Sandaime Bunji (Millenia Walk @ 9 raffles boulevard)
Gastrogasm Meter: 8 / 10
Sandaime Bunji is a Japanese restaurant serving specialty Sendai cuisine: ox tongue (gyutan) and oden (think Japanese yong tau foo -stewed daikon and lots of items shaped and stuffed with fish paste), and is a classy joint at Millenia Walk. It's refreshing to see a Japanese restaurant cater only regional or local specialties instead of the usual gamut of sushi-sashimi-tempura-noodles-rice. Besides the gyutan-and-oden sets, there are also many a la carte items for individual servings of oden, skewered items, and other appetizers. Service was attentive and prompt, but the downer is that the joint closes too early; at 9pm on a Sunday!
Odenya's Style Dashimaki Tamago [Japanese Egg Roll] ($6.90). This was really delicious: an omelette with steaming layers which was moist, fluffy and fragrant. A perfect balance of sweet and savoury.
Tako ball: this was such a far cry from those dished up in mall basements. For one, the ball was alot firmer and denser, and the flavours, more intense. It also wasn't as wet-tasting, and there were no lashings of mayonnaise. The morsel of octopus within was fresh and springy, and fresh-tasting.
Fish cakes with ginger: this was far too pungent for my taste; ginger had been minced into the fish paste, such that it was impossible to remove, and the ginger taste was saturated and overpowering in every bite.
This was the Sendai Gyutan Premium Set ($39.90): barley rice, oxtail stew, hardboiled egg, chawanmushi, stewed vegetables, tororo (grated yam paste) and grilled gyutan. The clear soup was the stew, which was kind of surprising. There were a few pieces of tender, beefy tasting pieces of meat in it, which was good, but it's still hard-pressed to call this a stew right? Anyway, the clear soup was peculiar tasting; it was curiously tepid and flat, and frankly not very palatable to me.
The accompaniments: a pretty good salad; crisp, fresh leaves in a creamy sauce, and block of cold unseasoned tofu. The chawanmushi was firm; average tasting at best, and the boiled egg was also...just an egg. I didnt have much of the stewed vegetables, but it was also a mediocre part of the set.
This was indisputably the star of the set: a row of sliced pieces of ox tongue, beautifully grilled till firm, chewy and succulent. Tongue is naturally a chewy cut of meat, with a distinct consistency, and if you're icked out, it's neither stinky nor odorous as other types of offal meat may be. However you have to expect a certain degree of muskiness in the meat; but do trust me that it doesn't have any offensive odor like kidney, liver or even tripe, the mildest and most common offal meat there is, may have. I personally love it (especially after sampling Gyu Kaku's wagyu beef tongue), especially if it's grilled, as the chewiness is accentuated by a smokiness which makes it more memorable and fragrant. The springiness is definitely not usual of other cuts of beef, and its elasticity is both unique and delightful.
Sendai Zunda Mochi ($6.90): a winner! The mochi (glutinous rice cake) was roasted till beautifully chewy, yet not overly sticky or gluey, and i loved the sweetpea paste on top of it. The paste was not too sweet, and the flavour of the peas was clear and refreshing. Could have a lot more than one, or even two.
I did enjoy the meal alot of Sandaime, and the barley rice was also great. I did not have any oden, though I must say its really not my type of food. Adored the grilled ox tongue, it was absolutely lovely. Would not mind trying out other grilled items on the menu as it is evident the chef has a way with the grill.