Waku Ghin (2 Michelin star) 5-course Executive Set Lunch – premium private teppanyaki experience

Waku-Ghin-Lunch

Waku Ghin is hands down the best restaurant I’ve been to in Singapore. They’re also incredibly expensive. Dinner is a SGD 450++ affair which puts it close to Gaggan’s price tag. I contemplated long and hard before deciding to check out their relatively tamer SGD 180++ executive 5-course lunch. They recently started lunch service on Fridays that offers the same sit-down private teppanyaki experience with less courses. It’s a good way to get a preview of what they’re all about. It’s also a lot easier on the wallet at approximately half the dinner cost.

Bar-at-Waku-Ghin

Waku Ghin has 2 Michelin stars and they’re rated 23rd on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The service here is impeccable. Waiters and waitresses are friendly and accommodating. I was given a selection of magazines to browse through when they saw I was a solo diner. I thought that was a nice touch, even though people tend to prefer their smartphones nowadays. Doors are swung open for you as soon as you approach and your chair is pulled back for you when you need to go to the toilet.

Waku-Ghin-Seating

You’re seated at The Bar at Waku Ghin until the teppanyaki rooms are ready. Each room sits 4-5 customers and you have your own private chef to cook your meal. All the proteins like lobster and wagyu steak is cooked to order by your teppanyaki chef so it comes to you freshly made. Our chef is Japanese but he has a reasonable command of the English language from working in the main Tetsuya’s Restaurant in Sydney.

Salad-of-the-Sea

Lunch started with Salad of the Sea. This is a take on their famous botan shrimp, Ossetra caviar and uni dish in the form of sushi. There are two possible variations on this for lunch – either sushi or cold pasta. Ossetra caviar is the most prized and expensive type of caviar from the sturgeon – real caviar! The chef told me he also put ume plum they pickled in-house into the sushi to cut through the rich flavors. It works so well! Beautiful and balanced. The sweet botan shrimp combines with the salty caviar and creamy uni for a flavor explosion in your mouth. It’s perfection!

There’s also sashimi of Tasmanian ocean trout, Japanese snapper, squid and wakame (underneath the radish) as a palate cleanser. The squid is insanely creamy and has great texture. It’s marinated in sweet, acidic sauce. That’s my favorite after the shrimp + caviar + uni bite.

Grilled-Anago-Foie-Gras

Next up is Grilled Anago with Foie Gras, Confit of Zucchini and Sansho. The chef freshly grated wasabi from a wasabi rhizome to put inside. This is a very intense dish. Anago cooked Japanese style is already very rich and it’s paired with foie gras and a confit (cooked in fat) vegetable. Very nicely done but not for the faint of heart. So fatty. So yums. An excellent heavy dish to contrast with the previous lighter flavors.

Canadian-Lobster-Japanese-Scallops

The chef started warming a concoction in a small sauce pot on the teppan grill. He said this was the famous Ghin Bouillabaisse made from 22 different types of fish (!!!).

Waku-Ghin-Teppanyaki

This delicious broth is the base for a dish of lobster from Canada and scallops from Japan. The claw of the Canadian lobster was lovingly grilled and the chubby rotund scallops were given a quick sear before being plated with the bouillabaisse.

Ghin-Bouillabaisse

This dish is out of control! Premium seafood ingredients paired with a broth simmered for 3 days with 22 kinds of fish. It’s mental! Ghin Bouillabaisse tastes like an umami bomb on your palate. The Canadian lobster is naturally sweet and the incredibly plump scallops are tender and yummy. I hardly ever see scallops of these size and they’re Japanese scallops, which are the highest quality and sweetest in the world. The complex soup goes so well with the crusty bread they provided. I used it to soak up every single drop from my bowl.

Ohmi-Wagyu

Japanese A5 Ohmi Wagyu from Shiga Prefecture with Wasabi and Citrus Soy. Ohmi wagyu is one of the Japan top 3 wagyu together with Kobe and Matsuzaka. This is very premium stuff! It has certification which states the provenance of the cow and their ancestor details. The chef showed us the beautifully marbled piece of Japanese wagyu before he cooked it.

A5-Ohmi-Wagyu

This is a very generous portion bigger and thicker than a deck of playing cards! It’s seared on the teppanyaki Japanese style in the form of thick cubes. This is not fake Australian wagyu bred from Japanese cows. It’s not only real A5 grade Japanese wagyu from Japan, it’s from an exclusive branded breed.

Ohmi-Wagyu-Shiga

I really enjoyed wagyu steak. It’s incredibly fatty and delicious. Truly melt-in-your-mouth. But here’s an unpopular view – I don’t fancy eating large quantities of heavily marbled wagyu. This is a personal preference. I can’t eat lots of fatty pork belly as well, while some people can happily destroy a whole pork trotter. I liked it, but this portion size is too much of a good thing.

Maitake-Mushroom-Rice

The Ohmi A5 wagyu was served with maitake mushroom rice and a soy based dipping sauce. There was also a plate of palate cleansing greens to help with the rich flavors. The mushroom rice was excellent – savory and umami. I asked what maitake mushrooms were and the chef brought a whole colony out from the kitchen!

Nagano-Maitake

They import this entire thing from Nagano in Japan! That’s why it costs so much to eat here.

Apricot-Panna-Cotta

We were guided to a lounge area after the savory courses so we can have dessert overlooking the marina. This is Apricot Seed Panna Cotta with Apricot Jam and Honey Ice Cream. It’s the fucking bomb! I love the honey ice cream. This is a more delicate and acidic dessert that goes well with the heavy meal. I prefer fruit based desserts to chocolate ones.

Waku-Ghin-Green-Tea

There’s also complimentary green tea to go with your dessert. It’s exceedingly fragrant and high quality.

Waku-Ghin-Birthday-Plate

I may have erroneously stated that it was my birthday when I made the reservation. The waitress came up with a nice birthday plate featuring Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla and Macadamia. I think the cake is from Patisserie Platine by Waku Ghin downstairs. It has a crispy gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut) base. I’ve only eaten this texture once before in an expensive gianduja cake my ex bought me. Delicious!

Waku-Ghin-Petit-Fours

Waku Ghin’s Executive 5-course Lunch ended with a selection of petit fours. The yuzu jelly was shockingly sour. It made not just my lips, but my whole face pucker! Intense. Hazelnut meringue was very good. I liked that. Chocolate truffle with champagne was the best – a nice alcoholic truffle made with reduced and condensed champagne. Luxurious! They’re all made in-house.

Waku-Ghin-Lunch-Menu

I was presented with the menu at the end. The front cover even had a birthday wish and the date inscripted.

Waku-Ghin-HB

I truly enjoyed my meal at Waku Ghin. This is the best Michelin starred restaurant I’ve eaten at in Singapore. The service is faultless. The food is delicious and uses superior ingredients and lengthy cooking techniques. It’s a bit expensive for lunch but I thought the SGD 212 (RM 645) bill was a fair price. I highly recommend Waku Ghin. It whetted my appetite for the longer dinner course. I’ll definitely be back but at that price, I’ll have to find a special occasion to splurge on. Maybe it’ll even be my real birthday. Haha.

Bakso in Bali

bakso beef

Bakso is a dish of noodles, meatballs and other assorted stuff served in a soup. It’s usually found on the streets – this particular variant comes with a *huge* fist sized beef ball. It’s homemade and the meat is slightly pink and tender on the inside. IDR 7,000 which is about RM 2.40 – it’s worth it for the gigantic homemade beef ball alone. :)

bakso

However, the best bakso that we had was outside the Legian beach – it’s one of those portable stalls that allows the vendor to carry his wares behind his motorcycle and literally set up shop there. Nothing beats a hot bowl of this on a rainy evening by the beach.

bakso bali

We just had a very chill afternoon of swimming and lounging on the beach before it suddenly started raining. I really wanted to try the bakso and the guy who owns the stall was quite pleased to have our business and took several photos of us with his stall. He insisted. smirk

bakso stall

The setup is pretty similar but the stall had run out of noodles and egg so it’s just plain bakso (meatballs).

bakso meatball

The meatballs are held in a side area which is constantly heated but surprisingly retains the tender and juiciness of the meatballs.

bakso spicy

You can choose whether you want it spicy or regular (highly recommend the spicy) and it comes to you in a piping hot steaming bowl of goodness.

bakso locals

We sat down on a little nook right on the sidewalk just like the locals – it was that and the cold, wet and drizzling weather offset with a nice bowl of heartwarming spicy bakso that made this the best one we had in Bali. IDR 5,000 (RM 1.70).

bakso motorbike

Fresh raised a very good question though – where does the guy wash the bowls? :)

Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog Porridge in SS2, Petaling Jaya

kung pow frog leg

Yes, this is a branch of the renowned Singaporean frog leg porridge located in the more dubious part of the island. I’ve had the pleasure of eating at the original Geylang Lorong 9 frog leg porridge in Singapore and have been known to drop by their branch in Petaling Jaya a couple of times and I’ve always found that they cook up a consistently good frog leg dish.

geylang lor 9 frog leg

I went there for a late lunch yesterday and ordered the medium kung pow frog leg claypot (RM 24). You don’t have to eat porridge if you don’t want to – there’s an option for rice as well, which we both went for. However, it should be noted that the awesome kung pow sauce goes better with porridge.

malaysia frog leg porridge

Anyway, I was telling Bonnie about how producers sell food at a higher price to supermarkets compared to restaurants coz the former needs to display their goods while the latter don’t. I remember watching a documentary where a restaurant owner was interviewed saying how supermarkets require better looking food items coz for display while restaurants can get away with the odd ones, since most of the cooking is done without the customer seeing it, but for the life of me I can’t remember exactly where I saw that show.

She sat there listening patiently until it dawned on me…it was actually her reporting assignment that I was watching a couple of days ago and that’s where I heard that fact. -_-

frog leg claypot

The Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog Porridge name is a bit of a misnomer since they don’t just serve the frog legs but the entire frog. It tastes really good though – frog meat is exquisitely tender and juicy – it’s like a cross between a fish and a chicken thigh.

geylang lor 9 frog leg us

I still prefer the original Singapore one though. I know they import their frog meat from Malaysia but it still tastes better to me. I suspect it’s the way they cook it – the flagship Singaporean Geylang Lorong 9 porridge place just has better claypot kung fu.

frog leg rice

Order the fresh barley if you can’t take spicy food – their kung pow frog leg can be pretty intense.

An oasis in the weekend heat

sunny day

It was a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon – my girlfriend just came over to work in KL the night before and we stayed up late to unpack. By the time we hit the sack it was already dawn. We slept in and the clock blinked 2:00 PM when we woke up. I was famished!

island cafe interior

The problem with finding food at 3 pm in the afternoon (after showering and all) is that a lot of places are closed for lunch, and dinner hasn’t started yet. It’s the period of limbo between the two main meals of the day when most places just hunker down to weather out the heat.

island cafe ss2

I decided to bring her to Island Cafe in SS2. It’s one of those HK style restaurants which offers everything from lamb chops to fried noodles and peanut butter toast in between. It’s open at odd hours, it’s near to my place and they serve beer. In my books, that makes it a great place. :)

island cafe

Nothing beats a cold bottle of beer on a hot afternoon to go with your lunch.

Pumpkin Cheese Baked Rice

I ordered my usual – Pumpkin Cheese Baked Rice with Pork (RM 16.90). I love this dish coz it’s slightly different from the regular run-of-the-mill cheese baked rice other places offer – it’s baked and served in an actual pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cheese Baked Rice with Pork

I love pumpkin – it’s an acquired taste, I hear, coz a lot of people don’t like it. It’s sweet and the Pumpkin Cheese Baked Rice is made in such a way that the sweetness of the pumpkin is infused into the rice. It’s topped with two pork chops and melted cheese. You can even eat the pumpkin flesh if you dig into it with a spoon – the “bowl” is a real pumpkin.

kilkenny bottle

…and look at what I found – Kilkenny! :D

us

I noticed that Island Cafe has Kilkenny in bottles. I didn’t know they serve Kilkenny over here! I usually drink Kilkenny draft from pubs. I thought it would be nice to get a bottle to go with my lunch, considering the heat.

bamboo rice

Jeanie had the Bamboo Rice (RM 15.90) which is basically fried rice served in a bamboo container with chicken wings on the side. However, it tastes surprisingly good with Kilkenny. I like experimenting food pairings with beer. It’s more common with wine but the more flavorful beers like Kilkenny goes well with certain dishes too!

jeanie

Jeanie also had a glass of the Irish beer with her rice. She thought it was rather unusual but novel to drink Kilkenny outside of a bar. She loves Kilkenny too but like me, her experience is limited to bars. I just found out that it was only recently that Kilkenny produced bottles for sale in certain modern food courts, cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars that does not already serve Kilkenny Draught.

lunch

I think it’s great! The taste is pretty similar (although Kilkenny on tap tastes a bit smoother) and it’s nice to have the option of ordering an ale instead of the usual lagers while out eating local food.

mango dessert

I reckon it beats the hell out of the Mango Snow Ice (RM 8.50+) Jeanie had for dessert. I’ll prefer another bottle of Kilkenny as dessert. ;)

drink

There’s nothing better than an icy cold, sweating bottle of Kilkenny in your hand while eating a long lunch during weekends. It’s good to see it come out of the pubs and into modern food courts, cafes and restaurants so that I can drink it when I crave for local food. :)

The soup place at Jalan 1/77B

soup hairy

There is a decripict looking place behind Berjaya Times Square that is supposed to serve a wide range of Cantonese style double boiled soup. It doesn’t have a name. It seems that people call it “The place beneath the huge tree“. Jeanie told me about it and sold me on the fact that they have some interesting soups with unusual ingredients like anteater (the animal).

soup place

I’m not a soup person but the prospect of eating wild animels is totally down my alley so we drove there to have dinner at around 10 pm. Jeanie was sick that day too and she’s a firm believer in the Chinese concepts of “heaty” and “cold” food so she wanted to have some chicken soup.

soup me coconut soup

I can’t say I share the same beliefs since I take everything that hasn’t been scientifically proven with an armful of salt.

soup crowd

The place seems to be very popular – most of the exotic soups have sold out by the time we got there so I chose a black kampung chicken with ginseng roots while Jeanie had their famous coconut chicken soup.

soups

The soup is kept in a steamer so it’s still nice and hot when they serve it.

soup pork

It should be noted that they also serve other food – the braised pork leg was recommended to us and I took it up, being a huge fan of swine based dishes. It’s cooked with chillis so it’s slightly spicy – this makes it more like the stuff my mom makes. I like the fact that they have a lot of fatty meat instead of the lean meat that most establishment serves.

soup chicken

This is the black kampung chicken with ginseng soup. I was told that the ginseng comes from a special part of the root – it’s the hairy bits from the ginseng root that’s used in this soup.

soup black chicken contents

It tastes pretty good and there’s also other herbs in there to enhance the taste. The chicken becomes tasteless after being made into soup though.

coconut soup

The coconut chicken soup is one of their flagship dishes – it comes served in a whole coconut shell and you can taste hints of the coconut and the ginseng they put in it too.

soup coconut soup

Jeanie likes chicken soup. Hell, it has become a bit of an inside joke since she drinks so much chicken soup. I once asked my grandma if she has chicken soup when Jeanie came for dinner. Turns out she did. smirk

soup spread

Anyway, you’re supposed to eat the soup with rice but to be honest, the only way that you can do that is by heavily saturating the chicken with lots of soy sauce and chilli (provided). The chicken loses all flavor when it’s cooked like this – the taste is transferred to the soup itself.

soup%20feline

The place is a little hard to find and your dining companions will likely include the resident canines and felines but they serve pretty good soup and their pork leg is divine! The soups are priced from RM 7 upwards.

soup us

I’m going to go earlier next time to get the more exotic soups.

Familiar Faces Nyonya Food & Noodle House

Familiar Faces Nyonya

I had dinner at Familiar Faces Nyonya Food & Noodle House with Janet last night. She’s also from Sibu and came over to work in KL about a month ago. I picked her up from Cheras and was about to head down to either PJ or KL when the massive Friday night traffic congestion made me decide against it.

Familiar Faces Nyonya restaurant

It was about 8:30 pm and we were still stuck in practically gridlocked conditions so I consulted the GPS for an alternate place for dinner. We were in Sri Petaling at that time and we chose this place due to the proximity to our current location. I’ve never been here before and Janet is new to Nyonya food so I (slowly) inched towards the restaurant.

Familiar Faces Nyonya rice

Familiar Faces Nyonya Food & Noodle House serves a wide range of Nyonya food, which you can order a-la-carte or in a single serving with rice. I asked the waitress for recommendations and she suggested some of their flagship dishes. The place has a healthy portfolio of seafood, meat and vegetable dishes but does not serve pork.

Familiar Faces Nyonya tea

One of their specialties is the home made Chrysanthemum tea with bits of nata de coco at the bottom. It’s surprisingly refreshing and I didn’t even notice the cubes at the bottom until Janet pointed it out to me.

Familiar Faces Nyonya petai

The first dish that came out is the Nyonya Shredded Petai (RM 12). Petai is something you either love or hate. It’s also called “smelly bean” and has a slightly bitter aftertaste. I found this incarnation pretty good though – there are bits of meat and chilli in the sauce, which offsets the less palatable qualities while maintaining the signature crunch of this vegetable.

Familiar Faces Nyonya squid

The squid cooked in Nyonya sauce (RM 13) was a bit of a disappointment. I found it rather bland but the squid was prepared well – it’s tender and moist, with none of the chewiness associated with overcooking.

Familiar Faces Nyonya fish

We also ordered the Nyonya Sambal Fish (RM 12). There was an initial concern over whether it would be too dry, considering it’s fried fish but that dissipated as soon as we dug in.

Familiar Faces Nyonya sambal fish filling

The fish is stuffed with sambal and other assorted fillings and it goes very well with a squeeze of lime. There isn’t too many bones to contend with too, which is always a good thing. Most of the dishes at Familiar Faces Nyonya Food & Noodle House is served on a piece of banana leaf, which is a nice touch.

Familiar Faces Nyonya chicken

However, the best dish that we had was the Nyonya style Sweet Potato Chicken (RM 12). It’s cooked in a savory sauce that seeps all the way into the bed of thinly sliced potatoes under the dish. The gravy saturated potatoes tastes even better than the chicken itself!

Familiar Faces Nyonya us

The total bill came up to RM 56.40 which is very reasonable. The service is friendly and there’s a warm and homely ambiance to the place. I have my doubts about the authenticity of some of the dishes but it’s still a good find. There’s also a very popular steamboat restaurant in the same row which is worth checking out.

Familiar Faces Nyonya food

Familiar Faces Nyonya Food & Noodle House is located at Jalan Radin Anum 1, Taman Sri Petaling with the GPS coordinates N 03°04.031′ E 101°41.423′.

Broodje haring, Hollandse Nieuwe and herring in Amsterdam

Frens Haringhandel

Amsterdam is famous for a raw herring dish served with onions and pickles called Hollandse Nieuwe. The best ones are usually found in stalls scattered around the canals. The traditional way of eating herring (as related to me by a Dutch citizen who saw me eating it and asked me what I thought of it) is by taking the tail of the raw herring, slathering it with onions and eating it whole.

Hollandse Nieuwe

However, the way herring is served in Amsterdam is sans tail. The herring’s tail has been amputated somewhere during its voyage from the North Sea. Instead, it’s sliced into manageable pieces and sprinkled with raw onions and some pickles. You’re supposed to eat it with a toothpick – mine comes with a nice Dutch flag on it – this is the famous stall in Koningsplein where you can get herring and broodje haring.

herring amsterdam

The herring (spelled haring in Dutch) is fresh and this place has a very healthy turnover of customers craving for some raw sea produce. It costs Euro 2.70 (about RM 12) for a whole herring and you can add Euro 0.50 for a broodje haring.

Koningsplein herring

Broodje haring is basically an entire herring sandwiched between a bun. There are two types of buns in Frens Haringhandel – the traditional one is the soft bun. I would recommend eating just the herring but if you need a bit of carbohydrates to fill yourself up, the boodje hearing is a great option.

Broodje haring

Fresh raw herring in Amsterdam is divine – it’s surprisingly creamy, a word I wouldn’t expect to describe fish. The haring has been deboned and practically melts in your mouth. It’s also slightly salty and totally unlike sashimi – definitely a must try if you happen to go to Amsterdam.

me herring amsterdam

Just look for the Frens Haringhandel stall near the flower market in Amsterdam!

Bath, UK

bath

Bath is a small city a couple of hours drive from London best known for the Roman Baths. It’s supposed to be the only hot springs around England when the Romans came. The town has a really unique character, largely due to the stones that the buildings are built with.

bath cathedral

The buildings in Bath are made with distinctive honey colored stones called “Bath stones” from quarries surrounding the Somerset area.

bath us

I took a day trip there to explore this World Heritage Site. It is a very popular destination – the place was packed even though it was off season and full of visitors thronging the main square.

the bath bun

There is a local specialty called the Bath bun – it’s described as a bun with a lump of sugar baked in the bottom and crushed sugar and raisins on top.

bath bun shop

The best place to grab one is at The Bath Bun at the main square.

bath bun

It’s simple but rather tasty, especially when it’s freshly baked.

sally lunns

I have also read about the Sally Lunn bun, and was determined to eat it before I left. Unfortunately, I had spent way too much time wondering around and nearly missed my bus so I couldn’t sample this other local delight.

bath square

I would say that a day trip is too short if you really want to explore Bath, Somerset. There are a lot of inns there where you can spend the night and I highly recommend at least two days to discover the quaint city of Bath.

Jacket potatoes in England

jacket potatoes

Jacket potatoes are probably the closest thing to street food in England. These are hot spuds with toppings of your choice. The potatoes are huge – it’s more than a size of a man’s fist and rather filling, with all the carbs inside.

jacket potatoes stall

I had one during a particularly chilly day in autumn. There are a lot of fillings to choose from – I went with bacon and cheese.

jacket potatoes topping

The cost of your jacket potato depends on what you want on it, but usually costs about 4-5 pounds or so (about RM 20+).

jacket potatos

The jacket potatoes is put into an oven and toasted to melt the cheese and although it may be a simple dish, it’s comfort food – perfect for the cold weather. :)

Pub food in London, England

england draft beer

The closest thing to English cuisine is probably the food you get in pubs. Pub grub comprises of dishes ranging from bangers and mash to more elaborate Sunday roasts.

pub grub

I once asked a resident what the best food locals eat in London is and he quickly answered, in all seriousness, I might add – Chinese and Indian food. He went on to explain the cultural melting pot made curries and such a staple of modern gastronomy.

english pub

Pub food is probably the last bastion against the influence of globalization (not that I’m against it, it’s just that I want to eat proper English food, whatever that may mean, while I’m there). It’s best served with a pint (or three) of one of their local draft beers, which is nowhere near as carbonated as other beers – it’s pulled manually and comes up with a proper head.

england pub

One interesting thing I noticed about the pubs is that you can ask for an extra pull if you feel that the foam is too much. More beer. w00t.

I hereby present a selection of the pub grub that I’ve had during my vacation there:

Scampi and chips

scampi and chips

This is a variant of the popular fish and chips – substituting scampi instead of fish. It’s served with slab cut potatoes and green peas. I also had a pickled egg on the side. It’s an acquired taste, pickled eggs. I love pickled eggs with my fish and chips when I was in Melbourne.

Traditional full English breakfast

english full breakfast

It has the works – bacon, portobello mushroom, grilled tomato and toast.

Chicken pie

chicken pie

This chicken pie is rather unorthodox as the filling isn’t INSIDE the pie. Instead, the chicken filling is served on the side and the pie crust is empty. The boiled potatoes fulfills the carb intake and is best eaten with butter. Delicious!

Sunday Roast

sunday roast

This can differ according to which pub you go to but it’s basically a choice of meat with gravy and some sides to fill you up.

Scrumpy Pork Hock

pork hock

Now this is one juicy and remarkable piece of work. A huge chunk of pork is served with mash and green beans. The pork is tender – it’s the cut near the leg, also known as pork knuckle. It has a lot of tendons in addition to the meat and fat, which makes it all the more palatable. The gravy is made of apple and cider sauce. Mmm…

Bangers and mash with black pudding

bangers and mash

Bangers and mash is traditional pub grub – it’s sausages with mashed potatoes and gravy. I also ordered some blood pudding to go with it.

black pudding

Blood pudding or black pudding is a type of sausage made with pigs blood and it’s as tasty as it comes. Definitely a must try in England. :)

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