Having you seen the Tok Tok man?

We were having dinner at the popular Old Airport Road food centre the other day and Elliott was being his usual inquisitive self  – cannot sit still for more than 5 mins. So I carried him around the food centre , trying to distract him with the sounds and sights of a busy food centre.

A elderly man approached us and started hitting a wooden stick on a bamboo cup (producing a tok tok tok* noise and hence the name) – this immediately caught Elliott’s attention and kept him distracted for a while. Apparently he is not just good at the toktok sound,  he also has other tricks up his sleeves like balancing his umbrella on his finger tip.

At the end of the session, he handed me a hand written slip with his youtube video – such personalised touch! In return, I promised that I will ‘support’ him by watching his youtube video. He hangs around old airport area as he stays just opposite the food centre.

Singapore Toktok man
Singapore Tok tok man

You can read more about him here. Such a friendly and interesting character that you can hardly find in today’s Singapore.

* noise made from wooden stick knocking on a curve piece of bamboo.In the past, noodle street vendor going from door to door use the sound to attract customers.

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Integrity

Written by Jamie Ee from Business Times – her articles always strike a chord with me – funny at times too.

“RESTAURANTS which use consultant celebrity chefs remind me of locums. It’s like when your regular family doctor goes on a sabbatical and tries to convince you that his just-graduated nephew is equally good – maybe because sitting in the same chair allows all the years of medical practice, bedside manner and devotion to human life to be absorbed into him through his backside.

When a chef becomes famous, that fame filters down a few levels depending on his integrity or the price that he’s paid. The first level is one where he or she opens a restaurant in a new city but has a personal hand in maintaining the quality of the food, such as Tetsuya Wakuda of Waku Ghin or Joel Robuchon of his namesake restaurant in Sentosa. Another level is one where he opens a franchise in a new city in his own name but which is paid for by someone else. Which, in the case of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, means that an arsenal of chefs are hired to cook from his cookbooks but do a worse job than a home cook who watches The Naked Chef on TV.

The next level sees the celebrity chef consulting for a restaurant – lending his name and some recipes but little else. In the case of Syun (Spring) – the latest celebrity-linked eatery at Resorts World Sentosa – if it wasn’t trumpeted that the Kobe-born, Tokyo-based Hal Yamashita has added his input to the menu, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and any garden-variety Japanese restaurant.”

Hal Yamashita who? I also don’t know. Haha

Now you don’t see it

It is time of mid-autumn festival here and it is quite obviously when you see all the hotels/restaurants chain setting up booths in the malls selling every kind of mooncake conceivable.

From normal lotus paste, to traditional honey baked ham with nuts, to modern version of green tea paste, walnut paste to the local favourite like the durian mooncake.

And of course, they are great for gifts and in the corporate world, we receive a fair bit of the mooncakes in the office. Usually the mooncakes will be shared with everyone in the office.

So happen that we received a box of mooncake last week that is particularly popular. *Popular in my office context means snowskin. I was not around the office when that particular box of snowskin mooncake was shared among my colleagues. My colleagues actually took the trouble to keep aside my share of the mooncake in the fridge for me.

Fast forward to today, I happened to be at the pantry and my colleagues reminded me of my mooncake that is in the fridge – kept aside for me. So I thought I should just  finish it as it is just a small mooncake taking lots of space (in the box) in the common fridge.

The mooncake was in the original carrier and the original box in the original position when I took it out. This is what greeted me when I open the box:

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Now do you see it?
Now do you see it?

My colleagues was flabbergasted that the “thief” took the mooncake and actually bother to put the packaging and carrier back the same position.

 

For me, I just find it funny the trouble that the thief took for a small piece of mooncake. Apparently, it is a perennial problem here in the office during this period.

 

Best Ramen in Japan?

When The Girl got to know I was going to Tokyo for a business trip, one of the first thing she told me to do was to check out Ichiran ramen. Apparently, Ichiran ramen is a chain of restaurants born in Fukuoka(Hakata) with branches across all Japan, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagoya, and a lot in Kyushu region and Tokyo area. In Tokyo, Ichiran can be found in 12 locations (as at June 2014) such as Roppongi, Ueno, Tokyo Dome / LaQua, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Shimokitazawa.

So I was tasked to check out this famous ramen and report back to her to tell her if it is as good as her favourite Ippudo ramen or better!

Ichiran Ramen Shinjuku
Ichiran Ramen Shinjuku

Since my hotel is located near Shinjuku, naturally I chose to visit the Shinjuku branch. The store is located at the basement of a non-descrip building but keep a look out for the huge sign board. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a long queue that stretches all the way to the ground level.

The Queue
The Queue

To be honest, it wasn’t a long wait and at designated point of the queue, there is a sign telling me the expected waiting time, so typical Japanese efficiency! Once you get to the front of this queue, there will be a server asking how many person dinning and direct you to the two ticketing machines located at the entrance.

The Ticketing Machine
The Ticketing Machines

The machine is very easy to read  and use as there were pictures and the choices were simple.  They were mainly basic ramen and extra toppings. Place your order and the pay the money, the ticket machine will disperse the necessary tickets.

Tickets to the Ramen
Tickets to the Ramen

I was feeling a tad hungry, so I ordered the basic ramen plus egg plus an additional serving of noodle. After getting my tickets, i was directed to the second queue inside the restaurant. It was a sitting area facing the famous seat management board. This system is use to inform the server manning outside which table is ready to be sit. How clever and efficient!

4. Seated Waiting Area

6. Seat Management Sys

While waiting  in the seated waiting area, the server will give you a small form to be filled according to your preference. Oh,please ask for the English-language form if you are given a Japanese-language form. They have three different language available, Japanese, English and Mandarin (I do see a lot of tourist in the queue).

Order to your preference
Order to your preference

After further waiting, I was directed to my cubicle-like space, only me and my ramen – no other distraction or chit chatting is encouraged. The philosophy of this restaurant is that everyone should enjoy and taste ramen by himself and without anyone’s disturbance. For this reason, every seat is separated from adjacent seats with dividers that can be removed if you aren’t alone and want to eat with someone.

Self Serving Drink
Self Serving Drink

There is a small window with bind that a server will come, roll up the bind and collect your preference form and tickets to prepare your meal. Once your meal is served, the bind will be rolled down to let you enjoy your ramen. In the meantime, just sit back, grab a drink and wait.

My order of egg was served first
My order of egg was served first
Sit back and wait for the Ramen
Sit back and wait for the Ramen

After a short while, the famous Hakata style ramen with with pork bones-based broth is served. Apparently, the noodles are hand made and the broth is customized with a special spicy chili sauce which gives the broth an unique taste.

Ramen is here!
Ramen is here!
Unveiling the Egg
Unveiling the Egg

The noodle is cooked to perfection-al-dente and the broth is really good without the “porky” aftertaste”. But what really made this ramen restaurant so good is that almost every aspect of the ramen can be customised to your taste.

In fact, it was so good that I ordered a second serving of noodles and promptly finished them all.

So what is my verdict? Can’t say it is the best in the land of ramen but considering its price point and quality, I will say it is good enough to plan for a trip to Ichiran if visiting Tokyo. Highly recommend for ramen lover for a cheap and good version!

Additional Noodle ordered
Additional Noodle ordered
End Game
End Game

In fact it was so good that I feel obligated to buy some back for The Girl!

Takeaway available too!
Takeaway available too!
Gift of Love
Gift of Love
Takeaway display
Takeaway display

 

Best Chirashi in SIngapore is still ….

…. Teppei

 

Needed to give my colleagues a treat last week and decided to bring them to try the famous Chirashi from Teppei. Sounds good right? Only a slight problem, the long queening time for Teppei and the lack of a reservation system means it will be virtually impossible to sit 10 of us at the same time.

Hence, I decided to give Hanare a try. Hana-what? you may ask. Hanare is the latest restuarant opened by Chef Yamashita.  It is suppose to be a new dinning concept that is different from Teppei’s.

Hanare is located on the third floor of the shophouse along Tanjong Pagar
Hanare is located on the third floor of the shophouse along Tanjong Pagar

10 of us went quite early and reached around 12pm. There are still some seats available as the restaurant opens at 11.45pm but it was quickly filled up. Seating was tight and the stylpe is a typical restaurant seat, totally different from the counter style of Teppi. 5 of us decided to try the buffet another 5 tried the Chirashi.

Verdict:

Buffet – Pricing is reasonable but the food served is not worth the $19.90 charged. No sashimi are served – so raw food lovers please stay away.

Chirashi – No need to queue makes it the star of the restaurant. However, common consensus is that the original one at Teppei is better. Rice tasted better and fish tasted fresher.

Overall – Will avoid the buffet and go straight for the Chirashi. And only if you cannot wait 45min for a nice bowl just 30 steps away.

photo 2

Address

Phone

62221976
Hours

Mon – Sat: 11:45 – 14:30

Mon – Sat: 18:30 – 22:00

Closed: Sun