Yesterday marked the beginning of a new voyage; a glorified pilgrimage of sorts for dozens of famished foodies that came together to share their love for noshing. That’s right, my first CAS (Culinary Appreciation Society- clever acronym!) outing.
We hopped on the bus to Nex (in Serangoon), and arrived there in about a quarter of an hour. After eons of painful deliberation, the group split up and we went to the Ministry of Food. Warning: a shamed admittance of an eager foodie- I hadn’t had the slightest recollection of the Ministry of Food. But all that was smattered and forgotten as I scavenged through their numerous menus- the smorgasbord of Japanese chow thrust me into a world of indecisive hesitancy.
Life is full of them.
Once again throbbing to and fro in the weeds of vacillation.
I eventually settled on sharing a crispy banana ice cream medley and a good ol’ ramen with Alex, and the waitress then asked whether we wanted the original crispy or breaded banana. More choices? Rather brusquely, I asked if they could serve both- and thankfully they said yes. Huge menus and food decisions daunt me- customers should have choices, but too much of any thing is never a good thing. And so, relieved that I’d finally chosen something, I contentedly wiggled in my seat as I waited for the food to be served.
Dessert was served first- which would properly be met with a frown, but since dessert is my talon d’Achille I had absolutely no objection. The fried banana was a gastronomic delight- frightfully crisp and crunchy on the outside, wonderfully moist and banana-y on the inside. No overwhelmingly bready dough or thick crusts- just crunch and an explosion of flavors.
Perfection. Doused in caramel, vanilla bean ice cream, and flecks of almond, it was almost a sin- sweet, sweet, sweet.
My sweet tooth got the better of me; the dish was wonderful in texture and panache, but the almost nauseatingly saccharine taste would’ve scared off any bitter man. There was little balance between bitter and sweet; in fact- there was no bitter, no sour. A tangy berry, or a delightful cinnamon cigar would’ve relieved this dish- but this content little foodie doesn’t quite mind.
Once again the closeted chef in myself wondered if I could replicate this dish- but good pastry is oh-so-hard to make in damp and humid Singapore. But oh well, chiefly chef-ly aspirations can lie in the back closet for now whilst I savor the granules of sweet.
The next dish hardly lived up to the last; the ramen was a disappointment to say the least. Served on a black platter and a delightfully deep spoon- expectations rose to sky-high. The sheen of glossy oil that lightly protected the surface of the ramen was perfect- not overwhelmingly greasy, and not pitifully scarce. A plump little egg flaunted its liquidy yolk (which was unfortunately lost to the seas of miso), and the tauntingly thick slices of tonkatsu ostentatiously showed off its beautiful layers of fat and meat.
And so when the tasting began it all came crashing down. The broth was good, but not amazingly so; the noodles were average, but clearly came out of a packet somewhere in the corner of their cupboard; and the meat was tough, not in the slightest bit chewy, and clearly overcooked. Some scheming (or incredibly nonchalant and disinterested) chef tried to douse it in the soup for a long period of time to remedy its tough exterior- but the resulting end product was a soggy piece of meat with a virtually un-chewable center. I think Alex probably realized that because she left her piece of meat in the bowl; untouched (and a good thing too).
However much a disappointment was the ramen was to the legacy of Japanese cuisine, I was famished and food should not be wasted- and so I ate. Perhaps I exaggerate, the ramen was pleasant, albeit begrudgingly so. With good company average food inevitably becomes good food.
And hence this concludes the first voyage; I look forward to the many yet to come.
Rating: 5/7 (6.5/7 for the dessert, 3.5/7 for the ramen)