Friday, March 7, 2014

Bijin Nabe at Tsukada Nojo 塚田農場.美人鍋, Chinatown Point

Finally got to try this popular Bijin Nabe (Collagen hotpot) at the Chinatown Point outlet. We arrived at the restaurant at 6.30pm on a weekday and was told to join in the queue for a table.

This outlet operates differently from the PS branch where customers are required to leave their contact numbers with them to join the waiting list, and do not need to be physically queuing for the table. However, they do provide complimentary Japanese tidbits and magazines at the waiting corner for customers to kill time as the wait can be long sometimes.

In between the wait, we noticed some customers arriving with a 'reservation'...what? We always thought that no reservations was allowed for dinner after 6pm, but they were indeed being given priority to next available table when everyone in their party has arrived. Ok, we shall ask about it later. Meanwhile, we checked out the menu and decide what to order for our dinner.

We ordered the Must Try Bijin Nabe 美人鍋 Set ($25++ per pax, min 2pax to order), and some sides to go along with the hotpot. The friendly waitress took our orders when we have reached the first in the queue. Our wait lasted about 30mins with 2 groups of people jumping the queue with their reservations. Shortly after we placed order, our table was ready and we were being ushered in swiftly with the entire shop yelling "irasshaimase!!!"...officially welcoming us in to dine.

Table setting with built-in induction cooker and hotpot utensils.

The much anticipated collagen 'pudding' arrived with a friendly Jap waitress explaining what we're gonna be eating. The pudding-like Jidori soup was made with highly prized free range Jidori chicken, raised in a controlled environment in Miyazaki prefecture, Kyushu. The chicken bones were stewed for over 8hrs and left to cool to produce this collagen pudding. The pudding is imported on a daily basis directly from their Miyazaki farms.

When heated, the pudding gradually melted into a thick broth. The process took about 5mins, and we could already smell the aroma of the well made chicken soup. An organic chicken was revealed underneath the soup. The waitress then scooped up the chicken and a small cup of soup for everyone to taste the original flavor before the ingredients go into the hotpot. The broth was delicious!

The hotpot ingredients (4pax portion) has fresh prawns, minced chicken balls, Jap watermelon radish, zucchini, Jap beancurd, black fungus, enoki mushrooms and a variety of common veggies. All ingredients are carefully selected to make up the nourishing Bijin Nabe 美人鍋. The serving may seem somewhat lacking but looks can be deceiving, the noodle that comes with the hotpot set will fill up the gap later on.

The friendly waitress again, helped us with the cooking of the ingredients, explaining the origins of each unique ingredient and their nutrition value during the process. We didn't need to lift a finger!

At last, the Bijin Nabe 美人鍋 is ready to be consumed. We all eagerly dig in. Everything in this hotpot was oishii, I especially liked the crunchy watermelon radish!

The fresh prawns and some of the veggies that has an extremely short cooking time were left by the side for us to cook as we desire. The prawns were sweet and succulent!

Halfway thru the meal, friendly Jap waitress 'surprise' us with a dollop of seaweed sauce for us to change the taste of the soup. It was nicely presented in a cute heart shape. We didn't add this into the soup though as we find the broth was already very yummy.

The noodles (choice of egg noodle, mochi mochi noodle & rice noodle) was served last. The egg noodle soaked up all the goodness of the chicken broth and was utterly delish to eat.

We were filled to the brim by the time we're done with the noodles. And the side dishes served in between the hotpot session did helped to make us full as well.

Nikumaki Onigiri ($3.50 - $3.80++ each) is one of their signature dishes. It is a bacon wrapped rice ball with 4 kinds of toppings. I had the original one and it was very nice! Definitely recommended.

Do note that these rice balls are quite huge, please don't over order. One per pax is quite enough for ladies, maybe one more for big appetite guys.

Chicken Nanban $8.50++, is a Miyazaki specialty served with homemade tartar sauce. The fried chicken was uber tender and juicy, and pairs well with the creamy mayo-like tartar sauce...yums.

Tori Shumai $5.80++ (13mins waiting time & contains pork), is handmade upon order. The minced chicken and pork meat filling was pretty soft and juicy...not bad at all.

Fried Kagoshima Sweet Potato w/ Honey Vanilla Ice Cream $8.50++. The crispy, sweet and mushy potato fries were incredibly addictive to eat.

At the end of the meal, we were presented with a nice little dessert platter with a 'camera' in the middle, drawn with chocolate sauce, and the words 'Thank you for taking pictures!'. This is a little unusual as their drawings are usually chicken related. Perhaps we were really too busy taking photos of every single dish and sauces served here :D

The bite sized sweet treat was Lemon Orange jelly. Flavor changes daily based on the chef's mood...nice!

Just before we leave, we were given a name card each. Every customer becomes an Assistant Manager upon their first visit to Tsukada Nojo. Then they will be gradually promoted through the ranks (based on number of visits) until they attained the CEO status. Check out the number of 'employees' on the leadership board.

While making payment, we checked with the staff on their reservation policy. For Chinatown Point branch, reservation is allowed for bookings before 7pm. That explains it! We shall call up to book a table on our next visit.

Another piece of good news, only at Chinatown Point outlet, the Bijin Nabe is served all day on Sat/Sun! Find them at:

Tsukada Nojo 塚田農場
Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road #02-37, S059413
Tel: 64448840

Opens Daily
Lunch: 11:30 - 15:00
Dinner: 17:00 - 22:00

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