It was a surprise to discover Teppan-Ya, the in-house Japanese establishment of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Notwithstanding our tempered expectations (because, you know, no competition anyway), we had a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. The food was exceptional, and dinner theatre highly entertaining. That said, we invariably ended up smelling like our dinner.
Be sure to make reservations, as the space is limited (there are just 10 seats at the counter), and dine just before dusk falls, so you can watch the sunset against the spectacular backdrop of the city skyline.
I opted for the Seafood Pot Kaiseki ($158), laden with a gargantuan grilled king prawn, plump scallops, and a fleshy hunk of cod dunked in a garlicky broth that was sumptuous. So yummy we asked for a spoon to scoop up the soup. In fact, we'd have licked the pot clean off if we had less shame.
This was followed by the Salmon course, moist and flaky, and complemented by a butter-soy emulsion. The skin, peeled off and fried to a crisp, lent texture.
Grilled vegetables of zucchini, shitake, and red and yellow peppers, imbued with a smoky char, accompanied the fish.
The meat-loving Hubs got the USDA Prime Beef & Seafood Kaiseki ($188) which kicked off with a duo of king prawns and scallops, beautifully grilled and sweet. I thought the shrimp head, which had been flattened and fried to a crisp, made for a most addictive cracker.
Next up was the USDA Prime Beef, perfectly medium-rare, possessing just enough heft to balance out the fat, and dripping with juices. A quartet of grilled root veggies and the most awesome garlic chips sided this.
All of the sets are served with the House Salad, a simple assortment of lettuce and julienned peppers drizzled with a subtly spiced tomato dressing.
A pair of appetizers are also part of the set, like the signature Kumi No. 1, a mound of crabmeat, avocado, and white fish swaddled in a nori strip and baked in a cheese blanket.
The other appetizer, was a Baked Oyster burnished with a seaweed sauce and fresh lemon slice.
A swimmingly fresh Sashimi trio of tuna, yellowtail, and salmon, followed suit.
Next up was Dobinmushi, a teapot soup simmered with shrimp, fish, and enoki for flavour. Delicate but with rich depth.
The Fried Garlic Rice may seem modest in portion, but we were stuffed by this time. Still, this was scrumptious, and it was at once toasty and buttery. I wolfed this down.
The only blah course, was the dessert of fresh fruits. Maybe they weren't from Japan, they were lacking that incredible sweetness Japanese fruits are renowned for. Silver lining: the tart sourness of the fruits were quite effective in cutting through the heaviness of the lavish meal.
Our cheeky and charming chef with his impressive theatrics.
5 Raffles Avenue
Mandarin Oriental Level 4
Tel: 6885 3595
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10pm for dinner