You know how Japanese restaurants tend to specialize in a particular food, like sushi, katsu, or ramen? And you know how, even though they specialize in it, they are terrible at it?
Well Kenji Tei Ramen is one of those restaurants. Kenji Tei Ramen, as you might guess, specializes in Ramen. However, I’ve eaten here many times and have always come away disappointed with their ramen offering. Be it their standard shoyu ramen, or their more exotic mapo tofu ramen, Kenji Tei’s ramen tends to be very thin and light, with very little flavor, it’s like putting some Knorr cubes in hot water and putting noodles in it. People aren’t going to flock here from Yushoken anytime soon.
Frankly, you are better off buying a bowl of Nissin Instant Ramen at the grocery for 30 bucks than spending 300 on a lackluster bowl here at Kenji Tei.
Their katsudon is also a disaster. Instead of serving everything in a big rice bowl and letting the ingredients seep into each other, they separate the rice from katsu and from the dashi, so what you end with is a whole lesser than its separate parts.
The Japanese curry rice is okay, but Japanese curry tastes pretty much the same anywhere. You can have a better version of it from Recovery Food’s porkqua.
However, you know what Kenji Tei is surprisingly great at?
The absolute best thing on their menu in my not so humble opinion is the Spicy Salmon Maki. It will cost you around 400 bucks to eat it service charge all in, but it’s one of the best salmon makis you can have, and I am very picky when it comes to eating salmon maki.
Where do I begin? There’s eight big chunks of rolled rice with nori and raw salmon inside. That in itself is already a huge pile of awesome. But no, they also have to fry the entire thing in tempura batter, giving it a huge crispy texture. And you know how big I am on textures. Texture is almost as important to good food as taste is.
They also top it off with huge chunks of chopped and batter-fried salmon on top. It feels like you didn’t just eat 8 pieces of sushi, but you also got a serving of shake sashimi to boot! They are very generous with their extra salmon topping. On top of that you get some roe, which just rounds out the experience.
And the presentation! Oh how lovely! Fine dining is also about presentation. An engaging presentation will make you want to eat the food. It will excite you and make you desire it. Look at that lovely presentation. I mean just look at it.
And when you eat it — the ample wasabi on the side goes into the soy sauce. There’s also a pile of ginger at the side, which I always see served in good sushi restaurants, but I almost never eat it. But sometimes it’s nice and it’s healthy.
The salmon maki just goes into your soy sauce and wasabi mix, giving it a nice salty and spicy taste, but as you munch it you feel the crispness of the batter humbly giving way to the soft, succulent rice and the slathering taste of the tender salmon meat.
Raw Salmon is God’s Gift to Mankind. Do not waste it.
I remember this stupid Japanese Restaurant in SM City BF called Kimono Ken where they *cook* your salmon maki into a white orange yuckiness. I mean what the hell? Raw is the way to go. Do not cook your salmon! May Kimono Ken turn zombified and his intestines feasted by worms.
But Kenji Tei at least knows its business. This is the one of the best, if not the best, salmon makis you can get here in the Metro. Give it a try. And I do highly recommend staying away from their ramen. I’ll try some of their other dishes sometime, but the ramen is not an option.