Friday, May 7, 2010

En Dining Bar

Iso Soba

Conservatives may argue the simplicity of the execution of the dishes we had for supper that night but I guess that's just part of the appeal that Japanese food brings, together with the emphasis placed on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Imports do not necessarily equate to good quality, if I may add. I'm all for a local bittergourd that can provide a firmer bite and a more pronounced taste against a more expensive, less distinctive import. There wasn't anything complicated about the goya chanpuru (stir-fried bittergourd with egg, pork and tofu) nor could we conclude the origin of the gourd yet each of the fresh components made every bite more addictive than before. More so when the egg sauce was not the disgustingly starchy type. The Chinaman in me can't help but imagine mixing in a bowl of white rice and call it stir-fried rice with bittergourd and egg sauce. I'm sure it'll work.

Goya chanpuru

Something was wrong with us that night. Unknowingly, we'd ordered 3 noodle dishes from the same page of the menu. There was the Iso Soba with assorted seaweed like wakame and Irish moss, the Okinawa soba and somen chanpuru with tuna flakes. During a hot season like now, the cold Iso Soba is a delight, especially with a light soy sauce dip and crunchy seaweed. The visually modest Okinawa soba provided an interesting combination of tastes of pickled ginger, a clear soy sauce broth, kamaboko and a slice of indulging stewed pork belly. It was definitely unexpected, especially when I had miso, tonkotsu and shoyu stocks in mind. Perhaps the only regret that night was the somen chanpuru, which despite the smooth strands of somen (it's one of my favourite noodles ever!), lacked in character. Should they be more generous with the tuna flakes and vegetables like chives, the dish could have had a more robust taste.

Okinawa soba

Somen chanpuru

It was actually my first ever go at Okinawan cuisine. My initial observation was the dependency on the ingredients' natural flavours. This means less intervention of artificial flavouring and a better appreciation of the, though mild, original tastes. Perhaps it is this particular reason that had kept Okinawans healthy and hence, prolonging longevity. FYI, Okinawans are some of the longest lived people in the world.


I believe the tsukune is not part of the Okinawan cuisine  (more like a yakitori staple) but En's version seemed to be quite good. Most tsukunes that I've tried lacked the moist in the minced meat, perhaps due to the excess loss of moisture during the grilling process. So, it was good to bite into a surprisingly juicy ball of chicken meat covered lightly with a syrupy soy sauce.

Macha Panna Cotta

The announcement that the goma pudding was sold out left not one, but two eager customers rather disappointed that night. How often do we get restaurants to offer such desserts, right? The macha panna cotta was probably the next new best thing on the menu and it was befittingly a good ending to the supper. The portions of milk and macha were just right for us. I appreciate the minimum sweetness too.

Apart from the Okinawan factor and the craving for some Japanese food after my class, there was another reason for our visit that night. We learnt that the ala carte buffet is a steal as it includes premium items like wagyu beef in shabu-shabu. Judging from our though-mostly-noodles preview, there's no doubt that we'll give the buffet a try in the future. With an online menu, I'm sure we'll be able to plan well in maximizing our dollars. And as a rule, a few hours of fasting and some physical exercise prior to the buffet are required. All these strategies - I wonder if the Okinawans will shake their heads in disbelief in the way we exploit their healthy cuisine.

En Dining Bar
557 Bukit Timah Road
Crown Centre #01-14/16
Tel: (+65) 6468 5710


ice said...

Somen is my favorite noodles ever too! But I like cold somen. Now you've got me all revved up to cook some hah. Haiz if only Ootoya serves somen.

Life for Beginners said...

I is so wanting Iso Soba. :D

mimid3vils said...

Haha, u learn the kiasu-ness of Singaporean huh...

Keropok Man said...

another place that is so near yet have not gone there!

time to visit after your description!

minchow said...

I used to partake in a strict pre-buffet regimen in my heydays when the family did buffets practically every weekend - a thorough workout, two skipped meals, expandable items of clothing... works like a charm!

J said...

Hmmmmm... so if you eat there everyday, do you think you can outlive the Okinawans? :)
(Food as an elixir of youth? - fantastic!)

HairyBerry said...

ice, oh yeah, cold somen's my favourite! but i can't decide if i like somen or inaniwa udon more though...hehe. yeah, i hope ootoya offers more noodle dishes! it is still one of my favourite Japanese joints in town! ;D

kenny, u is coming to Singapore next and we is going to eating sobas! ;D

mimi, haha, no lah. actually, i think Singaporeans are not that kiasu. in fact, i think i'm more kiasu then a lot of them. in fact, i think i'm sometimes quite the kiasi type. hehehe.

keropok man, dude, you should go for their ala carte buffet lah. free flow of wagyu in shabu-shabu leh!!! very chiharu-ish! ;D

minchow, buffets on every weekend? that sounds overwhelming, even for a glutton like myself! indeed, your regime sounds practical but skipping two meals might be tough for me. perhaps i'll take a slice lesser of the pizza at the buffet spread!

j, hehe, i don't think so lah. but perhaps a trip to okinawa may add a few months to my life. hmmm, now that u've mentioned it, okinawan might just be the ideal cuisine to celebrate one's birthday! ;D