Sushi Tei, China Square Central

The September L.A. Lunch was held at Sushi Tei at China Square. This restaurant is perpetually crowded during lunches, and worse on Fridays. Because Sushi Tei doesn't take reservations, a few of us trooped down early and "reserved seats" by parking our butts along a stretch of tables. That way, by the time the rest arrived, we've got an entire section all to ourselves.

I usually love going to Sushi Tei, but it was very crowded that day and I think the kitchen was overworked, so the food wasn't as good as it should have been. The quality of the dishes turned out inconsistent and sloppy. 

We started off with the Shiretoko ($68) 6 kinds of sashimi, yellowtail, sea urchin, salmon, swordfish, tuna belly, sea bream. They were fresh, clean and sweet.

The Ikura Shoyuzuke ($6.50) Salmon Roe was a burst of briny flavours, reminiscent of the sparkling blue sea.

The Ootoro ($24) Tuna Belly Sashimi, whilst fresh, was a little too sinewy for my liking. It didn't melt on the tongue as such a fatty fish should.

CC, being the most health conscious of us lot, ordered the Sashimi Salad ($9) with Wafuu Dressing, which was crisp, refreshing and flavoursome. Because wafuu dressing is very light and piquant, CC, who usually does without the dressing, was scooping oodles of it onto his salad.

I like the Golden Roll ($14) Mango & King Prawn Sushi Roll. The sweetness of the mangoes complements the savoury flavours of the breaded prawn encased in the moist sushi rice.

The Potato Salad ($7) was another one of CC's orders (you will notice that CC's choices are usually the healthier options). Freshly mashed potatoes (not the powdery instant types) were nicely chilled and I liked that there wasn't much mayonnaise in the salad. This was actually quite light, with a little mustard providing a little bite to the salad.

The Kappa Maki ($1.80), Cucumber Sushi, was obviously CC's choice. This was refreshing, chilled and crisp.

The cheese dressing on the Hotate Misomayo ($6) Grilled Scallop with Miso and Mayonnaise Sauce (2 pcs) turned out much yummier than the scallops, which were tiny, rubbery and thoroughly unsatisfying.

A closer look at the scallop, the melted cheese on top was much better than the scallop underneath. 

The Hanasaki Ika Tempura ($5.50) Squid Tempura, was as good as ever, a yummy crisp snack.

The Professor, the consummate beef lover, must have had about 3 portions of the Teriyaki Steak with Garlic ($12). The beef was tender and robust, with aromatic garlic lending fragrance to the red meat.

Mr J and I prefer the Gyuniku Roll ($10) Beef with Golden Mushroom, the earthiness of the mushrooms complements the heady flavours of the beef. This was a nice balance of textures, crunchy mushrooms and tender beef.

The Hotate Teriyaki ($5) Grilled Scallop with Teriyaki Sauce, was another disappointment. The scallops are just too small and tiny. These were still rubbery, but not as rubbery as the Hotate Misomayo.

The Soft Shell Crab ($10) was a good dish, crab was fried to a golden crisp yet moist on the inside, fragrant and delightful.

The Ebi Mentaiyaki ($18) Grilled Prawn with Cod Roe. I've never been a fan of lobster (yes, seriously) and I generally prefer prawns instead, so this was a treat. This was delectable, with creamy cod roe grilled to a thin golden crust.

The Ebiten Floss Maki ($4.50) Fried Prawn with Fish Floss Sushi, is one of those fusion creations that pairs very well.

The Ika Sugatayaki Shio ($8) Grilled Squid with Salt, wasn't great either, it was grilled too long and turned out rubbery.

The Hamachi ($12) Yellow Tail Sashimi, was fresh, chilled and sweet, but I didn't like it. It's too "fishy" for me. 

I liked how light the Yasai Tempura ($8) Vegetable Tempura turned out. Crisp but still very light, and the vegetables still remained moist on the inside.

The Ebi Tempura ($10) Prawn Tempura seemed a little overfried. Still, the prawns were crunchy and sweet. The batter was just a little thick.

The Gindara Kama Saikyoyaki ($10) Grilled Cod Cheek with Saikyo Miso, part of the Summer Promotion, was not bad, soft and smooth, creamy and mild, but it was very bony. We would have preferred the fillet part of the fish though, the cheek wasn't our favourite part.

The Maguro Sashimi ($8) Tuna Sashimi was better than the Otoro, less sinewy. Soft, fresh and yummy.

The Yuzu Sherbet ($3.20), the Japanese version of our Mandarin oranges, was a brilliant way to finish the meal, the citrusy icy sorbet cut through that huge amount of food and made us feel light and digested

The Chocolate Wafer ($3.20) is another of my favourite desserts here, vanilla ice-cream filled a chocolate-lined wafer. This was sweet but balanced.

Sushi Tei
20 Cross Street
China Square Central
Tel: 6223 0070
Open daily from 11.30am to 10pm (last order 9.30pm)
Website: www.sushitei.com/


House, Dempsey

We headed over to House for drinks and dessert after dinner at Don Quijote. I find myself frequenting House for post-meal hang-outs, as it's wonderful for chilling. The tranquil, spacious gastro-pub is open till late and serves up scrumptious sweets and small bites. 

This was Lips' recommendation, Chocolate Toffee Cake ($12), a decadent confection of fluffy chocolate sponge cake with chocolate toffee fudge and blackberries. The burnt sugar edge of the toffee lent a smoky fragrance, whilst the tart blackberries cut through the richness of the chocolate, so this didn't feel too heavy.

It's even better when the Warm Chocolate Toffee Cake ($14) is paired with vanilla ice-cream. The juxtaposition of hot and cold was as classic as peas and carrots.

The Guiltless Chocolate Affair ($14), a flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream, was a lot more indulgent than you'd expect of something purportedly "guiltless". Sumptuous.

Because there's always space for the munchies, the Calamari ($16) and whitebait and shrimp, lightly battered and fried to a yummy crunch, was paired with a chilled tar tar sauce.

We also got a Grape Boost Herbal Tea ($8 per pot), a mix of rooibus, honeybush, peach, marigold, osmanthus, jasmine petals draped in grapeseed. This was so comforting, fruity and light. No sugar was required to sweeten this lovely tea.

8D Dempsey Road
Tel: 6475 7787
Website: www.dempseyhouse.com/


Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant, Dempsey

Lips had just returned from a whirlwind trip around Europe so we met for dinner to catch up. We decided to have Spanish tapas at Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant at Dempsey, the hangout du jour for glamour pusses and beautiful people. People don't walk here, they strut. Seriously. As per "standard operating procedure", I ditched the BF for a girls' night out on the town. We always chat till the wee hours of the night and I didn't need the distraction anyway.

Don Quijote is fairly new on the local dining scene but doing pretty well as it's carved out a niche of its own. Mostly because it distinguishes itself from The Tapas Tree, a veteran of Spanish cuisine in Singapore, by serving different tapas.

Spanish tapas is like Spain's version of Chinese dim sum, but at triple the price. I guess it's because Spanish food is just not that common in this part of the world. The Spanish diet relies heavily on olive oil and garlic, very Mediterranean, very high in monounsaturated fats and apparently heart-friendly. 

The Huevos Estrellados ($14), a Madrid favourite of "broken eggs" with chorizo and potatoes was really delicious. The scrambled eggs were soft, moist and fluffy, and the skin-on potatoes were perfectly softened without being mushy. Chorizos (Spain's version of our Chinese lup cheong) provided the right amount of flavour and salt to the dish.

The Gambas Picantes con Chorizo ($14) Spicy Shrimp with Chorizo and Dried Chilli, was another yummy dish. The prawns were fresh, crunchy and mild, with olive oil and dried chilli adding a subtle heat and fragrance to the dish.

I loved the Vieiras al Horno ($19) Oven-Baked Whole Scallops with Bacon Bits. The scallops were succulent and juicy, with freshly grilled (not the instant imitation types) bacon cubes lending flavour and salt to the mild scallops.

I wasn't a fan of the tomato-based Pollo al Chilindron ($16) Slow Cooked Home Made Chicken Stew. Mostly because I prefer my stews creamy. That said, the chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and moist.

We both loved the Tacos de Lomo al Quesso Azul ($18) Tenderloin Steak Cubes with Blue Cheese. The beef was robust and tender, with aromatic and creamy warm blue cheese served on the side. I liked that the blue cheese wasn't stinky at all.

The Setas al Ajillo ($9) Garlic Fried Mixed Mushrooms is a must-order staple at any tapas restaurant. The myriad of textures, the earthiness of the mushrooms, and the aroma of garlic and olive oil made this a hit.

The Carrillada en Reduccion de Vino Tinto ($18) Beef Cheek in Red Wine Reduction was another yummy delight. The dry-ish red wine enhanced the "beefiness" of the red meat.

We really loved the Paella Valenciana ($30 for small) Shrimp and Chicken in a Saffron Stock. The rice was moist, flavoursome and absolutely addictive. We particularly liked scraping off the burnt edges. This is Spain's version of our local claypot rice.

The Complimentary Bread Basket with Tomato Butter. I liked the softened but still chilled tomato butter, tart yet sweet.

Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant
Block 7, Dempsey Road
Tel: 6476 2811
Opening Hours:
Daily for Dinner from 6pm to 10pm
Lunch only on Friday & Saturday from 11.30am to 2.30pm
Sunday Ala Carte Brunch Buffet: 11.30am to 2.30pm


Hari Raya Lunch

Every year during the Hari Raya season, the firm will organise a Hari Raya Lunch. We get to indulge in spicy Malay food for lunch. This year the lunch was catered from Absolute Catering at $9.50 per pax, which is ridiculously cheap. The food consequently was lackluster, with very few standouts.

The Mee Siam Goreng, Fried Mee Siam was not bad, the noodles weren't too dry, and it had that faint aromatic scent of tumeric and lime mee siam spices.

The Nasi Tomato, Tomato Fried Rice, was yawn-inducing, the rice was clumpy and tasteless.

The Fish Fillet with Black Bean Sauce was one of the better mains, the dory fish fillets were fairly fresh, but the batter was too thick and the black bean sauce was too starchy.

The Ayam Masak Rendang, Chicken stewed in Rendang Spices, was bad too, the chicken pieces were dry and tough.

The tiny prawns used in the Sambal Udang Madhura, Sambal Prawns, weren't fresh at all. The flesh was powdery and stuck to the shells.

The Lemak Sayur Lodeh, Curry Vegetables, fared better, the vegetables were crunchy and the coconut milk curry was substantially spicy and rich.

I would have liked the Bagedel, Potato Cutlet, if not for the fact that it was laced liberally with coriander! Urgh!

The Cream Puff wasn't too bad either, it was fluffy and light.

The Assorted Biscuit Raya, with Red Date Cookies, Peanut Cookies, Rainbow Sprinkle Cookies, and Sugar Cookies was a taste of what our Muslim friends have for Hari Raya. The Red Date Cookies (the one that looks like pineapple tarts on the top left of the plate) fared the best, the dates added a smoky sweetness to the pastry.

Absolute Catering Team Pte Ltd
8A Admiralty Street
#04-05 Food Xchange @ Admiralty
Tel: 6756 6562


Gar Lok Eating House, Syed Alwi Road

My new resolution is to meet up with my friends at least once a month. That way, instead of seeing my friends just once a year, I get to see each of them at least 12 times a year. I met up with Kang over the weekend. It was just as well because he originally planned to eat Hakka beef balls at a coffeeshop near my house.

This newspaper-endorsed Hakka stall selling abacus seeds, soon kueh, yong tau foo and beef balls does the most brisk business in this old-school coffeeshop.

I usually hate beef balls, but these fresh handmade Beef Balls ($4) were devoid of any gamey taste and very clean in flavour, with the slightest taste of beef. They had a delectable bouncy, chunky texture and the clear soup base was also uncharacteristically delicate and light.

The stall also sells Hakka Yong Tau Foo ($4), in a clear, light and clean soup base, sweetened by yellow beans. Unlike other yong tau foo stalls, the ingredients are standard and fixed. I liked the freshness of the ingredients and how clear and light the soup was.

The Hakka Yong Tau Foo Stall Front

The Hakka Beef Ball Stall Front

The Beef House

Tel: 9821 5463 / 9665 4919
Open daily from 8am to 6pm, closed on Fridays


We supplemented the Hakka cuisine with a couple of dishes from the economy rice stall next to the Hakka stall. The Stewed Pork Belly and Egg ($3) was very homestyled, but decadent, with the use of fatty pork belly.

I also liked the simple but yummy Stir-Fried Squash with Tung Hoon ($2).

The Stall Front

The CoffeeShop

Gar Lok Eating House
217 Syed Alwi Road
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