Dinner @ Arakawa Osaka Cuisine

July 15, 2018 in Japanese

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 @ IL DEN

July 12, 2018 in Italian

The number of friends I made from instagram once I decided to be less shy and meet up with like-minded people is simply amazing. So yes, I was off to check out IL DEN with newly-made instagram friend @jonathanloong. I have been following Jonathan for years now. But we only exchanged messages this year after I participated in his instagram survey. To which he initiated the first text! I just had to say that. Hahaha.

To make our reservation, I sent owner-chef Javier Low a message on instagram. And I advise one to make reservation at least 2 weeks in advanced. In response to our reservation request, Javier needed our choice of menu at least 1 day prior to our dinner. It seemed to be a trend that restaurants are expecting customers to have done their homework (like reading up on the menu) prior to the meal. But of course, that didn’t pose as a problem since we were stalking IL DEN’s instagram account. Haha. And between the $75 and $120 menus, we went with the former.

We arrived punctually at 6.30pm on a Friday night. And to the people hardcore foodies who mentioned (in their instagram posts that) they chanced upon IL DEN by coincidence, I must say they are impressive. IL DEN was nestled deep within Orchard Plaza. As I walked down the quiet long corridor, I even questioned myself if I got the address correct.

And upon entry, we were welcomed by the immediate sight of a 8-seater communal table and open-kitchen (at the further end). After settling our drink orders, we started our $75 dinner menu with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Pâté. Homemade with ground pork, cognac & pistachio.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Homemade tofu & sea urchin. We were given an extra piece of homemade tofu topped with caviar.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Aburi scallop, caviar & vegetable garden. Served alongside homemade pesto sauce, Javier mentioned he added salmon to our salad as it came in fresh with the day’s delivery of ingredients. “The salmon is special because it’s caught by the younger generation of Japanese fisherman”, he added.


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – What’s supposed to be orecchiette (little ears pasta) as per the menu, we were served tajarin pasta topped with parmesan cheese and shaved truffle instead. And I was pleased with the unexpected change because it allowed us to enjoy his handmade pasta better. I prefer slurping my noodles. Keke. And this was really good; Al dente and very tasty. In fact, I was struggling when I was taking pictures of this dish because of the strong aroma. I wanted to quickly put down my phone to start eating but my phone camera refused to take sharp shots with my first few attempts. (^^lll) A must try!

5) Dish #5 with options of:-

(A) French poulet (above)

(B) Iberico pork jowl (above) – This was so good. The meat was surprisingly tender!

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Yuzu sorbet with ginger jelly and lime jelly.

It was a fun dining experience. Don’t expect fast or personalised service as it’s a one-man show at hole-in-the-wall IL DEN. Javier took on multiple roles as the chef, waiter and cashier. And because of that, I would thus recommend one to be in the first seating if one don’t like a (too) draggy dinner. We were the first to reach, so Javier was tracking our progress well; We didn’t have to wait too long for our next dish. But for the groups that came in after us, I noticed while Javier was slower in attending to them (since it’s a one-man show), the interval between their dishes was much longer than ours. But I say… Enjoy the vibe and have a good time catching-up in between the dishes if one couldn’t start one’s meal at IL DEN early.

And do remember to bring cash as IL DEN only accept cash payment. We didn’t have sufficient cash on us and neither of us had PayNow, so… Yeah. Jonathan had the important task of walking to the nearest ATM machine at The Centrepoint to withdraw money. Haha.

IL DEN
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #04-21, Singapore
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Thu : 18:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 03:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7
 
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Ginza Yoshino Sushi

October 26, 2017 in Japanese

“Have you heard of this restaurant?” my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) texted. “No. How did you even hear about them?” I replied. I like that we always think of each other first whenever we chanced upon a new Japanese eatery. Keke.

And with that, my IGGF assisted to call the restaurant to make reservation for the immediate Friday evening.

It was a first for us to explore level 6 of Cuppage Plaza. One can say we were filled with curiosity and anticipation. And we entered into a space which was fully taken up by a L-shaped counter.

And through our interaction with chef-owner Tokio Endo, we learnt that he came from a family with at least 100 years of sushi-making. 130 years to be exact. Head chef Endo san decided to move from Japan to Singapore upon his friend’s recommendation.

And from the menu, I ordered:-

1) Chef’s choice course – Star, $260 comprised of:-

(A) Otoshi, Complimentary (above) – Tuna.

(B) Dish #1 (above) – Bonito (katsuo). There were 5 slices.

(C) Dish #2 (above) – Clam (asari) soup.

(D) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi platter of sea bream with kelp (rausu kombu), abalone and squid. And the kelp was interesting. Each chew on the tough seaweed brought out its savoriness which complimented the sea bream very well. No need to dip the dish with soya sauce. Yum!

(E) Dish #4 (above) – Dried sheets of white bait and sakura shrimp (tatami style), and grilled squid served alongside mayonnaise sauce.

(F) Dish #5 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) with grated yam.

  
  
  
  
  
  

(G) Dish #6 (above) – Nigiri sushi assortment comprised of lean tuna (akami), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), sea bream, scallop, gizzard shad (kohada), tiger prawn (kuruma ebi), horse mackerel (aji) with ginger flower and oyster, rolled sushi assortment of mullet roe and gourd, and rolled egg omelette (tamago). Head chef Edo san said his sushi is edomae-styled. So I guess maybe that explained why he brush any soya sauce on the sushi before serving. Instead, we were each given a saucer with soya sauce. Yeah. Do it yourself.

(H) Dish #7 (above) – Clam (hamaguri) soup.

(I) Dish #8 (above) – Yuzu sorbet.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with my $260 omakase meal. With (more affordable) options of $160 and $210 for the omakase, my IGGF and I couldn’t help but wonder what would be served for those since there was neither premium fatty tuna (otoro) nor sea urchin in the most expensive omakase menu. Like what? Instead, my IGGF and I agreed my IGGF’s sushi combo ($98) which comprised of 9 nigiri sushi and 1 hand roll was a better deal.

That said, head chef Endo san was very friendly. My IGGF was travelling to Japan in 2 weeks from our dinner, and although he couldn’t speak much English, he was giving us many recommendation excitedly. He reminded me very much of The Big Friendly Giant (by Roald Dahl). Don’t ask me why. It’s just so.

If one is in Somerset in the evening, has craving for sushi and prefers somewhere rustic, Ginza Yoshino Sushi is a good place to head to. But stick to their sushi combo sets. Skip the omakase courses.

GINZA YOSHINO SUSHI
5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, #06-03, Singapore
9753 8710, Facebook
Overall: 6
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 02:00
Ambience: 6
Value: 6
* Closed on Sun
Service: 6