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Tetsu touts itself as being the first Japanese restaurant to offer both Tempura and Tonkatsu under the same menu. I was also fortunate enough to be invited for a food tasting event through FP's help to finally taste what the restaurant had to offer. Reviews thus far has been mixed and now its my turn to taste first hand and determine if its an average or a great japanese restaurant.
Upon stepping into Tanglin Mall, its apparent that the mall itself is rather quiet. Being left out on the far edge of Orchard Road, this mall is frequented only by the most discerning customers for specific stores and shops. I'm glad to say that Tetsu has its fair share of returning customers. In fact, its one of the more patronized restaurants in the mall. I believe that says something about the food they offer.
Sampling Platter with Swordfish Tataki - Our sampling session began with some sake and led straight into their appetiser sampling platter. Beginning with the agedashi tofu, the first surprise of the day was that unlike the usual smooth texture which i'm used to, this version was more starchy and wobbly not unlike carrot cake.
The braised pork belly is apparently braised for 2 days and is extremely fatty, i found it interesting because it literally melts in your mouth and didn't repulse me the way i thought it should have.
The swordfish tataki retained a slight smokey taste along with a rather tough texture which gives the impression its similar to sashimi.
Mixed Sashimi - I'm rather impressed with Tetsu's sashimi actually, though i'm not aware of the actual cost of this platter, the sheer variety of sashimi you see here is substantial and fulfillingly fresh. The slices were more on the thin side though.
Teriyaki Chicken - Well, this dish has been done to dath everywhere so i really can't say anything much about it. For what its worth, the teriyaki sauce is moderately sweet and the chicken is tender without being too dry.
Sushi Roll With Avacado and Crab Meat - Dragon roll - Lets make a statement here, Tetsu makes good sushi. For both versions, the rice had just the right amount of sweetness and sourness. The dragon roll came with a plump juicy shrimp in a balanced tempura coating. Loved the generous serving of crab roe on both sushi rolls as well.
Assorted Tempura Platter - Here on, its the onslaught of the rather unhealthy fried items. The assorted tempura was very crispy but had a rather thick batter which makes it rather difficult to stomach. To be fair, i give this a high score for its presentation and portion size which is very generous. The batter does get in the way of the prawn though, rendering it rather tasteless in the end. A little less batter and this would be a winner.
Kire Katsu (Pork Fillet), Rosu Katsu (Pork Loin) - Katsu's are generally a staple in any japanese restaurant due to how it tests the chef's skill in producing a katsu thats crispy and yet preserving the flavors and juices of the subject matter. Tetsu gave us a try of 2 renditions and i'm more favorable for the Rosu Katsu (pork loin). Both versions come in the same batter but the pork fillet version tasted rather dry and more like a kfc chicken then a katsu. The pork loin on the other hand, was juicy and moist without compromising the crispiness. Do note the reason why its moist and juicy is due to the abundance of fat in that particular region though.
Inawani Udon - The udon came as a prelude to the ending of our sampling session and needless to say, we were all stuffed to the brim by then. However, i have to say that this rendition is pleasing and palatte cleansing. Unlike regular udons, this doesn't have the usual starchy and thick udon variety. In fact, its more like a combination of vermicelli, mee pok and spaggheti. This means its al dente, light and easy to finish. Rather surprising actually.
Strawberry mousse - Their rendition is made in house and fresh daily. With real grinded strawberry bits in it, you'll get a full taste of the fruit. The mousse is slightly rough in texture because of it and there's minimal to no sugar added in the mix, leaving it rather sourish.
Our delight with the restaurant probably rests mostly on the chef's appearance and company throughout the meal. The guy's definitely funny and has great pride in his job which is reflected in the quality of his food. I have to say that the food here is above average and worth a try. Of course, this conclusion is based on food quality alone at this point. Give it a chance, you might like it enough to return just like their regulars.
Attended a dinner at Tetsu one weekday evening with my gf. Tetsu, which is owned and operated by Food Junction (yes, the foodcourt operator), prides itself as the first Japanese restaurant to offer Kushi style (food is served in skewers) tempura and Tonkatsu menu which is prepared live in front of you (assuming you take the counter seats of course).
Located on the top level of Tanglin Mall, Tetsu stands out with its chic interior that oozes sublime class without the frills. A partial open concept kitchen coupled with white washed pillars, wooden beams and clever layering of light add to the sophistication. Seats are decidedly comfortable but the tables do seem a little too low for comfort (maybe its just my table).
Kami Tofu - The Kami tofu, or century egg with tofu, was rather easy on the palate and provided a good start to the meal. The tofu was silky yet firm through the addition of eggs (a tad too much egg though), while the finely diced century egg cubes had but a faint aftertaste, ideal for people like me who do not really fancy this variation of eggs. Parallels can be drawn to chawamushi in terms of taste, albeit being much lighter.
Kajiki Tataki - The Kajiki, also known as swordfish or Pacific blue marlin, was another excellent starter. Lightly seared till faintly charred along the edges, the fish, coupled with what I believe to be Ponzu (ポン酢) sauce and spicy radish atop, emanated a nice savoury taste. Only gripe I had was that the texture of the fish did seem a tad too hard and dry.
Salmon & Yellow Tail Sashimi - I'm not too big on sashimi so neither the salmon nor yellow tail wowed me. Both were fresh, but I've had fresher cuts before. The wasabi or わさび,ワサビ was probably just a mixture of horseradish, mustard seed and green colouring, tasting nothing like the real wasabi, which usually comes grated. But no complaints here as very very few places in Singapore actually serve up the real thing because of its prohibitive prices.
Yasai Takiawase - The Yasai Takiawase, or simmered seasonal vegetables, consisted of white radish, carrot, pumpkin & snow pea stewed in a pot for 3 hours straight. Honestly, this dish just didn't do it for me. Everything was soft to the extent of being mushy and nausea inducing. According to the chef, this dish is very popular with the Japanese and it tastes better with every try. I would like to give the chef the benefit of the doubt, but I seriously can't bring myself to try the same dish again.
Kushi Age Style Hotate, Soft Shell Crab, Hire Katsu & Ebi - This is an area where Tetsu differentiates itself through its live preparation of Kushi style food. I see it more as a marketing gimmick. Honestly, how difficult is it to prepare food on skewers live? For starters, the food wasn't served hot, not even warm. And I personally found the batter a tad too thick and oily for my liking. The soft shell crab had an overdose of salt while the scallop, though huge and purportedly flown in from Japan, was tasteless. The Hire (pork) Katsu's taste was overwhelmed by black pepper while the prawn didn't come across as sweet. All in all, definitely not my idea of a must try.
Consomme - The clear consomme tasted to me like egg drop soup. By and large there's nothing much to comment on it except that it was light and definitely something you can get anywhere else.
Salmon Sushi Roll - Served up with compliments from Tetsu, the salmon sushi roll was definitely one of the better dishes that evening. What was interesting was the usage of flakes of fried tempura batter to coat the sushi's exterior, resulting in a nice crunchy piece of sushi that carried a lightly sweet overtone from the drizzled teriyaki sauce. Couldn't quite make out the cooked salmon taste though, save for a very faint smokiness.
Udon & Kushi Tem Lotus Root, Mushroom, Green Capsicum - I found the udon quite decent, with the noodles chewy and not too "fat" and the broth lightly salty with lots of tempura flakes. The sides of mushroom, lotus root and capsicum provided some frills to this simple dish but proved to be rather flat.
Goma Ice Cream - Rock hard, straight from the freezer and totally uninspiring. My 3 adjectives to describe the Goma ice cream.
As it was a prearranged dinner, the cost was capped at $30nett per pax. Portions were sampling size and I personally felt that $30 for the stuff we ate wasn't exactly such a great deal as nothing on the menu seemed really expensive. Service was good, but then again thats subjective. Overall the dinner was an average affair for me and I seriously doubt that I'll be back.
See all my pictures here.
Tetsu, opening its doors at Tanglin Mall on January 17, 2008, pride themselves in serving Kushi-Tempura and Kushi-Katsu. Their concept is based on a “LIVE” preparation in front of you by their chefs, who have intensive training in their Japanese Headquarters.
The first impression upon stepping into Tetsu is really nice decorations. Contemporary yet not too modernize till the extend of losing the authentic Japanese feel. Chic furnishings like the curtains, and decors in the restaurant. The whole place exudes an elegant feel with its classy and clean look.
Tetsu certainly does not fits the bill with association to Food Junction, your local food courts isn’t it? But the truth is, Tetsu is actually owned and operate by Food Junction. Surprise surprise, i was quite astonished by this fact when i first heard of it. But i am pleased Food Junction is finally making full use to leverage on its experience and connections in the Food & Beverage Industry, to provide us the consumers with a wider variety of choices to dine at.
The counter bars in Tetsu are specially designed in such a way that diners can seat in close proximity to the chef, who will prepared their feast up for them, well its not just the stomach feast alone, there’s the visual feast right before you.
I was invited by Miss Pris Yap, who’s the consultant for Tetsu for a food tasting session. Here i will like to put Disclaimer first, the review written herein will not be influence simply because this is a food tasting session. Whatever written herein is the Frank and Honest opinions of my friend and i who went to Tetsu for the occasion.
We had the assurance from Miss Yap that they will seek our honest opinion to improve Tetsu, and that every visit to Tetsu will be the same, the food will not look or taste specially good just because this is a food tasting event.
My food dining partner joins me for Tetsu, and she’s a lover of Japanese food, so the review will be a combination of what both of us felt about the meal.
There’s also a VIP room which u can actually make a reservation to book it if you have a certain number of guests, around 10 at least if i’m not wrong.
At Tetsu, there are affordable set lunches from the Jubako, Katsu, Tempura,Sakana (fish) which are in the 20s to 30s price range. I’ll say the set meals are definitely value-for-money.
There is also the designer Kaiseki sets available. Kaiseki is an 5 course set, made up of 4 seasonal appetizers, designer salad, premium kushi-style main course, imported udon from Japan, and dessert at a mere $35. Of course there are more expensive options of the Kaiseki sets going at $45 and $55.
A wide range of Sake, Shoju, and wine are also available to go along with the food. We didn’t had any Sake because it was still early in the afternoon. Perhaps next time!
Salmon Carpaccio ($18)
For appetizer to start off our meal at Tetsu, we had the Salmon Carpaccio with french dressing. Carpaccio originated from Italy, and its usually slices of beef, tuna, or veal traditionally thinly sliced or pounded thin, with olive oil or vinaigrette drizzled over it.
We’ll preferred the carpaccio to be slice thinner, the thick and generous slices of the carpaccio at Tetsu is almost akin to sashimi portions. For people who like sashimi, they will probably have mixed feelings for this dish because usually sashimi lovers like the clean and fresh taste of the fish, and its raw texture on its own, but for this salmon, it has a french dressing on it.
Nonetheless, the Salmon Carpaccio is quite fresh, and with the current Citibank promotion, receive this as a complimentary with a minimum spending of $50.
The Salmon Carpaccio is an interesting take on fusion japanese & italian appetizer (although this is done with french dressing). The french dressing helps to balances the richness of the salmon with the complex sweet and sour taste of the dressing, the contrast between the taste is definitely appealing.
Roll sushi 6 Pieces ($18)
The roll sushi is covered with crunchy sesame seeds, but on the other end the sushis can actually can get quite dry. My friend thought that if the roll sushi comes with some sauce it will be perfect.
Traditionally sushi rolls are supposed to be eaten in one mouthful by putting the whole sushi inside. But the sushi here is a tad too big, so we couldn’t really fit it into our mouth.
Apparently it has salmon and scallops inside, though when mixed together the scallops taste can’t really be felt. The blend of crunchy sesame seeds and tobiko makes its quite yummy though. However at $18 for 6 pieces, it is considered rather expensive. Have this if you have the extra budget to spend on A la carte.
Onsentamago Tofu Salad ($13.50)
Onsen Tamago is hot spring egg. The eggs here are cooked slowly in hot water, so the whites are still soft while the yolks just slightly cooked. Blended together with tofu and sesame sauce, the combination offers a very refreshing approach to the normal salad.
The salad is served by mixing the egg together with the greens and tofu. A good appetizer if you are like us, prefer runny eggs.
Thats all for our A la carte starters, just to recap, we had the Salmon Carpaccio, the roll sushi and the Onsentamago Tofu Salad. All these three appetizers are ordered from the A la carte menu and are not in the set meals which are coming up next.
Rosu Katsu Set ($24.50)
The Rosu Katsu (Pork Loin) set is the actual main course that we are having for our lunch. There are two options for the Katsu set, you can choose from either the Rosu Katsu (pork loin) or the Hire Katsu (fillet katsu). Pork loin is fatter than fillet katsu in nature, which makes it more tender than Hire Katsu.
Another interesting point to note, besides the usual sauce that comes with the Katsu, Tetsu provides an alternative, the curry powder to go along with the pork loin. The curry powder is another option if you are sick of the usual sauce, however the powder here is quite on the salty side, so just dipped into it slightly.
The katsu is specially imported from Japan, lightly fried to produce a crust that is light but yet double the thickness of the usual katsu. The meat is marinated for 3 days to ensure its tasty and succulent texture.
Famed for their Katsu, the Kushi-age style (skewered with breaded batter) certainly lives up to expectations. The breaded style of the katsu is really good, the panko crumbs on it is very light which gives it a melt-in-your-mouth feel.
Furthermore, the katsu here has a generous cut, unlike some restaurants which cut the pork into very thin slices. At $24.50, the Rosu Katsu set is really a steal, definitely good value for money!
The fresh greens are the appetizer which comes along with the Katsu set. Basically its a run of the mill salad with japanese sesame salad dressing, ordinary but yummy.
My partner likes the dressing for its slightly tangy but yet salty taste, and the texture of the sauce is creamy. But for me, i’m more of a fan for oily italian salad dressings, so this salad didn’t quite work out for me.
Kaiseki Set Course B ($45)
The Kaiseki Dinner course B comes with assorted 4 on a palatte as its appetizer, stick vegetable, Crab sukiyaki for the paper pot, with tempura as the main, and udon or rich, served with a dessert.
The main difference between course A ($35) and B ($45) is 10 bucks, with the addition of the Crab Sukiyaki. And the differiential between B ($45) and C ($55) is that C has an addition tuna carpaccio.
For our main course in the Kaiseki set B, the tempura is done kushi-tem style (tempura). It comes with six tempura, prawn, salmon, pork, beef, scallop and vegetables.
Tetsu is being known for its Katsu and Tempura aspects, and to tell the truth, we found the tempura to be quite a disappointment as we had expected better things from them. Right, the prawn was a bit small, not fat enough for a tempura, we didn’t get the “kick”from eating the prawn.
The Salmon (beside the prawn) was done better than the appetizer in the course.
My partner love the fresh air-flown scallop from Japan.
The seasonal vegetables are zuchinni and okra which my partner found it to be all right, but i didn’t like my vegetables to do it in this way, i prefer them green!
The pork and beef were quite average too. One thing that my partner concluded was if the mains are done in Kushi-age (breaded) rather than the one we had Kushi-tem (tempura), we felt that it will be definitely be better.
We felt that the tempura batter had nice texture, but it wasn’t seasoned enough, so it was quite tasteless for us. Nevertheless the batter is very light, not that oily and it didn’t leave any oily aftertaste that mediocre tempuras do.
The only reason we can conclude for the disappointment in the Tempura is because we had such high hopes for them, so even they are quite good, but they didn’t come out as well as we are expecting. You should try the Kushi-age (breaded) for this main!
Assorted 4 on palette
This is the appetizer for the course B. One thing that i liked about the starters in Tetsu course meal is that they are changed regularly because the chef will always pick the freshest ingredient for the current season.
The appetizer is suppose to comes in the different flavors, sweet, salty, and sour. Specially designed to tantalize your taste buds and “prepared” them for the main course.
I like the zesty chicken too which comes with orange and lemon flavour to provide the sour-ish taste.
My partner didn’t like the Salmon teriyaki, she preferred the tamago and prawn which helps to the sweet flavoring of the salmon.
Cod is done with miso, to give the salty flavor.
The Stick Vegetables also comes part of the Kaiseki set B. Its just your normal vegetables, but it comes with a soy-bean like sauce.
Kani-Suki (Crab Sukiyaki)
The prelude to the main, there’s the snow crab legs which are filled with snowy sweet white meat. However we lamented the fact that there is only two crab legs.
The Japanese straw mushroom is always nice in sukiyaki. And the soup base here is nicer than the other sukiyaki we tried before. It tasted sweet but not excessively so till its artificial.
Inaniwa Udon (warm)
The Inaniwa Udon is also imported from Japan. but the warm udon had a nice soup base so it’s good for rainy days.
Inaniwa Udon (cold) ($6.80)
The udon is not the fat kind, and its sort of flat like ipoh hor fun, nice and slippery! One of the udon comes with the Kaiseki set, and we ordered another one to try both the cold and hot udon.
Banana Tempura & Ice ($7.80)
In our frank opinion, the banana tempura is a ripped-off. For two pieces of banana tempura, we can get better ones at the hawker center at 50 cents each. Certainly not worth the price tag of $7.80!
Kisetsu ice & Warabimochi Monaka ($7.80)
This dessert fares slightly better than the Banana tempura. The combination of the Japanese Mochi with one scoop of normal vanilla ice cream is quite good, but still not worth the hefty price that comes along with it.
Kokonatsu Milk Purin ($5.80)
We concluded that the Kokonatsu milk purin, or coconut pudding is the best among the three desserts. This pudding is something new to us, not your usual run of the mill Japanese dessert which you commonly find in Singapore Japanese restaurants even though its supposed to be a classic Japanese dessert.
Coconut flavor wasnt that strong, we like the sublet flavor! hmm it was really pudding not creamy so i dont really like it
The coconut pudding is good to try for novelty, and it comes with the Kaiseki course set anyway, so there’s no need to order additional dessert.
Tetsu is certainly a nice place to try if you are looking for Japanese food. The set meals are really value-for-money, and the Kaisekis course meals, although heavier in price tag, but they provide more in variety and quality also. We felt that if its two person going to Tetsu, you can either order two set meals, or order one Kaisekis Course meals, and something from the A la carte menu.
The reasonable and affordable pricing at Tetsu means that you will no longer need to spend a bomb for your favourite Japanese food anymore. Tetsu offers a really chic environment, quite unlike your traditional Japanese restaurant. Its an excellent place to either bring a date for her cravings of Japanese food, or a group of friends where you can chill out with the selections of Sake, Shoju, and wine.
My friend and i, plus Miss Yap had a great afternoon enjoying and discussing about Japanese food, restaurants, and some off-topic conservations. We were so full from the meal! My thanks to Miss Yap for inviting us to a wonderful lunch experience at Tetsu.
And one other thing which I noticed, when we went in during 12 noon on a Monday afternoon, there wasn’t much people in the restaurant. But when the clock ticks towards two, the crowd starts coming in already. So you will be fine if you go during normal lunch hour, but still better to make a reservation.
I’ll certainly revisit Tetsu to try out their other stuff, maybe i will have the Kaisekis done in Kushi-age style (breaded) the next time! Tetsu’s at Tanglin Mall level 3, and remember to use your Citicard to get the free Salmon Carpaccio!
All in all, the Katsu is excellent! Its really a must-try if you visit Tetsu. The other fame of Tetsu, their Tempura leaves more to be desired, we felt that their Kushi-age style is better than the Kushi-Tem style. Nevertheless, the Kaisekis course meals are still value for quality. The desserts area is the part which i felt Tetsu must really improve on if i were to go back for a revisit. Being a big fan of any dessert, i must have a nice dessert after every meal. And the desserts selection there can’t quite make it for now.
I highly recommended and advise you to go to ladyironchef to read on this post, simply because the post is way too long, and there are many more nice photos of the food!
” Singapore’s First LIVE Kushi-style Tonkatsu & Tempura restaurant “
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