Perhaps I should have mentioned this when I penned my review on Menya Takeichi, but before I go on to Tokyo Sundubu, allow me to briefly elaborate Eat At Seven, which comprises seven Japanese eateries (including Tokyo Sundubu, Menya Takeichi et al) in Suntec City, hence the name. Eat At Seven is a collaboration with All Nippon Airways, which is almost as good an assurance that these eateries are more than decent back in Japan to get selected in the first place. And in my opinion, Tokyo Sundubu certainly impresses!
Merely judging on the number of Michelin-star restaurants in Tokyo, I guess it is safe to assume that Japan has overtaken France as the culinary capital in the world. But Japan cuisine isn’t just your sushi, ramen, and Kaiseki ryori. External influence, such as western cuisines, have been constantly redefining Japan’s culinary path as early as from the 17th century, which is one big reason why I love Japanese cuisines, retaining the heritage while embracing innovation and fusion. It is based on fusion where I feel Tokyo Sundubu excels.
Tofu in Japan can be quite a delectable cuisine. Japan has no short of stream water, these lighter water makes tofu smoother than the one we have here. Some famous restaurants (notably in Kyoto) specialise in tofu are selling their tofu set meal at a premium price, and I somehow cannot help wondering whether their tofu is made of gold! I didn’t try those famous restaurants though, but I did try tofu from a renowned hotel restaurant in Hakone, it was indeed softer, smoother. But whether it’s worth that kind of price is another question altogether.
Tokyo Sundubu claims they made their tofu in-house, but I don’t know what kind of water they are using, nevertheless, their tofu did taste soft and smooth. Even though their selling point is the tofu, they knew very well mere tofu alone probably is not sufficient to grab a pie from Tokyo’s highly competitive culinary scene (just like any movie needs supporting casts too), so they came out the idea of integrating it with Korea stone pot, along with a rich variety of other optional ingredients such as beef, chicken, seafood etc, which is why I was saying earlier that Japan’s culinary scene is dynamic, more so than many other countries in the world.
Their hot pot basically comes in a selection of 5 spicy level, with Japanese standard at level 2, and Singapore standard at level 3. I suppose level 1 is mildly spicy, while anything more than 3 is a genuine test on your readiness to undertake a chili challenge rather than appreciating the goodness of the ingredients inside. I had their basic Chicken Sundubu at level 2, and found its spiciness adequate. My dining companion ordered Asari Clam Sundubu ($16.00++) at level 3, which I found to be a bit over spicy, but for me still manageable. I like spicy food, but not to the extent where the spiciness overpowered my taste bud and render the food almost tasteless, it’s not that I cannot take it.
And by the way, due to the volume and colour of the spicy broth, the content inside are not particularly visible, that’s how it was served, and the appearance for my partner’s Asari Clam Sundubu looks almost identical. Let me scoop out the ingredients for a more appealing presentation:
The restaurant was not crowded during our visit, but even then that probably ain’t the reason why the chef didn’t make it more presentable the way I did. As a customer, I want the ingredients to stay immersed longer to make sure it stays hot and properly cooked too. For that reason, it’s difficult to distinguish my companion’s order from mine without scooping out the ingredients, hence I won’t bother posting another picture of it here. The difference is that, the Asari Clam Sundubu has more clams, naturally, but probably no chicken (if I remember correctly). In fact, to be honest, I find their chicken more tasty than the clams. I do love seafood, but frankly speaking, their natural sweetness will all be masked over if the taste of the broth is too strong, likewise for the spicy level. Nevertheless, let’s not deviate from the fact that in Tokyo Sundubu, tofu is the spotlight (and in part, the stone pot), other ingredients are mere supporting cast. As for the rice, I can only tell it’s Japanese grains, but the restaurant didn’t mentioned whether it’s Japan grown, or specifically, which prefecture it came from.