Thursday, April 24, 2014

心斎橋フレンチ Bistro Nid d'Oiseau @ Shinsaibashi

We didn't make any lunch reservation today in Osaka. So we flipped through the Michelin guide and most of them are full. Then we decided to target those "Michelin Recommends" restaurants where they don't have any stars, but are singled out for great food and great value.

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And that is how we arrived at the doorstep of Bistro Nid d'Oiseau, very near to Shinsaibashi train station. Of course, we didn't make any reservation. But by a stroke of luck, they managed to squeeze us in for an early lunch.

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This is such a small but warm restaurant. Run by a dedicated husband and wife team. Wife comes out to serve the food, while the husband is hard at work in the kitchen.

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Started off our lunch with champagne

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The Amuse bouche for our set lunch: grilled chicken and mini soup. We were blown way by how delicious the soup was.

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Fail-proof appetizer: Escargot with garlic. Yummy

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A look at this cosy restaurant

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Another appetizer we had: Foie gras terrine with mustard. The Foie gras wasn't heavy, and had a Japanese touch to it. Very light and slightly creamy.

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Freshly baked breads from the bistro

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We also ordered something sweet to drink: Late harvest Riesling sweet wine

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Here is our main course: Mince beef covered with creamy mashed potato and baked. It's very very hot! But so yummy. It had a slightly crisp outer crust with a creamy meaty filling.

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For me, I very much prefer this Pork loin and cabbage and pea. The pork loin is marinated in brine, and then roasted in oven till perfection. The stewed cabbage complimented the savoury pork. I will come back again just for this dish.

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Dessert was the same for everyone: Brownie.

This was quite an unexpected discovery. And we were very impressed with the price, and also the quality and taste of the food here. Reservations highly recommended!

心斎橋フレンチ Bistro Nid d'Oiseau
1-13-33 Higashishinsaibashi,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

銀杏 Icho @ Hotel Nikko Nara

It's the long weekend in Japan, and thousands and thousands of Japanese tourists have decided to do a day trip in Nara, the capital city of Japan before Kyoto. Nara is quite a big place, and most tourists will start their Nara trip from the Nara city which is accessible by both JR and Hankyu trains from Osaka.

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We took the Hankyu trains to Nara city which is much nearer to the famous deer park than the JR station (above). However, we decided to walk to the JR station to have lunch at Hotel Nikko. Wanted to eat at some of the Michelin stars restaurants here, but then it is 1 or 2 train stops away (plus lot's of walking)

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We didn't make any reservation, and this Icho teppanyaki restaurant in Nara is full to the max. But with a stroke of luck, a big group of diners just left the restaurant and we were fortunate enough to get seats here.

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Ordered a bottle of Yebisu beer to accompany our lunch.

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The chef is here. Although he speaks very little English, but still we know he is giving all he has to prepare this delicious Teppanyaki lunch for us.

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Started off our set lunch with this fresh salad bowl.

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And this boiled vegetables and prawn appetizer.

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We were surprised that the set also came with sweet sashimi platter.

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And here comes the juicy delicious Kobe beef cubes

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Lot's of acrobatic performance while cooking the beef

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Plus crisp Japanese beansprouts being fried on the hot plate

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A selection of the pan fried vegetables, including the fragrant crispy garlic pieces. The Kobe beef cubes were juicy and flavourful.

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Japanese rice with unlimited refills

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Pickled plum and cucumbers to company the rice

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Ended our lunch set with a refreshing Yuzu sorbet ice-cream.

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After which, we continued our journey into Nara and saw cute and hungry deers plus the amazing Todaiji Temple which is by far the most amazing temple we have seen in Japan.

銀杏 Icho
Hotel Nikko Nara
8-1 Sanjo-Hommachi,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

JAPAN: Kitcho Arashiyama Honten 吉兆 嵐山本店 @ Arashiyama, Kyoto

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Arashiyama - a beautiful part of western Kyoto. Although Arashiyama is famous world wide for its beautiful temples, river and gardens, but it is relatively less crowded than Kyoto central. Probably because many people choose to go only to central Kyoto. Nevertheless, we made a special trip down to have lunch at this world famous restaurant.

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We finally arrived at the world famous Kitcho restaurant, and the headquarters of Kitcho is here in Arashiyama, Kyoto. It was opened in 1948, and now helmed by 3rd generation owner-chef Kunio Tokuoka. We are full of anticipation to try out this 3 Michelin stars restaurant, after having try out Kunio's culinary skills in Singapore some time back.

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Started our wonderful and 2 hours lunch with this Cold tea with puffed rice

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Each reservation made will be given a spacious VIP room, and all rooms face their beautiful garden. It's so quiet and peaceful here.

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Our beautiful appetizer: Ikura, cod fish milk(sperm), prawn, egg cake, plant caviar with abalone, kuni crab. The seafood and everything here is so delish.

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We ordered their in-house unique cold sake Kunio Teio

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Next was this Spike eel, matsutake mushroom soup. The clean and aromatic taste is mind blowing

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Look at how detailed the bowls are. How I wish I could bring them home.

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Sashimi dish - Kelp grouper, iwatake mushroom with gold flake, soy sauce and ponzu sauce

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Tuna belly, ika (squid) with wasabi and ginger soy sauce and grilled sesame. Everything's so fresh and yummy

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Soft shell turtle chawanmushi with truffle and green onion. Super silky smooth

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Surprise Surprise! The waitress brought this package of leaves into our room! Open up the leaves basket with fresh bamboo chopsticks.

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Guess what's inside: Grilled items consist of butterfish, matsutake, chestnut and turnip. The smoking through the leaves give the grilled food another dimension of taste.

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Steamed food. Simmered taro, carrot, shiitake mushroom and Kujyo green onion

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Cooked Koshihikari rice (from Niigata) with matsutake mushroom and grilled Kyoto beef

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Pickled vegetables to go with the rice

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I had many servings of the Koshihikari rice with Matsutake mushrooms! They brought in the whole bucket. Also, they had a spare bucket of white Japanese rice, just in case you want something different. So much attention given to details!

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Dessert. Shizuoka Melon. Pear. Fig. Peony Grape. Basil sauce for the pears. Sweet sweet sweet.

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Sweetened mashed chestnut with adzuki bean jam

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Finished off the wonderful kaiseki meal with matcha. The meal costs a lot but worth every penny. This is one of the 7 restaurants rated 3 Michelin Stars in Kyoto. Very good indeed

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Roasted tea houji-cha. Candied wall nut in purple sweet potato powder and sugar
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Souvenir and sweet memories to take back home. Bottom line: This place is very expensive even for lunch. But every single cent (or yen) is well worth the money spent. The food's great, service excellent and is one of the best experience we had in Japan. Highly recommended!

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Kitcho Arashiyama Honten 吉兆 嵐山本店
58 Susukinobabacho,