Pseudo-Japanese Noodles

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I don’t call myself an expert on Japanese cooking, but when I feel like cooking Japanese for myself I make noodles with miso paste and dashi powder. Both are easily available from Japanese supermarkets. Miso paste comes in a bewildering number of variations. While the white version is more common, I like the deeper flavour of red miso. Dashi powder is simply Japanese fish stock powder. You could try making it from scratch, but since it’s msg and bonito anyway, I don’t bother and just buy it from the shop.

I like both soba and udon for this dish, but soba is easier to have on hand as it comes dried, unlike udon that needs to be bought fresh. I like the subtle flavour of green tea in chasoba best as it offsets the rather earthy flavour of buckwheat rather well.

One variation on the theme had me using some fancy Japanese tofu from Meidiya and some pork ribs I unearthed from the freezer. It’s definite worthwhile paying the $1 extra for good tofu, and this hits the spot for comforting and fairly healthy.

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Ingredients:

6 pork ribs
2 bundles of chasoba
1 tsp dashi powder, or to taste
ΒΌ Chinese cabbage, cut into small chunks
1 box good Japanese tofu, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp red miso paste

Method:

  1. Put the defrosted pork ribs in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 mins or till tender. Remove the ribs from the stock.
  2. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, then strain and run under the tap. Put into serving bowls.
  3. Bring the stock to a boil and add the dashi powder and Chinese cabbage, simmer till tender for about 3 minutes, then add the tofu.
  4. In a little bowl, mix the miso paste with a couple of spoonfuls of hot stock to dilute. It should be a runny paste before you add it to the soup.
  5. Bring the soup to a quick boil before ladling out onto the noodles.

Serves 2.

Casual Lunch at OChaCha

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I was pleasantly surprised by the food at Ochacha. I admit that I’m a snob and was a bit surprised that a friend would suggest here of all places for lunch. Since I’m trying to keep an open mind and be more open to new experiences, I gave it a shot. Of course it helped loads that my friend was giving the treat!

I had the salmon sandwich set lunch. For $7.90 I had a soup, sandwich and drink. Very decent value. I didn’t find anything special about the cold macha tea. It was, well, green tea. I don’t think I’m made to be a macha connoisseur.

True to its Japanese styling, the food came in nice crockery with fancy shapes. Too bad the tomato soup I had was too sour. I think they tried to make it from fresh tomatoes but couldn’t get decent ones to fit their price point. Try again with canned ones next time.

The sandwich was very good. The soft multi-grain bun was stuffed with good quality smoked salmon and lettuce. It was completed by a sprinkling of furikake, giving it lots of umami flavour. I liked the sandwich a lot, but not the salad. The salad was the typical Japanese fast food side salad with some wilted iceberg lettuce at the bottom and other miscellany on top. I don’t see why the lettuce was wilted and brown at the edges when they could do it fine for the stuff in the sandwich. The wasabe peas didn’t add anything to it, especially when they got soggy too fast. There were also some potato crisps with green powder on the side. I presume they’re some kind of Japanese flavoured ones to complete the Japanese theme.

In short for food, sandwich: PASS, everything else: FAIL.

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My friend had this vegetarian soba salad. He said it was good but didn’t elaborate any further. You’ll have to go try it yourself then.

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Service-wise, this place was great. The staff were super smiley and very obliging. They described the drinks to us to help us decide. When they served the food, they waited patiently for a break in conversation before putting the dishes before us. And when my tea was too sweet despite me asking for less sugar, they gladly replaced it with a no-syrup version. Well done, 10/10 for service!

OChaCha
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-44F Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6333 5886