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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Seafood Buffet Extravanganza at Swissotel Merchant Court Ellenborough Market Cafe

Seafood Buffet Extravanganza at Swissotel Merchant Court Ellenborough Market Cafe

Address: 20 Merchant Road, Swissotel Merchant Court

Introduction

Ellenborough Market Cafe, has always been very well known for their International Buffet and famous for their selection of Peranakan food. Thank you Diane from Swissotel for the invitation to the launch of this Seafood Buffet Extravaganza. This buffet is available till 26th July and only for dinner.

This $68++ seafood buffet comes with a good selection of seafood like Chilli Crab, Black Pepper Slipper Lobster, Black Bean Slipper Lobster, Salt Baked Crab, Black Pepper Crab, White Pepper Crab, Scallop Fried Noodle, Crab Meat Fried Rice, Salmon Sashimi and Big Prawn Noodle.

Note what what’s indicated here may not be available all at once. For instance, the black pepper crab and black bean slipper lobsters are available as alternate menus. For this session, a few of their signatures are plated separately so some of my photo’s plating is not what you will see during the buffet.

Black Pepper Slipper Lobster

This is my favourite of the day. The texture of the meat taste very fresh, succulent and the sauce is very much to my liking – rich, flavorsome, with just the right spiciness and a hint of sweetness. Most importantly, it’s relatively easier to eat comparing to their cousin prawn and cousin crab, and it’s free-flow.

Chilli Crab with Mantou

For someone who like Tomato Sauce, I thought the sweetness is ok but some at the table feedbacked that the chilli sauce is a little too sweet. The size of the crab, both served and at their buffet counter are quite well-sized. The crab meat is pretty sweet and overall a decent dish.

Salt Baked Crab
I have mixed feelings about the dish. On one hand, the originally succulent meat became a little dry due to the baking but on the other hand, it’s packed with the fragrance of spices upon taking a bite. I think this is something of acquired taste but personally I prefer something crabs that are juicier.

Mantis Prawn Noodle Soup

I wasn’t expecting a lot of a seemingly local dish from an international buffet but the soup managed to convince me to go for a second bowl. There’s no mantis prawn in the noodle as it’s only used in cooking of the broth. The soup is rich in flavour, seafood sweet and is pretty good for a buffet standard. However, I’m not sure if people will be too excited over prawn noodle at an international buffet though.

Steam Grouper with Superior Sauce

If you fancy those Hong Kong Style steam grouper served at a wedding banquet, this is what to be expected from this grouper. The tender steamed fish is fresh and soft and love the sauce that comes with it. A good choice to balance off the strong flavoured chilli crab and pepper slipper lobster.

Others savoury selections

On my visit, Ellenborough also offers staple food like Crabmeat Fried Rice, Scallop Fried Noodle and Seafood Bee Hoon. For finger food, there are Fried Crab Claw, Prawn Kueh Pie Tee and Grilled Otah. Then there’s the usual cold selections with the must-have Salmon Sashimi, Chilled Baby Lobster, Snow Crab, Flower Crab and Scallop on Shell. They also offer a spread of cakes, pastries and nonya dessert like Cheng Teng, Burbur Cha Cha and Tao Suan.

And of course, a meal at Ellenborough is not complete until you have a bowl of their infamous Durian Pengat. This signature dessert of theirs has always been my all-time favourite and is always available during lunch and dinner.

Conclusion

Price wise, it will be more worth it if you visit in fours as there’s a 3-for-1 credit card promo going on, which adds up to about $60 nett per head. I think the pricing is quite reasonable, especially when some people of us can fork out $50 for a lobster roll.

Although Ellenbourough does not have the widest selection for buffet comparing to some buffet lines nowadays, i thought the spread is pretty sumptuous, with the focus on the more expensive seafood for this seafood Extravaganza. Taste wise, Ellenborough has been very consistence in delivering food quality of a certain standard and keeping their customers satisfied.

If there is one thing to improve, it’s probably their dessert selections. The classic Peranakan Kueh selection is awesome however i personally feel that they may want to instill some fresh and interesting dessert ideas that may attract the younger crowd.

On a side note, i really think the lighting of the restaurant is not very photo friendly. It’s not easy trying to take a decent shot of their food, especially at the buffet line area where it’s all harsh yellowish light that made the food photo not as exciting, which to a certain degree, impacting the influence on the social media platform.

KL Hokkien Mee by Kong Kee

KL Hokkien Mee by Kong Kee

Address: 19 & 20 China Street, Far East Square

Opening hours: 11.00am to 9.30pm daily

Introduction

B.K.T by Kong Kee, i remembered my first visit when there was a Groupon deal and i visited them because it’s so near my office. During then, there’s no KL Hokkien Mee on their menu yet and their Bak Kut Teh is quite forgettable then and it was like two years back. This time, the Hokkien Mee signage manage to lure me back into the restaurant and I decided to give it a go again, and I’m glad I did.

Kong Kee Menu – Click to enlarge

In Singapore, there are two kinds of Hokkien Noodle. One is the Hokkien Prawn Noodle, which is stir fried in a clear broth, and the second type is the Char Hokkien Mee that’s commonly found at Cze Char stall whereby flat yellow noodle is cooked in a brownish sauce and the end product is normally quite wet.

B.K.T by Kong Kee Menu – Click to enlarge

Kong Kee’s is offering a third version, which they claimed that such noodle is found in Kuala Lumpur, where the noodle is simmers in a thick black sauce and this version is slightly dryer than our typical Singapore version.

KL Black Style Hokkien Mee ($13.00++)

At $13.00++ in a CBD restaurant environment and is good to be shared among two, I would say this is not expensive at all. The soup stock is cooked using big bone (pork), chicken and flat fish, heated over a small flame for over five hours. Upon ordering, a short waiting time is required as the noodle is submerged and simmered in the thick black sauce for fifteen minutes to ensure that the essence permeate into each and every strand of noodle.

Their noodle is specially imported from KL and i love the texture. It’s thicker than those that we typically find in Singapore, and it’s exceptionally bouncy and chewy. And best of all, it has almost zero alkali taste. Each and every strand of noodle is infused with a good coat of their black sauce which every mouthful is accompanied by the pork lardy fragrance.

The flavour is not “gelat” as anticipated, which the sauce taste quite mild for it’s appearance. It’s less sweet than our Char Kway Teow but taste is definitely as addictive.

Klang Bak Kut Teh ($7.30++)

This Klang-style black herbal Bak Kut Teh’s is also quite a darling, which has improved since i had it two years ago. The soup is rich, sweet and packed with flavours with a good amount of herbal taste. The appearance doesn’t look too appealing though and the only complain is, each bowl of black Bak Kut Teh only comes with a fix portion of soup.

But shouldn’t there be refill? Yes there is, but it will be refilled with the white peppery Bak Kut Teh instead which i think their white peppery style Bak Kut Teh is still not there yet. According to the staff, she explained that for the black style Bak Kut Teh, unlike the white one, the ingredients and spices used can only produce one bowl of herbal soup with this portion of meat.

Dry Bak Kut Teh ($13.80++)

Did I mentioned that their dry style Bak Kut Teh is the best dish that i had two years ago. This was the only dish that made my travel worthwhile then. It has a very heavy flavour, which is something like Kung Pao Chicken but even more flavourful, and with shredded cuttlefish scattered onto the dish. The sauce coated the rib well and is surprisingly tender. At $13.80++, it’s not exactly cheap though.

Conclusion

I definitely had a better experience with their food on my second visit to B.K.T by Kong Kee. They managed to introduce a noodle dish into a Bak Kut Teh restaurant, which surpasses all other Bak Kut Teh related dishes in term of taste.

For their menu, one page indicate Kong Kee and the other page indicates B.K.T by Kong Kee. This made their branding a little confusing and not too sure what should I be naming them.

But no matter what it is, the KL Hokkien Mee has my vote and if I have the chance, I probably will try the more pricey Sang Har Min (Prawn Noodle). For those who had very good Hokkien Mee in KL, feel free to feedback on the authenticity of their taste and quality.

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar’s Shiok Maki, the most satisfying Maki in Singapore (with menu)

Koh Grill Sushi and Bar

Address: 435 Orchard Road, #04-21, Wisma Atria Shopping Centre

Opening hour: 11.30am to 10.30 pm daily

Introduction

It’s like finally I managed to visit this place. As many of you had already know, Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is famous for one thing – their Shiok Maki. For my non-Singaporean reader, Shiok is a Singapore slang that conveys a feeling of sheer happiness and pleasure. Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is situated within the food court, Food Republic of Wisma Atria.

I’d heard about the long waiting time to get a seat at Koh Grill & Sushi Bar and that’s what exactly kept me from paying a visit after so long. Seems like the wait is not so bad recently as I got a table immediately on a weekday lunch time.

Their menu is surprisingly extensive, with selection ranging from Sushi, to Bento, Sashimi, Grill, Soup, Hotplate and Noodle, and the price looks pretty reasonable.

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar Menu – Maki and Sushi (click to enlarge)

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar Menu – Main course and Ala Carte (click to enlarge)

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar – Bento Menu (click to enlarge)

Shiok Maki Generation 1 ($16.80++)

There are currently two versions of Shiok Maki, and the difference is one is the grilled unagi (eel) version and the other is the fried prawn version. A serving of their Shiok Maki cost $16.80++ for eight pieces of Maki. I was not exactly a fan of Maki but these made me one.

The exterior of the Maki is wrapped with thin layer of soft salmon sashimi, followed by a roll of Japanese rice, seaweed, and then with the charcoal grilled unagi as it’s center. These Maki are then drizzled by the star of the show, a layer of thick special blend of mayonaise, which part of it are torched to give an enticing appearance and a smoky fragrance. The dish is finally completed with a generous sprinkle of roe. Gobble it up in a mouthful to understand why it is call the Shiok Maki.

However I feel that it’s a little wasteful to eat everything in a go because i won’t be able to appreciate the taste of the individual ingredient. For instance, the charcoal grilled unagi is actually very good by itself. There is almost zero fishy taste in it and is skillfully grilled with a good smoky flavour.

This Shiok Maki is a little pricey, at almost $2.50 per piece but I would say it’s worth it. However, if you are not a mayonaise fan, this Maki probably won’t work as well for you.

Sashimi Sushi Moriawase ($16.90++)

This Bento Set cost $16.90++ and it comes with three kinds of sashimi and four kinds of sushi, california roll and a bowl of mini udon. i feel that it’s quite value for money, and that’s much about it.

The udon taste quite average and the sashimi isn’t much exciting either. Those that like fatty fish may find these a little disappointing.

Asparagus Buta Special ($10.00++)

How can I visit Koh Grill without ordering any grilled item right? So I decided to order this “thumbsup” item – stir fried asparagus wrapped in grilled pork belly and it’s actually pretty lovely.

Imagine crunchy asparagus wrapped in thinly sliced grilled pork belly, sizzled in a garlicky pepper mix. Koh Grill & Sushi Bar also brushed a layer of their infamous mayonaise on each pieces of pork belly to complete the final touch. Apart from the Shiok Maki, this is probably something I will order again for my next visit.

Garlic Fried Rice ($5.00++)

This fried rice smells very good when it’s served and upon a closer look, some of the rice grains were burnt. It’s actually not a big problem but the problem lies in the whole dish is not salty enough. Thumbs up for the fragrance but not for the flavour.

Conclusion

Apart from the Shiok Maki, except for the Asparagus Buta Special, the rest that i had are not as impressive. Their menu is really extensive so do let me know if you have any recommendations for their main course.

Left – Sake Aburi $4.20++ for 2 pcs Right – Sake Belly Aburi $5.00++ for 1 pc Taking the diff in price, non belly version is good enough for me

I visited Koh Grill & Sushi Bar with some expectation for it’s Shiok Maki and they actually managed to meet my expectation. Shiok Maki is like the junk food of Makis, which is not as healthy, but provides a good level of satisfaction, or like what it promised – Shiok. If the length of the queue remains short, I really don’t mind coming back to have their Shiok Maki again.

Lan Fong Yuen and their famous Pork Chop Bun

Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) and their famous Pork Chop Bun

Opening hour: Mon to Sat 7.00am to 6.00pm

English Address (Google Map): 2 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong

Chinese Address: 中環結志街2號

Introduction

Everyone has definitely heard of two famous beverages that are widely available in most Hong Kong Cafe – Yuan Yang (鸳鸯) and Stocking Milk Tea. It was said that these beverages originated from Lan Fong Yuen (Yuan Yang is a kind of hot beverage where it’s made up of coffee, tea, carnation milk and sugar) and they are the only stall that is selling these drinks in the olden days.

Lan Fong Yuen started their operation back in 1952 as a Dai Pai Dong. Although they had already moved their cafe operation into a building,  the iconic red and green stall is still preserved just outside the cafe. Food wise, they are very well known for three items – their award winning pork chop bun, french toast and chicken chop noodle.

Menu 1: Click to enlarge

Menu 2: Click to enlarge

French Toast

I asked for a recommendation and the staff proudly recommended their french toast as a must-try and i can see why. Among the french toast that i had in Hong Kong, Lan Fong Yuen is definitely the best.

Their french toast is coated with a generous layer of not-overly-sweet egg and the toast is bursting with the fragrance of butter. Unlike some french toast, this is not overly greasy. There is a thin layer of coconut custard (kaya) sandwiched between the toast that adds on a coconut fragrance that does not overpower the taste 0f the egg toast.

If you are into really sweet stuff, try drizzling the toast with the honey syrup. I will definitely be back for more of their Hong Kong style french toast.

Pork Chop Bun

Within the cafe, you can see newspaper cuttings all over the shop and majority comes with a photo of their pork chop bun. It is pretty clear that which is the most popular item in the cafe.

I really wish that I can say that it’s the best pork chop bun that i had, but it’s really not. Perhaps it has something to do with expectation vs reality. The pork chop bun is nice, but i thought it doesn’t taste much different from those selling in a random Cha Can Teng that i had visited.

In fact,  the French toast left a much greater impression than their pork chop bun. I prefer the pork chop bun of Sing Heung Yuen anytime and it is only a couple of minutes walk away.

Stocking Milk Tea

Their famous stocking milk tea is something I enjoy. The tea is really rich and smooth and I thought it’s outstanding for the generous proportion of milk vs tea. Every sip of the tea is accompanied by a rush of milk fragrance.

At first sip, honestly, i thought that it taste similar to our Teh-C Kosong of Song Fa Bak Kut Teh in Singapore (i used to frequent Song Fa everyday for breakfast). However, I must explain that it does not mean that Lan Fong Yuen’s milk tea is just so-so. This means that our Teh-C Kosong’s standard is not bad too.

Conclusion

Out of the three items that I ordered, surprisingly, it’s the French toast that stood out. I’m a little disappointed by their pork chop bun cus it’s highly raved about online but in reality, it didn’t exactly live up to expectation. It’s definitely not awful,  just not fantastic but i think it’s probably worth the try just for it’s reputation. Never try never know right?

If I have enough stomach space, I would have ordered their Chicken Steak Instant Noodles with Green Onion Sauce (蔥油雞扒撈丁) and this will be on my to-eat list for my next visit. I believe this will not be my last visit to Lan Fong Yuen because I just found my favourite french toast in Hong Kong.

Chicken Chop Noodle, 2nd row on the left

Map and Directions

1. The nearest MTR station is Central

2. Come out from Exit G (along Pedder Street)

3. Walk towards Queen’s Road Central and cross to the other side of the road

4. Turn left into D’Aguilar Road. Walk along and look for Wellington Street on the right. This should be an uphill area.

5. You should probably see Yung Kee Roast Goose and walk along Wellington Street

6. Turn left into Lyndhurst Terrace and keep a lookout for Gage Street. You will see Lan Fong Yuen on the left side of the road.