Monday, October 9, 2017

ESqUISSE Tokyo : Sweets Selection by Asia's Best Pastry Chef 2017

Some people are good at studying but they may not be good at teaching. Some chefs may be good at doing plated desserts but not petit entremets. I haven't try the plated desserts by Asia's Best Pastry Chef 2017 Chef Narita of 2-Michelin star Esquisse Cinq, but I must say that the individual sweets are underwhelming.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Antoinette Launches New Menu : When Hakka Meets French

Mod-Sin is not an unfamiliar term in Singapore’s gastronomical scene but talk about French-Hakka fusion, I am quite sure Chef Pang of Antoinette is the first to launch it in Singapore. On the savoury menu is a repertoire of new dishes—of which some pay tributes to Chef Pang’s own Hakka’s culinary heritage. For instance, the Hakka Gnocchi ($24) is a colourful variation of the usual yam balls with the use of beetroot, sweet potato and purple sweet potato. I was a bit worried that the foie gras might overpower the dish but fortunately it did not. The flavourful stir-fry of dried shrimps, cured pork and morels make this no less delicious than an authentic Hakka suan pan zi.  

Rice and Shine 2017 : 101 Guide to Japanese Rice Snacks

Do you love to snack? I do. 

In fact, not only me but my family and friends enjoy snacking, especially Japanese snacks. I know that snacking is usually considered as an unhealthy habit but do you know that snacks, if chosen wisely, can aid in hunger and weight management? 

So here comes rice snacks, a low-calorie and healthier alternative that could quell hunger pangs and avoid bingeing or overeating in the next meal. 
In a bid to raise awareness on rice snacks and their nutritional value in Singapore, a Japanese rice snack fair "Rice and Shine" was held on 23 September (Saturday) at Chinatown Point.

The event not only saw the participation of various rice snack manufacturers from different prefectures in Japan but also cooking demonstrations and nutritional talks.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

L' Automne : A Sweet Spot All Seasons


It doesn't only appear in K drama but also in real life. For Chef-owner Koutatsu Kanda of L' Automne, another well-known local patisserie in west Tokyo, this is certainly true to describe his relationship with two other celebrity patissiers, Yuki Ajiki and Tsujiguchi Hironobu. The three of them (Chef Kanda being the most junior) worked and lived together during their years at ら・利す帆ん (now defunct) before each of them moved on to develop their respective career paths in pastry.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Anywhere Door : Avoid these Scary Photogenic Sweets

Doesn't this remind you of Doraemon's most popular gadget that can transport the user to the place they desire?

But in Tokyo, it is the name of a shop that sells colorful cone shots in the backyard of Harajuku. Ordering is simple. Choose a basic type of chocolate coated cone and match it with your preferred drink, be it latte or hot chocolate  (380 yen). The colorful display of cone shots at the counter is certainly very instagram-worthy and you may spend a long time thinking of what combo you like to have. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Bird Southern Table & Bar Opens at Marina Bay Sands

Award-winning Yardbird has finally opened its doors at Marina Bay Sands under the name The Bird Southern Table & Bar, offering authentic Southern U.S. cuisine and warm hospitality. Think hearty, comfort flavors that are rich and leaves you coming back for more. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gaston Luga: Best Women's Backpack Recommendation

Not sure if you face the same problem. But I always have a difficulty finding the right size of backpack when I travel. Laptop, portable charger, DSLR camera, passport, handphones, water bottle...I often have to divide them two bags because my old backpack gets full very easily once I slot in my bulky camera. I have another bigger size mountain backpack but it makes me look as if I am going on an mountain hiking adventure even though I maybe just walking down the streets of Shinjuku.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Magie Du Chocolat マジドゥショコラ : So called "Magic" Chocolate Soufflés

Opened in Dec 2016 by chef-owner Matsumuro Wagomi, Magie Du Chocolat is the latest addition to the hot chocolate scene in Tokyo. It sells everything to do with chocolate and is said to support the direct trade movement of chocolates. An eco-friendly sustainable practice, that is.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Atmosphere Bistro : New Menu, Better and More Delicious

When it comes to seaside dining experience, I tend to think of expensive and generic food that tends to play second fiddle to the ambience. But I am happily proven wrong during my recent visit to Atmosphere bistro which has revamped its menu to offer new Asian fusion dishes that more than pleases the eye.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Chocolatier Inamura Shozo  : Hidden Chocolate Patisserie in Ueno Tokyo

Most patissiers would serve chocolate cakes but very few would open another outlet just dedicated only to chocolate. Imamura Shozo is one of those. Located in the quiet suburbs of Yanesen, Chocolatier Inamura Shozo is Chef Inamura's second boutique after his popular Patissier Imamura Shozo which debuted in 2000 in Ueno Sakuragi.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bee's Knees @ Botanic Gardens : Extended Opening Hours with Delicious Bar Bites

Food from cafes and restaurants in tourist attractions tend to be overpriced and lacking in quality. But not so for Bees Knees Cafe, the sister cafe of Botanico located at the 1st floor of the restored two-storey heritage building in Botanic Gardens.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Tasty Court by Chef Pung 尝鲜阁 : Journey to the East for Delicious Chinese Food

My parents came home one Saturday night and raved to me about their delicious dinner at Tasty Court by Chef Pung Lu Tin. It is a new restaurant that has only been opened for a month or so by celebrity chef Pung who used to helm the kitchen of now-defunct Seafood International in East Coast Park. Wow, when did my parents become so informed of the new hot places when it hasn't been posted on social media (almost zero post on Instagram but some on facebook). Not even in mainstream media. And rarely do I see my parents react so fervently towards the food.

Friday, July 21, 2017

All The Batter: Probably Singapore's First Avocado Specialty Cafe

I often wonder why the cafe isn't called "All About Avocadoes" because All About Batter sells all kinds of desserts and drinks revolving around one of the world's superfood, avocados. Little known is that the shop has been selling avocado drinks and natural food at a kiosk in Anchorpoint since 2014. It takes online orders for cakes and caters for corporate events or special occasions.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nesuto Patisserie @ Tras Street

Popped by Nesuto to check out the Japanese-French pastries. Despite the hefty price tag of at least $9 ($9.90 for 10% dine-in service charge), there was a steady flow of customers, probably a good sign that Singaporeans are willing to splurge on cakes.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

TONO Cevicheria : First Ever Peruvian Cevicheria in Singapore

With a jaunty logo of a turquoise dancing fish with hearts of scales, doing salsa with maracas in “hands” and chilli between the teeth, I can tell straight away that TONO is going to be somewhat special. But “special” is a too simplified word to describe the unique Peruvian dining experience here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ah Mah Homemade Cake : Malaysia's Best Selling Castella Cake Opens in Singapore

Eggs, Milk, Flour, Sugar, Corn oil.
These are the basic 5 ingredients you need to produce a simple cake that can attract long queues.
From bubble tea to salted egg yolk croissants to cheese tarts, the next big thing that is making waves in Singapore is the castella, a humble egg sponge cake that reminds you of those sold at old-school bakeries.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

365 日 : Bread pilgrimage in Yoyogi Uehara

Day day bread, Night Night bread.

365 days of bread.

Is it ever possible?

Yes. For a bread lover like me.

But not everyday from 365 日 because the breads are quite pricy.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Miyazaki Mansaku 宮崎料理 万作 : Only Place in Tokyo to Taste Buri Chicken

"Chicken in Japan tastes better than those in Singapore", according to my folks.
Don't think dirty. I'm talking about the chicken from the fowl family.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ichonoki 甘味処いちょうの木 : Long Queue Kakigori but so Oishii

Queued for 1.5 hour and finish eating in 10min. But this small Kakigori shop in Kita Shinagawa truly has something on its sleeves as my friend and I agreed that the queue was worth it, albeit the rather unpleasant service.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Materiel マテリエル  : Sugar Master in Ooyama Tokyo

To create flavors and shape from a shapeless form 

This is the concept/motto of Chef Masaaki Hayashi whose shop named "Materiel" is located in Ooyama 大山. One can say that Chef Masaaki is a sugar master because his sugar works have won several international awards and one of his publication is a book on sugar techniques. Since it is unlikely that I will ever step foot in Ooyama, I decided to give it a try when it took stage at Isetan Shinjuku's weekly rotating pop up area.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kooriya Pissu or Peace 氷屋ぴぃす Kakigori @ Kichijoji

The Kakigori at Peace (pee-su) can really pissed customers. No, I'm serious. Imagine arriving at 12 noon sharp when the shop opens for business, only to realize in horror that there is a written waiting list on which you have to jot your name down at the next available slot which is 6.52pm.

Perhaps that's not a problem for those who live nearby but for most, you either find something to do in between or opt for the takeaway option. So we chose to takeaway which also requires 30min of queuing time.

Takeaway options are limited and not as fanciful as eat-in flavors. But they are slightly cheaper. I'm glad we didn't wait till 6.52pm because the Kakigori were extremely normal.  And there is no other components within the ice.

There could be only 2 customers seated in the 8-seat eatery but they will not allow anyone to enter earlier. Can't understand how the business here works? Me neither.

東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺南町1-9-9 吉祥寺じぞうビル 1F
weekdays 11am-9pm (closed on Mon)
weekends/PH 12noon-8pm

Monday, June 19, 2017

Salon Ginza Sabou : New Generation Matcha Parfait

Salon Ginza Sabou is part of the Salon adam et Rope group that focuses on Japanese traditional sweets. But it seemed like the business did not take off very well initially until the menu expanded to the Matcha parfait--the one which almost every table would order.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ginza Johan Limited 限定: Visual Sandwiches

The Ginza outlet is the only one that sells sandwiches that once used to be categorized as "visual k" sandwiches because of the colorful cross section. But with so many competitors like Potasta, King George or Wa Sandwich, they are no longer as special. For an average of 350-400 yen, I find the portion small and expensive. Better head to convenience store or just stick to their regular selection of bread. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mont St Clair @ Jiyugaoka Tokyo

To those familiar with Japanese pastries, Mont St Clair by Tsujiguchi Hironobu needs no further introduction. This celebrity chef can be considered one of the most business savvy persons in the industry as he has ventured into many different concepts from jam specialty shops to chocolate to Wagashi. His flagship pastry shop-cafe in Jiyugaoka is ever popular amongst tourists, just like Hidemi Sugino or Sadaharu Aoki. Every item that I've tried here so far has a crunchy component but it's still not exactly impressive considering the price.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ginza Hanatare 地きんめ鯛専門 銀座はなたれ: Kinmedai Specialty Fish Restaurant

 Kinmedai aka red snapper is a deep seawater fish that is commonly harvested from the waters off Izu Peninsula, Chiba or Shikoku in Japan. And Ginza Hanatare is probably one of the few Japanese restaurants that specializes in this fish. In general, Kinmedai is grouped into 3 category and the most priced category is the "Ji-Kinmedai" due to its rich fat content.  I was lucky to drop by in end May as May-June, as well as Dec-Feb, are the two seasons when the fish is at their most tip-top "fattiest" condition.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

和Kitchen かんな: Your Neighbourhood Kakigori Shop

和キッチンかんな  (Wa Kitchen Kanna) is a popular Kakigori shop in Sangenchaya that requires at least 15-min walking from the station. It sits on the 2nd level, right above top-rated boulangerie Significant Signifie, but not too difficult to be spotted with a wooden signboard at the door. What I like is that there are many flavors to choose from and the price is reasonable. Moreover, the waiting time in the queue wasn't too long on a weekend afternoon and we could chill out with the delicious bowls in spacious tables. (Not cramped counter or table seatings)

I was pleasantly surprised by the Strawberry Caramel Custard as the roasty notes of the caramel complemented the strawberries beautifully, making this a nice departure from the conventional custard or condensed milk pairing. The caramel is cleverly enhanced with kinako powder buried within. My friend preferred the "Green Custard with C" which contained chunks of "C" aka chocolate. This was the less sweeter of the two but I wished there were some beans or chestnuts fillings inside.

東京都世田谷区下馬2-43-11 2F
11am-7pm (Kakigori service varies according to days)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

CAMELBACK sandwich & espresso: THAT Tamago Sandwich

Been there. Done that. Another one crossed off my list.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Patissier Hiro Yamamoto : Cakes with a Flower


That's the unique style of the cakes here. Every single cake is adorned with an edible flower and it's hard to imagine that they were produced by a burly chef with a pot belly. As with most patisseries here, the cakes are rooted in French classics but presented in a much colorful manner that attracts attention instantly.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

俺の Bakery&Cafe Ebisu : First Bakery Concept by the Ore No Group

 The Oreno group (Ore no Yakitori , Ore no Kappo, Ore no French Italian)has finally ventured into the bread sector and opened the Oreno Bakery Cafe in Ebisu in  Nov 2006. It's famous for its shokupan 食パン which is made with an original blend of France and Canada flour. There are three types, nama shokupan, yamagata shokupan and mascarpone honey shokupan. The breads are baked at certain timings and that's when you'll notice a line forming outside the cafe. The dine-in menu offers a variety of sandwiches and toasts featuring either it's Nama shokupan or Yamagata shokupan. That's a good way of trying the bread without having to buy an entire loaf for yourself.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hayashiya Shinbei Ginza 銀座林屋新兵衛 : Zunda Amazake Kakigori and More

There's a sense of ecstasy when food turns out much better than expected. And this was the case for the Amazake Cream Zunda Kakigori, the monthly flavor of Kakigori at Hayashiya Shin Beiei. This is a cafe-bar concept by Kyo Hayashiya serving classic Japanese desserts and drinks. I could smell the sweet aroma of Amazake when it arrived and the center sunk in once the unsweetened matcha syrup was poured in. The Amazake was stronger than the one I had at Shimura and the Genmai Cha rice pops buried beneath was a sheer delight.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Le Coin Vert by The Agnes ル・コワンヴェール : Hidden Patisserie in Kagurazaka

Hidden in the quaint neighbourhood of Kagurazaka is a boutique hotel named The Agnes and right next to it is a 2-storey wooden hut that houses a French patisserie that opened at the same time in 2008. It was headed by Chef Koji Ueshimo until 2015 June when Chef Koji left the shop to open his standalone patisserie Avranches Guesnay in the same year. In fact, 50% of the cakes at Le Coint Vert can be found in Avranches and I'm curious if there's any difference between the two places.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Gontran Cherrier Tokyo vs The Peck : Battle of the Matcha Breads

Matcha scene turns hot in May as many pastry shops or bakeries launched their matcha fair. The Peck, a bakery under Takashimaya and Gontran Cherrier have both started their matcha fair. I won't say which is better because the breads are different to start with. Gontran Cherrier's selection are predominantly croissant-based while The Peck's items are more yeasted buns based.

The Peck is generally cheaper but very sweet. My favourite item is neither the cinnamon roll nor the matcha mascarpone bun but the matcha muffin as it wasn't as heavy like an American muffin but moist and cakey. From Gontran, my vote goes to the Matcha Almond Croissant. It was much better than its Matcha Yuzu Croissant as the matcha almond paste in the center boost up the matcha intensity.

The Matcha Mont Blanc is another interesting fusion bread that contains matcha bean paste inside. Both the cream puff and roll cake were excellent and must-try. The cream puff was accented with yuzu peels while the ring of matcha ganache ratcheted the satisfaction level. Shiok

The Peck @ Takashimaya Shinjuku :

Gontran Cherrier Tokyo

Monday, May 15, 2017

and Ecle by Olivier Rodriguez : Excellent French Cuisine at Super Affordable Prices

‘きよら’卵黄のオリーブオイルポーチ & ミモレットチーズ with ブロッコリークーリ
Poached in olive oil ‘Kiyora’ egg yolk / broccoli coulis / mimolette cheese


Gone are the days when one comes to Tokyo only for Japanese food because the city is a congregation of esteemed restaurants serving excellent French, Italian or other non-Japanese cuisines. It's not difficult to find good food in Tokyo but it's hard to find top-notched quality food at reasonable prices.

Alas, there's and ecle, a Neo bistro offering "classic French cuisine with a modern twist". But it's simply too humble to describe the food with these few words as the sophistication of the dishes warrants a deeper consideration. The ingredients are sourced locally from various parts of Japan, for instance fish are shipped in directly from Hakodate Harbour and ricotta cheese from Matsubara san in Hiroshima, then weaved harmoniously under the magical hands of owner-chef Olivier Rodriguez.

Having had numerous years of experience in Michelin starred restaurants, Chef Olivier joined Mandarin Oriental Tokyo opening team to be the Chef of restaurant "Signature" which obtained one star in 2007. He kept the star for 7 years before moving on to open his own creative Neo-bistro where gastronomy and innovation are accessible in an "eclectique" atmosphere.

It's a truly magical gastronomic experience without the confinements of rigid fine-dining. There was never a single moment of predictability during our dinner, only pleasant surprises dish after dish. The ala carte menu is broadly divided into starters, "Ocean", "Farm" and "Coulicious". The latter "Coulicious" is an original genre of food developed by Chef Olivier which harness the potential of rice/cereal using French coulis sauce. The sauces are made naturally using vegetables without any artificial colouring or additives. Partnering with Koike Tadao, the third generation owner of Harajuku's only rice shop of over 80 years in history, as well as Shouji Kokabu from Shiga prefecture who adopts a eco-friendly rice cultivation without any insecticide, Chef Olivier goes the extra mile to ensure that the selection of black, red, green, brown or white rice is of the highest quality in Japan.

With so much anticipation built up just from the menu, my partner and I decided to go for the Chef's 4-course and 5-course dinner as we were confident that Chef Olivier would know which would be the right kind of dish to serve for each course. Needless to say, it was the right decision.

I began with a hot appetizer of Kiyora egg yolk poached in olive oil. The mustard provided a wonderful kick to cut through the richness of the yolks and brocolli coulis. There's so much flavours going on in the mouth, racing to a brilliant finish with the cumin-coated bread crumbs which were more than just an accessory.

My partner's cold appetizer of Mr Matsubara's ricoatta cheese was equally competent. Contrary to the Kiyora yolk, this was on the lighter end of the spectrum with a refreshing green tomato sauce to liven the palates. The spring garden composition included the dandelion that was said to have health benefits.

Our appetizers were followed by the "Coulicious". The crunchy bamboo ash powder black rice from Shiga prefecture was a perfect match with the well-seasoned white asparagus coulis and sautéed bamboo shoots. The surprise element here were the toasted almonds which added a light crispness to the dish. My black olive gin-no-mikazuki rice was paired with lusciously tendered red wine beef cheek and "Hitomi-gosun" carrot coulis which had an inexplicable sweetness that soothed the mind.

The total of 3 mains that followed did not depart too far from classic French dishes but they were outstanding on numerous levels. In particular, the lamb was the most delicious lamb we've ever had in our life. The tricky meat is roasted-braised-poached; a rare cooking process that born fruitful results on the texture. Next to the lamb was an unusual sight of tartar sauce on lamb tongue, not beef tongue, and some tangy sweetbread. Genius.

Desserts were another territory not to be underestimated. Who would have expect a beautiful chemistry between tomatoes and coconuts? Or superbly airy chocolate mousse with balsamic vinegar and plenty of crispy nuts? They might not be the most complex desserts out there but each is priced jaw-droppingly at ¥900 on the ala carte menu.

Beyond the food, what truly touched us were the humility of the chef who went the extra mile to serve food to each and every customer during the dinner service when we visited. This was truly one of the BEST MEALS I've ever had and I can't wait to return to try his new menu that will be launched end of May.

This is what I call, food from the heart

LUNCH 11:30 - 14:30 (L.O)
DINNER (Weekday/Sat.) 18:00 - 21:00 (L.O)
DINNER (Sun. or holiday) 18:00 - 20:00 (L.O)
〒107-0062 東京都港区南青山5-5-4 LUCE南青山2F
TEL 03-6712-5018
Luce Minamiaoyama 2F 5-5-4
Minamiaoyama Minato-ku Tokyo Zip107-0062 Japan
TEL 03-6712-5018

Lamb roasted-braised-poached / seared romaine lettuce / thyme-flavored gravy & black olive coulis
Black pepper-roasted ‘kajika’ fillet / young onion & potato with sherry vinegar sauce

Cheese selection: Hokkaido Mr.Noya, Shiga pref. Ms.Tsuyako & Hirosima pref Mr.Matsubara Selection

Crémet d’Anjou / mango compote / dragon fruit coulis

Tomato & coconuts composition

Manate’ milk chocolate mousse / crispy nuts / balsamic vinegar coulis
Strawberry Parfait with Pink Peppercorn
Four Textures of Strawberries
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