At first brush, Tanyoto appears to be a cousin of the Japanese black pig tonkatsu specialist Tampopo. Similarity in monikers aside, the confusion is exacerbated by the fact that Tanyoto is located just a few doors down from Tampopo at Liang Court.
Turns out, Tanyoto is an upmarket Sichuan steamboat restaurant not unlike the insanely popular Hai Di Lao. But unlike the famed Hai Di Lao, which arrived on our shores with much pomp, Tanyoto barely made a splash when it landed on our sunny island more than 5 years ago.
Maybe Tanyoto doesn't offer the much-touted freebie snacks and services, but really, that's not exactly the yardstick by which I review restaurants anyway. And despite negative reviews of appallingly crass service, I found the service practically faultless, even if the wait staff seemed to only speak Mandarin. And we were dining on a peak-hour Friday night. The Hubs, being a quintessential ACS boy, didn't understand a word of the heavily-accented Mandarin of our affable waiter. I, on the other hand, took the opportunity to increase my vocab!
The food was fresh, and I liked that Tanyoto's menu boasts a few items that we don't usually see at steamboats these days like fish dumplings and quail's eggs. More importantly, the soup bases were robust and rich in depth so they were slurpilicious from the get-go.
If I really had to choose, I think Hai Di Lao's steamboat gets my vote; their ingredients were just a little bit fresher, and soup bases a little more addictive. That being said, the win was by the tiniest of margins.
We ordered the house signatures, the Peppery Soup, a toned down version of the tongue-numbingly spicy mala, and Tomato Soup, a cheena-fied rendition of minestrone ($14 for small portion). Both were robust. I really liked the luscious tomato base, mildly sweet and thick, but the Hubs didn't quite take to it. I think it was a little jarring for him to be drinking minestrone at a quintessentially Chinese-style steamboat.
The Angus Beef ($11 for half portion) is a must-order, with beautiful marbling and meltingly tender texture.
The Fish Slice ($8 for half portion) is my pick for the fish order, moist and fresh and sweet.
A real crowd pleaser, the Fish Dumpling ($4 for half portion) was run-of-the-mill but such a childhood favourite of mine.
Another signature, the Four Treasure Ball ($9 for half portion) of the prawn, beef, pork and fish varieties, was delightfully bouncy and fresh.
Notwithstanding the cholesterol content, the Quail's Eggs ($3 for half portion) is a must-try. These were soft boiled, so even after dunking in the soup for re-heating, the yolks were still gooey inside.
For those who like bubble tea, the Sweet Potato Noodles ($3 for half portion) should feature on your order list. Its chewy texture is reminiscent of the tapioca bubbles, and while it doesn't have much of a taste, it does soak up the broth very well.
The sauce counter may be a tad compact, especially when held up against Hai Di Lao's extensive one, but the soup broth is so good anyway, you wouldn't miss these. Top row from left to right: pickled vegetables, fried beans, fried garlic. Bottom row from left to right: sesame oil, sesame paste, spring onions
Top row from left to right: satay paste, chilli padi, chilli sauce, soy sauce & cut chilli. Bottom row from left to right: parsley, Tanyoto "secret recipe" chilli sauce (it tastes like Hai Di Lao's, and Putien's chilli), minced garlic.
117 River Valley Road
Liang Court #01-25
Tel: 6836 6839
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm; 5.30am to 11pm for dinner