I Tried Michelin-Starred Cup Noodles from Japan [Nissin Nakiryu Dan Dan Noodles]

Sometime last year, a bowl of instant cup noodles took the world (and the internet) by storm.

The target in question- The cup noodle version of Nakiryu’s Dan Dan Noodles, created by instant ramen giant Nissin exclusively for 7-Eleven in Japan.

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Nakiryu who?

Nakiryu is a ramen restaurant located in Tokyo, about a ten minutes walk from Otsuka station (Source: therantingpanda.com). In 2017, it became the second ramen restaurant to obtain a Michelin Star (after Tsuta in 2015). Nakiryu became famous for its signature dan dan noodles (担々麺). The cup noodles that were created by Nissin was a bold attempt to replicate the dish.

What are Dan Dan Noodles?

Dan dan noodles (known as ‘dan dan mian’ 担担面 in mandarin is a noodle dish originated from Sichuan, China. It consists of a spicy sauce (containing chilli oil) topped with ingredients such as minced pork, preserved vegetables and spring onions, etc.). The Japanese version (stylised as ‘tantanmen’) is a noodle dish with a spicy broth. Tantanmen is quite popular in Japan, evident of the tantanmen restaurants scattered all over Japan, but some ramen restaurants serve the dish as well.

Nakiryu Cup Noodles

The First Impression

At first glance, it looks pretty unassuming. Inside, it looks like a regular bowl of cup noodles- the dried block of noodles, with three packets of sauces and toppings. What stood out for me was the noodles, they weren’t curly and were thinner than the regular instant noodles, which reminded me of the dried Hong Kong noodles I find in supermarkets. The three packets consisted of the sesame sauce, the chilli oil and toppings (minced meat, scallions, etc.).

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Preparation

Got a bit stunned for a minute because I couldn’t really read all the Japanese, so didn’t really know how to prepare the noodles. Some instructions on the internet simply suggested to pour all the ingredients and pour hot water over it; others poured everything, leaving the chilli oil to the last. Did the former, I feel that both methods will do just fine though. After pouring the hot water over the noodles (until the marked line), I covered the lid and let it cook for 3 minutes.

The Reveal

After three minutes, the noodles still looked a bit clumpy and some of the strands weren’t separating very well. However, they were definitely cooked well. The noodles were springy and had a nice firm bite to them, and I was surprised that they did not have a plasticky taste to them (unlike the regular Nissin cup noodles).

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The soup was what stole the show for me. It was creamy and fragrant, with a rich meaty flavour, the perfect hint of sesame and a tinge of sourness, and finally a little bit of heat afterwards. If you tried bak chor mee, it reminded me of that, except that it’s creamier, richer, and more luxurious. The richness got a bit too much for me afterwards, as it felt a little too salty afterwards.

Regarding the toppings, I was pleasantly surprised by the dehydrated minced meat. It wasn’t soggy or spongy like I get from regular cup noodles. Instead, it had a texture like real minced meat, and was a little salty, like it was marinated with something. The greens, on the other hand, were pretty similar to what I would usually get from regular cup noodles- bland and with an unusual crunch.

Final Thoughts

If you were to serve this dish to me in another, more presentable bowl, I honestly won’t be able to tell straightaway that it’s from a bowl of instant cup noodles. I haven’t tried the original dandan noodles from Nakiryu, but I must say that Nissin has done a splendid job of creating a bowl of instant noodles that is unconventional and exceeds our expectations of what cup noodles are usually like.

Nakiryu Instant Dan Dan Noodles are definitely worth a try, though I’m not sure if I’ll want to have it again. It seems like a once-in-a-while, novelty thing to me. If you’re hungry in the middle of the night and want something hearty, this will probably be a good idea.

With that, I give this a solid 8/10. Minus one point for the clumpy noodles and another for the artificial-tasting veggies. Can’t compare this to the actual dish because I haven’t tried it, but I wish I can have the chance to try the original from Nakiryu. My opinion will definitely change.

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ROYAL CARIBBEAN Voyager of the Seas- In Pictures [PART I: Facilities, Food, Room]

Finally got the time to document my trip on board the Voyager of the Seas by the Royal Caribbean, from Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore to Port Klang in Malaysia, 1-4 June 2018.

Photo credits: Me [Panasonic Lumix GF-7] and my dad [Canon Powershot G7x Mark II].

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Realised it’s going to be quite a long post if I include everything, so decided to split my pictures into two parts- Part I will be on FOOD, FACILITIES and the ROOM, while Part II will be everything else such as the SIGHTS and ENTERTAINMENT.

Some of the Facilities

On this massive ship, there was a library,

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…a theatre,

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Named after the famous Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy!

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Shops, selling luxury goods and souvenirs, P1010929 …a casino, IMG_4665 IMG_4663

…pool and jacuzzi area on the 11th deck, P1010940 P1010942

…fun stuff like a basketball court, mini golf course and the Flowrider,

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My bro and his amateurish shooting skills

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…and there’s even a chapel!

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Now who wants to marry on a ship?

 


The Food

Of course, everybody comes to a cruise to eat, a lot. There were several restaurants and bars scattered around the ship. The Sapphire Dining room (ala carte), Windjammer (buffet), and Café Promenade were included with the package. We only went to the Windjammer for buffet lunch on the first day upon embarking the ship. P1010913

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Sausages and hamburger patties. I love the sausages.

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The mashed potatoes were really good! This ship knows their mashed potatoes.

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The char siew pork loin was surprisingly good, tender and sweet.

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The dessert selection…it’s alright. Get the chocolate bar, do not get the jello.

They also have gluten free/eggless/sugar free desserts. What I noticed for the food is that they cater to diverse dietary needs and cuisines. Vegetarian, Asian, Western, gluten-free, egg-free, sugar free, et cetera. There’s something for almost everybody. P1010922

For our subsequent meals onboard the Voyager of the Seas (breakfast, lunch, dinner), we ate at the Sapphire Dining Room. It’s a huge dining hall specialising in fine dining. Quality of the food was definitely better than the Windjammer in general, service was great too. For dinner, it was fixed seating. Meaning that we are assigned the same seat and servers for each day. It’s great because we will always be guaranteed a seat. There were two seatings for dinner, the main one at 5.30pm, and the second seating at 8pm. We were on the main seating.

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At the start of each meal, we were served an assortment of bread with butter. The bread was warm and fresh. P1010963

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Here’s what a sample menu looks like, this is dinner for Day 1.

Our server recommended us to get one starter, one main and one dessert, making it a three-course meal. Some people tend to get more than one of something, like two starters, ’cause why not haha.

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Corn soup

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Herb Roasted Chicken

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Apple pie, served with vanilla ice cream. Looks pretty sad though.

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They also served sugarless desserts, like this Strawberry Charlotte, but it’s kinda bland.

 

My favourite meal in the Sapphire Dining Room is actually the breakfast. They serve a variety of western-style breakfast dishes, along with fruits, juices, cereals, etc. Breakfast food in cafes is so expensive, so it’s a treat to be able to eat it here.

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We could choose from a variety of breads, I always took the croissant

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Their bacon was really good! Crispy and not tough.

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Ham and cheese omelette. I wish it was less dark though.

Lunch was ala-carte, with a salad bar. I choose pasta for both lunches.

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Can’t remember what soup was this, cream of broccoli? A bit too salty.

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Fusilli with pancetta and zucchini cream sauce. It’s so good! Loved how the cream isn’t too jelat, I could finish it easily. Pasta was nicely al-dente too.

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This chocolate cake was not bad, but I remember it being quite sweet. Not for people without a sweet tooth.

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This spaghetti is…tragic. The pasta is soggy, and the sauce tastes like canned sardines in tomato sauce. I feel like a lazy person cooked this just because he is craving some pasta.

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Chocolate tart, this is gooood, made with dark and rich chocolate.

Also, more dinner pictures from Day 2 and 3.

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Cream of Mushroom soup, pretty decent, but nothing special.

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Steak Diane, not bad but sauce was too salty for my liking. Meat also feels suspiciously tender.

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Soufflé was just sad though. Looks like desserts aren’t exactly their strong point.

Day 3 was a formal dinner. There’s no captain’s night on this cruise, but the servers all gathered around and gave a parade/dance performance. Also, it was my mum’s birthday, perfect!

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This wine is great! Will make a mental note of this one.

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Lamb shank. The meat was so soft it slides off the bone easily. The roasted pumpkin was so good, sweet with a nice charred flavour. Should try barbecuing pumpkins next time. One of the best dishes on this cruise, in my opinion.

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My favourite dessert on this ship- TIRAMISU. This is surprisingly good. The cake portion is soaked in liqueur, which I love. I dislike liqueur-free tiramisu, it’s just not the same.

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Happy birthday, Mummy!

I really missed eating rice, noodles and the taste of umami after this trip.

Next, there’s the Café Promenade, which is a 24-hour cafe serving coffee, tea, sandwiches, pastries, cakes and pizza, etc. It’s a good place for a tea break, or a late-night snack. You could also get speciality coffee (such as cappuccino, latte) and ice cream at an additional charge. P1010935 P1010934

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Had a pepperoni pizza and donut in the middle of the night. Mediocre food, but food tastes the best when you’re hungry and there’s nothing else to eat.

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Cheese pizza. Great only if you’re craving pizza on this cruise.

Of course, there are other restaurants at additional charge, such as this Italian restaurant. IMG_4666 …and this Japanese restaurant. I would want to try this if I ever get to go on this cruise again. Menu looks promising.

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There’s just one little thing, which is that the cruise provides free chocolate soft serve in a cone at the 11th deck where the pool is. We could help ourselves to an ice cream cone and dispense the ice cream on it, to enjoy a nice cool treat after a swim or a meal, which I think is fantastic. IMG_4681


The Room

My family had two bedrooms, which were connected. We were situated on the 8th deck. The room was small, but functional and cozy. Love the little touches they provide, like the animal towels. Service was really good too, the staff were friendly and always greeting us, asking us about our day and making sure we have everything we need. Room service is also provided for continental breakfast (American breakfast at extra cost).

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I named it Bronty, since it looked like a brontosaurus

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Say hello to Kongy

Hope you enjoyed Part I of my journey on the Voyager of the Seas. Stay tuned for Part II, where I share with you sights in and around the cruise, as well as the various entertainment we enjoyed onboard.

Till next time, take care everyone.

xo

What Relationships do to me

Hi, everyone, it’s been awhile since I posted.

I didn’t really know what to name the title of this post, but I guess since it’s going to be about my thoughts towards relationships, I guess that’s how I will name it. Just to be clear, it’s not just about relationships with a SO, but also with my family and friends. It is only that after going through a relationship with a SO that this issue has become more prevalent to me. I am not sure if anyone can relate to this, but I just wanna put it out there and hope that I am not alone in this.

To start- sometimes, I feel like I am better off being on my own.

When I am left alone, without my family, without any friends, without a boyfriend, I feel energised. Not necessarily physically, but my mind becomes more energised. I become more creative, I have lots of ideas on what I want to do, I have more time to do the things that matter to me. As a result, the things I do are not just fulfilling to myself, but in some ways benefits the people around me as well. Now that school is out, I have more time to myself, I start brainstorming ideas to do and I decided to make gyoza today. Not only did I improve the recipe, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making the gyoza and my family enjoyed eating them as well. I also have more time catching up on my books and start taking care of myself a lot more.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like being with family or friends. I do want a long-term relationship as well. Sometimes, when I’m on my own for a long time, I wish that I can share the beautiful memories and experiences I have to someone special. When I read something interesting, I would love to share it with people. When I come across a restaurant that looks great, I wish I can bring my date along and enjoy great food together. When people need help, I tend to want to help them. I am pretty much a giver myself, so I always want the best for others, and it makes me happy too.

However, a relationship is not always a bed of roses, sometimes there will be moments where I will get hurt or upset by someone. When that happens, I can get confrontational. I have been brought up to think that when someone has let me down or done something really bad to me, I have every right to defend myself and the other person is completely responsible for his or her wrongdoing. Any sign of defence is wrong and insincere (thanks dad). As a result, I often get misunderstood and people even end up using it against me to avoid owning up to their mistakes. The closer I am to that person, the more mad I can get at him/her (I mean, it’s natural right, since I naturally have a greater liking towards that person and will hate to be upset by someone I trust and love more). Sometimes the selfish side of me wonders, have I not been treating the people around me well enough? If not, why are they treating me like crap all the time? When are they going to stop?

As I am writing this, I start to think, well, I can’t expect everyone to not hurt my feelings and not be jerks right? Sometimes, they don’t even realise they are being a jerk to me, so it’s pointless to even be angry at them. So who am I to even get mad? When people hurt my feelings, why should I bother putting in so much effort to make sure they make it up to me?

In short, relationships are making me weak and needy. When people give me crap, I deal with it strongly on my own, but once I let people deeper into my life, I become really bad at dealing with the shit they are giving me. I don’t understand, what have I done to them to deserve anything like this in the first place? Have I not been a good person to them? My dad says I won’t be able to work in F&B or volunteer at welfare organisations because I have no patience for bullshit. On the other hand, I find myself dealing better with difficult customers than a difficult situation with a close friend or boyfriend.

Yeah, I really think I am better off on my own. When I’m on my own, I don’t have to fear of getting hurt by the people I trust the most.

Till next time, take care everyone.

Xo

My Struggles with Accepting Uncertainty

The certainty of life is that, nothing is certain in life. We can’t have everything we want, neither can we expect anything from it.

Human beings are born to be unsatisfied. No matter what we already have, we always want more. Whatever result we have achieved, we always think of how we can improve further. That’s what makes our species stronger, and how we can survive until now.

When I do my essay or work on music, I always find something new every time I look at it. There is never the ‘perfect answer’, we tend to be critical of ourselves all the time, no matter what we do. Even when we work hard on something, the result is always uncertain. We may think that it was a job well done, sometimes people might feel the same, but some might find that it was a lousy job, or even tell us that we didn’t put in enough effort. Our future is also uncertain all the time. We may plan ahead for something, but that’ll only work out because we assume certain conditions that will meet our targets. The reality is, we can’t guarantee a 100% that our future is set out for us, no matter what we do…

…and then we all die in the end. Even until that point, we cannot guarantee that we would have lived a fulfilling life, a life with no regrets whatsoever. We cannot assure ourselves that we have achieved whatever we want to in life. Scrap that, we don’t even know when and how we will die until it comes.

Yet, our social values and systems try so hard to overcome it. People try too hard to quantify success and benchmarks for success. Standardised tests, qualifications, social statuses, age limits, you name it. We have been brought up in an age where getting good grades for exams and attaining a degree will guarantee success, if you fail in your exams, you’re lazy and stupid; you’re successful if you’re rich, you’re incapable if you’re poor; you’re responsible if you’re married and have kids, you’re selfish and wild if you stay single. In some societies, there’s even the presence of hierarchy and the fear mentality. Your boss/parent/teacher has a higher authority over you, so whatever they say are the only ones that count. Otherwise, you’re rebellious and disrespectful. If you’ve achieved something, you are set for life, your future ahead is glistening. If you fail, life ahead is gonna be tough. Such benchmarks seem to make us think that there are things in life that will be certain to us.

As a student, there is no doubt that I work very hard. Every time I find something new/a mistake in my answer, I struggle to change it and expect myself to remember it quickly. I am a slow learner, yet I can’t afford to digest things at my own pace because there’s a deadline looming ahead of me (and deadlines are dead certain).

Our education system thrives on model answers, I try very hard to perfect something, and when I find something that seems perfect, I try very hard to maintain it. I am brought up to think that the moment I submit my answer, it ultimately has to be the best version. Besides work, this attitude has also manifested into my daily life and the way I interact with people (although fortunately I become more aware of it as I grow older). I am afraid of being too comfortable with the people around me, I fear that I take my relationship for granted. I fear that one day I might be taken advantaged of.

Life seems to be full of certainties that any form of failure or criticism can seem like a bomb that has fallen. If I muster enough courage and determination, I will work very hard to prevent that bomb from falling, or lessen the damage a little…and it becomes a vicious cycle. Life is full of uncertainties, yet knowing this I still continue to strive to make things certain. I have been foolishly sucked into this system.

While struggling to make things work consistently, the result ironically will always turn out not the way I wanted. I work so hard to perfect the same set of actions on the piano (I know it’s a stupid thing to do, but let’s not go into there now), yet when it’s time to play for my teacher or perform, I play as if I have not practiced at all. I am so worried about making things certain that that seems to be the only thing on my mind before every performance, and I freak out or get anxious. No matter how much pep talk I give myself, or no matter how I change the way I do sound checks, the result will always be the same.

Now that things have come to this point, I ask myself:

  1. Why the heck am I so obsessed with the certainties?
  2. What is it that I am afraid of?
  3. If I know things will never be certain in the end, is it even worth worrying about it?
  4. Will living a life full of certainties help me live a more fulfilling life?

I haven’t given myself a new year’s resolution this year, but I think I have found one now. This 2018, I want to learn to embrace the uncertainties, to live life over the edge a little and take risks. To not stupidly conform to benchmarks and rely them on markers for success. To not be ruled over by authority and dare to stand up for what is right. To accept that things will never be the same as before, to keep a inquisitive mind and never take things for granted.

Till next time, take care everyone.

xo

10 Thoughts Today: How do I Feel About an LDR with My Significant Other

1. Definitely emptiness and loneliness, lots of it.

2. The person whom I talk to almost every hour everyday, the one who keeps me company when I’m alone and bored, suddenly isn’t here for me already.

3. I’m so tempted to ask my friends out or chat them up, but I don’t think it’s a very good idea…I don’t wanna give the impression that I’m only caring about them because I’m lonely 😂

4. So many things go on in a day, that I have to keep all of it to myself inside, and wait until the perfect time to say it all to him. Thinking about it, it’s quite beautiful, isn’t it? I love delayed gratification, but I absolutely suck at it. I have no self-control.

5. Being in a relationship isn’t just about having each other’s company (or the lack thereof), but it also the bond and connection we have for each other. He may be away, but he has never left my heart.

6. I wonder what did he do on the plane, how is he adjusting to the weather and environment out there, whether has he had his dinner, whether he is prepared for the stuff he has to do there, etc.

7. Before he left I didn’t really talk through his preparations, because I trust that he was able to take care of himself, but now that he’s not here I’m starting to worry and regret I didn’t give him enough reminders.

8. At least we are in the same time zone, I guess that’s a good thing.

9. I wonder will he come back with a different accent.

10. Oh damn it, it’s just for a week. I just hope we don’t fight 😕

Books I’ve Read in February 2018

Hi everyone,

February went by in a flash, not only was it because it is the shortest month of the year, I was largely preoccupied by the Chinese New Year celebrations. I enjoyed my time feasting and collecting angpows, wishing that February will never end.

I also read two fiction books this month. The first was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. The book revolves around Oscar and his family, written in a third-person narrative. Oscar is a young Dominican man raised in New Jersey, a huge science fiction nerd and a hopeless romantic in hopes of finding true love one day. However, his family is struck by the fukú, a curse brought upon his family for several generations. The story also focuses on several key characters in Oscar’s multi-generational family. Although mainly written in English, the author included several conversations and words in Spanish, along with a few cultural references. Although I really loved the story and felt that it was very well-written, it was quite a difficult read because of my lack of knowledge in Spanish and several of the cultural references. Thankfully, I had Google Translate and a website to refer to for help. I really liked the writing and so I felt that I should not ignore the parts I didn’t understand for the sake of convenience. It was quite a tedious process, but it was worth it as I could appreciate the nuances of conversations better and learnt a few Spanish words along the way. Overall, Díaz writing style was very creative and beautiful, and I found the story quite heartwarming and the characters pretty relatable.

Next, I continued my journey with the filthy rich and powerful in Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, which is sadly the third and final instalment. 😞 With Shang Su Yi ill and at her deathbed, her family have gathered to be with her, while in fact vying for Tyersall Park. The biggest question remains- who will be the next heir to Tyersall Park, (one of) the largest and most valuable residential properties in the world? Meanwhile, the Astrid-Charlie saga continues, and Kitty Pong, a.k.a. Mrs Jack Bing, continues to be upstaged by her new stepdaughter, Colette Bing. Again, like the previous two books, a highly witty and entertaining read. As usual, I really loved the local cultural references as well as the satire and humour in the book. Kinda sad that it was the end, I wish that there was more. As a Singaporean, I really appreciated reading literature that was relatable to me culturally. The references to food, pop culture, and Singlish, really struck a chord with me. If there are any books similar to this, please recommend them to me!

Realised that the books I’ve read in February had one similarity- lots of cultural references and foreign languages in them. Different backgrounds, and different problems.

Also, I would like to sneak in something else that I’ve read, which is the National Geographic Magazine, Jan/Feb issue. I was glad I picked up this magazine, as it had a lot of things I was interested in. Highlights included the Egyptian mummification of animals, the significance of silk and the Silk Road, as well as Napoleon’s coming out of exile and defeat in the Battle of the Waterloo in 1815. I like reading magazines, I always learn something new, and NatGeo is one of my favourites.

In the month of March, I’ve decided to diversify my reading sources to not just books, but in other forms as well. Reading is a wonderful source of knowledge, which is not just limited to books. Stay tuned for my next reading post! ☺️

Till next time, take care everyone.

Xo