Taiwan Cup Noodles

Was at my David's place for gaming session when he brought out these as a surprise.

Spicy Beef Noodles

Original Stock Beef Noodles

So many packagings.

Final product after 3 minutes of tormenting wait.

I'm a big noob when I comes to Taiwan Cup Noodles. In fact, this is the first time eating those from Taiwan. My knowledge of instant noodles ends at the one where you place them in pot of water and boiling them. Even when ripping in the seasoning packs leaks the explosive aroma which engulfs the whole room. After the what seem to be a long wait. The noodles are sub par, but I love the stock. Really rich and full body. Big thanks to David's uncle for bringing these from Taiwan.

Minori @ UE Square

After much "planning", I finally manage to meet my university mates for a buffet session. This time at Minori. Apparently, Minori Dining and Sake Bar is opened by former owners of Hanabi. Thus the similarity of in their menu.

Minori mean harvest in Japanese.

Chefs preparing themselves for dinner rush.

The place is rather open and can be rather noisy when later into the service hours. Great for group gathering, but not so for couples. The place is dimly lit and rather cozy. Be sure to book in advance or arrive earlier, as the place can be really pack especially peak hours.

Dining Cutlery

I love the dining cutlery. Very exquisite ceramics and really brings the authentic Japanese feeling out. I'm rather tired of seeing the same black bowls with red insides or bento boxes most commonly found.

Hiyayakko (Chilled Bean Curd)

This is an appetizer already on the table. Its just a simple dish of chilled tofu sitting on a base of soy sauce. Really soft and smooth. The bits of spring onion brings out the subtle flavors of the bean curd. Great light dish to start the buffet with.

Morokyuri Miso (Cucumber with Soya Bean Paste)

Morokyuri Miso is simply chilled Japanese Cucumbers with a small lump of miso paste. You either love or hate this dish. The miso has a sharp, strong fermented taste. Combine with chilled, super crunchy Japanese zucchini is the perfect match. Think pickled vegetables but which salted fermented version.

Kaisen Sarada (Seafood Salad)

This seafood salad is a composite of salmon, yellow tail and shrimp sashimi top on a fresh bed of fresh greens. Great way to make sashimi fans to incorporate daily intake of greens into their diet.

Momo Sarada (Peach Fresh Salad)

The peach salad consist of peach on top of greens mixed with teriyakki sauce and drizzle with sesame seed oil. Surprisingly. The sweetness of the peach and the slight salty sweet of the teriyakki sauce goes in harmony. The hint of sesame oil isn't overpowering either, just enough to give it an oriental kick.

Chawanmushi (in front) / Kabocha Chawanmushi (at back)
(Steamed Egg Custard / Pumpkin Steamed Egg Custard)

King of Chawanmushi. Savory, smooth and creamy at the same time. The difference between the normal and pumpkin version is just the addition of a pumpkin puree on the surface. Bring sweet and savory to the party. Both chawanmushi are filled with ginko nuts, big portions of crab sticks and heaps of mushrooms, in fact more ingredients then steamed egg. Making a feast of flavors.

Shake Sashimi (Salmon)

Maguro & Hamachi Sashimi (Tuna & Yellow Tail)

Mix Platter of Salmon, Tuna and Yellow Tail

The sashimi has some plus and minus. The salmon batch that day wasn't at its best. Fishy and limb flesh was rather disappoint. The tuna and yellow tail in the other hand were fresh. Firmed and sweet.

California, Ebi and Spider Maki
(Crabstick, avocado and cucumber; Soft Shell Crab; Tempura Prawn)

Though an improvement compared to Hanabi's version of their makies. I felt that the makies were rather messy and not firm, still breaking when lifted from the plate. As if they break upon gravitational pull. Obvious that maki isn't their strengths. Nevertheless the taste is still passable.

Spider Temaki (Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab)

My friend was rather disappointed on ordering this. Its as if the soft shell crab reanimated and crawled its way out. That said. The pairing of thousand island sauce better than the common mayo.

Tare Tsukune (Chicken Meat Ball)
Shake Teriyaki (Salmon with Sweet Soy Sauce)
Saba Shioyaki (Mackerel with Salt/Grated Radish)

Now this is where Minori really shines. Minori offers a large variety of grilled items and most are great hits items that cannot be missed. Take their chicken balls for example. These guys are huge and just plucking one from the skewer and stuffing yourself is a plain joy to eat. The salmon teriyaki is succulent and juicy with slight grilled marks bring smokiness of the grill to the party. However, the salmon suffered under the lack of a crisp skin which would make this a great dish. Similarly the grilled mackerel also suffers the same fate of the salmon. I prefer the Hanabi retention. This is cause properly due to the suddenly spike of diners during the peak dinner hours.

Buta To Garlic (Pork Belly with Garlic Seasoning)
Tori Kawa Shio (Chicken Skin)
Tori Kimo Shio (Chicken Liver)
Uzura Shio (Quail Eggs)
Ika Shio (Red Squid)
Sunagimo Shio (Chicken Gizzard)

Another item that is worth to be mention. The Buta To Garlic really stole my heart. The meat is marinated thoroughly with garlic and grilled to just tenderness. Hot item. Even all my friends gave thumbs up for this. The quail eggs is really nice, but if the present of teriyaki sauce would enhance this dish a lot more. Ika Shio is rather subjective based on the consumer. The squid was well grilled, but present of slimy guts and hard "bone" is a really put off for me. As I don't really take to inlets, I shall not comment on them. However, I felt that the chicken skin wasn't grilled crispy enough.

Unagi Kabayaki (Grilled Eel with Special Sweet Sauce)

I adore unagi. The poor eel (still alive) is split into half while butterflying it with a single stroke through the middle, much like a samurai slash. The eel is then painstakingly grilled and coated with layers of teriyaki sauce. This dish in my opinion is one of the dishes that truly distinguish Japanese barbecues. Minori offers unlimited serving of this. Unlike other places which you have to fill your stomach with unwanted rice from maki or temaki, in order to savor that tiny strip of unagi. Their unagi is also neither burned (teriyaki sauce is sweet, thus easily burned) or slapped with too much sauce.

Tenpura Moriwase
(Assorted Tempura Prawns, Fish, Vegetables)

I prefer Minori's tempura compared to Hanabi's version. Firstly it is lighter and secondly the batter is more uniform and surrounds the fried items beautifully. Their sauce is stronger too. Thus appealing more to my taste buds.

Ebi Tenpura (Prwan Tempura)

We couldn't refuse another order. I enjoy how Japanese chefs present their dishes with elegance. Prawns are carefully stack in a heap, reminds me of the Eiffel tower.

Tako Yaki (Soft Octopus Ball)

Commonly a street food in japanese. This simple dish is in such appeal to people that curiously Tako Yaki manages to crawl its well into restaurant menus. I love their mouth sized portions. Just big enough to munch. One of the better Tako Yaki I've tried with huge tako chunks. I would greatly welcome more bento flakes. Do be careful not to scald yourself. Its very hot inside.

Ika Karaage (Baby Cuttlefish)

I prefer this compare to their grilled counterparts. The small skewers make it really nice as a snack and bar finger food. Goes really well with beer.

Ebi Ko-n (Prawn with Corn Flakes)

Was expecting a whole prawn encrusted with corn flakes, but Ebi Ko-n falls through with more bread crumbs instead of corn flakes on the prawn dish. Average.

Shishamo Furai (Pregnant Capelin in Bread Crumbs)
Fat. Heaps of roe. Grease bomb. Enough said. Love it or hate it.

Tonkatsu (Pork Loin Chop in Bread Crumbs)

The portion in Minori is bigger compared to Hanabi and they generously slice it in thicker strips. Also the meat is more juicy and tender. Though not the bad I've tasted.

Tori Katsu (Chicken Chop in Bread Crumbs)

I dont know what to make of this. The chicken katsu was a plain and unappealing. Doesn't even look like a chicken chop. No comments on taste as its was all snap up before I could grab a piece. The ugly nature of it, prevented me from ordering a second round.

Tori Karaage (Marinated Chicken Pieces)

Another recommended item on the menu. The bited sized pieces of chicken is one of the better items on the menu. There is even a slice of lemon to add a bit acidic to reduce the oil. Seasoning is just nice and neither is it too oily.

Jagaimo Korokke (Potato Croquette)

Upon biting into its crisp exterior the creamy interior welcomes you. There is even bits of corn. Beware though. It can be really hot.

Tori Teppan (Chicken with Teriyaki Sauce)

I must emphasize that you have to order this dish at Minori, else your visit to Minori would be for nothing. Initially I thought this was pork, but was corrected by my friend. The chicken is cubed and stirred fried with teriyaki sauce. The caramelizing of the teriyaki sauce and tender chicken explodes in your mouth. There is even crisp slices of garlic sprinkled on top. Yum.

Gyuniku Shogayaki (Beef with Special Sauce)

The beef stir fry is also well receipt by us. Meat is tender and very thinly sliced, sucking up all the sauce. However, I hope that they would slice the strips longer instead. The short strips are a chore to pick up.

Shake Wafu Teppan (Salmon with Special Sauce)

I must admit. I'm sure you are as equally shock at what this dish is. As I was extremely skeptic when this was brought in front of me. First impression is that someone had a drink to many an vomited. After enduring a while, a few of us brave souls decide to take the plunge. Though visually unappealing, the Shake Wafu Teppan was rather nice. I still can't get the imagine out of my mind. You may want to blindfold yourself while eating this.

Katsu Kare (Pork Curry Rice)

Rather average. Tonkatsu with curry and rice. My friend commented that there wasn't enough curry.

Ninniku Yaki Meshi (Garlic Fried Rice)

Their garlic fried rice was rather disappointing. The lack of garlic fragrant and burnt rice makes this very disappointing.

Hiyashi Ramen (Chilled Noodles)
No comments. Didn't sample this.

Ton Shiru (Bean Paste Soup with Pork Belly)

My god. The miso soup is so very good. Its a great way to end the meal. Some warm and homely thick stock soup. The soup is very welcoming and warms the body. It was so good that I ordered Asari Shiru (Bean Paste Soup with Clams) also equally good, but lightly in nature. Only complain was that they could be a bit more generous on the pork belly and clams.

Edamame (Japanese Peas)

We carry on talking after the heavy meal. I wasn't that fill. Thus order a cup of edamame. They are a great health snack and rich in abscisic acid, protein, calcium, vitamin A and B.

Overall. Minori is a great experience. Slightly better than Hanabi. In comparison with the two, fairs better in grilled items. The service may suffer slightly during the peak hours, but are still exceptable.

81 Clemenceau Avenue
#03-15/16 UE Sqaure (Shopping Mall)
Singapore 239917
Tel: 6737 3353
Website: http://www.minori.com.sg/index.html

Hanabi @ Odeon Towers

Japanese are really good at stone garden sculpting.

Bamboo grove sends you to tranquility.

Modern Japanese dining interior

My bro and I were craving for some Japanese buffet, but Sakae Sushi standards just wouldn't make the mark for us anymore. Thus we decided to up our buffet a bit more and pay a visit to Hanabi at Odeon Towers.

The ambiance is really nice. Side tables are situated near the entrance where one can view the beautiful exterior designed for the strong Japanese dinning feel. The interior is brightly lit and sufficiently spaced. If you prefer a more quiet spot, there are bar seats where you can view the chefs at work. Even chat with them and ask for recommendations.

Chawamushi (Steam Egg Custard)

Chawamushi here is really nice. Soft and smooth. Taste is creamy and savory. Too bad they come in such small tea cups. I had to order more to eat my fill.

Sashimi Moriawase (Mix Platter)

Consist of Tuna, Salmon and Yellowtail sashimi. Sashimi is relatively fresh and flesh is sweet. Tuna is really fresh. The tuna batch much be really good.

California Maki (Crabstick / Avocado)
Spider Maki (Soft Shell Crab)

I'd have to admit that Hanabi strengths isn't its sushi or maki. As seen above the maki is poorly done. The roe is badly distributed and practically falls apart when lifted off the plate. Big minus for presentation. Thank goodness taste wise is still acceptable.

Yaki Niku (Beef Teppan Sauce)

This is really good. Honestly I don't know which portion of the beef did this cut come from. It was a complimentary dish from the chef. The beef is seared on the outside, yet tender in the inside. Too bad it complimentary or I would have ordered more.

Agedashi Tofu (Fried Beancurb with Soy-based Sauce)

I love the Agedashi Tofu served in Hanabi. It comes off clean and clear. Just the way I love my tofu to be. The sauce is faintly salty with a hint of sweetness, goes really well when pair with the tofu. Some places use too much corn flour for the coating, resulting in a sticky starchy layer, destroying the simple flavours of this dish.

Chuka Iidako (Seasoned Baby Octopus)

Though above average. The sesame oil was a bit too much for this retention by Hanabi. The baby octopus were really crunchy. Nice.

Zaru Soba (Chilled Buckwheat Noodles)

The Zaru Soba is rather disappointing. The noodles are rather brittle and coarse. In addition, the dipping sauce was a bit too salty for my liking. I never forgot my Japanese friend's dad soba, so smooth and dipping sauce is salty with a sweetness kick. Apparently he was a chef. Thus my high standards on soba.

Tempura Moriawase
(Prawns and Vegetables Fritters)

The Tempura Moriawase is a mixed of tempura. 2-4 prawns accompanied with brinjal, sweet potato and lady finger. The prawn here is not bad. The batter is light and crisp. Goes really well with the tempura dripping sauce, though I prefer it a bit sweeter. It would have been better if the layers of the tempura were more, giving tempura its unique crunch and texture.

Ebi Furai (Prawns)

Similar to the ebi tempura, but the use of batter is substituted with bread crumbs instead. Compared to the tempura, is less oily. However, I prefer the tempura version. As the light batter is appealing, especially after dipping the special sauce.

Tonkatsu (Breaded Pork Cutlet)

Rather average. Incomparable to other restaurants. Cutlet is a bit too dry for my liking.

Sakana Furai (Cream Dory)

Rather disappointing. The fish fillets were so thinly slice that it doesn't feel like those frozen fish fillets from the supermarket. Give this a miss.

Sakana Furei (Breaded Salmon)

Similar to the previous one, but the use to salmon instead of dory. This is rather average too. The similar problem is over frying resurfaces, resulting in a dry flesh. Order the teriyaki version instead.

Tori Karaage (Bite-sized Chicken)
Average. Not too dry or over seasoned.

Shishamo Furai (Japanese Capelin)

The Shishamo is rather nice in the alternate form, instead of the more common grilled version. The breadcrumbs added texture and crunch to the party. However, the addition of oil and breadcrumbs to adsorb the oils has also made this rather greasy. Those who are more health conscious should avoid.

Kabocha Korokke (Pumpkin Croquette)

Instead of potato, the use of pumpkin is used inside. Really ingenious of them. The heat of the bubble oil really brings out the natural sugars of the pumpkin. Also pumpkin is more healthier compared to potato. Up taste factor and nutrients. Two birds with one stone. I wonder if a sweet potato or yam version will surface soon in the near future.

Saba Shioyaki (Mackerel with Salt)

The best. As in cream of the crop. This dish is good enough for revisits. The mackerel is grilled to perfection with crispy skin and oily flesh. Coarse sea salt is sprinkled on the surface to add flavour. I just can stop having this. Lots of Omega 3 fatty acids. Who says one can't enjoy greasy food without being health.

Sake Teriyaki (Salmon with Sweet Soy Sauce)

Sake Teriyaki is tender, but taste wise is average. If only they marinated their fish before hand. As the flesh is bland.The over reliance of the sauce smeared on the top, just doesn't bring this dish up to mark.

Kushi Moriawase
(Skewer Platter - Chicken, Capelin and Mushroom)

Chicken is tender and slightly charred (in a good way). Brings out the smoky goodness of the grilled chicken. The Shishamo is all excellent, though a bit drier then my perfectness. The shishamo plum and filled with roe, burst open when you bite into them. Mushroom is just dry grilled over the charcoal. Giving it a slight smoking taste, not overly done or too dry.

Tebasaki (Mid-joint Chicken Wings)

The grilled chicken wings are really good too. Tendered and juicy. Though a slight longer grill would be better. As the skin wasn't as crisp as I come to expect. Small piece of lemon to rip the oiliness and add a slight acidity.

Buta Koshoyaki (Pork Belly with Pepper Sauce)

Another great hit. The pork belly are real tender and has a slight marbling of fat. On top of that it is slice really thinly. Imagine get a heap of strings of pork belly and munch in within your mouth. As the natural juice and pepper sauce mix in harmony in your mouth. Heavenly. My brother's only complain was that he did not over rice to go with this.

Ninniku Yaki Meshi (Garlic Fried Rice)

Thus problem solved. We ordered rice. The garlic fried rice is really fragrant. I detected a slight bitterness, due to over frying of the garlic. However its still acceptable. Dragon's breadth for you?


Cola Float

Got some vouchers, thus the redemption of the two drinks. Theses are not in the buffet menu.

Laughing man stole my identity.

Saw the cast of Sayang Sayang. Lucky me took a picture with Michelle Chong.

Overall I find Hanabi with some hits and misses. Samashi are fresh, nigiri and maki are average but suffer poor presentation, agemono (deep fried) hits are their prawns but suffer poor meat dishes. What really shines are their yakimono (grilled) and ippin mono (popular dishes). Therefore plan properly before ordering.

The service wise is good and prompt. However, as the office workers flock in to dine. The service would slow down a bit, but still relatively acceptable. I love the way food portions are done. Sushi and maki clearly state their serving portions. Grilled and tempura items are all portion to be single servings, even rice and noodle items are relatively small but sufficient. Thus one can really control the serving portions. Allowing me to plan carefully and reserve extra space for other good eats.

Hanabi Restaurant and Sake Bar
331 North Bridge Road
#01-04 Odeon Towers
Singapore 188720
Tel: 6338 6626
Website: http://www.hanabi.com.sg/

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