Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hippotamus revamps menu with premium beef offerngs.

Steaks have a certain primeval attraction. A thick, juicy, steak always make a wonderful meal. Recently, the French chain Hippotamus, which has been around in Singapore for some 3 years revamped their menu, now carrying premium beef.

I was invited for a tasting of the new menu. Many thanks to Cheryl of Touch PR & Events for the invitation and to Andrew of ABR for hosting.

As a regular media tasting lunch, there was lots of food...lots. We started with a prawn, tomato and guacamole appetizer:

Quite interesting. The two prawns were very fresh, nice, crunchy, sweet. The tomato and guacamole provided a nice rounding to the taste of the prawns. Quite nice.

We next tried a French styled comfort food...a poached egg with red wine

I found this to be quite superb. The egg was wonderfully done...the white was just cooked, and the yolk still a bit runny within. The tangy wine sauce provides a nice counterpoint to the richness of the yolk. And two strips of crispy bacon makes this a very nice savoury treat.

A French Onion soup was next

Very typical in France, nice, rich, sweet almost caramalized onions in a thick savoury broth, and served gratinéed with croutons and cheese. The cheese was nice and crusty, nice flavours.

We also sampled the beef bone marrow

Quite typical bone marrow. Fat, rich, and taste quite nice with a pinch of sea salt.

Then on to the main events..we started with the gourmet burger

The burger is served on a freshly toasted ciabatta bun. Hand chopped beef patty, caramalized onion, and the usual tomato. Not as good as &Made, but quite nice. The best part of the burger was it was completely non greasy.

And the beef cuts came...first two different cuts of wagyu, both which are secondary cuts. Often graded prime cuts of wagyu is too rich and fat for a full steak. I always find a cut of A5 wagyu to be overly rich. So it was interesting to serve secondary cuts, which in a regular USDA Prime beef would be used for braising or slow cooking. But perhaps, as wagyu is so much more tender in the first place, these secondary cuts, if cooked properly may be nice, tender and still remain flavourfull.

The wagyu flank steak

The wagyu is Australian sourced. And as apparent in the photograph, have little marbling. But the meat was tender, juicy and very flavourful. Very nice. But the hangar cut was better!

The French call this the onglet, it is derived from the diaphragm of the cattle. And if highly textured, muscular, as can be seen in the photograph above. The meat was very tender, juicy despite the lack of marbling. And though it was grilled in a gas oven, there was no flame taste, and the browned maillared parts were superbly aromatic and wasalmost crusty, crisp. Very nice indeeed.

We also tried the bone in sirloin...this was not a wagyu cut.

Normally sirloin is not served bone-in. But the bone allows a certain flavour to linger on the meat. This is like a T-bone with the tenderloin part taken out. I foudn this to be quite nice. Good texture, tenderness and taste. As can be noted in the photograph, the meat is quite a bit more marbled and fatter than the wagyus.

For desserts, a curious deconstructed strawberry cheesecake

From bottom up, cookie crumble, cream cheese topped with fresh strawberries. Quite good, and interesting presentation to hold the deconstructed cake.

But I preferred the French Toast Nutella

A thick slice of sweetish Japanese bread, coated with egg, fried, and still quite moist and un-greasy, drizzled with Nuteella and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Loved this.

Overall, I was impressed with the food being served. I had eaten at the restaurant once or twice before, while those visits were not bad, the experience and food was rather average, and not memorable. I even tried the outlet in Paris at Boulevard de Cappucines. But this tasting, especially the hangar steak left an indelible impression on me. A very positive one. So I am now putting Hippotamus Singapore on the Recommended list.

Hippopotamus Restaurant Grill
6 Raffles Blvd, Singapore 039594
63385352

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menya Musashi

On of my favourite foods is ramen. I just love it. And ramen does travel well...Singapore versions of famous ramen from Japan tend to be almost as good.

Today's review is on such very famous shop in Shinjuku, which I had the pleasure of sampling once. Named after famed Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, this shop has turned into a chain store in Singapore, with some 8 outlets.

Each boasting of their own noodles. Interesting. As was Musashi-san himself...whose story is incredible, and the subject of numerous entertaining tales on samurai lore. He is also the hero featured in many of the patches in the Japanese celebrated raw denim jeans maker: Samurai.

But I digress...back to the ramen. We ate this meal at the Star Vista outlet, so it was thick square shaped noodle with Tokyo-Ueno style soup with chicken and pork. Very interesting.

First off, white charsiu ramen

The broth was thick, almost collagen like in texture, very flavourful...almost bursting with pork bones and chicken. Very nice, albeit a bit too salty and perhaps a touch too fat. The ramen itself was cooked very nicely, and the thick noodle was good at picking up the broth, allowing it to coat every strand for good flavour. The egg within was cooked perhaps a touch over...both yolk and white are cooked through, but still tasty. Very nice.

We also had the red charsiu ramen

Although the colour of the broth was significantly different, interestingly the taste seemed to be very similar. I really could not tell much difference, perhaps the red was a bit more spicy, but only slight.

The unusual ramen was the Akiba curry ramen, which is famous in the Shinjuku outlet

This one was as different as the first two were similar. The broth was thicker, with a mild curry flavour. This was not as sweet as traditional Japanese curry, nor as spicy as Indian or others. But a nice pork bone flavour still underwrote the entire palate. Again slightly salty. The thin shreds of pork added provided a nice texture, and additional flavour. The egg this time was whole, and perfect - the whites were a jelly like consistency, and the yolk slightly runny. Very nice. Every slurp of the broth made me want more. Interesting and very addictive.

Each of the ramens were a set, with accompanying side dishes, we had the octopus, gyoza and fried chicken.

Suffice to say, they neither outshone the ramens, or were not able companions.

Overall, the ramens were delicious. I love the curry ramen, and will be back for more. And also to try the Tsukemen ramen as well as the black ramen. Recommended.

Menya Musashi
THE STAR VISTA
1 Vista Exchange Green
#B1-08
6694 2515