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Divine Japanese

Divine Japanese

For Japanese cuisine that's the bee's knees.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

There’s like a million other Japanese buffets out there, but Shin Minori aims to carve out a slice of the over saturated pie by offering a very affordable Omizu lunch/dinner buffet. Better yet, it’s on Burpple Beyond, so a buffet for two is well worth the money invested!

Of course, when you’re at a Japanese restaurant that does sushi or sashimi, you get both without a second of hesitation. Shin Minori’s sashimi moriwase (yes, the whole dang platter is part of the buffet!) sees six different cast members of The Little Mermaid sharing space on a really yuge and kinda heavy bowl. The slices are generously thick and every last slice is fantastically fresh too!

With Burpple Beyond, you get one 1-for-1 dinner buffet, and two lunch buffets at Shin Minori’s Marine Parade outpost. Hey, that’s pretty good!

Thanks for hosting us Shin Minori, and thanks for the invite Burpple!

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Donburi King seems to specialise more in raw seafood dons than actual donburis, but it’s all good. This spicy mentaiko don ($25.50++), features three sashimi prawns, a few slices of aburi salmon & a couple of fat slices of what seems to be swordfish. It’s all blanketed under a generous layer of housemade spicy mentaiko mayonnaise, which has also been aburi’d, but of course.

The spicy mentaiko mayo was a nice change from the usual, as you can feel every little grain of the roe in the sauce, as opposed to the normal smoothness of it. The salmon & swordfish (?) were generously sliced and so supremely satisfying to bite down on, and they were remarkably fresh.

Shame I couldn’t say the same for the prawns however, which seemed to be past their prime. In the interest of full disclosure, I was offered a replacement of a different sashimi as an apology after I remarked about the prawns not being fresh, but I turned it down as I did finish everything else in the bowl. Yes, the lightly vinegary, slightly sweet short grain rice was cooked to pearlescent perfection, and every grain was a godsend.

When I head back to Donburi King, I’ll definitely go for their cooked dons. Yes, I’m going back, because the service was just that good. And the food was pretty damn decent too.

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Rollie Olie has been rolling up the good stuff for quite a while now, and with stunners like this Sunkissed Salmon roll ($8.50++ for half a roll) they truly deserve to keep rolling in the cash.

Thin strips of torched salmon are draped on top of rice rolls stuffed with crabstick, cucumbers & avocado, and made saucy with mentaiko mayo as well as wasabi mayo. While I did find that the salmon was a little thinly sliced, it wasn’t too much of a spoiler.

The mentaiko mayo was the undisputed heavyweight in the roll, as it’s creamy umami breathed delicious life into the sushi roll. The wasabi mayo was extremely muted, and there should’ve been more wasabi to make its presence felt. Fortunately, there was more than enough luscious mentaiko mayo to compensate for that shortcoming.

Keep rolling up that good stuff, fam.

I’ve always associated Don Don Donki with overpriced sweet potatoes for some odd reason, so it’s certainly nice to discover that Don Don Donki at Clarke Quay Central has a foodcourt dishing out delish Japanese eats. One of the stalls slinging out sumptuous sustenance is Shiroi Tonkatsu by Nikukappo, and this is their proud little creation.

This Yume no Shiroi Tonkatsu ($22.80 nett) set sees a hundred & twenty grams of pork loin and sixty grams of tenderloin battered in a pleasant panko breadcrumb before being deep fried to a light golden brown. Despite being deep fried and being lean cuts of pork, the Tonkatsu was acceptably juicy & tender.

As with many other tonkatsu out there, it’s very lightly seasoned, instead allowing you to decide the flavour either by sprinkling on some salt, or by dipping it in a DIY tonkatsu sauce, complete with freshly ground (by you) sesame seeds.

At $22.80, it’s not the most value for money, but it’s a relatively decent option for an urgent tonkatsu fix that needs to be satiated.

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Kabuke’s Guilty Pleasure Bowl is ten percent onsen egg, twenty percent Japanese wagyu, fifteen percent concentrated pleasure of foie gras, five percent uni and fifty percent rice, and a hundred percent Pleasure with zero percent Guilt.

Thanks to fellow Tastemaker Justin’s heads-up, I found myself celebrating my birthday at Kabuke on their second anniversary, ready for them to pleasure me with their 1-for-1 anniversary offer on their Kabuke & Guilty Pleasure bowls. The Guilty Pleasure bowl, which sets you back at a rate of $88++ a pop, is an off menu bowl that sees Japanese wagyu striploin in place of its Aussie counterpart, which is in the Kabuke Pleasure Bowl ($58++).

While the Japanese Kagoshima Wagyu striploin was certainly tender and adequately fatty, it was a little underwhelming as I felt that it could’ve been more well salted to turn the beefy, fatty flavours up to 11. However, I’m dead certain that the beef has been perfumed with truffle, as the unmistakable aroma of it was insistent & strong.

The foie gras might just be one of the best I’ve had thus far. It was cooked just right, and it melted in my mouth just like butter. The seasoning was stellar, with the unknown glaze coating the foie gras being sweet, sticky & unforgettably umami in all the right amounts. The little dollop of uni was ludicrously creamy and beautifully briny, giving a little taste of the ocean it was fished out from.

The rice, while simple, was superbly steamed and served its role as a warm, wholesome comforting backdrop to the rest of the carnal pleasures that adorned this very, very, pleasurable bowl. The onsen egg was overcooked, but it managed to serve its purpose of lubricating the grains of rice sufficiently enough for easier ingestion.

Satisfaction? Most definitely.
Pleasure? All of it.
Guilt. None of it.
Hotel? Trivago.

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Kaiyo Sushi & Grill is a brand spanking new Japanese’s restaurant a couple of doors (not three) down from Two Baker’s newest outlet, and the menu is pretty extensive with a bias towards grilled items, mainly due to them having a charcoal grill in the semi-open kitchen.

Kaiyo has charcoal grilled foie gras on the menu, much like my beloved and sadly long gone JINzakaya, so it was pretty much a must order. However, the tricky part is deciding whether to order foie gras with a slab of grilled unagi ($23++), or with beef mille feuille ($29++). After some debate and a glass of sake, I went with the foie gras teriyaki & unagi.

I couldn’t have been any happier with my choice. While the unagi doesn’t have a crispy crust like the new, hip unagi specialists in town do, the substantial slab of eel was considerably plumper & thicker than the aforementioned unagi restaurants. Plus, it had an alluring aroma of charcoal emanating from within with every bite, and the teriyaki marinade slathered over the unagi was perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Not too sweet, not too salty and perfectly umami, the umami unagi will make you say “ooh mommy”.

As for the foie gras, I was pleased as punch with it. Sure, there should’ve been a nice crust like my old flame had at JINzakaya, but it was cooked just right, with the insides treading the fine line between liquid & solid. The fatty liver quite literally melts in your mouth. Also just look at the size of it, the absolute unit!

Just to balance out the gluttonous gratification you’re getting from the foie gras and unagi, there’s a whole heap of salad on the side. It’s just salad, there’s not much to be said about it other than that it’s fresh. Of more noteworthy mention are the slices of deep fried lotus root. While they aren’t as crunchy as they could be, it still provides a very welcome crunch and shakes up the texture profile of the dish by being the only thing with bite in a dish full of soft, supple textures.

For $23++, Kaiyo is offering up a stellar steal of a deal. And considering the volume of diners traipsing through their doors, the people know it too. There is so much more on the menu that needs exploring & reviewing, but if the rest of the menu is of the same standard as the foie gras teriyaki & unagi, then it sounds like a pleasurable prospect. I’ll be back like Schwarzenegger.

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Man Man Unagi have just opened their newest outpost at Clarke Quay Central today, and they’ve roped Tendon Kohaku in as the other half of the tag team duo. Oddly enough, instead of offering an outlet exclusive special like tempura with their signature charcoal grilled unagi (eel), they’ve paired with Teppei to offer grilled eel with sashimi of all things. Weird innit?

The Kaisen x Hitsumabushi ($32.50++) is the end product of that collab. The sashimi was...barely passable. The unagi was undoubtedly umami and sufficiently smoky from the charcoal grilling, but I’m starting to get the feeling that some people may have grossly overhyped how good it was.

However, transforming a portion of the eel & rice into an ochazuke soup with rice by pouring the broth provided on the side was rather revolutionary.As a matter of fact, I found myself being impressed by the light but sapid broth ably accentuating the sweet & savory flavors of the unagi. The portions are pretty hefty and can surely satisfy a big eater, but I find it difficult to convince myself to make a return trip to Man Man for this.

With that said, even on opening night, Man Man’s service crew were impeccable, so I’d expect them to have minimal issues with their service in the future.

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Mondays don’t need to be blue like you, inside and outside. Blue your house, with a blue little window-you get the idea.

Believe me, Waa Cow!’s (exclamation point emphasized) stunning Yuzu Foie Gras Wagyu Beef Bowl ($25.90++) will light your Monday up no matter what. The fatty foie gras was a waste, as it was overcooked and served cold, which was a shocking shame and an absolute outrage. However, it’s hard to stay angry when there’s an abundance of wondrous Wagyu beef slices, torched to perfection. Smoky, supremely savory and marvelously meaty, the brilliant beef is a super stunner.

Save four bucks and go for the Spicy Mentai wagyu beef bowl, it’s a better deal. Trust me fam. Or if you absolutely, positively gotta spend that four dollars, then get yourself a salmon sashimi set for an additional five bucks.

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District Sushi has it hard in the hunger games. There’s at least two other Japanese eateries that do sushi and sashimi within Sunshine Plaza alone, and there’s God knows how many other sashimi restaurants within a five hundred meter radius. And we’re not even gonna mention the glut of Japanese eateries all around Singapore that specialize in chirashi dons, just like District Sushi.

However, District Sushi is nothing if not determined. It has survived in its minimalistic little shop space for a couple of years now and still continues to bowl out chirashi dons such as this bowl of salmon belly chirashi don ($16 nett). The most expensive item on their menu sits exactly at the $20 line, which does make District very competitive in terms of price. But what about the quality?

I’m glad you asked. The quality of the sashimi overlaid on the steamed rice was simply stellar, and the quantity of sashimi was downright delightful. While there were only three different kinds of sashimi within (salmon belly, octopus and a solitary sweet prawn), there were so many slices of each kind lavishly splayed all around the top.

The slices of thick cut salmon belly were supremely satisfying, while the thin slices of octopus brought a delightful chew and crunch to the textures in the bowl, and the lone prawn was subtly sweet and remarkably fresh.

Unfortunately, the rice within was a disaster. It was shockingly sour due to an unwelcome excess of vinegar within the rice, and the rice was lumpy and tough to break down. For the first time in history, I refused to finish the rice in a chirashi don and left a good lot of it untouched, instead focusing on the sublime sashimi.

The sashimi was definitely District’s saving grace. That, and their surprisingly mellow miso soup. The miso soup had an abundance of cooked salmon bits within, and was actually a delight to drink. Nicely salty, and with the right flavor combination to get your salivary glands raring and ready to go for the main course.

The service at District Sushi is fast, polite but slightly sketchy. The waitress was friendly and efficient, the food came out in short order, but she completely forgot our order of mentaiko scallops until my dad and I realized that something was conspicuously absent from our table towards the end of our meal. To her credit, she promptly put in the order and offered her sincere apologies for that spot of forgetfulness. No harm done, really.

While District Sushi certainly ain’t gonna be triumphant in the hunger games anytime soon, they’re not going down without a good fight.

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Sometimes, I fall for the old ‘seasonal special’ gag and come out of it wondering if I could’ve spent my money better.

While Akimitsu’s special iberico x prawn tempura ($17.90++) is decent, the torched iberico shabu shabu itself couldn’t quite convince me that it was deserving of its place in the bowl. While it was nice and satisfyingly smoky, the texture left a lot to be desired. It was like paper, and sliced far too thin with no fat to give it any actual flavor.

The prawn tempura was crisp and tasty though, so I’d definitely order those babies on their own next time. While the tempura batter is thicker and rougher than Tendon Kohaku’s, it is more flavorful, and the tendon sauce is more savory and less sweet when compared to Kohaku’s.

Today’s lesson? Pass on the pig, and shell out for the prawns.

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This is kind of an ancient post I totally forgot about, but I still remember just exactly how undeniably umami it was.

Tendon Kohaku had a special Hokkaido Autumn Tendon Momiji in September, and it was downright delectable. Built out of a respectable posse of Hokkaido salmon with cheese, dory fish, sweet potato, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and chestnut, which are all deep fried to golden brown glory.

If you’ve had any tendon from Tendon Kohaku before, then you know what you’re in for. Light, airy yet crisp tempura’d ingredients shatter mesmerizingly with every bite, and the freshness of the ingredients cocooned within the batter is quite marvelous. The bed of moreish multigrain rice adds even more flavor to the bowl that’s already overflowing with fabulous flavors, and the perfectly sweet & savory tendon sauce seals the already sublime deal.

The addition of the salmon & cheese tempura is a nice surprise, as the creaminess of the oozing cheese is a nice foil to the crispy tempura batter, and the salmon adds a bit of that satisfying meaty texture into the bite.

Kohaku don got a ten with absolute winners like these on a seasonal rotation, lemme tell you that right now.

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Does anyone remember that Mothership article from a while back promoting a small, humble Japanese eatery in Potong Pasir run by a lady who set it up because her daughter loves Japanese food? Well, Washoku Café is the eatery in that article.

Granted, the soft shell crab wafu pasta ($14.80 nett) wasn’t the most exceptional ever, but it was simple yet truly delicious. The meaty soft shell crabs are charmingly crisp on the outside, yet soft and tender on the inside.

The al dente pasta takes a dip in the savory shoyu broth that is sufficiently savory yet light on the palate. The tender enoki mushrooms have been cooked in the same shoyu broth in the plate, and provide a nice, well rounded earthiness to the plate.

Simple, yet so satisfying to the soul.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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