- Add: 9 Mohamed Sultan Rd
- Daily Opening Hours: 1130am-3pm, 6pm-10pm
- Contact: 6738 9395
- Great for: Good quality chirashi don and an extensive menu list
Google for Chirashi Don and Chikuwa Tei’s Hungrygowhere link will be the top search result. Speaks volumes about this place doesn’t it?
With a nondescript interior, Chikuwatei is a no-frills Japanese restaurant set up by the chef/owner of the famed Wasabi Tei at Far East Plaza previously. He has since moved on to another establishment. Although customers flock here for the Chirashi Don, the restaurant serves up dozens of other typical japanese dishes you would find elsewhere. Special mention goes to the Chawanmushi which SJ ordered. Silky and full of flavour!
Now, for the Chirashi Don analysis.
The base is lined with a thin layer of sushi rice, dusted with some shredded seaweed and sesame seeds. A meticulously-arranged pile of Sashimi (you are allowed to make some special requests), tamago, salmon roe and the obligatory slice of cucumber rest on top. Simple, yet elegant. At $25 ++ per bowl, Chikuwa Tei pays special attention to the quality and aesthetic appeal of the dish. Definitely worth every penny. However, I swore that I wouldn’t attempt another round of Chikuwa Tei’s chirashi don alone the next time, the portions were simply too ginormous – and that it always a good thing for most.
- Add: 1 Tras Link, #01-18 (Orchird Hotel)
- Daily Opening Hours: 12pm-230pm, 630pm-1030pm
- Contact: 6222 7363
A 6-month wait in Singapore for a meal? Well, Teppei is definitely infamous for that. Thankfully, that only applies to their dinner omakase meal openings and those who do not have the patience of a saint (don’t worry, you aren’t alone) could check them out for their lunch offerings.
Now, there is a strategy with regards to planning a lunch at Teppei: Never, ever attempt to turn up at 12 noon (their lunch opening hour) thinking you will be the first one being let in to their 16-seater restaurant. Nah ah, there are 120398218273 Singaporeans who are more kiasu than you and you will find yourself staring in disbelief at this 120398218273 queuing outside the restaurant at 1130am (and this is where i would do the “I kena before” look). Be prepared to wait for an hour if you do that. Planning for a late lunch at 1-2pm is definitely a much safer bet if you don’t want to be standing in line while dealing with your growling tummy.
Once seated,you will be handed a menu filled with tempura set meals which gives no clue whatsoever that their bestseller does not involve the fryer. After flipping the laminated menu page back and forth a couple of times, you will find your sua-koo self whispering to the service crew in an embarrassed tone “erm…. you serve Chirashi Dons right?”. Yes…they do. Place an order for this “classified” dish direct with the waitress when you get there.
The Bara Chirashi Don at Teppei definitely lives up to the “Chirashi” spirit. Cubed sashimi were scattered on top of a warm heap of sushi rice with shreds of roasted seaweed, sesame seeds and fresh pea sprouts. The plating was unlike that of Chikuwa Tei’s and made each mouthful a little more manageable. In terms of palate complexity, Teppei’s rendition was on the other end of the spectrum as compared to Chikuwa Tei. While the latter emphasized on the ‘clean’ pristine-ness of the sashimi, Teppei decided to throw in a blend of sauces together with fish. Sadly, I wasn’t a big fan of it. Although it provided another dimension to the dish, it masked the natural flavours of the fish -which is a waste if you are a big fan of sashimis. That being said, it is definitely still a very decent bowl of Chirashi Don at $17.90/bowl (you can upgrade it to the $25 version). Appetizers (spiced pickled radish + oden) and cold tea also come free with lunch.
Besides the fact that it was extremely value-for-money, I enjoyed dining within Teppei too. Being a big fan of open-kitchen concepts, Teppei’s counter seating surrounding the central kitchen is akin to watching a movie with Gold Class tickets. The synchronous maneuvers of the chefs as they make their way around the tempura fryers and sashimi cutting boards was a joy to watch. It was a ‘cramped’ experience (we did not even have the space on our counter tables to place our side dishes) where customers and service staff alike had to work around a very limited walking and serving space. All the more cosier though.
In short, both eateries are great and I don’t think you will go wrong with any of them. For a cleaner version of the chirashi don and a comfortable dining area – Chikuwatei. For those with a tight budget, gets bored with just pure sashimi/rice and loves to see chefs in action – Teppei.
To avoid disappointment, a little strategizing would be needed:
Chikuwatei: Please reserve before hand!
Teppei: Avoid those peak lunch hour queues.