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

Dinner @ Tempura Motoyoshi 天ぷら 元吉 (Tokyo, Japan)

May 11, 2017 in Japanese

The one tempura restaurant which I really wanted to visit in Japan was none other than Tempura Motoyoshi. Unfortunately, I was too late in my attempt in November 2016.

Thus, the very first thing I did after booking my accommodation for my February 2017 trip was to request hotel concierge to make reservation. And this time round, I was too early. Hahaha. Apparently the restaurant accepts reservation only 1 month in advance. Eg, reservation is only accepted on 14 January for 15 February.

With 2 seatings, I went with the 1st seating at 6pm. My hotel also informed that I had to pre-select my dinner course. With options of ¥9500, ¥10,300, ¥13,400 and ¥14,900, I went with ¥14,900 as it’s the one course which allowed me to try head chef Kazuhito Motoyoshi’s signature sea urchin tempura.

And with that, I waited excitedly for my dinner at 1 Michelin star Tempura Motoyoshi.

It was a little tricky locating the restaurant. If one uses Google map often, one would know there are times when it’s not very precise in showing one’s location. I missed taking a turn and took 10 (extra) minutes to relocate the stairs leading into the small alley from the main road. And because of that, I reached the restaurant 5 minutes late. Which I must emphasize one shouldn’t be late as chef Motoyoshi san starts dinner only after everyone reaches.

With only 8 counter seats, I was excited to be given what seemed to be the best seat in the house. Keke. And I got to understand why we had to pre-select our course; Ingredients used for the night were displayed beautifully on the counter for all to see. Which chef Motoyoshi san took away once everyone took their seats. He continued with dinner preparation by doing the necessary slicing before placing them into the respective boxes. I immediately fell in love with his presentation. One could tell how much he emphasized on details.

  

My box looked a little empty only because I was by myself. Although I must also add that solo dining is addictive. Keke. And with that, I commenced my ¥14,900 dinner with:-

1) Item #1 (above) – Baby snapper sashimi.

2) Item #2 (above) – Shrimp head tempura. Recommended to go with salt.

  

3) Item #3 (above) – Prawn tempura. These were served separately. I had the first on its own, and second with tentsuyu (tempura dipping sauce).

4) Item #4 (above) – Asparagus tempura.

5) Item #5 (above) – Kisu (Japanese whiting) fish tempura. “5 days aging”, chef Motoyoshi san said. I wasn’t sure if I heard ’5 days aging’ or ’5 days age’, but I assumed he meant the fish was aged for 5 days since fishes couldn’t possibly get so big in 5 days. Ha. And I was told to have my first bite with no sauce.

6) Item #6 (above) – Shiitake mushroom (half portion) tempura.

7) Item #7 (above) – Baby white anchovy (shirauo) tempura.

8) Item #8 (above) – Rice mixed with sea urchin served on seaweed tempura, topped with blackthroat seaperch (nodoguro) and grated radish. Said to be a traditional Japanese breakfast dish.

9) Item #9 (above) – Broad bean tempura.

10) Item #10 (above) – Carrot (2 colours) tempura.


11) Item #11 – Shirako (milt) tempura.

12) Item #12 – Shirako tempura on grilled shirako, and topped with spring onion. This was perfect!

13) Item #13 – This was one dish which I couldn’t comprehend what chef Motoyoshi san said. If we had the ability to read one another’s mind, chef Motoyoshi san probably saw many questions marks in mine. Haha. And noticing that I was clueless, he forewarned me that it would be very bitter. And it was. It was only later that I learnt this was ginkgo biloba.

14) Item #14 – Scallop sushi with tempura bits. But instead of shari (sushi rice), chef Motoyoshi san used grated radish. Really good.


15) Item #15 (above) – Kinmedai (golden eye snapper). And of course, it was deep fried as tempura before the kitchen prepared it as stew.

16) Item #16 – Lotus root tempura.

17) Item #17 (above) – Sea urchin on shiso leaf tempura. And I was told to bring the paper nearer to my mouth before picking the tempura up to eat. And needless to say, this was so, so good.

18) Item #18 (above) – Red daikon (radish) tempura topped with grated radish and shoyu.


19) Item #19 (above) – Anago (sea eel) tempura. And for this, we were also given sliced gari (pickled ginger) to go with it.

20) Item #20 (above) – Satsumaimo (sweet potato) tempura. This was seriously good.

21) Item #21 (above) – And diners were offered 3 ways to enjoy the prawn and scallop kakiage; On rice with miso soup served separately or on rice drizzled with special sauce or on rice with tea. I went with the latter. And for tencha, I could choose between green tea or roasted tea. I asked for recommendation as I wasn’t sure, to which chef Motoyoshi san recommended green tea. And I thought he was really cute cause he actually thought hard for 3 seconds before replying. After choosing how I wanted to enjoy my tempura donburi, chef Motoyoshi san took out 7 bowls. Smallest being a sake cup while the largest was almost as big as a pot. I went with the second smallest size as I was too full and I had a second dinner in an hour’s time! Keke. After which, chef Motoyoshi san would show and ask if we were fine with the amount of rice before he commenced cooking. For one’s first visit, I would definitely recommend getting the tencha. My ears were treated to the sizzling music of freshly fried kakiage placed into my bowl of rice, green tea and seaweed that was in front of me. Such a visual too! And the size of kakiage varied according to the bowl one chose.


22) Item #22 (above) – Milk pudding with strawberry compote. I really enjoyed this.

23) Item #23 (above) – Green tea.

I had a fabulous time dining at Tempura Motoyoshi. Everything was great. From the food, service, ambience, and to chef Motoyoshi san himself. Although he didn’t speak much, he gave out the vibe of a friendly, warm and sincere teddy bear. Keke. He always had a smile on his slightly chubby face.

The thing about dining alone was that it allowed me to pay more attention to my surrounding when I would usually be engrossed in catching up with my dining companions. It was fun watching chef Motoyoshi san cook for he would bop left, right, up and down as though he was dancing. And I observed his movements were graceful and intentional. When chef Motoyoshi san was preparing the baby white anchovy tempura, he coated the anchovy in the wet batter before ‘flinging’ them into the pot of oil with strong, smooth moves.

And he had no ‘one formula’ for the batter. Chef Motoyoshi san adjusted the batter to different levels of density according to the ingredients he was frying. And the batter of his tempura were light and crisp. And the reason behind the many vegetables dishes on his menu was because he’s keen to see people eat lots of seasonal vegetables. I loved that his vegetables came in a wide range of colours too. It was my first seeing (and eating) red carrot!

Tempura Motoyoshi is one restaurant I would urge everyone to dine at. I am making plans to return to Japan in 2018 for the sakura (cherry blossom) period and having a meal at Tempura Motoyoshi is on my itinerary. I am already excited because from instagram, I realised chef Motoyoshi san would even decorate his place with (fake) cherry blossoms. How lovely!

TEMPURA MOTOYOSHI 天ぷら 元吉
3-2-4 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 南青山 3-2-4 セントラル 6B-A)
+81 3 3401 0722, Tablelog
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Sat : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 17:30 – 01:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Sun, Mon