美味しい Japanese

美味しい Japanese

Featuring Tanuki Raw (Orchard Central), Tendon Kohaku (Suntec City), Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant (Keong Saik), Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya (Orchard Central), Kanshoku Ramen Bar (orchardgateway), Nanbantei Japanese Restaurant (Far East Plaza), Kajiken (Tanjong Pagar), Tonkichi (Takashimaya)
Mel Lee
Mel Lee

Far East Plaza might be the slightly-shady mall along Orchard Road that sells cheap street clothes, but it’s also the homeground of what’s arguably the one of the pioneering yakitori restaurants in Singapore. The yakitori bento is Nanbantei’s most well-received lunch set. At $15.50, it’s value for money. One gets five sticks of yakitori: shiitake mushrooms, asparagus wrapped in bacon, pork seasoned with garlic, chicken balls 👍🏻, and chicken with leek😍; and rice with mushroom, seaweed and minced meat; and a small handful of raw vegetables, to be eaten with a rather forgettable dip. The set also comes with miso soup.

🗒 Yakitori Bento Set B ($15.50)


You know what they say: the hungrier you are, the better the food tastes.

Some restaurants have strategy, while others chalk up the wait as part of the experience. But I really don't consider queuing when hungry to be a barrel of laughs.

🗒 Hitsumabushi ($26.80)


This little store at Tanjong Pagar specialises in maze soba, a type of soupless ramen that requires you to mix the noodles with vinegar or chilli oil before digging in. Their signature Mazesoba Nagoya Style consists of delightful chewy noodles with spicy minced pork, seaweed, vegetables and a soft-boiled egg. A carboholics I am, so simply can't refuse the free noodle upsize and the dollop of rice to polish off the remaining sauce.

🗒 Mazesoba Nagoya Style ($12.80)


How long would you wait for a good bowl of topped rice? An hour? More? We waited thirty minutes on a Tuesday lunchtime in the queue that snaked outside this tendon specialist and another twenty minutes to be served. The reason for the almost holy devotion is clear once your tendon (tempura on rice) arrives. It’s tempura perfection: light batter, golden and crisp, encases precisely and perfectly cooked seafood and vegetables. Two jumbo shrimps, sliced squid, crab stick, pumpkin, mushroom, baby corn, long bean and a remarkably large chicken, all dressed with a specially made sauce just before serving. The rice is also perfectly textured and delicately aromatic. In all, it's a mound so huge you’ll be grateful for the appetite you built up waiting. The standard-sized portion costs $15; only ask for the set that comes with an additional bowl of udon if you’re really hungry.

🗒 Signature Kohaku Tendon ($15)


There's something so perfect about a one-bowl meal. Equal parts comforting and efficient - and this is especially true when you're in the middle of a busy day, you need all the time-saving power that a meal in a bowl can provide. Dropped in at Tanuki Raw for a late lunch and was bowled over by all the tantalizing bowl options. Settled for the two crowd favourites.

The standout for me is the Foie Gras Truffle Yakiniku Rice Bowl. While it contained only a handful of ingredients (rice, foie gras US black angus short rib and an onsen egg), this bowl was incredibly tasty, and I can't help make “mmm” noises with every bite. True to form, this bowl was moist with truffle soy and black garlic brown butter but not mushy, and boasts delicious flavour tones.

As for the Tanuki Kaisen Chirashi Rice Bowl, think I'll pass on this one next time. The rice was too dry. It was definitely inferior to the shiny and bitey rice served at some of the better local Japanese places but thankfully the generous chunks of fresh fish toppings saved the dish.

🗒 Foie Gras Truffle Yakiniku Rice Bowl ($19.90), Tanuki Kaisen Chirashi Rice Bowl ($22.90), Spam Fries ($10.90)

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My first visit to this establishment was years ago, and I’ve gone back many times since, and have recommended it to anyone who’s asked, “Where's a good tonkatsu place in Singapore?"

The menu has a variety of items, but the most popular are the set menus, featuring hire katsu (pork fillet) and rosu katsu (pork loin). Needless to say, they are my personal faves.

When it comes to the Tonkatsu here, there's something divinely satisfying about biting through the crisp and feathery light golden breading into the tender juicy pork while the sweet-tangy flavour of the Tonkatsu sauce swirled around in the mouth. Yum.

Not to mention the thinly shredded fresh, crunchy cabbage served with a citrusy dressing and spicy mustard, and the white pearly grains with great texture and beautiful luster.

🗒 Hire Katsu Set ($22.00), Rosu Katsu Set ($24.00)

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Tried two types of ramen at the Kanshoku Ramen Bar - the Truffle Ramen and Signature Kanshoku Ramen.

While I think truffle is one of the best things to come out of the hipster food craze and I can't get enough of it, I'm not sure if I like the Truffle Ramen at Kanshoku Ramen Bar well enough to return for a second. Served dry and cold and dressed with truffle oil and truffle shavings, a whiff of it sent me tingling with excitement but it didn't work magic in my mouth. The only consolation was the two aburi-torched slices of tender chashu with a delightful smoky edge.

The Signature Kanshoku Ramen seemed to fall short too. There's no question that the soul of a Hakata-styled ramen bowl is in the broth, and there's nothing like the intensely porky, lip-coating stickiness of a properly made tonkotsu broth. The best kind has tiny nubbins of pork fat floating around the surface to add extra flavor (and calories) to the mix. But the Signature Kanshoku Ramen was devoid of this deep richness.

🗒 Truffle Ramen ($16.90), Signature Kanshoku Ramen ($13.90)

Figured out the best way to bounce back from a weekend binge so I can continue living my life in a regular pair of pants (read: not sweatpants) is to keep lunch "clean". My pick - a Salmon Ikura Don from Sumiya at Orchard Central. After all, the one-bowl wonder marries both sushi and sashimi in a healthy, satisfying meal. But how can I keep my waistline in check when the meal comes in a set with salad, pickles, miso soup, chawanmushi and mochi?

🗒 Salmon Ikura Don Set ($18.80)


Mel Lee

Level 5 Burppler · 53 Reviews

So little to eat.

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