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麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto @ Erawan Bangkok

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Singapoeans love to visit Bangkok for authentic Thai massage, a truly ‘shop till you drop’ kinda experience and of course good and cheap Thai food but with the influx of numerous Japanese and Korean food joints into the Thai capital over the last couple of years, the options have now opened beyond just that wicked bowl of tom yum goong or collagen-packed plate of khao kha moo. In our recent trip to Bangkok, we visited 麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto and here’s why you should too!
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麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto is a very popular ramen shop in Tokyo that originated from 新小岩 Shin Koiwa near Akihabara, drawing long queues especially nearing meal times, sometimes spilling over to the off peak hours as well. Their second overseas menya in Thailand caused quite a stir they opened at Erawan in downtown Bangkok just a couple of months ago with diners and ramen aficionados queuing for more than an hour just to get a slurp of the unique broth Itto is known for. Thankfully we came really early that day, reaching at around 11 am. A tad too early as they open only at 11.30 am and went to roam around the nearby mini supermarket instead.
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At opening, there were already a few tables occupied. Service was fairly swift and soon after we had our orders taken, the  gyoza starters were being served, beautifully browned on the base side.
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Couldn’t resist flipping the whole rack over to reveal the elegantly pleated side. As we learned from the staff, the gyozas were all freshly handwrapped individually everyday. The skin looked really thin with the pinkish meat filling peeking through gorgeously.
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True enough, the gyoza skin was uber thin, almost translucent in certain places. The ball of meat filling was delightfully moist, tender and succulent, reminiscent of the filling of good xiao long bao. The skin was uniformly cooked, half steamed and half panfried with no hardened corners and tips as what one would sometimes experience at other joints using frozen gyozas or those which have been left around for too long.
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And here’s our order of ramen and tsukemen! Quick photos before digging in!
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Itto’s standard char siu tsukemen. The noodles are a tad thicker than what we had expected. It was cooked to just al dente with a good amount of springy and chewy textures. The aroma of the wheat was really apparent as the noodles are also freshly made in the shop compared to other ramen joints which import theirs packaged or frozen from Japan. The rich broth was amazing as one could slowly make out the multitude of dimensions created from the mixture of ingredients used, i.e. chicken bones and feet, bonito, dried shrimp, dried sardines, scallops etc boiled over a prolonged period of time to tease out every ounce of goodness from each “zairyo“. The final broth rides highly on the notes of umami and natural sweetness that gently caresses the noodles as one dips ceremoniously a few strands at a time into the rich broth before splurping them down to coax and sooth one’s throat and palate.

While the noodles and broth were already quite something, Itto’s char siu assemblage is quite a feat on its own as well. Not one or two but three types of char siu can be found in each standard order. Our favorite was the “tori char siu” , a thick and flavourful slice of chicken breast which had been carefully sous vide to retain much of its moisture, with all the flavours locked into each soft fibre. The “rosu char siu” using pork shoulder/collar too was beautifully sous vide as well, after being cured in a specially concocted marinade that lends its flavours unto the meat and help develop an almost “jambon” like consistency. The “bara char siu” uses pork belly with good meat and fat ratio that was slowly poached at temperatures just below boiling point which helped the slab to retain not only its form but also textures.
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We opted for a bowl of Noko Gyokai (濃厚魚介)base ramen instead of a standard Tokyo style shio ramen as we generally favour a more robust tasting broth.  In the case of Itto‘s rendition, ramen noodles served in an enriched chicken broth cooked with dried Japanese seafood as well. Like those from tsukemen, the noodles are also freshly made daily in the kitchen but using an entirely different blend of flours and also made thinner which helped to construct a different slurp and bite experience. The broth was thick and robust almost like a tonkotsu base but with an entirely different flavour profile, much more complex in our opinion. Above the noodles lies same trio of char siu for a good range of meat component in the ramen alongside negi and menma for crunch.
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The highlight of that day’s brunch was a sampling of Itto’s lobster tsukemen which would be rolled out soon at the end of Nov 2017. The same thick and bouncy noodles now generously embellished with chunks of lobster meat which had been panfried teppanyaki-style with butter just before serving for an extra luxurious dining experience.
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The dipping broth was a unique concoction as well, essentially a rich bisque that was uber creamy and smooth, yet surprisingly good for dipping the noodles in. Despite being immersed in the bisque cooked from the crustacean exoskeletons, the chicken balls themselves held their fort and displayed much of their intended flavours instead of being drowned in a pool of glorious goodness.
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Thoroughly enjoyable dipping and slurping the tsukemen noodles, be it their standard broth or in the bisque. And when the noodles are gone, remember to thin slightly the broth with the dashi stock from the thermal kettle on the table and gulp down every last drop of essence ensuring nothing is wasted. Lots of premium ingredients have gone into the making of just that bowl of broth, not to mention the time and effort, making the entirely dining experience all so slurp worthy. Most definitely be looking forward to check out 麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto again on our future trips to Bangkok and you most certainly should too!

麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto @ Erawan Bangkok
LG/F, Erawan, 494 Phloen Chit Rd., Bangkok
Nearest BTS Chit Lom
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am-2pm, 6pm-10am or until sold out for the day
Website: http://www.facebook.com/menyaittobkk

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Patisserie Paris Mikki Asok @ Bangkok

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Whenever we are on holidays, we make it a point to visit some of the local pastry joints to have a feel of what the local pastry scene is like and our recent trip to Bangkok is no different. Our last trip to the capital of the Land of Smiles was exactly two years back and boy have things changed. Much of the local dessert scene had been completed taken over by the makes of Japan and Korea with bingsus and kakigoris rapidly gaining popularity and finding themselves in perpetually every mall along the main shopping belt in Bangkok. Yet there are some who continued to stay true to their grounds and stuck to the traditions and basics, to which we are very glad for, and Patisserie Paris Mikki is one of those increasingly rare few.
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On the Trail of a Phoenix – Nasi Ulam

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Nasi Ulam, or pronounced as “nasik ulam” in Baba Malay is a classic Peranakan dish which has its roots in Southeast Asian cooking. Comprising of essentially a variety of chiffonaded herbs tossed in steamed fragrant rice, it is painstaking to prepare and thus usually served on “ari besair” during weddings, birthdays or other celebratory events.
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On the Trail of the Phoenix – Laok Bunga Durian

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I’d not updated the “On the Trail of the Phoenix” series on this blog for quite some time now so perhaps it is a timely reminder. I was really fortunate and beyond happy to receive a big bag of durian blossoms from a friend’s tree. Truly a blessing of the season as it only occurs for a really short period of time each year between the flowers blooming to those which would fall if they were not pollinated by bats and bees. With these blossoms, I’d whipped up two traditional dishes to enjoy them as quickly as possible, the truly Peranakan way…
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Seafood Gnocchi Goreng

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I love mee goreng of any style, be it the dry and smokey Indian “mamak” version or the slightly moister yet full of “tze char” way of frying mee goreng which became popularly known as “Punggol Mee Goreng” here in Singapore. We cook it quite frequently at home too, pulling together elements which I like from the various versions I have tried before into a single plate. When I was given two packets of Casa Rinaldi’s gnocchi to create recipes with distinct “local taste” the first thing that came to my mind was “Seafood Gnocchi Goreng”!
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意大利薯仔算盘子 Gnocchi Hakka Abacus Seeds

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I love suan pan zi 算盘子, a 客家 Hakka speciality which is enjoyed in many parts of the larger Chinese diaspora where the khek community resides. Often doubt as “Chinese gnocchi”, suan pan zi are fashioned out of taro while the Italian counterpart from potatoes. The similarities in their making are uncanny which leaves one to wonder if the myth of Marco Polo the famed Venetian traveller to the Far East bringing the art of Chinese noodle making back to Italy giving rise to modern day pasta, extends to suan pan zi evolving into gnocchi as well. I am no food historian so whether there are any possible links that may exist between the two, we may never know. But what I do know is, I can bring these two seemingly similar yet otherwise diverse dishes together again to reprise the “Chinese Gnocchi” or as I like to think as, the “Italian Suan Pan Zi“…  (more…)


Porridge Postulations – Part 1 清粥小菜 – 第一篇

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Been really busy with my kueh and food orders over the last couple of months which left this blog somewhat neglected. My own homecooking as well incidentally, ended up feeding others more often than myself. This week is slightly more relaxed with the orders consolidated somewhat over the weekend mostly which spares me some time to treat myself a little better. The weather’s been excruciatingly unforgiving the last couple of weeks despite coming to the end of the year soon so porridge seems to be a pretty good idea. Here’s a quick update of my homecooked 清粥小菜 porridge lunch today with 2 simple dishes… (more…)