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Friday, 31 July 2015

[Invited Tasting] Dinner at Haru Haru Japanese Restaurant @ AMK

61 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, #02-03 Jubilee Square, Singapore 569814
Tel: 6451 3201

Nestled in the heart of Ang Mo Kio is a hidden find, a Japanese Restaurant with quality and standards to rival some of the better mainstream Japanese chain restaurants located around Singapore. Haru Haru Japanese Restaurant is the hidden gem, with its long interior and rather extensive menu.

This is an invited tasting session hosted by Chef Nick, where I got to sample tantalising dishes together with both the familiar faces and made friends with blogger friends I have not met before.   The tasting menu comprised some of their best items, most of which centers around wagyu beef items - something to look forward to.

Back to the cosy settings of this minimalistic restaurant, the service was rather efficient and the prices very wallet-friendly too. Since it is located in a heartland location, this Japanese restaurant is family-oriented as well. But if you are working in the nearby areas during lunchtime - you might be glad to know that they offer BUY 2 GET 1 FREE LUNCHTIME BENTO promotion - so gather your colleagues and pamper yourselves.

The tasting session begun with the Negima Mushi (SGD$15.00), a Japanese seafood soup that comes with thick, succulent slices of otoro (tuna belly).  Every sip was tasty, redolent with essence of food et al, and I especially loved the pieces of boiled tuna belly that melted lusciously in the mouth.

Next, the Wagyu Tataki (SGD$26.80) - finely sliced beef seared deliciously on the outside but utterly tender on the raw inside; giving us a good balance of texture and flavour.   Once you sink your teeth into a piece of this, you are not going to let go until every morsel of its sweetness has been swallowed.

Then we have the Sukiyaki Wagyu (SGD$25.80) - piping hot Japanese hotpot prepared with wagyu beef.  The soup was flavourful, but a little too saccharine for my liking. The wagyu beef was another story altogether - utterly succulent and soft, but retaining its chewy-ness all the same.

Following that, the Yuzu Tebasaki (SGD$6.80), looking deceptively normal in its appearance, but wait till you get a bite! The yuzu marinated chicken winglets were infused strongly with citrusy goodness; the flavour penetrating so deeply it brought about a natural tinge of spiciness to it - initially I'd thought it was infused with pepper as well. This was definitely one of the favorites too.

Next, the Itoyori Golden Thread (SGD$38.00) - the fish. Okay, let's pry the eyes away from the rest of the sashimi slices first , and focus on the fish with its tail swept to the front artistically. That is the Itayori, flaunting its fishy business of delicious raw fish.

Now, the generous slices of Sashimi Mix (SGD$120.00). The mere sight of these slices of thick, glossy and colourful raw fish assortment is enough to make one salivate. The sashimi was springy in its freshness, with natural sweetness of the flesh, and is a natural delight for sashimi lovers.  

Don't be daunted by the price - different assortment  / mix of sashimi is priced differently, from SGD$80.00 onwards. There is something for everyone.

Moving on, the Zaku Ramen (SGD$14.80), containing delectable broth, an egg, springy strands of noodles and pork so tender, so light in texture. This bowl of ramen gives many established ramen shops a good run for their money.

Next, Wagyu Don (SGD$24.80) mixed with a poached egg, utterly delicious. The wagyu slices were moistened, succulent, made sweeter by the mixture of the poached egg. The onion slices added flavour, but I could have done with less. 

We had the Chirashi Don Premium (SGD$31.80), a good assortment of sashimi with Japanese rice; tasty, fresh and well-textured.  Again, the raw fish slices here were thick, very satisfying for sashimi lovers.   It is also apparent that Haru Haru Japanese Restaurant takes care of its food presentation from this don.

The Aburi Sushi (SGD$23.80) consists of 6 different types of torched sushi, each one with ingredients delicately arranged, each one boosting of a blend of seafood / fish gentle sweetness combined with hints of smokiness, dinintegrating deliciously in the mouth. The keyword to note here is fresh.

Finally, the Haru Roll (SGD$14.90) comprising salmon-wrapped sushi rolles stuffed with omelet, etc, and topped with mayo and salmon fish roe. There was a burst of textures here - the velvety texture of the salmon contrasted beautifully with the exploding salmon roe as well as crunch of the cucumber. Flavours-wise, this was a rich combination - crab roe, omelet, and the umami flavour of salmon roe. It delighted the tastebuds definitely.

I have to admit - I came with no expectations of all, but left the restaurant surprised by the quality and standard of food here. Thank you Haru Haru, Chef Nick for the hospitality, recommendation and invite!

Thank you Alvin, for the extension.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

[Press Release] Celebrate the Golden Jubilee with the rest of the Nation at The Kitchen Table - Lion Remix

Take a stroll down the memory lane and relish Singapore’s 50 years of success with Lion Remix, at the kitchen table on 8th and 9th August 2015. Featuring the treasured flavours of Singapore, Lion Remix is set to tantalise the nation’s love for street food with a W twist. 

Available for two days only, dazzle your palates with a delectable spread of local culinary delights such as Singapore’s signature chilli crab with fried mantou, wok fried cereal prawns, sambal inspired squid and Alaskan crabmeat popiah, among others. Let’s raise our glasses to the final toast in celebration of Singapore’s Big 50 as one united nation.

Dine in beautiful settings with your family to celebrate the Golden Jubilee now. 

Lions Remix Menu comprise of
1.  Alaskan Crabmeat Popiah
2.  Slow-cooked Chicken Laksa
3.  Wok-fried Cereal Prawns
4.  Sambal Inspired Squid
5.  Singapore Chilli Crab, Fried Mantou (buns)
6.  Stir-fried Water Spinach with Sambal
7.  Oyster & Spring Onion Omelet

For more information or to make reservations, please feel free to visit:

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

[Media Invite] Dinner at Beyond Veggie Restaurant @ Bukit Timah

18 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park, Singapore 289212
Tel: 6763 1323

This is a media-invited tasting session attended by representatives from Hungrygowhere, and some other familiar faces such as ChubbyBotakkoala etc, and hosted by the affable Mr. Han and Josephine - the latter taking us on a tasting journey so good that we'd nearly forgotten was all meat-less dishes.

Beyond Veggie Restaurant is located at Bukit Timah area, and is another new concept dining restaurant by the well-known Secret Recipe.  They hope to serve delicious, healthy vegetarian fare that caters to different diners' preferences, and are priced very reasonably.

We started off with beverages - fresh fruit and vegetable juices.  I had the Passionfruit Tea (SGD$9.90 for pot of hot tea); so lovely, and there were passionfruit inside the beverages as well.

Mushroom Satay (SGD$7.90) was simply that - no fuss, no muss, but it was very good to the palate, with its crispy exterior, firm and springy interior, as well as sapid flavour. The gravy was good, but I finished most of the battered-mushrooms satay on its own (sans gravy) because it was that good.

Next, Fruits Rojak (SGD$7.90), comprising lots of pineapple, turnip, cucumber etc, served cold for freshness, tossed with a unique gravy that tasted like shrimp paste (but of course, it wasnt). It tasted every bit like the traditional rojak you get from outside stalls - only they are served hot.

The Fried Mushroom Salad (SGD$7.90) was another appetite-whetting delight. The crispy strips of fried mushrooms reminded me of sotong legs, somehow; and the bed of greens had a refreshing, citrusy dressing that made us yearn for more.

Following that, the Veggie Roll (SGD$7.90) was like the Chinese popiah IMHO, wrapped by a sandy-textured skin and bursting with goodness of crisp, fresh vegetables such as carrot slivers, lettuce etc. There were these filaments on top of the rolls that resembled chicken / fish floss in an uncanny fashion, but of course they weren't.

The Assam "Fish" was very tasty as well - strong, distinctive flavours of spicy-and-sour assam were all intact; the gravy had the right level of thickness as well. The highlight was the mock fish, of course. Instead of the usual flour filet - the usual case in alot of vegetarian fare - they use beancurd skin here. The result was a crunchy, springy and tasty slab of "fish" that easily makes one forget that it wasn't exactly the real deal.

Following that, Hakka Village Tofu (SGD$13.90), the vegetarian reconstruction of the original Khek beancurd. The tofu was silkened on the inside, and so soft, it was nearly slurp-able. I also enjoyed the light-flavoured broth pooling the vegetables - brocooli, cauliflower, carrots etc.

Then Pan-fried Brinjal (SGD$14.90) with Petai beans happened. For the latter - you either love it or hate it; in my case I love it, if only for its sapid flavour and health benefits. Anyway, the brinjal was well executed - moistenened, tender and slightly spicy due to the chilli used.

Following that, Assam Laksa (SGD$12.90), which again simulated its non-vegetarian counterparts very well. The spicy and sour soup was dense, and very flavourful; the mock meat was springy in texture; and the strands of laksa finely textured and smooth.  I could definitely have one bowl of this all on my own - anytime.

The Stir-fry French Beans with Minced Mushroom (SGD$13.90) bore all the good elements of freshness, crunch and flavour; easily making this simple dish a favourite dish amongst us.

Then we had the Beyond Veggie Fried Rice (SGD$12.90) - look at the mound of vegetables-infused rice surrounded by belinjau chips,  vegetarian satay and Achar (Nonya spicy mixed vegetables) - created to induce pangs of hunger with its variety.  The fried rice scored points in taste and texture; gaining even more advantages when paired with its sides.

The Fortune Yam Basket (SGD$18.90), a popular dish at Chinese restaurants, has made its way into the menu here as well. Save for the absence of shrimps, this dish was able to hold a candle  to the non-veg version - mashed yam ring was crumbly and indulgent yet non-greasy; and the rest of the diced ingredients added bite and crunch to the dish.

Next, the Taiwanese "Nam Yue" Fried Vermicelli (SGD$12.90) was another ingredients-loaded dish to reckon with. The plate consisted of fried vermicelli (beehoon), belinjau chips, mushroom satay, Achar and an assortment of vegetables. Not your typical vegetarian beehoon, but yes, this dish was tasty, with moistened and soft beehoon strands and varied sides to fulfill the tastebuds.

Following that, another favorite of mine - Stir-fry Lion's Mane Mushrooms (SGD$15.90). Don't be fooled by the simple name - this dish packed punch, being a simulation of salted egg prawns. The chunky mushrooms were bouncy; the infusion of this special "salted egg yolk" sauce and curry leaf added tinges of aroma that left a rather deep impression because of its flavour.

Moving on, time for desserts. I was captivated by these egg-less cakes the moment I came in, and I was glad that we got to sample them.   Don't they look so inviting?   The cakes go for SGD$6.50 a slice and SGD$58.00 for a whole cake.

My favorite would always be Blackforest Cake, whether they come with eggs or not; regardless of presence of alcohol or not. In this case, this slice was rich, decadent, resplendent of chocolatey tones and stuffed generously with tarty dark cherries in between layers of cream.   The heart tried to order another slice but the abdomen protested, unfortunately.

I also enjoyed the Ube Yam Cake, also known as "purple yam". It is incredibly pretty, almost fluffy in appearance; light and fluffy in texture - and most amazing of all, it contained tiny cubes of yam within the layers, adding bite and taste to this cake!

The Chilled Chocolate Cheesecake was easy to love as well, luxurious in its chocolate richness, yet not being cloying.  The texture was smooth, almost creamy, but solid.

Next, the Original Cheesecake - cheesey in flavour, smooth in texture, with a good biscuit base - it does not make one feel shortchanged in anyway at all, vegetarian or not.

The Azuki Green Tea Cake had a fine, chiffony texture to it despite the glazed top; it is redolent in green tea flavour but one could detect hints of red beans between bites as well; making it another great dessert for lovers of Japanese desserts.

All in all, dining here was a wonderful experience. If you don't believe that non-meat meals can be tantalising and delicious-  do drop by , for "eating is believing"!

Thank you Beyond Veggie Mr Han and Josephine for the awesome recommendations and reception; as well as Hungrygowhere for the invite!