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.
20 Cross Street
China Square Central
Tel: 6223 0070
Open daily from 11.30am to 10pm (last order 9.30pm)