Lunch Date at Teppei, Singapore

Lunch on weekdays is mostly a snappy affair, and Teppei feels like just that – except the bit about there being a long queue, and it helps to be “prepared”. Needless to say, the hottest dish in the house is the Barachirashi Don at $17.90. Here’s the low-down.

Teppei Japanese Restaurant
#01-18 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link, Singapore 078967
No reservations taken for lunch, Reservations for dinner by phone at 6222 7363 (they open reservation for the next month or so at a specific date and time, so call ahead to find out when)

You’ll like Teppei (and it’s Barachirashi Don) if:
1. You love heavily marinated chunks of sashimi – I personally found it a bit overwhelming on the fresh natural flavours of the fish,
2. You love daikon (raddish in a light gravy) and beansprouts – these are free-flow at the table so that’s a double yes from me!
3. You don’t want to spend too much at lunch (Otherwise I know a few other Chirashi dons that are pretty damn good at a slightly higher price point like Sumiya)

Teppei Japanese Restaurant Singapore Food Review Daikon Beansprouts

You won’t like it if:
1. You mind squeezing shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone in the tight bar counter type seating – Yes, it can be a little uncomfortable and stifling, and you have to be slightly careful with your movements
2. You like relaxing lunches – The pace at Teppei is quick; orders taken, orders prepared, orders served like clockwork. We couldn’t help but feel the pressure to eat quickly and leave.

Teppei Japanese Restaurant Singapore  Food Review Blog

Finally, some tips:
1. Go before 11.50am if possible, because the queue gets really long and the wait can be easily over half an hour.
2. Know what to order before you enter – especially if you’re going to be spending some time in the queue, eyeball the menus displayed outside and decide. That’s because once seated, the waitress will come (possibly Without a menu) to take your order. If you’re taking too long to decide, she will be standing in the narrow aisle blocking everyone who’s trying to get in or get out. If all else fails, you can’t go too wrong with the Barachirashi don.

Itadakimasu!

No. 813 BBQ Restaurant, Seoul, South Korea

Category: Korean – Barbecue

Anyone who’s been to Korea or has watched any K-drama would know how much the Koreans love their barbecue. While I was in Korea, we had barbecue at least 5 times in 11 days, and man, that is A LOT of barbecue. When we first arrived in Seoul, we stayed in Gangnam-gu, and so I’d planned out an entire list of food places to go in Gangnam a week ahead. No. 813 BBQ Restaurant had been on Lady Iron Chef’s list of 17 Best Restaurants and Local Eateries to Eat in Seoul, and so was assigned as dinner stop for day 1.

Gangnam-daero 152-gil, opens from 5pm for dinner

Contrary to what was said online, it wasn’t all that hard to find, especially since No.813 has 2 units next door to each other – the larger one being to the right of the original one, with a slightly more modern (and less authentic) feel to it and also twice the size of the other. Since it was already the late afternoon, we ambled around Gangnam for a bit until 5pm when they re-opened for dinner.

Damage: $$

No.813 BBQ Restaurant has reasonable value with decent portion sizes, and we left reasonably full after spending about $20 each on a set selection of meats and some kimchi stew, but keep reading…

To Go: It’s okay, but it isn’t a must-try

It’s decent barbecue, but that’s all there is to it. This was the first barbecue we tried in Korea, and while the cuts of meat I thought were pretty average (and some of the meat was practically served just out of the freezer and had to be left defrosting at the table), we thought that all in all it offered good value… until we tried barbecue at like 4 other places, including one more in Seoul.

The kimchi stew here paled miserably to the one we had at Heukdonga on Jeju-do, and the side dishes were very average and limited (as compared to every other place we dined at while in Korea). Service was terrible; although we were only one of the two groups of guests, we had to wave several times just to get the attention of wait staff who were too busy chatting with each other over the counter just 3m away, and had to request multiple times for another serving of kimchi stew and kimchi which never arrived.

No. 813 BBQ Restaurant Barbecue Seoul Korea Food Review Blog

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant, Singapore

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Category: Japanese – Casual

Believe it or not, my first visit to Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant was because we were looking for lunch on a workday and after making a few rounds in the Raffles City basement, decided to give up on the unbelievable Din Tai Fung queue and head to Watami next door. Well, I’m glad that happened.

252 North Bridge Road, Raffles City Shopping Centre,#B1-06/07, Raffles City, Tel: +65 6336 2425

Watami is located in the Basement of Raffles City Shopping Centre, opposite Tiong Bahru Bakery, adjacent to Din Tai Fung, and just around the corner from Soup Union and Thai Express.

Damage: $$

As the name implies, Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant is not the most upmarket place, but of course, it isn’t a budget eat either. Weekday lunch sets change daily and are around $15, but if you go at dinner or do a la carte, prepare for at least $30 each.

To go: Yes, they have some really good dishes

Watami is pretty good, although there are some dishes I believe you can get better value on elsewhere. Of their entire menu, the barbecue/grilled items are typically their most outstanding, so I would make sure to get some of that.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Since, like with Sushi Tei, I’ve visited Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant so many times, it makes more sense for me to share with you about some of the top dishes I’ve had there rather than write about a specific visit, so here goes! 

Order: Ika Maru Yaki (Roasted Squid, $13.80)

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant Singapore Food Review Blog Grilled Squid

The Ika was done perfectly, even better than the ones we’d had in a few cities around Hokkaido. Amazingly tender (none of that chewy nonsense that we often get served with), lightly seasoned to bring out the the natural flavours- it was so good we ordered a second.

Order: Jikasei Niku Miso Hiyayako (Cold Tofu with Watami Meat Miso, $6.80)

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant Singapore Food Review Blog Cold Tofu Miso Minced Meat Spicy

At under $7, there’s no thinking twice about ordering this dish. The tofu is refreshingly served chilled, and the sauce that goes over is lightweight but surprisingly intense. The serving of minced meat is generous, the dry chilli lends a slight edge when eaten, and is well-balanced with the cold silken tofu.

Order: Asari Ishinabe Soup (Clams cooked in a stone pot with Japanese-style Sauce, $10.80)

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant Singapore Food Review Blog Hot Pot Clams in Sake sauce

I seriously think Watami undersold this dish by calling it a “Japanese-style sauce” when it has such an incredible dose of sake. The clams were served just right, not overdone (unless you leave them sitting in the pot too long after it’s been served, since the pot keeps the heat), and we couldn’t get enough of the bubbling broth of clam essence and sake, managing to dish out at least 3 bowls-full from the little stone pot.

Order: Wafu Touban Steak (featured picture; Self-grilled Short Ribs, $18.80)

The Wafu Touban Steak reminds me a little of Gyu-Kaku but it might be unfair of me to say that, since we all know not all Japanese barbecues are created similar (remember that piece of meat you spent 10 minutes chewing?). I’ve had the Wafu Steak on 4 occasions; 3 of which the cut was perfect and super tasty, and the other of which was way too fatty and ended up popping a lot on the stove and projecting its fatty oils all over the table. I know how that sounds, and it might still be worth it, but it depends on your luck. I’m not sure if you can make a request for something not too fatty – I’ve not tried, but if you manage to, I’d love to know!

Avoid: Bariuma Teba Karaage (Shichimi Curry) (Crispy chicken wings (chilli red), $7.80)

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant Singapore Food Review Blog Crispy Chicken Wings

Avoid at all costs. Yes, I know you’re looking at the picture above and thinking, “How can that possibly be?” Looks can be deceiving – This was dry, had little meat, was pretty tasteless and was not spicy at all.

Paradise Inn, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Chinese Cuisine

This is the second restaurant I’m writing about that’s linked to the Paradise Group (the first being Paradise Dynasty), and I’m starting to feel like I should be paid for writing this (which I’m not, but hey Paradise, payment in kind (i.e. food) is just fine) 😛 Paradise Inn is another of my go-to restaurants, simply because it’s so unpretentious – just good Chinese food in a comfortable teahouse setting – and on some days, that’s really all you want.

Multiple locations including Suntec City, Thomson Plaza, 313@Somerset and Changi Airport T1

The Paradise Group Restaurants are everywhere and the standards are very high across its different chains. If you’re in any major mall, chances are there’s a Paradise Inn nearby.

Damage: $$

Paradise Inn is pretty pocket-friendly – I’ve been there dozens of times and I’d say on average it’s about $20+ per person. We typically order about a dish per head (i.e. 5 dishes for 5 people) or slightly more, and it’s always been about right.

To Go: Definitely

When my family wants Chinese food, this is a default option. It’s fuss-free, comfortable but not sloppy, and service has always been pretty good (except when they’re running at full-house – but even then they’re still relatively quick to respond). From our experience, the wait staff are always very courteous and willing to help, and with Chinese tea that’s always flowing, we always come away with full and satisfied stomachs with none of that greasy-oily feeling like from some other places.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Since I’ve been to Paradise Inn so many times and have tried so many dishes on the menu, I can safely say most of the food is very good- but to help those who’ve not been or friends just visiting Singapore for travel, here are some dishes that I would strongly recommend.

#1 Imperial Pork Ribs

Paradise Inn Singapore Food Review Blog Top Chinese Restaurant Imperial Pork Ribs Pai Gu WangThis dish is a must-order, and we never leave Paradise Inn without it. Although it reads “Pork ribs”, it’s really just pork fillets- which makes it even easier to eat and value for money since there’s no need to pick tiny morsels of meat off the bone like the one at Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat Restaurant. The sauce is a special savory sauce that has a slight sweetness to it, and encrusts the outside of the pork to give it a good caramelized and slightly crisp bite. I’ve tried the Coffee Pork Ribs too – it’s a bit similar in terms of the way it’s cooked, but is sometimes a bit overdone resulting in a slightly burnt flavour, so it really depends. If you ask me, I’d say go Imperial.

#2 Hot Plate Tofu with Preserved Cai Xin and Minced Pork

Paradise Inn Singapore Food Review Blog Top Chinese Restaurant Imperial Hot Plate Tofu Mapo Cai Xin Minced PorkI’d eat every last scrap of this. If you like tofu, minced pork, egg, and lots of sauce, this is going to be your baby. The tofu is smooth and soft, and comes surrounded by a moat of bubbling egg, topped with a delicious and intensely-flavored sauce containing generous portions of minced pork and mushrooms. The leftover sauce goes perfect with everything, and the this dish tastes especially great when piping hot.

#3 Stewed Pork Belly served with Lotus Bun (Kong Ba Pau) (Featured picture)

Known in the local dialect as “Kong Bak Pau“, this dish is not commonly served at most restaurants. It is also a dish that’s hard to get right – I’ve had some poorly done pork belly which is either too lean or too fatty or even too tough. Not only must the composition of the pork be right, the stewing process needs to be done correctly to infuse the pork with the rich dark soy sauce-based marinate. A good kong bak would have a fat layer that melts in the mouth easily alongside tender, lean, and juicy meat. Paradise Inn has a great one, and is a great place to get your kong bak pau fix without having to make a special effort.

Manzoku, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Japanese – Smart Casual – Chirashi Sushi Bento, Grilled Items

Yoi Group’s Manzoku on Purvis Street is the new sister to Chikuwa Tei at Mohamed Sultan. While I’ve yet to go to Chikuwa Tei, I’ve heard many good things about it and figured Manzoku would be more of the same. Both restaurants have a pretty similar menu, so I’m not quite sure why they were given different identities, but Manzoku fared well enough to prime me for a visit to Chikuwa Tei.

18 Purvis Street, Singapore 188597, Tel: +65 6734 4436

In January when they first opened their doors, it was a difficult find – the restaurant’s signboard was a plain A4 paper plastered onto its doors reading “MANZOKU” – and many customers got lost en route. It’s almost just opposite from Jai Thai, and when I went in late February, I found that Manzoku had settled in quite well – it now has a beautiful sans serif black lettering above its set of tall wooden doors, and its signature Chinese character running vertically down the middle in a bold, auspicious red.

Damage: $$ – $$$

In spite of its wilfully unfinished interior, Manzoku is in no way a budget or casual eat. The Chirashi Don ($25), however, is of very good value and featured some typically costlier cuts of sashimi. The grilled items are distinctly pricier, and if anything is going to derail the budget, it’ll be these. Our add-on of Unagi was $24, bringing the total to around $43 per person.

To go: Yes, it’s worth trying

Many of us have an undying love for sashimi and chirashi don, and Manzoku is a good place to get your fix, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a more personal, intimate setting for special occasions. It’s great for a night out with friends and like Chikuwa Tei, it’s best to make a reservation ahead of time as Manzoku is often full.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

We arrived at 7pm in time for our booking and the place was 80% full, with the last few vacant seats under reservation. Stepping in, the ambience was a little unexpected after the polished impression created by the strong (and heavy) double front doors, slightly minimalistic in design. The floor and walls were plain, bare cement. Simple pendant lights dangled from the high ceiling, and the counter was on the right, towards the rear, creating some sort of a cafeteria-but-not-quite setting. By estimate, Manzoku has a seating capacity of about 50.

Having read about the chirashi sushi bento, we homed in on it in the menu, and added on a grilled Unagi as a side dish.

Manzuko Chikuwatei Singapore Japanese Restaurant Food Review Blog Chirashi Don Best SashimiThe Chirashi Sushi  bento featured Salmon, Maguro (tuna), Mekajiki (swordfish, my favorite), and Hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi slices atop Japanese sushi rice. The sashimi was sliced thick, and the swordfish was especially fresh and tasty. The salmon was sliced a bit thinly and the tuna was a bit stringy (perhaps specific to the cut I’d happened to receive), and I very much preferred the taste of the sashimi pieces I’d had on my Mix Bara Kaisen Don at Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya. The little appetiser of cold tofu with cucumber slices and the miso soup which were served with the Chirashi bento were tasty.

The unagi was deliciously prepared. Grilled to perfection with just a slight charring to bring out the smokey flavours and giving rise to a little caramelisation, the unagi was generously lathered in a thick (arguably too thick), sweet-savory teriyaki sauce. I thought the portion was decent for the price of $24, and is something well worth trying if you should visit Manzuko.

Manzuko Chikuwa tei Singapore Japanese Restaurant Food Review Blog Chirashi Best Sashimi Grilled Unagi

JUMBO Seafood Restaurant, Singapore

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Category: Singaporean / Chinese – Seafood

JUMBO is one of my family’s all-time favourite seafood restaurants because it is convenient and serves very good quality food at a competitive price point. I’ve tried chilli crab at a variety of restaurants and still find myself returning to JUMBO because there is that special something about the delicious semi-sweet savoury eggy gravy. If you’re in Singapore and are looking to try our perennial favourite, JUMBO is a good bet.

11 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249673, Tel: +65 6479 3435

JUMBO is prominently located at the end of a row of restaurants right in the centre of Dempsey. There is usually ample parking and JUMBO  has its own smallish carpark, although it can get quite crowded on Friday and the weekends.

Damage: $$ – $$$

I was there during Chinese New Year and we ate up half the sea. The bill came up to about $60 per head, which is extremely good value in my opinion, and we came away completely satisfied and stuffed.

To go: Often, whenever there’s a seafood craving to be fixed!

JUMBO has not yet disappointed me – I’ve tried probably about 70% of the dishes on the menu and and all the dishes have always been really good. Service is usually quite quick, and I like that they employ some mature staff who are very personable and helpful.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

This review comprises a run-down of some of JUMBO’s best and most popular dishes.

#1 Chilli Crab

Jumbo Seafood Restaurant Singapore Chilli Crab Man Tou fried buns Food Review BlogThe top-seller at JUMBO, without a shadow of a doubt, has got to be its Chilli Crab. Those of you who’ve been around for a bit will remember that Gordon Ramsay challenged JUMBO on its chilli crab and won by the public over a while back. I don’t know about you (and I wasn’t there to taste Ramsay’s take on the dish) but JUMBO‘s is still my go-to for chilli crab. The crab is usually fleshy and fresh, and the gravy is just the best – just the right consistency and sweetness, noticeable but non-jarring spiciness from the chilli, and lots of egg beaten into it. I especially love the taste of peanut, which gives it a unique light nutty flavour and sings counterpoint to the rest of the sauce, and yet complements it perfectly.

Drunken Prawns

Jumbo Seafood Restaurant Singapore Chilli Crab Man Tou fried buns Food Review Blog drunken prawnsThe Drunken Prawns are incredible value for money – we had about 15 prawns (mostly large) swimming in a huge bowl of brandy-infused broth for $21. When we were served the dish, we thought perhaps they got our order wrong because it didn’t seem “small” at all, but the check proved otherwise. The taste of the brandy in the prawn itself isn’t as strong as the same dish at Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, where they would pour brandy into a bowl of live prawns and show you how they jump about in the bowl before your very eyes, but still a good dish especially with the amount of broth that comes with; it’s practically a soup.

Salted Egg Golden Prawns

Jumbo Seafood Restaurant Singapore Chilli Crab Man Tou fried buns Food Review Blog Salted Egg Golden Prawns

Sorry JUMBO, I HAD to steal this picture from your corporate site. I just could not explain the awesomeness of the Salted Egg Golden Prawns without a picture to go with. Every time I visit, we try so hard not to order this dish in a bid to try something different but always end up caving. The prawns come de-shelled, which means you can have every bit of that delicious grainy creamy salted egg yolk sauce that they come dunked in. Unbelievable. Yes, please.

Sauteéd Cod Fish with Special Sauce

Jumbo Seafood Restaurant Singapore Chilli Crab Man Tou fried buns Food Review Blog sauteed cod fish special sauce

With this dish, you can never have enough. The Sauteed Cod Fish with Special Sauce ($28) features large chunks of succulent cod fish lightly encrusted with a slightly crisp caramelised special sauce (which is indeed so special I can’t really figure out what went into it besides probably some dark soy sauce) – are you salivating yet?

Chinese Spinach with Salted Egg Yolk and Century Egg

Jumbo Seafood Restaurant Singapore Chilli Crab Man Tou fried buns Food Review Blog chinese spinach salted century eggI love this vegetable dish – I’m not sure I’m talented at describing vegetables (soft? limp?) but the gravy is really tasty; you can taste the texture and creaminess of the salted egg yolk in it. I was so sad when they sold out on this dish at my previous visit. Do try it!

OMG – why did I do this to myself? I am so hungry now.

Turandot Restaurant (Турандот), City Centre, Moscow, Russia

SCRIBBLES

Category: International / French & Chinese

Our friend is an ardent food lover and has dined at countless renowned restaurants around the world, so we left the meal arrangements to him. The Turandot restaurant was scheduled for dinner on a Tuesday evening, which I didn’t know much about then, except that it was on the list of Top 10 restaurants in Moscow. Galya, who resides in Moscow city itself, told me that the restaurant next to that, Кафе Пушкинъ (Cafe Pushkin), was good and famous as well, but for classic Russian food.

Tverskoy bulvar, 26А, Moscow, Russia

The street on which Turandot sits isn’t hard to find. It’s a short left onto a busy side street just off the main Tverskaya street. We did, however, miss the restaurant, walking back and forth a few times whilst checking Google maps. The sign was so inconspicuous – Just the word Турандот etched into a piece of smooth grey stone fixed into the column to the left of the entrance. To get to Турандот from the main street, you’d have to walk by Pushkin first, so start staring at the walls after Pushkin ends and you should have no problem at all.

Damage: $$$

Dining at Турандот is by no means a simple affair, but if you’re willing to spend about $80 per head for the full suite, by all means, dine at Турандот. Price really varies depending on what you order, because there are some more expensive options which are around the 3000RUB mark ($60).

To go: Yes, if you want to feel like royalty and want something different from Russian food 🙂

The food is mostly good but fades in comparison with the ambience of Турандот. Dining in such an impressive hall is an experience in itself, and you feel it right when you walk through the doors, with gold featuring heavily in the decor. They serve a variety of things from Tuna tar-tar with caviar to Dim Sum, although I was still pleasantly surprised to find Fried Rice Vermicelli Singapore style in the menu.


A MORE DETAILED RECOUNT

We’d just wrapped up tea at GUM and began our walk towards Турандот, which took longer than expected; around 25 – 30 minutes. At this time of the Year, in mid October, Moscow was having an international festival called Circle of Light. As we walked along the street, there were all sorts of activities and displays – children running around a swirling globe of light in the field across the street, while adults stood staring at visual art casted in light onto the buildings to our right.

When we finally found Турандот and went inside, we were greeted by well-dressed staff at the reception and our coats were taken by a liveried footman, who in return, gave us the most opulent coat tags ever – weighty blocks of gold-brushed metal in a complex old-european design, with a number on the reverse.

We were led down a short flight of steps and into a large circular room which looked to be a lounge complete with a white grand piano, then guided out left and up a flight of stairs with the most ornate handrails. It was easy to see how the design and decor set its owners back around US$50 million, to earn the title of most expensive restaurant in Moscow. It was hard to believe that what looked like a royal residence akin to Château de Versailles of Paris or the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, was entirely constructed to just to house Турандот.

Turandot Moscow Russia

We dined on the upper floor, right under this beautiful dome – billowy white clouds on a sky blue canvas, the rims of the dome covered in intricate gold detail, with cherubs in various poses holding instruments as if in a serenade – amidst the soft, polite chatter of guests and the waitresses carrying golden trays wearing shoes which, speaking of extravagance, I’m told are made by the very same people responsible for the footwear of the Bolshoi ballerinas.

22-turandot2

The dim sum and peking duck we ordered to share was surprisingly quite authentic. The Grilled chicken with morel mushrooms, chanterelle and mashed potatoes which my companion ordered was a pretty hearty portion. The mash was especially good – creamy, and heavily scented with truffle which is undoubtedly, my favourite kind of mash.

I had the Roe deer marinated in red wine served with cloudberries, which turned out to be quite different from what I’d imagined. The deer was encrusted on the top with sort of a crumb casing, but this wasn’t very crisp, I think partly because of the sauce from the meat. The deer itself was tender and juicy, and the red wine marination brought out its meatier notes. The cloudberries were… for lack of a better word, interesting. I’d never tasted cloudberries before, and they sound like something that could’ve been made up. In the mouth, they were like clusters of little seeds surrounded by mild-tasting and firm fruit.

22-turandot3

We ended the meal with some milk flower and violet ice cream. Personally, I preferred the milk flower, which tasted creamy, milky and sweet. The best part of it all being the floral notes which felt like I was tasting a beautiful garden. It reminded me of the best floral-flavoured gelati I’d had in Rome, where I’d stood at the counter staring at dozens of the loveliest sounding ice-creams from sicilian wine cream to Garden sage and raspberry, and I wondered about when the next time might be that I should return to Italy.