We all face this problem.
‘Eh, what should we eat?’
‘You choose lah.’
Okay. I’ll be nice and help you decide, on what to eat (and what not to eat) at Tampines 1, a shopping mall so conveniently located beside Tampines MRT. We painstakingly went around 10 food establishments in the mall so as to let you know what’s good and what’s not. Of which, 5 of them will be covered in this post (main courses) and the remaining will be in Part II (desserts). With that said, what you should eat are listed in order of merits.
(1) MOF @ Izakaya
Appetizers :: What really shone at the restaurant was the Sashimi Moriawase ($36.80++). It’s a plate of mixed sashimi. To be frank, I wasn’t expecting the freshest of products here in a shopping mall restaurant, but I was proven wrong. I’m not as crazy a fan of sashimi, but I found myself digging in more than usual. The Mango & Avocado Dragon Roll ($14.80++) however, didn’t quite leave a good impression. It sounded promising but was on the dry side, due to its wrapped fried prawn, and the flavor was forgettable. An appetizer that did its job of opening up your appetite was Tofu Avocado Salad ($10++). Everything in it was light and mild, in a good way – tofu, avocado, cucumber, tomato, cabbage in wasabi mayo dressing. Those natural sweetness complemented the slightly bolder dressing well.
Main Courses :: I’d say go for the Unagi Hotstone Rice ($19.80++) than the Seafood Cold Ramen ($13.80++). Leaving the rice a little longer in the hotstone pot gives you those crispy, charred yet fragrant rice grains you usually dig for in claypot rice. I also like the rice because it’s not as sweet as I’d expected, which was perfect, since the unagi’s flavor was powerful enough, and you don’t want overwhelming flavors. The Ramen, on the other hand, was not too bad, but nothing to scream about. Pretty ordinary, in hiyashi chuka sauce and tan-tan mayonnaise.
Dessert :: Matcha Imo ($6.80++), IMO (haha), is a must, must-order. The soft-serve with green tea sauce was smooth and not overly sweet. I felt that it was well-thought out to pair it with the Japanese sweet potato, all to suit the exaggerated sweet-tooths. Perfect to end the meal.
Possibly because the menu is relatively huge, you might not know what to order / order the wrong item. I didn’t know MOF @ Izakaya has pretty reasonable food and price until now too.
It was my maiden trip to JPot, and it was at their latest branch here, no less. Being the newest would also mean newer technology – keeping up to the trend of ordering through iPad. Always fun. The eatery has the typical, Chinese restaurant setting – big, round tables, and countless of them, cut out for big Chinese family-style gathering and dining. I like its red + black themed furnishing, bold and chic.
What intrigued me as a first-timer was the some 5 – 10 metres-long self-service condiments table. They have everything you need – fresh garlic, fried garlic, soya sauce, leek, chinese parsley, sesame oil etc. Whipping up your own condiments dish is already a hell of a fun time. Hashtagcheapthrill. For $3.80++, you get free flow of soft drinks, homemade barley and luohan longan.
Soup Bases :: We had a go at two locally-inspired bases, of Laksa and Bak Kut Teh. I actually can’t decide on my favorite, because really, both were good and addictive flavors. It boils down to whether you want a heavier flavored one (Laksa) or not. Other soup bases they have include Herbal, Vegetarian, Tom Yum, and Silky Porridge (what?!).
Set Menu :: They just about can cater to any number of people you can find. Check out their set menu for lunch and dinner here. Also only at this outlet, they have a High Tea Special from 2pm – 5pm, only at a shocking $9.80++ per person. Hell yeah if I’m not an office boy.
(3) Fish & Co.
Fish & Co. is no stranger to everyone. For me, their food standard has always been pretty acceptable. And then you know, when you are looking for a restaurant with a high number of seats to cater to your big-group gatherings, Fish & Co. would cross everyone’s minds. It’s just those family restaurants you’re okay with.
My only complain is that there are no excitement to the menu. Sure there are different styles of preparation for the fish and meats, but I feel that they aren’t enough to spice things up. Perhaps it’s time to steer a little away from their main courses and onto appetizers, maybe.
Main Courses :: The platters are the usuals. I also thought the Fiery Peri Peri Chicken 12” Pizza ($16.95++) was good effort; the kind where it’s sufficient to satisfy your pizza craving but nothing to go back specially for. Seafood Bouillabaisse ($19.95++) was disappointing, not because it’s a tomato-based pasta (which isn’t to me preference), but because its mussels weren’t the freshest. I’d expect more from a seafood-based dish and Fish & Co. With the many outlets popping up, I only hope that quality will be preserved, before things turn for the worse.
Why LENAS? Well, if you had met the owner behind the group, Lena Sim, that question would automatically be answered. Got it yet?
Similarly, a more westernized concept by MOF, the establishment has a wide selection of items on the menu. In all honesty, I’m not quite a fan of their main courses. Even though I’ve had it a number of times before, all experiences were only average at best. This time, it was the same. Hawaiian & Italian Sausage 12” Pizza ($17.50++) was relatively dry, and the toppings tasted very much like frozen food to me. Dory Fish with Egg Sauce ($15.80++) was alright, and as discussed, nothing memorable or outstanding. If you have to have a main course here, I’d say Mixed Seafood Spaghetti ($15.90++) is a better option, or their pastas in general. Nothing to complain about, reasonable enough spaghetti, though not the most al-dente.
Appetizers :: Surprisingly good was the Black Pepper Smoked Duck Salad ($10.90++). Topped with cheese, smoked duck can’t go too wrong. Grilled Chicken Salad ($10.90++) was likewise, one of the better dishes. Well-marinated and flavored.
Desserts :: I much preferred LENAS’ desserts though, especially the Breaded Banana Brownie Hot Pan with Vanilla Ice Cream ($12.80++). Simply put, it’s just a mouthful of hot and sweet (chocolate sauce), cold and smooth (ice cream), crisp and soft (breaded banana), and warm and rough (brownie). It was well-received throughout the entire table. Mixed Berries Sundae ($8.80++), when compared to sundaes you can get elsewhere, would then pale in comparison.
(5) Ramen Kagetsu Arashi
I tend to get subconsciously picky when it comes to ramen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no ‘pro‘ in this area, but my taste bud seems to voluntarily take a strict stand on it. The noodles was slightly overcooked. Then the broth was rich, yes, but didn’t quite sit well with me. The pork bones did not make a good presence. It was a major let-down that hard-boiled egg that was served, instead of the flowy ajitsuke tamago that we were all anticipating. The chashu was fine. If you’re really dying for a bowl of ramen, maybe yes. Otherwise, I see that many other places can do better, easily.
Special gratitude to Sherie, the Tampines 1 Mall team and the AsiaMalls Management team for the hospitality and hosting the invited tasting.