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Grain Bowls

Grain Bowls

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

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 🤷🏻‍♀️

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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!


Definitely slow to the game, but glad I finally got to try Don Meijin’s Chilli Crab Tendon! I must say this was a bit of an oddball for me. Not usually a fan of chilli crab already cause it’s not really spicy and just quite sweet, and Don Meijin’s take was significantly sweeter than some of the other sauces I’ve tried — plus there really isn’t a lot of sauce. Still, as much grub as I have against the variety of tempura in the bowl, it does make a really decent tendon option in town. Annnnnd it took 45min for our 2 bowls of tendon to arrive with only us in the restaurant? 😰


Sous-vide Teriyaki Salmon Donburi: sounds fine and dandy, and with a few tables around me ordering this + pale-looking toast in their breakfast set, I decided this prolly was the better option. Looked so so promising and pretty, but unfortunately fell really short of expectations when it comes to flavours. The salmon was horridiously overcooked and bland, with most of the limited watery teriyaki sauce having seeped into the clumpy, cold, and oddly hard short-grain rice. These, plus discoloured brownish ikura and storebought stiff tamago, meant a very unappealing lunch.


I was first attracted by how interesting the ingredients sound (Soy Ginger Salmon or Honey-Glazed Grilled Iberico Pork Collar for you?), but was sold when I heard they use a mix of of quinoa, barley, and brown rice for their grain base. Though a tad pricey, their Spice Roasted Chicken leg ($17++) turned out better than I imagined. An entire rendang-infused chicken leg, roasted till its skin's wonderfully caramelised (though not crisp enough pour moi) while its insides stay juicy and moist, topped with the most yummy coriander garlic pesto. It seems rather plain Jane; but the flavours are on point, eggplant salad nicely seasoned, with even the grain mix nicely tossed in a tasty vinaigrette.


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

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