My eyes literally lit up the afternoon in December when I was walking around Liang Court and discovered that Yayoiken had opened a branch in Singapore.
I have fond memories of eating at Yayoiken in Kyoto – and an especially memorable image of this one round where we watched a Japanese Daniel Radcliffe lookalike young chap wolfing down bowls of rice in pure utter delight (the Japanese really love their rice!).
With branches around Japan, Yayoiken is known for its western-style teishokus (set meals). I’ve tried various teishokus here and they are consistently good, although the miso soup served with each set meal is pretty unremarkable (Ootoya’s miso soup is way better!).
The dish I would like to highlight today is not a teishoku though, but your basic oyako don ($9.90++). As background, oyako don literally means parent-and-child-bowl, drawing from the rather cute/tragic fact that the rice bowl contains both ‘parent’ chicken and ‘child’ egg (or parent egg and child chicken – depending on which school of thought you subscribe to in the chicken-or-egg-first debate) simmered in a dashi stock.
The oyako don at Yayoiken could be one of the best I’ve eaten. The goodness is all in the egg – perfectly cooked, moist omelette interspersed with ribbons of runny half-cooked yolk.
It is a simple dish, but in the chaos of life there is beauty in simplicity.
Rice lovers will rejoice to know that the Yayoiken in Singapore follows the Japanese model of offering free flow of rice.
A few differences aside (i.e. the absence of vending machine for ordering food, the normal operating hours – Yayoiken in Japan is opened 24/7, and the slightly annoying overly polite Singaporean waitstaff here that greet you in high-pitched voices and bow incessantly), the Singapore branch is pretty darn authentic.
So, do give Yayoiken a try the next round you crave for authentic affordable Japanese food!
177 River Valley Road
#B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre
Open 10am – 10pm
We arrived at The Black Sheep Cafe at 7pm on a quiet rainy evening and had the entire place to ourselves for the first half of our meal before the tables started filling up.
This Indian-owned/run cafe supposedly serves one of the best duck confit in Singapore, or so says Epicure Asia: http://epicureasia.com/food/top-10/duck-confit. Unfortunately, I found the dish did not live up to its hype. It was far from a lousy rendition but a little overcooked, with the duck skin charred in many places and the meat a tad dry in some.
But the lamb shank, oh the lamb shank, was a different story. It was fall-off-the-bone tender, with a red wine reduction that was flavourful yet not overpowering, and accompanied by mashed potatoes that had real potato bits in them – bearing testament to the fact that these potatoes did not come from a box.
Sadly, the passionfruit soufflé that ended our meal neither impressed nor went well with the coffee ice cream pairing.
So, I won’t be back for the duck confit or the soufflé, but I will return for the lamb shank and maybe to try the crispy pork cheeks.
As an aside, I’ve come across several comments on the internet along the lines of the cafe being so nice for not charging GST! Some tax 101 – it is only compulsory for businesses to charge GST when their annual turnover are more than a million SGD, so it is really not that uncommon for eating places not to do so. That said, I do very much appreciate the fact that service charge is not included in the bill, given that the waiters provide the basic services of taking orders, pouring water and bringing the bill.
As a final point: Take note that the menu at The Black Sheep Cafe is quite limited so don’t go expecting too much variety, but do consider a visit if you would like a taste of decent, affordable French food.
The Black Sheep Cafe
35 Mayo Street
Open Mon – Sat 12-3pm and 6-11pm
I don’t think Salads & Wraps would come out tops in terms of variety and quality as compared to some of the other salad shops in the CBD area, but what attracts me to return time and again are the oh-so-tasty, almost prata-like wraps.
Go for the chicken, tuna or shrimp wrap – all at $6.90 each, with a choice of 5 or 6 other toppings.
My toppings rarely deviate from personal favourites of lettuce, cheese, tuna, potato cubes, sweet corn and peas.
Try microwaving the wrap, and let the cheese melt into the other ingredients – so, so good!
Salads & Wraps
12 Gopeng Street, #01-86/87
Open Mon – Fri 11am-8pm; Sun 11am-3.30pm
Other branch: Cecil Court
This being my first visit to Tonkichi, I had to try their signature Tonkotsu. After all, there was a sign in the restaurant that read Tonkichi is Tonkotsu; Tonkotsu is Tonkichi. ‘Nuff said.
I ordered the hire katsu (the leaner pork cut) set which came with rice, miso soup, shredded cabbage (with a nice salad dressing accented with yuzu), watermelon and tea.
I confess I am not the biggest tonkotsu fan because I find fried breaded meat without gravy quite dry and boring. Even the tonkotsu at the famed Maisen in Tokyo did not wow me, so pardon if this review doesn’t sound too enthusiastic. As tonkotsus go, I think this was pretty good – tender and not too oily.
Can someone teach me how to grind sesame seeds though? The sesame seeds that were intended to accompany the tonkotsu dipping sauce came in a bowl with a pestle. But try as I might, the seeds remained pretty much intact despite my efforts at pounding, stirring, grating. In any case, this wasn’t a huge issue because the tonkotsu was good enough to eat on its own. In fact, I found the tonkotsu sauce a little too strong for the delicate porky taste.
Epilogue: Look what I found – A website providing guidance on grinding toasted sesame seeds: www.kadoya.com/english/pleasure/cooking_002.html.
This will definitely come in handy the next round I have tonkotsu!
4th level, Isetan Scotts
350 Orchard Road, Shaw House
Open 11am- 10pm
Other branches: Ngee Ann City, Suntec City, Orchard Central, Tampines Mall
Our must-haves are the tender and savoury Ayam Bali (marinated charcoal-grilled chicken) and the utterly sinful Tahu Telor (deep-fried bean curd topped with omelette). I cannot help but order these two dishes every time we visit.
We also had Ayam Gulai (Indonesian-style curry chicken with herbs) which was quite average and Tumis Buncis Belachan (stir-fried french beans with belachan chilli), and ended with a most wonderfully simple buttery dessert of Alpukat (blended avocado topped with palm sugar and ice shavings).
I must say the french beans were the highlight this round. They tasted so fresh and were cooked to the perfect timing – crunchy, yet not raw-tasting.
You may need a reservation if you visit for weekday lunch. Go on a Saturday night if you prefer a quieter meal.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Indonesian food, so I don’t really know how “authentically Indonesian” this may be. But, good food is universal, right? And this definitely fits the bill of good food.
88/90 Telok Ayer Street
Far East Square
Open 11am – 2.30pm and 6-9pm
Situated in the heart of Raffles Place, if you are here for lunch on weekdays do arrive early or risk not finding a seat.
Walking to my table, I noticed that almost everyone was having roast chicken. Majority wins, so that’s what I chose too.
The quarter roasted chicken with sides of either chips, vegetables or salad cost $10 nett.
The chicken with brown sauce was tender, its skin not overly salty, oily or fatty. I chose vegetables as my side, and it comprised a nice variety of cauliflower gratin, peas, sweet corn and mashed potatoes.
They serve other meats too such as fish and chips, pork knuckle and pork ribs, as well as rolls (although I did spot a housefly hovering about the rolls..)
All in all, a good place to go for a simple, no-frills, western meal. None of that fancy schmancy stuff, just solid grub.
51 Telok Ayer Street
#01-01 China Square Food Centre
Tel: 6224 5486
Open Mon – Fri 7.30am – 10.30pm; Sat 10.30am – 10.30pm