Inspired by the recent memes that are taking the cyberworld (Facebook in particular) by storm, here are my answers to one that was forwarded to me. The meme’s title is, "Things you do in a typical Japanese restaurant".
Now, you don’t have to forward this to anyone just because you want to know them better. The best way to know someone is to ask them out for a makan session in, well, a Japanese restaurant perhaps? Still, memes are thoughtful, no doubt. But I prefer the makan session. Haha!
1) I start with ocha.
When in Japanese restaurants, one of the things that I pay attention to is the ocha that’s being served. That first sip of the warm, slightly acidic taste with a wisp of chlorophyll, to me, is important as it excites the tastebuds and gets the appetite going. It doesn’t even matter if it’s one of those sachets, provided the taste is good.
Waraku de Gohan, they make their own green tea bags. The taste was mild, unfortunately.
2) I open all the jars to see what’s inside.
When it comes to condiments, Japanese restaurants tend to provide the most basic of flavours like katsuobushi, wasabi, aonori, shoyu, goma and beni shoga. This is perhaps inspired by their au naturale lifestyle.
3) I will play with the condiments if I am bored.
It is only in the Kansai region that I’ve tried the best okonomiyaki and takoyaki. What’s interesting about these egg-based snacks is that extrapolation of the usual omelettes by adding different types of ingredients such as leek, pork and cabbage. And of course, it won’t be complete without the sourish/salty caramel-like sauce that binds all the flavours into one. Much like what mayonnaise does to burgers, sans the milky flavour.
4) I take 30 shots of each dish that’s being served, much to friends' delight.
Asparagus Nikumaki (bacon wrapped asparagus) - S$5.80
Simply grilled perhaps with just a dash of salt (or none), there’s still something about bacon and asparagus that makes them delicious as one. Those complementing flavours of the savoury bacon and the sweet asparagus, perhaps?. Grilling means a certain level of aroma (from the char) is expected and combined with a squeeze of lemon juice, it’s very attractive.
The highlight of Waraku’s version was the well-cooked texture.
5) I remind myself that I’m here to eat.
Temari Sushi - S$14.80
Temaris are balls of rice topped with fresh slices of sake, maguro and tako, among others. Besides being ergonomically designed to fit in one’s mouth at one go, there’s really not much difference between this and the usual sushi. Chicken rice balls come to mind.
Ergonomics should combine with economics in order to create the perfect temaris that are easy in the mouth and on the wallet as well. In other words, thicker slices of sake and maguro, please.
6) I see the light and I start to eat (friends are happy at this point).
Ton Pei Yaki (omelette With pork) - S$9.80
Okonomiyakis are usually stuffed with a healthy amount of cabbage, scallion, onion and meat. The crunchiness of the vegetables goes well with the smooth layer of fried egg. Coupled with the sauces and heat, the vegetables also offer a hint of sweetness and some moisture.
Omitting the vegetables, this was as basic as it could be. The pork slices were tasty nevertheless.
7) And eat more. And more. And more.
Yakisoba - S$12.80
Yaki means burn or roast or bake in Japanese. In other words, cook. The stir-fried soba retains its heat from the teppan and is prevented from burning with layering of the aluminum sheet.
Nothing can go wrong with a plate of fried noodles, be it soba or udon. The interesting part of this version is the usage of nori strips and bonito flakes as toppings for that extra flavour. Extra shine comes from the extra oil.
8) I drink more ocha, burp a bit to clear the esophagus and every tunnel along the way before chomping more food.
Wagyu Rib Eye Steak - S$16.80
Oh, say no more of this beautiful baby. Like foie gras, the name itself is a testament of everything delicious. There are many ways of eating this piece of beauty and one of the best is of course, by searing it, followed by a good bake in the oven.
The slices were moist, tasty and rather soft, complete with fried slices of garlic. Simply wonderful. I doubt it was baked though, because it is afterall, teppanyaki that we are talking about here.
9) I leave the desserts to the sweeties as I plan for another wagyu steak.
Maccha Monaka - S$3.80
You start with a hot cup of ocha and you end with a sweet, cold taste of match. How ideal is that? Too bad for the rather generic matcha ice cream though. Expecting a denser version, it came rather hard for an ice cream. Maybe it was taken right out of the freezer? The shell was crispy.
10) I like to look around, hoping to spot Japanese diners because it assures me of the food quality.
Ok, so I lied about the meme. No one sent me this (no that it exists in the first place). It was just something I thought of while writing this post and surfing the internet at the same time.
One thing’s for real though. This is a typical Japanese restaurant.
WARAKU de GOHAN
51, Cuppage Road
Tel: (+65) 67211123