Herbivore

Herbivore is a small Japanese vegetarian restaurant which we found in Fortune Center along Waterloo area.
It used to be known as “Zen” till it was rebranded and relocated in recent years.

This is a unique Japanese restaurant which sells predominately Japanese vegetarian food. Can you imagine veg sashimi and unagi?

We visited this place on this exact same date last year for my Mum’s birthday celebration and once again went back this year.

Just a quick post here to share this little place for those who are vegetarians or want to try something different.

This round we had:

Unagi rice set. A must order simply because they handmade the unagi. It’s not just beancurd skin but a mixture of unagi-alike sauce with homemade soft paste which was deep fried or grilled? Texture-wise not like the real thing. But taste-wise, it scored 99% in my books. Very yummy! No wonder it is their store’s speciality!

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Soba soup set
The soup broth is made fragrant with lotsa mushroom but I tasted some seasonings as well. Otherwise, noddles is springy & overall a good choice if you want a hot soupy dish. The fried popiah thingie on the side is really good! We gobbled it up before we can tell what it is made from. Something creamy with cheese.

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Smoked duck maki
This is a good choice recommended by the waitress too. We wanted a sushi but not the fake salmon type as we tried it last round and was disappointed by the rubbery fake texture. And so we picked a safer choice this time; and it didn’t go wrong.

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Stir-fry udon
No photos because my hands and mouth were full by the time this arrived. A slightly spicy dish with special sauce. Decent choice but probably can be found in regular vegetarian stalls too.

Without drinks, this meal set us back by approximately S$77 for 3 adults & 1 kid. But Xi en basically didn’t eat much as usual.
My little one was really interested though he can’t quite eat outside food yet!

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Overall it’s a decent place for the special occasion but probably not our everyday choice as prices are not exactly easy on the wallet. They do sell liquor and wines here as well if you are wondering. Check out the place if you are buying a meal for a vegetarian or simply curious about how Japanese vegetarian food will taste like! 🙂

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Details
Herbivore
190 Middle Road
#01-13/14
Fortune Centre

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Oh, and of course a Happy birthday to the kiddos’ grandmother & my mum!

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Sweet Mid-Autumn starts with Mooncakes tasting @ Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant

Media Invite – Food Tasting

Cordially invited Openrice, I joined a group of “Openricers” for their handcrafted mooncakes tasting. There were the usual classic baked white lotus seed paste mooncakes with/without egg yolks and the more extravagant ones which I will share more later.

The evening started with some specialities of Xin Cuisine in the form of finger food. It were small little bites but they definitely left us wanting to come back to try more!

The highlight of the evening is the pairing of wines with their newly revealed mooncakes. Commonly, we drink Chinese tea with mooncakes as this is a tradition from eons ago. But who’s to say you cannot pair mooncakes with WINE! It’s a unique and refreshing idea for those who enjoy that nice glass of wine.

Personally, I do enjoy that occasional glass of sweet and dry wine but at this stage of my life, I don’t want my little baby to be drinking liquor-infused milk! Thus I only had very little sips of whites for the evening. I must say those whites really suit my tastebuds!

These are award-winning, fruity wines. I liked the light bodied, floral notes, crispy sparkling sparkling Riondo Proecco Spagp D.O.C. The clean and slight dry aftertaste complemented the sweetness of the snowskin mooncakes. It’s almost like the matt-taste of Chinese tea washing down the coyness of mooncakes. Surprisingly good pairing that you should try!

The stars of the evening:

Splendours of Xin’s Mid-Autumn Festival 2013

I didn’t managed to take a photo of Xin’s Signature Mini Egg Custard with Egg Yolk ($52) (because it was all gone when it came out!!) Possibly that’s enough said of it’s popularity? Heard that it’s one of the most well-received mooncakes among Xin’s selections.

Let’s take a look at the fillings of the others:

Top to Bottom:

Green Tea Lotus Paste with Chivas Chocolate Mooncake ($50)

This is an easy favourite for me. I liked the tea-infused lotus paste taste and the mild sweetness of the chivas chocolate. Tea and chocolate – how to go wrong? 🙂 I ordered a box of this for my family.

Black Sesame Paste with Peanut and Chocolate Snowskin Mooncake ($50)

This is made especially for those who enjoy Reese Peanut Butter Cups! It is almost an exact replica of that! Buttery Peanut and chocolaty – a little too similar to Reese for me to enjoy it as a mooncake.

Soursop & Chocolate Crunch Mooncake ($50)

Errmm… this one is a big surprise! Surprisingly sour with soursop pups! It’s like eating soursop and chocolate crunches all in one bite. Possibly suitable for those who like their mooncake sour? or those who just want something different. 🙂

Passion Fruit Paste Mooncake ($50)

Once again, this is a good option for those who wants something uniquely different. There is chockfull of passion in this one.

Champagne Chocolate & Pandan Lotus Paste Mooncake ($50)

In my opinion, this is a cousin of the Green Tea Lotus Paste with Chivas Chocolate Mooncake. Very close in taste, but I prefer green tea than pandan.

Peranakan Durian Mooncake ($50)

This photo probably doesn’t do justice to it’s real taste. We greedy folks attacked this one like how we do it at the durian stalls! But seriously, just like durian ice-cream cake, you will need to wait for such frozen products to thaw nicely before tucking in. This little gem is actually naturally flavoured with the Blue Pea flower commonly used in Peranakan food. Taste-wise; if you are getting it for that uncle/auntie who love durian, it can’t go wrong.

Teochew Yam Paste with Single Egg Yolk Mooncake ($52)

This Teochew speciality is only available at Xin Cuisine and not at their promotion road shows. Being a Teochew myself, let’s just say I have very high standard of a flaky crust with not-so-oily yam paste. It’s not easy to get such textures correctly done to a T and to a Teochew-nia standard. Xin’s is not bad; but by far honestly, not the best I have tried before.

And the chef behind the above innovative creations:

Chef Cheung Kin Nam – Native to Guangdong, he had worked in China and Hong Kong before. His culinary expertise progressed from a dim sum cook to one who helmed the desserts and confectionaries at Xin.

SPECIAL: Xin Cuisine is having an exclusive 30% off their mooncakes promotion just for Openrice readers (valid for the first 100 boxes till 30th Aug). More information here.

Happy Sweet Mid-Autumn Festival to one and all! 🙂

The Ippudo Dining Experience

Invited Food Review

I have a weakness for Japanese cuisine. Or rather a soft spot for it.

And so when Estelle from Openrice sent an invite for a food tasting at the popular ramen restaurant – Ippudo – I could not resist to accept the invitation!

I arrived and saw this looooooooooooong queue. If there is anything worth queuing in Singapore, it’s good food.

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Ippudo SG opened shop in Singapore on 12th Dec 2009 and is the second overseas venture after Ippudo NY. Its’ history hail from Japan’s ramen capital – Hakata – and is creating a stir all over the world. Besides 65 Ippudo restaurants in Japan, they have international stores in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Seoul, Sydney, Malaysia and China.

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We were invited to the Mandarin Gallery branch and the ambience is very typical buzzing Japanese restaurant. Loud greetings, semi-see-through kitchen, bowls and bowls of hot steaming ramen.

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Seating is limited to 57 seats with a small private VIP room. Be prepared to come early during lunch and dinner hours or simply come after peak hours.

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Vivien – PR & Marketing lady and our host for the evening – explained that besides ramen, IPPUDO aims to create a wholesome dining experience for its customers. As such, one will notice that it’s menu is more than simple ramen. They have an extensive menu comprising of salads, cold and hot appetizers, ala carte and meat dishes. Do order the appetizers as some were really good!

Ready, get set, Go!

Dining proper:

Beverages

Many of the fellow bloggers started with Choya & San Pellegrino Cocktail. I went with virgin ‘cos alcohol is still out-of-bounds at the moment…

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2nd drink of the night. Japanese’s favourite yogurt-y drink. I had it with soda to neutralise the sweetness. It’s refreshing!

Appetisers & Sides:

Goma Q – Fresh Japanese cucumber with a special sesame sauce. It’s a great cold appetizer to start with. The fragrant sesame sauce added spice to the otherwise plain crunchy cucumber. I like the presentation and the precision in cutting each slice into almost equal sizes. As usual, hats off to the Japanese culture of fine presentation.

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Pork Bun – Perhaps there can be a better name for this dish than what it’s called on the menu ( yes -“Pork Bun”).  This is an all-time favourite steamed bun with braised pork and special Ippudo’s sauce. It’s somewhat similar to our Chinese “Kong Bak Pau”. Taste-wise: it’s weirdly similar too! Honestly, I wouldn’t order this in a typical Japanese restaurant. But if you are curious about the soft bite of the pork and it’s unique sauce, it’s worth a try.

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Crispy Corn – I have no clue how this is done. It seemed deep-fried with a light batter to a crisp and sprinkled with some addictive paprika-herb-alike powder. One is probably not enough. I had two! (or was it three? I lost count).

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Spicy Shrimp Mayo – Big succulent prawns deep fried with a light batter and served exquisitely with a home-made spicy mayonnaise sauce. Home-run type of combination. What is there not to like about such a dish. Yummy!

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Beef Tataki – My favourite of the night. Pan –seared tender beef slices  served with a tangy sauce and special dip. Best eaten with the bed of non-pungent fresh onions. I went home dreaming of going back for this again.

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Finally – the stars of the night – RAMEN!

The founder – Shigemi Kawahara – spent time perfecting the tonkotsu (pork based) broth through the hard work of cooking pork bones for more than 15 hours. This arduous process coupled with blending of the broth resulted in a creamy and delicate soup. Fun trivia of the night – The noodles are actually manufactured in a factory in Singapore and the soup is also prepared by the central kitchen! This is to ensure that what diners get to eat are the freshest and not some imported overnight grub. You also get to choose the degree of the “hardness” of the noodles which you prefer. We choose “hard” as recommended because after our endless photo-taking, “soft” noodles would have become soggy! Vivien mentioned that it’s highly advisable to dig in immediately as the chef prepared each bowl separately and the consistency will change even if a customer visits the loo for 5 minutes!

First up: Shiromaru Motoaji – a white pork-based broth ramen. My preferred choice of the night. I like it straight forward; classic Hakata-style. Light broth without porky taste. Chashu is tender and cabbage is aplenty.

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Next up: Akamaru Shin-aji – a bolder red broth seasoned with garlic oil and Ippudo’s secret paste (Umami-dama). Decent choice if you are in the mood for an enhanced type of ramen.

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Last ramen dish – Karaka-Men. This is the original tonkotsu broth with spicy miso and ground pork. If I go in a group, I will get someone else to order this so I can get a spicy kick while maintaining my loyalty to the classic choice.

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The dining experience cannot be complete with a refreshing yuzu sherbet specially assembled by the chef for the bloggers’ event.

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This is a place that I think you won’t need to break the bank to dine here. Its’ comprehensive menu ensures that there will be something for everyone; even the picky eaters. Swing by to enjoy some oodles of hot noodles and a modern ramen brassière experience.

Thank you to Openrice and Ippudo for their kind invitation!

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Details

Ippudo SG

333A Orchard Road

#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery

Singapore 238897

Open 7 days a week – 11am to 11pm (last order at 10pm)

Website: www.ippudo.com.sg

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ippudosg