Saturday, October 21, 2017

Instant Nakiryu Tantanmen from Nissin Foods

Nissin Nakiryu Tantanmen

Nakiryu is a Michelin-starred ramen shop that has been getting a bit of attention lately because Nissin has made an instant version of it. And fortunately, a friend of ours scored some in Japan and brought some back. Naturally, we were very curious to see if a one-Michelin starred bowl could be replicated in instant form.

It's too bad then that was disappointingly boring, and in fact tasted like mere instant noodles. The broth was relatively bland and lacked the punchiness that I was hoping for, despite the packet of red oil that comes along with it. The noodles were slightly better than your typical instant noodle, but it got soft very quickly.

I'm assuming that the actual shop in Japan is much better than this. But if the real thing tastes similar, then I won't bother waiting in line there. In the meantime, if I want a good tantanmen at home, then UberEATS delivers a pretty good bowl of Bingiri from Takumen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chef-in-Box Vendcafé in Sengkang, Singapore

Prawn Chettinad with Lemon Rice

Ever since this 24-hour vending machine café opened last year, I'd been curious about it, but never had the chance to go. Today, I was in the neighborhood and went to check it out (320C Anchorvale Drive #01-K1, 8606-8800).

It was a lot cheaper than I thought it would be, with most items under S$5 (US$3.70). I splurged on this S$8.80 (US$6.50) prawn curry, as it was from their "World Chef Series" featuring someone named Satish Arora, who it seems has quite a bit of history in the hospitality space. And yeah, I ate this piping hot spicy concoction pretty quickly, even if the prawns were nothing to get excited about.

After all, it was just frozen food that was automatically microwaved for you. If you think about it, it wasn't really that different from airplane food, actually. But Indian food has always been one of my favorites in midair, so I guess it's no surprise that I liked it at sea level too.

My First Taste of Haldiram's Chana Nuts

Haldiram's Chana Nuts

I was perusing a random market on the corner today when I noticed a bunch of snacks from Haldiram's. This one featuring chickpeas and peanuts in particular caught my eye, in part because of the tagline "a tasty, crispy, spicy treat." And indeed it was the salty and spicy thing that I was looking for. Yum.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Japan's Ramen Nagi in Singapore

Butao Ramen

The chain from Japan opened up at Suntec City Tower 2 earlier this week (9 Temasek Boulevard #01-512, 6821-1601). Like Keisuke's Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, these guys had a white, black, red, and green version of tonkotsu. I assume that Keisuke-san was inspired by these guys.

It's only a half menu right now with things like gyoza and chashudon unavailable. I went for the plain butao bowl just to get a taste of the pure broth, and unfortunately that's exactly what I didn't like. It was a bit too sweet and swiney, and wasn't salty enough. I didn't even want to finish it.

Granted, the checklist menu probably would've let me crank up the saltiness, but I couldn't get it to taste good using the tabletop array of condiments. Maybe I'll like it better if I try one of the four flavors and also crank up the chili sauce, but based on this bowl, I'm not going to be rushing to come back to prove myself right.

Epilogue: whoa, whoa, whoa what the heck is this?? I just realized that these guys have the same logo as Butao Ramen in Hong Kong!! I thought Butao was a local shop up there, but the similarities are too close to be a coincidence, including the same impression that I had of their sweet broth. Butao's web page shows different branding now, but I wonder if they were somehow related in the past.

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Spicy Chicken" From United Airlines

Spicy Chicken

I haven't written about airplane food in a while, as it's not really anything that I want to remember. But this surprise from United tonight was good enough that I'd be happy to pay money for it. It's a misleadingly named "spicy chicken," which was not that spicy nor really about the chicken either. Instead, it was the coconut-based curry broth on noodles that I slurped down and even mopped up the remainder with bread. Now to be sure, if it were from a restaurant, I would've expected more from it. And I'm sure that my opinion was influenced by the fact that I was starving earlier. Nonetheless, it's been a long time since I've honestly liked eating something on an airplane.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Halal Guys in New York City

Beef Gyro Platter

I made my way over to 43rd and 6th to try to find the Trini Paki Boys cart today, but for some reason they weren't there this morning (thanks for the tip nonetheless). I thus decided to just walk a few more blocks up to 53rd and 6th to finally give the famous Halal Guys a try.

It was much better than the random cart that I tried the other day, including not just better quality meat, but perhaps more notably, that surprisingly potent red hot sauce, which made this more fun to eat. That said, I still don't know if I'd eat this salt and grease bomb again, not while sober at least.

Barney Greengrass on Manhattan's Upper West Side

Combination of Sturgeon and Nova Scotia Salmon 
Scrambled with Eggs & Onions

Here's another place that I didn't get around to trying last time I was in New York (541 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-724-4707). It's an old school deli specializing in smoked fish. I naturally wanted to get a bagel and lox as a result, but apparently they were good at these scrambled eggs, which I got with both sturgeon and salmon, as well as a bialy on the side. Yeah, it was fine and tasted like it looked, but wasn't anything terribly mind-blowing either. In that sense, I kinda wish I had gotten a smoked fish platter (they have sable!) and maybe tried their chopped liver too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn, New York



Last time I was in Brooklyn, I couldn't get into this place because of the huge line (178 Broadway, 718-387-7400). It was largely filled with tourists from what I could see, which made me think twice about coming here today. Still, this is a one Michelin-starred institution bearing praise from the likes of Zagat and the James Beard Foundation, so I had to at least give it a try.

It's definitely a unique place. It's in an old German-style wooden beer hall, it's cash only, and the only cut of beef on their menu is their porterhouse (you only choose the size depending on the number of people you have). They bring it out to you pre-sliced and sizzling in butter.

The good thing was that the fat was tasty and plentiful, with the charred edges being the best. But mine wasn't very evenly cooked, and some parts of the steak were rather difficult to eat too. Really, Michelin? I suppose it does have character, but I won't be going back. Or if I do, it would be for lunch so that I can try their burger or prime rib.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The John Dory Oyster Bar in New York City

Jonah Crab

Shellfish was exactly the top-up that I needed after dinner tonight, so I made my way to this shop, which I noticed on my way to the Breslin last night (1196 Broadway, 212-792-9000). And I was extremely happy with that Jonah crab above. It's the east coast version of a Dungeness, and the flesh was nearly as delicate and sweet too. But the best thing was the tomalley, which was richer and smoother than Dungeness. I liked this much more than when I first tried it in Boston a few years ago, and I nearly ordered another one. I suspect that I'll be back here again soon, especially since this place has great cocktails too.

Adam's Halal Food Cart in New York City

Lamb Over Rice

It's fascinating how "halal carts" have developed into their own thing in New York. Halal Guys is supposed to be one of the most famous ones, but I was in a rush for lunch today and just randomly found this guy at the corner of 35th and 5th. The "lamb over rice" basically turned out to be a deconstructed gyro on a plate, using that same processed meat and a selection of sauces, but on a bed of rice rather than in a pita. And it tasted like you would think it would: salty and greasy, and not in an entirely bad way, but probably something more suitable after a few drinks. Anyway, I ate this pretty quickly, and his firm rice was pretty good. Now I'm kinda curious to see what the difference is with the Halal Guys.

Monday, October 09, 2017

A Random Stop at Joe's Pizza in New York City

Supreme Pizza

I still needed just a little more food after that last meal, and in fact was trying to hunt down one of those honey roasted nut stands on one of the street corners. But then I just happened to walk by an outlet of Joe's Pizza on the way back to the hotel, and I figured that I might as well get that given that it's not often that I get out to New York. The toppings on this supreme were nicely savory, but it ultimately still came down to that chewy yet crispy crust, especially when dusted with the four plastic bottles of parmesan, garlic powder, chili pepper, and oregano, all washed down with a cherry soda.

The Breslin in New York City

Seafood Sausage

If no one had told me this was a one Michelin-starred place, I would have never known given its outside appearances, as it looked like your everyday English pub attached to a hotel (16 West 29th Street, 212-679-1939). But I was floored after my very first bite of that seafood sausage above. Why? Who the heck packs shellfish into a sausage?? That's exactly what it tasted like: the aroma of walking into a raw bar but packed into a sausage!!! And it came with a wonderfully buttery beurre blanc with chives. F*CK YEAH!

I had some other stuff here, including a crispy Scotch egg as well as a beef and Stilton pie, both of which were good, even if I wished that the latter had a little more cheese in it. Either way, that seafood sausage is awesome and is probably one of the best things I've eaten in several years. I'm going to have to come back for that, especially since they have a lot of local beer on tap too, not to mention some potent cocktails available. The guy said that they are known for their lamb burger as well.