May 02, 2013

Tanuki Raw @ Orchard Central ~ A Weekday Set Lunch

Tanuki Raw is one of the latest addition to the list of restaurants in Orchard Central, overtaking the space previously occupied by Spinelli Coffee. Brought to you by the man behind the successful Standing Sushi Bar, Howard Lo's latest concept is that of a casual bar and restaurant which infuses contemporary American influences into Japanese inspired cuisine.

Located on the second level of the mall right next to the escalator, the full height glass panels displayed the diner in all its industrial chic glory. The look is bare and minimalist, exuding a cool urban appeal which is none the less inviting, with the wooden tables and red coloured chair attributing some necessary warmth.

It is this clean uncluttered look which attracted me when I passed by the place. I need to unclutter my cluttered mind. My office is just nearby and it seems like a perfectly quiet pit stop to refuel my energy and tummy during a mid-day work break. My colleague and I decided to check out their set lunch (main + miso soup + salad + green tea) which is reasonably priced at S$10++ onwards, available from 11.30am to 2.30pm on weekdays. 

Boasting a bar, indoor and alfresco dining area, I would have chosen to dine at Tanuki Raw's balcony which overlooks the bustling road of Orchard Road if not for the scorching afternoon sun. Indoor air-comfort it shall be, before the heat dilutes my appetite.

Drawings of Tanuki, a mythical, mischievous shape-shifting creature from Japanese folklore, can be seen hanging over the bar counter and showing up cheekily on the menu book. Okay, now we know that not only does Tanuki delights in the raw pleasures of food and drinks, it likes to let it all hang out too :p

The selection from the set lunch menu is modest but suffices with a good variety of choices including rice bowls, sashimi, sushi, small bites and a Japanese take of fish & chips ~ The Moby Stick ($12). My initial order was for this promising sounding skewered fish deep-fried in Tanuki-signature batter, but was told it was not available.

I decided to settle for the Godfather Don ($12) instead, and visualized hearty pieces of chicken over warm fluffy rice in a bowl which is typical of a don (Japanese word for rice bowl dish). But as you can see from the picture above, the don is not really a don. The chicken pieces are plated separately, with rice and salad served by the side.

The chunks of deep fried chicken, covered with pomodoro sauce and topped with melted mozzarella cheese, tasted not too bad on its own, but seems odd when eaten with white rice. Call me unadventurous, but I feel it would have fared better if the tomato based sauce dish is served with pasta instead. There is a reason why classic combinations, are classic.

My colleague's choice of Honey Cheese Chicken Don set ($10) got a nod of approval from her. I tried a piece and prefer this fried chicken which is smothered with mozzarella cheese and glazed with honey, to my order.

The miso soup which is included in the lunch set came with generous portions of onions, radish, carrots and mushroom.

The lunch set is adequate in portion but we ordered Rockstar Roll ($10) as well for variety. Seared salmon is draped over the sushi rice roll of seaweed sheets and fried breaded mozarella cheese, before topped with a layer of mentaiko sauce. A nice medley of flavour and texture which I've no complains about. My colleague somehow feels that a light dip of sushi soya sauce is needed to complete it, but is disappointed by the soya sauce provided which tasted and smell like the normal soya sauce, too salty and heavy on flavour. We thought it's a mistake but the waitress said this is the Japanese sushi soya sauce which the restaurant provides. Hmm, time to change it, maybe?

We couldn't resist ordering the Trio Fries ($8) too. We girls may complain about being fat but it's very hard to say no to deep fried goodness isn't it? But other than the lotus root chips, the truffles fries and spam fries isn't so good, especially with the overly thinly cut spam fries which came out hard and dry. Taunted as something that "can never go wrong" on the menu apparently went very wrong here.

Perhaps Tanuki Raw's happy hours might be a better time to come for a revisit, but then again, I'm not really a fan of drinks or anything raw. It's just me being difficult but I believe most of you would be excited to know that besides the usual discounted drinks, raw oysters goes for only $1 apiece (up to 12 pieces) with every alcoholic beverage purchase! Yes! What a selling point! You can enjoy these daily from 5pm to 8pm during the oyster happy hour.

Tanuki Raw is still in their soft launch period and will be adding and tweaking the set lunch menu items based on customer's feedback. I'm glad they're open to our views. Much can be improved on the service too. We were practically ignored when we wanted a refill of water initially, but the same waitress became over zealous in doing so towards the end of our meal. We saw our glass of water as three quartered full, but she saw it as one quartered empty obviously. -_-;

Looking forward to an improved Tanuki Raw soon.

Tanuki Raw
Address: 181 Orchard Road, #02-03 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896
Contact: +65 66365949
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 10.30pm Daily

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