Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Spices: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

After a walking around MOA the whole day, we were starving and in dire need of food. From the bay area, we spotted Hokkaido Ramen Santouka thus we decided to go there for dinner. The resto originated from Japan and has opened up branches all over Asia.


Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

The resto is really small, good thing the bar was available for us to occupy. Thinking that this would only be a ramen place, I was surprise to see that they offer special katsu as well. The ramen set menu looks promising as it was reasonably priced. The set includes unlimited rice, a small bowl of ramen, a soft-boiled egg, pickled vegetables, salad, tea and a main dish of your choice. One can choose to to upgrade the small bowl of ramen to regular size for a minimal fee, just like what we did.


Ramen Sets
We each ordered different sets. The first we tried was The Ramen and Grilled Salmon and Salmon Roe Rice Bowl Set. The salmon on top of the rice was already flaked up and didn't taste like something that came off the grill. Though it was cooked well and of good quality,  I would have preferred it if they served it in bigger chunks.


Ramen & Grilled Salmon and Salmon Roe Rice Bowl Set - Php450

Ordering set meals, I know I shouldn't be complaining but I felt that there wasn't enough meat in the curry of The Ramen and Curry Rice Bowl Set. A couple pieces of meat more wouldn't really hurt much of the cost. The curry was pretty good, simple and hearty.


Ramen & Curry Rice Bowl Set - Php450


Among the sets we ordered, The Ramen and Pork Cutlet Small Rice Bowl was our favorite. The Tonkatsu that came with the set was of decent size and it tasted really good. This set is something I would order if I find myself dining here again.


Ramen & Pork Cutlet Rice Bowl Set - Php520

Tonkatsu

There are three types of ramen broth to choose from, Shio, Shoyu or Miso. What I love about the bowl of ramen are the noodles and the pork slices. The noodles was firm and had a bite to it while the pork was super tender. Among the three choices, my personal favorite would be the Shio, I found the Shoyu and Miso a bit salty for my taste.


Ramen

To go with our sets, we also had an order of Kurubota Pork Gyoza. The Japanese dumplings was a treat, it had a crispy bottom and we enjoyed the succulent meat filling.


Kurubota Pork Gyoza - Php240


There are numerous restos that one can choose to have his fill of Ramen and though Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is not my favorite. I must say that this is one of the better places to have a nice bowl.




Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Address: 2nd Floor, Entertainment Mall, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Tel No.: 804 3224 / 0915 - 8055838

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Spices: Waku Ghin - Ranked 2nd as Asia's Best Restaurant for 2013 (Singapore)

I love to watch food related shows and documentaries and after watching different features, there are three restaurants that I've always remembered. These restos has become my dream restaurant to dine in, El Bulli, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Tetsuya's. Sadly El Bulli has already closed down before I got to dine there but I'm still positive that I'll be able to eat at Ferran Adria's new resto in the future. I've dined in L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Hong Kong and I must say that it was one of my most memorable meals. That leaves Tetsuya's, the restaurant is owned by world renown chef, Tetsuya Wakuda. His restaurant is in Sydney, Australia, it consistently been part of the world's best. When I heard that he was going to open a resto in Singapore, I really got excited. The name of the resto is Waku Ghin.


Waku Ghin

Two years ago when we visited Singapore for the Formula One season, I wanted to visit the resto even if we had no plans of dining there. We checked out the degustation menu for that evening and found out that it would cost SGD$400 to dine there. I was really taken aback with the cost but I was thinking that it would cost more to fly to Sydney to dine in Tetsuya's. So after almost two years of saving up and waiting for the perfect opportunity, we were back at the front door, this time around we were going to dine!




Degustation Menu for the Night - $400sgd++


I've made reservations months before, knowing that they only accept a few guests for the two seatings per night, 6:30pm and 8pm. Welcomed warmly, we were led to one of the dining rooms with bar type table and chairs, in front was a long stainless tepanyaki grill.




The staff proceeded to tell us that Chef Testsuya wanted the concept of bringing the kitchen in front of the diners. We would be able to see how dishes are prepared, cooked and plated.


Maestros at Work

Before the meal started one of the chefs presented a spectacular crate of  seafood which consists the dishes for the night. Each of these seafood goodies came from different parts of the world.


Chef presenting the Ingredients for the Night

A Wooden Crate of The Freshest Catch from All Over The World


The meal started with the Flan with Queensland Spanner Crab. The soup consist of huge chunks of crab meat and luscious silky flan. It was the perfect way to start the meal since the broth isn't too over powering with flavors, it was simple and so hearty.


Flan with Queensland Spanner Crab


I really liked the circular bowl on where the Carpaccio of Flounder with Bitter Salad was presented. The circular rings highlighted the dish on the center of the bowl. With sashimi as fresh as this,  a little soy, spring onions and strips of zucchini, it tasted simple and good.



Carpaccio of Flounder with Bitter Salad


I've seen and read about this Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin and Oscietra Caviar dish, everyone is raving about it. First and foremost, I want to point out the ingredients. The Botan Shirmp is not your ordinary fresh shrimp you buy in the market, this giant type of shrimp are fished in deep waters, it's best and safe to eat raw. The sea urchin came from Hokkaido, the place known to have the best quality of sea urchin or uni. To top it all off, a tablespoon full of one of the most sought after and expensive kind of caviar, the Oscietra caviar. And of course when eating caviar, one has to use a  spoon made of pearl.



Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin and Oscietra Caviar

Delicious is not enough to describe how this taste like, its something that one must taste to understand what I mean. The plump juicy fresh botan shrimps, the creamiest sweet sea urchin roe, the nuttiness and subtle flavors of the caviar. Everything complimented each other perfectly. If I were to find an adjective on how it tasted, it's BEAUTIFUL! Hands down, one of the most unforgettable dish I've ever tasted!



Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin and Oscietra Caviar



Im guessing that the fish in the Slow Cooked New Zealand John Dory with Charcoaled-Grilled Eggplant was sous-vide. The texture of the fish was like eating a super tender piece of chicken, lightly dressed and it had hints of sesame oil. What's nice about this is that you can really taste the char grill flavor.


Slow Cooked New Zealand with Char-Grilled Eggplant


The Roasted Scampi with Ceylon Tea and Scampi Oil has to be one of the if not the freshest and most perfectly cooked prawn I've eaten. The prawn was super tender and it still had that slightly moist center. The seasoning of Ceylon Tea on the prawn had just the right amount, it didn't overpower the natural sweetness of the prawn, it actually highlighted it more.


Roasted Scampi with Ceylon Tea and Scampi Oil


A plate of raw Abalone from Tasmania was brought out and placed on the table. When I took a closer look, it was still moving.


Abalone from Tasmania


This was the first dish that was cooked and plated in front of us. The maestro behind the grill is Chef Cory Soo Thoo. When Chef Cory was explaining the Tasmanian Abalone with Fregola and Tomato dish to us I saw his sous chef placing a spoonful of mayonnaise on the plate. I was kind of curious and skeptical if the mayo will taste well with pasta and tomato combination.


Chef Cory Soo Thoo

I've tasted Abalone before but nothing cooked like this, usually the ones I had before had a very rubbery texture. But this one was totally different, it was so juicy and tender. As for the mayonnaise, pasta and tomato, the combination of flavors worked deliciously well together.


Tasmanian Abalone with Fregola and Tomato


Chef Cory presented to us a plate of glistening lobster saying it was flown in that same morning from Canada. He proceeded to tell us that he already has pre-cooked the lobster to shorten the prep time.


Canadian Lobster


Lobster was cooked spot on, moist and tender. The bisque was exceptional, so rich and savory. Seeing Chef Cory adding butter and tarragon to the lobster, I was expecting a very French dish. But it totally wasn't, the addition of Wakame seaweed instilled a very Japanese flavor. The word 'Umami' or 'Malinamnam' epitomizes the Canadian Braised Lobster with Tarragon dish. Not a single drop of bisque was left on my bowl, I mopped everything up with the mini baguette that came with the dish.


Canadian Braised Lobster with Tarragon




I've seen, eaten and even cooked Wagyu beef but I've never seen Wagyu beef with this kind of marbling before. This is Japanese Ohmi Beef from Shiga Perfecture, what a beauty!


Japanese Ohmi Beef from Shiga Perfecture


To go with the Wagyu dish, a Wasabi root was freshly grated.


Grating Wasabi

The Wasabi was part of the Japanese Ohmi Beef with Wasabi and Citrus Soy dish. Together with the wasabi, there were crunchy garlic chips and strips of scallions to accompany the beef. On the side was the citrus soy with radish.


Japanes Ohmi Beef with Wasabi and Citrus Soy

Cooked medium rare, I would eat beef of this quality as it is. I took a bite of the meat without anything on and it deliciously melted in my mouth. Happy as it is, I had second thoughts of adding anything to the beef but I did construct the perfect bite as suggested by the chef. Wasabi on the beef, garlic chip, scallion strips and doused with a little sauce. As we respectively place a piece in our mouths, only the sound of 'uhmms' came out.


The 'Perfect' Beed Bite


The next two coursed was served to prepare our paletes for dessert. The first is the Somen with Myoga and Junsai, a cold noodle dish. Somen are very thin wheat noodles, served in a dashi broth with myoga (ginger flower) and Junsai (water flower). I liked the thin noodles' firmness, the cold stock was interesting since I would associate it with being served hot. When I felt a jelly-like thing in my mouth, I looked at my bowl and fished out what looked like a stem that was covered in gelatin. I asked the chef what it was and it turned to be the Junsai. First time I've heard and tasted something like this.


Somen Noodles with Myogo and Junsai



I'm not much of a tea drinker but I've tried and tasted a lot. Known to be a really expensive and the finest type of Japanese green tea, this was my first time to try the Gyokuro. It was also nice and interesting to watch the proper way of brewing the tea.


The Art of Brewing Gyokuro


Usually green tea would have a slightly bitter, grassy, herby flavor but the Gyokuro tasted totally different. It had that very savory, slightly salty and sweet flavor.


Gyokuro


After the meal, we were lead to the main dining area to have the final courses of our meal. The room let diners enjoy the view of the city while having desserts.

Main Dining Room


When the server placed a sliced of Musk Melon in front of us, I was really taken aback. The server told us that the melon came from Shizuoka Perfecture. First thing that came to my mind was if it was some kind of a joke..'a slice of melon for dessert?' But when I got a piece and put it in my mouth, my eyes rolled back in extreme delight. This is the sweetest and juiciest piece of melon I've ever tasted in my life!!! After researching about this, the melon turns out to be one of the most expensive fruit money can buy costing around $100 for a whole piece.


Musk Melon from Shizuoka Perfecture


The final course is Tetsuya's signature dessert, Ghin Cheese Cake. The server told us that Chef Tetsuya's favorite metal is silver thus the name Ghin, on the top of the cake was small silver-leaf. Being a cheesecake lover, I excitedly took a spoonful. It was light, creamy and had an airy texture, it was very pleasant to the mouth but I felt that it was lacking the sourness flavor.


Ghin Cheese Cake

Towards the center of the cake, I can start to feel that sour puckering sensation in my mouth. There in the middle was lemon curd, the sour component I was looking for. It was total cheese cake bliss after hitting that center spot.


Lemon Curd in the Center 

We were asked if we wanted coffee or tea to end our meal. Being coffee addicts, it was a double shot espresso and a cup of americano for us. After everything, I was terribly disappointed with the coffee. I asked the server what beans they used and I wasn't surprise to hear that they use Vittoria, an Australia brand that I've tried and disliked for a number of times. The coffee leaves a unpleasant sour and acidic after-taste in my mouth and throat.


Double Shot Espresso

Good thing the petit fours that was served with the coffee was such delicious treats. From  left to right, Macha Truffle, Mascarpone Cheese and Amaretto Choux,  Hazelnut Meringue, Chocolate Creameaux , Rum & Raisin Macaron and Pistachio Macaron.


Petit Fours

While having coffee, we contemplated on the dishes and the whole experience. Hands down, all of the ingredients that was used was of superior quality, the best of the best! Everything was absolutely made and cooked to perfection, we tipped our hats off to Chef Cory. Though I wished he'd be more engaging in conversation, from how it looked he was also attending to to other guests in the adjacent rooms. We commend the staff for being pleasant, regardful and super attentive, it was no surprise that most of the staff are Filipinos(just like in Iggy's), nothing can compare to Filipino hospitality.  If you ask me if it's worth the $400sgd?, to be honest if you just based it on the food alone, it's really a steep price to pay. But for the whole experience, hell yeah it is!

Cheers!

I'm going to end this post by quoting Anthony Bourdain, it's in his show, A Cook's Tour where I've first seen and heard about Tetsuya's. He goes: "Why am I willling to pay hundreds of dollars for a single meal?.....I don't pay for the food, I pay for the experience!"




Waku Ghin
Address: Marina Bay Sands 10 Bayfront Avenue, Level 2 
Tel No: +65 6688 8507 ( reservation is a must for degustation dinner!)
Webpage: www.marinabaysands.com
Email:  wakughinreservation@marinabaysands.com

Monday, 2 June 2014

Sights: Flying High at Seabreeze SENTOSA, SINGAPORE

I've seen a lot of videos featuring different jet pack creations, it really has become a reality that people can fly by just wearing a device on their back. Think James Bond and Rocketeer. I never had any idea that one can already experience it until my brother Jim told me about it.






It was in Sentosa, Singapore where one can have the thrilling experience of flying via a jet pack. Jim got a voucher from Seabreeze, the company which provides water sport activities. One of the most sought after water sport activity in Siloso beach is the Jetlev or the Water Propelled Jetpack  When I recently visited Singapore, I tag along with Jim to watch him fly in envy.


At Siloso Beach, Sentosa, Singapore

Seabreeze

It was a gloomy day with a lightning warning being announced. But this didn't stop us from from proceeding to Wave House, Sentosa. Luckily after about an hour, the warning was lifted and Jim proceeded to get ready for his initial flight. Before hitting the water, he was given basic instructions by Ms. Christina Tran, the director/coach/instructor of Seabreeze. Christina even went all the way to California to learn and get her certification to teach.


The Jet Pack



It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, just as when Jim is about to take off, he would swerve to his right and sink back in the water.


Almost there but not quite...




But with Jim's determination and Christina's enduring patience...


It's a Takeoff!!!

I can hear Christina shouting ecstatically, everybody was cheering on the shore, me included. It was an amazing spectacle to see, Jim was actually FLYING!!!








Jim was having his time of his life. From the time he took off, he was grinning from ear to ear and he never lost that smile the whole time we were in Sentosa.









He even managed to wave hi while flying pass by me.




I asked Jim how it was, replying with a big smile he said "IT FELT GREAT!!!." After seeing him doing this, I was dying in envy, I've already list this down in my bucket list and vowed to try this once I find myself back in Singapore.

Here is a short video clip:

video


End Note: Jim would like to send a big Thank You to Ms.Christina Tran and the whole Seabreeze team who made his of dreams of flying come true.


Jim with Coach Christina Tran


Jim with The Seabreeze Sentosa Team
Seabreeze Water-Sports 
Address: Wave House, Siloso Beach, Sentosa, Singapore
Tel No: +65 6376-4336
Webpage: www.seabreeze.com.sg