Category Archives: Japanese

Koji

I was meeting C for lunch and she suggested Koji though she was there just the day before! I figured it must be that good and I will never say “no” to Japanese food so off we went.

We both had the sashimi bowl ($17), although I must say the other rice bowls (salmon avocado, tuna tartare, pork cheek) also called out.

And it was EXCELLENT indeed! There were very generous chunks of sashimi; what sets it apart is that it also has a mix of tempura batter bits, jellyfish, ikura, tobiko (or maybe ebiko) and minced tuna on top, with a couple of sprouts and slices of cucumber. Each mouthful was a riot – the soft chewy sashimi with the taste of the sea, further enhanced by the umami bursts of the ikura/tobiko and the cool jello crunch of jellyfish, plus the crunch of the fried bits and the buttery smear of the tuna. Sublime! It was also not too salty as compared to other chirashi-dons I have had. IMG_2795.JPG IMG_2796.JPG You can choose from white or brown rice and also opt for a top-up of uni ($8). The rice bowl comes with complimentary miso soup and a salad. I also like it that other than the usual green tea, they also serve yuzu tea ($3) which was fruity and light (not too sour, not too sweet). IMG_2793.JPG Koji is a small space and I suspect Qs will form once word of this new set-up spreads so check it out before it gets too crowded. Super highly recommended! IMG_2789.JPG #01-42 Nankin Row 3 Pickering Street
Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm / 5-10pm

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Teppei

After many failed attempts at getting last minute cancellations seats for their dinner omakase, R and I plonked ourselves in front of the computer and various gadgets at 12:58pm on a Sat to ensure we got in first when Teppei released the online link for their trial phone booking system at 1pm. And success!

I tried to adjust my already sky rocket (and probably impossible to meet) expectations from all the past efforts and anticipation. Friends also tampered my expectations by warning me that (i) not all items are top-notch but it is value for money; (ii) it is very cramped; (iii) it is quite fast paced/rushed; (iv) the place is very warm… and I was beginning to question why we even took all that trouble. (Post meal verification – (i)/(ii): true, (iii) fast paced, yes; but I didn’t feel rushed (and could still take all the photos I wanted); (iv) it is cooler after their recent renos.)

There are only 22 counter seats in Teppei with 2 seatings at 6:30pm and 8:30pm. It is by reservation only and usually fully booked months in advance, but you can try your luck as they do release seats from last minute cancellations on their facebook page. Dinner is omakase only, with 2 price points ($60/$80) to choose from. The $80 menu gives you higher grade beef (Saga) and sashimi. Their menu changes from time to time.

It was a little chaotic waiting to go in and it is indeed a super tight squeeze inside.

IMG_1211.JPG Once the food starting coming (22 items in total), I quite enjoyed myself! I will let the photos do the talking first:

IMG_1266-0.JPGIMG_1268-0.JPGIMG_1269-0.JPGIMG_1270-0.JPGIMG_1271-0.JPGIMG_1273-0.JPGIMG_1274-0.JPGIMG_1275-0.JPGIMG_1276.JPGIMG_1278.JPGIMG_1279.JPGIMG_1298.JPGIMG_1281.JPGIMG_1282.JPGIMG_1283.JPGIMG_1284.JPGIMG_1285.JPGIMG_1286.JPGIMG_1287.JPGIMG_1288.JPG Choice of mains – sashimi rice, fried garlic rice, hot soba or cold soba. I thought the choice was pretty obvious.

IMG_1289.JPG You also have a choice of ice cream flavours.

IMG_1290.JPG My top 3:
– sashimi rice – what can I say? Morsels of goodness!
– crispy skin salmon – surprise surprise! I never thought this day would come; I never ever like cooked salmon. The skin was crisp almost like a cracker, flesh firm but soft, fish oils oozing, and absolutely not fishy at all.
– aburi toro sushi – fatty oily toro with a hint of roasted flavour, mmmm….

I also really liked the random bits in between – popcorn, gingko, grasshopper, puffer fish skin, which added to the variety, playfulness and character of the meal.

As if to illustrate that food really speaks differently to everyone, R’s favourites were different! He picked the sashimi rice, foie gras and monkfish liver.

My least favourite 3:
– saga beef – also surprising. I wasn’t too impressed. It was lukewarm when it got to me, the meat was limp and the sweet marinade was overpowering.
– fish soup – this was the only item I didn’t finish of the 22 items. The soup was sweet and flavourful but I just couldn’t stomach another huge chunk of fish, after the salmon and the cod.
– salted caramel ice cream – this was too sweet and hardly salted.

Overall, good value for money for an omakase dinner. Just don’t expect classy and zen settings, spacious surroundings and a leisurely time. Expect to be bombarded by swift servings of varied and decent quality dishes. Good fun!

IMG_1222.JPG Open (Dinner): 6:30pm/8:30pm (by reservations only)
https://facebook.com/teppeirestaurant?_rdr

Shinzo

Early birds get the worm (or the good deal in this case). At Shinzo, diners can enjoy their Omakase dinner set at $68 (instead of the usual price of $150) if you dine between 6-7:30pm.

B&S + R and I decided to check it out on a Sat just in case it was too rushed to finish our meal by 7:30pm on a weekday (although S bailed out cos’ she was ill).

First up, salad. It was tossed with crab meat and enoki mushrooms but it was nothing very fancy.

20140609-175202.jpg Next was 2 slices of smoked duck. There was a hint of orange zest which made it slightly interesting but it was also nothing too fancy.

20140609-175246.jpg The highlight of any Japanese meal – the uber-fresh sashimi was delicately served on an emerald plate.

20140609-175334.jpg I was a little concerned when I realized that the main dish was grilled salmon (and regretted not telling the chef that this is something I do not eat). But I gave it a shot as it was not the usual pale pink salmon and the meat was whitish. I am not sure if it was the variety of fish or the skill of the chef, but it was not fishy at all and I actually finished it and thought it was quite alright.

20140609-175447.jpg The fried chicken was a disappointment. The batter was too thick and bready and the chicken was too oily. I couldn’t finish it and neither of the boys wanted my extra piece, which says quite a lot.

20140609-175604.jpg The next dish was interesting – turnip in thick miso broth with white fish atop. The sweet turnip contrasted well with the salty miso. I am guessing that the fish was there to add texture but it was a tad too dry.

20140609-175646.jpg The sushi platter was next and I really enjoyed the toro sushi and the aburi sushi with mentaiko (I forgot to take note of what fish it was).

20140609-175731.jpg The chefs needed an extra reminder that R is lactose intolerant but they did swap out the California rolls for negi salmon rolls and also left out the mentaiko.

20140609-175829.jpg R was not feeling well and commented that he was waaaay stuffed at this point and it was quite sweet of the server to pop up behind us to say that there was only a small serving of noodles to go. This was served in a light broth and was quite a cleansing dish.

20140609-175916.jpg We finished the night with macha ice cream.

20140609-175958.jpg Overall, I would say that it was an average experience. It was a good meal, but I had expected more showmanship and creativity in terms of food pairing and/or presentation.

20140609-180038.jpg 17 Carpenter Street
Open Mon-Sat 12nn-3pm/6:30-10:30pm
http://www.shinzo.com.sg

Keisuke Gyoza King

I had an impromptu dinner date with L and with S’ recommendation in mind, we headed to Gyoza King.

We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of a queue when we arrived. The restaurant is a tight space with only 16 counter seats and we hear that the queues can get quite long.

It is a great value-for-money meal! For $13.80++, you get rice, soup (vegetable/miso), 5 gyozas (pork/chicken/prawn) and 2 side dishes (from a choice of 8). In line with the Keisuke name, you order by ticking your choices on a chit; very efficient.

Whilst waiting for your orders, you can help yourself to the pickled cabbage and marinated beansprouts. (For protein buffs, sorry, no free flow eggs here). We were also kept entertained by the cute Japanese manager who was trying her best (with her limited English vocab) to teach us to mix our own gyoza sauce – soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil in the ratio 3:2:1. Chilli-crazy L obviously inverted the ratio.

20140422-120027.jpg L and I shared our meals so we could try more stuff. We had the pork and prawn gyozas – served hot; slightly crispy skin with juicy meats within – thumbs up. For sides, we chose (i) deep fried chicken with spicy sauce and mixed sesame, (ii) chicken nanban with tartar sauce, (iii) stir fried egg with chinese chives and (iv) deep fried tofu with minced pork gravy. Frankly, these are not very complex dishes and it’s probably something you can whip up at home; but it is great to have someone do it for you and have the variety for an eat-out dinner at an affordable price.

20140422-120121.jpg Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Street #01-15
Open 11:30am-2:30pm/6-10:30pm

Tomi Sushi

I believe Tomi Sushi has been around for a while, but somehow R and I never came across it until it moved into Katong V. We have tried it a couple of times and it now ranks as one of our favourite Jap restaurants in the East.

Always ask for their “Specials” menu as it features their seasonal items and promotions. We picked the ankimo (fish liver) appetizer ($15++) and it was one of the best I have tasted. The fish liver was firm but crumbled into a creamy mash when I bit into it and the taste of the sea exploded from within. As with most liver/pate dishes, it can get heavy going but the tartness of the vinegar sauce was a good balancer.

20140307-102654.jpg The asari sakamushi (steamed clams in sake) ($10++) was also very good. It was served in a small claypot on an open flame. The clams were a little bland (perhaps having lost their flavour to the base) but you can dip them into the sauce for the ankimo. The broth was the essence; it was briny and sweet with the clammy flavour, and enhanced by the hint of sake. Such comfort food.

20140307-102941.jpg The sashimi and sushi were uber fresh. We had the salmon belly sashimi ($18++) and swordfish sashimi ($16++); as well as the Tori Sushi ($49++) which comprise a good mix of sushi, including uni, maguro chutoro and tamago (with rice on the inside). Tomi is particular about the soy sauce pairing and have separate ones for sashimi and sushi.

20140307-103217.jpg 20140307-103231.jpg R was impressed that this is the only Jap restaurant where he had seen me voluntarily requesting for grilled fish. Their kanpachi kabuto shioyaki ($30++) was really gooooood! It is a super huge amber jack fish head. It was absolutely fresh; no fishiness at all. Must order!

20140307-103437.jpg From our earlier experiences, I told R not to order any tempura dishes. Somehow these don’t shine. I didn’t take photos from my previous visits but I recall that they were oily and a little soggy.

It is not one of the cheaper Jap places but definitely worth it for the quality. To give our wallets a breather, we may try their set lunch the next time. I would recommend it as a place to go when you wanna treat yourself (and your loved ones) to a superb Japanese meal.

Katong V, Level 2
Open 11:30am-2:30pm I 5:30-10pm
(Other outlet at Novena Square (Velocity))
http://www.tomisushi.asia/

Hide Yamamoto

My uni friend suggested lunch at Hide Yamamoto at MBS. I thought it would be a hugely exorbitant affair but their weekday set lunch menus are really good value for money. There were various sets available (Teppan, Sushi, Robata). We chose the “Lunch of Your Choice” which is a 3-course lunch with a few choices for each course plus the dessert of the day ($38++).

I had “Three Kinds of Appetizers” for the first course – marinated sliced bamboo, green shoots and seaweed. It was a nice mix of colour and variation from sweet crunch to lightly flavoured fibrous to salty squish.

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The second course was salmon and tuna sashimi and lightly seared swordfish. It was quite a generous serving for a set lunch. The sashimi was really fresh (check out the vibrant colors! #nofilter) and the seared sashimi added good variety.

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Next up, I chose the mini salmon don with ikura. It was a small bowl but quite sufficient given the other courses. Once again, thumbs up for freshness.

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Dessert was blood orange and kiwi sorbet served on a bed of crushed cornflakes. I like the added crunch and the unique choices (rather than the usual matcha or chocolate) but they were a tad too sour for me (though my friends always tell me that I have a rather low threshold for sourness). I think most people would like it.

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I would definitely recommended Hide Yamamoto for their set lunch. It would be an impressive place to bring a client or treat a special friend!

MBS, Casino Side, #02-05
Open daily 12pm – 3pm | 6pm – 11pm
www.hideyamamoto.com/menu.html

Social Square

Social Square, part of the MOF family, has opened in the space previously occupied by Banquet at Parkway Parade.

Their menu is extensive! It has a full Japanese menu, a western menu with all-day breakfast, pizzas, pastas, steaks etc etc and a separate drinks and desserts menu. It took us, 3 ladies, at least 15 minutes to go through the 3 books.

I chose the eggs benedict with ham. Not super; the eggs were small and not runny enough, the hollandaise sauce a bit too sour and overall, too salty.

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My SIL had the Essential English Breakfast. She enjoyed it and really liked the sausages.

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The drinks were huge! My SIL also had a hot chocolate and it came in what looked like a soup bowl. The spider web was waay cute.

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Becos’ I didn’t get to try all that I wanted to, I dragged R there on a separate night. This time round, I picked the bara chirashi don. Not uber fresh but still acceptable.

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R had the gindara with japanese rice set. The gindara was not fishy and was lightly flavoured. I also liked the accompanying crisp stir-fried vegetables. The chawanmushi was not silky smooth but still quite flavourful. The set came with complimentary tea or coffee.

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Overall, it is a good lunch/dinner spot for those in the neighbourhood. The ambience is relaxed, the variety huge and food quality acceptable for the price range.

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Parkway Parade Level 3
Open daily 1130am to 10pm (1030pm on Fri, Sat and eve of Public Hol)
http://ministryoffood.com.sg/#/menu/japanese-restaurant-singapore-home.html