The Sushi Bar, Singapore

home for the holidays, and this is one of the first places i checked out with the sister when we were looking for somewhere to eat in town that wasn’t gimmicky/part of a chain. she had tried it with her friend a while back and given it her stamp of approval, so this is where we went before our annual tradition of getting christmas nails done šŸ™‚ ah, its good to be home!

located in far east plaza, this relatively new hole-in-the-wall sushi shop is very randomly located (quite like everything else in far east plaza) opposite a hair salon, surrounded by clothing shops. it opens for lunch at 1230pm, but when i arrived at 1215, there was already a queue of 2 people that had formed outside, as my sister had rightly anticipated. by 1230, the queue had grown to this insane length:
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it occupies a corner shop, and though not tiny, it isn’t very huge either. decor is extremely basic and service is rather slow so i definitely wouldn’t recommend this for a fancy celebration or a special occasion. it is good for a quick (if you don’t count the long queue and the relatively slow service) japanese fix that’s reasonably priced and of good quality, though.20131218_123308they do 50% reservations and 50% walk-in, but when i called to try to make a reservation, i was told that they were fully booked for lunch and dinner for the entire week. which explains why i was an ultimate aunty and headed down to join the queue at 1215pm so we could secure a table.

worth the hype? based on what we had that day, i’ll definitely return, so i suppose the answer would be yes?

we had the aburi salmon with soft shell crab maki:
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aburi salmon with soft shell crab maki – $16.90

we all really enjoyed this! they have normal aburi salmon maki too, but this one with soft shell crab was recommended by a friend so this is what we tried! i must say sushi bar does their aburi salmon very well – torched just enough to cook a thin top layer of the otherwise raw salmon, it gives the generous pieces that hug the rolls an almost melt-in-your-mouth effect. the rolls are stuffed with perfectly ripe avocado and soft shell crab that was fried nicely and most importantly in fresh oil.

20131218_125154people will probably ask how this compares to shiok maki, and i would say this is lighter but as satisfying a maki! as you can see from the picture, there isn’t any heavy sauce that distracts from the roll itself; in contrast, shiok maki is drenched in a thick cheesy sauce that is delicious don’t get me wrong, but makes for a very different roll.

and the chirashi:
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normal chirashi – $24.90

they have 3 chirashi options – the basic, the normal, and the premium. we opted for the normal one and i was extremely pleasantly surprised by the amount of sashimi that topped the bed of rice. i can guarantee that it was as delicious and satisfying as it looked! not only were they generous with the number of slices of sashimi, each individual slices was also thick and very very fresh. this definitely exceeded my expectations because the quality of fish was honestly not what i was expecting from such a random shop in far east plaza of all places hahaha. my favourites were the scallops and aburi salmon, as well as the yellowtail and swordfish! actually, even the salmon was really good. okay – everything was good!!! we were given 3 slices of each type of fish (except the scallop and aburi salmon where we were given 2) – in total that made for about 20 things that topped the rice, and the fact that each piece was so good was fantastic. i was sashimi-ed out and extremely satisfied by the time i had made my way through the box.

i would definitely recommend sushi bar to people looking for affordable but good quality japanese food along orchard road. i was very pleasantly surprised and it did meet my expectations; it is quite a hidden gem given what you get for what you pay! the service and ambience is far from top-notch, but the food makes it worth the queue (and anyway the queue isn’t so bad if you go early, as i did! alternatively, you can make a reservation.). moreover, the prices on the menu are nett; there is no additional gst or service charge, which is always nice! hurray for exciting new food options along orchard road (Y)

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The Sushi Bar

14 Scotts Road
Far East Plaza #03-89
SingaporeĀ 228213

ps. check out my christmas nails that i got done after lunch:
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so pleased. annual sisterly traditions make me happy šŸ™‚
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Tamashii Robataya, Singapore (Omakase)

i previously posted about the great value-for-money set lunch that tamashii robataya offers (read about it here), and this time my family returned to try the omakase menu for my sister’s birthday! at a hundred and fifty eight per person (it was actually 128 but we requested for the beef & truffle rice bowl which they charged an additional 30 for), we were served 8 delicious courses (including dessert), and it was a very good night.

for the uninitiated, omakase is a bit like the japanese version of a degustation menu, except without a fixed menu. what the chef serves his customers is entirely up to him, and it normally consists of multiple courses starting from the lightest to the heaviest ones, usually using seasonal ingredients. omakase is actually a japanese phrase that means “i’ll leave it to you”; so you’re basically leaving everything in the hands of the chef and hoping for the best šŸ˜‰

at tamashii, they have omakase menus going for $88, $128 and $168 but according to my dad, you can just state your budget (if its in between their fixed prices eg $140) and they’ll serve you something according to what you’re willing to pay.

our meal started with a platter of raw vegetables – corn, tomatoes and eggplant.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit was a very nice and light start to the meal that cleansed our palettes for the rest of the dishes to come! the vegetables were extremely fresh and both the corn and the tomato were wonderfully sweet and juicy. despite being raw, none of them had any hint of bitterness or tartness or anything negative associated with eating raw veggies; they all had a nice crunch to them and definitely did not make us feel like grazing cows hahaha.

our next dish was a sashimi platter:
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every single piece of sashimi on the platter was to die for – of a really high quality and so amazingly fresh! there was salmon belly, tuna, swordfish, abalone and roe (that looked like a candied orange at first glance hahaha). the slices were thick, well-chilled, and extremely smooth. my favourites were the roe and the tuna:
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i think it was my first time having roe in a sashimi platter. i loved the texture of it – it had a nice bite with the little eggs popping in your mouth, and was so fresh without any fishy taste that people sometimes complain of when eating fish roe at all!
the tuna was AMAZING. best sashimi ever. just look at that:
20130815_201920tuna in all its amazing melt-in-your-mouth glory.Ā I SALIVATE and this picture has made me crave more of it omg. it was not fibrous or fishy at all, like some people complain of when having tuna that isn’t of such a great quality.

our third dish was clams cooked in broth:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
this dish was enjoyable, but i didn’t think it was anything exceptional or outstanding. the clams were fresh and the meat was sweet and juicy, while the broth was light, garlicky and tasty (i finished every drop of it). they were also cleaned well ie did not have any random grains of sand in them which is what you sometimes get when having shellfish like that – hate it when that happens! it was a bit like a japanese version of vongole – my dad’s cup of tea!

after the clams, we had this amazing grilled pork cheek:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
i know it looks super nondescript, ordinary and plain but it was one of the BEST porks i have ever eaten. pork is my favourite meat (along with duck) and here it was done so simply yet tasted so good. the meat was so tender, juicy and naturally sweet. it was lightly grilled (to perfection) and was slightly crispy on the outside while remaining moist on the inside. the cut of pork they used was really good and had just the right amount of fat in it to give it the perfect texture when bitten into.20130815_203402

next, we had a whole grilled fish (sorry i can’t remember the exact type of fish this was!):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
it was only slightly seasoned with a little salt but still tasted very good because fish that is fresh doesn’t require much seasoning at all anyway. crispy on the outside but nice and fleshy inside, it was a nice and light course that followed the pork.
beware of the bones when having the fish though:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
halfway through the fish, i started lamenting the fact that i was being made to work too hard to enjoy my food (there were loads of bones to avoid and pick out) but i think it was worth it in the end šŸ˜‰ hahaha.

we then had some tempura (but not the regular prawn/vegetable tempura) – shishamo and zucchini flower with cheese:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the batter was light and fresh, and the ingredients were coated in just the right amount of it. i liked how the ingredients they chose for the tempura were quite novel and the addition of cheese to some of the pieces surprisingly did not taste odd at all! the cheese added a nice twist to the tempura and made each piece have a very interesting mix of textures – crispy batter, sweet juicy zucchini and soft melty cheese.
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i also really enjoyed the shishamo. it was big and bursting with roe:20130815_210855
so yummy!!!

last but DEFINITELY not least, we had the saga beef donburi! this wasn’t part of the omakase menu actually, and costs $55 per bowl if you order it from the a-la-carte menu, but because we added it on to the omakase, we were charged $30 per bowl.
tender and perfectly grilled saga beef sits atop a bowl of rice that is mixed with truffle, and finished off with a perfectly cooked onsen egg:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
break the egg yolk (i did this very very reluctantly – i am a total sucker for runny eggs and having wet yolks whole so that they can explode in your mouth) and mix everything together in the bowl; you will promptly realise that heaven is a place on earth šŸ˜‰OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the beef was tender, juicy, sweet and so marbled that it made it seem like it was melting in my mouth. the truffle was also generously added and everything came together to make a bowl of really good stuff šŸ˜‰ at $55 i do think its a bit pricey especially since the serving isn’t big and they only give about 5 pieces of beef. but if you’re willing to spend a little more, then i think its worth the slight splurge.

and then there was dessert! matcha cheesecake, mochi and grape sorbet:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
iĀ loved the matcha cheesecake and mochi that was coated in soy bean powder, but wasn’t a fan of the grape sorbet. the matcha cheesecake was light and fragrant with the quintessential biscuit base while the mochi was very yummy and nailed what the texture of japanese mochi should be like. as for the grape sorbet, i think tamashii definitely has better ice cream to offer (see my previous post where we had the yuzu sorbet and black sesame ice cream on our last visit – they were both very good). my parents and sister didn’t mind it, but i thought it was rather sweet and made the grape flavour quite artificial.

once again, tamashii did not disappoint! apparently it rarely ever does, given that my dad is now their loyal customer who goes for lunch at least once a week; he is seriously addicted to their truffle chawanmushi. they’re getting very popular though, so be sure to make a reservation especially at lunchtime on weekdays!

it was a great meal overall fit for a great sister who was turning 22 whooooo! -cue taylor swift’s “22”-
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ps. i just have to say – i adore cedele’s black sesame cake. i am a huge fan of black sesame and if you are too, its definitely worth trying!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
sesame tahini cake from Cedele

Tamashii Robataya

12 North Canal Road #02-01
Singapore 048825

Kilo at Pact, Singapore

at the junction of orchard road and killiney road, take the outdoor escalator into orchard central and you will find yourself right outside pact – an interesting store that houses 3 things under one roof – a hairdresser, a boutique and a restaurant (kilo at pact). having heard rave reviews about this place, my friends and i headed there for dinner last week to check out whether it was really as good as people say it is!

we went at 730pm on a thursday night and the restaurant was nearly full save for a few seats at the bar, so i think reservations are probably a good idea if you are planning on dining there. i thinkĀ having 3 different things within one common space is quite an interesting concept, and the shop has a very nice, clean and modern/minimalist feel to it with its huge glass windows, concrete tables and floor, and simple wooden seats and walls:ImageOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the food is fusion-ish; the dishes are pretty much modern takes on traditional vietnamese/japanese cuisine (eg summer rolls, makis etc). don’t think very much can be seen here (sorry!!!), but if you squint hard enough, you might be able to get an idea of whats on the menu heh:Image

we ordered 5 items to share among the 4 of us.

first up, the baby eggplant:Imagebaby eggplant in donburi sauce, with marscapone cheese & tempura flakes – $12

we really enjoyed this delicious starter! the eggplant used was very fresh and the tempura flakes added a nice bite to the eggplant (that in regular tempura would normally only come from the entire piece being coated in batter), keeping the dish light. the donburi sauce and marscapone cheese combination was surprisingly good – the cheese added a twist to what would otherwise have been quite an ordinary japanese dish, albeit a very yummy one. it was a really promising start to the meal!

for our second starter we had the tuna tartare, which our waiter said was the most popular raw dish on the menu:ImageAvocado-wasabi tuna tartare & flour chips – $20

it was a good recommendation! even my friends who don’t normally eat tuna sashimi enjoyed it as the strong taste that sometimes accompanies raw tuna wasn’t there at all, probably because the tuna was nicely seasoned. the tuna was very fresh and despite it being a tartare, the pieces were distinct and not too finely minced; they retained a chunkiness to them which i really liked. it would have been nice if there was a little more avocado though. we also couldn’t taste any wasabi at all! a very yummy tartare that went well with the flour chips.

we also opted for the mentaiko pasta:Image
spaghetti tossed with cod roe, spring onions and shoyu – $18

i know it doesn’t look great in the picture, but i really enjoyed this dish! it was simple, but super tasty. they were generous with the mentaiko and the spaghetti was done just right with a nice bite to it. it wasn’t a sauce-y spaghetti, but wasn’t dry either. despite this being quite a common fusion of italian and japanese food, i was still impressed with this dish because i thought it was well-executed.

beef short ribs rice bowl:Imagebeef short ribs rice bowl (all rice bowls come with nigata rice, sweet corn, radish, sugar peas & wasabi sprouts) – $17

i can definitely imagine myself returning to pact for lunch one day and ordering a rice bowl for myself. besides the beef being tender, juicy and well-cooked, the rice was really yummy! no idea what nigata rice is and what makes it different from other types of japanese rice, but the rice was delicious! we all figured they must have seasoned it with something. it was sticky and moist, the texture somewhat resembling what you will get with mango sticky rice. eaten together with the beef and the vegetables that accompanied it, it was a satisfying dish that was not too heavy despite the carbo, and seemed very “clean”.

our fifth and final dish was the salmon avocado sushiro:Imagesalmon avocado sushiro with prawns, japanese cucumber, tamago, spring onions – $15

the sushiro was like a giant maki, which they very kindly cut into 4 so that we could share it easily. this was the last dish to arrive at our table, and the one that i felt was the most disappointing. it was rather average and i thought there was nothing that set it apart from regular sushi rolls! although i liked the fact that it was packed with ingredients, i would have preferred the rice to be less compact; it was almost like a huge mass of rice. the sushiro was accompanied by a side of soy flaxseed chips, which were nice, but i didn’t (and still don’t) really see how they complemented the sushiro. doubt i’ll order this again – it is filling and i feel that there are other more interesting things on the menu to be tried.Image

all in all, we had a great dining experience at kilo! the food was a refreshing change from run-of-the-mill cafes and restaurants, and ingredients used were fresh and of a high quality. however for the price we were paying, we all agreed that the servings were on the small side and could definitely have been bigger. dessert choices are also not very extensive and we ended up heading to cold stone creamery downstairs for a yummy dessert fix!Ā besides that though, no other complaints at all! i will probably be back šŸ™‚ i would love to try their weekend brunch menu!Image

Kilo at Pact

181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central
#02-16/17/18/19
Singapore 238896

(given the nightmare that navigating orchard central is, the easiest way to find kilo is to take the outside escalator from the intersection of orchard road & killiney road as mentioned above!)ImageImage

Jin Kichi, Hampstead

today we made our maiden foodie club trek to Hampstead, solely based on a recommendation by nic’s (dubious) japanese hairdresser (i mean, just look at the state of his hair…). this restaurant is just a minute away from the hampstead tube station, and is known for its yakitori.

first impressions:

1. japanese newsletters/magazines for customers to take home with them –> LEGIT…

2. sushi bar was manned by japanese chef grilling yakitoris on the spot –> OOOH….

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3. spoonless tables –> truly japanese

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4. just ONE blond-haired waiter –> #asianpride

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5. japanese fishmonger delivering fresh produce for the day

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the menu was extensive but nic had preconceived notions of what foods represent the hallmark of true japanese cuisine: miso ramen, tempura, sashimi.

sadly there wasn’t ramen on the menu (but udon and soba were available) so we ended up ordering tempura, sashimi, unagi sushi and a yakitori set.

the yakitori set was first to arrive. while nic was dying to dig in, rach and jo were excited over the prospect of breaking down food for the FIRST time instead of the usual “soooooooo good”. the set included fresh green asparagus with pork, pork with shiso leaf, chicken with onion, minced chicken meatballs, shiitake mushrooms and king prawn.

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Asparagus with pork

rach: asparagus was very fresh and there was a good balance between the amount of pork and greens. you can consider ordering just the asparagus- (THEY WERE SO HUGE AND JUICY LOOKING, NIC WAS ALMOST FOAMING WHEN THE WAITRESS CARRYING IT WALKED PAST – at the food, not the waitress)

nic: pork wasn’t crispy enough, but the asparagus was sweet and cooked to perfection

jo: would have liked the pork to be more flavourful, but the blend between the two flavours was divine

Pork with shiso leaf

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rach: a bit dry, but the shiso leaf was grilled nicely

jo&nic: there are layers of meat and fat in the pork, so you should eat each piece ALTOGETHER so the juicy fatty goodness can seep into the meat.

Chicken with onionĀ 

this is rach’s FAVOURITE skewer of the day.

rach: the chicken was SOOO juicy and the onions were really crunchy and packed with flavour. it was SOOO GOOD.

Shiitake Mushrooms

nic&jo: so juicy, pity we didn’t have it when it was hot

King prawnsĀ 

nic: could have even the whole thing, shell and all, if not for the over zealous waitress. (100 marks for efficiency in clearing the table.)

rach: very naturally sweet prawns

Chicken meatballsĀ 

nic&jo: the fineness of the mince is the selling point

rach, dissenting: chicken was too finely minced, could do with more bite

(OOOH- first instance of clashing tastes and preferences????)

the sashimi lunch set came with 3 slices of salmon, 2 slices of tuna, 2 slices of seabass and 2 slices of turbot. the star of the platter was the salmon, which converted nic from a maguro lover to a fan of salmon. the initial bite was crisp and clean, yet it melted in our mouths upon chewing. it was so smooth without the stringiness of lower grade sashimi. nic also announced to the whole restaurant (his voice tends to be loud and booming) about just how good the maguro was. it was a public display of affection ^^Ā Image

the ingredients for the tempura were amazing. the tempura here was all about the sauce (and source, since it was sooo fresh). the sauce had an unidentifiable mystery ingredient that gave it some sort of kick/oomph. nic describes it as ‘an alcoholic surge’. the initial kick of the sauce soon blends into the flavour of the meat/veggie and merges into an organic whole. heaven is a place on earth. like the yakitori king prawn, the meat was firm, juicy and sweet and the batter light, fresh; it was a distinct……(for the lack of a better word) DISTINCTION. the ingredients were also coated with just the right amount of this amazing batter; never tasted anything batter.

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the miso soup was pleasant though it seemed that the savoury flavour came from a stock as opposed to the miso itself. not sure if thats a positive or negative thing but it was nice.

there were let downs – the rice and hence the unagi sushi. the rice was too moist and clumpy. possibly reheated from previous days? for the sushi we wanted more unagi and less rice. we would have preferred a crispier seaweed wrap.

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Wrapping up, before asking for the bill, we three have a tradition of playing ‘the price is right’ this allows us to share with you what we felt the meal was worth and enables you to compare it to what we actually paid.

Our guess was: Ā£55

Total bill: Ā£54 nett

Ambience: casual, for the family

Service: efficient, though sometimes overly so; felt rushed as we didn’t make reservation;

Who we would recommend it to: small groups ofĀ discerning consumers of japanese cuisine; not people looking for a leisurely lunch

Will we return?: Rach: Possibly; Jo: there are comparable alternatives in central london butĀ will go back for the hampstead experience; nic: probably.

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Jin KichiĀ 

73 Heath StĀ Ā London, Greater London NW3 6UG
020 7794 6158