Mr Good Says:
Meet the gorgeous Bijin Nabe (Beauty Pot) from Tsukada Nojo, a simmering pot of golden chicken collagen broth served with noodles, organic vegetables, fresh prawns and free-range chicken. Broadly known as Hot Pot, a dish where various raw ingredients are cooked in hot soup stock and eaten with condiments, this is a chameleon with many names- Battleship in Singapore (popularized by our Prime Minister, Mr. Lee), Steamboat in South East Asia and Nabe in Japan. But how did the Japanese Nabe become Bijin Nabe?
Bijin means Beauty or Beautiful Lady in Japanese. And Bijin Nabe is so named because of their unique soup stock. Bijin Nabe’s soup base is touted to contain collagen, a protein that helps to retain skin elasticity and hence youthfulness, keeping us beautiful. To serve us this awesome chicken collagen broth, Tuskada Nojo first stews the organic free-range chickens raised in their own farm in Miyazaki, Kyushu Japan for more than 8 hours until all the chicken bones are fully dissolved. This broth is then turned into smooth and silky collagen pudding chicken stock to be shipped to Singapore.
So, unlike other hot pot restaurants where a pot of hot soup is presented along with your ingredients, Tsukada Nojo presents you with a pot of tofu-like pudding instead. Watch as the heat melts the pudding, turning it into a creamy soup with a golden hue to reveal pieces of tender chicken.
About this time, your attentive server will appear to to serve you the bubbling chicken collagen soup, unadultered, before the taste is changed by the addition of other ingredients. The chicken meat will also be removed from the boiling soup to avoid being overcooked. You can then enjoy the tender and juicy chicken while waiting for the other ingredients to cook. And I have to say that all the exercise these free-range chickens have done must have done them good because this chicken meat is really the most tender I have eaten in Singapore.
At Tsukada Nojo, Bijin Nabe is served as a set rather than buffet style and only noodles are included in the set while rice are chargeable at S$4++. Three types of noodles are offered- Thin Egg Noodles, Thick Mochi Noodles and Rice Noodles. I always order their thin noodles which are QQ with a nice bite.
Finally, at the end of the meal (limited to 60 mins for lunch and 90 mins for dinner), a bite-size jelly for each diner will be presented with a cute sauce-art to provide the perfect sweet ending.
Overall, this is an excellent choice for days when you are craving for steamboat at a reasonable price. While the portion may look small for its price, particularly if you are used to all-you-can-eat steamboat buffets at lower prices, rest assured that you are paying more for quality ingredients and together, they are filling enough, especially after you have drank all that collagen soup (you can also ask for one free soup refill)!
Apart from the good food, Bijin Nabe at Tsukada Nojo also makes an interesting dining experience. Upon your first visit, you will be presented with their loyalty card creatively designed in the form of a business card that upgrades your psuedo-designation at Tsukada Nojo according to how often you visit. For example, as a first time visitor, you will be designated to be an “Assistant Manager” and after a couple more visits, you will be promoted to become a “Manager” then eventually “General Manager” and so on. And each time you are “promoted”, a free side will be given. Their service also remains attentive despite them being perpectually packed. Their staff are always able to appear at the right time to serve you the first cup of soup, to help with cooking the ingredients and to present the dessert jelly. The cute drawings accompanying their dessert jellies also vary each time, keeping this dessert presentation event a mini surprise. So don’t let their long queues deter you. To get around the queue, either plan an early lunch/dinner (but note that all patrons must be present before you can be seated) or make a reservation at their Chinatown Branch, currently the only one that allows reservation.