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Japanese

Japanese

Featuring Koh Grill & Sushi Bar, Tendon Kohaku (Suntec City), Tonkatsu by Ma Maison (Mandarin Gallery), Japan Food Town, Yakitori Uma, Yoda Japanese Dining, Guenpin Fugu & Snow Crab Japanese Restaurant, Torikin, -
Nobelle Liew
Nobelle Liew

The Katsu-don ($6.80) was, I feel, the epitome of “you get what you pay for”. The portion was decent, but the fried pork cutlets were so tiny and thin there was barely any pork. I mean yeah I could taste it, but it wasn’t thick, juicy, or shiok for katsu yknow? On the other hand the rice was amazing: fragrant, tender with a bite, moist while keeping the integrity of each grain — it was delicious especially with that light tasting sauce. If you think about yeah I shouldn’t have been surprised looking at the price, but then again knowing how good their fried items are I kinda expected more.

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Of the grilled items we tried there, my favourite was the Kawa (chicken skin, $5.40 for 2 sticks). Beautifully charred and crisp on the edges, juicy, tender, and wonderfully greasy on the insides, these skewers were just crazy addictive! For the super health conscious (just very slightly judging you there), they do a mean Sasami (chicken breast, $4.90 for 2) as well. With their extensive yakitori menu though I’d suggest you go crazy like we did and just try abit of everything!

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It took me 2.5 years to come back, but I’m super glad to find the food as good (though I can’t say the same of their service). Their simple kushiyaki of Ren-kon(deep-fried lotus root) remain my favourite — so much that we had 6 orders between 4 of us 🙃 First off: the batter’s fantastically light and thin, sticking to the lotus root instead of simply peeling off as a thick coat. That’s half the battle won, mind you; many places can’t even nail that. It’s also not greasy, with a little of the oil lovingly seeping into the root vegetable and giving it a kinda muted crunch — “al-dente” if you could imagine. I loved how earthy and sweet the root vegetables were, holding firm on their own and shining through that batter. Most wouldn’t think of ordering this at a yakitori store, but I’d call this a must-try at Uma.

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Running high risk of a public outcry when I say I’ve actually never been a fan of uni 😅 That is till I had the $98 Omakase (nett FYI) at Ryo Sushi. Pampered to the heavens and back with a range of uni dishes, paired with a variety of stellar ingredients. Their epic uni on uni on uni rice bowl (that’s uni-mixed rice, ikura, and a topping of 2 varieties of uni) is the last of the uni dishes we had, with uni-topped aburi ebi and the anything-but-plain uni roll among others we’ve tried earlier — pure indulgence. Thing is as shiok as uni is it doesn’t make everything instantly good. What made our meal at Ruo Sushi so memorable was how the chef expertly bring together quality ingredients with other well-executed components (their sushi rice is legit, possibly the best I’ve had here) to bring us dishes that are nothing short of mind-blowing. That, and their generosity, makes this omakase unlike any other I’ve tried.

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I know lotsa people swear by Koh Grill’s Shiok Maki, and though I found it pretty yummy I can’t say it was as mind-blowing an experience for me. I loooooved the smoky grilled unagi, aburi salmon, and omg that generous mountain of crunchy sweet tobiko; but I found the sauce too overpowering and overwhelmingly mayo-y. Those who love mayo would die for this I’m sure, and it definitely did help mask the overcooked and practically-lumped-into-conjoined-twins rice. But if it were up to me I’d definitely prefer one with a better proportion of sauce — have some balance for the whole dish.

Fans of Japanese grub rejoice: starting from the 15th September, Japan Food Town's got a whole lineup of yummy chow for you guys. As part of their Great Deal Fair till 24 September, you get to try 35 dishes from 12 of their 16 (yep you read that right!) restaurants — all starting from $8.50. You're looking at silky inaniwa udon by @inaniwa_yosuke_sg, crunchy and juicy Kaarage Don by Rang Meng Shokudo, and Wagyu Curry Rice by @hokkaidoizakayasg among others. If you're making a trip down, I'd highly recommend giving the inaniwa udon a shot. It's already rare to find them in Singapore, and much less one as decently priced as theirs. But if you're one for simple fare, their tamago's sure to please.

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Seriously the dish that most impressed of our omakase dinner at Yoda Fish & Meat Market. Apparently a common traditional dish in Japan, this Sanbo Rice's really a mishmash of simple, fresh, and undeniably great produce. A bed of fragrant Japanese rice topped with chopped negitoro, creamy uni, crisp salmon skin, earthy toasted sesame, and sweet sweet ikura. Served with sheets of crunchy nori, so it's really like a DIY temaki. Fun, delicious, fantastic. The best part of it all? The moment those amber gems of sweet, briny ikura burst, lending an immediate umami boost to each bite.

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And it was the most prestigious and poisonous of the edible species, Torafugu (Tiger Pufferfish), too! We got to try this as sashimi of course, but I have to say my highlight of the entire fugu meal was this Pufferfish Hot Pot — specifically, the porridge that came after. The nabe hot pot itself was really light-tasting: the broth was barely seasoned at all so that it may purely be the canvas on which the torafugu shone. What that means is a very healthy tasting and, for some, slightly bland dish. But, broth aside, it was interesting trying cooked torafugu this way. The natural chewiness of the meat doesn't really go away, instead lending to this nice bite and ensuring that the fish doesn't break apart at the slightest prod. Dip these indulgent slices into Guenpin's housemade ponzu sauce (which deserves a post on its own) and you've got yourself a mighty tasty meal.

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Holding such such high expectations for this spot...I was really surprised to find that I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to 😧 Popped by on an off-peak hour, and had to wait 30min for my bowl (there were 4 bowls ahead of us) which came with the tempura already entirely soggy and not holding a single bit of crisp crumb. Of course having sauce drizzled over it means it won't be mad crispy; but if it wasn't left out to sit and instead had sauce drizzled over right before it was served, shouldn't there be at least some crunch? Points to the tempura batter not being greasy at all, but it was so thick I could peel it all off as a single piece. Portion's generous and ingredients are well cooked so I understand why people enjoy this, though unfortunately I guess I'm just not one of them 🤔

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Moist and fatty thin slices of pork, stacked together and packed with oozy melty cheese, and fried till golden and crisp. The breading stayed crisp throughout dinner, and the cheese remained melted and stringy for quite some time too. I thought the one I had at Tampopo was good; but this is definitely waaaaaaaaay more awesome.

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It's astonishing how a simple light-tasting vegetable stew like this can be so satisfying. Torikin's Japanese oden comes with a delectable array of vegetables, like a mochi-stuffed taopok (my favourite of the lot), a huge egg-white fishcake and a sweet chunk of radish. Those wonderful ingredients come with a superb dashi broth that's subtle yet luscious. Don't be too quick to think a dish of vegetables isn't filling nor tasty: this delicious oden would make a stunning dinner on its own. A must-try if you visit.

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It's similar, but a lighter rendition made with more eggs and much lesser flour. This Tonpei Yaki was one of my favourite dishes over tonight's tasting at Torikin. It's packed to the brim with cabbage and sliced pork, drizzled with enough mayo and okonomi sauce to add flavour without overwhelming the dish. Most people visit Torikin for their signature chicken collagen hotpots; but if you're there, be sure to give this tasty dish a try.

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

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