PUBLISHED February 25th, 2013 01:12 am | UPDATED May 9th, 2018 03:13 am
There’s a Chinese folk saying that goes ‘Hanging a sheep’s head but selling dog meat’. Nana’s Green Tea, a modern Japanese import that graces Plaza Singapura’s new wing, certainly manifests the proverb.
No sheep or dog is touted on the menu, but a dazzling variety of green tea fixes—from matcha floats to hoji-cha (roasted green tea) parfaits—dominate the first half of the menu. However, it’s the second half of the menu that gets a little interesting.
For instance, our order of Salmon Carpaccio ($8.80) (cue: sliced thinly till translucent) could have been named ‘steroid-pumped sashimi’ instead. The fatty fish came in such thick pieces that it could only mean that a cooking school dropout was on the garde manger station, or that salmon had grown ridiculously cheap overnight, rendering such generosity acceptable. My sarcasm, however, cannot hide my love for the ambrosial, filling slabs of raw fish dressed lightly with sesame vinaigrette. For an appetizer, it’s an extravagant celebration of salmon.
The ‘bigger-is-better’ philosophy rears its head again in an Avocado and Tuna Maki Roll ($5.80 for four pieces). Any larger, the wheels of maki sushi could push down pins on a bowling alley. Though impossible to wolf down in a bite, each slice nailed the balance between lean and fatty, with a cube of cream cheese and a ear of avocado providing much needed richness to the maguro tuna.
You will find yourself scratching your head again when a dish of Chicken Yakitori ($5.80) arrives without any skewers. There is nary a hint of smokiness in the chicken too, which felt like an improvisation of a teriyaki stir-fry upon realization that the grill has gone down.
An Ebi Chilli Don ($14.80) had most of what its description promised—’stir-fried shrimps with a sweet chilli sauce served over warm Japanese rice’—except that the star ingredient came deep-fried with a panko crumb coating instead. The discrepancy was forgiven, only because the shrimp was so impeccably crusty and generously doused with a sauce that couldn’t possibly go wrong with fried food.
Nana’s Green Tea is not a clunker though. Its Locomoko Don ($15.80) managed to simultaneously appear as claimed (!), as well as live up to its ‘Recommended’ stamp of approval. The rice bowl with a medium-well beef patty and gooey egg is best mixed with the appetizing, sweet-tangy barbecue sauce.
The restaurant also does Cold Udon ($12.80 to $14.80) just right—it’s springy to the bite without being paste-y. In a surprisingly uncloying sesame sauce reminiscent of tahini, the thick noodles have an unprecedented lightness.
The sweets deserve a separate review altogether, but be warned of ice creams with annoying ice crystals, chocolate cakes so dry they’re arid, and azuki beans that would cause a diabetic to flip. If you must, give the soft serve ice-cream present in various desserts a shot—it’s rich, silky and so good that it almost seemed out of place among its other pedestrian accompaniments.
In a restaurant where what you see might not be what you get, tread with caution. Or perhaps we’re just a little paranoid. After all, the establishment is barely a month old and the service is promising, with a Japanese sincerity and sensibility. So, sheep’s head or dog meat, whatever tastes great is good chow.
Written by Mr Nom Nom.
Photography compliments of Nana’s Green Tea.