Tokyo: だし茶漬けえん (Dashi Chazuke – en) @ Narita Airport

Sometimes, the simplest meal taste the most comforting. This is definitely the case for Japanese food, simply, yet a complex taste and comforting at the same time.

Chazuke (茶漬け) is one of those food.  Basically, its just rice with some ingredients and a hot fish broth which you pour over it as a meal. Its really a teochew styled porridge for the Chinese. The difference is really in the broth, usually cooked with bonito and seaweed. The savoury taste makes the whole dish comes alive and is at the same time very comforting, especially if you looking for something light and yet filling for your stomach.

Anyhow, me and San were wondering around Narita airport on the way back and found this chazuke place. Its a chain shop so you definitely can find this somewhere else in Tokyo. What is good about some of this chain shops is that they serve good food at a reasonable price. The same meal in Singapore would cost double and probably with less ingredients, not as nice and comes with bad service.

What attracted me was this 1,000 yen poster offered with salmon, eel, fish roe and scallops! How tempting is that!

I must say that I didn’t regret my decision, the meal was simply warm, comforting and yet has the deep rich taste that comes in the broth. Definitely worth another visit the next time I am in town.

http://www.dashichazuke-en.com/index.php

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New Ubin Seafood Restaurant @ Sin Ming Ind Estate

I’ve been hearing about the restaurant from food blogs and even on TV, so decided to grab a few friends down to Sin Ming Industrial Estate to have try.

The restaurant was packed when we were there around 7:30 pm, luckily we had a reservation. The restaurant is situated amongst the car workshop and its not easy to find without a map or GPS. This goes to prove that location is nothing in Singapore in the food business. If your food is popular, people will go to the most ulu places in Singapore to have a meal.

One of the most talked about dish is the US beef steak and beef fried rice. However, as one of my dear friend did not eat beef, we opted not to order it instead. Anyway, we did order some of the stuff which were recommended.

They had the standard four types of meat for satay: beef, chicken, pork and mutton. We got 3 of 4, i.e. no beef. The satay came really fast. The meat of well smoked and a bit charred just the way I like it, but my friends were complaining that its too charred for their taste. The meat was juicy and tender, but I felt that the sweet marinade was a bit one-dimensional… only sweet, I couldn’t taste other spices at work here. The sauce was okay, but nothing to rave about. Well, this is not one of their recommended dish, but I think if you are hungry, its something fast and nice to fill your mouth first.

Not sure how long it took, maybe 30 minutes or so, our first real dish came out. Its the deep friend shrimp. The tiny shrimps were fried just right so that meat is not too hard and the shells are just crunchy enough. I just thought that they could have toss in a bit more salt (and pepper) to add more life to this dish.

The next dish to come out was the special brinjal. Its slices of brinjal deep fried and then stir fried in a sweet and sour sauce with dried chillies. I like this dish as I don’t see people make brinjal dishes like this very often. The only other ones I have tried is a beijing-food-kind-of  restaurant in Lumpini, in Bangkok, which serves brinjal ala french fries cuts and also coated with a sweet and sour sauce. The brinjal was crisply fried and sauce of sweet and sour was well-balanced.

Next came the boss fried beehoon. One thing we came to realise is that the portions are really small and they did not seem to have other size. So the beehoon came out in a small plate good for one person (I think). There is nothing wrong with the dish in terms of taste,  just that its not outstanding and nothing for me to rave about.

The long awaited steamed shovel nose ray finally came out. We tried to get to the meat, but there was none! This dish was mostly about the skin and the gooey gelatinous the comes with it around a huge inedible bone. Definitely not a dish for you, if you don’t like spongy and gelatinous food. I found it interesting and quite enjoyed it. I would just say that  you should at least give it a try once, which is good enough.

As we finished the steam ray, we were wondering why would the ray cost $58, if it just a few pieces of skin.  The waiter then came and put down a dish which looks like a bitter gourd meat stew, but we did not order it and told the waiter he gave us the wrong order. As it turns out, this is the second dish from the shovel nose ray. Now, we know what happened to the rest of the body! The rest of the body is deep fried in tapioca flour, I think, and stewed with bitter gourd. This is definitely a dish with rice, but we already finished out beehoon, but we decided not to get more rice. It was a good stew, the sauce was thick and well flavored with a hint of bitterness. I thought that the bitter gourd could have been cooked longer to make them softer, as I can still taste a bit of the rareness. Even though this is the rest of the ray, there were still hardly much meat in them.

The next to show up is the recommended dish of fried fish eggs with petai (stinky beans) in chincalok sauce. I love the chincalok sambal sauce and the petai, but the fried fish eggs doesn’t absorb the sauce so its only coated on the outside and its pretty bland on the inside, plus is quite hard. I had to break the fish eggs into piece and mix it with the sauce. Another alternative is to soak the fish eggs in the bitter gourd stew we had previously. I makes a wonderful combination… haha. Personally, I am just happy if they fried petai with the sauce and leave out the fish eggs. A good alternative would be to replace the fish eggs with fried tempe.

After the longest wait, the white pepper crab finally showed up. We decided to try white pepper since the other the sound common. The white pepper sauce was well flavored and not overwhelmed by the peppers. The crab was sweet and nice, but my friend says its not very fresh. Well I am not really a crab eater so I am just happy to eat the claws.

Lastly, we ordered teriyaki smoked pork collar. This is a dish to die for. The meat is well smoked and the meat is tender, the fats is firm and doesn’t have an oily feel and the sweet sauce that coats the meat complements the smokiness of the meat. The only thing stopping me from eating everything is the amount of fats that I have deal with later!