Kappou Japanese Sushi Tapas Bar – A very humbling story behind this amazing Japanese Bar

Kappou Japanese Sushi Tapas Bar

Fortune Centre near Bugis MRT

IMG_1766We didn’t have any expectations at all when H and I decided to give Kappou -that is helmed by a female chef, a visit; as regrettably, we have it imbued in us that the best Japanese restaurants are usually helmed by males. Utterly wrong but pleasantly so as we walked through the $68 menu just to be surprised by the finesse displayed by each dish and the witty balancing and pairing of flavours that the chef was able to come up with. What really took us by surprise, is the arduous journey that she has taken at the young age of 14 when most would still be pretty ignorant about the world as they live comfortably in their sheltered homes, not adding on that she is a post-90 lady. I would say its the passion for food and her thirst for survival that made her the fine chef she is today, as evidenced by the beautifully aged sushi that she presents, and the atrociously impressive knifing skills that she displays. Such tenacity is only possible from a humble lady who counts her blessings everyday throughout that 9 difficult years.

Knowing that this is a small restaurant, yet still desires to make the best edomae sushi, I was very curious at the sources the fishes were from. Admittedly, she couldn’t out compete the big boys like Shinji, Sushi Ichi or the like, and thus could only turn to smaller prefectures that might have rarer treasures  waiting to be uncovered.

Sushi served, and the beautifully aged fish there just melts in your mouth as the protein has already broken down to its sweet amino acid. Though that is something expected from an upmarket restaurant, executing it perfectly shouldn’t be taken for granted. And what also stood out for us was the clever pairing of condiments – sea salt, soy sauce, different kinds of vinegar so that it doesn’t mask your palate from tasting the seafood, and interestingly 3 different types of rice were used for a more wholesome consistency. Such details, may not even be found in most sushi restaurants!

IMG_1761The cutesy chirashi over here that is packed with umami, we loved it!

IMG_1767Ending the savouries off is this comforting bowl of delicious oden. And we kept shouting in exclamation at that lovely egg, as it easily could be the epitome of a beautifully flavoured Ajitsuke tamago.

IMG_1772Pumpkin ice cream to round the meal off.

IMG_1770Most of our foodie friends lamented that it’s difficult to get a reservation here as seats are limited but we were lucky enough to get one the day before. Looking empty over here as H, being the kiasu self, decided we should have it at 6pm – who would book dinner at 6?! Then again, it is only when the restaurant is quiet that we could understand the very humbling story behind Kappou. We hope and know she would succeed and yes, the food here is good!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 4.4/5.

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Duck & Rice – Adding on to the Alan Yau empire

Duck & Rice 

90 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0QB, UK

IMG_0736One of Alan Yau’s newest addition (not that new actually as it has been around for more than a year I think) to his empire, I just thought this would be a nice place to check out during the short stay in London with the uni bud! Chic, stylish and modern, Duck & Rice would be the place I would recommend if you long for something Yauatcha-ish yet not want to be in an overly crowded restaurant. Somehow, I felt the standard of Yauatcha has dipped a little when I revisited it in 2016 as it is always so busy. The Siu mai has shrunk, some of the dim sum became less flavourful; but having said that, the patisserie corner is still as perfect! Located just beside Yauatcha, Duck & Rice offers a similar or perhaps even the same menu and you might ask then what’s the difference? Well, it’s not as cluttered (though certain areas are a little), and that somehow leads to better execution – plump dim sum that appears more luscious.

IMG_0737IMG_0738IMG_0739Yeah, the same old scallop siu mai and venison puff. Perfectly flavoured and that consistency was just spot on!

IMG_0743Prawn toast with a solid filling of springy prawn paste in it.IMG_0744And these flaky, buttery super fragrant egg tarts. Delish!

IMG_0745My personal favourite – The Jasmine smoked ribs whose tender moist meat falls off the bone readily! Intense body of tea fragrance there which makes this a must order whenever I see it.

IMG_0746You know, this wasn’t the best claypot I felt though it was legit enough. Then again, only available for a limited period only during that CNY season and I decided to have it with the bud just for the atmosphere!

IMG_0750What are you doing?! The bud exclaims as I took this at a rubbish collection point! Unflattering angle too indeed…

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5.

 

The Disgruntled Brasserie – walked out happy instead.

The Disgruntled Brasserie

Near Tanjong pagar MRT

img_1326Heard much about The Disgruntled Chef, both positive and negative reviews and have little interest to visit it as it is in the faraway Dempsey and also because most of the negativity came from the anorexic portions that they serve; I am a big eater. Then came The Disgruntled Brasserie right smacked in city centre which I think deserves a shout out as the mains over here felt cheerful, hearty and well thought through. Modern, sleek decoration, that comes across as professional and not in any way opulent, together with that strong air conditioning in the background, it is indeed a comfortable restaurant to be in for an intimate gathering or even if you just want to have some quiet me time. I guess the widely spaced tables also made the whole restaurant quieter as you do not need to holler at the top of your voice to make yourself heard. The moment the menu was explained, you know that service is enthusiastic and the crew does have a good knowledge on what they sell.

img_1330We started off with the cheese souffle, flavoured with caramelised onions and Chardonnay fondue. Looking like a very special and exciting invention, what actually made this starter so strong is the eggy, fluffy core that doesn’t have an overdose of cheese in it. The balance is there. $16.

img_1329Truffle fries with fried egg and parmigiano reggiano cheese. Predictable strong truffle fragrant emanating from the fries, however felt a little dry and therefore the Dutch duo is summoned – both the ketchup and mayonnaise that made it an extra comforting snack. $18.

img_1332img_1334I guess by the time we got to the mains, we realised we made a mistake in pairing our starters and mains as they are all heavier tasting with a stronger cream / cheese base. Having said that, they still taste delicious individually; refined yet most importantly not morsel-like in their portions. This carbonara taglierini was made special with the sauce that somehow has a bit of sourness in it to cut through the thick creamy base. Unique flavour indeed and exquisitely executed. $24.

img_1337Well the heart throb was the seafood bouillabaise and I was glad we moved away from the ‘cheese’ theme. Super thick broth filled with that distinct crustacean umami, the broth just tasted decadent. This is the kind of food that I will never fail to order when I am at any Italian restaurant. The meticulous thoughts could clearly be seen in almost all their dishes, especially when the toasties by the side came lightly buttered. Impressive. $38.

We love the place, I like the ambiance, the food was moreish and yes I would like to try more of the menu in future!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5.

 

Morsels – Morsel like definitely but lacking in flavour

Morsels

25 Dempsey Road

img_1308Cosy, homey open kitchen Morsels has and I was half hearted coming here for dinner as somehow the pictures from reviews didn’t grab my attention. Still made it here after all as the foodie H wanted to try it badly. I guess I am starting to love my bigger portions more and if they were to shrink, the taste better be sharp, piquant and complex yet not clashing.

Looks intriguing but the flatter taste didn’t justify the trip or worth, especially so when they are priced at a premium tag (the plates for the savouries were not warm either). We rushed through dinner, done in 30min, and decided to go for a good pork chop rice at the never disappointing ding tai feng.

 

 

Torafugu Tei (Puffer fish) – So good, not expensive!

Torafugu Tei

2-14-15 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Finally, I found the drive to write for the Tokyo restaurants that I have been to in December 2016; it should be the 8th time in Japan but Tokyo seems to be the most exciting city to be in (though most might disagree and opt for the more scenic Hokkaido or historically richer Kyoto), as it definitely is still the top city in Japan when it comes to FOOD (stamped and chopped). A major throwback but this puffer fish restaurant or Torafugu Tei is one that I felt compelled to give a review on. Not any Michelin starred, not even an old restaurant with any history to brag about, but just really a chain that perhaps most Singaporeans would shun away from as they are usually perceived as less authentic. And as we kept passing by the live puffer fish tank as we take the same metro station daily, we googled, a decent puffer fish kaiseki dinner for just about $70?, we just need to give this a try! IT IS A STEAL!

img_1533And so there our kaiseki started with the chopped fish skin; bouncy, springy – the kind of consistency that we love as you dip into the cold refreshing yuzu shoyu. Delicious!img_1534The sashimi was the one I was greatly looking forward to as this caught my palates when we had our first experience in the only fugu restaurant in Singapore. A thicker and tougher texture it has, the sashimi is a test of the chef’s knifing skills as only the translucent ones would be palatable. Indeed, this was of the right thickness, thin enough for the blue to be seen and with the zesty lime and refreshing greens, it was just perfect.

img_1543I am just so amazed by the huge variety of delicacies that a huge puffer fish could be turned into. KFC? no it isn’t though it has the consistency of chicken with a super fragrant fried batter tightly wrapped around it! img_1546A wefie needed here as we have enjoyed everything thoroughly so far.

img_1538img_1541And the main dish – that vibrant hotpot we had. So simple, yet made so delish easily by the freshest greens and I have to say, I was a little taken aback and saddened by the twitching fins as I guess they were freshly butchered in the kitchen. Then again, this hotpot felt very comforting on a cold wintry night.

img_1542Waiting patiently for it to boil!

img_1551img_1553And at the end of the meal, it will be turned into an egg porridge. Simple, comforting and light tasting yet still maintaining that delicate balance.

img_1556A simple ice cream dessert to round off the wholesome meal!

Its price point, the quality, they both are just incredulously perfect that you can’t reject!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.2/5.