Friday, November 27, 2009

Addicted To Yoshimaru!!!

Have you ever had the experience of getting a first taste of a dish at a restaurant or food outlet, and falling so head over heels in love with it, so much so that it becomes an addiction for you? That's my experience when I first tasted the ramen at "Yoshimaru Ramen Bar"!!!

It isn't often that an authentic Japanese ramen shop opens up in the western end of Singapore (I mean, most of them would be set up at either Liang Court Shopping Centre, Central Mall, Cuppage Centre or Robertson Quay), so you could imagine my glee when I stumbled upon this "gem" of a Nihongo food haven so close to my home!

Ok, ok, so "8 Days" gave it a pretty lousy rating when they reviewed the place previously...but my personal mantra is "Never Trust Another Person's Ratings, Try It Out And Judge For YOURSELF"... so despite having read all the negative comments from the "8 Days" article, I still really wanted to give the place a go, to see for myself whether there was any truth to the words of this reviewer. And as it turns out, THANK GOODNESS I did!!! Because in my opinion, that "8 Days" review could not be more wrong! The Japanese ramen there was TO DIE FOR! In fact, the place is now my No. 1 go-to-place whenever my ramen craving creeps up on me... which, erm, is quite often... ha ha ha!!!

As it turns out, the "Yoshimaru Ramen Bar" is located right next to "Yee Chong Yuen Noodle Restaurant" which had since downsized itself to occupying only half its original store space, allowing for this quaint Japanese restaurant to take up its other half of the premise. That probably explains why the restaurant's seating space is pretty cramped up - especially for plus-sized individuals like me, who might find it a bit uncomfortable to be squashed into the four/six-seater booth (depending on the size of the patrons lah), and have to resort to sitting at the counter bar, or worse, on the stoolbars outside at the al fresco dining area for our meals instead. However, I assure you, once the food arrives at your table, any possible grouses you might have about the lack of space will swiftly be forgotten.

For first-timers to the place, you've got to try out the house specialty - "The Moridakusan (which stands for many/varied/all sorts) Ramen" (S$15.00)!!! In contrast to the Sapporo version (which features curly, springy ramen, served in a meat or fish-based clearer broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso), the ramen here is prepared using the Kyushu Hakata method, which presents ultra thin, straight noodles with an al dente (or in layman's terms, QQ) texture, soaked up in a "milky" Tonkotsu (i.e. extracted from pork bones) broth that packs a powerful punch of rich flavors! Throw in a generous helping of cloud ear mushrooms, a soft boiled egg (cooked to pristine perfection with its orangey yolk still creamy and running, rather than all dried up and flakey), leek, takana, mentaiko, seaweed, toasted seaweed, cha siu and dou miao, and there you have it - a bowl of Japanese ramen with a taste so marvellous that I still gotta slap myself to believe that I could find such heavenly Japanese foodfare in Singapore!!! (If you do not want ALL the works like I do, the menu also offers ramen with varying ingredient combinations OR just conjure up your own desired combination with the DIY Hakata Ramen)

The shop also provides all its patrons with a bowl of sesame seeds for you to grind and then sprinkle on top of your ramen to add to its aroma and flavor! What a fun and interesting idea huh?

Another reason why I love this place SO MUCH, is because aside from dishing out delicious, piping hot ramen, they also serve up a mean dish of cold delectable ramen! And since I LOVE cold ramen EVEN MORE than I do hot ramen, I gotta recommend this place's "Spicy Cold Ramen"(S$12.00)! Served chilled, with a dash of spiciness, and loads of leeks (my fav!!!), this has got to be the BEST cold ramen in town!!! YUM!!! (Its taste, for me, is actually a little reminiscent of a cross between the Beijing Zhajiang Noodles and the jellyfish cold dish appetizer, so if you love those two dishes as much as I do, I'm sure you'd LOVE this cold ramen dish too!)

I always add a soft-boiled egg (S$1.00) to my order of "Spicy Cold Ramen", cos I just LOVE its runny yolk!!!
Although not the focus of the shop (since the ramen bowls are the main draws here), the side dishes here are not bad too! Personally, I've tried the prawn gyozas (S$6.80 for 6 pcs) and the cha siu platter (S$6.80 for 6 slices), and both were quite "scrumptdelicious".

Ooh! And I also like how the shop serves BOTH hot and cold Ocha (i.e. the authentic Japanese green tea, not the sweetened kind)! I prefer the chilled version (S$3.00 per pax for free flow), as it is cool, refreshing and thirst-quenching - the perfect wash down after you finish slurping up your ramen!!!

And good news for Citibank Credit Card holders!!! You can get 10% discount on your total bill if you pay via your Citibank credit card!

Yoshimaru Ramen Bar
Holland Village
31 Lorong Liput
Singapore 277742
Tel: 6463 3132
Opening Hours: 1100 - 2300hrs (Daily)

Other Branch: Playground @Big Splash
902 East Coast Parkway
Block B #01-12
Singapore 449874
Tel: 6346 3132

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting My Regular Fix at Waraku

As I previously mentioned in my "Ohsumi Shabu Shabu" post, one of the few Japanese restaurants that I favor, DESPITE its local staff operations, is Waraku.

The funny thing is, I actually stumbled upon and first discovered this Japanese restaurant by accident! What happened was that day, a number of years ago, I had brought my family to Ohsumi for the first time and my Mum thought it looked dim and dingy, and didn't want to eat there (she has since changed her mind and love the Shabu Shabu set lunch there!), so we walked across the street and saw Waraku at StarHub Centre and decided to give it a try. And since then, our family and I are die-hard fans of the food there!!! Ha ha ha...

Apparently, according to the restaurant chain's official website (, even though the operations staff might be predominantly local, the CEO is JAPANESE! (Hmmm... maybe that's why the food here is soooo much closer in terms of authenticity to the actual cuisine within Japan itself, as compared to other local Japanese restaurants e.g. Sakae Sushi, Sushi Tei, Fiesta Sushi, Genki Sushi, Kuishin Bo, etc) Having moved to our sunny shores from Japan more than a decade ago, Mr Kiyoshi Ueki opened the first Waraku restaurant outlet at East Coast Parkway in 2000, in an effort "to introduce the fine things Japan has enjoyed in its food, to other people and other countries". And boy am I glad he did, because Waraku is now one of my go-to places when I need my fix of authentic Japanese cuisine.

Ok, enough blabbering from me now...let's check out some of the food offered here! This is what I usually order if I dine here on my own...
Waraku Salad - $6.80 (Mini Bowl)

I love the freshness of the ingredients here!

Rindo - $14.80
Ooh! Two of my fav Jap dishes (Katsu Don & Cold Soba/Udon) combined in one delicious set!

Calpis Float - $2.80
Sweet! The perfect end to my yummy meal!

Total Damage? $21.74 (including GST)

Burp! That was gooooood.... ***grin***

Rounding Up The Family With Good Luck

Ever since I was blessed with two strokes of good luck at lottery after having gotten my parents their four leaf clover good luck charm keychains and that free golden tiger fengshui ornament, I'm now a strong believer that good luck should not be hoarded to oneself, but instead be shared amongst the ones you love and care about, in order for it to flow freely around to shower its blessings on you and your loved ones.

So, in my quest to envelope my entire family in the aura of good luck, I decided to pay yet another visit to the Julie Roberts shop to buy two more good luck charms for my two younger brothers, Rodney and Donald, to complete the circle of good luck for our family.
I got Rodney a pair of white gold plated Western and Chinese zodiac lucky clover coins, symbolizing wealth and prosperity throughout one's life, since he's holding a job in business, so I thought it was very appropriate.

Then, for my youngest brother, Donald, I got him a beautiful gold plated longevity peach. Pretty huh? It signifies longevity, tranquility and peace - which I thought would be good for his current hectic life as an art student in NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts).

And since I was already there, I figured...well, no harm in getting a little something more for myself again too! Hee hee hee... So I got myself this adorable little white gold plated lucky star (which kinda reminds me of a shooting star, you know, the kind you make your wishes on and they'd come true)...

... and this stunning white gold plated double happiness yin-yang twin fish locklet lined with dazzling encrusted crystals (DOUBLE the luck!!!)...

...They're both hanging from my staff pass lanyard now, hopefully to safeguard me from "harm" and smoothen my path with good luck at work...
... OOH! And I also bought the much acclaimed rare 7-leaf and 8-leaf clover stickers! They come in a delightful little box!!!

Here's the 8-leaf clover sticker...
...and this is the 7-leaf clover sticker...
... as you can see, they're now snuggly pasted in my wallet!

Ha ha ha...I know what you're thinking... This guy has gone off his rockers in his pursuit of good luck!!! Ha ha ha... No lah, I've not gone mad, but yes, I know it's kinda addictive...still, I DO know my limits and I only spend within them lah. Anyway, for my loyal patronage, the shop staff (Jo-Ann and May Ling) "rewarded" me yet again with another free gift!!! Check out our family's new "glistening" shiny Bak Choy!!! It sits right on the other end of our TV cabinet, across from our golden tiger. Nice right? HUAT AH!!!

Oh yes, I nearly forgot... I saw this at a novelty shop opposite my block, right next to the Singapore Pools branch! Thought I'd buy them for fun...ha ha ha...I sure hope it comes true!!!

Ohsumi Shabu Shabu

Cuppage Plaza has always been known to be somewhat of a hidden mini paradise of authentic Japanese cuisine restaurants. Next to Liang Court Shopping Centre and Central Mall, this is the third most popular location that most Japanese expats and their families flock to when it comes to them seeking a taste closer to home.

Being a stickler for good food myself, I tend to shun Japanese food joints here in Singapore that have their food prepared by local chefs. With the exception of Waraku and the Japanese food court in Liang Court Shopping Centre, it just seems that most of the time when the food is not prepared by Japanese chefs, it just isn't up to the standard that one might get of the same Japanese dish in the land of the rising sun.

Having tried and tested many of our local Japanese restaurants' Shabu Shabu steamboat, I finally stumbled upon this gem of a place at Cuppage Plaza (thanks to the recommendation of my Auntie Ying - yup, she's a stickler for good Japanese cuisine too!). And after having my first Shabu Shabu meal here, I've sworn off all other local Shabu Shabu places in Singapore for good.

A word of warning though, if you're intending to go for all the prime meats here (i.e. Kurobuta pork and Wagyu beef), you better be prepared to go in with a fat wallet, cos they ain't cheap. Ha ha ha... For me, I usually order a set of assorted normal pork, a set of normal beef and then a set of the assorted Kurobuta pork and once in a blue moon, a set of Wagyu beef as well to share amongst the family and that already sets us back nearly S$200 for dinner! You get the picture. If you're new here and just want to "test the waters", then my suggestion would be for you to just go for the normal assorted pork or beef (but my tip would be to try the pork, since this restaurant is famous for its pork rather than its beef), which would set you back roughly S$40+ for a set meal (which includes veggies, rice, soup, pickles, green tea and dessert for lunch, OR veggies, rice cakes, soba or ramen, pickles and green tea for dinner). Personally, I prefer having lunch here - it's cheaper, and I think that having the steamboat with rice is nicer than having it with rice cakes and noodles, not to mention there's a scoop of green tea ice cream to finish off the meal!

For a pictorial tour of what a meal at Ohsumi might look like, here are some photos taken from a fabulously sumptous dinner that I had with my new-found close gal pal at work, Serene Chang, last week (on 12 November 2009)!

Here are the condiments that come with each meal set. You get not one but THREE dipping sauces for your meats! I love the sesame sauce (i.e. the one in the middle), and usually nearly finish it before we're even at the halfway point of the meal (and would need seconds and sometimes third helpings! Ha ha ha...)!

Here are the veggies for a two-person portion. You should see the HUMONGOUS one we get when my family and relatives (party of 8 or 9) come for a meal here!

You can choose between the clear soup base or the soya milk soup base. As you can tell, we opted for the clear one (which is what I usually order too).

And here are the stars of the meal - the MEATS!!! We ordered a plate of the assorted Kurobuta pork and the U.S. beef that night.

So there you have it. That's what a Shabu Shabu meal set at Ohsumi looks like.

Have I tickled your taste buds? If the answer's yes, hop on down to have a taste of excellent authentic Shabu Shabu here at:

5 Koek Road
Cuppage Plaza
Telephone: 62356178

Monday, November 16, 2009

Smoking Hot Taiwanese Fire Brigade (台灣北縣消防猛男)

Ooh!!! I never thought I'd see the day that we'd have an Hunky Firefighter Calendar made in Asia (I thought only our Western counterparts, e.g. US, Australia, etc., would be liberal enough to shoot and sell such calendars), much less one featuring ALL Chinese firefighters!!!

Yup! Feast your eyes on the male eye candy from the Taiwanese Northern Province Firefighter Brigade!!! My personal fav are Mr. January, Mr. February, Mr. July and Mr. August... hee hee hee!!!

Sadly the calendar is not for sale globally, unlike the ones from US and Australia... it's only to be sold via auction for charity purposes - so you'd just have to get your fill from these pics I found off the web.




So erm, when is the Singapore Firefighters Calendar coming out? Hee hee hee...