October 26, 2015
It’s back! For all of you diehard Japanese bbq fans out there, you’ll be pleased to hear Tenkaichi has left it’s former dingy surroundings within the City Gate Building and has reappeared in Marina Square mall. It’s shiny, it’s new and it’s still serving up it’s famous wagyu grilled beef at prices it claims can’t be beaten (they even have a price guarantee to prove it).
The new interior is modern and bright, if a little sparse, but it’s certainly a much welcomed upgrade in comparison to it’s previous home. There’s even a few smaller tables on the outside roof terrace if you fancy dining al fresco.
Whilst you can dine a la carte and choose dishes individually, we stopped by at lunchtime to check out Tenkaichi’s premium BBQ menu ($69.80++ Add an extra $5 to this on Fri, Sat, Sun, eve of PH’s and PH’s). Thank goodness we were hungry as you get a lot of beef for your buck.
By opting for premium we were able to select items from the wagyu range as well as dishes from the deluxe menu (the deluxe BBQ set alone is priced at $44.80++, additional $5 rule also applies here for weekends); Deluxe BBQ set does not include wagyu beef.
Fear not, if you don’t fancy forking out $70 for lunch the a la carte wagyu options start from $15.90 so you can still indulge without breaking the bank. If you’re coming for dinner it’s also worth checking out their reasonably priced sake range too.
Irrespective of which BBQ set you plump for, the choices is vast and features a good mix of sashimi, beef, pork and lamb options. On top of this protein fest, there is also a separate buffet menu of sides to order from that range from pickles to deep fried chicken.
During the evening service all side options are laid out buffet style for you to help yourself, however at lunch they prep whatever you fancy fresh on the spot. There is so much food I defy anyone to leave this restaurant feeling anything other than completely and utterly stuffed.
We began with a plate of sashimi that included Octopus, tuna, white tuna and salmon. The salmon and tuna were just as expected – thickly cut, fresh and the subtle flavour of each fish was present. The octopus was a little chewy, though it’s not a criticism as served sashimi/sushi style it’s always going to be a little chewy, that’s just how it comes.
If you don’t like chewy don’t order it. I do and enjoyed the fresh sweetness of these delicate slices. Having never tried white tuna before I was curious as to whether it would bear any resemblance to the yellow/blue fin I’m more familiar with. It didn’t, but I was not disappointed. The soft, pure white flesh was buttery and succulent – absolutely delicious.
Raw wagyu beef yukke was an unexpected triumph. This bowl of ground wagyu came sitting in a puddle of soy with a raw egg yolk on top. Mixed together it made for a slippery mouthful but the salty richness of it was addictive.
After the raw start it was time to fire up the BBQ grill that each table at Tenkaichi is fitted with. The meat dishes that need cooking arrive at the table pre seasoned and ready to pop straight on to the hot plate – easy. We began our feast with wagyu beef, which at Tenkaichi is mostly imported from Australia and has a marbling score of 7+.
The wagyu karubi (wagyu beef short ribs) was first to hit the heat, our anticipation mounted as we watched the fat sizzle whilst cooking – only the karubi is imported from Hokkaido whilst the rest hail from Australia.
The finished article melted in the mouth and had a rich buttery flavour. My only problem with the karubi is that whilst it’s a decadent mouthful it doesn’t really taste of, well, beef. None the less, we polished off the entire plate. Beef flavour or not, it was still tasty.
We then added some wagyu nakaochi karubi in to the mix and these bite sized chunks did not disappoint. Juicy, succulent and beefy (hooray!), this was my favourite wagyu item on the menu. Both dishes were accompanied by two home made bbq dips, one soy based, the other miso. The salty, savoury soy one in particular was really very good and complimented our meat perfectly.
We ordered some regular beef from the deluxe menu to compare with the wagyu and I have to say, flavour wise, for me it was on a par. Imported from the US, we opted for the Harami (outside skirt). Once cooked the delicate red marbled slices transformed into savoury, meaty, umami goodness. We demolished the lot.
Not wanting to neglect the other meats on the menu, we also decided to try some pork belly. It was tough to get a good cook on these slices and lacking crispy fat it fell a little short in the flavour department.
So much so that it wasn’t even easily identifiable as pork, it might as well have been chicken for all we knew. Though it’s probably more a reflection of our terrible cooking skills as opposed to the meat itself, which was super fresh and cut beautifully into thin slithers.
Our final deviation from beef was a plate of the biggest Hotate scallops I have ever seen. These guys were seriously huge and lived up to their reputation as being a treasured delicacy.
However, they were a little ‘wet’ which made them tricky to cook as the additional moisture prevented us from getting decent caramelisation. That said, the light sear on the hot plate still brought out their sweetness and, yet again, we had empty plates all round.
For lovers of wagyu you really can’t go wrong with Tenkaichi, though $70 seems a lot for lunch the food is plentiful and it’s good. Ticking both the quality and value boxes is not easy but the team here do it with aplomb.
Though if you’re not a beef connoisseur I’d recommend steering clear of the pricier wagyu, the quality and flavour of the beef on the cheaper deluxe menu is arguably just as tasty.
Either way, the Japanese BBQ buffet scene is better off since Tenkaichi has found it’s new home.
Expected damage: $30 – $90 per pax
Opening Hours: Every day, lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm (last order at 2.00pm), Hi tea 2.30pm – 5.30pm (no buffet and last order at 5.00pm), Dinner 6.00pm – 10.00pm (last order 9.30pm)