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