Friday, October 24, 2008

Sushi Tengoku

Nobody would have imagined that tucked away in a little corner of the Kensington suburb, there exists a brilliant Japanese eatery- Sushi Tengoku. This place, I dare say, is probably known only to the students studying at the university nearby. 

The first time I entered Sushi Tengoku, I saw a sea of people. But I expected that like any other restaurant, I could wait and get a seat in no time. However upon inquiry at the counter, I was told by a friendly Japanese gentleman that it would not be worth my time waiting for a seat if I had no reservation. I was shocked. Frankly, this was the first time in which I had been turned away from a restaurant. And it was not even 8pm! 

I guess I would have known. The opening hours were printed in front of the shop. Open from 1700hrs-2200hrs, closed Mondays. For such a small shop which probably has seating for only about 34 people, to work such short hours would mean that it had to sell out constantly. So my advice for anyone who wants to try this place, please book in advance.

I decided that I will never take a rejection from a restaurant lying down and I had to try this place ASAP. Hence today, wiser from the previous encounter, I decided to call and book in advance. I needed to know what was the big deal with regards to this place. 

I arrived promptly at 7pm, cold and famished. 

I did some brief research on this place before I came and I discovered that people were actually recommending the Sushi. Now, Sushi for me is just about rice wrapped with seaweed, served with raw fish. The last time I ate Sushi was in some crap stall in university which was 2 bucks a pop. I was wondering how much different could Sushi taste. After all, I had never been impressed by Sushi before. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

The Salmon, Kingfish, Eel and Scallop Sushi which I ordered came in huge slabs. The seafood literally buried the rice that was beneath it. When I took my first bite of the Salmon Sushi, I was blown away. It was fantastic. The Salmon, along with the other seafood, were fresh, succulent and sweet. I enjoyed it to the last bite. 

Next, I tried the Soft Shell Crab and Prawn thick rolls. If the Sushi before this was good, this absolutely blew me away. The cucumber inside the rolls were not whole but shredded to perfection. Together with the generous amounts of Soft Shell crab, there was avacado and fish roe. All these were wrapped delicately with seaweed. Honestly, after taking the first bite, there wasn't a need to dip this roll into the washabi and soya sauce that was provided. It tasted good on its own. 

Perhaps the let down of the night was the homemade ice cream that I tried after my meal. I had to help myself to the ice cream in the fridge which left exposed in small metal cups. After seeing people constantly helping themselves to the Green tea and Red bean ice-cream, I wanted to try it but I was disappointed to find that there was hardly any left and I had to settle for the Rum and Rasin flavour instead. The ice cream was hard and filled with ice bits. This was largely down to the fact that it had been exposed in the freezer for too long. In sum, it tasted very mediocre and I was let down as I expected a good dessert to wrap up a fantastic meal.

Overall, this restaurant certainly changed my perspective towards Japanese food, especially Sushi. The Sushi on offer is a must try. But don't order so much of it, save some of your stomach space for the thick rolls. The Soft Shell Crab roll was the highlight of the night. Although the ice cream is quite horrid, I would give it another chance since it costs only 1 dollar a pop. Best of all, the owner must have seen me cringing when I ate the ice cream and hence decided to waiver the cost of the ice cream, because the price of the ice cream did not reflect in my bill. 

This place is certainly a must try, just for the Sushi alone. I haven't got to try much of the dishes beyond the roll and Sushi but I will certainly do so after the Sushi left me such a lasting impression. 

4/5 stars.    

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