Tae Woo Korean Restaurant – Singapore’s Best Jajangmyeon

Tae Woo Korean Restaurant  (태우반점)

Jajangmyeon, is a Korean dish well known by all. Before my trip to Seoul, little did I know that Jajangmyeon is not readily available in any Korean restaurant but only selling it in Chinese restaurant in Korea. It is kind of a fusion between Chinese and Korean dish. Jajangmyeon is one of the first Korean dishes that i’d known because it’s quite commonly found in Singapore. In this post, I’m writing about the best one that I had in Singapore. Tae Woo Korean Restaurant is situated at level 3 of The Central Clarke Quay, just above TCC. Tae Woo actually has quite a reputation among the Singapore Korean community due to it’s authentic Korean taste. This place is not crowded most of the time, but I’m bound to see Korean speaking patrons whenever I visit this place. There isn’t any hot stone rice, Korean BBQ and there’s also no Army Stew on their menu. What they are offering are more of a typical Chinese Korean menu like Jajangmyeon, Seafood Noodle (Jjamppong), Sweet and Sour Pork (Tangsuyuk) and Gyoja.

Menu: Click to enlarge

Jajangmyeon ($12.00++)

At $12.00, i consider this as reasonably priced. I really like the texture of their handmade noodle. It’s rather chewy, a little soft but not to the extend of soggy. The Jajang is not starchy and not overly watery but with just the right thickness that clings to every strand of noodle. The sweetness of their bean paste sauce mainly come from the cubes of meat and the onions, which is cooked till melty soft. The slight greasy Jajang is smooth and really enjoyable. For people that like it salty, you can stir in the separate plate of their Chunjang. Comparing to the Jajangmyeon that I had in Singapore, Taewoo’s is easily the best that i had and it is very very similar to the one in Seoul (read more about Andongjang, the oldest Korean Chinese restaurant in Seoul). Tangsuyuk ($26.00++)

Tangsuyuk is another very popular Chinese dish in Korea. It translate directly to Sweet & Vinegar Pork (糖醋肉). The idea is very similar to our Singapore’s sweet and sour pork, whereby pork is portioned into bite size, breaded and fried, and tossed in a sweet sour sauce. There’s no pineapple, but these stripes of pork is tossed into a mix of onion, carrot and black fungus and the sour taste mainly come from white vinegar. Unlike our Singapore style sweet sour pork, there is traces of ginger taste in the breading. It is quite good when it’s served and it’s a pity that the sweet vinegar sauce is a little too much and the crispy pork strips got soaked and became soggy after a while. I personally still think that cutting pork into cubes give a better texture than strips. For the price of $26 and for it’s portion, I would prefer our Singapore style sweet and sour pork. Japchae Bap ($17.00++)

Chapchae can be served as both main course and side dish. In this case, it’s served together with a portion of rice as Japchae Bap. It is freshly stir fried and served steaming hot. Apart from the usual ingredient carrot and onion, Taewoo’s version is a more luxurious version with added slices of pork, black fungus and green pepper. This Japchae is slightly peppery and is full of sesame oil fragrance. Unlike the side dish version of Japchae where it’s cold, drier with a bouncy texture, this is served hot, moist and soft. It also comes as a surprise as I didn’t realise that Japchae actually goes pretty well with white rice. I have no complain on this Japchae and in fact it’s pretty good! Conclusion

At a glance of the menu, i wouldn’t use the word affordable to describe the price tag of the dishes. Among them, their Jajangmyeon should be the most reasonably priced and sometimes I will visit Taewoo just for that when I’m having craving for some authentic Korean Jajangmyeon. Taewoo is a hidden gem at The Central and there’s not much crowd here and I like the fact that i can always get a table immediately. I wouldn’t recommend to start a feast at Taewoo as it might cost you a bomb. I do recommend their Jajangmyeon very much, and probably try out the other dishes, one new dish per visit.

Advertisements

Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo, the Hidden Gem at Upper Thomson Roada

Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo

Address: 928 Upper Thomson Road

Opening hours: 10.00 am to 8.00 pm daily

Introduction

This Yong Tau Foo was recommended by a friend staying nearby and i had been a fan since then. Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo has been around in Singapore for about 45 years old. It was said that the first generation owner is a relative of the originator of Ampang Yong Tau Foo in Malaysia. The knowledge on how to prepare a bowl of good and authentic Ampang Yong Tau Foo was then imparted to this family. The recipe is tweaked over the years to what it is today.

Ngee Fou is situated at the far northern part of Upper Thomson at the Springleaf area and it spans over two shops. Apart from Yong Tau Foo, they also sell drinks, chicken and duck rice. Although it’s location is rather ulu, there is still a pretty decent crowd at meal time.

Ampang Yong Tau Foo

Ngee Fou charges their Yong Tau Foo at an affordable $4 per person and you place your order by stating the number of pax and the auntie will take care of the rest. A portion of their Yong Tau Foo comes with fried bean stick, fried wanton, fried quail egg, fish ball, tau kwa, tau pok, tofu, brinjal, lady’s finger, bitter gourd and tonnes of kangkong, drenched in their secret gravy.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the Ampang Sauce. The secret to their recipe is very well kept and the boss is unwilling to disclose them on various media interviews. It was mentioned that this gravy is made with more than 10 kinds of ingredients and spices.

Despite trying hard to analyse what ingredients are used in the sauce, I only manage to figure out garlic and probably flat fish. Their thick sauce is not heavy on the stomach, comes with a slight tinge of sweetness and a decent amount of garlic fragrance, and goes exceptionally well with all the Yong Tau Foo items.

My two favourite items are the fried bean stick and the kangkong. Unlike some bean stick that you find at vegetarian stall which is typically thin and flimsy, this one is well-fried, thick and crunchy. It’s exceptionally good when it’s half soaked with gravy and half crispy. Normally I will sacrifice the bitter gourd and brinjl to exchange for more of these.

As for the kangkong, they are really generous with the portion, considering it’s only for two person. Usually I am not a fan of non-sambal kangkong but this is one exception. Again, credit goes to the gravy for this lovely combination. The gravy coated vegetable is well boiled, soft enough and yet crunchy and gives a good balance over the fried stuff.

Normally it’s a SOP to order the Dumpling Soup together with their Yong Tau Foo. It’s cost $2.00 for five pieces of dumplings. To be honest, the soup has nothing much to shout about and I’m ordering this for their dumplings as an add on to the Yong Tau Foo ingredient. It’s more of a good to have than a must-order.

Conclusion

Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo is my choice for one of the unique and best Yong Tau Foo in Singapore. Apart from the great taste, it also comes at a great price. At $4 for ten items plus a big bunch of veggie, i consider this as very affordable. Most food court would have charge much more for a mediocre bowl of Yong Tau Foo. I also like the spacious dining environment despite being a coffee shop. The table is well space from each other without the feeling of being cramp up.

However, due to it’s location, it’s not a place that I will visit frequently, especially for people who don’t own their own transport. But who knows, the story may change when the Springleaf MRT station is completed in the near future.

Creamier Cafe, the hidden little Waffle Cafe at Toa Payoh

Creamier Cafe

Address (Google Map): 128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-835

Opening hours: Tue to Thu, Sun: 12pm to 10pm, Fri & Sat: 12pm to 11pm, Closed on Mon

Introduction

I had been really into Waffle recently, but with so many cafes selling waffles, which is Indeed the best? This is a very challenging question because you declare a waffle cafe as the best, and ten new waffle cafes pop up on the next day, and the hunt continues. As such, finding a best waffle is not very feasible but finding the good ones is not a difficult task.

Recently there had been a lot of attention on this small little neighbourhood waffle place at a super hipster location – The Creamier Cafe. It’s situated in between Toa Payoh MRT and Braddell MRT.

Their menu: Click to enlarge

I consider it within walking distance from Braddell MRT but it takes a little time though. Creamier is hidden among the daily provision shops beneath a HDB block and I was like “Huh? Confirm can find Waffle Place at this neighbourhood or not?”.

Creamier Cafe mainly sells waffle, ice cream and beverages (coffee, tea and alcoholic drink) and there is also a self service ice water counter.

Waffle with Ice Cream

I ordered their Waffle with Ice Cream ($8.50) with additional scoop of Ice Cream at mere additional $2.50 (+ $0.80 for premium flavor). Comparing to the recent waffles I had, creamier is really generous in term of portion of their ice cream and this is a great plus.

The waffle itself is slightly sweetened and the shape of the heating pan ensures that the waffle is crispy at every edges. I love the egg fragrance of Creamier’s waffle with it’s fluffy moist center that is good even without the ice cream. i thought it lived up to its name of “best waffle in Singapore”.

The sea salt Gula Melaka is definitely the icing on the cake that completes the great dining experience. The not overly sweet Gula Melaka flavour is well balanced with the salted taste and every mouthful is an enjoyment. I thought the madagascar vanilla flavour is a little more normal, or it’s just simply outshine by the sea salt Gula Melaka flavour.

Other ice cream flavours and light bites

Here are some ice cream flavours available at creamier:

Orange Cranberry Vodka, Summer Strawberries, Mango Passionfruit Sorbet, Orange Milk Chocolate, Thai Milk Tea, Banana Chocolate, Chips Crumbles, Butterscotch Almond, Roasted, Pistachio, Chestnut Rum, Earl Grey Lavender, Strawberry Lime Sorbet, Black Sesame, Cookies and Cream, Plain Ole Chocolate

I think they don’t sell savoury items though. They do offer “light bite” of the day. On my visit, they are offering Windowsill Pies ($7.50).

Conclusion

Although the location of Creamier is rather inaccessible for friends who are not driving, i still consider it as walking distance from Braddell MRT. It’s actually a very straight forward walk along a stretch of sheltered walkway until you see a wet market and creamier is just around the corner.

Creamier Cafe’s waffle is something worth trying, but probably not for frequent visits unless you are driving or staying around the area.

The one thing i dont really like is the super small table and the cramp dining area. I was sitting in the middle of the cafe and it was so cramp that i had to lean forward whenever a person needs to walk past me. Probably It will be a better experience if i took up the corner seat.

Else, everything else is good.

Coffee Libre – The (Really) Hidden Gem among Hongdae Cafes

Coffee Libre (커피 리브레)

English Address (Google Map) : 227-15 Yeonnam, Mapo, Seoul

Korean Address: 서울시 마포구 연남동 227-15a

Operating hours: 12.00 pm – 9.00 pm, closed every Monday

I recommend you to use Naver Map for direction to Libre Coffee as it’s more accurate.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Introduction

Coffee Libre is situated far from the happening part of Hongdae (홍대) and is tucked at a quiet corner at an old warehouse area. At a glance, no one would have guessed that such a inconspicuous cafe is far more popular than expected among the locals.

They don’t serve any food, not even puff or pastry. There are only two tables in the cafe, and the sitting capacity of the cafe is less than 10. And yet long queues were formed during working day’s meal hours. The reason? Quality coffee beans.

The Coffee Machine almost took up half of the space in the cafe. And from this angle, you can see both tables, one on the left, and one on the right.

Background of Coffee Libre

Coffee Libre is actually a side venture from their main line of coffee bean roasting (and they had won numerous awards). The team behind the roaster travels around the world in search of the best coffee beans and is involved in multiple coffee-related events in Seoul. Champion Barista Sang Ho Park has been using their beans in the UK Barista Championship. Sang Ho took the 2013 UK Brewers Cup title at The London Coffee Festival.

I’m sitting at one of the two tables

Their Coffee

On menu, Coffee Libre only serves 3 kinds of coffee – Espresso, Caffè Latte (espresso with milk) and Americano (espresso with water), at W$4000 each. Each cup of coffee is prepared by using their one of three kinds of espresso beans of the day.

Their menu with three kinds of beverages

You may also purchase their freshly roasted coffee bean and upon request, they will make a cuppa aeropress coffee for you right on the spot.

Generally, the espresso beans used in Singapore has quite a standard taste so that it’s widely accepted by the public. I tried Libre’s “Bad Blood” espresso bean and was blown away. The taste totally differs from the typical espresso taste. The coffee taste of bright acidity with a complex fruit blend.  I can’t really handle the taste as it totally deviates from Singapore’s traditional espresso bean. I had never tasted such a sour coffee in my life.

Initially i ordered their caffe latte (right) and notice the out-of-the-ordinary tinge of sour in their coffee and so i ordered the espresso (left) to confirm it.

The Caffe Latte at W$4000

I sat at the table and observed how did the Barista made an aeropress coffee for one of the customers who purchased coffee beans from the shelf. Perhaps he noticed how interested and captivated I were, he actually served the extra portion to me, free of charge. This roast is much easier to accept and I love it – Just a tinge of acidity, strong flavor and absolutely aromatic. The only problem is, I forgot to ask about the bean used. Zzz.

Here are some of the interesting roasts that Coffee Libre has to offer. Note that these roasts are seasonal:

Farenda Sertaozinho (Yellow Bourbon / Pulped Natural)

Jasmine, Peach, Grape, Milk Chocolate

Verde Alto (Caturra / Washed)

Orange, Lime, Pineapple, Caramel

The old school rustic feel is certainly amplified by the presence of herbal medicine shelf

Conclusion

This little coffee place is definitely not easy to locate and may require some effort. Apart from visiting the usual cafe that serves mediocre coffee, if you are interested to visit a cafe that is a little out of the ordinary and to widen your palate for handcrafted coffee, Coffee Libre may be the place for you.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Maps and Directions

I use the Naver Map for Coffee Libre because i think it is much more accurate with more accurate details.

1. If i remember correctly, i came out from Hongdae Exit 4. I had to walk along the main road to the right to cross the road using traffic light. These are some really wide roads.

2. Then, there’s another traffic light to cross over to the Coffee Libre side. I can’t recall why i didn’t come out from Exit 3 already.

3. Anyway, after you crossed to the Coffee Libre side, walk straight and you need to turn to your left into a small alley. This is the crucial part. See my photos below.

Click to enlarge

This is the crucial turning point. I miss this turn as it’s relatively easy to miss

This is how the small alley looks like after you turn in. Walk straight and you should be able to see Coffee Libra.

You should be able to see Coffee Libre on your right. You can easily identify it by the head of the Wrestler.

Mont Nom Sod – The milk and toast cafe at MBK Bangkok (มนต์นมสด)

Mont Nom Sod

Address: MBK Center 2nd floor

Operating hours: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm

Introduction

Mont Nom Sod is a cafe that specialised in toasts and milk that is situated at level 2 of MBK Center (Mah Boonkrong). The outlook of the cafe is not exactly impressive but don’t be fooled by their simple interior design. It looks our typical Singapore’s Ya Kun or Toast Box and the price is really economical as well, at about 23 baht per slice of toast bread.

Generally, Mont Nom Sod offers two kinds of bread, the toasted bread slices topped with a spread (like Coconut Custard, Condensed Milk, Chocolate, Taro spread, Pumpkin spread and Corn spread just to name a few) and the second kind is their soft steamed bread with a dip (coconut custard or chocolate dip).

Click to view enlarged menu

Click here to view my full list of Bangkok food Itinerary

The Toast (Coconut Custard and Condensed Milk) – 23 Baht

Mont Nom Sod’s bread is nothing like our square white bread where the texture became a little tough after toasting, or really crispy like Ya Kun’s. Their toast is crispy on the surface and fluffy soft on the inside.

Their Coconut Custard is in fact similar to our Singapore’s Kaya, just that there is lesser egg taste and stronger coconut taste. The aromatic coconut fragrance simply filled my mouth when i took my first bite. The bread didn’t became soggy even when it’s spread over the bread for a period of time. I know this because, as usual, I took quite some time for the food shot.

I always have a thing for condensed milk toast. Who didn’t spread condensed milk over their toast when we were kids? For Mont Nom Sod’s condensed milk toast, the last thing to worry is the condensed milk taste overpowering the toast and turned into a nothing-but-sweet-tasting toast. The condensed milk are applied in moderation with butter, and the sweetness is just nice for a supposedly-sweeter kind of taste.

Steamed Bread with Molten Chocolate Dip – 70 baht

If you have tried Old Town’s steamed bread, Mont Nom Sod’s steamed bread’s dough is fuller, more like a Man Tou (White Steamed Bun) texture but without the grease. At only S$2.80,  i get to enjoy a steam bread chocolate fondue. How good is this? Chocolate dip is rich and smooth and bread is fluffy and soft. No complain!

I also had their Sweet Cold Milk. Unlike chocolate flavor or strawberry flavor milk, white fresh milk is normally not as sweet but Mont Nom Sod’s is a sweetened version. I guess the Thais really like sweet stuff! The milk is worth a try, and after all, what is a visit to milk cafe without trying their milk?

Conclusion

Mont Nom Sod is a cafe which serves simple, yet delightful food at a very minimal price, which made me very happy after having my meal here. Some people classify Mont Nom Sod as one of the hidden gems in Bangkok. I like this cafe and thought that i will visit this place again on my next visit. I still have many bread flavors which i had yet to try.

This place is a perfect place to rest after walking for hours, and to refuel your energy. Give yourself a sweet sugar rush and continue with your shopping Part Two!

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe 早安南洋 (Time’s 24 World’s Best-Kept Secret)

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe

Address (Main branch): 20 Upper Pickering Street, #01-01, Singapore 058284

Operating hours:  Mon – Fri 7.30am – 5.30 pm, Sat 8.30 am – 5.30 pm and closed on Sunday

* Important Update (20 August 2014) *

The main branch at Upper Pickering Street will cease operation at the end of August 2014 due to various issues. You may visit their other branches at:

1. The Grandstand @ 200 Turf Club Road #01-34A 

2. Far East Plaza @ 14 Scotts Road, #02-23 

3. 75 Pagoda Street

4. Maxwell Chambers @ 32 Maxwell Rd

Introduction

I got to know this less-widely known cafe through  a Times article entitled “24 World’s Best-Kept Secret” and i have to agree that Good Morning Nanyang Cafe is indeed a well-kept secret in Singapore.

This little cafe tucked at one corner of Telok Ayer Green CC starts their operation as early as 7.00am on weekday. I estimated the timing wrongly and i reached this place at 6.30am! To my surprise, they are already opened and invited me to have a seat and offered to take my drinks order first as the food will only be available from 7.00am.

There is an air-conditioned indoor and outdoor dining area which can accommodate not more than fifty people. The menu items that particularly interest me is their orange peel ciabata toast and ciabata toast.

Ciabatta toast

After having it once, this delightful toast immediately became one of my favorite kaya toast in Singapore. First I will talk about the kaya. Good morning nanyang cafe’s kaya is a little unique in the sense that it’s not smooth but rather grainy, which gives a very different and yet delightful texture. I can almost chew on the not-too-sweet kaya custard and i particularly like the kaya for it’s “eggy” taste. It’s like a 70% coconut taste and 30% egg with overflowing pandan fragrance.

The butter was melted into the toasted Ciabatta bread. It maintained it’s softness on the inside while it’s really crispy on the outside. Arguably one of the best kaya toast in Singapore.

Orange Peel Ciabatta Toast

Basically the kaya, butter and toasting method is the same, just that Good Morning Nanyang use a different bread. The orange peel ciabatta is thinner, with a smoother surface and with orange peel baked into the ciabatta bread.

The exterior is not as crispy as the ordinary ciabatta toast and bread gives off a rather unique tinge of orange aroma that I don’t normally find in kaya toast which goes unusually well with kaya and butter.

Curry Chicken

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe also offer lunch items like Curry Chicken, Curry Chee Cheong Fun, Chicken Stew with Rice and pre-packed Nasi Lemak. I will often order their Curry Chicken with toasted ciabatta bread if i’m a little hungry.

I am not going to elaborate more on the curry chicken. The curry chicken is not fantastic, or heavenly. It’s rather decent. Good enough to complete my meal for the day. But i do like to order their crispy ciabatta instead of white rice to go with their curry chicken. Much better to go with curry than traditional baguette.

Conclusion

After trying their toast once, i had already returned to Good Morning Nanyang Cafe for at least seven to eight times since. I also wish to highlight that their soft-boiled eggs are greatly done every time. The staff there are always friendly and made me felt like home. I am always left satisfied when i had my breakfast at Good Morning Nanyang Cafe and i do hope that they can maintain this great service and food standard.

It’s too bad that they will be closed by dinner time. The only alternative is for me to visit their franchised branch at Chinatown. Although the toast ciabatta is not as crispy, i am glad that the rest tasted as good.