Tag Archives: japanese

The fat Japanese ramen chef is back on Tai Wong East Street

The ramen shop that we used to frequent on Amoy Street changed hands about a year and a half ago. The fat japanese chef with the cheerful smile was replaced by three not so fat local chefs who barely acknowledged any of the customers behind those thick vapour clouds of steaming broth. We went back once after a long while, the food was decent but the service unremarkable.

On my walk along Tai Wong East Street last week, I was noting all the new coffee shops that have sprouted up.. the hipster lifestyle choices are now increasing after the launch of BakeHouse (fantastic breads but the pretzel is best in HK). I suddenly see a new lantern hanging and saw that it was a ramen shop. Curious, I stopped to check out the menu.

Hello, long time no see” (said in Cantonese), it was the waitress I knew in the previous ramen shop. She still wore her glasses but not as heavily rimmed.

She said that their previous shop had been sold and now they opened this one on their own. I told her I’d come back to try it and that’s exactly what we did last Sunday.

We ordered two of the kamitora ramen and one black garlic oil ramen. SW commented that the black garlic oil ramen used to come with black coloured noodles as well… I suppose some things have changed.

Now, there’s no longer the order chit where you get to customise your noodle thickness or toppings. But you still help yourself to iced lemon water and the condiments like chilli powder at the table. The chilli beansprouts are now a side serving that you’ll have to order.

The bowls are tall and narrow based, I thought that the portions were a bit smaller than before but this didn’t really bother us. The slice of pork was decent sized and tender. Two pork meatballs replace the other slice of pork. I wasn’t a huge fan of the meatballs… a little small and gristly for me. Just help yourself to ice lemon water in jugs on the table (how very japanese) or order a soda from the fridge.

The wordings on the wet wipes are the most hilarious… see what I mean.

There’s ample space in the restaurant (open kitchen), but it’s mostly 2 person or bar seating. There’s only one area where they can 6 people as a group so this isn’t really a big group out sorta place. We brought our stroller and it was fine. Plenty of space for it during non-rush hour.

Overall it’s not bad and as I quite dislike having to queue for anything, this place is worth checking out. Look out for the red lantern as you cruise down Tai Wong East Street.

This blackboard with opening hours was placed indoors (yes, facing IN) when I went to eat there. I suggested to the chef that he place it outside so that clients could see when they are open or shut.

Teppei Syokudo – Japanese Fast Food to fit a budget

After a Saturday evening swim at Morrison Hill Pool, we were wondering where to eat. I knew that suggesting katsu curry rice would always be a sure bet with SW. 

The SCMP recently featured Teppei Syokudo and I thought it’d be nice to support the Singaporean business and get our tummies filled. 

Finding the place was a little tricky. The SCMP’s map is inaccurate and google maps puts it in the wrong place. So here’s the right location where you’ll find this eatery.

The food is not presented on any fancy dishes- unlike the photo shown in the SCMP’s news article, in fact it comes on disposable plastic ware. I think this was a tad disappointing (after all, look and feel for “restaurants” is such an important part of customer experience), but I’d like to think that whatever they save in washing up goes into quality staff and food. 

As I’m presently on a No-Raw-Fish diet (by the way, this place is famous for its sushi rice bowls topped with salmon, roe and scallops) that look like this,

we decided on the Curry Katsu and the Don Katsu. Both pork. No shellfish and not raw.
The katsu curry came first. 

Then the don katsu.

It looked like small-ish portions but once you start eating, it does fill you up. Although if you’re a big eater or just super hungry, you might need to add on another portion. 

The pork cutlets were well cooked, tender and excellently breadcrumbed. The rice was also tasty and cooked just right. The curry sauce had mushrooms in it and wasn’t too thick with cornstarch (this is a good thing). I wish they could be more generous with the red pickles though. Love those.

The drinks selection in the fridge had much to be desired, I think they could make more of an effort to provide clients with a few more choices. We just had a bottle of water.

There isn’t much seating space, you’re relegated to about a total of ten barstool seats placed on either side of the joint. They definitely want you to eat and get out of there. Or takeaway I guess. 

Overall, not bad for a cheap dinner but our small person didn’t like the environment and barstools. So if you’ve got a kid tagging along, probably best to buy and eat in Wan Chai Park while your kid runs amok in the playground.

An unsatisfactory ramen experience on Tai Wong East Street

On a rainy Sunday, we decided to have a late lunch at the ramen joint on Tai Wong East Street

The ramen menu
Gyoza, rice bowls all considered house specials

We ordered the gyoza for the small person and a dry ramen with a side of wagyu beef teriyaki. 

The gyoza was unfortunately quite unremarkable, it tasted like it was undercooked despite the juices running clear. 

The noodles were equally unremarkable and the accompaniments were mediocre. The chilli improved the taste a lot. 

The wagyu beef teriyaki turned out to be a bad choice, it was over condimented and the texture unworthy of its price and description. 

The only thing I enjoyed was chili bean sprouts which was supplied in a clay pot with the sauces on the table. I ate it all.

Overall an experience not to be repeated.


Eight Fishes Japanese Restaurant, Amoy Street, Wan Chai

I have been craving Japanese for a while. Not ramen noodles but bento box style Japanese cuisine. 

As we left home, a quick scan of my brain map showed the nearest Japanese restaurants. There’s Grand Asia right above the Stone Nullah Tavern (ok but not fantastic) and the places I’ve yet to try near Wood Road (but that entails a less pleasant walk). I remembered that there is a small Japanese sushi type bar in Amoy Street near the completed Avenue development. 

It was only 11am and after a session on the swings, the small person was happy to walk anywhere for some food. 

The restaurant was called 魚八 or Fish Eight. It had just opened for the day and was completely empty when we stepped in. The staff were cheerful and welcomed us in. I was trying to decide which bar seats would suit us best when one of them suggested we sit upstairs at the tables. 

Up a nicely decorated flight of stairs, we were offered any table we liked but the ladies responsible for service upstairs pointed us toward the corner table. Nothing like a good corner to corral an active toddler.

Upon presentation of the menu, the staff informed me that if we paid up before 1pm, we’d get a 10% discount. Sounds like perfect timing. The lunch menu was reasonably priced and more extensive than I thought. 

I decided to go with the eel rice box, small person wanted noodles, so it was the udon soup for her.

As it was a lunch set, our meals came with miso soup and a bean mochi dessert. 

My unaju was pretty good. Tender and a right amount of sauce. The ratio of eel to rice was also just right. The miso soup was flavourful and had a good amount of tofu, mushroom and seaweed (hate it when they skimp on that).

The udon soup was so-so, the soup base was quite thin but the pork slices were quite tender. She enjoyed the smooth noodles. 

The bean mochi was sweet and small, I liked the taste and it didn’t stick to the teeth which is a thumbs up.

Overall I thought the prices reasonable for a set lunch and the atmosphere better than I had expected. The waiter was extremely diligent about topping up my glass of warm water without being asked. That in itself deserves a star for service.

Return again soon? Yes indeed.

Note: no space for prams and strollers. No high hair for kids but they do have kid friendly cutlery.

Isoya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant

I’ve never had vegetarian Japanese food before so when SW said he wanted to invite his vegetarian colleagues out for lunch, I jumped at the opportunity to suggest Isoya

Firstly, my friend YK has been there twice since I mentioned it to her. So a repeat visit meant that it was worth trying. Secondly, it’s in my neighbourhood and a mere five minutes from our home. 

Walking along the busy Wan Chai road (the section between Johnston and Queens Road East) Isoya is quite invisible.  Unless you happen to see the green standee sign by the building’s glass doors, you would never know it is there. 

Up on the 9th floor, the rather grubby lifts opens up to a lobby area with a lacquered gold wall and immediately, a feeling of unexpected tranquility. 

Get through the traditional Japanese cloth doors and the space opens up to a bright, minimalist dining space which is spacious and clean. The tables were well arranged so that there was plenty of space and the furniture itself looked versatile and light. 

We sat near the windows, the outside light muted by translucent window blinds. It lent a discreet yet natural atmosphere. 

The menu is available in chinese and English. Essentially you have a choice of either a light set meal consisting of 2 starters, a main course and dessert or the deluxe set which allows you to select 3 starters and a main course, with a sushi platter and some tempura thrown in.

We decided to get one light set and one deluxe set to get a feel of the range.

For the starters, we chose the avocado salad, cabbage, egg plant and the yam-sesame pancake with skewered tomatoes.  All were relatively small portions (for example there were just two smallish pieces of eggplant in a small sauce bowl) but fairly tasty. I liked the avocado salad and the yam pancakes the best.

For the mains, I got the tofu udon to share with the small person and SW got the vegetable curry rice. 

I thought the udon portion was fine but the soup was a little too sweet. Perhaps it’s hard to get this right without the meat broth component. SW enjoyed his vegetable curry rice although he found it surprisingly spicy and slightly bitter.

The sushi platter was interesting if a little basic. The balance of vegetable to rice could have been adjusted so that the vegetables equalled the rice. For example the yellow pickle was just a sliver, the roasted vegetable was sliced so thin that you couldn’t really taste it. Great presentation though. Definitely made us feel like eating it. My suggestion would be  that the chef should be more creative, maybe multi-layered vegetables or hand rolls.

The dessert, green tea mochi with a cream filling, was very nicely done. Not too bitter and not too sweet. The texture was perfect. 

My thoughts are that this restaurant does well in aesthetics but it would’ve been good if they could make the vegetable components heartier. The carbohydrate portion seemed to overwhelm the meal, and it was a pity that the vegetarian restaurant had to resort to fillers when there could be so many interesting ways to present wholesome vegetables exclusively. 

Having said that, the flavours certainly seemed more natural than many other chinese vegetarian joints which rely greatly on sauces and condiments to emphasise flavour. 

We left feeling full but got hungry pretty quickly after, but that may be normal for vegetarian food.

There’s plenty of space for prams and strollers, ikea high chairs are available and child friendly cutlery. I think most kids could find this vegetarian place appealing.

Service was top notch and the rice tea was served warm in a double lined glass which was a nice touch.

Panash Bakery on Hennessey Road

Hennessey road is generally not a nice road to walk on. It’s busy with people hurrying and weaving in and out. Bus fumes are the eau de jour, and there are heaps of buses that literally line up one after the other in a traffic jam.. They almost form a train. The incessant honking of cars and revving of minibus engines ricochet off the buildings forming an asynchronous symphony which could leave you with a headache and feeling rather out of breath.

 My suggestion is that you always try to walk on streets parallel to Hennessey but intersect it when you have to. 

This brings me to my favourite Hennessey traffic intersection. 

Depending on where you’re trying to get to, the intersection that leads from Johnston/ Heard Street over Hennessey to Lockhart and Jaffe is a very popular one. It’s a big junction and the roads are at least three lanes wide in each direction. What I love about this crossing is the timing of the lights. If you wait until all lights are green for pedestrians, you get to do the diagonal crossing and avoid getting stuck in the traffic island in between the directional lanes (1). You won’t have to wait for the other languages get to turn to cross at (2). You’ll see a few locals doing the diagnose all, feel free to follow their lead. 

If you’ve managed to cross over Hennessey  (1), and happen to need a snack, it’s not all that bad. Pop into Panash Bakery to pick up a loaf of bread or pastry. The raisin loaves (HKD 16 each) are light, fluffy and full of raisins. It’s one of my favourites. 

They have a board with baking times for the breads, occasionally you may get there to find that the croissants aren’t out of the oven yet. All the more excuse to try a different type of pastry.

Other pastries are equally popular, they have one called “salty bread” which is a special and the profiteroles which come in chocolate or cheese (HKD 3.50 each) are delight in a bite.

If you’re with a pram, you’ll need to park it outside as the space is barely enough to fit a person with a tray. The wonderful thing is, you can just stand at the door and yell for a staff member to get you what you want. Then flash your octopus card and be on your way again.

Ah yes. They don’t have seating, it’s not a cafe. It’s all for takeaway.