Yup, this high end Japanese restaurant is in the heart of an HDB complex. Really. Menus are on iPads, the chef has worked in a top Japanese restaurant for 30+ years, food is sophisticated yet well priced and around half the customers are Japanese expats.
We found it by mistake when we were in Clementi/Sunset Way last week, on the hunt for a steamboat restaurant I’d heard about that, as it turned out, has long since closed down.
Beautifully presented food, we threw caution to the wind and ordered the chef’s whim menu or ‘Omakase’ (meaning ‘to entrust’) as they call it, which ranges from eight to twelve courses. It was exceptional. They ask you what you do and don’t eat so be sure to say ‘whale’ very loudly as they DO have this on the menu. Gulp; but A+ for authenticity.
Do not come here and expect to pay $5 for fresh and beautiful (and beautifully put together…Japanese food really is the original nouvelle cuisine) food. I think things are generally around half of what you’d pay in more salubriously placed restaurants, yet the quality is just as good (to give that comment some context, I love eating at Nogawa in the rather random Concorde Hotel on Orchard; Kevin there really knows his stuff – sushi pictured directly below is from there – but I’m tired of paying quite as much as it inevitably costs).
Highlights were the achingly fresh sashimi that included the ritualistic rolling of a herb between your palms before scattering its smashed, scented leaves into the soy that you then dip your fish in to (oh I do so love a bit of theatre). The salmon roe with tiny slithers of orange peel was incredible too – see second picture from the top, it’s the dish on the far right. I also tasted blowfish for the first time…and lived to tell the tale.
We sat outside and the only thing I can fault was the music, which was heinous. I suppose we could have asked them to change it or turn it down but after a few glasses of sake it didn’t seem to matter too much. You can also sit inside at the bar which is fine if you are two but terrible if you are more.
Our Omakase menu cost $100 a head and was worth every cent. They also have a reasonable a la carte menu.
To put the $100 price tag in perspective, it’s the exact equivalent to two glasses of decent red plus a main course and a shared affogato at PS. Café. I know this for a fact because I am writing this after parting with $210 for a dinner two of us ate last night at their Dempsey branch.
Tenza Izakaya, 106 Clementi Street 12, #01-38D
T: (+65) 6773 0093
If you eat early enough and are done by 9pm, you can even pop next door for a foot massage. What could be better?