Monday, August 25, 2008
The Japanese restaurant that has been constantly raved about on the food-blogosphere recently is Tetsu. Their PR approach has reached several food bloggers and some have just organised their own blog dinners there. So this cow was happy to trot down to check out the place and for a tasting session at Tetsu's invitation.
The interior of Tetsu was beautiful with modern Zen appeal and clean lines. A large glass window panel allowed plenty of light in, making the ambience cheery and bright. Though for taking photos, it can be rather harsh backlighting when the afternoon sun beams through.
For the food section of this post, do note that some food items may be in tasting portions and are not representative of a la carte portions.
The starters of Mekajiki Tataki (above left) and Kami Tofu (above right) were a good way to start the meal.
The Mekajiki Tataki consisted of firm swordfish slices that had been aburied by a torch and paired with a light ponzu sauce. I would have preferred a more smokey flavour but I guess the chef wanted to keep the taste relatively clean.
The Kami Tofu was delicious! A creamy century egg sauce was balanced with lots of chopped spring onions and slathered onto a cube of smooth tofu. The tofu had a subtle soy taste to it and later Chef Ken revealed that he did use soy milk in the tofu.
Both starters had clean, refined tastes that would make me wanna consider up-sizing them for my next visit!
A few ala carte dishes were selected and shared. The Buta Misozuke grilled pork tenderloin had a very good skin- crisp and blistered on the outside revealing a juicy (duh) fat layer. The meat was slightly tough and full-flavoured. Those who don't like their pork porky should order something else.
The Roll Sushi was another of their special dishes. Apparently four types of seafood had gone into the sushi, which arrived topped with tobikko and surrounded by a sesame coat. I found it ordinary and the seafood mixture could have been much less stodgy.
The Tempura Teishoku was served with assorted Japanese pickles, miso soup, rice, salad and assorted tempura. It came wth dessert too (scroll down to dessert section)! The assorted tempura had the usual prawn and vegetables but also a very tasty white fish. The batter was light and the tempura items were well-fried without being dry or oil-logged. Absolutely no trace of rancidity in the oil.
The other main course was the Hire Katsu Set. It came with the same sides of pickles, miso soup, salad etc as the Tempura Set. The designer salad was refreshing and tasty with quality greens in place of old boring ice-berg lettuce. The Hire Katsu (breaded pork fillet) was also decent though not the best I've had. My main gripe was the strong taste of white pepper that had overwhelmed the flavour of the meat.
Instead of rice, we tried the cold udon and what an udon it was! Flown in from Japan, this Inaniwa udon was a little slimmer and had a good springy bite. Al dente udon I say. It had a bit of texture on the sides which helped the sauce cling on a bit, while remaining generally smooth. This has got to be one of the best udon I've eaten in recent history.
The Goma Ice Cream could do with a stronger flavour of black sesame but the main irk here was the small shards of ice crystals.
Next up was the Kisetsu No Ice & Warabimochi Monaka, a dessert of vanilla ice cream, green tea, fresh raspberry and azuki beans clamed between a pastry shell. The pastry shell was from Japan too but tasted pretty much like a pastry shell to me. Cold ice cream, sticky azuki beans and crisp pastry shell. Sounds hard to go wrong here.
The Kokonatsu Milk Purin was essentially a coconut milk pudding with fresh fruits. The pudding was a little too firm and its slightly sweet coconut milk taste was so subtle that one could have just missed it altogether. A pity the tartness of the fresh fruits added a confusing dimension which just wouldn't intergrate with the coconut milk pudding.
Not all hope was lost on dessert when the knight in ...erm... algae green armour arrived at the table. The Matcha Mochi had a delightful bite with a good green tea flavour. Lying below it was another surprise...
A transparent jelly that was as fun to eat as it was to snap!
Besides hot tea, we were treated to some Umeshu which was excellent given the hot weather outside.
For a restaurant that prides itself in deep-fried food such as Tonkatsu and Tempura, it was the more humble, simpler dishes of Mekajiki Tataki, Kami Tofu and Inaniwa udon that won my heart. One unique thing about Tetsu is that deep-fried items are prepared and fried in front of customers who sit at the counter- a 'LIVE' experience that few others can boost of. The service, ambience and presentation of the food are faultless though I feel some of the food could do with more tweaks.
The Hungry Cow thanks Pris and Rachael of Beam Consultants and Chef Ken for the kind hospitality, invitation and time.
#03-18 Tanglin Mall
Tel: 6836 3112
Chew On This: Tetsu has a private room which can comforably seat 16 people. It comes with a projector for those who need to discuss business over lunch. It's not called power lunch for nothing eh.