Helmed by the same people behind SOULed Out and WIP, bar-serrie and grill restaurant Tujo is slapped into 7atenine’s old premise. Designed by interior firm Ed Poole, the striking revamp – floor-to-ceiling windows, Modo chandeliers and a groovy bar – radiates ’60s Danish charm. The décor is fancy; you can smell the money spent. But the peril to any longstanding conglomerate like SOUL Society Group is risk feeling like a lucrative business than an inspiring place to dine. Is Tujo another safe bet?
Dinner started with the usual, perfunctory service: Staff always show you a seat you never really like, hand you the menu (in Tujo’s case, three menus for food, drinks and wines) and don’t serve water until you ask them to. But halfway into my spinach, melon and feta salad (a delicious jumble of Savoy leaves with almond flakes), the manager swung by my table to ask if everything was okay. Just as I felt delighted by the gesture, he asked if I was a blogger. Sweet, but I don’t remember asking for a free meal.
My main course was a grilled chicken with chimichurri, a rub concocted from chopped parsley, olive oil and wine vinegar. The dish was a quiet ceremony – a whole leg garnished with just a sprig of rosemary and roasted tomato – but it hummed with flavour. The skin was crisp, and the meat ameliorated by a waft of smokiness. Tujo’s meatless Mediterranean pizza (choose squid ink or spinach-infused dough) was eight hulking wedges of deliciousness – a sumac (zingy lemon spice) base reinforced by a mélange of roasted vegetables. This vegetarian knockout boasted an impeccable balance of crunch and chew. There are eight different pizza flavours on the menu to choose from. Good luck with that.
Desserts here revolve around tarts or cakes of one sort or another. My meal progressed into offerings that spanned the life cycle of an apple from fruit to juice. The fruit part came in the form of a salted caramel apple guava tart. Coupled with dragonfruit sauce and Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, the tart had a crumbly crust and sticky-warm filling with a snap of acidity. The juice was fashioned into a mojito, aptly called Granny Smith. Picking up punch from the rum, asam boi, mint leaves and lime wedges, the cocktail rounded off the night with a satisfying, apple-ly ever after.
Tujo isn’t a place that one goes to in search of imagination. However, the restaurant wields commendable modern staples and comfort food. If you want reconstructed vegetable soup squeezed out from a pipette, steer clear of Tujo. But it’s your loss. Kong Wai Yeng
Ascott 9 Jalan Pinang
|Opening hours:||Open daily, 7am-1am|