Category Archives: Banzai

The Sushi Bar Far East Plaza

What started out as a small hole-in-the-wall 30-seater eatery, The Sushi Bar has progressed tremendously and opened another branch outlet in the same shopping centre. Tucked in the labyrinth of clothing shops of Far East Plaza, unknowing shoppers would only know of its existence from the long queue line. Set up in 2013, this sushi bar definitely does not lack popularity or diners in the peak hours. Even with 2 outlets in operation, do be prepared to queue for almost an hour. But once you dig in, it will be worth the wait. IMG_7982-0Sashimi: Sake and Hotate sashimi are staple orders whenever I’m having a Japanese meal. The Sushi Bar serves their salmon in uniformly thick slices. A little too thick for my own preference as I find it hard to enjoy the taste of each individual slices. 
IMG_7822-0Salmon Aburi Roll: One of their signature dishes, this is crave-worthy and top-notch. The relationship between seared salmon and mentaiko sauce is both mystical and complementary. 

I believe in quality food, especially Japanese cuisine as careful preparation is required to maintain flavour and freshness. But I also believe that we should pay for food that is value-for money. The Sushi Bar covers both the aspects of quality and value, and hence, is now my usual go-to Japanese eatery in town.

The Sushi Bar
Far East Plaza, #04-28
14 Scotts Road

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 12.30-3pm, 5.30-9pm
Sat: 12.30-9pm
Tel: 9653 6464

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Tampopo Restaurant

Making a Quick Statement

So many Japanese restaurants have sprung up in our sunny shores that the competition in this industry has intensified. What does Tampopo have to offer to keep you going for more? The menu are definitely pricier than usual but the quality is exceptional. The imported Japanese Rice is a notch above others, making you dig deep into your rice bowl.

We Recommend:
Wafu Steak (Do not be fooled by its dubious name. This steak is phenomenal. Well-seasoned, tender and melts in the mouth.)
Premium soft shelled crab (So delectable that we ordered another plate right after we finished the first one.)

Tampopo Restaurant
177 River Valley Road #01-23, 24
Liang Court Shopping Centre
Singapore 179030

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11.30am – 10.30pm
Sun: 11am – 10.30pm
Tel: 6338 3186

Itacho Sushi

Making a Quick Statement

Singaporeans are no longer amused or fazed by conveyor belts or mini trains that bring plates of Japanese sushi or sashimi to your table. The latest trend in the Jap-eating industry is ordering ala-carte and having it fresh. And thanks to restaurants like Koh’s Grill and Sushi Bar and Itacho Sushi, we can now have fresh and delicious Japanese cuisine at a reasonable pricing. What puts Itacho Sushi a notch above its competitors is its menu that serves a great variety. A perfect place to give yourself a try at more exotic sashimi types without burning your pocket. Did I mention that their sashimi is sublime?

We Recommend: Sashimi (Fatty Salmon, Seabass and Scallops.) Sushi (Smoked duck, roasted salmon and lobster salad.)

Itacho Sushi
Plaza Singapura
#02-35, 68 Orchard Road
Singapore 238839

Opening Hours:
Mon – Thu: 11:00 – 22:00
Fri – Sat: 11:00 – 23:00
Sun: 11:00 – 22:00
Tel: 63378922

Koh Grill and Sushi Bar. You get what you queue for.

For the past few months, photos of this certain “shiok maki” dish kept appearing on the social media. This Jap food lover has got to investigate this phenomenon. Not only was I surprised to find Koh’s Grill and Sushi Bar at Wisma Atria, but at the top level with Food Republic. And I was greeted by a long snakingqueue along the narrow corridors of the food court. On a Saturday evening at 7pm, you would most probably queue for at most an hour. IMG_9501Yakitori: There is an extensive yakitori grill menu ranging from my favourite shitake mushrooms, golden mushrooms wrapped wih pork belly and bacon wrapped with pork belly. The grill section in Koh’s open kitchen concept is manned by 2 staff, working hard to push orders out. And this does not mean standards are lost. Tender and yet crisp on the outside, they are grilled to perfection and would melt in your mouth. More mushroom please. IMG_9505Tempura Curry Udon: When it comes to Japanese comfort food, this dish comes to my mind. Thick juicy udon noodles served in a hot bowl of creamy and tasty Japanese curry. Koh’s hit the nail for this dish. However, if you have a relatively small appetite, you might want to skip it and focus on the sushi and yakitori menu. IMG_9511Salmon and Scallop Sashimi: My Jap meal would never be complete without these raw babies. I noticed that the sake sashimi here are sliced much thicker than the others I’ve tried. In my opinion, the slices are too thick for my liking. Too much for me to enjoy the sweetness. On the other hand, the scallop was sliced perfectly. Just the right thickness to disintegrate in your mouth within a few bites. Beware though, the scallops are sold 8 bucks each. That is pretty steep. IMG_9522Shiok Maki Generation II: A Singapore-inspired sushi dish. This was the dish that steered Koh to the limelight of the industry. So famous and popular that you cannot say you’ve been to Koh until you have tried any of their Shiok Maki sushi. The second generation consist of tempura wrapped with avocado, seared salmon and drizzled generously with a special sauce composed of mayo and mentai. This maki is very ‘shiok’ indeed. IMG_9524The main chef behind the raw seafood. He was the only one preparing the sashimi and sushi dishes. Hence, the long wait and long queue for every single service. I wondered to myself whether he was the boss and didn’t trust anyone else with the knife-work. It would definitely speed things up in the restaurant. But the rest of his swanky stainless steel kitchen is sprawled out behind him equipped with two groups of team preparing the yakitori dishes and others respectively. Like most people, I believe in queuing for food. Good food to be exact. The queuing might not necessarily mean that Singaporeans are too bored and only follow the crowd. Long queues outside a Singaporean restaurant can only mean 2 things: 1. The food served is delicious and diners keep returning for more. 2. The food is prepared in a less efficient but yet high-quality manner. In other words, the long queue guarantees your palette delectable and scrumptious dishes to taste. Japanese cuisine is about class and standards. And I’m definitely returning for more of those.

Koh Grill and Sushi Bar
#04-21
Wisma Atria Shopping Centre
435 Orchard Road

Kuishin Bo, The authentic Japanese buffet restaurant.

IMG_6118The first time that I heard of this place was my first year in University. My seniors were buzzing about heading down for some Japanese buffet. And so four years later, I finally stepped foot into one of its outlets in Great World City. It was my birthday and its always dated near Mothers’ Day. So we had to make do with outdoor seating. 
IMG_6109The main attraction of the buffet is the seafood spread. Raw sashimi, sushi and maki, customers will be able to choose from a wide array of dishes. IMG_6063My favourite picks from the seafood spread: The cold king crab, the fresh sweet salmon slices and the scallops. I would love
IMG_6089Dessert lovers would be excited when they set their eyes upon the counter dedicated entirely to desserts of various cultures, from eclairs, to scones, to Japanese traditional cakes. A pity that my tummy was way too filled with seafood that I couldn’t appreciate the desserts properly. IMG_6102The restaurant boasts special promotions and brings in special traditional dishes from different provinces of Japan. The seafood spread is definitely the main draw of the restaurant but other than that, I personally find the buffet price maybe a little too expensive and not worth the food that is offered.

Kushinbo
Great World City #02-41A/42
1 Kim Seng Promenade 
Singapore 237994
Tel: 6836 5877
Opening Hours:
Lunch: 11.30am-3.00pm daily
(last round 2.30pm)
Dinner: 5.30pm-10.00pm daily
(last round 9.30pm)

Hoshi, Japanese Buffet in the West.

If you’re a typical Singaporean, nothing can go wrong with Japanese Buffet. Our love for Japanese cuisine and buffet meals are both fulfilled and relinquished at the same time. The dining industry have seen a rise in restaurants offering buffets specializing only in Japanese cuisines. From teppanyanki to sashimi to sushi to sukiyaki, such restaurants provide a variety of Japanese dishes that you can choose from.

Tucked away at the far west side of our sunny island, not many locals would have heard of Hoshi Japanese Restaurant. Located at IMM since 1993, I could recall my family heading to this restaurant for our occasional fix for Japanese teppanyanki  in my younger years, probably when sushi chains such as Sakae Sushi were not the trend yet. After almost a decade, we’re back to this restaurant but with a whole new perspective of Japanese food.
IMG_3931Sashimi: If you’re a fan of Sashimi, you should be able to discern the quality with your sight and taste. Having tried fresh salmon sashimi from the fish markets of Hokkaido in Japan, nothing else in Singapore could be on par with that level of quality. So without being unreasonable, there is certain standards that we can distinguish for our local sashimi. Coming from an affordable buffet pricing, do not expect A* for their sashimi obviously. The slices are good enough to satisfy your sashimi cravings and do not carry any weird odour. But visibly, you can tell that the sashimi they have are not top-notch in terms of freshness.
IMG_3938Teppanyaki Salmon: This is what my brother and I grew up with. Only a handful teppanyanki restaurant serve their salmon fillets with a special sweet and grainy sauce that makes the dish delectable and appetizing. This could probably be the only thing that my family would return for.

Personally, there will only be two reasons for me to dine at this restaurant. One, if I’m at the West side of the island and two, the teppanyanki salmon. A friendly advice, one would enjoy their experience much better on off-peak weekdays. The service is more prompt and teppanyanki dishes are served as per ordered.

Hoshi Japanese Restaurant
IMM Building
#03-01
2 Jurong East Street 21
Singapore (609601)
Tel: +65 6425 0520

Ippudo, ramen with class

Ippudo: one wind hall

Named during a period when there were dark clouds over the Kyushu Ramen industry, the founder CEO of Ippudo, Kawahara, wanted to “blow wind and revolutionise the era”.

So did they revolutionise the ramen arena in Singapore? In recent years, our local scene has witnessed a sudden surge in Japanese Ramen restaurants. Besides Ippudo, some may have heard of Santouka and Tampopo. Can they really stand the competition in the long run? Guess we will leave the talking to the ramen, after you have queued for at least half an hour first.

IppudoAs expected, I went for a non-spicy ramen dish. Akamara Shinaji, is Ippudo’s original tonkatsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. And believe me, the garlic oil really provides another dimension to the dish as it instantaneously stimulate your sense of smell upon serving. Do not be apprehended by the red paste sitting atop of your bowl, its just the miso paste. Stir your soup nice and well before you start to devour the dish. The 2 key elements to a ramen dish is the soup base and the noodles. Ippudo has them nailed down on the head. The miso soup is tasty, heavenly and definitely of top-quality. I heard they boiled the bones for more than 20 hours. And of course, the noodles are springy and smooth, going exceptionally well with the soup. The simmered pork belly was tender and soft. However, it is good to take note that since the soup is so thick in flavour, you might start to feel overwhelmed nearer to the end. But I have the solution for this. Make sure your friend orders a spicy ramen dish.

IppudoMy friend ordered Karaka-Men, Ippudo’s original tonkatsu broth with special spicy miso and ground pork. I was expecting the soup to taste extremely spicy but to my surprise, not only was it bearable but the soup was actually addictive. Carrying a slightly tangy taste, the soup was a contrast to the non-spicy soup base. Instead, it is refreshing and whets the appetite. After I got bored of my own soup base, I started to pair off my noodles with my friend’s spicy soup base. It is that good.

Generally, I’m impressed with this restaurant. The service is good, waiters are attentive and friendly. Usually they say, “there wouldn’t be smoke without a fire”. And this is a pretty strong fire.

Ippudo @ Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04
Singapore 238867

Genki Sushi

This is not just a normal plate of salmon sushi. It is not whisked around in a conveyor belt nor delivered to you by foot. It is transported on an express train-look alike from the kitchen right to your table. Did I mention that you order your sushi from an iPad?

Like I said, this is not just a normal salmon sushi. The already seared salmon slices have butter-mayo cream smeared all over and dusted with black pepper flakes. The sweetness of the salmon slices is complemented wonderfully by the savoury and yet mayo-sweet but not-too-overwhelming butter cream. The slight peppery taste adds the finishing touch to this unique dish. This dish is highly recommended, especially for those that are often intimidated by raw fish slices.

Seared Salmon with Black Pepper S$2.30

No you’re not seeing double here. Same concept, but different meat. Instead of salmon, you can opt for crab meat as well. However, salmon is my pick out of the two as the sweetness provided the contrast against the savoury flavour of the butter-mayo cream.

Seared Crab with Black Pepper S$2.30

Whenever I look at the iPad, I have no idea what to pick and try out of the array of choices provided. The chefs must have heard my prayer for they included this dish into their menu. 3-in-1. The classic raw Salmon Nigiri. The tantalizing Seared Salmon with Black Pepper. Or the special Seared Salmon with Pollock Roe. I love how the freshness of the salmon slices is brought out by the perfect Japanese rice. If not for my best friend, I would have had the whole plate to myself.

Salmon Triple Flavour S$3.50

What is Japanese food without Sashimi? Nonetheless, I will never leave without trying salmon sashimi. Relatively more fresh and tasty than the cheaper ones available at Sakae, the sashimi is worth the price and still affordable.

Sashimi S$3.80

Another basic Japanese dish that I adore, Chawanmushi. With the crab meat please. This is one of the best Chawanmushi that I’ve tried so far. The crab meat is fresh, as compared to other restaurants that serve frozen crab meat. The steamed egg is soft and smooth.

Steamed Egg Custard with Crab Meat S$3.80