Sunday, July 30, 2017

New tendon specialty restaurant in town - Shitamachi Tendon Akimitsu (Plaza Singapura)

I'm usually not the type to head to the newest places even if I do know about them mainly because I simply hate to queue for a long time no matter how appealing something may be to me. In other words, I have no patience and interest in wasting time in queues. As such, I tend to wait till the hype dies down before checking out new places such as restaurants or food shops e.g. Bake Cheese Tart.

Coming across Shitamachi Tendon Akimitsu (下町天丼秋光) was a coincidence. I happened to be at Plaza Singapura to do something and was walking around when I saw this new shop on the 4th floor of the previous Atrium@Orchard wing. Apparently, this is a tendon specialty restaurant which has been around since 1889 and is located at Asakusa in Tokyo. For those who are interested in checking this out when travelling in Tokyo, here are the address and contact details on their official website. Akimitsu has been expanding overseas since 2016 and they can be found in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Australia (Melbourne) and Canada (Toronto) which is opening in October. Apparently, the Singapore branch is less than a month old since it only opened in mid July.

Although I do like to eat tendon, I don't eat it often mainly because of the composition of the tempura items provided. For example, Tendon Itsuki has one thing which I really dislike i.e. chicken breast meat which tends to be dry and rough to eat. And it doesn't help that the bar counter seating there is really uncomfortable and I always get a not-so-nice smell on my clothes after I leave the place. That's why it's always a struggle for me whenever my friends want to go there. At some other places where I've been to, vegetables such as eggplant or eggs are added so whenever I see things in the menu which I don't like or eat, I tend to avoid ordering the tendon. I don't really What attracted me to try Akimitsu was the fact that they had an all-prawn tendon with none of the things I dislike and I was keen to find out if they are really as good as reputed. It also helped that the layout of the shop would probably not result in the customers smelling bad after eating there (the kitchen is sealed off with glass panels, there was a fair bit of ventilation and the shop space was wide enough without making me feel uncomfortable about sitting too close to the table next to me.

On the tables, you can see the two pickles containers which contains beansprouts and cabbages. Personally, I prefer the beansprouts version which tasted more seasoned to me while the other version seemed a little bland. Perhaps it needed more time for the flavours to seep into the vegetables. For those who need more of the tendon sauce, you can have your fill as there is a bottle of it on every table.

In the menu, there are four choices of tendon i.e. signature tendon which contains prawns, white fish, egg, seaweed and assorted vegetables, ebi tendon which is the prawns-only version, vegetable tendon which contains assorted vegetables and the kakiage tendon. All these sets come with miso soup and chawanmushi. Alternatively, you may vote for the teishoku versions of mixed tempura, ebi or vegetable where the rice and sauce is served separately. Those who like chasuke should be happy with the kakiage tencha version (tendon chasuke) where you pour the dashi over the kakiage don.

I ordered the ebi tendon set which slightly surprised me because I wasn't expecting to see as many as 6 prawns in the bowl. The price of the tendon was the most expensive among the four types of tendon while the bowl's size was a bit smaller than I thought so in that sense, it was pricier compared to similar versions from other places. The good thing was, the aroma of the tendon was very inviting when the dish was served. I also liked the fact that the batter covering the prawns was on the thin side because some tempura batter versions I tried before tend to be too dense or overpower the taste and affect the texture of the ingredients within. The downside to having the batter so thin is that you probably can't take your own sweet time to take photos of this beautiful dish as the tempura will cool down pretty quickly and you may find the batter flaking off as you pick up the tempura with your chopsticks. The prawns were rather large and tasted really juicy and fresh. When eaten with the rice and tendon sauce, the combined taste was heavenly. If there was only one thing which I may complain about, that would be wanting more rice to go with the tempura. Nonetheless, I guess this portion size is just nice for most people so for bigger eaters like me, you may find yourself running out of rice when you still have quite a few pieces of the tempura left. You may wish to order other items like edamame, cold tofu or baby octopus or opt for a dessert to round up your meal to make it more satisfying.

Currently, there is a promotion going on where you can get a free matcha ice-cream puff as per the photo on the right or a bottle of Ito-en green tea if you "like" Akimitsu's Facebook page. The catch is that you have to dine in between 2pm and 5pm on weekdays.

On the whole, I was happy with my unexpected discovery but can't help but worry if the shop's location may not be in its favour since it's on a higher floor and not as visible than those on the lower floors due to the foot traffic. Nonetheless, if you do a quick search on the Internet, it seems like the more prominent food bloggers have already been there and written some good stuff about this place so it will probably help to boost the shop's popularity. Moreover, I haven't seen how the shop's crowds are like during weekends so it may be that you have to queue for a while during those days. Last but not least, if the food is good and prices are reasonable, I'm sure that there will be many repeat customers which will surely bode well for this restaurant. I for one would like to go back and try the ebi tendon again and this time, with the spicier version of the tendon sauce since I had the original version this time.

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