Motsunabe in Singapore
If you wait long enough, your food dreams eventually come true. Kurohanabi is proof of that.
For years, I have wondered if I would be able to have motsunabe in Singapore. I had a very good version in Fukuoka and loved how delicious the beef offal stew was. The clear broth did not taste gamey, the intestines and offal were perfectly cleaned and cooked, so they had no trace of funk, and the copious amounts of chives all added to my enjoyment of the dish. The weather was cool and the stew was just what I wanted.
Well, it is stewing hot in Singapore, but now I can have the newly opened restaurant’s Hokkaido Motsu Nabe ($32) any time I want. Kurohanabi, at the Eat At Seven cluster of Japanese restaurants at Suntec City, is the Singapore offshoot of a Hokkaido brand. Its stew is hearty and enriched with miso and sesame. Beef intestines, with clumps of snowy white fat attached, float like clouds in the stew, together with enoki mushrooms, tofu, cabbage and chives. I sprinkle a black spice blend, much like shichimi togarashi, over every spoonful, and drown rice in the rich miso broth. Hearty, rich and satisfying.
If you are casting about for other things to order, go for the Lamb Tsukune ($15.80). A thick lamb patty, held together by grated nagaimo, is served on a hot plate in a sea of housemade teriyaki sauce. Truth be told, the sauce is superfluous because the tsukune is juicy, and there is an egg yolk to add to its sauciness and grated daikon to mitigate some of the richness.
These are two offerings I would go back for. The cabbage in the okonomiyaki has no crunch and there is way too much mayonnaise and sauce on top. The yakisoba does not have the sharpness that Japanese Worcestershire sauce usually gives to the dish. Stick to the stew.
Where: Kurohanabi, 03-316 Eat At Seven, Tower 1, Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm daily
Info: @kurohanabi.sg (Instagram)
Rough Guys Coffee
Speciality coffee in Chinatown
One floor above the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, and next to Masjid Jamae, is a spare, tranquil space in which to have a cup of coffee. Despite its name, Rough Guys Coffee is polished. The coffee is good, the service friendly, the mugs handmade, and the space filled with sunlight and framed photographs.
My White Coffee ($6) is made with Aricha beans from Ethiopia, and as I down my first caffeine of the day, I wait in vain for the kick in the head I need. Where, I wonder, is the coffee? Drowned out by milk. So my next one is a Black ($5) made with the same beans. Ah, yes, that familiar kick. Plus the citrus and bright, sparkly notes I associate with Ethiopian beans.
There is some food – pastries and sandwiches. But really, head here to have a conversation with the barista about coffee, to deal with e-mail or to space out before you head back to the hustle and bustle.
Where: Rough Guys Coffee, 214A South Bridge Road
Open: 10am to 6pm daily
Info: @roughguyscoffee (Instagram)
Greenwood Fish Market
Yusheng with kick
At Chinese New Year, I can never get enough yusheng. I am happy to have it every one of the 15 days, and usually start my lohei a couple of weeks before that. But even a fan like me can get sick of overly sweet yusheng dressing. There are, alas, many versions out there.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I dig into Greenwood Fish Market’s Salmon Yusheng ($98++ for dine in, $98+ for online orders, $98 nett for takeaways). It comes with 200g of raw Norwegian salmon.
Such zing, such citrusy brightness. It woke me right up. The Calamansi Vinaigrette is perfect for yusheng, perking up the appetite for the rich food to come in the rest of the meal. There is some plum sauce in it, but not so much that it is cloying. Fish sauce adds umami.
I have my favourites, and this looks set to be one of my go-tos.
Where: Greenwood Fish Market, 34 Greenwood Avenue; and 01-04 Quayside Isle, 31 Ocean Way, Sentosa
When: Till Feb 15 for online orders (deliveries cost $10 or $15 depending on distance) and takeaways, available for dine-in from Jan 20 to Feb 15
Info: For opening hours and online orders, go to www.greenwoodfishmarket.com