Grain Bowls

Grain Bowls

Simple, delish, hearty fare crammed into a single bowl.
Nobelle Liew
Nobelle Liew

For a very reasonable $9.90/$10.90 (chicken/beef), you get a generous bowl of their signature yellow basmati rice, fresh pita, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, housemade white and red sauces. Before we touch on flavour, let me just kindly point out that when I say this is a generous bowl: I actually mean MASSIVE. There’s a mound of rice in there, and most importantly enough meat to keep you going as well. “What about the taste,” you ask? OOF. The rice was perfectly cooked (read: grains still fully intact) and well-seasoned too; meats flavourful, juicy, and tender; and man were their sauces on point. The white sauce is tangy, garlicky, and cool, while the red sauce packs quite a massive punch; so together they balance each other out to create an absolutely delicious and satisfying meal.


I dare say it’s been a couple of years since I last stepped into GT. The menu’s changed (no more salad base omg), there’re now more unfamiliar faces, and even the vibe feels oddly different; but one thing’s for sure — the food’s still as solid as ever. I fell back on their quinoa given that the greens are now gone, and I’m pleased to say it’s as tasty as I remember them to be when they first opened their doors. The Sous-vide Salmon’s still fork tender and beautifully charred on the outside (if smaller than I recall haha); Roast Chicken’s as juicy and well-seasoned; and really all my favourites that they still carry remain as delicious. Sure there are plenty of other grain bowl options around right now and yes GT isn’t exactly the cheapest. Perhaps it’s nostalgia, as well as the fact that I know I’d always leave the restaurant mega satisfied, that cements GT as among my fave grain bowl spots. Ever. Besides they now carry Mate Mate and I swear there’s no better way to end the meal than with a can of this refreshing sparkling tea 🥰

For the month of June (ie till today), Bowl Chap’s donating $1 for rice bowl purchased to Down Syndrome Association Singapore to help with the costs of mainstream education and training. At a time when everyone’s worried about their own behinds, Bowl Chap’s still tryna do a little good for others and I’m super touched by that. I’ll be frank: I won’t promise the best rice bowls nor a mind-blowing experience. The food’s very decent if a tad average, with really generous portions that make it well worth the pricetag. Our favourite of the lot was their Five Spice Apple Pork Bowl. Pork belly had a good ratio of fat to meat, and was really tender while still retaining a nice bite. The sauce was really well-balanced as well, the five spice discernible without being overpowering and the apples lending a slight mellow sweetness. I also liked how you can choose between Koshihikari rice, salad, rice + salad mix, and tri-colour quinoa (cooked really well btw) for your base. With an average price of $12.90 per bowl, decent grub, and a cause I think we can all get behind, I’d say hit em up for dinner today if you haven’t made plans yet 😉

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There’s just NOTHING about this Ribeye Bowl ($20) we didn’t enjoy. First off you’ve got the generous portion of well-seasoned Australian ribeye grilled to a perfect medium-rare, super juicy and succulent, boasting those crisp, charred edges we (at least I) all love. Then there’s the creamy and fresh avo dip (very much like a pureed guacamole), poached eggs with the gorgeous runny yolk, and man those soft and tender grilled aubergines were downright tasty. Mix it all up before taking a big bite, and I promise you'll practically fall into nirvana. If anything, their cauliflower rice could do with some improvement. It was way too soft which, when just sitting in all the steam and juices, made it all the more mushy. Also I’m pretty sure the components in our bowl weren’t exactly the ones described on the menu, but idk could be a teething issue with their newly launched lunch service 🤷🏻‍♀️

The list of ingredients sound mighty tempting at first: salmon sandwiching a layer of Hokkaido cheese, maple leaf, lotus root, sweet potato, shiitake mushroom, enoki mushroom, and chestnut. All these in addition to the Kohaku’s signature prawn, dory fish, and chicken breast tempura. Oof what a mouthful, and I gotta admit they sound fantastically yummy at a first glance. However when I finally dug in, I have to say not all of the ingredients are as great in tempura-form. The chestnut for one was really really hard, not tender and sweet as I recall chestnuts to be — not that it’s undercooked, just really hard. Sweet potato was dry and crumbly, so much I had to douse it with tendon sauce to make it edible. Salmon was tasty with cheese of course, but it was 100% cooked and a tad dry. If I had a go over, I’d pick the regular tendon at a few bucks cheaper, with more of their fantastic prawn and chicken tempura instead.

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Being absolutely blunt when I say their Yakiniku Don ($14.90++) simply ain’t good, even when paying just half of its original price. The slivers — and I do mean slivers — of beef tasted rather plain and had too much chewy fat for my taste. Onions weren’t sweet, nor did they carry the flavours of the dashi they should’ve been cooked in. Worst thing though, was that there was hardly any sauce and whole bowl was rather dry. It tasted like a bunch of separate ingredients tossed together in a bowl, without that characteristic lovely sauce tying it all together. The rice was alright, but really if they could fck this up as well I don’t know what else to say.

I wasn’t 100% sure about trying this Wagyu Truffle Don ($34) cause of the steep price, and also cause I ain’t the biggest fan of truffle oil. But then I took a bite, and alright Izy Fook you got me convinced. There’s literally nothing bad I can say about this, nothing for me to pick on. First of all, they used nanatsuboshi Hokkaido rice in this and it was superbly cooked. Moist and just the right amount of sticky, if that makes any sense. Thin slices of wagyu were flavourful, tender, and juicy, with the perfect meat-to-meat ratio. Underneath that hides a slow-cooked egg with a beautiful runny yolk, and when you mix it all up that lends a wonderfully rich flavour to the whole rice bowl. But most importantly, the truffle oil wasn’t overly potent. Just enough to perfume the dish without overpowering everything — and that really sealed the deal for me.


Being around for some 4-5 years now says heaps, considering the volatility and high turnover rates of local cafes; and that @therefinerysg’s signature Refinery Gyudon’s been on the menu since day 1 shows just how reliably good this is. Each grain bowl comes topped with truffle shimeji mushrooms, tare marinated beef, pickled daikon, garlic chips, and an onsen egg. Very simple ingredients, with flavours and textures that balances out, it’s essentially a more modern take on the classic time-proven gyudon. If anything I found the rare sauce a wee sweeter than I’d prefer, but really there isn’t much to pick on with this grain bowl.


So many were raving about Ami Ami’s onsen egg tempura tendon awhile back, and as usual slow to the game I thought I’d give it a go recently at their parent restaurant Kuriya. And...nyeeeeh it’s aight. The tendon on its own was pretty good, tempura crisp, light, and not greasy, though nothing calling for a major woowoop. While I thought it was interesting having the onsen egg wrapped in (what I believe was) a phyllo sheet instead of the regular tempura batter, I can’t say I cared as much for its texture 🤔


The base itself is vastly different: featuring a mix of barley, quinoa, brown, and white rice, it’s a whole lot more nutritious and wholesome. Top that with a mix of okra, kale, murasaki imo (purple sweet potatoes), and eggplant tempura, earthy shrooms, and surprising blops of kimchi every here and there, and you’ve got yourself a fantastically interesting lunch. While I was absolutely in love with the idea of the genmaicha broth, I found it a little too bland. That toasty toasty rice fragrance came through for sure, but I’d have liked a wee more soy sauce or something — especially considering that the kakiage wasn’t exactly seasoned, neither were the other components. A great idea on the whole though, and I’d give their other grain bowls a shot any time.


You forget your dislike for fatty cuts (blasphemy I know) and order it anyway. I’ll be frank and say that my enthusiasm died pretty quick once my palate and preferences come kicking in; but I have to say this was pretty good while it lasted. Slices of fatty, pinky, melt-in-your-mouth grilled Japanese A3 wagyu ribeye, a silky onsen egg yolk, umami housemade yakiniku sauce and a seriously unbelievably delish bowl of sushi rice. I was honestly quite surprised at how well-seasoned and tasty their sushi rice was! Perfectly cooked, tender with a bite, it’s surprising how the most basic ingredient can make or kill a dish — leaving me impressed in this case.


Very similar to the zi char renditions, it’s a good balance of salty and sweet that goes really well with the tempura; though as far as tendons go, the tempura here isn’t particularly memorable. Batter was a little too thick, unseasoned and flat, though commendably not too oily. The ingredients though varied also weren’t as generous as some of its peers — the chicken was puny lol and that’s usually my fave bit!


Spending all my time eating (and eating) cause what else is there to do in small 🌞🌞 Singapore?

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