Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

I've heard about Tsukada Nojo Bijin Nabe Japanese restaurant sometime back. I think it appeared under the beauty section of the magazine rather than the food. With Singaporean women so crazy about skin elasticity and botox, is it any wonder why the collagen based soups are so popular? 
This skinnyfat girl here is not yet concerned about wrinkles on her face and gelatinous animal parts kinda scare me a little; hence i've only recently tried Tsukada Nojo. For $25 per pax, you'll get to enjoy the Bijin Nabe a.k.a. Beauty Pot with a variety of ingredients. These beancurd looking pudding are actually solidified collagen, which would melt to reveal chunky pieces of chicken, and also disintegrate into the tasty chicken broth. We didn't know that the Bijin Nabe was only served during dinner so we were left with only the ramen option. 
The Japanese outlets uses free range chickens that are raised in a safe and controlled environment on the Miyazaki farms. Chickens are highly prized and known as Miyazaki Jitokko. Happy chickens make for rich milky and savory stock. Sadly, we don't get poultry imports from Japan so these birds are from Malaysia. 
Nevertheless, chicken bones are stewed for over 8 hours to give it that golden broth that is rich in collagen aptly named the Golden Jidori Soup. Can you believe this soup base is only prepared with water, salt and bones.

We haven't tried the one in Japan so there isn't a baseline for comparison, but i must say that the soup was really tasty with a tinge of stickiness (probably the collagen). S had the thin springy noodles with his chicken ramen and I must say that this is waaaaay better than Marutama's. 
I really enjoyed my Curry Ramen with the thick Mochi noodles. It's the slightly curly and yellow Sapporo kinda ramen but with more chewiness. I love that the curry is really thick and flavorful and more savory than the usual sweet and mild Japanese curry. If you like rich flavors, this comes highly recommended. The dry looking roast chicken slices served on the side surprised me with the light honey flavor and the tenderness of it. Eat it alone or warm it up in the sauce before you devour them.
Our supposed starter Nikumaki Onigiri, each the size of my fist, were served when we were halfway into our ramen. There's no way we would be able to finish the 2 huge bacon wrapped baked rice balls/rolls after our ramen and had no choice but to bring one home. This is more of a sweet dish than a savory one so it may not appeal to all. 

The original flavored one is $3 while the others with toppings such as cheese, yuzu pepper & mayo and red chili oil costs $3.50. There was too little of the yuzu pepper mayo to make a distinction between the 2 onigiris. A bite of this is ok, not the entire bolus of rice. 

I heard that the chicken wings are pretty swell. Shall try that with meal when my curry ramen craving kicks in. 

Tsukada Nojo Restaurant
60A Orchard Road
The Atrium@Orchard
Tel: +65 6336 5003
Daily: 11:30am-4pm; 5-10pm
Reserve a table at the Chinatown Point Outlet here
Every time someone asks me for Japanese food recommendations, i'll always direct them to Chikuwa Tei for their affordable bentos and high quality and chunky slices of sashimi. Chef Peter, the grumpy chef who first started Wasabi Tei at Far East Plaza, helms the restaurant at Mohamed Sultan. Just a couple of months back, Chef Peter opened his third restaurant, Mitsuba By Yurine Japanese Restaurant, at The Central, Clarke Quay.

There is absolutely nothing to shout out about the ugly signboard and unwelcoming entrance. This is not a restaurant that I would step into if i randomly walked by. The emptiness of the restaurant on a Saturday night reflects the same sentiments of other diners. Lucky us because people don't know of this hidden gem. Heh.
There is quite a good view of the Singapore river from the inside of the restaurant. Do remember to reserve those seats if you want to chill out with your friends (not a date). We started with the Ebi Tempura (5pcs for $12). The prawn is fresh but the batter was a little too thick. The batter was thicker the second time i had this. Maybe i'll try the soft shell crab next time.  

Bentos are very affordable, just like Chikuwa Tei. Pick a main dish and add $6 for a set that includes rice, Miso Soup, Otoshi, pickles and fruits. Grilled hot dishes like Cod fish ($20), Unagi ($22), Gyuniku (Beef, $20), Ika (Squid, $10) are available. The Sushi Udon Teishoku is amazingly priced at $24 and that gives you 7 pieces of sushi, 6 maki and a hot bowl of comforting udon. 

I had the Natsu Bento ($40) with Mackajiki (Swordfish) Sashimi, Gindara Teriyaki, Chawanmushi and Miso Soup. I could not finish the thick juicy slabs of swordfish sashimi which was crunchy as well. Very good fish i must say. The teriyaki cod fish was fatty and oily in a really tummy satisfying way. Love the charred and sweetened bits that coat the fish.
Chef Peter is well known for his generous Chirashi and you just gotta have this. The staple at Chikuwa Tei is sold here at $28 but there are 4 differently priced dons and it goes up to $68. We had the Natsu Chirashi Sushi ($38) which has fatty salmon belly, scallops, swordfish, a little stuffed squid with roe and more. The higher priced sets include toro belly, Botan Shrimps and scallops.
Just look at that all that fish! I tried eating a set on my own and i could not finish the sashimi. The reason being that i was happily eating the sushi rice. Love that sweet and savory flavors from the vinegar, salt and probably mirin in the short grained pearl rice.

Absolutely another of my favorite Japanese restaurant. Love the food but the service is pretty bad. The female wait staff reluctantly gave us a chair to put all our bags but reminded us that she'd have to take it back if there are customers. And the restaurant was half full. Meh. Well, for good sashimi and fuss free eating, i'll put up with it. Filling the tummy is more important. Just a little amazed at how un-princessy i am these days. Hur.

Mitsuba by Yurine Japanese Restaurant
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#03-88 The Central
Tel: +65 6227 0388
Daily: 11.30am - 3pm; 6 - 10pm
2012 was a crazy year of traveling for me. I've pinned 13 countries and many more cities on my trips. Friends often wondered how S and i. It all boils down to good planning and maximizing all available leave and holidays. Long weekends or weekend trips are good enough for nearby Asian cities that are less than 8h of flight away.

Most people would think that 4 days is too little time to spend in Japan considering the air fares and all. Well, this would work if you have been to Japan a couple of times and you don't mind spending all 4 days in 1 or 2 cities. While i wouldn't say we knew Kyoto inside out after the trip, or that we've covered the gazillion UNESCO World Heritage sites and soaked up all the past glory of the old capital, it was sufficient to know if you love/hate a place. And of course, what's not to love about Kyoto?
Getting Around
Kyoto is known for the rich culture and heritage and of course their countless templesshrines, palaces, pavilions etc. that could not be missed. I had a hard time deciding which to visit because there are simply too many. Due to time constraints and foresight of our probable boredom from viewing too many temples, I picked a few must-sees and dropped by other sights in the same area. The tip is to cover 1 to 2 areas each day instead of going back and forth unnecessarily.

Bus travel is the most convenient as major sights are mostly within walking distance from the stops. What's helpful is that attractions are labelled on the bus map. Each trip costs 220Y within the city zone so it makes perfect sense to get the daily bus pass for 500Y/day which gives you unlimited rides. To get to Arashiyama, you'll need to top up a little more.

So here is how i sectioned Kyoto for my 4 day Autumn trip (sadly we were a little early for the koyo season.)

Places of Interest
1. Kinkaku and Ryoan-ji

One of the top attractions, Kinkaku, Golden Pavilion is a Zen temple whose top two floors are completely plastered with gold leaves. I found it hard to enjoy the zen with tourists scrambling to get their perfect shot.
I very much prefer Ryoan-Ji, which is the finest dry rock garden in Kyoto. This is the epitome of Zen landscaping apparently. There is something really therapeutic about staring at little rocks and man made ripples. 

2. Ginkaku-ji, Tetsugaku-no-michi, Nanzen-ji
Ginkaku, the Silver Pavilion does not have a trace of silver on it. Word is that the shogun ran out of money before they could cover it with silver leaves. Though it's less glamorous than Kinkaku, i love the coziness of it. Take a little climb up the hillside and you'll be able to enjoy the picturesque scenery from the top. Here is where i scored a wish-in-a-stone-bowl and did a little dance with people cheering in the background.

Tetsugaku-no-michi- Philosopher's Path
Follow the directions from Ginkaku to the Tetsugaku-no-michi, the Philosopher's Path. It's possible to walk all the way back to Higayashima or Sanjo but it'd take a long while (we tried). It's really soothing sitting down on the stone benches, listening to the flow of the stream. It would be perfect in spring with all the cherry blossoms or later in autumn with the red leaves.
Pack a bento and have lunch by the stream or attempt to fish for food yourself. There is a little cafe somewhere down the path to rest your feet. And a really cute shop that sells merchandise with cat prints. 

If you are ok with walking, continue down to Nanzen-ji, one of the most important Zen temples in Kyoto. The grounds are massive with several sub temples in it. The central grounds are free and open to public and here is where you'll see the towering Sanmon entrance gate.

3. Shijo and Gion

Shijo is where you do all the shopping. Shopping centers that house levels after levels of cosmetics, fashion, and food are lined along the Shijo-dori. Daimaru, Takashimaya, Marui and Isetan are among those brands. Start walking from Shijo Station and head east towards Gion and Maruyama Park (do this at night) and Yasaka Shrine.

Worthy of visiting is the Teramachi and Shin Kyogoku Covered Shopping Arcades. Restaurants and shops are aplenty under the sheltered walkway and these are more popular with the younger crowd. Drop by the Nishiki Market for some fresh seafood, it's the Tsukiji of Kyoto though not in the same scale.

Gion is where you will head to for some Geisha spotting but they are very elusive. I've only spotted 2, one hurrying down Pontocho and another in a bar. Nevertheless, spend an hour or so wandering along the streets lined by wooden buildings, tea houses and restaurants only known to people in the know. You may just get a glimpse of one.  

4. Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taishois my favorite place of interest in Kyoto. I guess it has something to do with Memoirs of a Geisha and Zhang Zi Yi running under the vermilion torii gates into the wooded forests of Mount Inari. Do you know that you can buy/donate one of these gates for a price? Well if you can't afford 400000Y for a small gate, you could get a mini one for 500Y at the souvenir counter. ;)

5. Arashiyama
I would highly recommend spending half a day at Arashiyama. Drop off at the the Togetsukyo Bridge and then wander down the shopping street. Have the green tea ice cream with cake which is just next to the train station. More on where i ate in Arashiyama soon.

Tenryuji Temple is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and considered as Kyoto's top 5 Zen Temples but really i didn't find anything spectacular about it. The must see however is the Sagano Bamboo forest that is behind the Temple. I love the wind chime quality of the rattling of the bamboo and the light rustle of the leaves.
There are 101 temples in the area so just pick whatever you feel like visiting or just wander around in the nature. Hop on to the Sagano Scenic Train which runs 7km to Kameoka, along the Hozu River, at a leisurely ride at 25km/h. That's what holidays are about ain't it? To complete the experience, take the Hozu River Boat Tour from the JR Kameoka Station back to the Togetsukyo Bridge. Very interesting and entertaining guides they have.

Remember to do a Tofu Ryori in Arashiyama for they are famed for that. I'll introduce an affordable one to you soon. Best Japanese jelly i've had as part of my meal and i totally regretted not buying it back.
There are so many ways to visit Kyoto and here are merely some options based on my experience. It really depends what sort of traveler you are. Remember, whatever you do, don't rush it. The journey is more important than the destination. Hope you've enjoyed this post!

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It's been a while since my last leisurely afternoon tea. Once a fixture in my weekend plans, this relaxing activity has been shoved to the bottom on my weekend to do list because it takes up quite a fair bit of time. :( I almost forgot how enjoyable it is till my little Gourmet High Tea buffet at Pan Pacific Orchard Singapore. 

I'm never a fan of buffet because it promotes gluttony. I don't believe in gorging myself silly just to get my money's worth. Give me quality over quantity anytime. Pan Pacific Orchard and i share the same sentiments on buffet and it shows through their tapas concept high tea in its newly rejuvenated Lobby Lounge
There is a nice spread of pastries, cheeses, little sandwiches and plenty of desserts. It's a perfect place to catch up with girlfriends over little quality bites that complements rather than take the attention away from the company.
High tea is available daily but during weekends, guests get to relish in three of their most popular and well received Plates of Pleasures, including the recently Global Hotel Alliance-Awarded Famous Peddlers Char Kway Teow, prepared à la minute. Chef Andy’s recipe was selected from more than 160 recipes submitted
by chefs from Global Hotel Alliance member hotels such as Marco Polo, Kempinski and Pan Pacific across 56 countries.

I love that the noodles are not oily like the usual black char kway teow. This is also not as cloyingly sweet. The fragrant dried shrimps and huge prawns had me at the first bite. I must say Penang Char Kway Teow is my thing.
The Assam Laksa packs in the acidity and though the udon-ish rice noodles is quite unlike the chewy and transparent one that i had in Malacca, it was rather appetizing. For the additional flavor, mix in the pungent fermented prawn paste served by the side.
The Prawn Noodles was also quite delicious with pork belly served instead of pork ribs. This gives the soup a tinge of sweetness. Truth be told, when i first read about these Asian dishes in the press release, i didn't quite see how they would fit into the gourmet high tea concept. But you see, presentation is everything and you can see how hearty food is served in a chic black pot. 

These dishes are a la carte and are prepared when you order them. Feel free to order more after you've finished them. I would go for seconds and thirds of that fried kway teow. Yums.
Another highlight of the weekends is the two live stations serving Swiss Cottage Melting Raclette and Spanish-Bred Iberian-Cured Ham. Love the grilled zucchinis and baby asparagus that lovingly accompanied them.
If you love cheeses, you'll love the tea here. My favorites are the Long Clawson Chili and Lime, Black Pepper Cheddar and the Wensleydale Cranberry. Just eating these are enough for me.
Desserts are delicately prepared. I enjoyed the Blueberry cheesecake served in the form of a Chinese Pau. The brownie and the coffee soaked sponge layers in the Opera were also delightful. Sip on the free flow Pacific coffee or TWG teas. Change your drinks when you feel like it. The signature Iced Apple Tea was very soothing to the tummy as well.
The Gourmet High Tea Buffet is available daily from Monday to Friday ($28++) and Saturday and Sunday ($38++). From 1 February until 30 March 2013, Pan Pacific Orchard Singapore is having an opening promotional offer of one dines free for every two paying adults everyday. Now how about some tea party with the girls?

Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore
10 Claymore Road
Tel: +65 6831 6685
Daily Afternoon High Tea Buffet: 2 - 5pm

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It seems like Japanese themed malls are all the rage these days. Just along Orchard Road there's the entire atrium at Plaza Singapura and now 313 Somerset has recently revamped its level 3 to house all things Nihon in terms of food and fashion. Taking over the terribly overpriced Blue Mountain is Japanese Italian Cafe Dolce Tokyo which serves an extensive variety of Japanese sweets, as well as other savory dishes.
With more than 50 variations of tea and coffee at Dolce Tokyo, ranging from lattes, frappes to shakes, it is no wonder why Dolce Tokyo is the perfect spot for shoppers to rest their feet after shopping, or for those looking for a sweet something to conclude their meal. 

I had the milky Iced Matcha Latte ($7) which was a welcomed relief after my hot yoga session. Would have preferred a more intense green tea flavor but this would suffice. The signature blended Iced Mint Yuzu Tea ($6.50) was a little too funky for me. The tea was quite sweet but the bitter aftertaste from the yuzu peel and the cool mint made me put the drink aside after 2 sips. Well i did give it a second chance.. 
I would say that the cafe is really more Japanese than Italian. Don't go expecting pasta or pizzas as sandwiches and crostinis are the Italiano representatives here. The Mixed Crostini Platter ($18) consists of the tomato concasse with chilled shrimps, salmon roe, tamagoyaki, smoked salmon (we had parma ham instead). Mix and match your own. These are pretty good for sharing and i love the crispy grilled multigrain bread that is from their central kitchen.
All day breakfast is also served here but i'm not impressed with the food. With Wild Honey (read review here) just next door serving better quality breakfasts at similar prices, i really don't see myself paying $22 for the Smoked Salmon Benny here. That's not to say it's terrible tasting. It's decent, just not worth the price tag. My advice? Stick to the Japanese dishes. 
The Hiyashi Chuka ($17/19) is one of our favorite dishes of the night. Cold Somen with strips of tamago, cucumber, carot, ginger, ikura, gammon ham, nori, wolfberries and shrimps; drizzled with a light sesame sauce. I can never say no to cold Japanese noodles. It's so easy on the palate I could finish it all. 
If you like Curry Rice, the one at Dolce Tokyo is pretty decent and rich in flavor. Each order (original $16; omu rice $19) comes with a stick of skewer (choose from a selection of 4). The Teriyaki Pork Belly skewer is well marinated and tenderly braised just like the chinese kong ba. The 3 side dishes changes daily; we had the baby octopus, potato salad and marinated jellyfish. Another hit with us.
A Sukiyaki styled hotplate is also available. We had the Ebi Toji ($12) topped with a Pork Chorizo Sausage. S loved every bit of this because sukiyaki is his nemesis. Add on $5.50 for a bowl of rice with miso soup or $8.90 for a slice of cake/dessert of the day.
I'm quite a fan of the Unagi Fried Rice served in a hotstone bowl ($20). This comes with a skewer as well. Flavorful fried Japanese pearl rice which is slightly sticky and fluffy. Good quality unagi, comparable to any decent Japanese restaurant, was served. My favorite part of the dish has got to be the crispy burnt rice at the bottom. Crunchy!
Now on to desserts. The Japanese style cakes are light and fluffy. The Yuzu cake is made the traditional way, a little more grainy and dry. However, the yuzu paste was refreshing and not too sweet. The chef insists on using Japanese ingredients for the cakes, which kinda translates to higher costs. This slice will set you back by $11.50 but it's a huge slice that can be easily shared between 2-3 pax depending on your appetite.
I absolutely adore the Green Tea with Goma Sesame cake. This is moist and light and rich in the black goma and matcha flavors. The matcha-goma crumble on top really takes the cake, literally and figuratively. I would have this anytime. Highly recommended. 
The Dolce Tokyo’s signature Dessert Bento ($18.90) is a combination of desserts in tasting portions. Shiratama (a popular Japanese rice cake) with Konnyaku Jelly, Panna Cotta with Caramel and Marshmallow, with Brownie and Vanilla Gelato all in one dessert box (ours was replaced with carrot cake and matcha ice cream). It's a little haphazard and none of the above impressed me. I ate all that kantan jelly even though it was tasteless because i was told it will improve my complexion. Beauty be the death of me. 

Located at Level 3 of 313 Somerset next to popular Japanese fashion stores Uniqlo and Lowry’s Farm, Dolce Tokyo is a relaxing spot for customers to wind down and mingle with friends over a nice meal or cakes. Give it a shot. Follow my recommendations and you won't go wrong. 

Dolce Tokyo
313 Orchard Road, #03-23, 313 Somerset Mall 
Tel: +65 6836 5612

Sun-Thu: 11.30am – 10.30pm 
Fri, Sat, Eve PH: 11.30am – 11.00pm