Dinner @ Arakawa Osaka Cuisine

July 15, 2018 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Always on the hunt for new places, I got to know about Arakawa from instagram (yet again). And I was excited because the interior decor look promising from pictures; Authentic in a rustic way. And to check out Arakawa, I got @zachdevours (also called IGBP (InstaGram Bottomless Pit) in my previous post) to visit with me. Because I found the place, he volunteered to make reservation by calling the restaurant. Ha!

We arrived at the restaurant on a Wednesday night. But because it was a little difficult to locate the unit, we were slightly late for our 7.30pm reservation. And with us and another group that started before us, the restaurant was half full. However, it’s interesting to observe that as it neared 8.30pm, more customers came in and soon the restaurant was running at its full capacity of 14 people. In fact, the group of 5 that came in earlier than us were reminded they had to leave to make space for the 8.30pm crowd second seating. I guess their meal must have dragged for more than 2 hours.

If anyone found head chef Seiichiro Arakawa familiar, that’s because he was the executive chef at now-defunct Han Japanese Restaurant in Odeon Towers. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:

1) $80 omakase comprised of:-


(A) Appetiser (above) – What surprised me was the crab-flavoured sesame tofu. Pretty unique. And of course, he topped it with crab innards and crab meat.

(B) Sashimi (above) – Yellowtail, tuna and salmon belly.


  

(C) Steamed (above) – Simmered duck, taro ball, peas and radish (daikon) with wasabi sauce.

(D) Grilled (above) – Japanese barracuda with (yellow-coloured) gluten.

(E) Fried (above) – Corn and pike eel tempura.


(F) Meal (above) – For the rice bowl, we were served bonito drizzled with sesame sauce.


(G) Dessert (above)

2) Oden (above) – Chicken ball ($4), fried tofu ($4) and konjak ($3).

3) Oden (above) – Fried tofu pouch with rice cake ($5) and shumai ($7).

During our dinner, we got a glimpse of the $130 omakase course as some customers from the second seating ordered it. And they were given additional cockle (torigai) for their sashimi dish, and wagyu beef instead of fish for their grilled dish. Can I just say I was glad I didn’t go with my usual of ordering the most expensive course? Phew.

Would I recommend Arakawa? Well, I wouldn’t recommend Arakawa although the number of restaurants offering kappo cuisine in Singapore is very limited. I didn’t feel the dishes justified the $80 spent. In fact for kappo cuisine, there’s another restaurant in Orchard that does it better. As for oden, I do know of others but unfortunately none are in Orchard.

That said, if one is really bent on trying Arakawa, maybe head over for their lunch menu instead.

ARAKAWA OSAKA CUISINE
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #01-34, Singapore
6733 0107, Facebook
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 03:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ RŌNIN (Hong Kong)

June 30, 2018 in European, Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

In all my past trips to Hong Kong, I didn’t manage to check out RŌNIN simply because I reckoned it would be too difficult to secure a reservation. But for my May 2018 trip, I decided to give it a shot. Must be the confidence boast from dining successfully at RAW. Haha.

Thanks to my colleague’s reminder 2 weeks prior to our Hong Kong trip that I need to settle my accommodation (I am quite a procrastinator, sometimes), I remembered I was just in time to make reservation for RŌNIN; RŌNIN only accepts reservation 2 weeks in advanced. And I managed to get us a slot for Saturday evening. And between the 2 seatings (6.30pm and 8.45pm), we went with 6.30pm.

Currently ranked 41 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 by S. Pellegrino, my colleague and I arrived at the street (where RŌNIN is located) at 6.30pm sharp. However, we couldn’t locate the entrance because there was no shopfront signage. It was only when a group arrived a few minutes after us and entered a blue door against a blue wall that we figured out that had to be RŌNIN.

Seats were allocated based on first come first serve basis. And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Pre-appetiser, Complimentary (above)

2) Kurosoi black rockfish sashimi, HKD70 (above) – With daikon, ponzu, yuzu kosho.

3) Bonito tuna sashimi, HKD180 (above) – With daikoku, ice lettuce, yuzu kosho.

4) KFC sawagani crab, HKD130 (above) – With yuzu, sesame.


5) Flower crab, uni, HKD490 (above) – With mitsuba, sudachi.

6) Grilled kanpachi, HKD160 (above) – With kama, sake, ginger, sudachi.


7) Quail, HKD270 (above) – With orange, sansho.

8) Unagi chirashi, HKD270 (above) – With Kinome, pickled cucumber, sesame.

Will I recommend RŌNIN? Well… Izakaya is not a new concept in Singapore. RŌNIN somewhat reminded me of IZY in terms of ambience vibe and food (both served Japanese-influenced dishes). Food were generally good but one must order the correct dishes. My colleague and I were lucky that most of our orders were hits. Keke.

Seats were allocated on first-come-first-serve basis. Don’t be late because RŌNIN gives up one’s reservation after 15 minutes, and people do walk in and try their luck in taking over seats from latecomers. Gasp. My colleague and I were apparently the last group to reach. Thus, we were allocated seats that’s just right at the entrance. Noting there’s limited counter seats at the bar, I recommend one to reach earlier if one doesn’t want to sit facing the wall. Yeah, most of the seats are facing the wall.

RŌNIN
8 On Wo Lane, G/F, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
+852 2547 5263, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Takayama

June 27, 2018 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

When I got to learn about Takayama through my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend), I was really interested in their dinner menu. And it was exciting that my IGGF was keen to join me in trying their dinner menu because she had been lunching at Takayama and she enjoyed the food so far.

However, I was undecided between the $280 and $380 menus. Both were 11-courses with the latter requiring at least 2-days advanced notice. In the end, I decided to go with the $380 menu because I figured I would be getting the real deal. I mean… Since head chef Taro Takayama knew my IGGF and she was contacting him directly to make our reservation, I figured he wouldn’t shortchange me. So with that, reservation was made with at least 1 week advanced notice.

Located at the ground level of OUE Downtown, it’s a 15 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT station to Takayama. My IGGF went with the 8-course ($190) from the menu while I went ahead with the 11-course menu ($380) as pre-ordered. And with that, we started our dinner with:-

1) Takayama menu, $380 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Young onion, sea urchin from Hokkaido and dashi jelly.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Tofu souffle with hairy crab and summer truffle.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Asparagus, somen and corn ice cream.


  

(D1) Dish #4 (above) – Otsukuri platter of baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), pike eel with plum sauce, big-eye snapper (kinmedai) with vinegar jelly, Spanish mackerel with homemade plum sauce and radish, tuna tartare with frozen yolk within, blue fin tuna and mackerel stick sushi (saba bozushi) with kelp. The tartare was pretty interesting as chef Taro san shared that the yolk within was marinated in soya sauce to achieve its cheese-like texture.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Sandwiched between the wafer biscuit (monaka) were foie gras (marinated with sake and mirin) and pickled watermelon skin (marinated in sake lees).

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Spotted prawn (botan-ebi) and raw egg plant in grape dressing.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone with two sauces; Sea urchin and abalone liver.


(H) Dish #8 (above) – Wild-caught eel with salt flakes, served with fermented barley and various vegetables.

(I) Dish #9 (above) – Rice with sea-caught salmon and pickles.

(J) Dish #10 (above) – Musk melon and mango.

(K) Dish #11 (above) – Pumpkin and green pea (usui-endo) jellies.

2) Alcohol pairing, $98 (6 types) (above)

It was an enjoyable meal because I had the company of my IGGF. It’s no secret that I am really shy with new faces. But with my IGGF, I was about to converse freely with friendly chef Taro san. However food wise, I didn’t think it was worth the $380 price tag.

Compared to my IGGF’s $190 8-course menu, the additional dishes that I got for my 11-course menu was somen (dish #3) and abalone (dish #7). The other differences were i) eel was used instead of hairy crab for her souffle (dish #2), ii) she got snapper with soya foam instead of blue fin tuna (dish #4), iii) huge sweetfish (ayu) instead of eel (dish #8), and iv) wine-marinated peach instead of mango (dish #10). Which honestly, I felt the dishes only justified a $280 instead of $380 menu. Even the plating between the $190 and $380 were the same. I guess I was disappointed because I was expecting more. At least 1 really special ingredient since advanced notice was even given.

Will I recommend Takayama? Well, for a traditional kaiseki experience, I would recommend elsewhere. But I would not give Takayama a total miss. If one is in the CBD area, one could still check out Takayama but stick to the $190 or $280 menu. Don’t go beyond $280.

TAKAYAMA
6A Shenton Way, OUE Downtown, #01-09/10, Singapore
6224 0864, Website
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 5
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun