Marouche Grill on Elgin Street

So I had dinner at Marouche Grill, a new Lebanese restaurants on Elgin Street in Soho.

If you’re looking for a review on the food there, then I’m sorry to disappoint because I wasn’t really paying attention to the food so much as I was the company, which consisted of a small group of local foodies sharing experiences and stories about all things food. There was this one memorable dish that I would recommend though and it was the Mouhamara (its a little spicy .. just to give you a heads-up).

Anyway, the dinner was organized by Dorothy So from HK Magazine as she’s writing a piece on local food bloggers. Some stories will and should probably stay within the group (sorry!) but she’ll likely share some of the other more media-friendly stories with you in the August 28th (edit) late September publication. I’m not going to be the one to spoil the fun, so pick up a copy then.

If you’re looking for a write-up on Marouche Grill, you’ll probably find a better piece (not to mention better photos) written by much more experienced local food bloggers whom I had dined with. Check out Peter’s blog at 吃喝玩樂, Elvina’s blog here, or KC’s blog here.

(Note: At the time of writing this post, only Peter has written about Marouche Grill).

Thanks for organizing Dorothy and good luck with the article!

SML in Times Square (Part 2)

Here’s what we had at SML at the trial dinner:

There were just too many dishes and our table was a little cramped and busy, so I had forgotten to take photos of the grilled prawns / chilli / garlic, meatballs / spicy tomato sauce. Whoops.

My favorite dish? (MUST GET)

  • classic lasanga al forno
  • meatballs / spicy tomato sauce
  • crostini / anchovy mayonnaise
  • veal escalope / sage-caper butter

My favorite dessert? (MUST GET)

  • citrus panna cotta / pink grapefruit & orange slices
  • caramel profiteroles / butterscotch sauce

Note: Here, “MUST GET” = just get it, I’m not even going to bother explaining. Its that good 🙂

Needs just a little improvement

  • Risotto – the braised ox-tail was terrific, but the risotto was a little too raw (I know its supposed to be little bit hard), a little too liquid and a little lacking in flavour
  • Gnocchi – also lacking a bit in flavour, definitely didn’t taste 4 cheese

House red were Moulin de Gassac Cab and Syrah (2007) and the house white was also a Moulin de Gassac Sauvignon Blanc (2007). But like I said, once they’re officially opened (today actually), I’m sure they’ll have a much more extensive wine list.

We had a LOT of food and wine, so even though the meal was complimentary, we wanted to see what the damage was. It came up to about HK$1,350 for 2, but I reckon we’d be pretty full eating just half the stuff we ordered (i.e. don’t use us as a reference. It isn’t HK$ 700 per head … unless you go completely nuts like we did. I’d say HK$ 400 per head is reasonable?)

So is it worth going to? Definitely! I think there’s still half of the menu I haven’t tried.

Note: Photos taken with BlackBerry Curve 8900

Siu Yeh Rating: 8.5/10

SML Bar / Restaurant / Patio

11/F., Times Square
Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2577 3444
Email: info (at) smlrestaurants.com

Su Casa

Following my less-than-satisfied experience at Meet Lobo, I was offered another chance to try out another private kitchen, Su Casa. Before I go on, I should probably explain that my definition of a “private kitchen” is any dining area open to the public in old residential buildings (and usually not ground floor) and is run by a family … sort of.

But Su Casa is slightly different. They fall somewhere between a private kitchen and a real restaurant. Their operation is slightly bigger, meaning they have more (hired) staff, seats more people than a private kitchen and operate like a small restaurant. What’s more is Su Casa has a sister restaurant over in Henry House called Casa Fina and together they form the Casa Group.

Hmm … not quite so private I think.

Anyway, this gem of a restaurant is my latest find (recommended by my brother) that has a comfortable ambiance, has an attentive staff team, excellent (I don’t use this word lightly) food and most importantly, reasonable prices (perhaps even borderline cheap for what it is).

I almost don’t want to share with you, but judging from its fine food, I’m sure it’ll pick up and thought if anyone should tell you, it’ll be ME!!! Okay, we had for 5 people:

  • 2.5 X dozen of Oysters (buy 1 get 1 free, which ends up being something like HK$17 each, which is unheard of in HK unless you go to buffets dinners)
  • 2 X Escargots
  • 1 X Fish Soup
  • 2 X Caesar Salad
  • 2 X Moscato D’Asti (at HK$350 each)
  • 2 X Grilled Razor Clam
  • 2 X Foie Gras Linguine
  • 2 X Half Lobsters

And I’ll try to describe each in a little more detail.

15 Types of Oysters to Choose From!

15 Types of Oysters to Choose From!

Oyster Platter 1

Oyster Platter 1

Oyster Platter 2

Oyster Platter 2

I can’t quite remember what we got, but I think it might’ve been Utah Beach, Coffin Bay, Scotland Pearl and something else. Regardless, these oysters are extremely fresh … and, well I guess they taste like fresh oysters. I can never, for the life of me, describe different oysters like I do with wine. I guess I’m not quite there yet. (Btw, I had a really bad experience with oysters at Louis Steak House a couple months ago, just thought you’d know).

Escargot at Su Casa

Escargot at Su Casa

These escargots weren’t bad … but they’re – and I believe this for all escargot – they taste the same everywhere you go whether the restaurant is fancy or not, whether its expensive or not. Is there only 1 way to make escargot? I don’t think so, but this is the “safe” way to make them … jab them into a bed of mashed potatoes, put a chuck of butter and minced garlic and spice on top of each escargot, shove it in the oven and you’re good to go.

Wine List from Su Casa

Wine List from Su Casa

We chose the Bersano Moscato D’Asti, which was a little sweet for me but turned out my family loved it and thought it went well with the oysters.

Caesar Salad from Su Casa

Caesar Salad from Su Casa

I thought the Caesar Salad was done just right with the right amount of dressing (not too much), right amount of bacon bits, Parmesan shaves and large croutons. I love large croutons.

Foie Gras Linguine at Su Casa (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!)

Foie Gras Linguine at Su Casa (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!)

Next up is the foie gras linguine! I’m a huge fan of foie gras and pasta separately … imagine what this must’ve been like for me!

This dish kind of reminds me of the Sea Urchin Spaghetti I had at Robuchon a while ago … not quite as thick and creamy, but comparable in satisfaction and cholesterol level. Quoting my friend Vince who also had a similar dish in Thailand, “… foie gras pasta, which was just a hunk of nicely seared foie gras on top of the pasta … but I took my knife and fork and mashed up the foie gras to incorporate it into the whole pasta …”, only here, they mashed up the duck liver for you already (including generous amount of mix mushrooms),  giving ample time for the linguine and mushroom to really absorb the juice, fat and oil for the foie gras.

I highly recommend this dish to those of you who decides to visit.

Grilled Lobster at Su Casa

Grilled Lobster at Su Casa

The last dish was a grilled lobster (or rather, half a grilled lobster) which is quite fresh and was cooked just right. Definitely not tender or dry – in fact was quite the opposite. The dish also came with broccoli mashed potatoes, broccolis, cauliflower and asparagus on the side.

And the bill came up to HK$2,550 (or thereabouts). The restaurant does not charge an extra 10% service charge and they only take cash (Perhaps, and I’m only speculating, a reason why they’re able to offer you such good quality at such competitive rates? A little grey area here and there? … Maybe? I’m guessing, I don’t know.)

If it weren’t for the 2 bottles of wine, the bill would’ve only been HK$1,800 for 5 people = HK$300 each for oysters, escargot, razor clams, foie gras pasta and lobsters?! Mi Casa, Su Casa 🙂 Oh, don’t worry, I’ll make myself at home alright! No problem!

Note: Photos taken with a BlackBerry Curve 8900

Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10
Special Remarks: Very reasonable prices, courteous staff team, comfortable environment, decor is average

Su Casa
2/F., No. 2 Sun Wui Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2805 7031

Also …

Casa Fina
13/F., Henry House
42 Yun Ping Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2504 2928

Jia Jia Tang Bao (佳家汤包)

I voted on the Miele Guide a month or 2 ago and I’m really happy to see Jia Jia Tang Bao (佳家汤包) on the list! And then I realized I’ve been meaning to write about the restaurant since June last year (yes, 10 months ago) … and I still haven’t gotten around to doing it. I will do so right now.

Let’s just say no food blog would ever be complete if Shanghai was the subject and Jia Jia Tang Bao wasn’t mentioned. And that’s saying quite a bit about the restaurant already. If you think Din Tai Fung is good (well, it is), Jia Jia Tang Bao is better – by quite a bit … but DTF is still pretty good (notice I’m being very cautious not to aggravate the Din Tai Fung camp here). And if I were to ever put together a “Top 10 Best Culinary Experience I’ve Had”, this restaurant would also be up there on my list. Wow. Along with Xiao Yang Sheng Jian (小杨生煎馆), which I’ll briefly mention later.

Anyway, given how good this place is, I think it deserves a little story-telling about how I (or rather, my very good friend Vince) found out about the restaurant:

It was in late 2005 when both Vince and I were working as consultants in Shanghai and let’s be honest – what else is there to do then, other than watch pirated DVD’s, eat and clubbing? I think he grew sick of always dining at fancy restaurants (he stayed at the Marriott serviced apartments for 9 months, paid for by the client, of course) and so he went on a mission to scout out good local hideouts. Jia Jia Tang Bao was relatively unknown at the time and he found out about it by asking a taxi driver where he goes for xiao long bao, and you can’t really go wrong with that! Btw, I really think the restaurant should write Vince a cheque and cut him a piece of their profit for spreading the word back in the day … but we’ll have our legal department do that later.

And that was the original Jia Jia Tang Bao, which was located on Henan Nan Lu near Zhong Hua Lu Wen Miao Lu (Thanks for the correction there V). It was literally, a hole-in-wall restaurant with really dirty floor, tables, chopsticks, etc. You can probably fit about 10 customers inside the restaurant and another 10 outside. Opening hours are usually from 11:30AM to about 5-6PM; and that’s because they have limited food supplies every day. Once they’re done selling all their xiao long bao, they’re closed for the day. And just like Din Tai Fung, all of their xiao long bao’s are made fresh every minute.

Because of Huangpu District’s plan to expand Henan Nan Road, that original store had to make way for the district government. If you try to visit that same location today, you’d be standing in the middle of a very busy road. But the owner had strategically opened a newer (and cleaner) branch on Huanghe Road near Nanjing Road (north of People’s Square). This location has been around for close to 3 years now and continues to be frequented by a lot of tourists (mostly from HK), expats working in Shanghai and some locals as well.

Here are some pictures from the Huanghe Road restaurant and their fooooood:

Menu at Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai

Menu at Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai

If you try to visit the restaurant from 11:30AM to about 2:30PM (or maybe even 3PM), expect to wait in line for about 20-30 minutes. Either you go really early, like before 11:30AM, or you go after the lunch rush, which is around 3:30, but if you go any later than say 4:30PM – 5PM, you’ll risk missing out on some of the dumplings since they only make so much each day and if they’re sold out, then they don’t bother making any more!

Jia Jia Tang Bao at 4PM

Jia Jia Tang Bao at 4PM

See, no holes in the wall!

Here’s a Seaweed and Egg Soup (紫菜蛋皮汤), which cost RMB 2 and is absolutely tasteless and MSG-filled. I don’t know why I get this every time – I guess I like the seaweed, but I think its a good way to warm up for what’s coming next.

Seaweed and Egg Soup (紫菜蛋皮汤)

Seaweed and Egg Soup (紫菜蛋皮汤)

The Pork Dumplings. This can be quite salty sometimes, but it really brings out the flavour from the fatty pork, which is basically what the juice / soup is inside the thin layer of skin. I really like my xiao long bao skin thin, and while this might not be quite as thin as the ones from Din Tai Fung, the ones here are really damn close.

Whats even more important than thin skin, is how tough it is. I don’t think I’ve ever had a soup-breakage accident here unless the tang bao’s been sitting in the steam basket for much longer than it should’ve. You know that feeling when you think you have a good grip of the xiao long bao with your chopsticks, only to have the pork ball and soup fall out, leaving you with only the skin? Yeh, non-existent at Jia Jia Tang Bao. Its almost like they had a team research on the skin in a science lab.

Pork Tang Bao (纯鲜肉汤包)

Pork Tang Bao (纯鲜肉汤包)

Btw, if you want to try all of the different flavours, you must work your way up (i.e. have the “simpler” dumplings first … and then proceed to the more “complex” dumplings). Using the price of the dumpling to tell is generally a good gauge, but make sure you tell the lady at the counter that’s how you want it. During the lunch rush, they might just throw whatever is ready at you … which could potentially ruin your culinary experience there.

Here, we made sure the flow was:

  1. Pork Tang Bao (纯鲜肉汤包) – ¥7.5
  2. Crab Roe & Pork Dumplings (蟹粉鲜肉汤包) – ¥19.5
  3. Pure Crab Roe Dumplings (纯蟹粉汤包) – ¥81
Crab Roe & Pork Dumplings (蟹粉鲜肉汤包)

Crab Roe & Pork Dumplings (蟹粉鲜肉汤包)

Next up was the Crab Roe & Pork Dumplings (蟹粉鲜肉汤包) (above), which is a mix between what we just had and what we’re about to have. But I would say its still 80% pork and 20% crab roe. The strong and sharp flavours from the crab roe is unmistakenly there, but it was still pretty much a pork dumpling mixed with small orange oil drops from the crab roe.

Pure Crab Roe Dumplings (纯蟹粉汤包)

Pure Crab Roe Dumplings (纯蟹粉汤包)

All of their dumplings come in a dozen in a steam basket, but the pure crab roe dumplings come in 6 per baskets and they give you 2 baskets. At RMB 81, this is definitely not cheap by Shanghai standards, but what they give you is, as the name suggests … PURE crab roe, crab meat and crab roe oil / essence. Til this day, I have yet to find anything close to the quality / quantity of roe they give you in these pockets of culinary orgasm. Each piece of this dumpling is like eating a mouthful of the best part of a hairy crab – only without all the effort. Enough said.

What remains a mystery to me is that the hairy crab season is between late September to December of each year. So how are they able to serve this dish throughout the year? And how is it that the quality remains the same (assuming they have folks taking out the crab roe and meat from hairy crabs during the fall / winter season every year and put the stuff in the freezer).

Well, that’s not something I should dwell on anyway.

What I should really be concerned about is what a dozen of these pure crab roe dumplings would do to my cholesterol level after every visit. I swear, this or sea urchin will kill me one day.

Pure Crab Roe Dumplings (纯蟹粉汤包) - Close Up

Pure Crab Roe Dumplings (纯蟹粉汤包) - Close Up

Just look at that!!!

The Essence!

The Essence!

Our battle trophies.

One of the most satisfying meals you'll likely have

One of the most satisfying meals you'll likely have

This place continues to be one of my gratifying culinary experiences ever … but to those 2 ladies below … it was just another day at Jia Jia Tang Bao. Such simplicity and zero-pretentiousness = Shanghai’s most underrated restaurant.

Taking a break from the lunch rush

Taking a break from the lunch rush

Two items were sold out already as we were leaving …

If you're late, you might miss out!

If you're late, you might miss out!

Jia Jia Tang Bao  (佳家汤包)
Huanghe Lu (near Nanjing Road West)

Oh and if you’re still not full (although I’m pretty sure you will be stuffed) … look across the street and you’re find the equally famous Xiao Yang Sheng Jian, but that definitely deserves its own little post. Here’s a glimpse of the Huanghe Lu branch (not Wujiang Lu branches).

Yangs Fry Dumplings (小杨生煎馆) on Huanghe Lu

Yangs Fry Dumplings (小杨生煎馆) on Huanghe Lu

If you want to do it the Shanghai way, try visiting the restaurant in your PJ’s, just like that gentleman you see in the middle. It was like 4PM!

Waiting for the next batch of Sheng Jian Baos

Waiting for the next batch of Sheng Jian Baos

If you’ve never seen how real shen jian dumplings are made, have a look … it always amazes me how they’re able to handle a burning metal plate with ripped cardboards as grips.

Menu at 小扬生煎馆

Menu at 小扬生煎馆

These 2 are must-try restaurants in Shanghai. And yes, you can quote Siuyeh. You won’t regret it … but be warned. If you’re having more than 4 shen jian bao’s from 小扬生煎馆 for lunch, you can pretty much forget about dinner.

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xi’an Not Quite As Legendary As It Claims

On my last day in Xi’an, I was recommended a dumpling restaurant near the Drum Tower called De Fa Chang. “You can’t really miss it … there’s this big sign” says the concierge. And when I got there … she was right.

The signage reads “千古风味饺子香 传奇品质德发长” followed by a line underneath that says “The legendary DeFa Chang Restaurant is renowned for its superior delicious dumplings” … hey, at least they got the English right 🙂 A good sign …

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xian

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xian

There are quite a few locals dining there (that to me, is also good sign!), at least on the first floor anyway. While I was eating, I saw a group of foreign tourists led by a Chinese tour guide into a lift heading to the second floor. Anyway, if locals are eating there, that’s good enough for me … but in a land of 1.3 billion, that’s not saying all that much.

Menu at De Fa Chang in Xian

Menu at De Fa Chang in Xian

When it came to ordering, I really had no clue what’s good there so I had to ask the lady by the till what her recommendation was. She suggested the following:

  • 虾脑水饺 or the “Shrimp Brain Dumpings” (the second item on the list below [in green] at RMB 22 for 15 pieces); and
  • 蟹黄蒸饺 or the “Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings” (the third item from the bottom of the list below [in pink] at RMB 16 for 10 pieces)

and just so I can try a little more, I got the 食神牛丸 (“God of Cooking” Beefballs) at RMB 6 for 3 pieces (the last item on the list below)

What Is Good Here?

What Is Good Here?

Somehow these beefballs look both very appetizing and nasty at the same time.

Paying Tribute to 周星驰's 食神! I think so!

Paying Tribute to 周星驰's 食神! I think so!

Here’s the 食神牛丸 … probably a tribute to Stephen Chow’s classic 食神 (God of Cookery, lol) movie. I made the mistake of thinking that the name was just part of a marketing strategy to get people to try them. I didn’t think much of the beefballs itself … until I found out (the hard way) it had soup in them … and so my first bite resulted in spraying beef soup all over myself (see photo below). It turns out, these beefballs are so aptly named.

酱爆 (i.e. Exploing Sauce) 牛丸!

酱爆 (i.e. Exploing Sauce) 牛丸!

There was definitely some beef taste to it, but it is not Chiu Chow Beefballs … I’m sorry.

RMB 22 虾脑水饺 ...

RMB 22 虾脑水饺 ...

These dumplings … I don’t really know where to start. It had a bit of the crab roe (蟹黄) taste to it … so I thought it was the Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings … but it’s the “Shrimp Brain Dumplings” … but I can’t really taste the shrimp. It was just pork inside a dumpling wrap. In retrospect, I wonder if they had given me the wrong dish. Anyway … this is one of those dish which you eat it just to satisfy your hunger. Sorry, it wasn’t all that good … I had to soak them in vinegar to eat them.

Dumpling Soup Trolley

Dumpling Soup Trolley

And while I was waiting for my other set of dumplings, I was given a “dumpling soup” on the house. Basically, this is the water they use to boil the dumplings (there are 2 kinds, one boiled, one steamed) … and like the “soba soup” (boiling water used to cook the Japanese soba noodle, before they’re then cooled), this is also good for your skin. Supposedly.

Dumpling Soup at De Fa Chang, Xian, China

Dumpling Soup at De Fa Chang, Xian, China

Chinese wastes nothing!

Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings

Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings

And after waiting what seemed like 15-20 minutes for these dumplings, I’ve already lost my appetite. But even if I had space to eat them, they were MILES off of Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai. These so-called Crab Roe dumplings tasted exactly the same as the first ones I’ve had … which was either the pork and/or shrimp (brain) dumplings.

Here’s a slogan they can put on their banner: “At De Fa Chang … Everything tastes the same!”

Note: Photos taken with an iPhone.

SiuYeh Rating: 3/10

De Fa Chang (德发长)
Near the Drum Tower
Xi’an, China

Hokkaido Day 5: 小尊政壽司 Masazushi in Otaru

On our final day in Hokkaido, we only had time for one more meal … and had I known about Sushi Zen, I suppose we would’ve just stayed in Sapporo. Instead, we took at 30-minute JR train ride to Otaru (quite a bit of trouble for lunch don’t you think?), which is a sea-side town northwest of Sapporo.

The town was known for its port and at one point, the Otaru Canal (小樽運河), ran through the middle of the town, but now only a portion of it has been preserved.

Otaru Canal Warehouse (小樽運河)

Otaru Canal Warehouse (小樽運河)

Otaru Canal (小樽運河)

Otaru Canal (小樽運河)

So, having seen the canal (the only tourist attraction we had time for), we randomly found a sushi restaurant to fill us up, which turned out to be pretty decent. Here’s Masazuhi using Google Map.

The restaurant is on the second floor and has very clean design and decor. The staff team is very accommodating and very well-mannered (as you would usually expect in Japan).

Masazushi in Otaru

Masazushi in Otaru

The chefs do their thang after we made our order …

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 1

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 1

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 2

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 2

And while we wait for the chefs to prepare our sushi platters, we poured ourselves soy sauce for the sushi … AND for the sashimi.

Soy Sauce for Sushi ... and Sashimi?

Soy Sauce for Sushi ... and Sashimi?

Masazushi is one of only a few Japanese restaurants I’ve been to that serves both soy sauce for sushi and soy sauce for sashimi.

Japanese soy sauce brands such as Kikkoman develops sauces which ranges from light, sweet and mild to dark, less sweet and rich. As a general rule of thumb (and correct me if I am wrong), sashimi uses the lighter one while sushi would be better paired if it had been dipped into a slightly richer / darker sauce. The logical reason I guess is because sushi has a block of rice, which itself is … bland, I suppose. Its all about the balance! … Yeh .. yeh, I’m right.

“The balance of sweetness and saltiness, as well as a special blend of natural ingredients, pairs well with wasabi (Japanese horseradish paste) and heightens the flavor of sushi and sashimi” … an excerpt from the Kikkoman website.

Sushi Platter at Masazushi in Otaru

Sushi Platter at Masazushi in Otaru

They were all so good and fresh … but what stood out in particular was the roe on rice. The roe was slightly bigger than most of what I’ve tried before, but much juicier and much more complex (probably a bit sweeter as well).

Uni, Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Hamachi (?) and Toro Nigirizushi

Uni, Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Hamachi (?) and Toro Nigirizushi

The marbling on the toro almost looks like marbling on an A5 Kobe!

Toro Sashimi - Cut 1

Toro Sashimi - Cut 1

Toro Sashimi - Cut 2

Toro Sashimi - Cut 2

Here, we were given 2 different cuts of toro sashimi to try. Both equally as good … but subconsciously, it feels like the second cut is better … probably because it was thicker. They should just give me 20 ounce of it to chew on …

Toro Sushi ... Again!

Toro Sushi ... Again!

Tako Sushi and Something Else (Sorry, I Forgot)

Tako Sushi and Something Else (Sorry, I Forgot)

We had tako sushi and something else as well, I can’t quite remember (I’m going to have to get back to you) … but its a really fatty fish, and is usually consumed half grilled, as you can see from the photo.

In the end, I almost want to say “this is as fresh as it gets” since we’re sitting in the north-most town in Hokkaido (even though the seafood might’ve still gone through a pretty elaborate supply chain), but I want to save that line for that day when I catch the fish from the sea 🙂

Masazushi (小尊政壽司)
Otaru, Hokkaido
Japan

Hokkaido Day 4: Ramen Alley in Sapporo

Again, using Google technology (and why not? Japan’s cities is one of Google’s most mapped-out places on earth!), you’ll find the Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁) if you right click the arrow (right arrow) 5 times.

You’ll see a nightclub called “Club Taliswomen” (lol, I like how they just turned “Talisman” into “Taliswoman” which makes no sense), and the famous Ramen Alley is on its immediate left. Yes, the area is known for its nightclubs … there are literally, hundreds of them around. By the way, gentlemen, I’m sure the “Ramen Alley” excuse has been used numerous times … you might want to use something a little more creative … “Honey, I’m going to grab some ramen with some buddies tonight, … sorry its an all guys thing … don’t wait up tonight” just ain’t going to work!

Anyway, the place where we had our ramen was located right in the center of the alley on the left (if you are entering from the Club Taliswomen side).

The Ramen Alley in Sapporo

The Ramen Alley in Sapporo

I forgot which one it was …

¥800 Authentic Japanese Ramen? Deal!

¥800 Authentic Japanese Ramen? Deal!

I suppose 800円 isn’t exactly cheap for a bowl of ramen, but given the size and quality of the ramen, it was pretty good value. This meal also turned out to be one of the cheapest of the trip, but its definitely up there as one of the most memorable.

If you look closely at the menu, you’ll see something that says “四代目店主” … that means the ramen noodle joint has been operating for 4 generations now, and this chef (pictured below) is the latest bloke to run the family ramen business. Let’s all hope he has a child to continue the legacy.

Yes, the 4th Generation Chef is Frying our Ramen Soup-base and Stuff

Yes, the 4th Generation Chef is Frying our Ramen Soup-base and Stuff

Here, the 4th gen chef is seen putting garlic, spring onion, onion and some secret ingredients into the wok and frying it before adding the soup base.

The Best Damn Bowl of Ramen, I Have Ever Had ... So Far ...

The Best Damn Bowl of Ramen, I Have Ever Had ... So Far ...

The result? The best ramen I’ve had. The ramen noodle itself is also home-made. Its fresh, chewy and soft (but not too soft). It taste and feels as if it had absorbed a little bit of the soup on its outer layer. Yep … I’m that good with food now.

The soup-base which is pretty much just oil anyway … its really hot (also from the oil) and flavourful. Definitely garlicky, a bit soy-saucy (like I said, its thick!) and somewhere in there, I can almost taste sesame, corn and carrot.

Well, that’s the stuff that you can’t really see in the photo … but what you can see, the half-sliced egg, and the not-so-generous slice of pork was like a 3-point from the half-way line that sealed the game. The egg was boiled to a point where if you slice it in halves, the yolk is a little runny still … and that’s how you know its a good ramen egg 🙂 We used this egg-method to gauge the quality of the ramen joints in the alley.

The pork was also very well … porky. It wasn’t dry and it wasn’t cold … but that might be because it was sitting in a boiling bowl of noodle for so long. The only downside to the pork is, there’s too little meat (and too much fat!).

Gyoza

Gyoza

The gyoza was only so-so though … nothing to write home about.

Will I be back? No doubt. But then there are another 19 (assuming there are 20 ramen restaurants in the Alley) to try out … what to do?!

Ramen Alley in Sapporo
Somewhere in Sapporo (Check above Google Map)