Simon was in town to pick up a toilet sink and because we hooked up with Mei Lin and Higuchi, we had a fantastic weekend of BBQ Crabs and Fatty Weng.
Come Monday, it was a time for a more quiet, contemplative lunch. We decided to contemplate on Sandaime Bunji because Higuchi-san emphatic about how good this place was.
Higuchi-san was also very helpful in suggesting that we go for lunch because the lunch sets allows us to sample everything in an affordable and convenient manner.
Like Ippudo which is owned by a Ramen manufacturer, Sandaime Bunji (“Third Generation of Mr. Bunji”) is owned by Abezen, a major manufacturer of Kamaboko (fish cakes) and Oden. Abezen is located in the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan and Sandaime Bunji opened in Singapore on the same week as the tragic earthquake. Not an altogether good week.
Oden in Kombu Dashi
The menu presented a problem as there were a many interesting but very similar choices. In the end, I followed Higuchi-san’s advice and ordered the Gyutan set which included fish cakes, an ox-tail soup and Oden; he ordered the Mixed Skewer set which gave a variety of pork, chicken and gyutan. In addition, we also ordered the grilled Ox-tail and the beef stew.
The grilled Ox-tail was beautifully presented and, with a squeeze of lemon, quickly devoured. It was very tender however we felt it was too thinly-sliced to have any deep, lasting flavor, as a result it wasn’t a very satisfying dish.
The beef stew is nothing to write about, so I won’t.
The mixed skewers were decent, especially when accented with the Togarishi Shichimi but it would make a light lunch for most anyone.
The gyutan platter was more promising mainly because it had a rather generous portion of the delectable treat. Served with a spicy Miso paste, it was fantastically juicy, tender and flavorful.
The Oden was another kettle of ingredients. Served in a very clear Kombu dashi broth, it looks a little bland but spiced up with the dollop of Karashi (Japanese mustard), things come alive and you being to appreciate why Oden is mostly eaten in winter. But I like it anytime.
The Ox-tail soup caught me by surprise. Almost Zen in it’s presentation, it was a clear consomme with strands of daikon and a single cube of beef in it. The thing about Japanese cuisine is that it is a mindful cuisine, you need to contemplate the subtlety of the cosmos and perhaps meditate under a waterfall wrapped in bull-hide for years before understanding dishes like beheaded squid dancing on noodles. But the surprise was that the Ox-tail soup was actually very beefy despite being a clear consomme.
I was delighted with the bowl of rice that was served with the Gyutan set. It was a mix of rice and pearl barley which gave it a sweet malted taste. It was served with freshly grated Tororo which was tasteless by itself but it took on a savory soy flavor when mixed into the rice. Awesome.
Sandaime Bunji does very good grilled Ox Tongue and Oden; “Satay and Yong Tau Foo” as Simon puts it. The restaurant fills quickly with Japanese coming for a quick lunch of Yakitori by the bar or a group salarymen luxuriating in a slower Gyutan meal. Either way, Sandaime Bunji provides a satisfying lunch experience.
Sandaime Bunji is at 9 Raffles Boulevard # 01-14/15 Millenia Walk Singapore 039596. Lunch is surprisingly busy, so go early.
Rice with Barley
Mixed skewer set of beef, gyutan and tsukune (chicken meat “ball”)
A very Zen Ox-tail soup
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