During the 90s and early 2000, Mohamed Sultan Road was a happenin’ street lined with pubs that were mad crowded. The popular ones had chinoiserie themes like “Madam Wong” and “Wong San”. I remembered throwing empty peanut shells on the floor in “Wong San”. Other equally cool alternatives were “Newsroom” or “Double O” across the road at Robertson Quay.
But these pubs and clubs couldn’t sustain further and they had either shut down or were downsized. From the mid-2000, Mohamed Sultan Road had lost its once bustling glory. It would be a death knell to open a pub or restaurant cos there wouldn’t be much of a crowd. It’s really that bad..
Even if business is bad along that stretch of shophouses, this doesn’t seem to affect “Chikuwa Tei“.
The restaurant is always packed hence reservations must be made in order to secure a table otherwise you’ll just have to wait. You are lucky if you can get a table from a no-show reservation. You see, the restaurant do not hold tables. If you are late, the table is given to whoever who are in the queue.
Unlike the usual dinner reservations process where you’d just call and book according to your preferred time, dinner reservations here are spit into 2 shifts:- 6pm to 7.45pm or 8pm to 10pm. Meaning to say, if you had reserved between 6pm to 7.45pm, you will need to finish up and leave by 7.45pm so that the next “shift” can have their tables. Even if you had reserved at 7.30pm, you will still need to leave by 7.45pm. But I doubt they would accept a 7.30pm reservation cos there’s no way the food would be ready and consumed within that 15-min window. In any case, it’s better to book at an earlier time so that you can enjoy your meal and avoid rushing.
Gary had been here once and he couldn’t stop raving about the “Sashimi Chirashi”. He loved it so much that he was extremely reluctant to share it with me. Said that he wanted the entire bowl for himself!! Wow, such crazy adoration for a bowl of raw fish and rice. I wonder if it’s really that good.
Ok, it’s my bad that we were late. I’m supposed to meet Gary at Farrer Park MRT station, which is near where he plays his weekly soccer. Travelling from the East to Farrer Park MRT is a bitch cos I had to change train twice. Argh! Luckily, Gary had called to inform them that we will reach by 8.30pm. He got a response that’s something along “You better be sure you all arrive at 8.30 ah!”. Hmm… Nice attitude.
Apparently, the service staff have a bit of attitude so don’t expect them to go all cordial and nice when you are requesting for them to hold your table cos you are late or rush a dish out. The latter is especially so for the chef. I didn’t manage to snap a picture of him but his wild mess of curly hair had amused me.
A small scoop of potato salad was served as an appetizer. It’s really small enough to gobble it up in one mouthful.
The “Chawanmushi” ($5) is a delectably smooth with a chock-full of ingredients such as a shrimp, shimeiji mushrooms, crabstick shreds, chicken and shreds of thick glass noodles in a savoury broth. Truly satisfying on its own.
This got to be one of the thickest cut of salmon sashimi ($10) I’ve ever eaten. Cutting sashimi is an art and is not mere slicing of a piece of fish. I am definitely no expert in this area but I know there’s a technique to achieve that desired cut. In my opinion, this salmon sashimi is perfect.
Savour the freshness of the salmon….. Oooh…
Gary’s much-raved “Chirashi” ($25) had arrived. That’s quite a variety of sashimi. Though Gary wanted this entire bowl to himself, he can’t be too selfish not to let me sample a bit of this right? LOL.. Anyway, I had only touched a bit of the egg, a slice of salmon and a scallop… Didn’t particularly like the other types of fish especially the tuna which can be quite fishy.. Of course, tuna belly (“O-Toro”) or fatty tuna is an exception..
Now I understand what he meant by “soft and chewy” sushi rice. It’s exactly what he had described. You had to try it for yourself…
I had ordered the “Claypot Codfish and Vegetables” ($24) and asked if my white rice can be substituted by sushi rice. Unfortunately, my request was rejected cos there were a lot of sushi orders and they are afraid they won’t have enough sushi rice to go around. Ok, fair enough..
This would be a perfect dish for a rainy weather and the dish is ample enough to serve for 2. While I love cod fish but I’d very much preferred it grilled or pan-fried. Cod-fish in soup is rather bland actually. There’s enough vegetables (shimeji and enoki mushrooms, cabbage, carrots and seaweed) and tofu to make up for your fibre intake for 2 days!
For the quantity and quality, the prices are reasonable and we would definitely patronise “Chikuwa Tei” again. Maybe I’ll suggest this to my friends for our next gathering, if they are okay to walk from Clarke Quay MRT Station.