Tempted by Teppei

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Tight cosy corner

I’ve been to Teppei twice in 2014, in a span of a few months. Both times at the gracious invitation of friends who dropped out and desperately needed to find someone to fill the seat. Although I paid my own, I was grateful knowing that it was because someone had reserved the seat 4 months prior. (Now wait time is 6 months).

However, I’m not a fan of Teppei Omakase. The menu is about S$80 or S$100 per pax. Omakase fine dining price without the fine dining experience.  I went a second time, because my companions were so enthusiastic that I thought surely I was wrong.  If you happen to be lucky to get a seat after a 4 month wait, know that you need to come early. There’re two seatings, one at 630pm and second at 8pm. You and your guest must order the same menu. You sit around the chef and his help, which makes for easy serving. Talk about saving space and movement. Seamless. At times you are served food on a skewer, which saves washing dishes. Or even having any dishes in the first place.

Many of the guests are young, and in their twenties to thirties. Some are obviously return customers, buying the chef a drink of sake.

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Salad – sauce tastes like the sesame kind you buy from Japanese supermarket

Very fresh seafood.

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Sashimi

The momotaro peach tomato lollipop is very delicious. A sliver of a tomato served on a bamboo skewer, eaten like a lollipop. According to the chef is freshly flown in from a secret source in Japan. No extra ingredient, although I do suspect he marinated it with sugar and vinegar. Even sashimi is cured and treated/cured – but well, let’s take it as a trade secret.

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Puffed rice – pop corn style

Beyond these items, there’s the typical chawanmushi (egg custard), choice of ice-cream either green tea, vanilla or black sesame.

Its the surprise element, of puffed rice, this green vegetable with ice-like particles (but not). Ingredients are very fresh, and likely flown straight from Tsukiji market in Tokyo.

Plus points:
With so many loyal customers, its no surprise that he changes his menu every season.
Cozy atmosphere, where you’re cheek, jowl and elbow to elbow.
No fine embellishment or decoration, very environmentally friendly.
Pure respect for the raw material and the relationships with the farmer, fisherman and the whole logistics supply chain.
Worth trying at least once

Negative points:
Maybe I need to reassess my perception of Japanese dining
Too rushed

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Green with ice particles

Little surprises such as this green vegetable that looks like it has ice particles and frozen with crystal. But is room-temperature.

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Crunchy crab

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Sashimi served on spoon

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Tender fatty beef

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Fish liver

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Soup

Puffer fish sliced is served.

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Definitely go for the sushi rice with umi, fish roe, sashimi

One doesn’t realise how filing the meal is. Definitely for a team building with friends in groups of not more than 6. Its noisy, the atmosphere is great as ice-breaker. Relaxed, roll-up-your sleeves kind of place.

To eat here, one takes on the perspective of 12th century Zen master who learnt to appreciate the role of a kitchen cook from a monastery in China. He pened:

In preparing food never view it from the perspective of usual mind. [Dogen]

If you only have wild grasses with which to make a broth, do not disdain them. [Dogen]

In preparing food, it is essential to be sincere and to respect each ingredient irregardless of how coarse or fine it is . . . Even the grandest offering to the Buddha, if insincere, is worth less than the smallest sincere offering in bringing about a connection with awakening. [Dogen]

From this perspective, Teppei has achieved the level which ingredient takes centre stage, and never the form

Teppei Japanese Restaurant
1 Tras Link #01-18 Orchid Hotel (Tanjong Pagar MRT) Tel:+65 6222 7363 (Please call to reserve seats)
Open daily: 12 noon – 2.30 pm; 6.30 pm – 10.30 pm

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