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!

Tian Tian Chicken Rice, Singapore

SCRIBBLES
As anyone who’s visited Singapore would know, we’re pretty well-known for amazing and affordable hawker fare, and Chicken Rice is one of the dishes which tops the list. It sounds like a simple dish – just chicken, steamed or roasted, patted atop a dome of rice – but that is exactly why this dish could be easily underrated by someone who didn’t know better. #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184 Tian Tian Chicken Rice is situated on the left most row of the Maxwell Food Centre when entering from the main entrance, and will be easily spotted due to the queue that trails in front of it almost every hour of the day. However, they are very quick and one never has to wait that long. Ambience is typical of Singapore’s hawker centres, where there are many stalls selling a variety of local fare at affordable prices, operating in a very casual no-frills canteen concept. Damage: $ With a plate of chicken rice priced about $4 or $5 (if you ask for more chicken), and vegetables priced around $3 to $4, you get incredible value here. We had a feast (see feature picture) on just $16. A great option for travellers on a budget! To go: Yes! If you’re in southern Singapore / Near Maxwell Tian Tian’s is a hainanese chicken rice, and is also the one Singaporeans are proud of for having won the cook-off against celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in a publicly held tasting and vote in 2013. The chicken is smooth and the skin is silky, and unlike other hainanese chicken rice sellers, Tian Tian does a slightly thicker sauce instead of the usual light soy-sauce seasoning. Everyone would notice that Tian Tian’s chicken rice is particularly noteworthy – each and every grain remains intact, and coated over with the tastiness and aroma of natural chicken oils. They were extremely generous with the vegetables too, and they were cooked perfectly with good bite and delicious oyster-sauce flavours, and daym is that chilli spicy! Tian Tian Chicken Rice is a great choice for anyone who’s in the southern parts of Singapore (Tanjong Pagar, Duxton, Chinatown, etc.), but elsewhere, there are other great choices too, such as Boon Tong Kee at Balestier and one of my all-time favorites, Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice at Raffles Place.

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

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.

Asia’s 50 Best: Jaan, Singapore (Part 4, Desserts & Finishing Touches)

Category: French – Fine Dining

2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882

Damage: $$$$

The Menu Prestige itself is an ongoing concert that has no specific intervals, but I have taken the liberty to break it up into smaller sections to make for an easier read. This section comprises the last 2 dishes of the Menu Prestige, which feels proper to name “Desserts & Finishing Touches”.


For the Finest Cheese Selection and Condiments, the hostess swivelled over a beautiful trolley display of cheeses, both hard and soft, with a variety of textures, and began asking for our preferences before proceeding to put together a tasting platter of 4 cheeses. Biscotti was served with homemade plum, strawberry and pear jams as well. I’m not a fan of nuts so I didn’t quite enjoy the biscuits, although the one in the foreground went well with the sweet, thick jams.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Cheese Selection

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Cheese Selection and 1965 Sg50 Colheita Port Wine

The Kopke Colheita 1965, Cask #11640 was presented to us as well; a port wine that was selected to commemorate Singapore’s 50th Anniversary. Shipped from Vila Nova de Gaia, a city in Portugal which has strict standards on the ageing of their Ports, the Kopke Colheita 1965 was incredibly intense and sweet, and reminded me strongly of the Hungarian Tokaji wine I’d had in the historic wine cellar in the basement accessible from the Hilton Hotel in Budapest, which the sommelier had skilfully and accurately described as “liquid nectar”.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Coconut cream

To be honest, I can’t remember what this was, so I’m not going to try to give it a name. It was a light coconut-y foam with ice shavings followed by red ruby-like things beneath. I realised the best way to enjoy Jaan‘s dishes is to put together the different tastes and textures on a spoon and have it altogether. The same with this dish, which transformed into a creamy, cool and refreshing dessert, although not particularly outstanding.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Choconuts 'Grand Cru'

This is where Sous Chef Kirk Westaway made his appearance from the kitchen, holding a metallic canister, and asked how our meal was. He smilingly inverting the canister and leaned the nozzle into my plate like a magician about to present a trick, when out came a gush of thick chocolate mousse. As everyone already knows of my undying love for chocolate, this seemed like a possible heaven. The mousse was delicious and cold, which was all the more better, but somehow the different parts just didn’t quite come together on the plate.

The finale was the Petit Four (feature picture), once again presented with fanfare of dry ice. I’m not sure whether it could be because by this point I was i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y full, but whilst good, it wasn’t spectacular to me – the exception being the round brown globes suspended on the small sticks out of a jar, which, when bitten, revealed pleasantly a surprise of strong and fragrant liquor.

All in all, a dinner at Jaan, well worth remembering. 

Asia’s 50 Best: Jaan, Singapore (Part 3, Main Courses)

Category: French – Fine Dining

2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882

Damage: $$$$

The Menu Prestige itself is an ongoing concert that has no specific intervals, but I have taken the liberty to break it up into smaller sections to make for an easier read. This section comprises the first 3 dishes of the Menu Prestige, and for which I most naturally draw parallels to “Main Courses”.


Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Foie Gras "Poche"To be most honest, I didn’t like the Foie Gras “Poche” with cabbage, yuzu and ‘bouillon’ at all. The foie gras was, undoubtably, unlike any I’d ever tasted – it was very soft, like tofu, and its flavour was very trace. I like the strong intensity and richness of foie, so this didn’t work for me and I wouldn’t have known what I was eating if it hadn’t been mentioned. The refreshing zing of the yuzu was a bit too jarring for my taste, and felt a bit out of place, while the vegetables were crunchy but not very tasty. In my opinion, the bouillon was too oily and its flavour was too thin, and the dish just didn’t feel cohesive.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Crispy Skin Amadai

The Crispy Skin Amadai was a seafood platter featuring coquillages, confit carrot, and rouille. This dish was strong with its reference to Indian cuisine, largely due to the saffron and spices featuring in the rouille. The seafood was fresh and sprightly and the fish came away cleanly in slices, although they were very cleanly prepared and lacked any form of richness if unaccompanied by the rouille, which unfortunately, I felt, overwhelmed the seafood when combined.

They really took to “saving the best for last”. The Hay-Roasted Pigeon with corn, bread, and liquorice was absolutely stellar. The pigeon breast was fully tender and packed full of unique flavours which I’d never tasted in any other meat, and yet, one could tell that these were the natural notes and an unadulterated rendition. The pigeon leg was wonderfully charred with a gentle smoke to brown and lightly torched to perfection. Both of the plated sauces were intense and stood well both alone and together. This was, beyond any doubt, Jaan’s most outstanding dish, and left me thinking about its tastes and flavours long afterward.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Hay-roasted Pigeon Best Dish

Asia’s 50 Best: Jaan, Singapore (Part 2, Appetisers)

Category: French – Fine Dining

2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882

Damage: $$$$

The Menu Prestige itself is an ongoing concert that has no specific intervals, but I have taken the liberty to break it up into smaller sections to make for an easier read. This section comprises the first 3 dishes of the Menu Prestige, and for which I find most suitable to name “Appetisers”.


Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Uni Sea Urchin Pudding with Caviar

The Hokkaido Sea Urchin with Obsiblue prawn and Kaluga queen caviar – I didn’t like. I love good uni but this was a pudding infused with sea urchin – the creamy texture of the pudding caused the natural richness of the uni itself to be lost, and whatever flavours made it through came across as slightly fishy. I couldn’t taste the prawn.

An addition complement of crostini was then served, beautiful to picture but somewhat ordinary in taste.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Crostini

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog beetroot collection

When the Beetroot Collection was served I’d spent a good while looking at it – it was like a piece of art- a delicate, intricate mixing of textures, temperatures, and variants of a magenta colour on the plate, punctuated by some yellow and some white of the radish and whip. This was a complex dish which included “Burrata artigiana” and honeycomb, and eaten individually made for nothing much, but when we began mixing them into the same spoonful, it became something quite special which I can’t quite put a finger on, and, I suppose, was the right way to enjoy it.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog 55°C rosemary smoked organic eggAs if I didn’t already love egg enough, I was introduced to Jaan‘s highly discussed 55′ Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg with Ratte Potato, Chorizo Iberico and Buckwheat, which came with the great pomp of being served in a tray over a block with a endless stream of white mist gushing over and cloaking the table (feature picture). The waiter picked the egg from the tray and poured it in with the rest of the condiments in the glass, which I mixed a little with my spoon and then tasted. For all of the dish’s complexity in preparation, the egg was perfect but I still found it hard to believe that it could only be achieved by poaching the eggs at 64 degrees for 55 minutes. The chorizo, somewhat reminiscent of bacon, provided the salt to the otherwise seemingly non-seasoned potatoes and balanced the dish like a perfect breakfast.

Asia’s 50 Best: Jaan, Singapore (Part 1, Amuse-bouche)

Category: French – Fine Dining

Number #11 on San Pellegrino’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015 and a strong player in the list over several years, I’ll readily admit I was excited for this meal. Jaan, helmed by Chef de cuisine Julien Royer, presents modern french cuisine with tantalising visuals, often calling for the hostesses to add the final touch to the dish right before your very eyes.

2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882

The reception for Jaan is the same as for Equinox and bars City Space and New Asia, to the left of the main reception of the Swissotel lobby.

Damage: $$$$

At dinnertime, the Menu Degustation of 5-courses is about $200. We went with the 7-course Menu Prestige with wine pairing, which totalled about $500 per head. A different menu is presented at lunchtime, with a 3-course at $68 and a 5-course at $118. 

To go: Yes, for that special occasion

Jaan was an exceptional experience. The restaurant itself seats about 30 persons, and the setting is warm, posh, yet intimate, and the service is excellent, professional yet personal. An amiable sous Chef Kirk Westaway appeared towards the end of the meal to put the finishing touches on our desserts, cracked a little joke and asked how everything was. Overall, the food was good and some dishes were especially memorable. Remember to reserve a table at least 2 weeks in advance, as they typically run at full-house on a daily basis.


The lift doors opened to the floor of Equinox, where a Jaan hostess waited, nodded politely and greeted us by name, before leading us to the left and down the passageway, up a short flight of steps which opened into a small space and finally, into the dining area of Jaan with views of Singapore’s skyline as drawn out by skyscrapers. Having made the reservation for 6.30pm, we were the first to arrive. We both went with the Menu Prestige, a 7-course, with wine pairing.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Appetizers

The first amuse-bouche was Lentil Hummus with cereals tuiles. I’ve had hummus at a variety of places, and I recalled the hummus I’d had in Dubai which had been dry and crumbly, and rather pasty in taste. That was also when I decided I definitely didn’t like hummus very much. This, however, was absolutely rich, moist, and delicious – almost reminding me of orh nee (yam paste), with a touch of sweetness. I couldn’t stop smiling at the little jar and started feeling rather silly about trying to have it with the bread as well, but the hostess smiled knowingly and let me keep it until I was completely through.

Next, a stone platter of Black sesame sponge and smoked eel, pork trotter samossa with grain mustard, cantal and walnut crackers (feature picture) was delivered to the table, and the Mushroom tea cep sabayon followed shortly after. The trio I wasn’t impressed with and thought to be rather ordinary – the sesame sponge lacked depth of flavour and the cantal and walnut crackers were pretty flat, which is surprising as cantal cheese has similarities to cheddar.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Best Mushroom Soup

The Mushroom tea, however, blew my mind. Even as I watched with interest as they poured clear mushroom tea into whatever was already in the cup, there was no way I could’ve expected the explosion of flavour. It was honestly one of the most a-m-a-z-i-n-g things I’ve ever had in my life, even more mind blowing than the starters I’d had at El Celler Can De Roca. It was essentially a cup of mushroom essence, speckled with crisped mushroom bits releasing their woody rich tastes, enveloped in a deliciously creamy cep sabayon. Exceptional.