A Tale of Two Jap Eateries

After a bad choice of dinner last night (don’t ask), it was good to have made a decent choice today 🙂 …

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Now that the novelty of the new wing of Plaza Singapura has died down, there isn’t queues at every restaurant there bar the few popular ones. So I decided to start from the top and check out the Japanese restaurant Hifumi. It’s a casual eatery that serves the usual bento sets type of meals and at rather decent prices for a place at a Orchard Road mall. The big draw here is the eat-all-you-can appetizer counter that you can help yourself to with every main course you order. Plus the free-flow drinks – from soft drinks to coffee to green tea – at just a mere $1.99. And hey, even Kirin beer is a steal at just $7.99 for free-flow. Wanting to try as many appetizers I can, I decided to go for the “lightweight” saba set which just cost $12.99.

20130813_210940Okay, my sad picture here doesn’t do the all-you-can-eat appetizer counter justice. It’s certainly filled with a good dozen goodies ranging from vegetables (ladies’ fingers, corn, peas, tomatoes, grilled onions etc) to piles of soba to lovely bowls of chawanmushi (above right). The latter was so good – the egg pudding done as smooth as tau huay (soybean curd dessert) – I actually had two bowls and that’s already worth the main course price alone considering that some places charged such items from $6 to $8. The meal presentation is nothing fanciful but as long as it’s tasty – which the saba fish and chawanmushi certainly were, this is one place I will surely be dining at again.

Which brings me to a Japanese sushi joint I recently dined in which didn’t the same kind of culinary satisfaction as Hifumi despite being a “classier” joint…

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Was at the newly renovated Suntec City Mall last week and came upon Sushi Goshin by Akashi. With its black standee posters of sushi with “low prices” out front, I thought maybe possibly it could be as good as the extremely popular Itacho Sushi. Well, I was mistaken. As the place was packed for a weekday lunch, I was seated at the sushi counter which isn’t exactly a bad place cos surely you will definitely get your sushi orders quickly… or so I thought….

The moment I saw their iPad order menus, I realised that I have eaten in one of their outlets before – Akashi Restuarant at VivoCity. At that outlet,  I found the service in bringing the dishes slow and the food items, though rather presentable, weren’t exactly anything to shout about. (Or else I would have already reviewed it here on this blog). As I need to rush back to the office, I ordered quickly just 5 items – aburi sake (seared salmon sushi), hamachi (yellowtail sashimi), ebi tempura maki (fried prawn maki), spider Tamaki (soft shell crab handroll) and chanwanmushi. The latter is a thing with me: I judged the standard of a Japanese restaurant by its chanwanmushi just as I would judge a Mexican restaurant by its margarita…

Well, my first two items came soon enough. The seared salmon sushi is however not as great as the ones in Itacho (which cost only 40 cents each, mind). It seems they grilled it here rather then have them flamed-seared. Then a good 10-15 minutes gone by without my other items coming. And seriously, the chefs behind the sushi counter hardly looked that busy. When  I finally asked for them, I was told by someone in a kimono  that “oh these items need at least 20 minutes each to prepare!” Righhhhtttt…

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My ebi tempura maki finally came – hastily made you could tell – with the sushi pieces rather lopsided and had slabs of mayo oozing out from the wrong places. The spide tamaki came after and though it doesn’t looked appetising well presented either, at least the soft shell crab was crispy. The chanwanmushi was to take yet another 10 minutes to arrive. It looked presentable but the moment you put the spoon in to scoop the egg, it curdled rather then being pudding like. And it tasted like egg goops in hot water too… It was certainly one of the worst chanwanmushi I have ever tried.

Well, glad to have a good Jap experience after a bad Jap experience, though Itacho still ruled as the #1 Japanese restaurant in my heart. Ichiban!

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