First and foremost, this is a food tasting event initiated by JPassport, where invited guests get to sample actual portion of Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry’s 0-4 degree aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set and their Spicy White Curry Ramen/Udon Set.
Located at probably the most prominent spot of Millenia Walk’s Nihon Street, Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry is the first and only restaurant in Singapore specialise in Japanese white curry. When they just started, they only had 3 types of set meals on their menu, but have now progressively increased to around 8. Their set meals generally comprise of main course, Chawanmushi, and soup.
Patrons get to choose between ramen noodle or udon for their Spicy White Curry Ramen/Udon set. I stick with ramen because that’s what Hokkaido is famous for. And the ramen was served rather promptly upon ordering, so much faster than the accompanying Chawanmushi, that we had to wait another 10~15 minutes for the latter. I couldn’t wait for the Chanwanmushi, as I needed to take this picture before the noodle turned soggy. I’ll touch on the Chawanmushi and the soup when I come to the 0-4 degree aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set later.
Let’s begin with their signature broth.
The ramen broth was light, sweet, and milky when it was served, with little hint of spiciness. It is no secret that milk is the main ingredient for the creamy flavour in the bonito broth, but what impressed me was the use of imported Hokkaido milk! To sidetrack a little, Japan milk is on a class of its own, I don’t know how the Japanese farmers did it, but the richness is top notch. And among them, Hokkaido milk is generally regarded as the best and is often used in premium desserts. It is hence, no surprise that Tengawa also serves Hokkaido milk amongst their list of beverages. I’m sorry, I often get carried away whenever it comes to Japanese milk. Let me get back to the noodle. As I mentioned, the broth was not at all spicy, at least not until it was stirred along with the dried chilli in the broth, which then gave the broth a good spicy kick. And then, the presence of onion also adds additional dimension. Rather unconventionally, the ramen did not come with the usual charshu, but Iberiko (Iberico, pardon me, Japanese tends to use the letter ‘c’ and ‘k’ interchangeably) pork belly, which in my opinion, is much sweeter. The ramen noodle used is the conventional Hokkaido medium curly noodle, thought to be the best in retaining broth, and very true in this case. In addition, the usual suspects, tamago, seaweed, and scallion made their presence too. Overall, the taste is rather appetising, and tasted somewhat like Laksa, substituting the sinful coconut milk with Hokkaido milk here of course.
Literally, why it was named as such truly puzzled me. It was explained to me that the pork was seasoned in Spain between 0-4°C to achieve that firmness before shipping here (I hope I get it correctly, it’s getting a little technical). I guess such term mostly appeals to professionals in this trade, general diners like me tend to scratch our head. (=.=)”/) LOL! For all I care, I only know Iberico pork is the premium pork, well and above Japan’s very own Kagoshima Kurobuta (widely known as the best pork otherwise, and already commanding a premium price), though honestly I can’t tell the taste difference between them. But if you asking me, my level can only tell they are both superior in taste than Indonesian and Australian pork that are widely available here. Nevertheless, Tengawa certainly didn’t attempt to hide the fact that they are proudly serving premium ingredients to their customers. Not to mention their effort in presenting this dish. Ever notice the floral pedals? They are genuine, not painting. These are specially imported from Japan too! It is thus an injustice to claim their food plating is mere Instagram savvy, over and above, this is an art! Strictly speaking, you usually only expect to find such treat in posh restaurants, but dining at Tengawa won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Though naturally, it’s unfair to expect the ambience of a posh restaurant here. If anything, I do find the plate excessively large, so big that it almost cover half the width of my table, a stark contrast to the food portion in it. Having said that, Tengawa offer free flow curry, soup, and rice (Note: to be fair, it’s not meant for sharing!), I would have asked for refills if I’m paying my own bill! So, I suppose I can say, the portion is practically unlimited but was given as such to avoid wastage (and possibly more picturesque too).
Anyway, the tonkatsu has a good balance of tenderness and firmness, embedded within crisp breadcrumbs. The spotlight, of course, has to be on the curry. It is very unlike the one found in their ramen, the gravy here is reasonably thicker, less flavourful than conventional Japanese curry, but possesses a more intense milk aroma. I’d say the taste is rather exceptional. Let’s not forget the rice, which I heard Tengawa is using Akitakomachi. The tastiest rice on Earth is said to be Niigata Koshihikari, notably those from Uonuma. My understanding is that Akitakomachi is a close second, on par with Hokkaido’s Yumepirika. It is cheaper and easier to acquire Akitakomachi. But for general diners, usually it’s not easy to distinguish. To a certain extent, much also depends on how it’s cooked. And I have to say Tengawa has cooked it rather well balance, not overly sticky, thus complement well with their curry.
About their Chawanmushi, I must say, it’s very well received from many other diners too. I have a feeling it’s only cooked when we placed order, because it took well over 10 minutes for it to be served, about the same time required to cook a Chawanmushi (excluding time for preparation). Tengawa’s Chawanmushi emphasise on taste and simplicity, with only a small slice of chicken underneath, a fresh prawn and broccoli on top, and infused with truffle oil. I feel its appearance is rather Zen-like, but what’s important is that it has a silky texture with an excellent aroma, and not excessively salty. Very few restaurants have their side dish in the spotlight, Tengawa is one of those exceptional ones with their Chawanmushi.
In any other Japanese restaurants, Miso soup is expected to be served. I am surprise to find out Tengawa is offering clear bonito clam soup instead, which is rather refreshing. It seems Tengawa aspire to be a little different, and certainly demonstrating sufficient efforts to show for it. What I haven’t mentioned, is Tengawa’s impeccable service. At first, I thought we were treated indifferently because we were invited guests, but a check on internet and their Facebook page reveals otherwise. If you come to this page via search engine, chances are, you will also find many more good reviews on them. In conclusion, I’m looking forward to visiting Tengawa again, next time as paying guest.
Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry 天川北海道ホワイトカレー
9 Raffles Boulevard
#02-16, Millenia Walk
Tel: +65 62651314
Opening hours ~
Daily: 11:30 hr – 21:30 hr