[SG] Tsukada Nojo | beauty collagen hotpot!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When my friend first told me of this, I was skeptical of how good it would be given the not-very-appetising looks of the collagen-rich slabs. Aptly described by some as a firmer version of tau-huay, I was pretty amazed by how it could all dissolve to form the hotpot soup base.

So popular that it wasn't taking in any more seatings at about 7.15pm on a Friday night, their queue is spotted as early as 6ish. Having limited portions of soup base to cater for the dinner crowd, they'd stop taking in guests once they've sold out and the collagen pot is only available for dinner.

The magic came as we were served with this pot of what seemed like tau hway (beancurd), and got me wondering how exactly am I gonna have my hotpot!

Bijin Nabe ($25++ per pax)

Placed on top an induction cooker where the pot slowly heated up, we then saw bubbles forming and the pieces of 'tau hway' sinking in, only to realise that it was dissolving with the heat!

After about 5 minutes, the pot then dissolved into a smooth soup base, where the service crew then scooped a small cup each for us to taste the original flavour of the collagen base.

I've always been a skeptic of soups served outside, pampered with flavourful soups from real ingredients cooked at home. This, however, managed to impress with a mouthful that packed solid flavours from its chicken soup base, naturally sweet that was subtle that it grew on. It's the kind of soup that makes you feel blessed after a long day of work, reminiscent of the kind I get after 4-5 hours of soup boiling from home.

A taste of the chicken beneath was also an appetising start, tender and soft, with the light flavour of the soup it boiled in.

The spread included yellow zucchini, watermelon radish, lady's finger, baby corn and we'd replaced the prawns with another spatula of chicken meatball. Friends would know that I'm no veggie lover, and this looked quite intimidating initially, though I must say the ingredients had converted me, and I'd enjoyed every one of them (except lady's finger still), with the soup that went well with these.

The pot full of goodies 

With every ingredient adding a slight sweetness to the soup, we ended up with a flavourful base that was too addictive! (note: first refill is complimentary, with subsequent ones being chargeable)

They then gave us this to mix into the soup, which tasted slightly savoury hence we'd just mixed small portions into our individual bowls instead of the whole pot. It's pretty amazing how the pot of soup came just as a light one, like a white canvas, slowly being coloured and filled with flavours, and still tasting super good! 

Thick Mochi noodles

This was one that my friend said I had to try! Unlike usual udon or noodles, this was more Q with a slight bounce to every bite. Be sure not to soak it in for too long as it becomes too limp after a while. I loved the chewiness of this and certainly went well after being blanched in the soup to absorb its flavours.  

We had this last to go with the hot pot, with this staple filling us up pretty quickly. After you're done and having the hot pot simmer down, there'll be a crystallized layer on top and it was surprisingly sweet and we were hoping collagen-packed :p

Nikumaki Onigiri (Yuzu Pepper & Mayo/ Original) ($3.80/ $3.50)

While we wanted a variety to complete our meal, we'd overestimated our stomach space and this was too filling with rice balls wrapped in layers of pork. While the marinade had a nice savoury touch to it, I didn't quite like the strong porky taste and would have preferred it to be more tender. 

The one with yuzu pepper and mayo didn't taste quite different, I would have preferred a stronger yuzu taste for a much needed refreshing touch. 

Pleasantly surprised as we'd been overly full by the time we finished, I loved how they'd actually put in effort to plate the jelly desserts, thanking customers and leaving a good note to encourage recurring customers. Besides, everyone will also receive a name card with a stamp, with different positions based on the number of visits. 

This is then further tabulated into their leaderboard, which is a pretty smart idea of tracking return visits!

Impressed by their service, attention to details and creating those little gimmicks here and there, it's a place where I'm likely to visit again very soon, especially if I'm feeling a tad under weather. Eh start serving the collagen hot pot (or Bijin Nabe) from 5pm while only ramen is served for lunch. Be sure to go early, or have a friend to go chope a place first! 

Overall Verdict: 8.5/10

Tsukada Nojo
#03-81 Plaza Singapura 
(next to Nana's Green Tea)
68 Orchard Road 
Singapore 238839

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