It’s here! It’s open!
There’s Tokyo, the Tokyo you aspire to visit, see and tick off your vacation checklist before moving to the next pit stop. And then, there’s Tokyo, the Tokyo that forms the backdrop of the everyday, formed by a kaleidoscope of pixels each in its rightful place. Like the army of participants who call at one of the greatest cities on the planet, I too, find myself going with the flow. And could you blame me? Japan, even just skimming the surface, is nothing short of mind-blowingly fascinating. But even I get weary of keeping up with my own itineraries. However, I find that it’s when I truly stop wrestling with the city, stop, and just let Tokyo pass me by, that I see the other Tokyo that the other tourists stampede through, but never noticing its existence.
It’s in these little moments that I find a certain solace within the urbanity – I discover little oases within this massive sensory overload where I can relax and revitalize my overrun sensations before proceeding on. It’s in these fleeting reprieves that I found Soup Stock Tokyo.
The air’s chilly. The eateries, cafes and rest stops aplenty, but it’s the neutral wood tones enhanced with non-invasive lighting that lends Soup Stock Tokyo as a second home. The soup concept reminds me of home…I could always count on The Soup Spoon for a little hearty bowl in Singapore’s wet and cold (and especially, lonely) nights. Soup, when done right, could get me through those tough nights when I despair and all I can remember are my regrets. I missed Andy in that freezing spring’s night in Ikebukuro, I was coming back to the reality of my retrenchment the following morning…but somehow, Soup Stock Tokyo embraced me, comforted me, guided me. Somewhere, somehow, I was going to be alright.
My connection with Soup Stock Tokyo is an emotional one, and I suspect that for some of you, you might feel the same way too. After all, who isn’t familiar with the “Chicken Soup” series of motivational titles? But while soup has the ability to comfort and reassure, not every bowl will. There’s certainly no co-relation to the nutrition level, for I’ve almost never felt moved by the Chinese soups at the food courts in Singapore. It’s not branding, either: The Soup Spoon does fuck it up for me…these days more so than before. I don’t think I’ll ever put my finger on the holy grail of soup, but when it does, it’s magical.
Because of the nostalgia attached to the brand, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the opening of this Tokyo-based soup chain ever since I saw the hoardings coming up while queueing for “Free Burritos Day” at Guzman y Gomez. So, when Darren told me that Daniel Food Diary had an indication that it was open, I hopped down at my first chance.
Diners familiar with Soup Stock Tokyo will immediately realize that the Singapore menus are generally a third pricier than its Japan counterparts. Expect a 2 half (portion) soups with bread or rice at SGD 12.50 as opposed to 900 Yen (SGD 10.90) in Tokyo. Regular sized soups with bread or rice come in at SGD 12.10, while the “premium” range ones with bread or rice clock at a whopping SGD 14.50. For the price and portion, it’s still slightly smaller and is slightly less generous with ingredients than The Soup Spoon. However, from a taste point of view, Soup Stock Tokyo absolutely blows The Soup Spoon out of the water. You do trade Soup Spoon’s quantity for quality here, and it’s unmistakably obvious. The Tokyo Borsch, a Japanese stew of caramelized onions, carrots, potatoes and tender beef was unbelievable. Typically Japanese, the stew was rich and fragrant but managed a balance of lightness that won’t send you to slumberland or burst stomachs. Honestly, there isn’t much, but there’s a comfort in just pairing the soup plainly with the sesame seed topped Japanese rice. The action’s almost too natural, in fact. And there’s a certain familiarity to it too…like how we enjoy a good Indian or Hainanese curry with rice.
Wonderful with every spoon, I’ll be back soon. I’d be back sooner if they were in a more convenient location (and if the prices were closer to that of Tokyo’s), but oh well, here’s hoping to Soup Stock Tokyo’s success in Singapore!