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Chiaki27
This is Chiaki27 living in East. I work in Central. I like to hang out in Central, East. Japanese, Korean, Singaporean, Taiwanese & Hong Kong are my favorite cuisines. I also love Café, Restaurant and Dim Sum, Ramen, Chicken Rice.
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Categories : Japanese | Desserts and Cakes

 
For the full review and other food reviews, please visit http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/

In Orchard Road where there is so much human and vehicle traffic, it is often difficult to find a place which allows me to feel relaxed and get some decent tea time treats at affordable prices. There are indeed many famous and good cafes and restaurants along this busy shopping belt but they may be crowded or cramped due to small shop spaces brought about by the high rents. In addition, customers who are on their own like myself tend to be assigned seats either near the entrance or at some far flung corner where it's hard to get the attention of the staff so it does mar the dining experience to a certain extent. As such, having come across Hashida Garo was somewhat like a wish come true for me especially when I suffer periodic "withdrawal symptoms" from missing Japan.

Hashida Garo which is the second restaurant opened by Japanese chef Hashida "Hatch" Kenjiro, is located on the 4th floor of Mandarin Gallery. His first restaurant Hashida Sushi is on the second floor of the same building. According to the staff, there is a waiting list of at least a couple of months so you would need to make a reservation well in advance if you want to go there. On the other hand, Hashida Garo has a very Zen-like simple feel with its pastel colours and relatively simple decor. The best thing is, you should be able to walk-in and not have to make a reservation. Of course, during the weekend, it might be a totally different situation but since my visits so far were on weekday afternoons, I can't say for sure how crowded it might be.

 

 

 

 
Before the meal begins, you will be handed the oshibori in a dainty-looking glass bowl which looks very pretty. The Japanese restaurants in Singapore (especially those major chains) tend to put the oshibori in sealed plastic wrappers which I can perfectly understand since they have a lot more customers and it's probably more cost-effective and hygienic to do so. Then when you come across restaurants like Hashida Garo who hands this rolled hand towel to you in a glass bowl with patterns, it makes the experience feel different after all. It's a nice-to-have although not compulsory feature but it sure feels good to start the dining experience with a small treat for my eyes. And a good thing about the oshibori, it does not have a strong artificial fragrance so I'm thankful for the fact that it doesn't irritate my nose.

Note that the items featured from this point onwards were consumed on two separate occasions with the second visit being one I did with my friend so we could order more items than when I was alone. As I was there during the quieter weekday afternoons, there were no meals served other than the beverages and wagashi. Thus, there will be nothing about their lunch and dinner items in this review.

 
First up was the yuzu macaron. I must admit that I am no fan of macarons. The first macaron I had was fairly recently at Salt Tapas & Bar where I tried the Japanese purple sweet potato macaron. I guess that somehow set the standard for me so I was looking forward to something like that i.e. light and not overly sweet. However, I found the version here not to my liking. In particular, I thought that the cookies were too dense, moist and a bit chewy that they felt as if they were somewhat sticky. As for the filling, although there was the slight aroma of yuzu which was identifiable, the cream was a bit too sweet for me. Much as there are other flavours which are offered here, I guess I won't be trying any of them soon. Guess it's just my taste buds not being too appreciative of macarons and failing to understand why they are popular. ^__^

 
The mizu manju is such a beauty that I couldn't help but take many pictures of it before eating them. The outer skin is made of translucent kanten jelly and wraps the white bean paste and seasonal fruit within. The light blue syrup is made of mint and slightly chilled before the entire dish is served. On hot days, this will be a truly refreshing treat. Visually, it should also evoke squeals of excitement from the customers. Besides its very appealing appearance, I think that the charm of this wagashi is that it combines several different textures together with the jelly being slightly chewy, the soft white bean paste and the comparatively harder fruit cube and yet maintains the uniqueness of each item while allowing their individual flavours to come together in a coordinated manner. This is a definite must-try item if you are here.

 
The maccha financier was served in a very special way where the metal plate, sheet or foil (not sure how to term it) was slightly bent at one of the edges. As the financiers are made on the spot, they take at least a 15-minute wait so the staff would actually ask you if you are OK with it before they proceed with the order. The dish is served slightly warm with the 5 financiers nicely arranged and you can see some white powdery-like substance sprinkled on them. I didn't actually ask the staff about this but from the scent and taste, I felt that they were coconut shreds. If you happen to know what exactly the white substance is, please share the information with me. In any case, eating the financiers on their own is perfectly fine but do remember to take it with some of the red bean paste which I think was cooked in some sugar syrup. As such, the red bean paste was slightly moist so it was easier to eat it with the financier which had a nice maccha aroma but wasn't that sweet on its own. Usually, the financier I see tend to be long and rectangular so these little round balls here have won me over in terms of its novelty and unique flavour. Never knew that a French dessert like financier could go so well with the very-Japanese red bean paste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Last but not least, I just couldn't resist buying a box of the 6-piece mochi which looked so pretty with its translucent and snowy white skin. It was no doubt pretty pricey at $24 per box ($4 per piece) but given the quality and the appearance, I could understand the rationale behind the pricing. The filling is different from the eat-in version where there's supposed to be chocolate and red bean filling within. Due to the fact that there are no preservatives, the mochi has to be consumed within 2 days. Frankly speaking, I preferred the skin which was chewy and soft but not so much for the filling. I couldn't really taste the red bean and thought that the chocolate was a tad too sweet. Likewise about the mochi mentioned above, I don't have any major complaints about the quality of this item but I need a stronger pull factor to make me a fan of this mochi. For people who prefer sweet mochi like this, you might want to give this a try.

To read the full review, please visit my blog: http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/

Supplementary Information:
Only wagashi and drinks are served outside the meal times i.e. from 2pm to 6pm.
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Yubeshi,Mizu Manju,Chocolate Yokan,Handpicked Sencha,Matcha
 
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Dec 17, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $20(Tea)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 5  |  
Clean
 5  |  
Price
 4

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Categories : Japanese | Ramen

 
For more food reviews, please visit my blog: http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/

Ramen lovers like me are in for a treat with more and more ramen brands coming to Singapore, each offering their unique concoctions. One biggest grouse I have though is that the ramen places that I like don't have a branch in my neighbourhood so I always have to travel to town just to get my ramen fix. Of course, there are some ramen brands which have made inroads into the housing estates but most tend to limit their expansions to various spots within the city area.

Sanpoutei Ramen has been around since 1967 and comes from Niigata, Japan which is usually more well-known for its Koshihikari rice and sake. As such, I was curious how the ramen from Niigata would taste like and decided to give this a try.

 
Upon entering the restaurant, there are two types of seats i.e. the table seats and those at a long rectangular table at the centre of the restaurant. In the middle lies a charcoal fireplace which is of course meant for ornamental purposes and a wooden screen which has a warm feel (perhaps because Niigata is well-known for it being a region with heavy snowfall) and offers some privacy from fellow customers which are seated across you at the same table. For people who dine alone, you don't have to feel self-conscious compared to when you occupy a table seat. Besides, it is easy to observe from these seats how the staff prepare the ramen since you can see the noodles preparation room and kitchen clearly which offers some "entertainment" while you wait for the ramen to be served.

 
There are four main types of ramen offered here i.e. the Niigata shoyu ramen (soy sauce base), rich tori x miso ramen, rich tori x spicy-miso ramen and W soup tonkotsu ramen (pork bone base). W soup actually means double soup and refers to the fact that there are two types of soup being blended together to form the broth in this ramen. As the name suggests, there is tonkotsu soup made from simmering tonkotsu for 12 hours plus rich tori soup (made from chicken) to form the thick broth as seen from the photo. Honestly speaking, I was a bit taken aback when I saw the soup and wondered if it was going to be too thick and salty for me.

I ordered the W soup tonkotsu ramen with extra aburi chashu (5 pieces) which comes with everything as per the full set except for the egg. As I mentioned above, I had misgivings about the soup initially but to my surprise, it was not as salty as I thought and the rich-bodied soup was so flavourful and had a nice aroma. Considering that both the tonkotsu and the rich tori soup should be quite concentrated, I was amazed by how light it was on my palate. However, for people who prefer lighter soups such as shoyu, you might not be used to seeing your soup being this thick and slightly gooey as you get to the bottom of the bowl.

 
As for the noodles, the type used at Sanpoutei is a bit different from the usual thin vs. thick noodles or round vs. flat noodles. It's actually flat noodles being slightly thicker than mee pok but not as broad in terms of width. I tend to prefer the thick curly noodles used in Hokkaido-style ramen rather than the thin straight noodles in Kyushu-style ramen but there are times where I would wish for the best of both worlds i.e. curly noodles which can absorb the soup well but not too thick. Surprisingly, Sanpoutei has a nice hybrid which I like where the noodles absorbs the thick broth well and yet is not too lumpy. It's great to finally find something which suits my preferences.

As for the aburi chashu, I was a bit concerned that it might be a bit too dry due to the grilling. However, the chashu had a fine balance of meat and fat which probably helped in it retaining a certain degree of moisture thus preventing the chashu from being too tough. I also liked the fact that the chashu was tender enough to be easily split into smaller pieces with just the chopsticks and seasoned in such a way that it went well with the soup.

 
It's a bit of a disappointment that there was no gyoza to order here but there are various small bites like mini-don, salad, rice rolls and fried chicken offered. I chose the Sanpoutei deep fried spring chicken with oroshi yuzu ponzu sauce. With regard to the karaage, I thought it was a bit tough because breast meat seemed to be used in this dish which doesn't turn out very well when deep fried since there isn't a lot of fat in this part of the chicken. The thigh portion turns out better when used in a dish like this but unfortunately, not every place uses this. Luckily, the oroshi with yuzu ponzu sauce and the vegetables helped in accentuating the taste of the fried chicken and made it a bit more moist and savoury than if it was just plain karaage being served.

On the whole, I like the ramen served here at Sanpoutei although I felt that the small bites selection is not as appealing to me. I think I'll be back for another visit pretty soon to try out the other types of soup bases.

 
Recommended Dish(es):  W Tonkotsu Ramen
 
Date of Visit: Feb 12, 2016 

Spending per head: Approximately $20(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Categories : Italian | Middle Eastern/Mediterranean | Pasta

 
I was looking for a nice place to have a late lunch in the Bugis area when I found Platypus Kitchen on the Internet. It had pretty good reviews and I liked what I saw on its menu so it was decided then to head to its outlet at Bugis Junction. As a matter of fact, I had walked past this place a number of times before but never had the chance or inclination to visit it especially since it seemed quite crowded during meal times.

When I entered the restaurant, I was a bit intimidated to find that I was the only customer around. I guess that's to be expected too since it was already past three when I was there. Nonetheless, the waiter who had come to greet me was very welcoming so it helped to put me at ease. I was seated at a table which allowed me to have a great view of the entire restaurant which was largely in soothing pastel tones and black. With the afternoon sun pouring in, this felt like such a good place to spend a lazy afternoon in as you watch the people walk by outside. In particular, I liked the seating which was very comfortable due to its padded seats. There have been many times when I stopped going to a restaurant because I found the seating very uncomfortable (e.g. chairs being too high or too low while eating at the table) or the tables being too close to one another thus resulting in a very cramped feeling so it was a good thing to be able to find a place which doesn't add on to my stress in this respect.

 
First up was the lobster and crustacean soup which is roasted lobster broth served with double cream and bits of Boston lobster. Based on my experience so far, most soups would be either served in a small round bowl or those very big round dishes so it was a bit unusual to see an oval dish used in Platypus Kitchen. I liked the idea because it was rather easy to drink from and prevent spillage which tends to happen with smaller bowls. As for the soup itself, the aroma was very tempting as soon as the dish was served. There was also no need to add additional seasoning like salt and pepper because the soup was already flavourful enough on its own. As for the lobster bits, I felt that they were a bit too finely-cut for me to get a more accurate feel of the taste but at the very least, they didn't taste fishy in a bad way. The only thing which I didn't like about this dish was probably the herbs served as garnishing because they tasted a bit bitter.

 
The main course I selected was the Italian Rosemary Garlic Cast Iron Grilled Chicken which was tagged as a specialty dish on the menu. The reason why this is called a Cast Iron Grilled Chicken is due to the fact that the chicken is grilled in heated cast iron skillets at 250 degrees Celsius. I presume that this cooking method helps to seal in the flavours of the chicken without the meat becoming too overcooked. There are four versions of this dish where the chicken is further cooked in different sauces so I think I'll be back to try the other versions another day. Coming back to this version which I ordered, I felt that the aroma of the garlic and herbs was nicely infused into the chicken so I was quite satisfied with this dish. The salad was fresh with a nice citrus-like dressing which made it more palatable since I really dislike those with a strong vinegar taste. The fries were of the right thickness but I would have preferred them to be lightly salted so as to eat them on its own. The chili sauce provided was a bit watery and unlike the usual local version we are used to so I thought that didn't go so well with the fries.

One good thing to highlight about the service here is, the staff noticed that I was struggling with cutting the meat and went to get a meat cutting knife for me to replace the bread knife I was using. Granted that I was the only customer at that time, it might not have been difficult to notice that but I still applaud them for taking the effort to make the change because they could have just ignored me anyway if I didn't ask for a change in the knives.

 
Last but not least, my dessert was the molten lava cake served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate soil. The vanilla ice cream was rather ordinary in my opinion but I thought the idea of having that almond chocolate glico stick as a garnishing was pretty interesting. On the other hand, the lava cake was rather dense and tasted quite rich so I gathered that it should be made of dark chocolate or the proportion of dark chocolate was pretty high. It was a pity that the cake was so dense that the "lava" failed to flow out when I put my spoon into it. However, the semi-liquid chocolate within was still nice to eat despite its gooey texture. I'm not sure how the chocolate soil was made but as long as it tasted good, it didn't matter so much.

 
On the whole, I was rather satisfied with my dining experience at Platypus Kitchen and would want to visit it again but still, I would prefer to avoid the peak hours. I sure don't mind being the centre of attention again as the only customer in the restaurant! I also liked the fact that the restaurant attempted to distinguish itself as a place where people can meet up to enjoy meals together and it's making an attempt to get people off their phones at the dining table with little notes in the form of bookmarks. There are quirky questions and little known facts about food which can be used as conversation topics and I thought that it's a pretty good idea to catch the diners' attention. Whether it does help in making people concentrate more on their dining partners and food rather than their phones still remains to be seen but this type of initiative should be encouraged for its positivity.

 
Recommended Dish(es):  Lobster and crustacean soup,Italian Rosemary Garlic Cast Iron Grilled Chicken
 
Date of Visit: Oct 29, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $50(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 5  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 3

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Categories : Latin American/South American | Spanish | Halal | Paella

Was at J's for a team lunch at the recommendation of a colleague. I hadn't been to Purvis Street before even though I was a regular in the Bugis area so I had no idea what J's had to offer prior to today. It's located just opposite the National Library and the contrast between the sleepy alley of colourful shophouses and the tall and modern-looking library building was indeed intriguing to look at.

I didn't take any pictures of the interior though but it's a pretty cosy space despite the small size and the chairs are comfortable which is an important factor to me whenever I eat out. The seats are placed along both sides of the wall so there is ample space to move around in the centre. After I settled down, I realised that I was in for some Latin-American fare or so Foursquare told me. I don't recall eating any Latin-American cuisine before so I wonder what it is all about.
Soup of the day - Cream of Mushroom

Soup of the day - Cream of Mushroom

 
I opted for the three-course set lunch which is a steal at $28++. The two-course set lunch costs $24++, in case you are wondering. You can choose between a salad, soup or two other dishes for the appetisers. I didn't fancy having parmesan cheese in my salad so I opted for the trustworthy cream of mushroom which usually does not disappoint. Glad to say that it was fine but it could certainly do with lesser oil. I'm not sure whether the oily sensation came from the croutons or the soup itself but to make it a bit more easier on the palette, I think the oil should be reduced. On the whole, it's still a credible attempt at this dish almost available everywhere else.
Pan roasted boneless half spring chicken with saffron rice puree, fricassee of cabbage & leeks, roasted cherry tomato

Pan roasted boneless half spring chicken with saffron rice puree, fricassee of cabbage & leeks, roasted cherry tomato

 
I was expected a half spring chicken which was not deboned but to my delight, this had been nicely cut into the breast meat and thigh sections. This made it easier to eat instead of having to debone the meat using the knife and fork and I really appreciate this thoughtful gesture. I must confess that I am never a fan of breast meat because most places usually succeed in making it too dry or tough. Luckily, J's version is still acceptable and eating it with the puree and fricassee made it even better. Having said that, I still prefer the thigh cut of this dish but overall, I'm impressed with this dish.
Banana wrapped in tortilla, cinnamon sugar with dark chocolate ganache & vanilla gelato

Banana wrapped in tortilla, cinnamon sugar with dark chocolate ganache & vanilla gelato

 
As for dessert, I opted for the banana dish with vanilla gelato. The combination of banana and tortilla was a pretty good one although I thought that the vanilla gelato was a bit common. Having tasted one of my colleagues' selection which came with ginger gelato that was very unique and pleasing, I think it might have been better if this dish can with a gelato that's less sweet or more refreshing e.g. mint to counter the sweetness of the banana. This dish wasn't bad but I thought it can be improved.

I would recommend J's if you are looking for a comfortable and quiet place to enjoy some decent food at healthy portions with a reasonable price. However, be warned that service can be a bit slow (the waiters are polite though) which I think could be somewhat deliberate because they want you to sit down to enjoy the food rather than gobble and go. If you are in a rush, you might be better off going elsewhere. If you have the time to spare, you will not be disappointed here.

Last but not least, those with Citibank cards get a 10% discount and there's no GST here (just the service charge applies).
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Pan roasted boneless half spring chicken with saffron rice puree,fricassee of cabbage & leeks,roasted cherry tomato
 
Date of Visit: Nov 27, 2013 

Spending per head: Approximately $30(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 3  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Comfort food at a premium Smile Nov 03, 2013   
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Categories : Japanese

For the full review, please visit: http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/2013/11/comfort-food-at-premium-tonkichi.html

 
Tonkichi holds a special place in my heart for the fact that I am always assured of quality during each visit. I am wary of most tonkatsu offerings elsewhere because they tend to have these problems i.e. crust being too thick and oily, the meat being too dry due to overcooking or the oily and overly-rich aftertaste. Tonkichi is always able to produce consistently good tonkatsu and my favourite is the kurobuta which has more meat juices compared to other types of pork used in tonkatsu. However, as the kurobuta commands a premium price due to its quality and lesser quantity in the market, I only turn to this comfort food once in a while to satisfy my cravings.

 
I also tried something this time i.e. the tsukune and momo with leeks. Surprisingly, I preferred the tsukune over the momo despite the expectation that the momo's texture should have been smoother than the tsukune.

In all, if you are looking for quality Japanese food and is prepared to pay a bit more than usual, this is the place for you.
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Kurobuta,potato croquette,tsukune
 
Date of Visit: Nov 01, 2013 

Spending per head: Approximately $30(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 3

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