!!!

5. Kanda Matsuya


One of the things I wish was easier to find in Singapore is hand-pulled soba. There is a lot more bite and chew to the soba noodle as compared to packeted soba. And I love that the pride of the soba maker is evident in the noodles that he produces. Here I had goma soba (soba in sesame sauce). It had no frills but was easily one of the most satisfying meals around. Come at about 7 and the queue will have disappeared by then.

It was really hard to write just about a few places in Tokyo that I really enjoyed because I really liked everything I had. Most of the time when Nick and I were lazy we’d go out to the departmental stores and get some food and watch How to Get Away with Murder.. there is such a huge array of food available at the departmental stores which I think people forget about sometimes. I do miss the salad selection and you would too because:


While they are pricey and visually stunning, they do taste as great as they look. Well, at least the two salads I tried did not disappoint at all.

Last but not least,

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The sweet potato x hokkaido milk soft serve at Imoya Kinjiro is worth making a detour at Nihombashi for. But if you stay at the Mandarin, good for you! This is literally about 300m away from you, and is Imoya Kinjiro’s only store in Tokyo. The sweet potato sticks are insanely addictive and I brought about 6 bags home. The staff at the store are very helpful and though we didn’t speak a word of Japanese, they did their best to help us decipher the different types of sweet potato snacks they sold. PERFECT SOUVENIRS!!! And don’t make the amateur mistake of sharing the soft serve like we did because such good things should not be shared between two people or god forbid, three humans.

I didn’t manage to eat much chirashi don in Tokyo because for some reason it’s really quite difficult to find chirashi? I think most Japanese eat sushi or sliced fish on rice (kaisendon). I’m not sure as to the difference between chirashi don and kaisendon but I feel like if you have the money, definitely fork some out for raw fish. I wasn’t very impressed by the rice bowl I had at Tsukiji so it’s not on here. (BUT Sushi Dai still remains one of the best sushi experiences in my life!!!) I also tried the chirashi at Sushi Sho this time round but I’m a bit ambivalent about it. Sushi Sho is one of Tokyo’s worst kept secrets – he’s the guy who Michelin will never write about but is really respected within the sushi scene – and for lunch he serves chirashi for only 2000yen. (I CAN’T AFFORD DINNER). However, his fish is dry aged so it’s quite different from what we’re used to here in Singapore. Nonetheless I think it’s worth a go. He opens at 11.30; get there at 11.20 and of course, if anyone has thoughts on dry aged sashimi/chirashi dons or any other Tokyo food recommendations, please let me know! I will definitely go back to Tokyo.

I’m not sure if I’d ever write about how I survived Tokyo Disneyland/sea but I feel like Disneysea is worth going and even if nobody likes Disney, just for their milk tea popcorn. Mmmmmm

Hong Kong: Oddies Foodies

Ok so this is about 3 months late but Tess said I should write chronologically and so I think my entry about Tokyo should be coming to my loyal readers (er probably about 2 people at this point) maybe in Dec 2015, if we’re lucky.

The #1 thing about HK right now and that I miss SO MUCH – BEHOLD (NSFW! FOODPORN AHEAD!!):

Night Wolf: soft serve italian gelato with 66% chocolate swirl, banana icecream, passion fruit pannacotta, brownie, crunchy cereals, chocolate chip egg waffle.
ohh tea!: italian low fat soft gelato served on a bed of earl grey bergamot panna cotta, caramel apple, butter crumbs, organic jasmine tea sorbet, hibiscus tea espuma, strawberry tea caramel popcorn and a chocolate dipped tea bag

UM?????? LIKE??????? EXPLOSIONS IN MY MOUTH PLEASE. After having this I felt like my heart was exploding with mini fireworks and afterwards it started doing somersaults. It’s one of the biggest party in my mouths I’ve had all year and just WOW. I swear as I had it my head was going OMGOMG??????OMG??????? Banana + chocolate – everyone knows it works, but the passionfruit pannacotta really cut through and the citrus zing was a v pleasant end to a combination which would likely be quite heavy on the palate. ohh tea! was v different from night wolf – flavours were all subtle and very complementary; a perfect after dinner guilt-free snack (ok IT IS ANYTHING BUT GUILT FREE but it’s so light that it’s guilt free ok??). For me, I am in love with the idea that Winnie, the owner of Oddies, took a leap of faith and decided to run an icecream shop instead of going into pastry like most of her fellow Le Cordon Bleu counterparts. She runs this small tiny stall in Wan Chai by herself daily with one or two helpers. So much respect for this lady. Follow oddies on Instagram for their monthly update – Ohh Tea! is no longer available (soz). HERE!!

This is a place that is so off the charts that it really deserves a short entry of its own. This place is very very special and I cannot recommend it more – anyone travelling to Hong Kong should carve out some time to visit Oddies and savour Winnie’s magical creations, and of course, marvel at her little set up and like me, get all excited because she sure has a bright, shiny future ahead. Also, please bring someone along so you can try everything. Preferably someone with a HUGE APPETITE so you don’t feel fat when you order everything off her menu because everything is likely to be pretty damn delicious.

Oddies
灣仔道149號地鋪F號 Shop F, G/F,
149 Wan Chai Rd, Wan Chai.
Tues-Sun 12pm-10pm.

P.S. I know the picture links for some of the older entries are not working, I will get around to fixing them… sometime soon.

Pollen Street Social: Revolutionising fine dining

Pollen Street Social is Jason Atherton’s restaurant that will change your perception on fine dining with a casual bar where you can sit around and mingle with a no-reservations policy. I was particularly lucky to get a weekend reservation for 3 a week before we were slated to go because weekends were completely reserved till April! It is a place where I can say with conviction that I will definitely go back. The set lunch menu is very value for money, and being starving students (ok not that starving admittedly) we went for that to try more dishes & the best part was the starters, mains & desserts were in threes, so 3 of us could share everything.

The service was very attentive and the staff, extremely friendly. The service was prompt and while clearing the courses they always asked how the food was – VERY GOOD THANK YOU VERY MUCH.


smoked hake, poached egg, wild garlic, curry puffed rice


cornish mackerel tartare, seaweed salsa verde, pickled turnip


terrine of pork knuckle, piccalilli, wild herbs, squid and coco beans

The starters did their jobs to open our appetites, I was so chuffed by my mackerel tartare & even Nick who doesn’t eat sashimi said the tartare was pretty good. I’m sorry I cannot recreate the taste in your mouth but.. I was amazed that it was not fishy at all considering it is mackerel afterall, and this tartare was very, very light despite the dressing. Nick’s dish tasted like.. pork porridge. I have no other way to describe the taste. It is all so amazing how various ingredients can come together and create such a distinct taste.


roasted cornish cod, mussel bouillabaisse, crab and winkle vinaigrette


pork belly, spiced pork cheek, pear puree, sprouting broccoli, lardo potatoes


marrowbone


braised irish ox cheek, smoked mashed potato, salt baked onions, ox tail and marrowbone

I love how food is a show at PSS & how waiters will explain your dish patiently. My cod was accompanied with this mussel broth and the kind waiter took the chance to explain he was pouring the mussel broth into my dish before he did so. Peter says the potato mash is ‘DAMN GOOD’ and I concur. I’m not a fan of potato in this form but I think they might have passed it through a processor to get it so smooth. Nick’s pork belly was ADUFHKJ#Q)(UROI (this is me speechless) and Pete’s ox cheek was so tender and so well marinated. Sigh, I’m recreating the meal in my mouth now. Also my cod with crab and mussel broth was like eating fish in the best seafood broth ever. I haven’t had this good fish since Floods in Weymouth, but I’m sorry Floods, the best seafood experience this academic year goes to Pollen Street Social. The thing is, I can’t believe they do both meats and fish so well. Definitely deserving of all their accolades!!!!


palate cleanser


yorkshire rhubarb sorbet, pistachio financier, ginger


70% bitter chocolate pave, vanilla ice cream, smoked vanilla crumbs

Desserts were a bit disappointing but by no means, terrible. I think the starters and mains have stolen the show so much so that I was expecting to be blown away by the desserts. I took a pistachio cake with rhubarb while the boys had the chocolate pave. It was.. pretty forgettable I think. The pistachio however went very well with the rhubarb sorbet it was accompanied with and I was really quite impressed at how two exotic foods can complement!!! I would recommend ordering desserts from the dessert menu instead because of all the rave reviews I have been hearing about the awesome dessert, especially the PBJ.

The service here is top notch and the servers are very attentive – always stepping in to refill glasses, sweeping crumbs off our table, bringing over a bag stool for Nick’s paperbag.. making the effort to ask how the meal was, and turning away while Pete keyed in his PIN for payment. It is the little things that count. Everyone was friendly and all smiles and I really love PSS, it is non-snooty, casual enough and the food, mindblowingly good & value for money.

Pictures taken by myself with Peter’s camera.
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2 courses, £22; 3 courses £25.50; including a bottle of water and service charge, we paid £90 for 3 people.

Pictorial: LOBSTER!!!!!!!!


LOBSTER ROLL: sandwiched between buttery toasted bread, this is God’s gift to mankind. The dressing is so subtle and the roll just steals the show. There isn’t that much lobster though, and um, it’s not something I’d order if I went to B+L on my own, but since I was sharing the lobster with Pete YESSSSSSSSSS lobster roll. I certainly didn’t regret this though. IT IS AMAZING. I think this is the star of the night, except it’s a bit..small (I’d rather pay £20 and eat the lobster)

<
LOBSTER SHOT #1


LOBSTER SHOT #2


LOBSTER SHOT #3: Each platter comes with a side of fries & clarified butter & the yummiest garden salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing!!!! Um I swear the salad was actually pretty good – vegetables were crisp and not limp as though it’s been set aside for days. BEST PART: LOADS OF CHERRY TOMATOES!!!!

THIS IS NO SMALL LOBSTER. I was really surprised when it arrived at our table, cos it was REALLY value for £££ looking at the size of it. LOOKING THROUGH ALL THE PICTURES IS DRIVING ME NUTS I WANT SOME LOBSTERRRRRRRR NOW SIGH I COULD DREAM ABOUT IT I SWEAR. I will leave you with other raving reviews about this amazing place: x x x

Note: Having only opened about a month plus ago, B+L is taking London by storm. When Tess went on a Thursday night at about 7 plus, she was only seated at 9.50pm. Pete & I went at 3pm on a Friday and it was about 70% full; we easily scored a table. Weekend waits should be about 3 hours long. Call ahead to find out about the wait time, call to put yourself on the waiting list as they don’t accept reservations, or just simply go at non-peak hours.

Yeah trust me, I really didn’t know if I wanted to post this online lest one of the best secret spots will be known to public. But anyway doesn’t matter, since I’ve already tried it now HEHEHEHEHEHE ^^ Thanks Tess for the rec!!!!
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Burger + Lobster
29 Clarges Street
Mayfair
London W1J 7EF
Nearest Tube: Green Park

Adventures with Double Chin Chay: Brighton, Dorset & London

Because my old macbook died completely on me. Because I’m using a new Macbook Air. Because I was busy backing up every single file I have/had. Because SCHOOL STARTED and Equity and Trusts is incredibly difficult.. the list could go on and on, but anyway, the most important thing is: UPDATE FROM TUMMYTAY! Tummy Tay and Double Chin Chay went on an epic ~sista~ trip down south before school started, visiting Brighton & Dorset – places that we wouldn’t really go during school term just because it’s too far away (and we would rather go overseas too.) This is dedicated to Tessa who is 1x loyal fan of Tummy Tay cos she kept bugging me for updates!

The best part about both? That they were both coastside towns! So we got to see the sea, something that doesn’t happen at all here in cold and rainy Manchester.


yummy seafood on the pier! £3


cod & chips, £5.50 – this was where i first tried malt vinegar, and it is AMAZING, especially with loads of salt.


PEBBLE BEACH


Local ice cream store! I love locally made products, feel like they’re representative of a city/town’s culture. This ice cream store had really interesting flavours, particularly outstanding was Tessa’s banana icecream, and I had the cinnamon. £2.50


Rock oysters, smoked salmon, crème fraîche, caper breadcrumb salsa, £6.95 for 3


Creme Brulee with Espresso Icecream and Pistacho Shortbread


WEYMOUTH


cod and chips opposite the beach, £5 – incredibly yummy beer batter when hot, but when cold it becomes disgustingly hard 😦


ice cream along the beach, £1.5/2 each


lyme regis beach – home of the jurassic fossils


FLOODS: Monkfish wrapped in bacon, seared scallops – £17


Trio of fish, £17


Bread and Butter Pudding: £4.95

Floods has got to be one of the BEST restaurants I’ve ever dined at (even better than Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen trattoria). It’s homey and warm, well literally. Tess and I were completely drained from the 1.5hr bus ride from Lyme Regis back to Weymouth and chancing upon Floods was.. a GODSEND. We ambled in at 9.45pm and they told us their kitchen was already closed, but would make a special order for us. AND THEY WERE AMAZING. It’s actually really difficult to get fresh seafood in the UK – and biting into the scallops I was incredibly happy! The monkfish was great, who would have thought fish and bacon would go? But the combination worked. The seared scallop with balsic glaze was YUMMY. I also enjoyed the enormous platter of vegetables on the side that came with our dishes. Tessa’s trio of fish was MASSIVE. We nearly died finishing it, and yet still HAD to order a dessert because we saw someone ordering the pudding… and we just had to have it. No regrets there, except the pudding was a bit on the dry side. Nonetheless, excellent meal and.. we were full till the next morning.

One last picture of Weymouth:

Sailing site of the 2012 Olympics!

LONDON

Fifteen Trattoria, by Jamie Oliver.


Seafood Risotto, £9


Mafalde with beef and pork ragu, £10

Um honestly? It was a bit overrated. Nonetheless I will come back just for the atmosphere itself. When we went we were both too full from what we had ate that afternoon at the Malaysian fair at Trafalgar Square. The seafood risotto was well done and filled me up promptly, but I was expecting more? Perhaps it is all hype behind fifteen. However the cause for which it stands for is incredibly noble and I would still encourage people to go just to have a look at what fifteen is trying to achieve.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, £25 for 2 courses, £29 for 3 courses.
Joel Robuchon was EXTREMELY posh, and the service is very, very good. The waiters weren’t snotty whatsoever, and took the effort to explain each dish to us. (even though they just repeated what we read on the menu HAHAHA). Every table had a tuna pate (was it tuna?) with a biscuit-like toast to begin, and this was amazeballs!!!!!! Zhuoxuan, Fengshuo & Tessa all started with salmon while I chose the eggs cocotte. The eggs cocotte were good, but I felt like I was drinking a bit of foam cos of the texture. I still miss the one I had in France though! The fish with lemongrass pasta stole the show. I don’t know how to describe it except the fish was very well done and the lemongrass went well with the fish? IT’S LIKE HAVING A COMPLETELY GASTRONOMICAL EXPERIENCE MAN. IT WAS WORTH THE ££. Every cent of it! I won’t be going back anytime soon because I’ve got more restaurants to conquer BUT this set menu is a good place to start.

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English’s of Brighton
29-31 East Street
Brighton BN1 1HL

Floods
19 Custom House Quay
Weymouth
DT4 8BG

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
13-15 West Street
London WC2H 9NE, United Kingdom