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Showing posts with label Jap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jap. Show all posts

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bites NLD: Sushi Time @ Morikawa, The Hague

It has been over a year since I had eaten proper sushi.  No not those on the carousel or those that is served by the thousands.  But instead, a sushi place where the every detail is looked into.  The seaweed treated, fish handpicked and flavours carefully composed.  Do not misunderstand me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bulk sushi (which I often eat) but there are times when you are looking for something that is extra special.  Naturally, when I heard that there was a place in town that specialises in sushi, I was super keen.  The restaurant is Morikawa and it is the most popular sushi place in the Hague and in a country like the Netherlands where the herring is eaten raw daily, I expected nothing less than the amazing.
Coming in, my colleagues and I were seated by the bar and ordered the sushi set meal.  The meal was a “trust the chef” or Omakase sushi meal that consists of 10 Nigiri Sushi, 2 types of Maki and a Tamago.  The reason why I chose to sit at the bar counter was so that the I can be served each sushi individually and the chef could explain each dish.  

Sadly, this was not the case.  The chef made 3 plates of Nigiri and gave it to us.
A bit of a disappointment to not be served the sushi individually I have to say.  But if the sushi served to us was of great quality, then nothing else matters.  My verdict on the 10 Nigiri Sushi:  It was decent, and over all OK.  The plate had a 50-50 mix of raw and “cooked” sushi.  The Tuna was really nice along with the Snapper topped with marinated ginger.  The prawns were mediocre at best and the Aburi Scallop Nigiri tasted repetitive as it was topped with a similar tasting topping.  The Tobiko Nigiri was a little boring honestly!  While I had no big favourites on the platter, the aburi salmon was good though I felt like I had tasted better at chain restaurant!  Last but not least, I was totally let down by the lack of attention to detail especially with the poached crab sushi that felt so un-cared and unloved when compared to my meal at Sushi Azabu last year! See this for comparison and tell me!

The second platter looked very attractive.  But did it taste as good as it looked?  I wonder!
Actually it was again another serve of OK sushi.  I do not think that anything on the plate particularly wow-ed the table.  The tuna roll tasted a little blend while the rolled covered in a colourful leaf carried a small piece of fish that was extremely potent in fishy flavours.  I think the table was quite appalled by that roll haha.  Last but not least, the Tamago was good and provided the most salvation for this plate of rolled sushi!
Morikawa was not a cheap affair but neither did produce a mind boggling bill.  However, the lack of sociability from entrance to seating to eating to finishing the meal made this an underwhelming sushi experience.  Then comes the part where I asked the chef whether there was an order which I should approach the sushi from and he said no.  He said "All the same just start where you would like to,".  That literally threw me off.  There is always a logic or intention in cooking.  At Morikawa there was none.  Was he for real?  Well, he walked off after serving us so I guess he was serious.  Morikawa has just came out of a long 2 week hibernation during my visit.  Perhaps it was a case of lost touch of some sort but I could in no way pair the level of respect present in the general public against the food I was served today. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bites: Bento Feast @ JBento, Victoria Park

Its my 4th time back in Perth only to be greeted by gloomy clouds and torrential rain.  Nevertheless, this was a good opportunity for me to be at home and get updated on the eateries in town which I have yet to dine at.  Naturally, the eateries within the vicinity of my area was my first search which landed me at part-time/pop-up eatery called Jbento. Operating 5 days a week, Monday to Friday from 11.30-2.30pm, Jbento serves Japanese/Korean inspired lunch boxes. Scanning the menu from top to toe, Jbento offers a whole array of Japanese delights like the all time favourites the Kaarage, Teriyaki, and Tempura with some even more premium traditional Japanese food like the simply grilled mackerel and miso butter steak.  If you are a big fan of the Korean culture, be delighted to see the likes Bulgogi and its spicy pork rendition the Jaeyuk Bokkum on the menu.
For the penny-wise, JBento happily takes the pinch off the pocket by catering free tea, so rock up the counter, pay for your food and start mixing your very own drink of macha.  Have it strong or subtle, I was happy that it was a premium free unlike Taka’s infamous brown tea which was back then, a varsity staple.

After ordering, the food does not take long to come and we got ours after about 5-10 minutes.  Initial impressions were positive.  I found that the dishes might sound very typical or simple if you would like, but came out with enough swag to impress.  It felt complete.  A serve of meat, three simple salads; one green, a marinate seaweed and a potato salad with two mounds of rice shaped and topped with rice seasoning.  Packed in a neat bento box, it was a beauty.
YH’s choice, the Spicy Pork Bulgogi or Jaeyuk Bokkum ($10.90) was first out.  Thin slices of pork coated in a sticky sauce that is sweet, spicy and salty had Korea written all over it with a personal touch of the chefs at JBento.  Least to say, I was happy.  The Bento Boxes at JBento also has three little salads on the side to cool the heat down while keeping the meal balanced. These together with the customary Bento shaped rice made this very nicely composed meal.
My choice of meal at JBento was the Miso Butter Steak Bento Box ($14.90).  While more pricey that its Teriyaki and Kaarage counterpart, the Miso Butter was a good enough reason for this order.
Expect tender pieces of chunky steak cooked to medium and topped by a knob of tantalising Miso butter.  Just watching it melt over the steak was sensational.  The whiff of butter through the dish made the end felt a little oily but the taste of Miso Butter was so rich and yummy.  I really enjoyed this.

Ever since Fuji closed in Victoria Park 4 years ago, I spend much time looking up and down the Albany Highway strip for a good Japanese only to drive away empty handed or go home disappointed.  I daresay that the quality Jbento bring to the table is superb despite only eating here once.  Do not get me wrong, nothing here reinvents the old but a touch of class in its presentation while acing the basic fundamentals make this a great quick bite.  In addition to that, the Bento Boxes are well priced and moderate in size but high in satisfaction.  Definitely a place that will join my list of places for a quick bite within the precinct.  Great stuff!

JBento on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bites: Kai Japanese @ Bull Creek

Ramen has always been a pleasure food for me.  The act of slurping piping hot noodles is something mom strongly suggests against, but in cold weather, it is simply joy.  Summer has been quite mild this year and with the festive season kicking in, most places are often close.  But if you are craving for some ramen, it is good to know your choices.  To feed my ramen cravings this time, I headed to a quaint place in Bull Creek called Kai Japanese.  With no more than 15 seats in the eatery, it is highly recommended to come before the peak hours which are normally 12-1pm or 6.30-8pm.
While many people here ordered Bentos and Donburis, their ramen is equally famous.  XL, Fishman and I ordered different types of ramen to see which came best.  To accompany our cha-su (sliced pork) laden ramen, we also called for a side of Kaarage.PC280010Bloody delicious.  It was srispy, fragrant and tender in each bite making the Kaarage at Kai so good it is only to be beaten by my favourite one in Toraya.  Squeeze some lemon to reduce the oiliness of dish dish before dunking it back into a rich chili mayonnaise for a food-gasm.  Outrageous.  Not bad at all.  
The first ramen on the table that day was the Shoyu Ramen or Soy-based Ramen ($9.90).  Initial impressions were decent but the overpowering flavor of the bamboo shoots makes it a hard sell.  For some odd reason, the “canned bamboo shoots” flavor were overly intense.  For this reason, my favourite Shoyu is still the one at Pak Dosukoi Ramen in Fremantle or the City.  After that comes my Miso Ramen ($9.90).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing to note about Kai’s ramen is their soy egg which is given for all flavors of ramen.  It is superbly moreish and not many places in Perth (if any at all) serves it the way Kai does. In fact, a ramen place called Arigataya (Roe St, Northbridge) served me a fully hard boiled one which was sadly, boring.  But that is where the good news ends for my Miso Ramen.   The soup had a distinctive Miso taste that was slightly spicy.  But my biggest dislike about this was how there were chunky slices of vegetables throughout my soup. It felt in many ways, catered to a distinctive group of people despite the generous slices of Cha-su.  Even more dislike was how the vegetable tended to overpower the flavor of the miso at times.  An OK ramen this was, but definitely to Nao Ramen (Murray St., Perth) for the best Miso Ramen albeit its significantly more expensive pricing.
While the Shoyu and Miso Ramen did not quite hit my fancy, there was one particular ramen that totally hits the sweet spot.  It was Kai Japanese’s Tonkatsu Ramen ($9.90).PC280018It was simply superb this one.  Look at the how rich the soup is.  Ramen for me is all about the soup.  You can take away the egg, the meat, the Naruto and all the other condiments.  But if the soup is good, it is something to rave about already. Such is the story of the ramen.  The noodles like its other less favorable counterparts were cooked to perfection, the Japanese al dente.  Pick it up with a pair of chopsticks and it retains enough springiness to keep its strand of noodle wavy, not withered like a dead plant.    Considering how lardy this was, it definitely is not an everyday affair but when you are in the mood for something like this after a month of fasting, you deserve it.   If it is any consolation, the Cha-su here is extremely lean unlike the ones in Dosukoi, Nao or Ippudo Ramen.  In fact, it reminds me like the one at Menya Musashi. 
While I can really repeat the same thing over and over again, I have to say that Kai Japanese really did leave a great impression.  Despite needing a 20 plus minutes drive to reach, it was worth it.  Tasty noodles, with some really good flavor.  For me, it was all about the Tonkatsu Ramen but you might like something different, so do not limit yourself and give it all a try :)!  Lastly, the price at Kai Japanese in Bull Creek is really reasonable.  All their ramen is priced at $9.90 which puts it on par with Dosukoi Ramen and about $3.50 cheaper(for the Cha-su Ramen) than Nao Ramen in the city.  If you live in the Melville area, you have my envy! But if you are like me who sometimes suffer from a Ramen craving, definitely try Kai Japanese when other venues are exhausted.  Oh and did I mention that parking is a breeze here?  Super convenient ;)!

Kai Japanese on Urbanspoon