Buono: Quick-fix Tempura

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Hot and crisp kakiage-don mmm

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Old-school handwritten menu :)

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The suspiciously trippy-sounding umeshu…

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Tempura salt to cater to the different tastes – mountain pepper, matcha, and good ol’ fashion plain one

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Dessert which was mehhh – fruits from a can…

While staying in Nishi-Azabu and hankering after some crisply fried Tempura (but not willing to trudge all the way to Tenichi in Ginza for some Tempura lovin’), I read about a Tempura place in the ‘hood – Buono – which serves pretty decent Tempura at bargain prices. The chef at Buono is supposed to have amassed 39 years of experience in tempura kitchens, and opened this restaurant to serve top-quality tempura at accessible prices so that everyone can experience what REAL tempura should taste like. Sounds muy bueno to me! :)

It seems pretty weird for a tempura place to have an Italian-sounding name, but they do a pretty decent job here. I opted for the Kakiage lunch set (tempura fritters mixed with seafood and veggies), which comes with rice, miso soup and dessert.

The tempura was crisp without being overly greasy, and it had pretty interesting veggies mixed into the batter such as sweet potatoes and shiso leaf which provided a nice addition to all that batter and seafood. Portions are pretty huge here, and I had to make a Herculean effort to.get.everything.in.to.my.tummeh. *waddles out of the restaurant with Tempura twins in the tummy*

I think I ended up paying less than 1,000 JPY for a hearty tempura set-lunch, which is pretty decent lunch price for a restaurant in the Nishi-Azabu area. This place definitely doesn’t do delicate, exquisite-ly battered tempura which will leave you marveling at how something deep-fried can taste so airy and delectable. But it does provide quick-fix comfort tempura, which is perfect when you are pressed for time in Nishi-Azabu and want to pop in for a quick, hearty bite!

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Buono (map here, ~10mins walk from Hiroo station)
4-10-3 Nishi-Azabu,
Tokyo Minato-ku

Seoul Eats: Fried chicken FTW

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The first time I had chi-mek, a deliciously sinful combination of “chicken” and “mekju” (beer in Korean), it was enough to make me wish this awesome combo wasn’t just exclusive to dining in Korea! Nothing, I mean nothing, beats a Korean fried chicken – all golden crispy deliciousness, with an added spiciness thrown in for extra kick. When you wash it down with cold alcohol, fooooh heaven is a place on earth. I much prefer having chicken and soju (Korean rice liquer) though – beer makes me full and take up precious tummy space which could have downed a few more spicy fried chickens :D

While back in Seoul this time, I dragged Jeff to check out this fried chicken place HANCHU (한추) in Garosu-gil, touted as THE BEST PLACE EVER for fried chicken and stuffed peppers on a food blog. THE BEST? Hot damn that’s a pretty big promise to put out there in a land full of heavenly fried chickens.

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A little soju and complementary crackers to kick things off…

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Stuffed peppers with a golden crispy coat

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Sundobu chigae (spicy tofu stew)

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Fried chicken in all its golden glory!

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Jeff’s tastebuds totally not overwhelmed by the spiciness. Not at all :)

Jeff, Sophia and I (mostly me, followed by Jeff hehe) ended up polishing the stuffed peppers, spicy fried chicken (pic at top of the post), fried chicken and sundobu chigae a.k.a. spicy tofu stew.

The verdict? Spicy fried chicken was the bomb! It was fried to golden perfection – not over fried or greasy. In fact, it actually looked like it was baked or air-fried (or one of those fancy new-age frying thingamajig). We asked the owner if he baked the chicken and he was like “Err no, its fried, dude”. My bad whoops. Anyhoo, the sweet and spicy sauce which coated each nugget of heavenly chicken bites was thick and flavourful without being overpowering. The sesame seeds tossed over each succulent bite provided a nice crunchy texture. I much prefer the spicy chicken over the normal fried chicken which was good, but lacked that extra taste-factor. What’s unique about the fried chicken here is that chopped green peppers are mixed in when frying the chicken, so that you get a nice zing-yin to the chicken’s yang.

The stuffed peppers were pretty good, with a succulent meat filling beneath the layer of crunchy pepper and golden batter. We ended up dipping the peppers in the spicy chicken’s sauce (instead of the other soy sauce they gave us), because delicious sauces are meant to be spread over errthang :)

Amidst all the deep fried goodness, the sundobu chigae was a major letdown. The fiery stew looked promisingly spicy, but was utterly tasteless. Credit must be given to the tofu though, which was extremely fresh and wobbly and yea..the only saving grace in the dish. That said, we pretty much had the entire dish simply because who can say no to tofu, eggs and enoki all together!

We ended up paying ~15,000 KRW on average for each dish. Portions are hearty here, and I waddled home with fried chicken twins… It’s a great chicken place (not too sure if it’s THE BEST, still need to investigate other chicken offerings across Seoul), but definitely a joint I would go back to when I’m craving Korean fried chicken while shopping along Garosu-gil…or after a night out as they open till 3am :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

HanChu 한추 (한잔의 추억)
549-9 Shinsa-dong
Gangnam-gu Seoul

Seoul eats: Buncha time at Tang

Buncha meat

Tang (땅), a 5 mins walk down the road from the Ritz Carlton in Seoul, does a kickass Vietnamese-Korean fusion. Billing themselves as an Asian dining place, their signature dish is buncha – a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and vermicelli.

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We were transfixed by Tang’s version of buncha, which was fresh, delicious and grilled to perfection. The pork was grilled just nicely to seal in its delicious sweet taste and retain its fatty tenderness (plus points for not being too oily till death becomes it!). The vermicelli came with THE MOST AMAZING dipping sauce – a combination of piquant fish sauce, tangy citrus and a slice of lemon to add even more citrus-y goodness. Dipping the noodles into this crack sauce, followed by a mouthful of crispy salad, and rounding it off with juicy slices of pork is the most amazing combination of sweet, tangy, salty tastes. Ever.

Buncha fried rice

We gave the green fried rice with prawn a try, which turned out a little bland. The saving grace was the juicy little prawns, which burst into fresh succulent flavours with each mouthful (but not enough to save the overall meh-ness of the fried rice).

We ended up paying 54,000 KRW for 3 buncha sets (which came with soft drinks) and the fried rice. A little on the high-end for quick one-dish meals, but it’s refreshingly delicious, and the decor is clean and cozy.

Buncha decor

Apparently they’ve outlets across Tokyo, London, New York, Shanghai. Give it a try if you happen to swing by those cities,. Remember to stick to their specialty buncha for some Vietnamese-Korean goodnessand you’ll leave a happy foodie :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Tang (땅) (Turn left when you exit the Ritz-Carlton, and keep walking down the main road for 5 mins. You’ll pass by Bandi (a huge nail salon), and Tang is right after that)

1F Yonwoo Bldg
601-1 Yeoksam-dong
Gangnam-gu

Les Bouchons: Steak frites magnifque

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When the tagline on its menu board reads “Roi du steak frites” (king of steak and fries), you know Les Bouchons has got some pretty serious steak chops :) They’ve gotten me so hooked that Les Bouchons immediately comes to mind when I’m in Singapore and a steak craving comes up.

This super cozy French bistro has a very short and simple menu (big plus as I get pretty overwhelmed when I’ve to scroll through a bazillion options). Steak frites is the highlight, and they also provide seafood and lamb options for non moo moo eaters. To go with the mains, they’ve got a pretty awesome range of Frenchy starters, ranging from bone marrow (sinfully delicious!) to buttery, garlic infused tender escargots.

I usually zoom in on the steak frites option (rib-eye trumps tenderloin IMHO), which comes with a generous garden salad strongly flavoured with mustard and pepper yummmm. The steak comes beautifully sizzled with a generous slab of garlic butter sitting atop, waiting to be generously slathered over the meat AND fries…

What’s awesome about Les Bouchons is the various mustards and sauces they provide to go with the steak. I usually spread a heapful of thick French mustard on top of the steak, and the combination of mustard + warm garlic butter + juicy tender meat is incredible!

Another big bonus is the free flow of their thick, hand-cut fries which are fried to golden perfection. I usually let it sit for awhile so that it gets infused with all the deliciousness from the garlic butter and meat juices #godIlovefries

The steak frites portions here are hearty and generous (I struggle to finish my portion every time, and I’ve a separate tummy for steak!) and very reasonably priced at less than SGD 50.

This French bistro doesn’t sit many, so always best to make a reservation in advance. They’ve two branches – one at Ann Siang, another one at Robertson Quay. My favourite is the Ann Siang branch, which somehow manages to add a little more French deliciousness to the whole fare :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? Ann Siang branch map here (~10 mins walk from Tanjung Pagar MRT station)

Les Bouchons
7 Ann Siang Rd,
Singapore 069689