The stretch along Tanjong Pagar Road is a busy hive for office lunches, gatherings and a couple’s rendezvous. Embedded with restaurants, cafes and bars of all kinds, some of them have been serving regulars since opening while some weave into humans’ hearts with comfort food and alluring booze deals.
In many ways, Teppan Kappou Kenji opens right in the middle of it all, catering to a discerning crowd who enjoys a Kappou-styled Japanese dining experience.
While it may sound extravagant, the prices listed in the grand menu remain comparatively reasonable and covers from appetizers, sashimi and hot pot to signature teppanyaki, seafood, steaks and carbohydrates. The dinner omakase is a remarkable $150 with multi-courses.
As such, we tried several dishes from the omakase, courtesy of Chef Kenji, and a few others from the main menu.
Starting with the Healthy Salad with Japanese dressing $15, it is a surprisingly complex yet simple dish consisting of the Akamoku seaweed, grated Japanese yam and Natto.
Warming up our bellies is the Seafood Hotpot with Miso $30, featuring Chef Kenji’s very own house-made broth concocted from pure fish bones and a medley of seafood ingredients. The clear light broth is worth sampling and blessed with seafood like the plump oyster, crunchy prawn and salmon steak.
Adhering to a heavier profile is the Stewed Wagyu Hamburg $15 with Wagyu hamburger patty richly drenched in a house-made tomato stew. The meats were tender but in need of the sauce for tasty elements.
The Gyu Katsu $22 came in slices of batter-fried Japanese beef which had noticeably varying tones of redness. The crusty bite of the coating was lovely though I find the meats to require a little more chew.
The Grilled Avocado with Herbs & Cheese $15 hits my soft spot. A grilled cheese shell, blistered at the edges, fanned out with avocado cubes and sakura ebi as toppings. It was a divine touch of crispiness upon salinity of the cheese and smooth creaminess of the avocados. A beer in hand would make this a perfect pairing.
The Premium A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin ($50 half portion, $98 full portion), browned at the edges, was marked with glowing incarnadine in the middle and flanked by drool-worthy fats that speak of umaminess. The melt-in-the-mouth satisfaction was justification to the appearance.
Another favourite of mine is the Grilled A4 Wagyu with Hoba Leaf $35. The beef was equally tenderising.
This Oyster & Japanese Spiny Lobster (Ise Ebi), both sourced from the Mie Prefecture, will satisfy the most ardent of seafood lover.
The plump oyster pulled off the trick of being crispy (at the surface) and chewy with penned-up juices altogether, while the lobster meat sat poised and draped with a lobe of sparkling caviar.
From the Omakase menu, we were served the Queen Crab as a seasonal winter delicacy. Within the head-spinningly layers were sweet shredded crab meats mixed with its crab roe, octopus tentacles and soft wobbly jelly made from Japanese rice vinegar and in-house dashi stock. A promising starter, indeed.
The Otsukuri (or Sashimi) is presented in kaiseki style. The Toro (Tuna), Smoked Spanish Mackerel, Yellowtail, truffled Flounder Carpaccio and Fish Smelt were well-received at our table.
We spoke with Chef Kenji on the next dish that was a vibrant assembly of seasonal Japanese ingredients and understood from him his pursuit in experimenting with the various flavours and new creations. The Assorted Appetizer comprised of the following and each with its unique taste.
- Sesame Tofu with Sea Urchin
- Wakasagi Tempura (Pond Smelt and Japanese “Mountain Sprout”, a spring vegetables)
- Green Tea “Castella” “fishcake”
- French Duck, cooked in orange juice and Japanese soy sauce
- Japanese broad beans, a Japanese spring ingredient
- Kurama Ebi
- Japanese persimmons, dried
- Arrowshoot (water chestnut)
I never had turnip as soft as this and Teppan Kappou Kenji’s version of the Furofuki yielded without hesitation when sliced and chewed upon. The turnip is slow-cooked in a temperature similar to that of an onsen. Fibrous and relatively tasteless on its own, the addition of the yuzu miso gave it some sweetness.
Another omakase dish was the Miso Butterbur, served with miso and dried mullet roe powder. Known as Butterbur’s tender buds, or fukinoto, this is a plant harvested in early spring and traditionally soaked in water and/or pre-treated with ash or baking soda to remove any harshness.
Seasonal Kamameshi (Claypot Rice) won applauses for its comforting flavour. Pearly Japanese rice is slow-cooked in Chef Kenji’s homemade broth and presented with seasonal fish, mushrooms and ikura. It’s light-tasting and felt healthy.
Dessert was Seasonal Fruits consisting of the Japanese musk melon, strawberries and persimmons.
Teppan Kappou Kenji
99 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-01, Singapore 088520
Tel: +65 9152-3118
Daily: 11:30AM – 2:30PM, 6PM – 10:30PM
***Follow @oo_foodielicious on Facebook and Instagram for more videos, food reviews, travel/lifestyle insights and easy recipe, and @artofgenie on Facebook and Instagram for portrait, architecture and landscape photography!