Monday, 12 September 2011

Tontei Pork Restaurant review Nex Mall Singapore - who says good restaurants can't be in shopping malls?


Address: Nex #B1-79, 23 Serangoon Central
Singapore 556083
Tel: +65 6634 7116
Nearest MRT station: Serangoon
Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below S$30pp
Service charge: 10%
Taste: ****
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
Shopping malls are never in short supply in Singapore. It seems that there is one major one every single time we fly back for a visit. Last time round, it was the Ion, which occupied Orchard Road's prime estate opposite Le Meridian Hotel. I could never figure out my way around that labyrinth.

The time, it's Nex. No, I didn't miss out any letter and the monster of a mall now dominates the northeastern end of Singapore. I stop counting after the fourth floor and I think there's at least two basement for I could never figure out whether the MRT station opens into the ground floor or basement.

It's also home to a cineplex, which is deliberately placed at the most inaccessible part of the mall. Unless there is another route right up to the mall, you would need to figure your through the myriad of shops; it reminds me of Heathrow airport terminal three. Woe betide those who turn up just in time for their movies.

I must getting on my years as the loud music, typical of Singapore's shopping malls, was getting on my nerves. Famished, we went up to the information counter and enquired about Nex's fine dining options (we decided to spoil ourselves a bit). Looking a bit puzzled, the staff pointed us to Ajisen, a chain restaurant the equivalent of London's Wagamama. Fine, maybe a bit better but you get the idea. Anyway, we wandered around a bit and stumbled upon Tontei Pork Restaurant and settled for it.

The staff was all smiles as we stepped into the empty restaurant at around 7pm. After flipping through Tontei Pork's very fancy looking menu, we settled on two of the sets.


My croquette & sushi zen set ($20.90) came with tenderloin cutlet and minced croquette a couple of sushi, chawanmushi, miso soup and fruit. That's the thing I like about Japanese set meals, you actually feel healthy just by looking at them. Chawanmushi, a smooth steamed egg custard dish with shrimps and mushrooms in them is something that is hard to find in London. We tucked into that (a very nice one indeed) with relish.


The croquette was battered and fried just about right. Its mushy potato based filling just melts in the mouth.


Interestingly, the set also came with salads, which citrus sauce was accompanied by a small bowl of roasted sesame seeds with a small mortar and pestle. I actually got to grind the sesame seeds myself. A whiff of the sesame seeds' aroma as I did that nudged my appetite in the right direction.



Wife went for the mixed katsu with mushroom sauce zen set ($23.90). Mixed katsu include pork loin, tenderloin cutlet and prawn tempura. It is pertinent that the prawns used are fresh in a tempura and Tontei Pork didn't disappoint. Special mention must be made of the mushroom sauce. Flavourful with the right consistency, it was an absolute delight.


Tontei Pork Restaurant tucked in a corner of Nex demarcated for Japanese cuisine was a surprise find. Perhaps it was its very obliging staff (we were served by a young man whose name I neglected to ask) or it was one of first proper meals that we had in Singapore, that dinner at Tontei Pork Restaurant was a surprisingly pleasant one indeed.

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