Singapore’s favorite Chirashi Sushi returns16 August, 2010 by Chad
Chikuwa Tei is a new restaurant opened by the former master chef of the wildly popular Wasabi Tei. Many will be glad to learn that it offers a familiar (or rather identical) menu to its past incarnation, now in the comfort of a family restaurant setting.
I did visit Wasabi Tei on a few occasions in the past but when word got out of the place, even the reasonable prices did not warrant having to queue an hour for dinner. Thanks to the sheer number of patrons, rumor spread fast when Wasabi Tei changed hands some time ago. Then, news emerged that the chef had opened a new restaurant last month.
The new establishment can be found at 9 Mohammad Sultan Road. It’s located along the stretch of shop houses behind UE Square, where The Patissier is. It shouldn’t be too hard to miss.
There a number of tweaks the chef has applied to this new restaurant, that are bound to please locals.
Chikuwa Tei is open to reservations (Tel: 65-6738-9395) but you shouldn’t have to yet. I called barely an hour in advance yet managed to book seats for a Friday evening (upon arriving I found out there wasn’t a need to though, as there were adequate vacancies).
The brighter ambiance is definitely a welcome change. Compared to the cramped 16 counter seats at Far East Plaza, Chikuwa Tei is huge. The seating area alone is 4 times the size of the older shop. There’s also a kitchen as large as the the restaurant itself up back and a waiting area even.
In the past, the chef earned a reputation among the hordes of patrons for being rather unfriendly. I never took any notice of it before but under his previous conditions, I’d be grumpy too. Netizens have reported that the chef’s personality has taken a full 360 degree turn for the better. I’m guessing that he walked away with a great deal during the sale of his shop. He now has a whole army of helpers.
Sawagani crabs were a new addition to their menu. These are the same tiny river crabs that you’d previously find as fried snacks in the supermarket. The menacing little buggers were kept fresh at the restaurant and cooked live for our sadistic satisfaction.
The crabs are generally tasteless, since they are too small to contain any significant amount of flesh. You are effectively eating a mouthful of shell. It’s definitely worth a try though, if only for the novelty of it.
Yan ordered their trademark Chirashi sushi while I decided to take my chances with their sushi and udon combo. They serve random appetizers now. The woman who took our order was ridiculously courteous, at least by Singapore standards.
Local food blogs had always raved about the generous chunks of salmon at in Wasabi Tei’s chirashi sushi. Save the new fancy tableware, the dish remains unchanged, if anything, servings seem to be larger than what I last remembered. Parasite lovers rejoice, you’re still going to find the same large servings of raw fish topped over sushi rice.
The udon and sushi set was ok. Wasn’t the best idea to order sushi at a place better known for its sashimi. According to the waitress what sushi was served in the set depended on what was available that day. It arrived identical to the picture in the menu. The fish was really fresh and the cuts were great. Even though I usually have a gag reflex toward the general fishiness of salmon, the ones served today were tame enough to eat without difficult. That’s saying a lot. I particularly enjoyed the swordfish.
Many have already noted that Chikuwa Tei is a tad pricier than before. But unless you still happen to be in school, you’d probably want to pay the difference instead of wasting an hour queuing. The improvements to the venue, are certainly worth the price and sets are still an affordable 30 bucks even after service charge and tax. You can even take your time to eat now.
The new location makes it a viable alternative to Liang Court’s Tanpopo, if you’re in the area and urging for better fish at a reduced price.
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