28 November, 2012

Restaurant Reviews - Japanese Dining SUN, A Kyushu Gourmet Experience

Located at the CHIJMES cluster of food and beverage establishments, Japanese Dining SUN, with support of Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) is proud to offer the Kyushu Gourmet Experience from now till 8 Jan 2013.

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The Kyushu Gourmet Experience will introduce not only regional cuisine from the Kyushu prefectures of Miyazaki, Fukuoka, Saga and Oita, but also feature authentic ingredients air-flown in twice weekly (Tuesday and Friday, if you must know) especially for this menu.

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No Japanese meal would be completed without the starter of Sashimi – the Kyushu Sashimi Mori 7 Kind ($88.80) was an ensemble of Kyushu seasonal fishes including the Fatty Tuna (Otoro), Yellow Sea Bream, Horse Mackerel, Golden-eye Snapper, Striped Jack, Yellowtail and Japanese Sea Bream.

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Timely for HFB, it was a Tuesday when he went for this tasting session, thus it was expected that the fishes were really fresh and enjoyable. He was particularly drawn to the unique finishing taste of the Yellow Sea Bream and Golden Eye Snapper.

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With a close proximity to China, Kyushu cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese culture and culinary techniques. Thus the introduction of Japanese Preserved Mustard Leaf (better known as Kiam Chye, or Salted Vegetables) in the form of the Mentai Salmon Takana Roll ($18.80) was of no surprise to HFB. Purists would probably frown at such a dish, while the adventurous would celebrate – as the preserved leaf left quite an interesting aftertaste. A hint of spiciness could also be experienced from the seasoned cod roe.

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The Kagoshima Mental Cheese Chigiri Age ($9.80), a fishcake of spicy seasoned cod and cheese would make a great finger food to pop over beer or sake. HFB only gripe would be the cheese wasn’t molten or oozy enough for his preference.

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Chinese influence was once again evident in the Fukuoka Kurobuta Gyoza ($9.80). The pot stickers were filled with cabbage, chives and garlic and pan-fried perfectly, but it was the highly prized Kurobuta Pork that shone through with its luscious finishing. HFB also found the texture of the skin just right – thick enough to hold the ingredients without breaking, but thin enough without being too chewy. A dunk into the dipping sauce and the orgasmic experience was completed. Definitely the highlight of the session and something one shouldn’t miss.

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A Kyushu delight that one definitely shouldn’t miss was the Miyazaki Wagyu Steak Ajikurabe ($88.80).

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Prepared Teppanyaki-style, the Japanese Grade A3 Miyazaki Wagyu Ribeye and Sirloin Steak was used as opposed to the more superior A5 grade, as Japanese Dining SUN felt it was a better balance between the marbling finishing and beefy aftertaste – since most Singaporeans found the A5 grade too greasy and oily for their liking! If you asked HFB, he loved them both as long as it’s well prepared… heh!

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One of the many food crazes now in Japan, Shiokoji is koji that has been fermented in salt (shio). And koji, or rice malt, is a live food that is rich in enzymes and brings out the umami in foods by imparting a rich savoury flavour. And thus the Shiokoji Moriawase ($15.80) was born – a meat platter consisting of Berkshire Pork, Chicken and Salmon. Although HFB found the meats to be slightly toughen (not too sure whether it was due to the marinating or the cooking process), there was indeed a sweet aftertaste evident in all of them. HFB preferred the chicken best as it kinda reminded him of “Drunken Chicken”.

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If you enjoy your noodles springy and Q like HFB, you would definitely fall in love with the Saga Nori Udon ($12.80), or the Cold Seaweed Noodle – even more enjoyable eating it when mixed with the condiments provided!

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Japanese version of the Lei Cha, or Thunder Tea Rice, the Fukuoka Kinmedai & Mentai Chazuke ($15.80) consisted of lightly grilled Golden-eye Snapper fillet slices with seasoned cod roe served with Green Tea Bonito soup.

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The rice used was imported from Japan and the texture was definitely apparent. HFB pretty much enjoyed the whole combination of quality rice, clear soup and fresh fish.

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Fukuoka Tonkotsu Takana Ramen ($11.80) was another creation using the Japanese preserved Mustard Leaf. The pork-bone broth was pretty robust with that hint of interesting finishing due to the mustard leaf, and high marks for the Char Siew that was grilled to perfection – really flavourful!

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The Oita Momo Jam Chiffon Cake ($6.50) was a really light and fluffy chiffon cake infused with Ripe Peach Jam and served with Homemade Vanilla Cream. HFB enjoyed the very moist cake and thought the vanilla and peach combination harmonised almost perfectly.

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Fukuoka Yamecha Roll Cake ($5.80) was a classic combination of Green Tea Roll (with Vanilla Cream Centre) served with Azuki bean paste at the side. A sure winner that would please everyone!

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What’s dessert without the accompaniment of a good cup of coffee or tea (or me)? The Fukuoka Yame Tea with Goma Cookie ($5.00), or the Premium Fukuoka English Tea was a perfect pairing that thoroughly helped to cleanse the palate and rid the grease from earlier dishes. The strong finishing was well appreciated and HFB also enjoyed the fragrant taste of the sesame cookies that came with it!

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But what’s a trip to SUN without sampling their signature Tofu Cheesecake. HFB remembered it to be just as good as he first tried it many years ago – great texture and light finishing just the way HFB loved it. A pity that it didn’t came served with the beautiful cage that is only unique to their Wheelock outlet.

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Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited media tasting. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Japanese Dining SUN and Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) for their hospitality.

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23 November, 2012

Restaurant Reviews - IKYU

IKYU (pronouced as “E-Q”), which means “Take a Break” when translated to English, is one of the latest contemporary Japanese restaurant that aims to be a respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Thus, it was no wonder that the restaurant was tugged away at the quaint, yet hip cluster of Tiong Bahru estate at No. 5 Yong Siak Street.

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Headed by Executive Chef Takuma Seki (formerly Chef-de-Cuisine of Hide Yamamoto), IKYU serves creative interpretation of traditional Japanese cuisine with East-meets-West culinary techniques – drawing from Chef Seki’s extensive culinary experience in USA, Paris and Japan.

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The tone was set for the dinner with the introduction of the Pear Sake that was clear and pristine with a slight sweet finishing. A good refreshing start HFB must say. Diners could also enjoy sakes over at the Sake Bar located at the back of the restaurant – which was a little too dim for HFB to get a good photo.

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Amuse bouche that evening was Cream Cheese with Snapper’s Stomach that surprisingly paired really well with the sake that balance off the richness of the cream cheese. The stomach of the snapper was interestingly chewy and thus provided a distinct contrast in texture.

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The first starter that HFB sampled that evening was the Century Egg Traditional Potato Salad ($8.50). The century egg provided an added body to the carb-loaded dish, but it was the simple addition of cucumber bits that shone through with its crunchy texture and cooling, uplifting finishing.

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Most diners at Japanese establishment would have indulged in edamame at any one point in time, but Grilled Edamame flavoured in Truffle ($8.50), well that’s a first for HFB! A tad extravagant, but overall in a good way – the truffled flavour harmonised well with the charred finishing of the edamame.

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What can you not like about the Wafu Marinated Salmon Carpaccio ($16.50) that was topped with Salmon Roe, and Coral Seaweed? One of IKYU signature dishes, the savouriness and bite of the salmon roe went well with the marinated salmon and the seaweed provided the added layer of texture to lift the dish.

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HFB loved how the Deep fried Sakura Ebi ($8.50) was lightly salted, thus letting the natural sweetness of the baby prawns to shine through. Highly addictive and definitely make a good bar snack during Happy Hours!

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The Breaded Oyster from Hiroshima ($12.50) was a real winner for HFB! Really meaty and juicy when HFB sank his teeth into one of them, HFB really enjoyed it, and why shouldn’t you?

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The Assorted Vegetables wrapped in pork ($15.50) were grilled with nice charmed aroma, and the bacon provided the savouriness to the grilled veggies, but HFB did find it a little too dry for his liking.

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An exotic off-the-menu Smoked Whale Salad was dished to us during our tasting. How it managed to get here, HFB do not have the answer. However the excitement only lasted a moment as soon as he tasted the smoked whale – it tasted salty (it was smoked remember?) and almost just like ham – a pity he must add, considering he was expecting more from the anticipation.

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Hoping to maintain the hype during the dinner, the Blow Fish Tatsuta-age with Sansyo ($16.50) was up next. If memory didn’t serve HFB wrongly, he was told the fish was gutted with its poison removed in Japan by license chef before being packed and flew over to Singapore; the fish was fresh and firm with hint of natural sweetness. However in all honesty, the name was more fanciful than the dish itself – it was pretty decent, but regrettably wasn’t enough to blow HFB away.

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Later, we were introduced to the Grilled Pair Quail Legs ($5.50 each) under the Happy Hour Menu. Grilled to perfection with the meat still tender, those sexy legs were really flavourful and came with a distinctive peppery finishing. The chilli garnish also provided that little added oomph to the dish. HFB only grumble was – why are quails born so tiny? He wished he had more of these fascinating creatures.

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The Crème de la Crème of the evening surely belongs to the 120g Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Sirloin ($58.50) – just look at the marbling goodness!! Words simply cannot express the actual experience, but HFB shall attempt to – melt-in-your-mouth, juicy and even natural sweetness were what he could conjure of, but nothing describe better than tasting the actual dish. Pairing the beef with the garlic chips provided at the side was also an excellent option as HFB thought it enhanced the overall flavour and lift the dish to another level. HFB also urged everyone to experience dipping the beef in the Yuzu Ponzu sauce as the acidity helps to cut down the richness of the dish and give it a refreshing lift.

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Just when you thought what else could rival the previous dish, HFB was quickly reminded that IKYU was nevertheless still a Japanese Restaurant – thus it was befitting that we were served Blue Fin Tuna Otoro Nigiri ($35.50 for 2pcs) subsequently. For a moment, it did remind HFB of the nigiri he had in Tsukiji Market – after all Chef Seki proclaimed that he used rice from Hokkaido and the fish air-flown from Tsukiji Market! OhMmmm… The explosive burst of omega goodness and umami flavours came forth with every bite, what an alluring piece of meat! HFB was thoroughly seduced.

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It was slight unfortunate that the Anago Tempura with Vegetables Roll ($16.50) came right after the Otoro Nigiri. There was a definite disparity between the two, but it wasn’t the anago’s fault – in fact the roll was pretty awesome in its own right with the anago being deep fried to a crisp and the sweet sauce that came with it was a delightful pairing.

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HFB found out that one of Chef Seki favourite ingredients for his nigiri was the Engawa ($10.50 for 2 pcs) – the thin muscle of the dorsal fin which is located on the side of the Hirame.

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This part of the fish is said to be very developed compared to the rest of the body and unlike the other parts of the fish, it has a higher fat content which makes it a delicacy. HFB truly enjoyed the Engawa due to its complexity of flavours and textures – it was very soft, but slightly chewy at the same time, more concentrated in flavour yet delicate and light on the aftertaste. Brilliant!

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The dinner was rounded off with seasonal fruits from Japan ($15.00) – and HFB was served the Rock Melon, Persimmon and Grapes that evening. In all honesty, that was the first time he tasted Japanese fruits as they had always been so expensive in the local supermarkets. It was love at first bite (as oppose to sight… hehe)! He especially enjoyed the texture and sweetness of the Japanese grapes, and couldn’t resist taking another serving of it.

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Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited media tasting. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank IKYU for their hospitality.

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06 November, 2012

Restaurant Reviews & Dining Giveaway - The Boxing Crab

The Boxing Crab is Food Junction’s newest seafood restaurant located at the beautifully quaint stretch of Sentosa.

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Over at this 250 seater restaurant, one can tuck into a huge selection of seafood dishes while feasting your eyes on the panoramic sights of the sea – and if lady luck is smiling at you, one would also be exhilarated by the sights of traversing cruise liners passing by.

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The tasting got off the ground to a really good start with the small bites of Crispy Peppered White Bait ($8.00), and boy was it really crispy and highly addictive! Despite the many dishes that were presented to us throughout the session, HFB managed to make room in his tummy to sneak a piece or two in between the rest of the dishes.

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The Deep Fried Crispy Baby Squid ($14.00/$18.00/$22.00) definitely lived up to its name with its crispy consistency amidst the tangy and sweet finish from the sauce that coated around it. HFB was pretty keen with this dish.

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What HFB liked about the Homemade Fresh Mango Prawn Bar ($12.00) was its refreshing twist of using spring roll skin to wrap the mango prawn and deep fried. The added crispy texture was a nice balance to the sweet and slight mushy mango sauce along with crunchiness of the prawn.

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What was there not to love about the Steamed Bamboo Clam with Minced Garlic (Market Price)? Executed in the classical manner of steaming the clam along with the chewiness of the tang-hoon (mung bean vermicelli), this dish was definitely a crowd pleaser.

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Be warned though if you are to kiss your date right after the dinner, this dish was heavy-laden with garlic! Haha.

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For mains, HFB tried the Charcoal Grilled Marinated Red Snapper ($28.00) that was really fresh, indicated by its firm flesh. The marinate came with a hint of spiciness that lend a good flavour to the fish without overpowering the freshness of the fish.

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For $78.00, one can also opt for the Charcoal Grilled Mixed Seafood (for 2 persons) with a choice of Snapper, Squid, Prawns or Clams. HFB sampled the squid and it was one of his favourite dishes that evening. It was grilled to perfect tenderness and a squeezed of lime makes the dish even more refreshing.

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Just then, the cruise liner came along and everyone had a break snapping photos of the ship with Reflections at Keppel Bay as the backdrop. A pretty awesome sight HFB must add!

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Just then, HFB also spotted how the restaurant used numerous woks as a piece of art on their wall. Yes, you heard it right – CHINESE WOK! How cool was that?

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Now back to the food, the next dish of Wok Fried Prawn with Salted Yolk ($24.00/$34.00/$54.00) was probably one of the more popular dishes that diners ordered nowadays in Tze Char stalls or restaurants. And The Boxing Crab didn’t disappoint with their rendition. The strong flavour from the salted yolk was evident and it nicely enveloped the succulent fresh crunchy prawns. It did get a little heavy on the palate after the second serving, but hey, what’s a little sacrifice for something worthwhile.

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Using wheat grass, The Boxing Crab Braised Home Made Wheat Tofu with Seafood ($17.00/$21.00/$26.00) is one of their signature items on the menu. What HFB really enjoyed about the tofu was its silky smooth texture. The array of seafood also adds flavour to the dish. Perfect to dig in with a bowl of piping hot steamed rice.

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What’s the highlight of the evening at The Boxing Crab that evening? Well, their crabs of course! And over here, one can have choices of Mud Crab, Flower Crab and Swimmer Crab (All Market Price), with various cooking methods such as the popular Chilli and Black Pepper, to the more adventurous Steamed with Soya Milk and Braised with Superior Broth and Pumpkin. It even came with Western cooking methods such as Flambé with Herbs and Garlic Butter and cooking with Melted Cheese. How exciting! And before HFB dig in, all guests were invited to suit up for the occasion!

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HFB really loved the presentation of the Chilli Crab that came wrapped in Lotus Leaf, where the restaurant staff actually unwrapped the leaf right before one’s eyes to reveal the crab. OMG it looked so good – looked at those claws! The crab were really meaty and firm that evening, with the sauce leaning more towards tomato-based than chilli.

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If one was craving for something spicier, one wouldn’t go wrong with the Black Pepper version. Be sure to standby some iced water on the side. It was really fiery in spiciness – hot, hot HOT!!

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One of their signature crab dish, the Braised Claypot Crab with Superior Broth and Pumpkin hit the right spot on many areas. The flavour of the sauce was robust without being too heavy and dipping the meaty crab meat into it was a delightful experience. This was a must order dish for HFB at The Boxing Crab.

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HFB bet you must have spotted the stray strand of rice vermicelli on the lobster! The story went that it looked SoOOooo good on the plate that HFB dig in before realising he hadn’t took a snap at it, yet he was in such a hurry to finish taking the photo that he failed to realise the stray noodle until he edited the photos later, Haha!

The Braised Baby Lobster White Noodles (Market Price) was one of the dishes that he really looked forward that evening and it sure didn’t fail him. The lobster were meaty and the noodles soaked up all the flavoursome gravy that were lip-smacking delicious. Smashing dish indeed!

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For pre-dessert, the Chilled Mango with Pomelo Ice Cream ($5.00) was approvingly served chilled. The mango paste was smooth with distinct mango flavours and HFB loved that it wasn’t too sweet. This was a perfect dessert as a palate cleanser.

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Just another name for Crème Brulee, the Catalan Cream with Caramelized Sugar ($8.90) was simple and straight to the point. The cream was smooth and crust was caramelised just right. Overall it was decently executed.

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HFB is giving away TWO (2) $50 The Boxing Crab dining vouchers to his readers. All you have to do is to 1) "LIKE" The Boxing Crab Facebook page and 2) EMAIL hisfoodblog@gmail.com with your answer to the following question with your Name, NRIC, and Contact Number. Closing date for this giveaway contest is 11 Nov 2012 (Sun), 2359hrs.

Q1. Where is The Boxing Crab located?

Terms and conditions apply.
- The voucher is not exchangeable for cash.
- The voucher must be fully utilised when making payment. Any unutilised amount will be forfeited.
- The voucher cannot be used in conjunction with other promotions & privilege cards.
- The voucher is not replaceable. No claims will be entertained for any voucher lost, torn, defaced or expired.
- The voucher may only be used in TheBoxingCrab.

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited media tasting. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Food Junction for their hospitality.

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