Monday, December 15, 2014

Takumen @ Circular Road (Boat Quay)

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It's interesting to see how ramen moves from reality to virtual space and back to ramen again. Japan's online ramen delivery store, Takumen, has launched its first restaurant not in Japan but in Singapore. Small, brightly lit and minimal, the space is just like a typical ramen-ya in Japan, minus the enthusiastic welcome shouts and loud slurping noises. It currently showcases the signature bowls from 6 famous ramen shops in Japan, each prepared from scratch by one single Japanese chef who has amazingly mastered all the secret formula and recreating the same quality to the smallest detail in the tiny kitchen.

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Tori-Paitan Ramen by Hajime 3/5

Ramen is hardly the lightest grub out there and this perfectly oily chicken-broth based ramen by Hajime is no exception. My mouth tells my brain to go on because the broth is pretty flavorful but my eyes tells it to stop because the layer of glistening oil globules is too conspicuous to go unnoticed. This is a dilemma that has yet been resolved but this is the most competitively priced ramen at $14.90. On the side note, the thick chewy noodles did not provide much satisfactory texture compared to the rest, though the "Chicken Char Siew" or chicken breast meat was indeed tender.

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Jiro-Inspired Ramen by Chibakara 3.8/5

Ramen Jiro is a ubiquitous Tokyo brand that has earned a cult status for its unmistakable mountain of vegetables toppings and eye-poppingly thick rounds of char siew. However, this Jiro-Inspired Ramen from Chibakara ($18.90) looks wimpy in comparison and the meat was tough to chew on the rims, though there was still hearty helping of bean sprouts and sweet cabbage. After giving it a good toss, it does reflect a stark resemblance to our local "Lor Mee".

Diners can choose to customize any ramen here for the healthier "Singapore" version (less oil and salt) and we decided to experiment with this bowl. Yet the flavor after customization remained persistently rich and mellow, and I could imagine how robust it would be if we had the original Japanese version.

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Ramen Kurume by Honda Shoten 4/5

For the Tonkotsu purists at heart, Honda Shoten’s Ramen Kurume ($15.90) proved a truly wise investment of calories. It's difficult to argue about the quality of the broth with this shop that hails from Kurume, the city that gave birth to the first Tonkotsu broth in Japan. The bowl is indulgently rich and full-flavored, finished off with two thinly sliced gelatinous char siew that would send you to porky wonderland. But the silver shreds of sour ginger pickles, sesame seeds and crunchy black fungus pulled everything back to reality, leaving a first-rate aftertaste.

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Katsura-style Tantan noodles by Bingiri 4.5/5

Can ramen ever be spicy? Yes, when the noodles are not doused simply with mild Japanese ra-yu (chili oil) but attempt a bold and dangerous affair with grinded Sichuan peppercorns that sat afloat the dark red broth. No, I'm not exaggerating to say that this Katsura-style Tantan noodles from Bingiri ($19.90) is a flavour bomb. The spiciness did not really hit at first but built up as I worked on it and my tongue eventually went into temporary numbness. Yet the heat was so addictive and I caved in again.

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One amazing fact is that the spicy chilli oil is intensified with not one but THREE kind of pepper and blended with soy sauce base instead of sesame paste. To put off the fire in the tongue, one can munch on the sweet crunchy onions whose supply seemed to be endless in the large bowl. Alternatively, top up $2 for that beautiful onsen (soft-boiled) egg, which really helps to mediate some of the heat. On the hindsight, the more commonly seen parboil egg was slightly overcooked that day.

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The basic version of all noodles here does not come with any soft-boil eggs or parboiled eggs. However, I doubt this is a major problem since most self-respecting ramen fans would not bear to miss it. A second outlet has already opened one day after this first outlet and given Takumen's impressive online inventory of over 100 ramen, it is not surprising if these prized 6 ramen spots will be filled up by new brands in 2015. I wait eagerly to see what will be up next.

Written and Photograph by Li Tian, a passionate foodie behind Singapore-Japan Food Blog “Dairy & Cream”. Has an eye for pastries and desserts.


Takumen
66 Circular Road
#01-¬01
Singapore 049420
Tel: +65 65364875
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/takumen.sg
Nearest MRT: Clarke Quay (NE Line), Raffles Place (EW Line, NS Line)

Opening Hours: 
Mon-Fri: 1130am - 12midnight
Sat-Sun & PH: 9am - 12midnight
Mon-Thurs: 11:30am - 3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm
Fri: 11:30am- 3pm, 5:30pm-Midnight
Sat: 5:30pm-Midnight
Sun: 11:30am-3pm
*Public holidays: 11:30am-3pm

Direction:
1) Alight at Clarke Quay MRT Station. Take Exit E. Cross New Bridge Road to the opposite of The Central. Walk towards Upper Circular Road. Turn onto Upper Circular Road and walk to the end. Cross the road at South Bridge Road and walk towards the river. Walk down the row of shop houses along the river. Journey time about 12 minutes. [Map]

2) Alight at Raffles Place MRT Station. Take Exit G. Walk to the river. Walk down the row of shop houses along the river. Journey time about 8 minutes. [Map]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant @ PARKROYAL on Beach Road

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For a change, Christmas is not all about turkeys and log cakes. At Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant, Tian Fu Tea Room we can celebrate the festive season in the Sparkling Imperial High Tea (梦幻宫廷下午茶) from 15 November 2014 to 31 January 2015 at $38.80 per person. Tian Fu Tea Room worked with the all new bespoke's bird's nest brand Long Ming Xuan (龙明宣) to feature the bird's nest in their exquisite handcrafted dim sum. The sparkling imperial high tea will comprises of nine dim sum items paired with two premium Chinese brews and a glass of sparkling wine for the festivities.

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Steamed Minced Meat Dumpling in Superior Stock and Bird's Nest 4/5

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Steamed Minced Meat Dumpling in Superior Stock and Bird's Nest 4/5

We were given a glimpse of the sparkling imperial high tea items starting with the piping hot Steamed Minced Meat Dumpling in Superior Stock and Bird'S Nest. While I couldn't really fault the xiao long bao with the nice balance and proportion of minced meat and superior stock, I could hardly detect the bird's nest in the execution. It seems to the flooded by the tsunami of richness from the superior stock and lost in it. It is still a good xiao long bao in its highest standard but it did not really featured the bird's nest in this execution.

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Steamed Dumpling with Minced Chicken and Bird's Nest 4/5

The Steamed Dumpling with Minced Chicken and Bird's Nest on the other did more justification to the bird's nest. I could taste the egg like aroma and the smooth texture of the bird's nest with popping surprises of the roes.

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Steamed Siew Mai with Bird's Nest 4/5

Next up in the bamboo basket is the steaming hot Steamed Siew Mai with Bird's Nest. The luxurious topping of the bird's nest allows me to appreciate the smooth texture of it even more.

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Pan Fried Crab Meat Puff 3/5

Known for its high standard, I actually felt a bit disappointed in the Pan Fried Crab Meat Puff as I was expecting something more exquisite. Nevertheless, even though so, the sweetness of the seafood wrapped with the thin dumpling skin was quite delectable.

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Boiled Minced Meat Dumpling in Sour and Spicy Stock 4.2/5

Sichuan food is known for its spiciness and the Boiled Minced Meat Dumpling in Sour and Spicy Stock actually got me really excited. I enjoyed the tickling kick of spiciness and numbness on the palate. One of my favourite items for the high tea.

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Sichuan Noodle with Onion Sauce 4/5

The simple and plain looking Sichuan Noodle with Onion Sauce surprised me with its alluring aroma. The shallot oil accentuated the the noodles to a new height in such a simple dish. Incidentally we discovered that mixing the noodle with the sour and spicy stock further elevated the whole enjoyment if you love spicy food.

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Chilled Pear with Bird's Nest 4.2/5

The other highlight of the whole afternoon high tea and bird's nest creation is the Chilled Pear with Bird's Nest. The sweetness of double boiled pear complemented the silky smooth bird's nest which I felt is still the best way of featuring the curated off-the-shelf Jin Yan (金燕) collection, sourced from the coastal areas in Indonesia.

The Spakling Imperial High Tea will be available in all the three outlets at PARKROYAL on Beach Road, PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road and TOP of UOB Plaza. UOB cardmembers also get enjoy the privilege of 1 dine free with three accompanying guests.


Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Beach Road
7500 Beach Road
Singapore 199591
Tel: +65 65055724
Website: http://www.sichuandouhua.com/
Nearest MRT: Nicoll Highway (CC Line)

Opening Hours:
Daily: 1130am - 1030pm

Direction:
1) Alight at Nicoll Highway MRT station. Take Exit A. Follow the overhead walkway all the way to The Concourse building. Take the exit down to Nicoll Highway and walk towards Parkroyal Serviced Residences. Cut through towards The Plaza at Parkroyal Hotel. Journey time about 8 minutes. [Map]

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