Sunday, November 24, 2013

Omakase at Teppei, Orchid Hotel - a (Japanese) Whirlwind Ride

Sunday, November 24, 2013
Omakase @ Teppei

Omakase is the next thing to go mass market, right? All of a sudden Japanese shops are all serving "omakase" meals (literally meaning "I'll leave it to you"), what was once offered only by the best restaurants in town. Perhaps the decadence and meaning in "omakase" is slipping somewhat, or perhaps decadence is now offered to more - I suppose it's how you see it. Now, not all omakase meals live up to expectations, especially at the more competitive price points (see, it's a lot easier to impress when you give the chef, say, $200 to please you, than say, $60) but Teppei manages to give a helluva ride at a price that seriously won't burn your pocket. Obviously everyone knows this already, or their dinner reservations won't be full till April next year, eh?

Salad, Omakase @ Teppei
Fish Oden, Omakase @ Teppei
Salad, Oden

The three price points to choose from have gone up slightly ($50, $60, $80). At my visit, $60 would get you otoro, and $80 would get you an upgraded wagyu from the Saga prefecture in Japan (since it's "omakase", the offerings would likely change from time to time, or even day to day, but the gist remains). Now, before you get giddy with excitement, there are hits and misses. At times the fish falters, and there are a number of dishes I didn't exactly care for. But there were also dishes that were truly incredibly or creative, and the non-stop sequence of dishes (21 bite-sized morsels and 1 main altogether!) really made me feel like I went on a wondrous whirlwind ride around Japan. I chose the $80 meal since I have absolutely no clue when I'll next be able to secure a reservation. Once everyone was seated, the meal began with a portion of salad in creamy sesame dressing, and an oden with pieces of radish and fish. Safe, basic dishes.

Tofu Skin, Omakase @ Teppei
Grilled Edamame, Omakase @ Teppei
Tofu Skin, Grilled Edamame

The next dish was tofu skin that was silky, delicate and surprisingly delicious. The grilled edamame was a pleasant surprise. I've never thought to grill edamame! The charred skin added a wonderful "smokiness" to the beans.

Sashimi, Omakase @ TeppeiOtoro, Omakase @ Teppei

The sashimi platter was next. I was so stoked about the otoro, but it just wasn't as great as I hoped it could be. Sushi Kuu still gets my vote for sashimi. The swordfish and scallop were delicious though.

Pumpkin Chawanmushi, Omakase @ Teppei
Negitoro Handroll, Omakase @ Teppei
Pumpkin Chawanmushi, Negitoro Handroll

The pumpkin chawanmushi was also a delight. It was drizzled with curry (and bits of chicken), but the real surprise was within, when we took a scoop of custard and found pumpkin mash hiding below! The combination tasted fabulous. The chef then handed us a handroll with negitoro and crispy tempura batter, which was just delicious.

Grilled Yellow Tail Cheek, Omakase @ Teppei
Oyster, Omakase @ Teppei
Grilled Yellow Tail Cheek, Oyster

The grilled yellow tail cheek was wonderful, too, especially with a squeeze of lime - so juicy and moist. The oysters were drizzled with a mixture of soy and mirin with a dollop of spicy cod roe - unsurprisingly, I polished it in a second.

Fried Fish, Omakase @ Teppei
Baby Sardine, Omakase @ Teppei
Fried Yellow Tail Cheek, Grilled Baby Sardine

A tiny, fried fish was next (no, it wasn't shishamo). We were advised to eat the entire fish (head and tail, too), so we did as we were told. Tasted really good! Next, we were handed a curious square sheet of baby sardines, grilled the way we grill cuttlefish in South East Asia - didn't taste too different from cuttlefish either, with a nice smoky flavour.

Scallop Sushi with Uni, Omakase @ Teppei
Scallop Mentaiko, Omakase @ Teppei
Scallop Sushi with Uni, Scallop Mentaiko

Sushi at Teppei is served in spoons. Not too sure why that is, but since it tasted good, I'm not complaining. In this case, the scallop uni combination was just sublime. The scallop mentaiko was another delightful dish - I'm not even a fan of mashed potatoes but for some reason Teppei's mash was pleasing to the palette and not too creamy.

Flat Fish Sushi, Omakase @ Teppei
Rice Pop, Omakase @ Teppei
Flat Fish Sushi, Rice Pop

A torched flatfish sushi came next - oh, this was unexpectedly fabulous. The Toyama rice that Teppei uses had great texture and tasted fantastic. We were handed some rice pops next that looked so adorable everyone started taking pictures with it. It actually tasted just like miniature pop corn.

Baby Crabs, Omakase @ Teppei
Stewed Fish, Omakase @ Teppei
Baby Crabs, Stewed Fish

Baby crabs and stewed fish were served next - more like snacks than anything else.

Wagyu Beef (Saga Prefecture), Omakase @ Teppei
Cod Fish Sperm, Omakase @ Teppei
Wagyu Beef (Saga Prefecture), Cod Fish Sperm

Then came the wagyu beef - creamy, melt-in-your-mouth things. Tasted really wonderful, especially at the price point, although my vote still goes to Fat Cow and Hachi. What really stole the show for the night was Teppei's Shirako (cod fish sperm) lightly marinated in soy and mirin - tasted truly incredible - creamy, with the hint of unfamiliarity that is so thrilling.

Dumpling Soup,Omakase @ Teppei
Dumpling Soup, Omakase @ Teppei
Dumpling Soup

The next dish was dumpling soup. The pork dumplings were perfectly seasoned, and the broth had a hint of yuzu that really lifted the flavour.

Sushi, Omakase @ Teppei
Uni Sushi, Omakase @ Teppei

The choice of mains were sushi rice, fried rice with egg, and udon. Being the sashimi fanatic that I am, my choice was pretty clear. The sushi was really, really good. For some reason the sushi tasted better than the sashimi. My favourite was the uni sushi, which tasted like a clean burst of the ocean. The flat fish tasted great, too.

Walnut Ice-Cream, Omakase @ Teppei
Yuzu Ice-cream, Omakase @ Teppei
Walnut and Yuzu Ice-cream

Dessert was a scoop of ice-cream of your choice. We chose walnut and yuzu - both were lovely flavours that marked a sweet end to a remarkable dinner experience.

P.S. While reservations are full till April next year, it's possible to put your name up in the waiting list for any dates between now and April. Chances are, you'll get lucky.

Lunch at Teppei/ Hana Hana

#01-18, Orchid Hotel,
1 Tras Link
Tel: 65 62227363

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Leave a comment (2)

  1. The rice pop is so interesting. I have never tried it before.

    1. It was! I checked out your dinner at Teppei too - the squid with soft bones looked so intriguing!


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