Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tetsu @Tanglin Mall

It's been ages since I've done a food review, haven been eating out much and I can't really be bothered to write.. but since this was an outing organized by a blogger, I think I should just write and give my comments.. It's gonna be harsh coz it's based on what I know about Japanese fine dining..

It was a dinner organized by Wenwei's friend's bf.. Good effort on Rayner's end to organize the dinner, bad effort on the chef for the sub-standard food. Either the chef cannot handle large orders (for 32 pax), or my standards are too high, which I dun really think is the case as even Wenwei complained about the food.

The best comment about the whole dinner was..

Thank goodness it's only $40!

If I had to pay anything near the 120 bucks as mentioned, I would had talked to the manager and asked for a refund. The food is nowhere near the $100/pax kinda standard. My expectations for the place is pretty high after reading all the reviews and I haven't had a good japanese meal in ages, but the dinner was really a flop.

First thing first, just coz food is served in pretty little bowls doesn't make it keiseki.. To me, keiseki is an experience, the ambience of the restaurant, the waitress, the delicate food, the exquisite taste, the wonderful mix of flavours, Tetsu just dun make the cut in my books.. The ambience is nice but not the greatest, in terms of decor, I prefer Shoyu @ Central even though the food is pretty bad; even Ko is much better with it's simple but tasteful decoration, or maybe the decor of Tetsu just dun make any impression on me.

Now the food.. hmm.. to give the chef credit, there are several dishes which were pretty good, but overall, the standard is not fine dining, it's more like having dinner at Sakae, mass produced food for the masses.

The first dish was Kami Tofu and Kajiki Tataki.
I dun take raw stuff, but my sister liked the swordfish, according to her it's nice and chewy. The tofu with century egg was pretty good, it was an interesting mix of texture and taste. Good effort by the chef as the century egg did not have the overpowering kinda taste.

Up next is Sashimi Moriwase.
Again I dun take raw stuff but the sashimi was pretty good coz they gave mid-grade tuna (that's what my sister said and she does know her sashimi). The daikon is pretty good thought, they didn't soak it in water and it's nice and crisp.

The clear soup is bad..
Clear soup is meant to clear your plalette so it's should be very light but still flavourful. This fish soup was just fishy.. I dun like.

Gindara No Saikyouyaki, sounds cheem, basically it's just miso-grill cod.
The freshness of the cod is very important when it comes to taste, if it's fresh, the taste is superb, if not, the meat is just bland and dry. Some ingredient you can still cover with strong spices, but you can't do that with cod. The cod was not fresh and overdone. There was not much taste and the characteristic sweetness of the meat is missing.

Then after a very long wait.. the "main dish" finally appeared. There was hot udon, Hire and Rosu Katsu, Ebi Age, Soft-shell Crab Age, Scallop Age, Tempura Mori (Lotus Root, Mushroom and Capsicum) plus Dakonni.

The problem with serving large groups is that it's difficult to control the timing, sadly the udon was sitting in the soup for too long before it was served. The udon can easily be the best dish if it's served pipping with tender noodles, but they took too long to serve and the noodles were soft. The soup was still good though, so I think this dish can definitely be better if we ordered individually.

Daikonni is basically stewed vegetables, it's again a simple dish but one which is difficult to prepare due to its simplicity. The daikon is overdone and ends up leaving a bitter taste in the mouth.

Tetsu is famous for their kushi-style dishes but it was a total disappointment, if they are famous for their katsu, I dunno what to say about Tonkichi. Wenwei and I just had dinner at Tonkichi the week before, so we could tell the vast difference between good katsu and cannot-make-it katsu. The katsu was overdone, the meat was all dry, the skin was soggy.. When you eat katsu, what you want to get it the feeling of crispness on your teeth, followed by the burst of meat juices when you bite into the meat, that's the kind of meat you get at Tonkichi, not Tetsu.

Not to mention the katsu was oily, plus the sauce is just.. .. the brown katsu sauce is waaaaayyy too salty, dun the chef taste the sauce to make sure it's ok before serving? And what's with the 3 tiny drop of sauce?? Again timing, the sauce had been left out for too long that it formed a layer of "skin" on the surface, and it's just a teeny drop which you finish in one bite with nothing left for the rest of the food.

Ebi was not fresh, the meat sticks to the bamboo stick; soft-shell crab is oily and not meaty; scallop age is.. .. .. I just had scallops the other day at Crystal Jade and it's big, juicy and most importantly, sweet. The scallop at Tetsu is big, no juice and bland, there's like hardly any taste, the fake scallop meat taste so much better.

The tempura was ok to me but my sister complained that it was too oily.

The dessert.. Rayner was telling us that they made it fresh on the day itself.. well, I think the dumplings were freshly made, other than that, the green tea ice cream is definitely off the shelf and so are the red beans.

Like I mentioned earlier, it's good effort on Rayner's part to organize the dinner and get us a good lobang, but the chef really needs to step to the challenge. Serving 32 pax at one go is a challenge but as a chef, you have to really do it. And the thing is, the serving is kinda off, we were the first ones to be served and when we finish our food, I can see the waitress just about to serve the people at the other tables. They really have to do something about this timing issue.

Dining experience: 3 out of 10


His Food Blog said...

*OUCH* - heh - thanks for coming. Hopefully it doesn't turn you off too much that you dun turn up for my next makan session. :P

But I do agree with most of your points. I reckon that the kitchen is not ready to serve so many pax at one go, which probably resulted in so many minus pts.

Anonymous said...

Like you, I am one of those that had the previlage to attend "His Food Blog's" first makan session.

I personally think that your expectation is too high, yes even though it may only be for $40, I think all the staff has put in a tremendous amount of effort for us in preparation and service.

I really do not understand why you prefer "Shoyu" if the food is "pretty bad". Do you actually go for "pretty bad" food even though the ambience is nice. Am I right to assume that you prefer "pretty bad" food ahead of "pretty decent" food because the ambience is better?

Having attended "His Food Blog" first makan session, I do not think that the chef has produced the food like what u said "for masses". First of all it was never sold to us as a fine dining standard.

Another question that I have is that knowing sashimi will be served and you don't take raw stuff why did you even bother to go for this makan session?

I really thought the the daikonni was very special and well prepared, kudos to the chef. With every bite, the flavours gentlely explodes in the mouth. The fish soup was light and delicious a good break from the food that we were having.

The kushi style dishes we had was amazing, except that the portion was a little small, it was not like you mentioned about the meat being dry and skin soggy. In fact, the meat was juicy and the skin crispy, you must have left it sitting there for a while before digging into it, hence the "dry" meat and the "soggy" skin.

I really don't believe that you are comparing Crystal Jade's scallop to Tetsu's. The scallops in Crystal Jade's were braised and the ones we had was deep fried. Two different cooking methods!!!! Please try to compare an apple with another apple.

I have to seriously disagree with most of your comments and I really think that you have to re-postion yourself on writing these kind of demeaning and condamning statements. I can fully understand that if try to be constructive but using words like "cannot make it" and "sub standard" are certainly not making it constructive. If you really have nothing nice to say, I would advice you NOT to say anything.

Lastly, to the staff of TETSU, though I'm not a big fan of Japanese food,my wife is certainly is, and we'll be there again very soon even if it is gonna cost more than $40. Well done!!

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous:

If you wanna flame, do it with balls and not remain anonymous.

If you want to suck up to HFB, leave your name so i'll ask Rayner to send u the next invite for his next makan session PRONTO.

If you're from Tetsu or related to the marketing agency/employee of theirs, F. OFF..

Look at HFB's comment, he agrees with this blog as do many of us who sat in that corner with him.

I was there at the Makan session, with Jayce and her family..

Jayce was there as an invitation extended to her by me, and my invitation was extended to me by HFB's girlfriend herself.

We were the group of diners seated directly next to Rayner's table.

All four of us at the very table had the same sentiments..
Either you have a very bad taste bud, or you have a VERY LOW standard for good food..

Of couse we had high expectations.. for a meal supposedly costing $128 at a up-market shopping mall like Tanglin Mall, were you expecting Yoshinoya quality?!?!

Or perhaps you thought that from a menu of $128 being slashed to $40, you can accept a 75% drop in quality?

Yes, the Ambience was nice. The service was great, the makan session was great, the presentation are great, the people are all great, but the food, are just plainly, plain. Normal. Nothing to shout home about.

I won't say the food sucked, but they're definitely not fantastic and just not worth the supposed $128.

Even Waraku has been tasting food!

In my ending words, as i wrote in my survey "Thank god it only cost me $40!"..
If fact, i felt bad asking Jayce and company along to such normal food, as we were all expecting some really nice jap food!

Jayce said...

hmm.. dear anony 2.41pm, u dun happen to be a politician right? ur tone is totally like them. I think you are right, I should not say anything if I have nothing nice to say, someone might find me a nuisance and try to fix me.

I strongly believe that we were dining at different restaurants, that would explain the difference in our dining experience.. I mean how else can you praise the place to the skies but I honestly think that the cooked food is pretty bad.. The cold dishes are ok, but the cooked food, I will really just give it a miss. We must be eating at different places, or maybe we were in different dimensions! Now that's interesting, we're in the same restaurant, but in different dimensions, that's why our experience was so different.

Or.. or.. a simpler explanation might be that the chef is inconsistent. Batch 1 lousy, batch 2 good, batch 3 so-so, batch 4 fantastic! So that must be it! The chef cannot consistently produce the same kinda taste.. erm.. but isn't that kinda.. oh well.. it's erm.. isn't this worse than the timing issue? A chef who just cannot produce the same kind of taste, not even similar tasting food..

my my, the swords hidden in your words.. people can get killed without knowing why. So politician.. opps, did I say politicians?