Outrageously Oishii

Outrageously Oishii

Who doesn’t like Japanese food? I sure do, but unfortunately there are many mediocre Japanese establishments that crowd Singapore’s F&B scene. To save you time, money, and calories, why not browse through this selection to get a head start on where to fulfill your cravings next?
Mystickal / Melly W
Mystickal / Melly W

[ Food Review — Amazing bday dinner! ] After resigning to the misfortune that is having two significant birthdays in a row thwarted by totally-not-lockdowns, I definitely not sulkily told a certain someone to surprise me for dinner instead.

And oh boy did he deliver!

Say hello to $300 worth of sashimi/sushi from Morinaga Izayaka Restaurant. Holy. Snap. (Thank you for spoiling me!!)

I normally don’t bother listing price tags because 1) I don’t remember them, and 2) unless the price is notable, I don’t really see a need to include them. But yesterday’s dinner was worthy of a mention because holy snap, it’s SUPER worth for all the fresh and gorgeous cuts we got. (Can anyone say tons of quality ootoro/chuutoro/wagyu/hotate??) And hey, this is a pretty darn good substitute for my birthday omakase that got cancelled!

What you’re looking at is MIR’s takeaway-only Temaki Sushi Family Set for $250+ (meant for 4-6, but we outdid ourselves with a table of 3, heh) + Bluefin Tuna Toro & 4 kinds of fresh sashimi for $38+ (discounted from usual price of $58) + a starter of Chicken Soft Bone ($6+).

(Pst, if you like alcohol, they’re doing big discounts on takeaways for those too ;D)

Due to a small confusion, we received the nori and 2 sets of rice later. But all’s good because we made deconstructed sushi-bazhang which allowed me to eat more sashimi anyway! To make up for this hiccup, Ito-san from Morinaga Izakaya called us personally — we didn’t even realise the mistake in our food-induced stupor — and got a Grab driver to deliver the missing items over. How's that for service recovery?

Here’s a taste of what the restaurant is like: Nestled in the basement of Midpoint Orchard, Morinaga Izakaya is a homely hole in the wall that evokes the feeling of taverns in Tokyo and Osaka. They serve reasonable bento in the day — charmingly called 'Japanese Economical Rice' — and their few tables are popular with those who appreciate spirits and sakes with their sushi and sashimi after nightfall.

(If you do end up visiting: Just like any izakaya, ordering alcoholic drinks helps with their margin, given the affordable nature of their dishes and fare! Don’t be shy; drink up!)

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[ Food Review — Casual premium Kyoto fare with multiple donburi and bento options! ] Don’t you just love it when a deluxe kaiseki-only place decides to open a casual spin-off that doesn’t gouge a gaping hole in your pocket? I sure do! (Gotta thank the bestest bestie for bringing me here!)

Where Yoshi (at Forum) specialises in kaiseki meals, Nozomi by Yoshi’s menu is lined with donburi and bento options. No, I’m not talking about selections that can effectively be squeezed onto a name card masquerading as menu, NBY has a whooping 27 items in its donburi and bento section — that’s excluding sashimi + sushi + other hot and cold mains — which cater to the more budget-conscious (they start at $16) all the way to the semi-extravagant ($98 for their season special omakase bento).

In other words, you don’t need to lament the impossibility of tasting Kyoto’s famed kaiseki — just come here and sample adjacent fare for a fraction of the price. (The menu at NBY is designed by the parent restaurant btw!)

And yes, they do deliveries and takeaways.

We had an early dinner here — it occupies the old Uma Uma unit — and while it wasn’t full, it’s started filling up towards the end of our meal. Better book!

As enticed as I was by their gorgeous donburi spread, I had to taste what their bento was like. That’s how I ended up with my Zaru Soba and Sashimi Bento ($22) while the bestie got her usual order of Barachirashi with Hokkaido Uni and Ikura ($40) w/o salmon.

Don’t be deceived by how compact our orders look — I was genuinely struggling to finish my soba near the end! The raw fish cuts were fresh and light, and the knifework was a cut (heh) above most other places of similar price points. The soba was lovely too, with the signature mild grainy texture a sign of careful handmanship, so much so I finished every last strand. The pork belly kushiage was a nice texture and flavour contrast, but while well made, was quite overwhelming in contrast to the rest of the bento.

I also missed having such careful presentation when eating at more casual Japanese places, so to enjoy that care whilst being in shorts was a nice change of pace.

If it weren’t for the strange times we live in, I’d definitely dine at NBY more!

[ Food Review — Going to a ramen shop for its non-ramen dishes! ] Anyone else completely flummoxed by what to eat given the constantly dithering weather? After deliberating, we came to a conclusion: We want agedashi tofu. But because Sushi Tei’s version leaves a lot to be desired, and we weren’t looking to travel too far, we found ourselves at the closest alternative: Sanpoutei at Holland!

So no, we didn’t go to a ramen shop for its ramen. We went there primarily because they’ve agedashi tofu, and also because we could pair hot and cold items from their menu. (Onigiri and tsukemen are technically not h o t food, right?)

Since I already did an in-depth review of Sanpoutei’s ramen in an earlier post, I’m just going to summarise my Nikumori Spicy-Rich Miso Ramen as deeply flavourful and smooth, and great for equalising the fat bits in the broth.

A certain someone’s Dried Sardine Tsukemen was honestly more enticing than my order. (Fun fact, it ranks in my top 3 items from SPT!) Pairing its Niigata heritage with contemporary Tokyo sensibilities, this allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds: You get to taste the intense resonant flavours of the concentrated sardine dip without committing to a large bowl’s worth, and you can enjoy SPT’s sprightly noodles without investing in a hot bowl of soup in SG’s heat. Our only complaint was (and is) how small the dip bowl was, heh.

Onto the main reason for our visit: the agedashi tofu! For folks who love textural contrasts without wanting tempura batter, this is a great alternative. By covering tofu cubes in a light dusting of potato starch, you end up with a diaphanous layer that is more crisp than crunchy. Served in tentsuyu — or tempura dipping sauce — it is a light and easy dish that’s fun to eat and pairs well with most mains.

SPT’s covered all traditional aspects, and even elevated the mild flavours with a generous dollop of tarako (cod/pollock roe). The tofu was delicate and the broth was pleasantly mellow. My biggest gripe with it however, was how the nearly soup-like amount of tentsuyu melted away most of the crisp, turning the skin into a sticky web of starch. Shame, because the flavouring was pretty good!

[ Food Review — Fav hitsumabushi specialist in town! ] Who here loves unagi? There’re few things that beat the honeyed, smokey taste of eel, and frankly, it’s like having a slightly healthier version of char siew!

One of the places my family used to visit pre-covid for unagi was Uya. Before the fire incident, you could look into the kitchen and watch the chefs grill eel after eel in almost hypnotic synchronisation. (You got to peek at the live eels then too!) That, along with the view (and heat) of the charcoal pit really added to the experience.

This time, I brought certain someone and his dad there instead!

Uya is renowned for not just any unagi dish. It’s claim to fame is with its Nagoya-styled hitsumabushi. On first glance, it may look similar to unadon or unajyuu. But what sets hitsumabushi aside is the number of condiments present on your tray, along with the pre-cut unagi laid out in an ohitsu (wooden rice container) instead of a bowl.

This is where the magic begins. Not only do you get to enjoy the unagi in its traditional eel-on-rice way (1), you can season it with any/all/none of the condiments (2), before eating the remaining portion with dashi á la ochazuke (3)! If you want to go ahead and eat the entire portion as solely 1, 2 or 3, that’s totally fine too. The idea is that you get variety and autonomy — as long as it tastes and f-eels good for you, you’re good!

A certain someone and I opted for a large and normal hitsumabushi respectively, while his dad got the unagi rice box (basically an unajyu), of which the latter turned out to be quite a spectacle in itself.

To my relief, the food quality was still excellent, with the sticky sweet unagi charred crisp yet tender, leaving behind a distinctive omega-3 sleekness after each bite.

It was addictive.

The best part for me is when adding in the dashi — the broth softened the rich, heavy tones of the unagi and smoothened the edged textures, making the end of my meal a much lighter affair.

Our sides were fab too: The Rare Wagyu Beef Salad was refreshing; the Oyster Tempura was a mosaic of textures; the Unagi Egg Roll was fluffy and gentle; and both the dudes enjoyed the grilled liver and liver ponzu!

[ Food Review — Menu Update ] It’s been quite a while since we were last at Gaijin, oops. I’m not big on going to KAP mall because of the type of crowd the place attracts (and the mozzies + cig smoke doesn’t help matters either), and with numerous alternatives in the area, I’d completely forgotten about Gaijin until recently!

Turns out a few things have changed: Instead of operating two menus that you can cross-order from regardless of where you’re seated, they’ve removed their sushi menu (side across the cashier). I’m a tad disappointed because I prefer that selection, but I can’t and won’t fault a business for streamlining operations if it improves their quality and longevity!

Because it was a pretty long day and both of us were feeling pretty under the weather anyway, we chose to get richer and heartier dishes. Niku udon for me, tempura curry rice for him, and ebi tempura to share.

While I know many of Gaijin’s patrons prefer their ramen, I’m all about their udon! Partly because there are no other udon options nearby, but also because it’s genuinely enjoyable. The noodles are honestly not the best I’ve had — not bouncy nor stretchy enough for my liking — but are totally fine when slurped with dashi and niku. The dashi was mild yet fragrant, with obvious kombu notes, which created a mellow, stable base for the true highlight of the dish: the beef. You don’t just get any beef here — each bowl is crowned with USDA angus beef slices; lightly blanched to doneness whilst retaining its knitted texture. (If you’re hungry, I’d suggest adding on more beef via their “the works” option cause the beef’s worth it!)

A certain someone’s curry fared well too, with him inhaling most of it minutes after it arrived. The curry’s not too thick and on the lighter side; while that may be a turn off to some, it is especially well-suited, and thus easy, to eat with the rice.

And of course, Gaijin knocked their tempura out of the park again. I think they’re still the only place I eat tempura at, and I don’t think that’ll change soon! Craggy batter that’s airy and non-oily, king prawns that are bulbous and succulent, vegetables that are fresh and sweet — now that’s happiness in a bite!

[@meltingflavours on Insta] I ramble about food. A lot. 📝Long posts | ❌🧀🍷🥛 ⛔️Do not repost⛔️

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