Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tenshin, Regent Hotel

I'm putting on record that Tenshin (The Regent Singapore Hotel #03-01, 1 Cuscaden Road, S249715, tel : 67354588) serves tempura with the thinnest and lightest tasting batter I've ever had. Bar none - now and possibly for a while. Being the only tempura bar and specialist around from what I've gathered, these guys ought to probably be one of the best if not indeed number one at what they do in their art of deep frying battered food. I suspect that the truth would be the latter but since taste is subjective, I would leave it at the fact that these guys are doubtlessly experts and do a damn good job.

Lunch was a $30 tempura set which consisted of an appetizer, salad, pickles, miso soup. The tempura came with a couple of prawns, a couple of slices of pumpkin, asparagus, some mushroom and white fish with rice. Dessert was a lime sorbet. We were urged by a friend to try the tempura uni. Something which we already had our mind/eyes on in spite of the rather hefty tag of $25 for a single portion. We landed a counter seat so we could watch the preparation of the food, very much like the sushi bar. In this case at Tenshin we got to witness preparation of the batter for each batch of tempura that was about to be served. Indeed, these guys do mix the batter upon each order and each piece of tempura is then individually dusted in the flour before taking a batter bath and then into the oil. They're all then served individually as would be for sushi in sushi bars.

There were various condiments to accompany the dishes - a generous bowl of grated daikon and a selection of flavoured salts; green tea, regular sea salt, chilli salt and a curry flavour one. I tried them based on the recommendation of the chef and found that they were quite flavourful of their own. The curry salt in particular went pretty well with their white rice. However, one can simply just eat the tempura without them as they tasted good on their own.

I found it amusing that while eating at Tenshin, you made more noise eating the vegetables than the tempura. All the vegetables served were either crisp or crunchy and they made loud crunchy noises in the restaurant. The paper thin crispy lotus root slices on the salad definitely contributed. Speaking of which, the salad had a tasty sesame dressing with a slight hint of mustard and pepper.

Besides being airily thin, crispy and not grease logged, the impressive characteristic about the tempura at Tenshin was that their vegetables didn't taste fried at all. The juices and crunch retained and if not for the batter, they could have pass off as steamed vegetables. The flavours of the produce were sealed in and it's been a while since I've noticed how crunchy a properly cooked asparagus could be or that the pumpkin was actually so sweet and fragrant. I think the mushroom they used was maitake. It had a nutty taste which was quite pleasant. The fish and prawn were delicious as well.

The uni tempura deserved special mention because we enjoyed it a lot. We would have ordered one or two or even three more if it wasn't so costly a piece. It is essentially generous portion of the sea urchin that was wrapped in a seaweed package; like a stuffed pillow. The package is subsequently dipped into their batter and then into the wok for a deep fry of a few seconds. The result was a tight retangular bundle of seaweed containing the warm uni on the insides; which spilt out as you bit into them. I don't know if it was because of the heat from that short frying, but the uni tasted especially fragrant here. The bouquet of the sea urchin was definitely much more accentuated than the chilled ones and it was just very enjoyable.

Because of their almost ethereal batter, lunch turned out be quite light. There was no heaviness of grease and little over and hour after lunch, we felt like we were to eat something again. We would definitely like to be back to try something else from that lunch menu too.


Anonymous said...

Tenshin opened in 2004 by a Japanese couple of whom, husband is the chef at Shiraishi, Ritz Carlton Hotel. While Tenshin is the expertise in tempuras, the sister restaurant, Shiraishi, is of sushis.

red fir said...

Dang. Shall we do Tenshin some day? All Cam's fault. >.<