Saturday, July 07, 2012


Rakuzen's not the kind of place you bring a date with the intention to impress. It exudes a feel-good type of comfort that straddles between the cosy-ness of sushi tei and the classy-ness of Kuriya.

Hubby and I recently sat at the sushi counter and befriended 2 of the cheena junior sushi chefs there (Ken and Danny). We enjoyed the experience so much we have been returning ever since.

What's nice about Rakuzen (and getting Ken and Danny to recommend stuff to you) is the seasonal produce. There's bound to be something new that enhances your Japanese food vocabulary.

Here's what we had in our recent visit:

Cold tofu with some sesame cream sauce generously sprinkled with bonito flakes. I was on the brink of nursing a bad cold and wanted something smooth as a starter to soothe my throat. This hit the spot nicely.

Some very delicious (and humongous) grilled broad bean pods. You pry open the pod and fiddle with the spongy interior before gingerly prying out a bean. Best eaten with a dab of salt.  Regrettably, each pod only contains a max of 4 beans. And that is IF you are lucky.

First and foremost, those pink things are my fingers- not for consumption! I am showcasing a very addictive tuna crunchy dip which you smother on pieces of seaweed and cram into your mouth. This special "tapas" creation is painstakingly prepared by Ken- not on the menu!

If there were any most photogenic award for sushi that night, I think it would go to this mentaki baked salmon with fish roe.

Some negitoro sushi prepared for hubby by Danny. Tremendous effort was taken in pouring the quails yolk into the sushi "shell" but tastewise, so-so only

Danny and Ken were raving about the freshness of the uni that day but I wasn't too impressed. Maybe I have already been spoilt by the "real thing" in Japan's Tsukiji market.

An uber flavorful eel sushi which has been torched and lightly seasoned with some soy sauce. The wasabi they gave us was specially grated- not the powdery stuff you normally get.

My main course of breaded flatfish- so fresh you don't even need to eat it with any condiments/sauces.

The piece de resistance and a signature dish of the restaurant's- torched fire mackeral seeped in its own juices and oil. Hubby swears by this dish but I wanted to puke when I took a bite- too fishy!!

Mentaiko baked king prawns. The smokey flavor and the sweetness of the prawn came through beautifully. Sometimes all u need are good ingredients and good technique.

Scorched ika (squid) sushi. Ordinary and paled in comparison to the other dishes. Hubby's love for ika has somewhat diminished ever since he came to Rakuzen.

Another "not on the menu" item prepared by Danny. A medley of assorted seafood (scallops, prawns, clams etc) tossed in garlic and drenched in a unami miso tinted sauce. Maybe I'm just imagining things but when I ate this dish, I could somehow feel the warmth and dedication Danny invested when preparing this dish.

We usually skip dessert because there's nothing fancy in the menu other than the run of the mill green tea ice cream with red bean and mochi. Here is a random scoop of yuzu flavored ice cream which tastes exactly how it looks- bittersweet and citrusy.

Rakuzen definitely surpasses Sushi Tei in terms of quality and offerings. What makes Rakuzen even more palatable is a little known fact that the sushi tei discount card also applies here- 10% off dine in (Millenia walk outlet only).

Ps: We've visited Rakuzen's other outlet in Tampines and didn't like the ambience there.

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