nakajima suisan grilled fish, takashimaya

nothing fancy, but an oh-so-satisfying food store at the back of the takashimaya food hall – queues build up long and quick here during mealtimes, so choose to eat at an awkward time, or get ready for a bit of a wait.

this isn’t a place to linger – even if you were to ignore the death stares dealt to you by the horde of people queueing to take you place, the food is meant to be quick and cheap – and satisfies by fulfilling both those expectations and topping it with tasty, satisfying fare.

you have plenty of time in the queue to decide what you want to eat – and the menu is standard enough that you don’t exactly need to look at the menu, if you see what I mean: it’s a standard bento format with your choice of fish (cod, horse mackerel, eel and etc.)

when you do reach the head of the queue, you get to an efficient, japanese-sounding man who takes your order and payment, before waving you quickly to your seat.

I started with a chawanmushi, which was a great start to the meal – soft, smooth, custardy steamed egg, that was: (1) surprisingly unsalty, which is a common gripe; and (2) really surprisingly chockful of chicken, fishcake and gingko (my favorite part!). seriously cheap and good (even the fiance, who doesn’t usually like chawanmushi, shared this!)

and the bentos that arrived quickly after were just as satisfying. first of all, they don’t skimp on the rice quality here – it’s good, sticky-enough japanese rice, cooked well enough to maintain grain integrity. secondly, the fish comes in a generous portion (I’ve certainly gotten much smaller for much higher prices elsewhere), sauced adequately and tender.

the grilled cod had fatty skin that was blistered and charred enough to bring texture and interest. if you really want to fault it (but what for?), you could gripe that the cod fillet comes with bones (be careful!) and the unagi certainly isn’t fatty enough to be melt-in-the-mouth, but I would call you a grouch (which is rich, coming from me).

anyway – it’s about one step up from food court in ambiance but more than a few steps up for quality, and it’s certainly a nice meal to round off a long day.

Nakajima Suisan
#B2 (Takashimaya Food Hall)
Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238872
$.5: less than twenty

takumi, marina at keppel bay

unspectacular, averagely japanese at this restaurant by keppel bay – it’s actually a little disappointing, given the distance to which you literally have to travel to, and the expectation you build up while sitting in this quite gorgeous restaurant.

but it’s fairer to say the food isn’t all that bad – it’s merely a case of unfulfilled expectations.

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rakuzen japanese restaurant, millenia walk

decent japanese food at this place I’ve seen frequently touted as good-value and decent quality, both compliments I agree with. I did imagine, however, that the place was a rather more high-end establishment (perhaps on the same level as sushi kuu) – but it’s more akin to a (slightly more) refined sushi tei.

the comparison with that latter establishment is further promulgated when you realise just how similar (almost suspiciously so, as I whipped out the phone to check if they belonged to the same group – no evidence to this though) the menus are in terms of font and choice.

worth the slightly higher prices? yes, if only for variety.

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marugoto shokudo, ang mo kio

so there is great mid-range japanese, acceptably-decent mid-range (in the form of the previous post), and bad mid-range (that come with inexplicably high prices) – the latter of which is what I’m concerned with today.

the camera is a kind godmother to this purveyor of a bad experience – so take the photos as a chance to view but never experience this place – and perhaps it suffices to say that we did not enjoy this meal, and won’t be coming back.

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watami japanese restaurant, bishan

this casual japanese eatery falls rather in the lower bound of mid-range japanese restaurants in singapre – the higher spaces filled by the likes of ichiban boshi and sushi tei – both in terms of marketing and food quality.

the food is decent enough for hump day (and any of those tough-going weekday nights), the menu extensive enough for repeat visits, and the price low enough to encourage the latter. think of this almost as a japanese cha chan teng – casual, family-friendly, but certainly not the sort of restaurant you bide time in.

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fukuichi japanese dining, somerset

great japanese, and one of the best deals about town for a good meal at reasonable prices. this place, I’ve known about for a long time, but only recently had the chance to visit – and then we went twice in just as many weeks.

prices are surprisingly good for japanese food at this quality, the cooking is expert and the food comes fast – highly recommended.

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japanese sun dining, town

expensive, but very good japanese in chijmes. I’ve been to this outlet of sun and moon a few times, and it is in fact the only one that my family continues to patronise. japanese food may be popular in singapore, and we have many offshoots of famous japanese ramen establishments as well as have conveyor-belt sushi places but there is a dearth of very good restaurants where you can get a wide range of japanese food – i.e. from tempura to sushi rolls to noodles and teppanyaki. chikuwa tei, which I just recently blogged about, falls in this category,  but it is of a more homely atmosphere than the semi-fine dining one here.

the choices are large on the menu here, and we truly have not yet ordered something we haven’t liked. most dishes are quite expensive, though really not extraordinarily so – and therein I think lies its attraction. japanese restaurants in the various hotels charge terribly exorbitant prices, rendering them only candidates for truly special dinners whereas this place works very nicely for a nice night out with the family or a date.

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