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Don, Don, Donburi

Don, Don, Donburi

A list containing some of the best Asian Rice Bowls dishes I have tried.
Vanessa Kou
Vanessa Kou
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The latest concept to the ever-expanding Keisuke group, the popular restaurant chain delivers an eggy surprise with one of my favourite comfort food - omurice. A humble 22-seater, Omurice Keisuke follows the same foolproof model, hitting home-run with inexpensive prices and a concised menu -so do expect long queues, especially during peak periods.

For hearty eaters, upsize your portions for free or pick the Omurice Combo, where you can have both rice and spaghetti for $12.90. However, hearing mixed reviews on the pasta, I decided not to overload on carbs and stick to the standard order. The Omurice ($9.90) comes with a choice of one of four sauces – demi-glace, chilli tomato, wafu and white sauce. You can also request for a special cheese sauce ($2) made with 3 different types of cheese, which is prepared ala minute right in front of you. Not forgetting, the meal is served with miso soup, salad and the familiar complimentary beansprouts to start at every table.

Having the demi-glace, that was more sweet than savory with a good amount of tang, slathered on the classic egg blanket; it was everything I wanted. The egg was soft, creamy and smooth while the fried rice was well-seasoned with ketchup dashi, bits of diced chicken and corn. There are various add-ons available too, with options such as Pork Spareribs ($3) and Teriyaki Chicken Hamburg ($3) being my recommended picks.

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Ditching my new year resolution for a slimmer self early with this bowl of fried seafood goodness, as Tendon Kohaku’s 2nd generation winter seasonal tendon ($21.00++) was undoubtedly worth the calories. Packed with a medley of awesome ingredients, this limited edition gem (available till March 2019) sees the use of Alaskan snow crab, king crab stick, prawn, dory fish, squid, Japanese fishcake stuffed with cod roe, Hokkaido ikura and an intriguing delicacy, monkfish liver (ankimo).

All coated with a delicious seaweed batter, the flavour does slight overpower the taste some of the tempura but lends a really lovely savouriness and just screams umami sweetness in every bite. Deep-fried till crisp and golden brown before serving on a bed of healthy Japanese brown rice or regular rice, the meaty Alaskan snow crab leg was definitely my favourite. The mix was really enjoyable too, with the choice of spicy or sweet sauce drizzled over, paired alongside the brilliant pops of briny ikura and the seaweed infused batter. Yet a point to note is that it does gets jelat close to the end.

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My first visit since their shift to Crawford Lane from Seah Im Food Centre, I was glad to find Eat 3 Bowls' 呷三碗 Braised Pork Rice to be just as good as I remembered; and now offering a slightly more extensive menu with a small array of familiar Taiwanese beverages. The interior was also fashioned after an adorable Taiwanese-style classroom, completed with wooden tables, wooden chairs, notice boards and a large “chalkboard”. And as expected with the location change, prices have increased but so have the portions (though not as much as I would like).

Eyeing the Braised Pork Rice Set ($8) from the start, the classic bowl of braised pork rice ($4.50/a la carte) came with braised Chinese cabbage and a perfect braised molten core egg. Topped with my favourite egg floss 炸蛋, the braised Chinese cabbage was decent and a nice complement to the rice bowl. The star, of course, was the melty minced pork well-cooked in the savoury braising gravy - not too lean, dry or oily. Yas!

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Adding to the Japanese restaurants-dominated area, Keisuke’s latest concept at Onze marries two classic dishes — beef sukiyaki and gyu don.

Tucked at the corner of the estate, hidden behind Tanjong Pagar Plaza and a short walking distance from the MRT, Beef Sukiyaki Don Keisuke is a compact 14-seater restaurant with an even more concised menu. With just two items, the Beef Sukiyaki Don ($13.90) was more than decent but their Kiwami Wagyu Sukiyaki Don ($29.90) simply stole the show with the premium cut’s luxe mouthfeel.

Prepared a la minute with leeks and a small bit of chilli padi, the proteins were cooked to the ideal shade of pink yet having tried both, the US Prime beef was certainly leaner and tougher in texture. Thus, I would highly recommend the Wagyu Don held in the dazzling golden bowl despite the damage to the wallet. Well-worth the splurge, the tender and juicy slices had just the right amount of fattiness. The special sukiyaki sauce too was nicely balanced - not overly sweet or salty.

Stacked on steamed koshihikari rice, shimeji mushrooms, shirataki noodles, crunchy cabbage and a silky braised tofu, the succulent heap was a beef lover’s dream come true. The substantial donburi also came with side servings of handmade mochi-like sesame tofu coated in dashi ankake sauce, a savoury onsen egg for dipping, traditional miso soup and assorted pickles on the counter to cut the richness.

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In a glorious shade of black, Folklore’s signature Sambal Buah Keluak Fried Rice ($28) is not your run-of-the-mill fried rice. Intensely fragrant and bold, the wok-hei was spot-on with a myriad of flavours - all spicy, earthy, and umami. The rich combination of shallots, candlenuts, chillies, belachan and minced pork coating the grains evenly. Though I had the non-spicy version, there was still a manageable tinge of spice and tingle of heat. Topped with a sunny side up, the runny egg was essential as the luscious yolk doused much of the flames and added a bright creamy savouriness. A must-order, one of my favourite elements in the dish was also the bits of four angled bean which provided a lovely crunchy and colour.

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Exceedingly fresh and generous with their portion, Himawari Japanese Restaurant is known for their sashimi buffet. However for a less extravagant option, their Salmon Ikura Chirashi ($28) was simply superb and more than sufficient to satisfy my sashimi craving. Soft and melty, the fish proved to be as good as it looked - being incredibly fatty, sweet and without a hint of fishiness. The shiny and supple ikura also provided addictive pops of briny sweetness to the bowl. And though prices are slightly steep, it was well-worth the quality and substantially thick cuts. So good!

Focused not only on the minimalistic yet elegant aesthetics of the swanky lobby lounge, I was also there for the cafe’s healthful menu of Asian-influenced rice bowls, salads, broths, and sandwiches. And if clean-eating is your thing, Clan Cafe’s Kakiage with Genmaicha Broth ($15) is ideal for Meatless Mondays!

Piled on a base of mixed grains, the small hill of asian mushroom medley and assorted tempura-fried vegetables - kale, okra, murasaki imo and aubergine can be enjoyed on its own or soaked in the deliciously earthy genmaicha stock. But both refreshing and delectable, I would strongly recommend having the savoury broth alongside so as to give the polished dish a boost with its pleasant roasted flavour. Guilt-free with none of the expected greasiness; the unadulterated sweetness of vegetable was able to shine with the thin, light and crisp batter too. The surprising pops of colour and tanginess from the kimchi added great contrast in texture and taste as well.

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Available every Friday and Saturday from 11pm to 2.30am, night owls will not go to bed hungry as the focused menu will see a couple of their all-day favourites (like their Burnt Chilli Chicken and addictive Smashed Baby Potatoes) and new offerings served in the similar style of sharing plates to go along with their Shiny Rice.

Loving the selection, many of the items pays tribute to hearty and familiar Taiwanese street food yet each made with their own twist. So an instant hit, my pick of the night was their Oyster Omelette | Lard ($10). With none of the usual grease and starch; it wasn’t overly fried and didn’t have that hated gummy consistency. For fried goodness, have a go at their Golden Frog Legs | Haus Chilli Mayo ($10) and Dough Fritters | Minced Pork | Haus Saus ($5) which would also make perfect bar bites. For something saucy, I would recommend the well-executed Braised Duck | Taw Kwa | Egg ($10). But the true MVP was their Sweet Potato Congee ($3). Simple yet tasteful, the warm bowl was all smooth and fragrant with the addition of dashi stock - just great with everything. Hence, drawing comfort from all the dishes and the unpretentious ambience, do swing by for an affordable and satisfying meal!

Thank you The Salted Plum for having us and Burpple for organizing the eatup!

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With beef being my go-to protein, Maru Dine and Bar's Stir Fry Cube Beef Don ($20) was good and made for a hearty weekday lunch option. Tender and juicy, the diced meat was the ideal doneness where you get the desired bite along with the natural flavours from the moisture locked within. Lightly seasoned, the garlic red wine sauce didn't overwhelm the elements but instead enhanced the earthy notes of the shimeiji mushrooms and the fragrant bed of fried rice. Jazzing up the bowl further, the crispy garlic bits and furikake also added great textures. And a tip would be giving everything a good mix before eating and especially coating the beef cubes with the yolk of the runny onsen egg! Oh and not forgetting your greens... just help yourself to the free-flow salad with every main ordered.

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Yet to try the many renditions made available in Singapore, I was pretty excited to get my hands on Red Rock アメ村店 Americamura's Roast Beef Don (815¥) and was glad that it didn't disappoint. Though not mind-blowing considering the many rave reviews and the other exceptional meals that I had in Japan; it was a sight to behold. No tough, dry or overly chewy meat here, the stack of sliced beef was tender and nicely seasoned. Very satisfying, the small heap was also nicely complemented by the tangy white yogurt sauce as well as raw yolk which added a smooth richness to the bowl.

Furthermore, in view that it was my second lunch of the day and was rather full mid-meal, the combination didn't cut my enjoyment of the braised beef one bit. And while there was a snaking queue (I waited about 15 minutes in the cold) with mostly tourists dragging their luggage in line, the service was prompt and friendly.

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And having it for the first time, I went straight for their signature Bara Chirashi Don ($12.80). Located quite prominently and within sight of the mall’s entrance, Sushiro is difficult to miss especially with the long-forming line extending out to the far end of the floor during lunch. Hence not expecting the snaking queue on an early Wednesday afternoon, I was famished by the time I was seated. But of course well-worth the 20-minutes wait, the star of the show - the palm-sized sushi rice bowl piled generously with assorted chunks of seafood saved the day.

Loving the small hill of salmon, tuna, octopus, prawn and shiny ikura pops; the ingredients were all really sweet and firm. Not overpowered by the seasoning and cut into perfect bite-sized cubes for easy consumption, the sashimi used were able to remain their original flavours and I particularly enjoyed the chewy texture of the fresh octopus with a light refreshing hint of lemon. Lending an extra oomph was also a good sprinkle of sesame seeds and sesame oil, giving the entire umami bowl a fragrant finish.

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At a whooping $68, Barashi Tei’s Special Chirashi Don was certainly indulgent (but of course, being the most expensive item on their menu). So expect a bigger and better medley of fresh premium fish slices from their other variations of chirashi don. And good to share for two; adoring the great bowl of raw goodness we had Sake Belly, Hamachi, Maguro Akami, melty Uni, popping Ikura and sweet Hotate, just to name a few. All proportionately sliced, the substantial bowl was also kept light with a hint of zest and accentuated with wasabi and pickled ginger at the side. Each comes as a set with a side of fruit and miso soup to go along too. Thus you know where to be for late night chirashi cravings!

Thank you Burpple for the invite and @barashitei for feeding us!

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