Maison Ikkoku, Singapore

located along a quiet street in the kampong glam area, maison ikkoku is possibly one of my new favourite places for brunch in singapore! the cosy cafe is located on the ground floor of a 3-storey shophouse, while the second and third floors house a boutique and cocktail bar respectively – all part of a multi-concept lifestyle store that the people behind maison ikkoku are trying to sell.

i visited a week and a half ago and was extremely satisfied and impressed with the food – what better way to spend a saturday morning than with 2 of your bestest friends and amazing brunch food?

case in point:
20130824_104434

on weekdays, they only serve a limited range of breakfast items, and for a short 2 hours from 9am-11am (their weekday menu can be found on their website at http://www.maison-ikkoku.net/). if getting up before 10am and making your way to kandahar street proves to be a bit of a challenge for the more sleep-inclined among you, then besides the fact that its probably a lot more crowded on weekends, heading over on a saturday or sunday instead is a great alternative! the weekend menu is extensive and has an exciting range of all day breakfast items to choose from, which i love!

here’s a peek at the menu:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we ordered 3 items to share, and they were all super yummy.

the first thing we got was the umami florentine – sauteed shiitake mushrooms + sauteed baby spinach with garlic + poached eggs + hollandaise sauce + sauteed asparagus + toasted english muffins! we also added smoked salmon on the side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
umami florentine – $16 (+$4 for additional side of smoked salmon)

this dish was one of the BEST eggs benny/eggs benny variations that i have had. being a mushroom lover, i loved the addition of shiitake mushrooms which were perfectly cooked and plated in copious amounts (so much so that the sauteed spinach under the mushrooms is completely obscured). it was something different from the usual portobello mushrooms typically used in brunch food, and complemented the sauteed spinach perfectly. the spinach sauteed with garlic taken together with the mushrooms and finally topped with perfectly poached eggs was an amazing combination. the homemade hollandaise sauce was also wonderfully done; it was light (not jelat at all) and its consistency was just nice, bringing everything together very nicely. couldn’t get enough of it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAquintessential shot of oozy egg yolk

the next thing we ordered was the french toast with caramelised bananas – thick brioche french toast with cinnamon + caramelised bananas + home-made caramel with sea salt + toasted walnuts + sour cream.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
french toast with caramelised bananas – $15

if you like sticky cinnamon buns, this will be heaven on a plate for you. i happen to absolutely adore sticky cinnamon rolls so this was amazing to me – not only was the presentation super enticing with thick toast stacked on top of each other, piled high with caramelised bananas and walnuts, and drenched in an amazing caramel/cinnamon sauce, it also tasted really really good. didn’t taste much sea salt (as mentioned in the description) at all though, and we barely touched the dollop of sour cream by the side, (both of which were probably meant to balance out the sweetness of the toast i imagine) but that’s probably a good sign because i suppose we didn’t think we needed any of it, ie the toast wasn’t sickly sweet at all! the bananas were yummy, the toast was really thick and fluffy, and the walnuts were fresh and added a great crunch and texture to the dish. it is actually as filling as it looks in the picture though, so i think it’d probably be a bit too much for one person to stomach without feeling like its too heavy; this is ideal for sharing and is a lovely sweet lift to the usual savoury brunch options.

the third thing we ordered was the break of dawn – pork bratwust + crispy smoked bacon + cherry tomatoes + breakfast potatoes + scrambled eggs with chives + mesclun salad with almond & classic lemon vinaigrette +  double orange salad + sourdough toast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
break of dawn – $22

this is hands-down one of the most value-for-money brunch dishes i have ever had. seriously. at bigger establishments like wild honey, you’d probably pay more than this and get something barely 1/3 the size? just check out the size of that plate – it was HUGE and piled high with an array of breakfast foods. i think two average eaters can share this plate very comfortably and leave feeling very satisfied! each component on the plate was good which i thought was no mean feat, given that its rather hard to achieve that with the number of different things they served up.

the bratwurst was of a good quality (not at all the processed kind of sausage), and the cherry tomatoes were amazingly sweet, fresh and juicy. we all loved how they were the kind that are still on the vine when you buy them, and not the more run-of-the-mill oval-shaped ones. the potatoes and bacon were not bad too – well-fried and not too greasy. as for the mesclun salad and the orange salad, they were both very enjoyable additions to the plate to cleanse the palette in between bites of heavy breakfast food. the greens of the mesclun salad were fresh and the almonds added a nice crunch to the leaves. i also loved the lemon vinaigrette which was light and refreshing. as for the oranges, they were drenched in cinnamon and i’m not sure what they were meant to be eaten with, but they were delicious all the same and as i mentioned earlier, something refreshing to accompany the more greasy foods on the plate. the scrambled eggs were delicious. we all loved the addition of chives and they were light, fluffy and creamy – a worthy competitor of nassim hill’s scrambled eggs, i thought. they also gave a huge serving of scrambled eggs (we couldn’t finish it even among the 3 of us); not sure if you can see it in the picture but it was really a very big pile, plenty to be eaten with each component on the plate. last but not least, we had 2 thick pieces of sourdough, which was really welcome as an accompaniment for the hot foods on the plate to be piled high on.

despite the fact that the 3 of us are pretty big eaters, we did not manage to finish everything we ordered. we came pretty close though, because the food was so yummy that even though we were full, we kept picking at the remnants and going back for more bits and bobs left on the plates. unfortunately that left us with no space for desserts! they have several interesting cakes in the display, which i hope to try the next time i visit! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe were especially intrigued by the “fade to black” cake that is meant to be a tribute to Metallica. the coffee is also supposed to be good, but we didn’t have any as we found the prices for the drinks slightly steep.

all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed what maison ikkoku has to offer. great food with generous servings at very reasonable prices – no additional service charge added, so what you see on the menu is what you pay! its a great little place to hang out that has a very chill vibe, the kind of unpretentious place where you order at the counter and get water for yourself. the cafe is pretty small and it does get very crowded on weekends (we witnessed several people being turned away/being told to wait about 30 minutes for a table), so making a reservation is definitely recommended if you’re planning on going at brunch peak hour (about 11am onwards).

i’m definitely returning to maison ikkoku but i’m not sure what i’ll order this time – i enjoyed what we had the last time so much that i’m not sure how willing i will be to depart from those choices we made! maybe i’ll go on a weekday so my choices will be limited and i’ll be forced to try the rest of their offerings which i hope will be equally great! 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maison Ikkoku

20 Kandahar Street
Singapore 198885

ps. rich & good cake shop a few doors down has some great swiss rolls in variety of local flavours to offer – pop by & give it a try!!!

pps. don’t forget to pop by haji lane and kampong glam while you’re in the area! its always nice to take a stroll around a culturally rich area rather than being constantly surrounded by towering skyscrapers. some exciting post-brunch things we did that day documented by my la sardina:
R001-022 R001-023 R001-024

Jin Kichi, Hampstead

today we made our maiden foodie club trek to Hampstead, solely based on a recommendation by nic’s (dubious) japanese hairdresser (i mean, just look at the state of his hair…). this restaurant is just a minute away from the hampstead tube station, and is known for its yakitori.

first impressions:

1. japanese newsletters/magazines for customers to take home with them –> LEGIT…

2. sushi bar was manned by japanese chef grilling yakitoris on the spot –> OOOH….

Image

3. spoonless tables –> truly japanese

Image

4. just ONE blond-haired waiter –> #asianpride

Image

5. japanese fishmonger delivering fresh produce for the day

Image

the menu was extensive but nic had preconceived notions of what foods represent the hallmark of true japanese cuisine: miso ramen, tempura, sashimi.

sadly there wasn’t ramen on the menu (but udon and soba were available) so we ended up ordering tempura, sashimi, unagi sushi and a yakitori set.

the yakitori set was first to arrive. while nic was dying to dig in, rach and jo were excited over the prospect of breaking down food for the FIRST time instead of the usual “soooooooo good”. the set included fresh green asparagus with pork, pork with shiso leaf, chicken with onion, minced chicken meatballs, shiitake mushrooms and king prawn.

Image

Asparagus with pork

rach: asparagus was very fresh and there was a good balance between the amount of pork and greens. you can consider ordering just the asparagus- (THEY WERE SO HUGE AND JUICY LOOKING, NIC WAS ALMOST FOAMING WHEN THE WAITRESS CARRYING IT WALKED PAST – at the food, not the waitress)

nic: pork wasn’t crispy enough, but the asparagus was sweet and cooked to perfection

jo: would have liked the pork to be more flavourful, but the blend between the two flavours was divine

Pork with shiso leaf

Image

rach: a bit dry, but the shiso leaf was grilled nicely

jo&nic: there are layers of meat and fat in the pork, so you should eat each piece ALTOGETHER so the juicy fatty goodness can seep into the meat.

Chicken with onion 

this is rach’s FAVOURITE skewer of the day.

rach: the chicken was SOOO juicy and the onions were really crunchy and packed with flavour. it was SOOO GOOD.

Shiitake Mushrooms

nic&jo: so juicy, pity we didn’t have it when it was hot

King prawns 

nic: could have even the whole thing, shell and all, if not for the over zealous waitress. (100 marks for efficiency in clearing the table.)

rach: very naturally sweet prawns

Chicken meatballs 

nic&jo: the fineness of the mince is the selling point

rach, dissenting: chicken was too finely minced, could do with more bite

(OOOH- first instance of clashing tastes and preferences????)

the sashimi lunch set came with 3 slices of salmon, 2 slices of tuna, 2 slices of seabass and 2 slices of turbot. the star of the platter was the salmon, which converted nic from a maguro lover to a fan of salmon. the initial bite was crisp and clean, yet it melted in our mouths upon chewing. it was so smooth without the stringiness of lower grade sashimi. nic also announced to the whole restaurant (his voice tends to be loud and booming) about just how good the maguro was. it was a public display of affection ^^ Image

the ingredients for the tempura were amazing. the tempura here was all about the sauce (and source, since it was sooo fresh). the sauce had an unidentifiable mystery ingredient that gave it some sort of kick/oomph. nic describes it as ‘an alcoholic surge’. the initial kick of the sauce soon blends into the flavour of the meat/veggie and merges into an organic whole. heaven is a place on earth. like the yakitori king prawn, the meat was firm, juicy and sweet and the batter light, fresh; it was a distinct……(for the lack of a better word) DISTINCTION. the ingredients were also coated with just the right amount of this amazing batter; never tasted anything batter.

Image

the miso soup was pleasant though it seemed that the savoury flavour came from a stock as opposed to the miso itself. not sure if thats a positive or negative thing but it was nice.

there were let downs – the rice and hence the unagi sushi. the rice was too moist and clumpy. possibly reheated from previous days? for the sushi we wanted more unagi and less rice. we would have preferred a crispier seaweed wrap.

Image

Wrapping up, before asking for the bill, we three have a tradition of playing ‘the price is right’ this allows us to share with you what we felt the meal was worth and enables you to compare it to what we actually paid.

Our guess was: £55

Total bill: £54 nett

Ambience: casual, for the family

Service: efficient, though sometimes overly so; felt rushed as we didn’t make reservation;

Who we would recommend it to: small groups of discerning consumers of japanese cuisine; not people looking for a leisurely lunch

Will we return?: Rach: Possibly; Jo: there are comparable alternatives in central london but will go back for the hampstead experience; nic: probably.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image

Image

Jin Kichi 

73 Heath St  London, Greater London NW3 6UG
020 7794 6158