Before the end of year, I hope to fulfill one last resolution for the year of 2014 and that was to visit Tsukada Nojo again for their Bijin Nabe. I had a wonderful ramen lunch at Tsukada Nojo in Westgate previously and today I am here again for their Bijin Nabe, but at their Chinatown Point‘s outlet.
Though plans have been laid days ago before the year end dinner, they does not accept reservation if the timing is before 6.30pm and the only way was to personally queue for seats. Traffic was bad that day and since we arrived, it was almost what we had predicted – people lining outside of the restaurant. Do not get it wrong, it was not the festive event that resulted the long queue, it has been this way all the way.
The restaurant did some good arrangements to have some seats for those that has been queuing up and at least a place to rest their feet before ushering them to their tables. After 20 minutes of waiting, one of the Japanese waitress came and ushered us to our seats at the back of the restaurant.
Looking at the dinner menu, we were slightly confused thus requested the waiter to brief us on how we should order the food. If you are going for the steamboat, there is no hassle to choose between type of soup or ingredients, it is fixed. The only important factor was to determine the number of portions (1 portion per pax). It is not necessary that each person has to order one portion, but a lesser portion can be chose to share among a few (minimum two person). This is a really good concept because it allows you to leave more rooms in the event you decided to order some ala carte from the dinner menu as well.
The Bijin Nabe (美人鍋)
Soon after, the waiter brings over a claypot with some beancurd look alike substance residing on it. That you saw above is actually the chicken gelatin. The restaurant painstakingly simmered the stock for 8 hours before reaching this texture. While the heat slowly breakdown the gelatin into a more liquidity state, you can start to smell the aroma of the collagen rich chicken soup.
Like a wine tasting session, the waiter filled four small ceramic cups with the soup and distributed to each of us. The purpose is to allow us to taste the soup’s original flavour. While we sipped carefully from the dedicated ceramic cup, you can feel a stream of hot and creamy texture soup running down your throat and at the same time leaving a strong after taste in the mouth. However, maybe due to its richness, you may feel slight stickiness along your lips as well.
That was not all. Hidden within the gelatin was pieces of chicken meat, which was only revealed after all the gelatin has melted off. As opposed to prolong boiling of chicken meat in water that could cause the texture to be hard and difficult to chew on, the meat was very tender and smooth. Even without any seasonings, it has a brilliant taste. What an eye-opener !
While we are busily munching on the collagen rich chicken meat, the waiter started to arrange the ingredients on the platter carefully into the steamboat, like an artist trying to create a masterpiece. Matter of fact, as explained by the waiter, the steamboat is most of the time being served by the waiter rather than self-service.
After about ten minutes of waiting, all the ingredients are ready to eat. All the ingredients has been inserted except for the prawn and noodles. This was to prevent the soup to taste differently and we were advised only to put it in after we had finished all the ingredients in the steamboat. Looking back, this was really a very healthy pot ! Collagen with fresh vegetables without any special homemade sauce nor the need for any seasoning. With all the flavoured absorbed into the ingredients, it has already tasted heavenly !
We ended the steamboat with a high note with the prawns and noodles cooked together. Much as what the waiter mentioned earlier, the soup indeed taste much different ! The prawns makes the soup slightly sweeter and fresher.
Our Ala Carte Orders
Below are some of the ala carte we have ordered on top of the Bijin Nabe. I will only write about the Coriander salad since I have already covered the other two dishes in my previous visit at Tsukada Nojo Westgate.
Coriander is just like durian, either you loved it or you hate it to the core. For both my girl friend and I, we are the die-hard fans for coriander. The salad comes in a mixture of coriander and radish with some seasonings and sesame seeds. The radish is very refreshing while unlike coriander which you eats in Chinese restaurants, the smell are not that overwhelming. My sister whom was not a fan has tried and simply loved it too. The chilli sauce is an option, it just gives you extra spiciness you need if you have a heavy tastebud.
While we are coming to an end for the dinner, the waiter has dished out an complimentary dessert with decoration on the plate saying “Happy New Year 2015”. The dessert looks like Osmanthus cake and had the some refreshing taste, but it is still hard since there wasn’t much hint you can find physically.
Bijin Nabe is certainly a delicacy not only for the women, but those that enjoy natural taste as well. Japanese are well-known to prepare and cook food that brings out the quality of the ingredients and I think this is no different. However, it can only be a occasional feast as you might grow sick of the collagen rich chicken soup if consume within a short period of time. Having the choice to chose the number of portions instead of compulsorily having everyone to get a portion is also one of the advantages that the restaurants has as well. Price at $25.00 for the steamboat, the price is definitely reasonable.
#02-37 Chinatown Point
133 New Bridge Road
Tel: +65 6444 8840
Daily: 11.30am to 3.00pm (Lunch), 5.00pm to 10.00pm (Dinner)