good japanese chain outlet at the top of the raffles city shopping mall. so you must know by now that sushi tei is one of our favourite places – it’s become our regular hangout for decently reliable food at reasonable prices, and this was the first time we made it to the raffles city branch. this outlet isn’t anything particularly special, but we made quite a few good choices on the menu this time (instead of sticking to our regular orders) and I’d like to share. just because I’m nice like that.
really good, really really good japanese grill-it-yourself hidden away in the mandarin gallery – which has a surprising number of decent restaurants (note to self: go back and have a look). my parents first came here on their silver wedding anniversary – gosh! – and were so enthralled with the food they brought us along the next week, and for very good reason. for all you fans of marbled, fatty beef, this is your place.
the prices here are on the steep side: you pay for the quality of the meat – it comes appetizingly dark, sliced just precisely so – for the great service and the quiet ambience for the restaurant, but it’s easily justifiable – just create find an occasion to come.
really good ice cream at the central in clarke quay – really more in the style of gelato in its density and consistency. let’s start this sweltering sunday off easy with a bit of ice – this place does a pretty large range of flavours, and all pretty good.
I prefer dense ices like these, instead of the americanised places like andersen’s, since the flavor stays longer on the tongue because it doesn’t melt too quickly. we had the black sesame and salted caramel this time, and you should try at the asian flavours if you’re ever there.
really awesome mazechirashi, and alright sushi at a small restaurant to the back of shaw house. I’ve now had lunches at the two famed value-for-money-but-really-expensive-otherwise japanese powerhouses, tatsuya and aoki, and while the quality of the food is definitely really high at both establishments, I came away pretty underwhelmed. I’m not saying this is a fair judgement by any means – they and their techniques might probably shine at dinner or with fancier (read: more expensive) courses, but there is something to be said about getting something great for a reasonable amount of money, and I’m not completely sure these places do it for me.
before I quibble, the quality of the ingredients were pretty high, the flavours were clean and bright – I suppose I expected to be blown away, but that didn’t really happen. that mazechirashi is worth returning for though.
decent japanese-style desserts at this chain of cafe-restaurants – this one at bugis. I love all that sort of textural jellies and pastes and starchy components you get in asian desserts – which is what I think western desserts sometime miss out on – and japanese desserts in particular incorporate many of these. I don’t know of many options in singapore where you can get really good versions of these desserts (unless you’re willing to pay quite a pretty penny), and so the mainstream japanese chains do a good enough job to sate my cravings.
the dessert menu here ranges from traditional items like sweet red bean soup with mochi (rice cakes), to slightly more western variations with soft serve ice cream and cocktail fruit, to modern items like green tea frappucinos. most of the things we’ve tried have been between the meh-to-good range.
what I really like here though, are these baked mochi puffs – essentially pieces of rice cake that you heat over a grill or in a hot oven that puff up like mad and create a crunchy crust and a chewy interior. served with kinako – soy bean powder, red bean paste and kuromitsu – a dark brown sugar syrup – this is one very good dessert. it’s also very good with a bit of matcha ice cream on the side.
located at the New World Hotel: 76 Lê Lai, Ben Thanh ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
pretty darn terrible japanese food at this beautiful hotel in downtown saigon. the worst meal we’ve had this trip – and that’s not just because we had been eating very well, it was also just terrible taken objectively – my dad walked out toward the end of the meal to wait in the lobby because he just couldn’t be bothered any longer.
we’ve been coming to this hotel for years, because their lobby cafe had amazing pho and japanese food. I know this sounds sort of crazy – don’t people escape from their hotels to get decent food outside? – but they did truly have value-for-money japanese bento sets and very good cooking in a fantastically modern cafe. this year though, we arrived only to find that the cafe had undergone a revamp – which was why we ended up at the japanese restaurant. a highly regrettable choice, though it was so bad it stepped right into ridiculousness, and made me laugh.
located at 14 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, District 1, HCMC.
alright japanese food in downtown ho chi minh. we chanced upon this place while wandering about, and were attracted by the multitude of banners hung outside. the food was slightly better than passable, and not too expensive, though we might pass on this next time (especially in light of so much other good food in the city) – unless we had a strong craving for japanese.
decent buffet at the rather-maligned and surprisingly well-kept rendezvous hotel on the edge of city hall. forgive the ill-plated dishes and rather mis-matched presentation – a buffet is very difficult to photograph, and made especially so because each dish is a representation of what your companions really want to it and let’s face it, it ain’t always pretty.
I don’t think much of this hotel – in fact, I don’t even think about this hotel at all. it’s always struck me as being a little old and dingy, and very forgettable – it used to at least be useful as a landmark for that area, but what with the singapore management university moving there, it’s lost that merit too. however, upon coming here, I realized that’s rather a misconception. the hotel is surprisingly new (I wouldn’t use modern for it’s done up in a rather traditional way), with quite a few eateries peppering its compound.
I know I promised to share the recipe for sesame cake (so yum) with you, but let me just renege on that and show you some better quality photos of the food at sushi tei, which is one of my favourite japanese places in singapore to dine at. I know that many people sort of toss their heads at the mention of sushi tei as having good food – even my mother does – but I do not think I’ve visited another restaurant as frequently as I do this chain, and for good reason too.