Ramen Quest: Nantsuttei Ramen at Orchard Central

9 11 2014

IN THIS age of globalization and melting pots – and foodies all around, myself included – it no longer comes as a surprise that with one look at the food you’ve ordered, you see beyond what the menu tells you and find the manifestation of a seeming microcosm of flavors and textures, almost deconstructed.  And almost equal parts groundbreaking and cliché as these flavors and textures burst on your mind before they even do in your mouth.

Nantsuttei Ramen's Negi Ramen.  This almost overflowing bowl is layer upon layer of flavors and textures.  And if I may add, colors!

Nantsuttei Ramen’s Negi Ramen. This almost overflowing bowl is layer upon layer of flavors and textures. And if I may add, colors!

 

Nantsuttei Ramen at Orchard Central, #07-12/13, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896 takes pride not only in using the freshest but also – and seemingly, more importantly – the healthiest chickens in creating “a ramen with a purely chicken–based” broth with a touch of a “shiodare (salt sauce) base that is creamy with a touch of sweetness.”

I grew up believing that the authenticity of ramen is anchored on a broth made from simmering pork and pork bones for hours.  Nantsuttei clearly steers away from this norm, but the way they market their ramen unequivocally declares that the foundation of (their) awesome ramen is still the broth – only thing is, they have chicken, again only the healthiest, as its cornerstone.

I opted for the Negi Ramen (S$ 15.00), which is essentially the basic ramen but with a generous topping of negi (spring onions) served in two colors in two ways.  The white part is first cut into three–inch pieces before being shredded.  The green are chopped really thin.  Both are then piled high on top of the ramen that actually already fills the bowl to the rim.

Negi (spring onions, in two colors, two ways) generously tops two bowls of ramen.  Notice that my friend's has the requisite flavored egg.  But not mine.

Negi (spring onions, in two colors, two ways) generously tops two bowls of ramen. Notice that my friend’s has the requisite flavored egg. But not mine.

 

And that’s what your attention panning hits right past the pile of negi – the ramen noodles, the broth and the chasu (tenderly simmered pork) fill the bowl all the way to top.  But before I get to enjoy this rendition of a classic, I first have to pierce through the film of black ma–yu oil – my choice over the red oil – which is exactly a flavorful oil blend of high quality chicken fat and roasted negi.

I started by tasting the ramen noodles, first on their own.  I wish they were thinner that their medium thickness.  I wish that the doneness, which was something they don’t ask about at Nantsuttei, was very hard – almost raw.  But what the noodles lacked in texture, it more than made up for through coats of the black ma–yu oil, suffused and redolent with the sweetish robust aroma of slow–roasted garlic.

It is necessary to start enjoying the ramen – any ramen for that matter – by first tasting the noodles.  Notice how I have carefully moved the negi to one side while I fish out the noodles.

It is necessary to start enjoying the ramen – any ramen for that matter – by first tasting the noodles. Notice how I have carefully moved the negi to one side while I fish out the noodles.

 

I would leave the chasu soaking in the broth, simply for two reasons.  First, I’ve always approached my eating with thoughts of deconstruction – paring down, layer by layer, ingredient by ingredient.  Second, I believe that it allows the chasu to become more tender and more flavorful, the operative words being “soak up.”

In time, I got to the chasu and I finished the soup, my atonement for my gastronomic sins being the extremely generous side portion of fresh bean sprouts I asked for.

A bowl full of bean sprouts, also known as - for all intents and purposes – "atonement."

A bowl full of bean sprouts, also known as – for all intents and purposes – “atonement.”

 

How I ate my bowl of Negi Ramen is actually how Nantsuttei recommends it should be done.  While it wasn’t intentional on my part, somehow a thought bubble formed above my head saying, “I’m a good boy and I do as I am told.”  Haha.

Love it or hate it, a free lecture is always a good thing!  Haha!  I can do everything, except the slurp part.

Love it or hate it, a free lecture is always a good thing! Haha! I can do everything, except the slurp part.

 

Two big spoons, two big bowls, two huge appetites.

Two big spoons, two big bowls, two huge appetites.

 

My Malaysian BFF is back.  And so the gastronomic adventures resume!

My Malaysian BFF is back. And so the gastronomic adventures resume!

 

Malaysian BFF, thanks for this first in a series of your ramen recommendations!

Malaysian BFF, thanks for this first in a series of your ramen recommendations!

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Paved in luxury

7 11 2014

Luxury gleams on the world’s best shopping streetSOME SAY that luxury has lost its luster.  But all you need here in the Lion City is take a leisurely day of shopping on Orchard Road to see that it – luxury – has in fact lost none of its charms.

The façade of ION on Orchard.  I hear the word "ION" and my senses are arrested by thoughts of a positive charge powering and energizing Orchard Road.  So apt.

The façade of ION on Orchard. I hear the word “ION” and my senses are arrested by thoughts of a positive charge powering and energizing Orchard Road. So apt.

Leisurely’ is the operative word to guide the pace of shopping on this famed street.  While the sheer number of shopping options that dot the whole stretch may prove to be dizzyingly daunting to the faint of heart, the lineup of 22 shopping malls – the best of which house under one roof an eclectic mix that juxtaposes world-famous mainstream luxury brands with labels that have yet to garner the same global attention – and six departments stores could very well be the playground of the tasteful rich.  Think Aspen minus the snow.

This claim was all the more put to fore after Presence Mystery Shopping, a Paris-based marketing consultancy firm, revealed in 2012 that Singapore’s Orchard Road came out in first place on the list of the world’s best shopping streets.  The more seasoned in retail therapy would be quick to zoom in on the ranking and would be quite surprised to see that of the 29 other iconic shopping destinations on the short list, Orchard Road beat Paris’s Champs Elysées, 16th place, and New York’s 5th Avenue, 26th, by a wide margin.

ION Orchard on 2 Orchard Turn is “where it all comes together.”  Imposing at daylight when the rays of the sun hit the award-winning architectural latticework and more captivating at night time when the multi-sensory multi-media façade comes to life, ION Orchard has come to be the flagship of the Singapore shopping experience.  The play of lights and virtual short films on display perfectly set off a veritable marquee of who’s who in the world of fashion and style – Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.  You can step into its cavernous space – eight levels of covetable brands – and instantly feel that if appearances alone make for the best shopping street, you could not be at any better place.  But then again, the street offers plenty of equally tempting choices.  So off you go.

Who again wears Prada?!

Who again wears Prada?!

 

A beanie by Louis Vuitton.  I love how the Louis Vuitton logo is composed of the colors of the Philippine flag.

A beanie by Louis Vuitton. I love how the Louis Vuitton logo is composed of the colors of the Philippine flag.

 

Like slices of medium rare lamb strewn atop mesclun greens, contemporary pieces of art are scattered all over ION on Orchard.  And it has to be said, beautifully so.  This one is the "BA PANDA", a painted bronze sculpture, by Julien Marinetti.

Like slices of medium rare lamb strewn atop mesclun greens, contemporary pieces of art are scattered all over ION on Orchard. And it has to be said, beautifully so. This one is the “BA PANDA“, a painted bronze sculpture, by Julien Marinetti.

Across the street from ION is Wisma Atria, fresh from a facelift in 2012 that welcomed the Tag Heuer flagship store to its fold.  Sharing equal billing on this strip is the eponymous fashion label Tory Burch, a name synonymous to preppy-bohemian chic, business savvy and philanthropy.  But before these brands bannered the new and improved Wisma Atria, it has long been anchored by one of its top tenants leading Japanese department store Isetan, the GAP, and Nike on two levels of athletic shoes and apparel love.  These and about a hundred other specialty stores are Wisma Atria’s claim to fashionista heaven – and haven – fame.

Blue is the warmest color.  And it has always been synonymous with Wisma Atria.

Blue is the warmest color. And it has always been synonymous with Wisma Atria.

 

The façade of the Wisma Atria store of Tory Burch's eponymous label.  There's no better address for one of the world's most powerful women.

The façade of the Wisma Atria store of Tory Burch‘s eponymous label. There’s no better address for one of the world’s most powerful women.

 

So, Matthew McConaughey is wearing HAMILTON in his latest movie INTERSTELLAR.

So, Matthew McConaughey is wearing HAMILTON in his latest movie INTERSTELLAR.

Further down Orchard Road is Ngee Ann City, the place where there is “something for everyone” beginning with the lovers of two of the most iconic names in the world of style and merchandising – Chanel and Takashimaya Department Store.  In keeping with the times, Chanel has just recently undergone a sprucing up and has come out fiercer in their window displays that marry the traditional (those quilted 2.55s will never go out of style) with the cutting edge (have you seen their mix of materials and the cute backpack?).  It has always been on a par with fellow tenant Louis Vuitton which in recent memory has enticed with their aviator-themed displays and collaboration with renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.  But still it is Takashimaya that anchors Ngee Ann City in its rightful place as a staple on the world’s best shopping avenue.

This photo doesn't convey how compelling or I guess, inviting, the façade of Ngee Ann City is at night time.  But I've come to love this snapshot as it shows how the trappings of luxury and modernity marry harmoniously with nature, quite evident with the number of trees that dot Orchard Road.

This photo doesn’t convey how compelling or I guess, inviting, the façade of Ngee Ann City is at night time. But I’ve come to love this snapshot as it shows how the trappings of luxury and modernity marry harmoniously with nature, quite evident with the number of trees that dot Orchard Road.

 

This leather bag sit unassumingly at the display window, until closer inspection reveals the impeccable craftsmanship that can only be Hermès.

This leather bag sit unassumingly at the display window, until closer inspection reveals the impeccable craftsmanship that can only be Hermès.

 

Louis Vuitton has always had amazing window displays.  They are a spectacle all their own.  Tells you that luxury is (should be) synonymous with high quality and work of art.

Louis Vuitton has always had amazing window displays. They are a spectacle all their own. Tells you that luxury is (should be) synonymous with high quality and work of art.

If it’s another layer of sophistication you’re after, then the Mandarin Gallery may just be the place for you.  Home to Bell & Ross and Montblanc, the place can surely remind you that there is a time for indulgence after all.  And it could very well be a handsome timepiece on your wrist, just what you need to time your pace as you check out the sartorial offerings at Paul Smith, Emporio Armani, Marc Jacobs and Y–3, just a few of the undoubtedly well-curated selections at this “gallery.”  If you feel like you’re starting to lug around more than you had initially hoped, a sturdy and well-crafted Mulberry might just be the bag you need – to carry your loot in style, as well as your daily essentials.

Mandarin Gallery, with all its lighting treatment, is always a visual feast.

Mandarin Gallery, with all its lighting treatment, is always a visual feast.

 

Coming from ION on Orchard, Mandarin Gallery is an array of namedroppables, beginning with EMPORIO ARMANI.

Coming from ION on Orchard, Mandarin Gallery is an array of namedroppables, beginning with EMPORIO ARMANI.

The attention-grabbing storeys-high LED screens that have shaped the Orchard Road skyline echo the recent influx of high-end mass-market labels to this center of luxury.  Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M – both of which opened to much fanfare and queuing frenzy – hog one of the belt’s busiest intersections, on the way to 313@somerset, the address Forever 21’s flagship store calls home.  At this mall, style of European provenance – Zara – stands vis-à-vis the fashion sensibility and multifarious offerings from the land of cherry blossoms – Uniqlo.

Crossing the street to our next stop!

Crossing the street to our next stop!

 

Where there is H&M, there is a crowd.  No matter what time of day.

Where there is H&M, there is a crowd. No matter what time of day.

 

The walk to 313@somerset on its own is paved in luxury of the gastronomique nature.

The walk to 313@somerset on its own is paved in luxury of the gastronomique nature.

From the convergence of purveyors of style basics, it’s back to upmarket choices at luxury central Paragon Mall.  Mirroring the enticing sight that is ION Orchard, Paragon shimmers amidst this seeming paradise with its lit-up Miu Miu storefront, opposite from the virtually gilded Gucci façade that makes a case for that oft-spoken line “all that glitters is gold.”  Inside, its rather unassuming interiors belie the affluent choices that are bubbling to the surface, waiting to be consumed.  You see it in the perfect tailoring at Alfred Dunhill, and the exceptional pieces at Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari.

Paragon Mall is dressing up for the holidays!  I see this and couldn't help but burst into song.  Though the weather outside is frightful...  Hahaha!

Paragon Mall is dressing up for the holidays! I see this and couldn’t help but burst into song. Though the weather outside is frightful… Hahaha!

 

Paragon Mall is framed by Miu Miu on one side...

Paragon Mall is framed by Miu Miu on one side…

 

...and by Gucci on the other.

…and by Gucci on the other.

 

The ROBINSONS Department Store building is a requisite stop too!

The ROBINSONS Department Store building is a requisite stop too!

Appearances do seem to make for what the world calls as the best shopping street.  But with its wide open spaces, clean pavements and service staff with a ready, welcoming smile, Orchard Road clearly has one up against any other world-famous shopping haunt.

Here in the Lion City, these shopping malls fling their doors wide open to welcome you for the ultimate in luxury retail experience.  But while the images of multi-media wall screens and well-lit windows from the outside haven’t fully left your cerebellum convolutions, you soon realize that in their place is inching your own smile – brought about by a usual day at the mall turned into a pleasant multi-sensory jolt – that best speaks of the luxury that has not lost its luster.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Remembering Mommy

1 11 2014

THERE ARE moments in my childhood that have stayed with me for like, forever.  No matter how far my road leads me from where I started, I thank my memories for always bringing me back.

I am the self–proclaimed guardian of traditions – I almost said Galaxy! – when my brothers and I were little.  I participated in all the Roman Catholic feasts and I always tagged along with Mommy, my maternal grandmother.  We were together for Night Masses at Christmas time, and the procession at dawn on Easter Sunday.  On a day like today, November 1ST, we would’ve gotten up quite early to go to the cemetery to pay our respects at my grandfather’s tomb, which we would’ve tidied up a few days before.

It’s been a year and a half since she had passed.  And today I remember her.  Not that I don’t think about her often.  Because I still do.  And I do love the fact that I always see her in my dreams.  In all those dreams, I’d be very much aware that she is already gone – she actually points it out sometimes – but each has always been a cheerful meeting.

And like the proper lady that she has always been, she’d say towards the end, “I’ve got to go.”

I miss you, Mommy.

I travel with a number of choice photographs.  A couple of them are shown here.  That's favorite photo of Mommy, side by side with that of one of her great grandchildren.  This was taken from my desk somewhere in Boise, Idaho.

I travel with a number of choice photographs. A couple of them are shown here. That’s favorite photo of Mommy, side by side with that of one of her great grandchildren. This was taken from my desk somewhere in Boise, Idaho.

 

My most recent quiet time with Mommy.  Well, outside the realm of my dreams.

My most recent quiet time with Mommy. Well, outside the realm of my dreams.

 

When I'd visit her before, she would make it a point to ask, "Anong relo suot mo?" ("What watch are you wearing?")  I know, she sounds like the Fashion Police.  I know exactly which her favorite wrist watch was.

When I’d visit her before, she would make it a point to ask, “Anong relo suot mo?” (“What watch are you wearing?”) I know, she sounds like the Fashion Police. I know exactly which her favorite wrist watch was.

 

"Hi Mommy, I miss you.  By the way, it's a Technomarine I'm wearing to see you today."

“Hi Mommy, I miss you. By the way, it’s a Technomarine I’m wearing to see you today.”

 

"Mommy, let's take a selfie together."

“Mommy, let’s take a selfie together.”

 

“Well, it’s time to go, Mommy. I’ll see you again next time. Or let’s meet and chat again in my dreams!”

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Fresh greens to zoozh up the red

1 11 2014

I HAVE played with my angel hair pomodoro recipe so often that it has come to erase whatever iota of doubt I may have had towards the theological concept of reincarnation.

 

My ANGEL HAIR POMODORO in one of its many incarnations, yet again.

My ANGEL HAIR POMODORO in one of its many incarnations, yet again.

I guess it is its simplicity that predisposes it to my fickle mindedness.  It calls for only a handful of ingredients – often always stocked up in my pantry and refrigerator crisper – that now it hardly feels like an actual recipe at all.  You can see just how often I have played with it by simply running a search in this blog.

Its latest manifestation calls for a generous sprinkling of fresh whole basil leaves.  This means cooking the sauce only up to the point when I will need to add the fresh basil leaves, which I would tear by hand (never chopped with a knife to prevent the blade from bruising this delicate herb).

What results from this change is a pasta dish with a balance so palpable that you’d savor the cooked goodness of fresh roma tomatoes that have broken down into the sauce, as the fresh basil leaves explode with freshness in your mouth with every crunch.

Each forkful of this pasta dish is the perfect balance of al dente angel hair, perfectly cooked sauce of fresh roma tomatoes, and perfectly crunchy fresh basil leaves.

Each forkful of this pasta dish is the perfect balance of al dente angel hair, perfectly cooked sauce of fresh roma tomatoes, and perfectly crunchy fresh basil leaves.

This is so good that I would never feel the need to reach for the wedge of Parmigiano–Reggiano and the vegetable peeler to shave paper–thin slivers of yumminess that can only come from hard, granular cheese from the area west of the river Reno.

It really doesn’t call for any added touch.

Having the basil still bright green adds to the enjoyment of having this angel hair pomodoro.

Having the basil still bright green adds to the enjoyment of having this angel hair pomodoro.

 

Of course, the requisite aerial shot of this edible work of art, a play of colors, textures, and flavors.  Parmigiano–Reggiano highly optional, totally unnecessary.

Of course, the requisite aerial shot of this edible work of art, a play of colors, textures, and flavors. Parmigiano–Reggiano highly optional, totally unnecessary.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Fresh wild mushrooms with oyster sauce

29 10 2014

THERE COMES a time in a culinarian’s life when recipes he can put together on auto–pilot need to finally be committed to paper.  Or, a blog post.

One such time is when one of my dearest friends – all the way from the City of Trees – hit me up with, “Any ideas on what to do with fresh mushrooms?”

"What to do with fresh mushrooms?! "  Here is a pile of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

“What to do with fresh mushrooms?! ” Here is a pile of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

 

Something about the sight of a pile of fresh mushrooms always just...  gets me!

Something about the sight of a pile of fresh mushrooms always just… gets me!

 

Slice the fresh shiitake mushrooms – caps, stems and all.  Do the same for white button, Swiss brown, baby bellos, and creminis.

Slice the fresh shiitake mushrooms – caps, stems and all. Do the same for white button, Swiss brown, baby bellos, and creminis.

 

As will be mentioned in the recipe below, all – except the oyster variety – should be sliced.

As will be mentioned in the recipe below, all – except the oyster variety – should be sliced.

 

I couldn't help but take an aerial of this beautifully, randomly piled sliced fresh shiitakes.

I couldn’t help but take an aerial of this beautifully, randomly piled sliced fresh shiitakes.

This – not the mushroom cream sauce – first came to mind.

 

Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil, a thin film on the pan

Garlic, six cloves (or to taste) finely minced

A medley of fresh wild mushrooms, 500 grams

Lee Kum Kee® or Woh Hup® Oyster Sauce, two to three heaping tablespoons

 

Heat a heavy bottom skillet over low–medium flame.  I prefer to use the ones that are really wider than they are taller.  Add a thin film of the Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil or any vegetable oil.  In it, sauté finely minced garlic.  I go crazy with the garlic sometimes and it could be really strong.  So err on the side of caution.

Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two.  I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk).  At two vacuum–sealed packs at 250 grams each, we are talking about 500 grams of mushrooms.  But you know me, I do tend to go crazy sometimes with eyeballing stuff and I’d end up throwing in more than that – putting a huge dent on what should be for the following day’s menu.

Allow the mushrooms to get heated through without stirring.  Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up.

At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce.  It has always been Lee Kum Kee® or Woh Hup® with me.  But feel free to use any brand you prefer.  Two to three heaping tablespoons should do it.

Fresh mushrooms do not take long to cook.  So I guess this should take all of only 10 minutes from when the minced garlic hits the heated oil.

I have this with lots of steaming hot white jasmine rice or Japanese pearl rice and I’m tremendously pleased – both by how satisfying this simple meal is and how quick it took from stove to stomach.

"Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two."

“Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two.”

 

"I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk)."

“I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk).”

 

"Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up.  At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce."

“Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up. At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce.”

 

eNTeNG's Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce is ready to be served!

eNTeNG’s Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce is ready to be served!

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Here for #28: NamNam Noodle Bar at Raffles City

28 10 2014

I NEED a really good lemon sorbet at this point, before I talk about the next ramen place on my quest.  That or a seat at the bar – right in front of the cooks – at NamNam Noodle Bar at Raffles City Shopping Centre, #B1-46/47, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103.

They can try but they can't take noodles away from me.  Haha!  This is NamNam Noodle Bar's “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90).

They can try but they can’t take noodles away from me. Haha! This is NamNam Noodle Bar’s “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90).

I can read the thought bubble above your head, “It is still noodles.”  Yes, but it is definitely a flavor 3368 km West Southwest of Japan.

I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to Vietnam.  Thankfully, its flavors are no stranger to me.  Unlike that of the Philippines’ (so far… it’ll change soon enough), the fate of Vietnamese cuisine isn’t one that has sent it to oblivion.  Rather, to me it stands proud as one of the more definitive Asian cuisines.

And wherever I go, I’d manage to find a Vietnamese place that captivates my palate – then my heart –   be in Folsom (California), Burlingame (California), Chicago, Boise, and of course, Manila.

I start with my Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90).  On to the inside of a crusty–outside–airy–inside single–serve French baguette, I asked for cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with their regular fixings pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro.

My Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90) – cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro, in a French baguette.

My Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90) – cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro, in a French baguette.

 

NamNam Noodle Bar prides itself for bringing in the taste of authentic Vietnamese street food.  When the Banh Mi came in on this newspaper-print paper, in a wicker basket, I see the effort.  If it were brought to me by a waiter on a high-speed motorbike, that would've hit it our of the ball park.

NamNam Noodle Bar prides itself for bringing in the taste of authentic Vietnamese street food. When the Banh Mi came in on this newspaper-print paper, in a wicker basket, I see the effort. If it were brought to me by a waiter on a high-speed motorbike, that would’ve hit it our of the ball park.

The flavors going into the sandwich are quite traditional but what sold me to this savoury combination is the five–spice powder (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel) that I highly suspect is used as a dry rub on the pork belly before it is either slow–roasted in the oven or braised on the stovetop to caramelized perfection.  It becomes fork tender and is the succulent star of this delectable, edible colonial influence.  In between bites, I’d sip my iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (S$ 2.60).

I meant this pit stop as a respite from ramen – or, noodles in general.  So I thought all I needed was to finish my Bahn Mi and ignore the call of freshly cooked rice noodles in a broth that is equal parts rich– and clean–tasting, the layers of flavors mirrored by the layers of textures as thinly sliced white onions and a bunch of fresh herbs give off their crunch as your chewing finds its way to the tender beef slices.

But that wouldn’t be an eNTeNG thing to do.  Besides, I’d be totally remiss if I’d pass up on Vietnam’s ubiquitous culinary export – the Phở (or, pho).  I asked for the “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90) which comes with the promise that the meat is served medium rare.  In my head, I went finger–snappin’ and head–bobbin’, almost singing, “That’s the way uh–huh uh–uh / I like it / uh–huh uh–huh, mashed up with…  “#Turnip for what?!”  Haha!

I squeezed the lime wedge into the broth, took a sip, closed my eyes, and savored the goodness.  I opened my eyes and knew that the world is as it should be.  Or maybe not.

I realized I should at least be wearing a nón lá – or be on a street somewhere in Hanoi – to be enjoying food this good.

Seated by the bar, I had a full view of how my steaming hot bowl of “Phở Beef Steak Slices” was prepared.

Seated by the bar, I had a full view of how my steaming hot bowl of “Phở Beef Steak Slices” was prepared.

 

I had my eye on the beef the whole time.

I had my eye on the beef the whole time.

 

I'm amazed at how much work is needed to fill a large pan like this with really thinly sliced onions and herbs.  I just had to pile a lot of this into my “Phở Beef Steak Slices”!

I’m amazed at how much work is needed to fill a large pan like this with really thinly sliced onions and herbs. I just had to pile a lot of this into my “Phở Beef Steak Slices”!

 

I love the rustic feel this metal cup brings to the table.  And the fact that it holds the order slip, which I do intend to go through completely soon enough.  Check away!

I love the rustic feel this metal cup brings to the table. And the fact that it holds the order slip, which I do intend to go through completely soon enough. Check away!

 

The “Phở Beef Steak Slices” bowl makes it to the table!  The beef steak slices are medium rare as promised!

The “Phở Beef Steak Slices” bowl makes it to the table! The beef steak slices are medium rare as promised!

 

I asked a little fresh cilantro on the side from the young chef and this was how much he gave me!

I asked a little fresh cilantro on the side from the young chef and this was how much he gave me!

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Ramen Quest: DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining at Raffles City

27 10 2014

THE NEXT stop on my ramen quest is a place, yet again just a two–minute walking distance from the nearest train station, that it offers yet another clue to my steadily expanding girth.

In an island–state as tiny as Singapore, it is both utmost convenience and the bane of one’s existence that making it to your destination doesn’t offer the prospect of benefitting from at least a 20–minute brisk walk, the daily minimum the cardiologist recommends.

"Be still my heart.  Lately it's mind is all its own."  And head over heels over ramen!  Here is the classic one  I always order at DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining.

“Be still my heart. Lately it’s mind is all its own.” And head over heels over ramen! Here is the classic one I always order at DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining.

DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining at Raffles City Shopping Centre, #B1-13, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103 promises a broth that’s thick and creamy, spiked with special homemade fish spices.  Any attempt to keep me from this – including lack of exercise – would be an exercise in futility.

The broth rivaled my forehead as it glistened under the intense table lighting.  It was slightly thick, not at all milky white, but quite flavorful, something that could only come from simmering pork and pork bones for hours.  The noodles would be what I’d call by now as of medium thickness.  I wish they were thinner.  I wish I had asked for more bamboo shoots, and had advised that I would be passing up on the flavored egg.  I swear, ignoring those egg halves surrounded by ramen noodles, conjured up a 27–year–old cinematic image that nagged inside my head with, “I’m not gonna be IGNORRRED!”  (Insert evil laughter here.)

After having consumed bowls and bowls of ramen, it has become necessary to order a side dish – of a less sinful provenance – as if it’s atonement for my gastronomic sins.  So I asked for silken tofu doused in a soya–based sauce, and topped with shards – no, pretty ribbons – of yummy bonito.  I swirled a little of the sauce in my mouth and espied a slight kick of mirin.

To atone for my sinful ramen cravings, I turn to tofu.  The bonito ribbons melt in the mouth into a salty, nutty goodness.

To atone for my sinful ramen cravings, I turn to tofu. The bonito ribbons melt in the mouth into a salty, nutty goodness.

For the tofu side alone, I’ve gone back to DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining.  Clearly, this place was not gonna be ignored.  (Cue again the evil laughter.)  Sadly, the flavored egg, unlike the dining place, had met a different fate.

Welcome to DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining!

Welcome to DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining!

 

After a sinful dinner, the vicinity of DAIKOKUYA allows for some leisurely walk (or should it be "brisk"?) to burn some of the calories.  This store is a favorite.  Haha.

After a sinful dinner, the vicinity of DAIKOKUYA allows for some leisurely walk (or should it be “brisk”?) to burn some of the calories. This store is a favorite. Haha.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.