Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dinner on United in a Plastic Bag

United Dinner in a Plastic Bag

Yep - dinner on the way back was in the same plastic bag as on the way up. The word "dinner" is really stretching it though: it was still the same combo of a cookie, chips, and sandwich on Wonder Bread. Even the flight attendant's overhead announcement said that First and Business Class would get dinner, while Economy Class would get a "snack." I have to admit that I kinda liked the taste of the cheese inside that sandwich though (not to mention the lemon cookie afterwards). Either that, or I was just really hungry.

Berkeley's Top Dog in Hong Kong?

Kraut Dog

I never had the chance to go to Top Dog in Berkeley, but it seems like every Cal alumnus I know can't stop raving about it. And I remember some of them saying years and years ago that they opened one in Hong Kong, and yet I still never got the chance to go. Today, as we went down to the Star Ferry terminal to cross the harbor, we noticed a Top Dog stand there (Shop D, Upper Deck, Central Pier 7, 2167-8991). Cool - the portions at Mak's were too small to last us anyway!

We grabbed that kraut dog pictured above as well as a bratwurst, the latter of which was more exciting given the delightful presence of crackling sprinkled on top. I wasn't a big fan of how cold they kept the pickles in the fridge but otherwise these things did the job. Now that I look at it again though, I don't think this is the same Top Dog as the one in Berkeley. Can anyone verify? We'll have to go there next time we're out there either way.

An Obligatory Run to Mak's in Hong Kong

Mak's Dry Noodles with Shrimp Eggs and Veggies

No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a visit to Mak's, so we stopped by today for a quick bite. I don't remember the soup being so salty before (is it a HK thing?), but that's probably just because I was too enamored with those deliciously firm and tasty noodles to notice in the past. It's just too bad that the portions are so darned small.

Breakfast from Hong Kong's Fairwood

Lo Mai Gai Glutinous Rice

The photo may look a bit ghastly, but it was just a typical glutinous rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaves. I picked it up this morning at Fairwood: not exactly my first choice of venues but pretty much the only convenient choice given where our hotel is situated.

There's no doubting it being a "fast food" place though. I watched them pull this guy out of a giant steamer onto my tray along with a big scoop of congee into my bowl while my milk tea was poured, all in a time span of about 30 seconds. Fast food indeed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some Toilet Humor From Hong Kong

Here were just some (childishly) amusing sights that we saw across Hong Kong today. The last one was from Luk Yu. No, we didn't try them nor ask what they were stuffed with.

Bubie's

Moony Man

Crap - I soyed my bowels!

Dinner at Luk Yu Tea House, Hong Kong

Roast Pigeon

These guys are known for their dim sum, so it was interesting to see what they had on their dinner menu instead. We picked up an array of items, ranging from little cuts of char siu with pleasant amounts of tasty fat interweaved into them as well as a salted fish fried rice whose smoky aroma spoke to how old school this place was.

I don't think I've ever really eaten much pigeon before though. The liver-like taste of the meat itself wasn't that exciting, but I think the point of eating these things is the crispy skin instead, which was delightful, even when trying to gnaw on those little heads. In that sense, this stuff kinda reminded me of crab: don't eat it when you're hungry since it takes too frustratingly long, but they are fun to nibble on if one has the time.

Tai Cheong Bakery, Hong Kong

Old Wife Cakes

We made a quick pitstop today at Tai Cheong's updated location (32 Lyndhurst Terrace, 2544-3475) where we picked up not only my usual old wife cakes, but also of course some of their signature egg tarts. Gotta love how rich the shorbread-based crust was on those things, and having them while they were still warm from the oven never hurt either.

We also got their century egg pastry just for curiosity's sake. It tasted just as it sounded though, and won't exactly be something that I'll be craving anytime soon. At least it wasn't as bad as takoyaki candy.

Ocean Empire at Hong Kong Airport

Clockwise from top left: sliced fish porridge with coriander, century egg porridge, and boiled lettuce

We needed a quick breather at Hong Kong airport before heading into town this morning and figured that Krispy Kreme would fit the bill. Unfortunately, they've shut down, so we stoppped at this outlet of Ocean Empire instead.

The congee was scaldingly hot and a tad runny, but it was still tasty, especially when topped with some of those sesame seeds that they made available in squeeze bottles. I kinda liked the peanuts inside this time too. That boiled iceberg lettuce wasn't quite what I was expecting when they offered a side of greens though.

United Snack Boxes Are Now In Bags

United Breakfast Bags

It looks like those snack boxes that United gives out in peanut class up to Hong Kong are now in bag form. It seemed a bit odd to me at first since more plastic seemed less environmentally friendly, but then I realized afterwards that it makes it easier from a disposal perspective given that empty bags don't take up the same amount of space as those previous boxes. Well, inside it was still just a couple of pastries and a fruit cup.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Broaster Chicken at a Singapore 7-Eleven

Broaster Chicken

When I read the article about these guys in this week's 8 Days, I stopped to think for a second. I had seen the idea of pressure cooking deep fried chicken on one of Adam Richman's recent episodes, but it was at a little dive rather than a fast food franchise. It was only after I looked these guys up did I realize why that was the case: it's more about licensing the equipment rather than a chain of shops. That also explains why - in Singapore - this setup was oddly located in the corner of a 7-Eleven (10 Jalan Serene #1-02).

Well, the pressure cooking (which was pretty cool to see, even if it meant waiting a while as they cooked to order) definitely made this stuff juicy...so juicy that the thing was practically dripping when I bit into it. And it was certainly less greasy than other fried chicken too. But I prefer the Colonel, as this one was rather one-dimensional with its salt marinade. Indeed, the lack of greasiness took away the guilty pleasure of eating fried chicken. And there's certainly no lack of choice when it comes to fried chicken in Asia.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to Isetan's Hokuriku Fair

Rich Miso Ramen

Yep - we came back this morning. It was Iroha's last day in Singapore after all, so I might as well give his other bowls a try too. Normally I don't care too much for miso ramen, but this one worked for me as it wasn't overpowering. I like this guy's clean approach...if he had a permanent shop here, then I'd be there regularly.

Kani Uni Sushi

For lunch, I grabbed another little crab sushi box, but this time featuring sea urchin rather than fish eggs. The taste was more delicate than I was expecting. It all went down quickly though, and all with the added satisfaction of having eaten something so healthy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Crab Lunch from Isetan's Hokuriku Fair

Kani Ikura Sushi

Menya Iroha was here as part of a Hokuriku Fair being run at Isetan this past week, so we went inside to see what else was available. Some of the stuff included a variety of lunch boxes featuring seafood from Japan. I grabbed this one to bring home to eat later.

Yes, I liked it. The crab was delicate and naturally sweet, making it all go into my belly in no time. At S$23 (US$18) for such a tiny little box, it sure wasn't cheap, but I'm glad I tried it. Maybe I should go back tomorrow to grab the one featuring sea urchin.

Toyama's Menya Iroha at Isetan Singapore

Toyama Black Shoyu Ramen

We found out last night that there's been a little stand set up outside Isetan Scotts basement supermarket this past week. It's selling not only Menya Iroha's packaged ramen, but the man himself is also there, serving cooked bowls counterside. He was apparently the winner at the Tokyo Ramen Show 2009, so we definitely wanted to gave both his black and white varieties a try this morning to see what they were all about.

I liked them both. Instead of being anything like Gogyo's kogashi ramen, the black one got its color from a soy sauce that gave it a delightfully deep and rich character, especially when complemented with ground black pepper. The white broth, on the other hand, was made from shrimp and salt. The shrimp was not as fully-flavored as Keisuke's ebi ramen, but it was balanced nicely with salt, reminding me a bit of Baikohken's shio ramen with a taste of shellfish in the process. It was the best of both worlds by being savory yet light at the same time.

The only thing I didn't like about these was the chashu in either bowl, which was generously fatty and tasty but also too heavily seasoned given how strongly flavored the broths already were. I'm sure that I've totally exceeded my sodium intake for the day too. It was worth it though, and it's just too bad that this is only a temporary setup here (and no, I didn't buy the packaged version since it would be too much effort to make).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kami Katsu from Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin

Kami Katsu

This was the thing that was sold out last time, so I was surprised that they still had some left on a busy Friday night. Anyway, I guess this was tonkatsu returning to its Austrian roots, featuring a very thin piece of meat. It still featured their Japanese sauce and breading, but did not have the usual shredded cabbage and tonjiru alongside, as it was apparently meant to be shared.

Yes, I liked it. Having it on a cutting board with a pizza cutter kept it playful, while the thin meat and crispy breading kept it on the lighter side...relative to proper tonkatsu, of course. I'll easily come back for this, although admittedly it's also made me want to go get a Schnitzel now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kazokutei, Tokyo Walker, Plaza Singapura

Curry Udon

It looks like the folks behind Manpuku have started another little cluster of Japanese food outlets, this time carrying a rather awkward name: Tokyo Walker (68 Orchard Road #04-01, 6333-9285). We went past the ramen and chanpon shops and ended up at the one in the back, which specialized in handmade udon...and in a variety of styles too. It seemed promising.

The curry smelled and tasted nice at first, but it was still a far cry from Wakashachiya. More importantly, the noodles were too soft and frankly a bit of a yawner, as was some of the fried stuff that we got on the side too. It was only later that I realized that these guys were related to Toku Toku, another shop that I have never really been sold on. I still wish Rakugamo would come down here; in the meantime, I guess I'll keep going back to Huhu instead.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Tonkotsu Ramen from Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin

Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin is not a place that one would normally go to for ramen. But the pork that I wanted was sold out tonight, so I figured that I'd give their tonkotsu ramen a try. Frankly, I wasn't expecting much. After all, this wasn't exactly their specialty, and was presumably only added to the menu in an attempt to broaden their addressable market.

My first bites into the annoyingly sweet chashu and egg weren't exactly encouraging either. And I really didn't care for the noodles, while the lack of condiments available felt like something was missing. But the broth was good, and was so rich that I almost suspected that they added milk to it. Even if they did, I didn't care. I still drank the thing down to its last drop. That says a lot, considering that I really didn't care much for any of the other ingredients in the bowl.

The other pleasant surprise were those mini burgers featuring little bite-sized pieces of tonkatsu and a squirt of mayonnaise. It just further went to show how their lightly breaded fried pork is clearly where they shine the brightest, so next time I hope that the limited edition cut that I was looking for today isn't sold out again.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Ootoya's Chicken Kasan Ni

Chicken Kasan Ni

I wasn't quite sure what to make of this. It didn't make sense to deep fry a chicken cutlet only to later stick it in a clay pot that would just make it all soggy. But apparently this is one of Ootoya's signature items, so I grabbed one to see if it were any good.

To my surprise, this actually worked. Sure, the breading was pretty much obliterated, but the mildly sweet taste of the sauce complemented the grease (and a generous portion of daikon oroshi never hurt either). I could eat this again, even if I still prefer a more classic crispy tonkatsu.