Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: fresh

Aoki – Other-worldly Set Lunch

It’s a little difficult to wax lyrical about Aoki now for two reasons, the first being that this lunch was more than half a year ago, and the second being that it’ll only be about another week before I fly of to stuff my face proper with sashimi in Japan. But see, this post will never go up if it doesn’t right now, because I’m afraid Aoki will lose its charm, its Zen minimalism, its serenity, after I get back.

Aoki is under the Les Amis group of restaurants, but stands out in its austerity, and although it is situated in the row of the Les Amis Empire (as I like to call it) to the side of Shaw Centre, its easy to waltz by without a second glance, if you even gave it a glance to start with. I had to peek past the drapes, and ask if it was indeed Aoki, before proceeding into dark corridor and into its hushed interior, half expecting to be walloped over the head and taken to see the Yakuza.

I didn’t dare snap pictures of the interior. And if you’ve been in Aoki, you’d understand why. The entire restaurant seats no more than perhaps 28 people, with private rooms hidden out of sight, I’m sure. All you’ll see are three or four partitioned tables, and then the sushi counter down a short flight of steps. It’s so small that any new arrival warrants everyone’s attention. I wasn’t about to whip my camera out anytime soon.

It’s minimal, furnished in lightwood, lit mostly by the bright ochre lighting atop the counter seats, and shrouded in a reverent sort of silence. Yet, the activity is a sight to behold – hushed, diligent, confident, and directed, from wait staff and Sushi chefs alike. It’s another world, where time slows down, where you sit back and let people take care of you, and where you’ll notice thin rice cloths hanging from the ceiling, swaying lightly in gentle drafts.

I made reservations a few days in advance for lunch, where their lunch sets go for $35++ in contrast to their dinners that rocket past $100. I’d advise that you do, for the counter seats especially, because these seats give a show more spectacular than a conveyor belt of listless-looking sushi. You see the chefs in action, blowtorches blazing, razor-sharp knives deftly slicing equally portioned slices of sashimi from slabs of fish, and the swift, almost effortless formation of sushi. It’s $35++ for amazing quality food, and meal-time entertainment. You don’t get that at many places.

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Din Tai Fung (Junction 8)

 

Xiao Long Bao

 I had this more than a month ago. A really long time ago. 

But I’ll be honest with you. 

I’ll have it every other week if I could afford it – financially and physically. 

What’s wrong with having steamed pork dumplings even more than the occasional chocolate, you say? 

When they start getting more addictive with each little bundle you pop in your mouth is why. And have I mentioned the varying results that occur when you do? Sometimes they burst in an explosion of fragrant broth out of your mouth at your dining companion, which isn’t always a bad thing. But then sometimes they blast back inwards into your throat, and you end up violently hacking up the entire thing, saliva and dumpling and all, at the same dining companion, which is when you realise that there’s much more skill required in handling those humble looking things than you initially thought. You also realise that the diners in your immediate vicinity staring at you. 

So when I say these are addictive, I mean it. If I had a rumbling, sexy baritone of a voice like those movie trailer narrators (This Summer…*dom dom dom* A hero is chosen…*dom dom dom*) I would be able to warn you effectively. But since I don’t - and I will very probably only end up sounding hilariously sleazy if I try - I just have this to say: Watch how many you have eaten. They are worse than snacking on Pringles while watching a Germany/ England match. 

Each famous dumpling skin, when eaten the moment they arrive on the table, is soft and supple yet doesn’t break when you pick one up by its tip. I’m convinced there’s some mad science that has gone into the fine balance between achieving almost paper-thin skin and yet being able to contain a ball of succulent minced pork and broth. Apparently the original Taiwan outlets are even better. I’m almost afraid to imagine. I never used to like XLBs. Never used to like the vinegar and ginger slices either. 

I still don’t know what was wrong with me then. 

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Want cheap ramen?

A noodle spree cannot be styled into a classy picture. Period.

Forget about my hunt for Singapore’s best ramen.

Why spend an average of $15 in one sitting, to pick out the subjective best from what seems to be dozens of new ramen joints flowering up all over the country, to guzzle high sodium, fat-saturated soups and slurp up ramen portions which are clearly out of my league? And they seem to all be, to quote Anthony Bourdain, “A hideous, generic sprawl of soul-destroying sameness”.

If I want to find the Best _______ (insert appropriate latest food fad), I’m not about to sacrifice my health thank you very much.

But that isn’t to say I’m never eating ramen out ever again, only that I’ll do so when I feel like it. And hey, if I happen to stumble across the ramen that blows my socks off to the Land Of The Rising Sun, well good for me. I’ll be sure to let you know all about it.  

In the meantime, I think my current ramen, udon, soba windfall from Scotts Isetan on Saturday should tide me over till my future fateful encounter.

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