I do love me some oodles of noodles. A bowl of al dente strands sitting in a bowl of steaming broth packed full of flavour is always extra welcoming when it's drizzling and grey outside. And yes, I'm a rabid fan of Mappen, so naturally I'd jump at the chance of trying out Mappen and Oiden's new sibling - Tenkomori.
Tenkomori in Japanese is an indication of serving size - 'Oomori' is a large serving size, and Tenkomori is meant to refer to an extra extra LARGE serving size. But if you have tried the sister chains of noodle and rice bars (Mappen and Oiden), then you know that the serving size is not particularly large. The smaller servings are usually matched by cheap prices and super quick service, making these places a great lunch spot for those busy lunch hours in the city.
The concept is pretty much the same - you order your main (which would be one of the many varieties of ramen dishes), then pick your sides and extras. The company that has produced all these chains have done a fabulous job of this, and its illustrated best during peak hour, where people move through the queues like sand through your fingers, and before you know it you've finished your meal and you're off.
Well, Tenkomori wasn't off to a great start when I decided to visit with my friends. We actually had to stand in a line that didn't seem like it was moving. Furthermore, our order was taken right up front by a staff member who gave us a ticket - which we assumed was a time saving measure - and then had to wait for our order anyway when we got round to the counter that was meant to give us our bowl of noodles. But we still held out hope - the reputation of the other restaurants told us that at least the food was going to be decent, and that we'd enjoy our meal regardless of the initial experience of trying to order.
First, the starters and sides.
To say that the other bits and pieces was unremarkable was saying the least. The fried items were all relatively stale, and items like the Terriyaki chicken was just tough and uninspiring. The Gyozas were bland and lacked texture, and the stewed pork belly was horrifying. It not only lacked flavour, the cold piece of pork belly had an awful, stringy texture that just screamed, "ABANDON ME!".
And you know the worst part of the extras? It was actually the bit that I was most looking forward to. Ni Tamago is meant to be this egg that has a set white and a liquid yolk. The boiled eggs are then marinaded in stock, giving it a savoury outer layer that compliments the inner texture. In short, it's meant to look like this:
Taken from Aimakan
But for some reason, the ones from Tenkomori look like this:
As you can tell, the eggs are wayyyy WAY overcooked. (And underflavoured) And anyone who is looking forward to a runny yolk will know that this is not acceptable!! Come on, if Mappen and Oiden can do to-die-for eggs, surely Tenkomori has the eggs-perience to get this right.
Okay, on to the main event.
Both my dining companions and I ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen with black garlic. Black garlic is basically a fermented form of garlic, which to me tastes reminiscent of soy sauce but without the salty tang. I've had it before and it's been delicious, and I've heard lots about Tonkotsu broths and their promise of rich milky flavour.
Well with this particular bowl, it was disappointing. The broth was tasty and flavourful, but the ramen itself was not at all inspiring and was limp and gluggy. I felt like I had such high hopes for the food at Tenkomori, but all I got was an extra large serve of disappointment.
I hope that it was just opening kinks in the flow that they have since sorted out, but in the meantime, I'm walking the extra couple of blocks to go to Menya.
We ate at:
Shop 16 Regent Pl George St
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