Tanuki Raw by Standing Sushi Bar and their Truffle Yakiniku Donburi

Tanuki Raw by Standing Sushi Bar and their Truffle Yakiniku Donburi

Address: 181 Orchard Road #02-03 Orchard Central

Opening hours: 11.30am to 10.30pm daily (Lunch set available from 11.30am to 3.00pm daily)

Introduction

Tanuki Raw, a sister restaurant of Standing Sushi Bar, is situated at level 2 of Orchard Central. It occupies a cosy corner just behind the escalator and this restaurant offers an indoor and outdoor seating. It’s actually an oyster bar that also offers a good selection of Japanese-inspired dishes such as Donburi and Sushi Roll. A price of their main course typically ranges from $16 – $20, however Tanuki Raw has a lunch menu which offers the exact item on their menu at a cheaper price. For instance, a Salmon Don that usually cost $18.00++ only cost $12.00++ during lunch.

Tanuki Raw Menu – Click to enlarge

Truffle Yakiniku Don ($14.80 during lunch and $18.00 during non lunch)

The Yakiniku Truffle Don is the signature rice bowl at Tanuki Raw that consist of Angus Short Rib slices, an onsen egg and a portion of seasoned rice drizzled with truffle soy sauce. This bowl scores a very high score in term of presentation and the taste is too able to match up to the expectation. The tender beef goes very well with the rice that is flavoured with Japanese mixed seasoning as well as the truffle oil. Needless to say, anything with an onsen egg with a soft boiled flowing egg yoke can’t really go wrong.

Yakitori Don ($12.00 during lunch and $16.00 during non lunch)

The Yakitori Don doesn’t sounds exactly exciting as it’s commonly found almost everywhere. However, this is actually one of the best that I had. The exterior of the chicken is surprisingly crispy whereas the inside is soft and tender. The rice is doused in a good serving of teriyaki sauce and goes very well with the crunchy vegetable. At $12.00++ (lunch menu) for it’s quality, i am quite pleased with this dish.

Salmon Don ($12.00 during lunch and $18.00 during non lunch)

The Salmon Don is also one of the popular choices here. It comes with three kinds of Salmon – sliced raw, cubes in mayonaise and seared. They are rather generous with the portion of salmon and the rice is flavoured as well. This is not a bad choice for Salmon lovers but I do prefer their Yakiniku Beef and Teriyaki Beef over this.

Chirashi Don ($17.80 during lunch and $20.00 during non lunch)

Chirashi Don is gaining popularity as people nowadays are no longer satisfied with just one kind of Salmon sashimi. The Chirashi don is served with six kinds of Sashimi, two kinds of Roe and a few slices of Tamago. At $17.80++, i wouldn’t say it’s cheap but with ingredients like Scallop, Sea Bream, Tuna, Salmon, Swordfish and Striped Jack, it’s quite a feast for the price that you are paying.

Superstar Roll ($11.00)

This seared salmon sushi roll is drizzled with savoury mentaiko sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and tempura flakes. The overall texture is pretty good with a mix of creamy and crispy texture. The seared salmon, as expected, has a smoky fragrance and the melty salmon texture is always the best part of dish . If I compare this with Koh Grill’s Shiok Maki, it’s still a little pale in comparison but for the price of $11++, I think it’s pretty not bad.

Instagram This ($13,00)

Yakiniku Steak, Tamago, Bacon, Melted Cheese, Ketchup, Mayo and Chopped Onions all in one roll. Sounds sinfully good isn’t it? Upon taking my first bite, this sushi roll actually tasted like cheese burger. There’s nothing bad to taste like cheese burger actually just that if I like to have cheese burger, likely I will have it at other places. Also the appearance of the roll doesn’t justify the name of “instagram this”. Most of my friends think that it’s ugly. Sad case.

Conclusion
I actually visited Tanuki Raw a couple of times, all during lunch time, before writing about them. Their Donburi is value for money and most of the quality are way above average and my favourite is definitely the Truffle Yakiniku Donburi. I have to highlight that their Yakitori Don is also a worthy mention.

I need to highlight that probably due to the seasoning or sauce in the rice, i was quite thirsty after the meal and was gobbling down water. However, Tanuki Raw is definitely the place to visit if you are looking for a comfortable japanese eatery that offers quality Donburi at a reasonable price.

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Tuk Tuk Cha, the Thai Milk Tea, Coffee and Golden Toast Specialist

Tuk Tuk Cha, the Thai Milk Tea, Coffee and Golden Toast Specialist

Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard #02-605A Suntec City Tower 3

Opening hours: 10.00 am to 9.00 pm daily

Introduction

Tuk Tuk Cha, a sister F&B business of Thai Boat Noodle at Bedok Point, specialises in Thai milk tea and toasts and they officially opened their door for business on 4 July 2015.

Tuk Tuk Cha is not exactly a sit-down cafe but more of a snack bar situated at Suntec City. Tuk Tuk Cha mainly offers Thai-style beverages like Thai Milk Tea, Thai Coffee and also Thai Green Milk Tea. They also offer savoury and sweet toast, together with Mango Sticky Rice, Papaya Salad. The Tuk Tuk converted dining table is their trademark that can not be missed.

Tuk Tuk Cha’ s Menu – click to enlarge

Golden Toast (Pandan Kaya Dip and Custard and Taro Kaya)

Their Pandan Kaya Golden Toast is definitely my favourite. The butter infused bread cube is quite remarkable, with the edges toasted to crisp while retaining a soft spongy center. Among the two flavours, i very much prefer the home-made pandan kaya over the Yam.

Unlike the pandan kaya, I felt that the Yam flavour is too mild and at first bite, it’s overpowered by the buttery bread. It’s quite a different story for the pandan.

Their pandan kaya is something different from our usual Kaya. It’s more creamy and has a very strong pandan flavour. This dip is not overly sweet and goes very well with the toasted bread cube. This dip is wiped completely clean by the time I finished the toast.

Sticky Rice Mango

At $6.00, it comes with a very reasonable serving of Mango. I have no complain for the Mango – thickly cut, juicy and sweet. I also like the pandan fragrance and a little savoury flavour from the glutinous rice. There’s quite some standard for such a food stand and the only complain is, the rice falls apart a little too easily.

Tom Yum Toast – Chicken Floss $2.50

This tom yum toast taste much better than it looks. It’s abit lacking in term of presentation but definitely not in taste. The sweet chicken floss is infused with a drench of spicy Tom Yum sauce, giving the toast of a mix of sour, spicy and sweet flavours. Note that the spicy level is higher than average, and that is what made it enjoyable.

Ice Thai Milk Coffee / Tea ($3.20 for a large size)

I prefer their Ice Coffee more than their tea. I like to highlight that like a true blue Thai Milk Tea / Coffee, Tuk Tuk Cha’s version is much sweeter than our Singapore version . I ordered a less sweet version during my subsequent visit.

I really like the strong coffee fragrance and the sugar level made this an instant energy booster. As for the tea, i feel it’s a little lacking in term of the richness in the milk taste.

Conclusion

I find that their concept is quite good, instead of doing as cafe style, they do in like a Ya Kun style and enables them to keep the price low. Among all, I like their golden toast the best. In Singapore, many similar bread toast is either too crispy or not cripsy enough but Tuk Tuk Cha’s is just to my liking.

Price wise, it’s very reasonable. $3.20 for a large ice milk coffee and $3.80 for their butter toast and despite the low price, the quality isn’t lacking either. This new addition in the mall gives me one more reason to be excited with the newly renovated Suntec City.

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Address: 398 Piccadilly

Opening hour: Mon to Fri 6.00am to 4.00pm, Sat 6.00am to 12.00pm, Closed on Sun

Food stall only opens till lunch time

Introduction

An army friend brought me to this canteen in Seletar Camp during my reservist period. It does not has a proper name and signboard, and people known this place as Canteen 398. I was very captivated by it’s ambience and atmosphere so I decided to write about it.

Went back to Canteen 398 in the morning to capture it’s morning glory

At a glance, you won’t be able to guess that it’s actually a functioning canteen

This canteen consist of three stalls – the drink stall, and a stall selling mixed vegetable rice and the third selling Malay food. I was there nearing to their closing time at about 4pm and only the drink stall is open so i didn’t have a chance to try out the food.

History of Canteen 398

Canteen 398 is a piece of vanishing history of Singapore. This place is situated in the vicinity of an army camp, Seletar Camp, but is open to public and is accessible by car without subjecting to any security check.

The history of this building goes all the way back to our post world war two era when Singapore is still under the colonisation of Britain. This building was used by the British army as their Corporal Mess. This building was subsequently converted to a Canteen in Year 1969 and the structure and interior of the canteen has been retained till now.

The Canteen

The interior design of Canteen 398 brings you back in time to a typical coffee shop in the early 1990s when solid wooden top table and red stackable chairs are still widely used. The old school mosaic tiles flooring and the unpolished wall and ceiling look are widely mimicked by our cafes nowadays. While exposed cable trunking and dangling cable is a big taboo for interior design nowadays, Canteen 398 serves us a reminder that such minor details do not matter back in those simpler days.

Even at a warm afternoon at 4pm, i felt a sense of serenity while I was seeping my Teh-C at the outdoor stone table. Sitting at the “al-fresco” area under a hundred years old tree, and away from the city and crowd gives an entire different meaning to the term “chilling”. I don’t think such a place like Canteen 398 can be found at anywhere else in Singapore.

Conclusion

The progress of Singapore is scarily fast and there is almost nothing to identify our childhood with. Yes, we do preserve the old, but only if it makes any commercial sense. Like our Kampong Buangkok, the last kampong in Singapore, eventually still has to make way for future development.

Coming here to Canteen 398 gives me a sense of closeness to this place although it’s only my first visit. It offers a glimpse of Singapore’s humble past when things are not as perfect and not as comfortable as today. However during then, everyone learnt to enjoy life’s simple pleasure.

If you are there, do have a chat with the drink stall owner Mr Toh. He’s really a friendly chap and i love his enthusiasm in introducing the Canteen’s history to us.

Given the current cafe hopping culture in a clean, air-conditioned environment, i like to highlight that Canteen 398 is definitely not the place for everyone. There is no fancy food menu to rave about and also no squeaky clean environment to talk about. However the experience at Canteen 398 is one of a kind in Singapore. You either hate it or you love it, and it’s definitely the later for me.

PS: I hope I don’t sound like an old man. I have readers who thought that I am in my late 40s. *faint* 

Direction 1 (by public transport)

Take bus 103 at Serangoon interchange and alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 22 stops later.

Direction 2 (by public transport)

Take a train to Sengkang MRT and transfer to LRT and alight at Thanggam LRT. Take a short 5 minutes walk to Jalan Kayu shop house and board bus 103.  Alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 4 stops later.

Lao Ban Zhai Roast Meat at Alexandra Village Hawker

Lau Phua Chay Roast Meat (老半齋烧腊)

Address: Alexandra Village Food Centre, 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1,  #01-20

Opening hours: Sun to Fri 11.00am to 7.00pm, closed on Sat

Introduction

Lao Ban Zhai (老半齋) roast meat is definitely not foreign to friends that live around Alexandra area. It’s situated at a far corner of Alexandra Village Hawker Centre. They are well known for the char-roasted char siew and unique braised sauce.

Braised Sauce

Their style of braised sauce is in a class of their own and we are unlikely to find another one that is similar to theirs. Although it does not appear visually appealing, like a bit of mess, the taste tells an entirely different story.

I thought the braised sauce taste very much like a mix of bean paste and sweet melted onion bits. Some may find this dark lumpy sauce a little too sweet but i personally like it very much and thought that this is exactly what made Lao Ban Zhai Roast Meat unique.

Roasted Char Siew

Apart from the braised sauce, the number one must-order is their Char Siew. Unlike some hawker stalls, Lao Ban Zhai uses cut that are moderately fatty. Each pieces of Char Siew are roasted to Char that gives a consistent level of sweet crisp to the meat. The char siew is fatty but not greasy, and some pieces of fat char siew simply melt in my mouth.

I also got to mention their chilli. This chilli is evidently drizzled with lime juice (i think), that gives the spicy chilli a fruity sour taste that goes perfectly with the Char Siew. It’s similar to how a piece of lime enhances the taste of a piece of a roasted chicken wing.

Lao Ban Zhai also sells roast meat and duck. I thought the two are NOT BAD, but the Char Siew is the one that is worth the calorie.

Conclusion

At $3.50 a plate, apart from the great tasting Char Siew and rice, you will still get a bowl of cabbage soup. I thought Lao Ban Zhai Char Siew rice is really well worth the money.

I enjoyed Lao Ban Zhai Roast Meat a lot while I was working in that area. Despite the long queue, it’s always worth the wait during lunch time. It’s one of my favourite Char Siew rice in Singapore and i will try to patronise this stall whenever i am in that area.

Tiong Bahru Wanton Noodle @ Golden Shoe Hawker

鹏 (Peng) Tiong Bahru Wanton Noodle

Address: 50 Market Street, #02-32, Golden Shoe Complex

Opening hours: Mon to Fri approximately from 8.00am to 4.00pm (or till sold out)

Introduction

When asked for the best hawker stall at the Golden Shoe Complex, this stall 鹏 (peng) Tiong Bahru Wanton Noodle will always come to people’s mind. It’s situated at Level 2 of the Golden Shoe Complex and stands out for the long long queue during lunch time. It comes at $3 and $4 bowl and for a better effect for my photo, I ordered the luxurious $4 version. At $4, I consider this as one of the most sumptuous Wanton Mee in Singapore.

The Wanton Noodle

The four dollars version comes with a generous serving of noodle (guarantee to fill your tummy), a good amount of home-roasted char siew, fried wanton, soup wanton, fried fish paste dumpling and a generous portion of vegetable and a fried fish ball.

鹏 Tiong Bahru Wanton Noodle is one of the few that roast their own Char Siew. The char siew is well caramelized and those who love charred Char Siew will definitely like their version. They offer mostly lean Char Siew so it tends to be a little dry, but not tough, and I thought it taste a little like Bak Kwa. For fatty Char Siew lover, you can ask for the fat portion (if it’s available) upon ordering. You won’t regret it.

Apart from the main attraction which is their Char Siew, i am pleasantly surprise that their noodle is also pretty decent. The noodle is a little thinner than usual. It does not lump together easily and it’s a little bouncy in texture. It’s lightly flavoured with pork lard and added stir-fried chilli. The skin of the soup wanton is a little too thin and it breaks rather easily, although it does not exactly affects the taste directly.

Conclusion

Peng Tiong Bahru Wanton Noodle may not be the best of the best in Singapore, it’s definitely one of the most satisfying one. At $3.00, it may be the cheapest Wanton Noodle in the CBD area that is worth your calorie. If you are looking for something cheap and good, you may want to consider dropping by this hawker centre within the CBD area. However, note that the average waiting time during lunch is about 15 minutes though.

Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot at Chinatown People’s Park Food Centre

Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot 日日红麻辣香锅

Address: People’s Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road #01-1042 & #01-1052

Opening hours: Mon to Sun 11.00am to 9.00pm

Introduction

Mala Hot Pot (麻辣香锅) originates from the Sichuan (四川) / Chongqing (重庆) region. It has a humble background and this everyday-dish is widely enjoyed by their ordinary folks. It has gained tremendous popularity in China and eateries selling Mala Hot Pot also started popping up in Singapore’s food court and hawker centre. In3 Singapore’s context, a hot pot refers to a steamboat kind of dish but this Hot Pot actually means Spicy Pot.

Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot (日日红麻辣香锅) is one of the first Mala Hot Pot eateries in Singapore. It has since gained much popularity and long queues are formed out this hawker stall during dinner hour. The concept of Mala Hot Pot is the diner will choose from a wide variety of ingredients (like our Yong Tau Foo) to be wok-fried in their Mala spicy sauce and to go with white rice. Some common ingredients are pork, chicken, luncheon meat, chinese sausage, veggies, bean stick, mushrooms, lotus root, potato etc.

Order at the stall in front, and collect it from stall behind

Pricing

Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot are well known for the good taste and affordability. Some of us may have seen food court selling Mala Hot Pot and they priced it according to weight (per 100g), which means a moderate size potato can already cost you two to three dollars, which is crazy. Even a piece of luncheon meat can cost three dollars for a thicker slice and you will only know the price after they weigh it. I think those kind of pricing is ridiculous and i never patronise those stalls ever since.

For Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot, you place your order with the stall lady and will be charged by per portion. It’s a dollar for a portion of non-meat ingredient, two dollars for meat and three dollars for seafood, and premium meat like beef, mutton, taiwan sausage and intestine.

The Level of Spiciness

Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot Menu and Price List

You will then decide the spiciness level, from non spicy, mild, moderate, spicy to extra spicy. For people who can take spicy stuff, the moderate (中辣) is pretty bearable. Probably only the spicy (大辣) flavour will give some kick.

The Hot Pot Itself

The hot pot is brought to taste by some basic ingredients like garlic, red chilli, dried chilli flakes, sugar, spring onion, pepper, sesame, chilli oil and their secret Mala spicy sauce. They claimed that their sauce is made up of more than twenty kinds of herbs and spices. The overall taste of the Mala Hot Pot is similar to Kung Pao Chicken but less sweet and much spicier. I personally like it very much.

Their thick vermicelli (濑粉) is a must order. During the process of wok frying, these vermicelli absorbs much of the Mala sauce and made them absolutely delectable. I ordered vermicelli, mushroom, lotus roots, potato, veg, tau pok, tau kee, golden mushroom and luncheon meat and it only cost me $10.00, which is good to be shared by two person. If you had other Mala Hot Pot before, you will know that Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot is definitely affordable and very much worth the price.

Conclusion

To be honest, I was a little sceptical about this Mala Hot Pot initially as the appearance does not look appealing at all. I sort of mix this up with their cold-stir veggie (凉拌菜) and i am not very into cold savoury dishes. It was the queue that convinced me to try and it was definitely a good decision (in you are into spicy stuff like me).

Do note that it’s a little oily so it’s not exactly the healthiest dish. But Ri Ri Hong Mala Hot Pot will always be in my mind if I happen to visit Chinatown. Now i understand why Mala Hot Pot can be so popular back in China. Cheap, good, shiok and spicy!