Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cow Tongue and Cheap Sashimi - at Sandaime Bunji!

One of the reasons that the darling and I are such huge Japanese food fans is the sheer variety of cuisine from the various parts of the country. Today, we visit Sandaime Bunji, which originates from Sendai (sort of halfway between Tokyo and Hokkaido), and specializes in two decidedly non-mainstream dishes: 牛たん ('Gyuu-tan,' charcoal-grilled ox tongue) and わら焼きかつおたたき ('Warayaki Katsuo Tataki,' Skipjack Tuna seared over a rice straw fire).

Sandaime Bunji Gyuutan Grilled Ox Tongue
Yes, there is a tuna loin in the midst of that fire.

We decided not to order the straw fired tuna at the last minute, opting instead for the irresistibly-priced six types of Assorted Sashimi (s$15.90, promo price). There's a small caveat - each diner must order a drink - but otherwise it's an absolute steal for hefty, chunky slices of fresh, raw fish. There's even two cubes of 大トロ ('Oo-Toro,' fatty tuna belly)!

Sandaime Bunji Cheap Sashimi

Of course, we made sure to try the restaurant's other specialty - 12P 牛たん Dinner Set ($42.90). The dinner set comes with 12 slices of charcoal-grilled ox tongue, a clear ox tongue soup, vegetables (seaweed & bean sprouts), appetizer (pitan tofu) and a bowl of mixed rice and barley.

It's a hearty meal, and a very ... interesting one. Ox tongue has a strong, distinctly beefy flavour, but with a uniquely smooth texture and a somewhat chewy bite. Taste and flavour-wise it was nice, but in our opinions when tongue is served this way, it loses heat too quickly and so the latter half of the meal felt like eating cold beef. Definitely a dish that you should wolf down as quickly as possible.

Sandaime Bunji Gyuutan Grilled Ox Tongue

Our other main course for the night - the Unagi Dinner Set ($19.90 for the full/large size) - comes with the same accompaniments as the cow tongue, plus chawanmushi (steamed egg custard). It's remarkably value for money, considering that the unagi alone probably costs just as much if you buy it from Meidi-ya or Isetan or any other Japanese supermarket.

Taste-wise - it was above average but not mind-blowing. The eel was obviously cooked beforehand and only finished on the grill - therefore not having enough time over the coals to get a really nice char on the edges. Still a satisfying meal nevertheless!

Sandaime Bunji Unagi River Eel

So while we weren't blown away by the ox tongue, we were pleasantly surprised with the very reasonable prices of the other items on the menu - especially the Unagi - and can totally imagine coming back again if/when we're in the area. Note that the Sashimi bowl is a promo price, and the waiter didn't know when the promo ends.

Sandaime Bunji is at #01-14/15, Millenia Walk, Singapore. Reservations probably not required. Non-halal.

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