Lunch @ Mikawa Zezankyo みかわ 是山居 (Tokyo, Japan)

August 24, 2017 in Japanese

Now that I booked my next trip to Tokyo, I figured I had better finish the backlog of my Tokyo restaurants’ reviews. And yes! Tokyo again. Woohoo.

So when I was doing the planning for (my past trips to) Tokyo, Tempura Fukamachi, Tempura Motoyoshi and Mikawa Zezankyo topped my tempura-places-to-try list. I was really keen in dining at Mikawa Zezankyo where chef-owner Tetsuya Saotome was said to be the equivalent of sushi master Jiro Ono.

And it was in my November 2016 trip that I successfully lunched at Mikawa Zezankyo. What I really liked about Mikawa Zezankyo was how straight-forward reservation was. Something that’s particularly crucial for us tourists. I made mine on OpenTable, a free online restaurant-reservation service provider.

I read that head chef Saotome san’s talent extend beyond tempura making. He’s also skillful in artworks which is demonstrated by the hand paintings and calligraphy of the menu that’s drawn and written by him. Artistic aesthetics combined with culinary skills? I was confident lunch was going to be an unforgettable dining experience.

It was fortunate I reached (5 minutes) early to be seated on the shorter end of the L-shaped counter where I had a non-obstructed view of the stove. Yes, one is seated in accordance to one’s arrival. So be the first 3 customers to arrive in order to personally enjoy watching head chef Saotome san in action!

And between the lunch (‎¥11,340) and omakase (‎¥18,360) courses, I decided to go with the latter. And with that, I commenced my lunch with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Appetiser.


2) Dish #2 (above) – I was served with 2 (and not 1) prawns. I didn’t think of taking picture of my second prawn because it looked the same. In fact, prior to my visit, I was at Yuzu Japanese Restaurant. And when I shared about my (then upcoming) lunch reservation at Mikawa Zezankyo, head chef Takahashi Tadashi piqued my interest when he gushed about how every prawn was consistently fried with a raw centre. And indeed, my prawns were.

3) Dish #3 (above) – 2 number of prawns heads. The heads were noticeably bigger, and generously coated with batter. And because of that, these were crunchy (rather than crispy).


4) Dish #4 (above) – Japanese whiting (kisu).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Squid (ika). For me, the dining experience become more meaningful when I get to watch the process; I watched head chef Saotome san dredge the squid (in dry flour) and dip into a wet batter before deep frying the squid strips.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Soup with shrimp ball.


7) Dish #7 (above) – Again, I watched (with much curiosity) as head chef Saotome san dipped the sea urchin that’s wrapped with shiso leaf into a wet flour-mixture before frying it. And for this, I was told to enjoy it with salt.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Gingko nut.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Milt (kikuko). Be careful when eating this cause it’s very hot. But this was so enjoyable. Oh so creamy!

At this point, head chef Saotome san replaced his stove with new oil while the staff went round asking us for our 2 choices for the vegetables. We were offered 5 options; Asparagus, sweet potato, shiitake mushroom, green pepper and egg plant.

10) Dish #10 (above) – Flathead (megochi).


11) Dish #11 (above) – Saltwater eel (anago). After the long piece of eel tempura was placed onto my plate, head chef Saotome san continued to use the same pair of long chopsticks to cut it into 2. With an amazing loud crackling sound. Yum!

12) Dish #12 (above) – Asparagus.

13) Dish #13 (above) – Sweet potato.


  

14) Dish #14 (above) – For main, I went with tencha instead of tendon as recommended by the staff. And to prepare the kakiage tempura, surf clams (kobashira) adductor muscles were mixed into the wet batter with egg. Although head chef Saotome san added flour to adjust the consistency before frying these. And I enjoyed my tencha. The kakiage tempura still had a slight crunch despite soaking up the dashi.

15) Dish #15 (above) – Beans.

Compared to other tempura restaurants, head chef Saotome san practised a more old-school edomae tempura style. Instead of light and crisp tempura batter, the ones at Mikawa Zezankyo was heavier and harder. Yes, hard and crunchy. But not to be confused as being thick.

And to wrap up my wonderful dining experience at Mikawa Zezankyo, head chef Saotome san surprised us by autographing our menus. Starting from one end, he asked the first female customer for her menu to draw a prawn (calligraphy style) and to autograph it with his stamp seal. And he had a good sense of humour; As he was moving down the counter, a male customer tried handing his menu which head chef Saotome san humorously replied “Ladies only.” Haha. Too cute. And for the record, the guy got his autograph after head chef Saotome san finished signing all the female customers’ menus. Keke.

Would I recommend Mikawa Zezankyo? I would. I mean… Although his style was not what I preferred for my tempura, one should at least try the tempura prepared and fried with the hands of legendary master chef Tetsuya Saotome once in one’s life. I know, I sound kinda shallow there. But it’s a real plus that it’s a breeze to make reservation at Mikawa Zezankyo too.

MIKAWA ZEZANKYO みかわ 是山居
1-3-1 Fukuzumi Koto, Tokyo (東京都 江東区 福住 1-3-1)
+81 03 3643 8383, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Thu – Tues : 11:30 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Thu – Tues : 17:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed

Lunch @ Kogane Yama

August 13, 2017 in Japanese

Was craving for deep fried food, and thus suggested to my friend to have tempura on rice (tendon) for lunch. Keke. And after doing a search on internet, we decided on heading to Bugis.

And it seemed that the selling point of Kogane Yama was their customizatiom; One could choose the type of tempura (mixed, prawn, chicken or vegetable) to the base (rice, udon, soba) and spicy level of sauce.

It was unfortunate that there was no counter seats. Only table seats were offered in the long unit. I would have preferred to see some cooking in action.

And from the menu, my friend and I ordered:-

1) Set meal (+ $2) comprised of:-


(A) Mixed bowl, $15.80 (above) – My friend decided to paired her tempura with udon.


(B) Chawanmushi, miso soup (above) – And by topping up $2, one’s meal would be upgraded into a set meal which included a steamed egg (chawanmushi) and soup. And it made sense to get the set if one is interested to get the steamed egg since it cost $2 on the a-la carte menu. The miso soup cost $1.50 if ordered separately.

2) Mixed bowl, $15.80 (above) – I stuck to the original which was tempura on rice. And for $15.80, it was a generous portion of overflowing ingredients. To the extent I thought the rice amount was too little. But of course, I realised at the end of our lunch that I was given the normal serving of 1 bowl of rice. And tempura included 2 prawns, 1 chicken, 2 long beans, 1 shiitake mushroom, 1 golden mushroom, 1 sweet potato, 1 carrot, 1 green capsicum, 1 seaweed, 1 shiso leaf and a spoonful of flying fish roe. It was also only because I was dining with my friend that halfway through my lunch, I realised they missed out my shiso leaf tempura.

I didn’t enjoy the tempura. While I finished my food, it was only because I was hungry and needed to fill up my stomach.

Yes, the batter was crispy. But that’s because it was really thick. And greasy too. My friend couldn’t finish hers and requested to pack the remaining tempura, which the staff put the leftover into a plastic bag lined with paper. And barely 30 minutes later, we noticed the paper was soaked through! With oil of course.

Do I recommend Kogane Yama? Sorry, please give this a miss at all cost.

KOGANE YAMA
200 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction, #02-50, Singapore
Overall: 6
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 5
Sun – Thur : 11:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 7
Fri – Sat : 11:00 – 23:00
Value: 7
Service: 6

Lunch @ Mizuki Tempura and Sushi

August 10, 2017 in Japanese

It was through sheer luck and pure randomness that I got to know about Mizuki from instagram. And it being Japanese cuisine, the first person that came into my mind was my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend). Not surprising. Keke. And reservation was made for a Saturday lunch. And between sushi and tempura, we went with sushi first because I know my IGGF loves her sushi.

And yes, when there’s a first, it means there’s a second. My IGGF and I headed back for their tempura too. Keke.

Mizuki was conveniently located in Ngee Ann City (or better known as Takashimaya to some). It’s a 8 to 10 minutes walk from Orchard MRT station. A cool walk too since it’s air-conditioned throughout. Keke. And if one is familiar with Ngee Ann City’s layout, one should take the lift that’s facing Takashimaya Square, from the Food Village side. By exiting the lift on level 5, Mizuki would be on one’s immediate left.


Sushi counter

And from the sushi lunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Matsuba, $250 comprised of:-

(A) Seasonal appetizer (above)

(B) Sashimi #1 (above) – Sea urchin from Kyushu.

(C) Sashimi #2 (above) – Japanese spotted prawn (botan ebi).

(D) Sashimi #3 (above) – Flounder (hirame) served with its liver.

(E) Sashimi #4 (above) – Yellowtail.


(F) Steamed egg (above)

  
  
  
  
  

(G) Nigiri sushi (10 pieces) (above) – Assortment of baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), giant clam (ishigakigai), big eye snapper (kinmedai), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), aburi premium fatty tuna (otoro), striped jack (shima-aji), marinated tuna (maguro zuke), violet sea urchin (murasaki uni), short spine sea urchin (bafun uni) and scallop (hotate). For the striped jack, Taiwanese chef Angus wrapped it (together with ginger, shiso leaf and chives) with thinly sliced cucumber instead of seaweed. And it was my first having the scallop of my sushi soaked in hot soya sauce before it was pressed flat. Nice! I really enjoyed it.

(H) Roll sushi (above) – This was awesome; Thick maki roll with various cuts of tuna (otoro, chutoro, akamiand negitoro), pickled radish and chive. I really liked that it was so big that a piece would fill up my entire mouth. It was an explosion of flavours in my mouth. Really good.

(I) Miso soup (above)

(J) Dessert

Because my IGGF and I truly enjoyed our lunch at the sushi counter, we were unanimous about returning to Mizuki for their tempura. So right after we finished our sushi lunch, my IGGF and I made reservation for our next meal at the reception. Keke.


Tempura counter

Similar to our first meal at Mizuki, my IGGF and I arrived on a Saturday. However, instead of meeting at our usual 12pm, we arrived at 1pm as I had an appointment prior. Which unfortunately caused us to miss out on the abalone tempura (only available on the a-la carte menu) as it was sold out when we reached. Sob.

And from the tempura lunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Sea urchin tempura, $40 (above)

2) Koubai, $100 comprised of:-

(A) Seasonal appetizer (above)

(B) Seasonal vegetable (above) – Lotus, fish cake, sweet potato, yam and egg plant.

(C) Seafood tempura #1, #2 (above) – Prawn.

(D) Seafood tempura #3 (above) – Flathead (megochi).


  

(E) Seafood tempura #4 (above) – Crayfish (zarigani).

(F) Seafood tempura #5 (above, left) – Squid.

(G) Seafood tempura #6 (above, right) – Scallop. We were a little bummed when ours were served a little overcooked. Our neighbours’ scallops were served raw in the middle.

(H) Seafood tempura #7 (above) – Sea eel.

(I) Vegetable tempura #1 (above, left) – Pumpkin.

(J) Vegetable tempura #2 (above, right) – Lotus.

(K) Vegetable tempura #3 (above, foreground) – Corn.

(L) Vegetable tempura #4 (above, background) – Green chili


  

(M) Kakiage with rice and miso soup (above)

(N) Dessert

And for dessert, we were allowed to choose between ice cream and pudding. And it’s only natural that my IGGF and I ordered different items in order to try more. Keke.

  
  

So yes, we managed to try (clockwise) pumpkin jelly, yam ice cream, tomato jelly and houjicha ice cream.

Would I recommend Mizuki? A big yes from me. And if I really must choose, I would say their tempura fared better than the sushi. The tempura batter was thin, crispy and not greasy. Definitely one of the better tempura restaurants in Singapore.

But don’t get my wrong. We enjoyed our sushi meal too. Although the only grip I had was that thee sushi was only served individually for the $250 course. My IGGF ordered the Midori set ($48) and her 8 nigiri sushi were served together on a plate. Though it may not be much of a deal to others.

Nonetheless, I highly recommend Mizuki!

MIZUKI TEMPURA AND SUSHI
391 Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City Podium Block, #05-32, Singapore
6734 6308, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon