Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Chikusen: Fresh, Hearty Japanese Fare
Chikusen translated literally means bamboo and spring water which is clearly reflected in whole feel of the place. Very zen feel to say the least and it creates that calm, graceful and serene environment. Feels almost the we are at separated from our usual routine and really a place to rest the mind.
Now that we are all relaxed and calm, we are ready to our tasting menu.
The featured menu for today is the Spring Course which will run from April to June 2014. At $138++ for two pax, we think it's value. Plus if reservation is made one day in advanced, a complimentary 300ml sake with every order of the spring course will be given.
A picture of the bar and the sake we had with our menu. Sake is courtesy of the fine people of Whistler Wine & Spirits Pte Ltd. Totally love the deep taste and fresh aroma, very easy to drink.
The real deal. Fresh wasabi on a shark skin grater. Only way to do it with fresh authentic Japanese cuisine.
Grilled Fresh Bamboo Shoot & Canola Blossom
The lightly grilled fresh bamboo shoot was an absolute delight! Salted very lightly with bamboo salt, it tastes of sweet, fresh doesn't have a hint of the funny (urine?) smell usually associated with processed bamboo shoots. Grilled perfectly with the little bit of crunch to it too. A delight!
The tender shoots of the rapeseed (canola) plant was plain and simple. A good start to the meal.
Momotaro Tomato with Wasabi Yuzu Dressing
Was expecting the bursting flavours from the momotaro tomato but somehow it fell below that. The wasabi yuzu could have done with a bit of kicker from the wasabi or yuzu but they seemed drowned by the shoyu. The quality of the ingredients were great, and the tomatoes actually tasted pretty good with the onions, but somehow fell short of the oomph.
Bonito, Soyori & Bream Sashimi
The bonito is from the mackerel family and is known to be an oily fish. It's flesh has the same deep red hue of tuna, and it tastes very close to what tuna taste like. Firm and sweet, it goes with the accompanying dipping sauce.
The bream was rich flavour to it. Goes well with the bamboo salt which really accentuates the freshness and sweetness of the fish.
The soyori has flesh that is densely packed and firm. It's actually our favourite piece on the plate. Crunchy and great texture, light and delicate, dip it in shoyu and the fresh wasabi. Heavenly.
Braised Rockfish (Mebaru) with Foie Gras, Mushroom, Devil's Tongue & Fresh Bamboo Shoot
Ok. The fish looks ugly here but it does not reflect the taste. The grilled version actually looks pretty. The meat is delicate and sweet and needs careful preparation. The foie gras gives that rich fatty edge to a dish that is otherwise light in the form of the texture of the fish but great in taste.
Next up. Meat dish. Two options of the sukiyaki, wagyu beef and black pork. The wagyu beef, being wagyu tasted really awesome as you would expect. But we think the black pork actually goes better with the sukiyaki broth. Heads up, the sukiyaki is done as close to what is served in Japan and it could be a tad sweet for our local palate. We love it though! Full of flavours, especially with the egg dip. There is an option to order a lighter version.
The noodle is cooked in fish broth and topped with spring onions. It looked like mee-sua when it was first served and apparently this is a Okinawa cuisine and thus has Chinese influence. We love this! There is a little bit of wok-hei and the noodle had soaked up all the fish broth and it is super flavourful! Very nice ending to the meal. Love it.
Last course of the Spring menu is of course the dessert. The plum jelly was a bit scary actually with its bright green. Sour as you would expect and it does a great job in cleansing the palate, especially after the heavy (but great) tasting sukiyaki. The drizzle of plum sauce brings the whole sweet and sour thing very nicely together. Bright green or not, we are won over.
There are hits and misses but generally the Spring Menu is well designed to go from light to heavy and finishes off nicely. The portions are good for sharing but may not be enough for big eaters. The accompanying sake definitely helps too. Great for dates and quiet moments, and the Zen ambience helps too.
We also got to try some of the items from the main menu.
Bluefin Tuna Eye
Yes, it looked it is something out of an alien movie.
Grilled and served with eyes down. The fatty parts, with the attaching muscles was actually pretty good. Many regulars like to order this. The lemon juice helps cut the fats and heavy sauce. At $30, it is worth sharing. Perhaps not on your first date. Unless you are out to impress.
And we are not done. The eye socket will be deep fried thereafter. It is supposedly rich in calcium and we actually liked it! It taste like potato or tapioca chips. Great stuff, but maybe not for the faint hearted.
Signature Maki Sushi
Well concocted with the crispy fried crab and mentaiko on it. We can understand why it is a top seller.
Wagyu Beef Tongue
Well cooked, fatty and a little gamey. It's like a cross between a lean meat and foie gras.
Four Heavenly Kings
This is the champion beer/sake grub. (From closest to farthest) Namely the lumberjack leather fish which taste like cuttlefish but a whole lot more atas, the pufferfish that taste like bak kwa but nice, stingray fins which is crunchy and anchovies mat which is the bomb. Apparently you can drink more with these 4 heavenly kings. And we can surely attest to that. #truestory.
Overall it was a great dining experience and it is definitely worth a visit.
Chikusen Japanese Restaurant
309/311 Tanjong Katong Road
Open all days
6PM - 1015PM