Wednesday, April 10, 2024
HomefoodFood Picks: Tenshima, Cheeky Bee Hoon, Warming Rice Noodle

Food Picks: Tenshima, Cheeky Bee Hoon, Warming Rice Noodle

Tenshima

Choices for tendon, tempura served over a bowl of rice, abound in Singapore. But there are only a handful of places to go for the luxe stuff – good ingredients fried piece by piece, lightly covered in batter that will not trigger a food coma.

Tenshima, a new 10-seat restaurant at Millenia Walk, is one such restaurant.

Dinner, at $400++ a person, is too rich for my blood. But the Omakase Lunch, priced at $180++ a person, offers good value. For that, the diner gets an appetiser, palate cleanser, seven pieces of tempura plus one premium tempura, and a choice of tendon or tencha to round off the meal.

Chef Takahiro Shima, 41, who spent 16 years practising the art of kaiseki, brings that sensibility to tempura. Ingredients are prepared meticulously before frying.

For instance, kisu or Japanese whiting is salted and cut in such a way as to eliminate fishy smells. It emerges light and crisp after frying, to be enjoyed dipped in tempura sauce and grated daikon.

The tiger prawn head emerges from hot oil just lightly coated with batter, made with low-gluten cake flour. That ephemeral coating allows the flavour of the prawn head to shine. In some ways, the head is more compelling than the body.

Cold, sweet sea urchin sits on a sheet of nori lightly battered, and topped with a dollop of caviar and freshly grated wasabi. The contrasts between hot and cool, crisp and creamy, are just delightful.

If you go, I hope Japanese corn is still in season. The chef slices the kernels off white and yellow corn, and presses them together before frying. Each bite is crisp and sweet.

Dessert is no afterthought either. Sweet potatoes are steamed for six to seven hours, dry-aged in the chiller for two days and then coated in batter, fried and served with milk ice cream. It is a sweet way to end the meal.

Where: 01-09 Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles BoulevardMRT: PromenadeOpen: 12.30 to 3pm (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays to Sundays), 6.30 to 10pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on MondaysTel: 6226-6666Info: ten-shima.com

Cheeky Bee Hoon

Ping-ponging around Singapore for work on a rainy day takes its toll and, by late afternoon, my spirits are flagging.

I am in the Katong area and stumble, quite literally, on Cheeky Bee Hoon.

I duck in and am enchanted by the retro vibe of the place: old photographs, an old calendar, an old clock – you get the idea.

Then I start on my bowl of Signature Cheeky Bee Hoon ($11.80) and swoon. It is everything I want that day: a hot bowl of noodles in a rich stock full of oomph, filled with rice noodles, minced pork, meatballs and clams.

I am grateful for the personable front-of-house staff, who recommends I get the bundle deal. For $13.80, I get a drink – I pick a too-sweet pink guava concoction – and, crucially, a gratis plate of charcoal youtiao.

Those crullers are crunchy and greaseless, which is quite a feat. They are not made in-house, but they are perfect for dunking into that flavourful stock. I finish the entire plate – no regrets, no guilt.

What makes everything even better is a condiment I help myself to. I spurn the chopped fresh garlic and chilli in favour of a green sauce. One taste and I am smitten – it is a runny coriander pesto, thickened with peanuts. Fresh, vibrant and tangy, it is perfect with the noodles.

The rest of the menu is simple – Cheeky Bee Hoon Soup ($8.80), Cheeky Bee Hoon Dry ($8.80) and Cheeky Bee Hoon with braised pork ($8.80).

There are some side dishes and I pick Crab Dumpling Soup ($4.80). The plump dumplings, with crunch from water chestnuts, are good, but I would save my calories for another plate of Charcoal You Tiao ($2.50).

Where: 37 East Coast RoadMRT: Marine ParadeOpen: 10am to 9pm dailyInfo: @cheekybeehoon on Instagram

Warming Rice Noodle Singapore

Suan cai yu, that Sichuan dish of fish in a pickled mustard greens broth, saved me when I fell ill last year with Covid-19.

On Day 5, I lost my senses of taste and smell, and panicked. I contemplated changing careers. What good is a food writer who cannot smell or taste anything?

That fish dish, which I ordered in, convinced me that all was not lost. I could not taste the nuances of the broth, but its spicy and numbing qualities registered vaguely on my tongue.

Two days later, the sensations were stronger. Two days after that, my head exploded from the heat.

Yes, I ordered suan cai yu every two days until I got my groove back.

Warming Rice Noodle in South Bridge Road serves a good Pickled Cabbage Fish Soup ($7.50), suan cai yu by another name.

Chilli coward that I am, I appreciate how the heat and numbing qualities are mild. What is important to me is the sour tang of the soup – and this one has it.

I have my soup with rice, but need not have bothered. Aside from slices of what tastes like catfish, the bowl is also loaded with enoki mushrooms and tofu noodles – a balanced meal, in my opinion.

It is sweltering that day, but I plough on regardless. Always good to know my tastebuds are working.

Where: 201 South Bridge RoadMRT: Clarke QuayOpen: 11am to 10pm daily

More On This Topic

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Food Picks: Tacos at Canchita, SuperNature moves to Dempsey, Burmese fare at Burma Social

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