August 21, 2015

Food Review: Enbu @ Eat At Seven

It's not a surprise to hear that Japanese cuisine is still enchanting to many foodies in the world. Do you have any idea what Japanese food does to a person who enjoys food? Many modern chefs strive to mimic their single-minded capability to make just one thing and one thing only and repeat it so much it's basically perfect when you put it in your mouth hole. Of course, not just the Japanese do it, but they seem to enjoy bringing things up a notch - especially in their food.

I reckon that it's inhumane the way Japanese cuisine will wipe your mind clean when you eat. That michelin-star meal you had last week? You bite into a perfectly-formed bundle of onigiri, or a glistening piece of sushi, and suddenly your knees are weak and your mind blessedly blank. 

I've had the fortune of doing a six-month stint with a prominent publishing company in Singapore, and their magazines - namely pets, epicure and BiTES magazine. The amount of work that goes into food writing has now well and truly gone into a whole new dimension for me, and  for that I find myself eternally grateful to those I've worked with. 

Now that i've 'graduated' from my internship, I must speak about this spot that I was invited for - a soft launch of Enbu, part of the Eat At Seven concept, which brings forward the major faucets of Japanese cuisine - Enbu being a semi al fresco joint to display warayaki-ya style, cuisine which incoroporates burning fragrant hay, to smoke fish or other meats.

Onwards to the food porn, shall we? 

Fried tofu, with uni sauce ($12)
As the writers and PR representatives all congregated for the soft launch over frosty mugs of Kirin, Sapporo and whisky (Coedo was sadly absent), our first appetiser was served. A slab of crisp-fried silky tofu, landing clean on the palate, balanced with a generous pile of bonito flakes with a side of luscious, smooth uni sauce. 

If you don't know, uni refers to sea urchin. They've been making headlines in Singapore for their taste and rarity, and are currently rising in popularity (and cost). Pairing with a delicate tofu with a creamy dip derived heavily from sea urchin is a clever and delicious way to present and alleviate the absentness in tofu that the masses are used to.

Smoked Salmon, with Homemade Cheese Tofu ($12)

I'll be honest, when they served this to me, I felt an immense sense of trepidation. Fusion food --  especially Japanese fusion food -- always made my dining experience a downward spiral, and this was underwhelming to me as a dish. While the concept was a familiar one and worked with its pairing, the cream cheese was otherwise relatively unappetising, bland almost.

Taco Salad ($15)

Things started to get a little tensed as the waitstaff brought out more Western-esque dishes, particularly their Taco Salad. The hype for the diners was the process of trying to get a photo of the live preparation, which basically saw the waitstaff vigorously shaking the mason jar of salad before pouring out the contents into a taco shell, and grating parmesan (which in his words, 'just regular cheese') which basically landed all over the table due to our breezy outdoor seating arrangements.

I don't care for salads that require a simple mise en place of vegetables to be stacked together with little care to their taste or textures together. Especially not when you can see the sauce collecting at the bottom of the jar like an expired can of pickles. Again, underwhelming, but it kept us interested enough until they brought out the big guns. 

Chicken Warayaki with Special Spring Onion Sauce ($12)

Fortunately, things began to pick up when the chef began serving the smoked dishes, the first of which were these towers of smoked chicken on skewers.

Served with crunchy cucumbers and spring onions, wrapped in leaves and dipped in a special chilli sauce, these went down a treat. The chicken was moist with the slightest hint of smokiness from the burnt hay, and the chilli sauce with the spring onions really punched in the flavours. The chilli sauce also reminded us of the Korean gochuchang, a sweet-spicy sauce. 

Katsuo Warayaki ($16)

This dish was my absolute winner of the evening. Served to us on unassuming aluminum packages, we revealed these perfectly cooked pieces of Katsuo, or Skipjack tuna - commonly used for bonito, so it was a surprise for us. Wispy scents of hay and smoked fish only furthered the experience of eating this dish, and they were served with light soy and fresh spring onions with grated ginger and garlic.

To be honest, I probably didn't even need the condiments, simply because this was just so beautifully done, cooked in a way that allows the fish to stand out. Eat At Seven and Enbu have very determinedly ensured that their seafood is fresh - by having their raw seafood flown on the day of consumption, to maintain optimal freshness and taste for the diner.

Jya Jya Men ($13)

Now, when I saw this on my tasting notes, I quietly assumed that this dish would be the Japanese version of 炸醬麵 (Zha Jiang Mian), a Chinese/Korean dish of noodles served dry with a minced meat and fermented soybean sauce, often served with other vegetables. 

I was not wrong in my assumption. 

The noodles were served with just the right amount of bite left in them, with a fragrant sauce, sliced eggs, slices of cucumber, radish and spring onions. An otherwise satisfying, simple bowl of noodles - I would expect no less from a Japanese establishment.

Oyster and Spinach Teppanyaki with Uni Sauce ($15)

Another favourite of the evening, a hotplate of some seriously succulent oysters on a bed of spinach, with a final slather of uni sauce before the trio are baked to give a slight char.

You'd think that the uni sauce would be too much for a velvety protein like oysters. It may be, but it worked for me. The oysters were meaty and briney, their frills crisped up through the cooking process, with the sauce providing a smokey, creamy touch and amplifying the seafood's freshness and texture. The spinach was a clever way to combat any overwhelming richness, but I quite enjoyed this serving.

Evidently, I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take a proper photo - thus this mess (sadface).

Sashimi Moriawase ($60-120)

While we were tucking in, the waitstaff heaved out these giant terracotta pots of sashimi. Plenty of oohs and ahhs to go around as the displays were brought out.
It was meant to be a surprising touch for our dining experience, and it delivered, based on the reactions of my dining partners. An impressive, large pot of fresh, glistening slabs of seafood, comprising of fatty tuna belly, sea urchin, tuna, seabass, snapper, sweet shrimp (my absolute love amongst sashimi) all flown in within the same day of serving. While the presentation is important and otherwise lovely, I am happy to report that the sashimi selection was perfectly on point in both serving and freshness.

Homemade Steamed Tofu ($12)

Our final savoury dish for the evening, I initially thought that this would be chawanmushi, a standard steamed egg dish in any Japanese meal. However, they brought out a heavy-duty steamer, with a bowl of freshly-steamed, house made tofu within. 

This was a simple and delightful way to end our meal - the tofu, an impossibly soft serving, dissolved and melted deliciously, and it also came with an accompanying light shoyu sauce (we had to be very careful pouring the sauce as the tofu was soft enough to break even under the stream of sauce!) which didn't mask the freshness of the pure tofu. An excellent way to cleanse the palate and cut through any residual grease from the long meal.

Mochi Ice Cream ($8)

Of course, no meal could ever be concluded without a dessert. Soft, white pebbles of mochi enveloping sweet vanilla ice cream, served with peanut powder on a brown sugar sauce.

We had to eat these quick, as the heat of our tropical island doesn't allow ice cream to stay around for long! These dessert morsels were fantastic, a quintessentially Japanese way of serving dessert without having to serve the ice cream and mochi separately. The chewy, membrane-thin mochi contrasted with cold ice cream and warm sugar syrup - very pleasant indeed, our table even asked for seconds.

As we rounded up the meal with chatter, tea and an exchange of name cards, I find myself impressed by the concept of Enbu and Eat At Seven. Now opened in Suntec -- which is trying hard to compete against other shopping malls in Singapore -- with head chef Tatsunori Yara at its helm, as well as being backed up by ANA Trading (yes, the airline), it's difficult for this establishment to go under the radar of any food lover. 

I am sure they will enjoy immense success with their pickings of quality produce and excellent Japanese cuisine, and would recommend Eat At Seven, as well as Enbu to anyone. 

Enbu can be located at:

3 Temasek Boulevard
#03-310 Suntec City Mall
Sky Garden
Singapore 038983

Tel: 6238 1630

No comments:

Post a Comment