Monday, November 10, 2014

sanuki udon at taman desa

p.s. work has been demanding a lot of my attention lately. now that my beginner's korean class has finished for the time being before the next session, i'm searching for time for entry updates! sorry but please anticipate my new blog entries soon!

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remember my entry about ori-udon in midvalley?

and the special mention for seiji fujimoto in the entry?

that's basically the gist behind my desire to cross out sanuki udon on my wishlist!

let's rewind just for a bit. 

fujimoto-san is the the udon expert collaborator behind the inception of ori-udon, what transpired after my meal at the former was inevitable - i had to try the original. fujimoto's very own sanuki udon shack in taman desa. 

somewhere in old klang road, it was almost a challenge to find the right location and we were beginning to despair when we sorta got lost along the way. third time's a charm aptly described our 'excursion' cos we finally managed to get the accurate location of the restaurant after 3 tries - first time, it was google's fault and the second, i admit it was my mistake although i'm still trying to figure out why.

the petite noodles shack unpretentious. despite the simplicity of the decor, it breathed japanese - with the use of dark wooden panel that arched the entrance. mostly alfresco dining while the other half of the dining space inside was entertained by the open kitchen. 

sticking to their basics and the simplistic approach thus far, their menu was similarly contained within a single page menu with a handful of udon choices and kushiage as well as side dishes aplenty.

"let's start out slow," {mh} and i figured. thus, the order of a noodle each and a couple of accompaniments was our menu with our drinks of refillable green tea at rm 1 per glass. 

[#protip] fill out your orders in the two order sheets provided at the table and don't forget table number. oh, cash ONLY so be sure to have enough in your wallet before you go on an ordering spree!

it didn't take long for all the dishes to make their appearances. i'd say our choices made up a pretty balanced meal! ;)

sanuki udon :: house special with egg | hot or cold {rm5}

when i can't seem to make up my mind, my fall back plan is to go with their speciality. i mean, it's already in its name AND you can't really go wrong with the soft cooked egg to top it all off! this was more of a basic version of the one i had from ori-udon.

starting with a base of a couple of spoonfuls of dashi broth that seasoned the noodles sufficiently, breaking the soft yolk was gratifying as the silky richness embraced the freshly made udon, cooked el dente, it gave a chewy texture with a hint of elasticity. the udon was a slurping goodness that shone in the simplicity of the dish. uncomplicated and the dish made complete sense. no need for extras and is best to be experienced as is. oh it's probably better hot instead of cold. 

sanuki udon :: original soup | hot or cold {rm 5}

{mh}'s choice seemed to be well received. topped with a handful of vegetables, the same freshly made thick udon that is made out of japanese wheat dough was served with a warm light broth that i guess was dashi but had a bias towards the konbu flavor.  it was a comforting bowl of tasty noodles, perfect for the rainy evening.

topping :: kakiage {rm 3}

my first introduction to kakiage that i remember was at ori-udon. prepared tempura style, kakiage is a mix of vegetable (perhaps onion, carrot and burdock root), thinly shredded into thickness of match sticks. 

just ever slightly less greasy than its ori-udon counterpart, it was missing that crispy crunchiness that left me rather unsatisfied. although subtle different between the two, ori-udon had the ratio of vegetables mix that better suited my taste buds with a more prominent natural sweetness of the roosts and onions. 

kushiage :: tori momo | chicken leg meat {rm 2}

breaded in panko bread crumbs prior to the deep frying, my first bite had me pause to reassess the flavors of the skewer. while the chicken mea remained moist, the lack of seasoning on on the chicken and the not-as-crispy-as-i'd-hope panko breading compelled me to slather a generous amount of the delicious sauce which had the much needed punch from the japanese yellow mustard, which i loved. 

there was something amiss about the tori momo kushiage that we couldn't quite put our finger on and was staring at some tables that ordered the karaage which seemed to suggest a better feedback from the clean plates. *nods subtly*  yeah, we were sorta wishing that we had ordered that instead.

one word that resonates the being of sanuki udon is simplicity - but definitely in an optimistic way, allowing the basic and clean flavors that highlight the essence of the dishes although a couple of tweaks in the execution would probably be good. thus, proceed with a simple expectation and you may be greeted with a pleasant surprise, especially with the very reasonable price tags, to boot. 

sanuki udon | location

9 jalan bukit desa 5,
taman bukit desa,
58100 kuala lumpur
{opens tuesday - sunday:
10:30 am - 2:30pm;
5:30pm - 9:30pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

marutama ra-men {まる玉 らーめん}

ask me what type of japanese ramen i love most and my answer is almost reflex-like.

-- tonkotsu broth ramen.
hands down. period.

not to be mistaken with tonkatsu which is also a japanese dish but is instead a deep fried panko breaded pork cutlet, tonkotsu is best described by mr j.kenji of food labs at serious eats.

"made with an intensely porky, opaque pale broth with a sticky-lipped intensity and the rich, buttery texture of light cream, there's no smell more warming on a cold day than a big hot bowl of tonkotsu ramen set before you. it is the ultimate comfort-meal-in-a-bowl."

thank you, mr kenji because it's like you've read my mind and put them into words most exquisitely. 

so when someone at work recommended marutama ra-men {まる玉 らーめん}, which is one of his top favorites for ramen places (btw, his other half is japanese), i was intrigued but i wasn't sure what to expect of it. after the popular ramen trend took the local food scene by storm a couple of years ago, marutama stood out from the rest of the porcine-based counterparts by being the pioneer of chicken soup for ramen in japan. 

nestled in a hidden corner on the first floor of fahrenheit 88 mall in bukit bintang, the petite noodle joint mimicked the simplistic japanese decor of its sister franchises in japan, indonesia, thailand and hong kong. it took a bolder approach with the focus walls painted in my favorite hue of red that contrasted yet complimented the other grey and white walls as well as dark & light brown furniture. as the sun set, the last of the evening sunlight streamed in through the ceiling-high windows that faces the back roads of bukit bintang.

i picked a spot by the window to enjoy what was left of dusk before the night rolled over. the restaurant was quiet that evening with me being the sole diner, granted it was still pretty early for dinner.  

the compact menu was filled with the choices in the combination of either spicy/non-spicy broth and toppings of chashu, pork belly or ajitsuke tamago. in fact, if you're feeling hungry, why not all three? or you can even order the toppings (or their other offerings) as a side to be shared with others if variety is what you're looking for.

ajitsuke tamago ra-men | chicken soup ra-men with a slice of roast pork, seaweed, spring onion and a seasoned egg (choice spicy or non spicy) (rm 21) 

as much as i love spicy versions, the best way to savor the nuances and notes in its stock will be in its most natural and basic version of the non-spicy.

being the only diner at the restaurant meant that the bowl of goodness got to me really quickly. the broth was warm and i inhaled its fragrance when i tasted my first sip. 

as the warm soup trickled down my throat, it sung a couple of the same notes as my favorite tonkotsu broth but on a milder, subtler tune. the stock almost had the similar sticky lipped richness and light creaminess in a flavorful disposition.. a lighter version, if you will but seasoned just nicely. the soup is cooked for five hours daily over high heat using the freshest ingredients and that it takes one whole chicken to make two bowls of soup to achieve that level of flavor intensity. plus, marutama boasts of no added preservatives nor msg.

the handmade noodles were fresh as it was coated lovingly by the thick broth. i've always liked my ramen's texture to be cooked el dente for that firm, springy bite with each chew but this was slightly overdone, thus making it a little softer than i'd like.

one of my favorite ingredients in the bowl has got to be the understated and unassuming imported river bed seaweed from japan that gave another layer of flavor that somewhat cut through the richness of the stock. i would call it the secret (although not-that-secret) ingredient that made this bowl of noodles whole.

the slice of roast pork loin with its great lean to fat ratio was cooked to its tenderly satisfying texture. flavor-wise, pretty good but it didn't stand out as memorable.

and finally, a must have with every bowl of japanese ramen -- the ajitsuke tamago. very mild flavors of soy and mirin infused into the marinated soft boiled egg, done using almost textbook perfect techniques (although i've definitely tasted better ones). as i pierced the egg with my chopsticks to split it open, the runny yolk streamed some of its golden richness into the stock to accentuate the flavors.

don't miss out on the fried garlic flakes on the table and you can even have a second experience with that same bowl of ramen with the addition of their signature condiment. perhaps first half without and the second half with. ;)

the fried garlic flakes gave a slight earthy, sweetness mingled with a bitter undertone from the garlic itself to give a more robust punch of flavor with the occasional crunch of the fried flakes. don't forget to try it for yourself to figure out if you prefer it with or without.

[#protip] while you can't add more stock, you can always have an additional order of ramen (rm 3) if you would like extras to slurp up all that chicken stock with. 

oh, and if you are wondering whether the green tea is refillable, it's a yes ;)

marutama ra-men has a tall order to fill especially when i've always advocated tonkotsu broth. i'd definitely commend its chef for the care and technique in achieving the flavor intensity to rival their pork-based counterparts though it had not swayed the latter from its pedestal. an enjoyable bowl of comforting, hearty bowl of japanese ramen with a lighter twist in its chicken stock. go forth with an open mind/stomach/taste buds and who knows? you might find a different kind of ramen joint to be added to your favorites list.

p.s. marutama {まる玉} translates from japanese into 'round ball'....which totally explains its logo!

marutama ra-men | location
f1.27.01. first floor
jalan bukit bintang
55100 kuala lumpur
{open daily: 11am - 10pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.