Omotenashi Sake Bar & Dining Gosso, Singapore

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Category: Japanese – Casual – Yakitori

We were strolling along Boat Quay looking for a place to have dinner before a concert when Omotenashi Sake Bar & Dining Gosso restaurant caught our eye. We were particularly intrigued by the number of Japanese clientele they had and figured that that said a thing or two about it’s authenticity, and decided to give it a try. Omotenashi Dining is quite the new kid on the block, having been around from only around September or October last year, but seems to already have picked up a good number of regulars.

No.64 Boat Quay Singapore 049852, Tel: 6533 5152, Opens 11.30am – 2.30pm and 5.30pm – 12am on Mon-Fri (Opens for dinner on Sat)

Nestled along the shophouses on the main stretch of Boat Quay by the Singapore River, Omotenashi Dining is situated right opposite the Parliament of Singapore, across the SIngapore River. Its decor theme is primarily black, with non-fuss wooden tables and white words printed on its canopy, with a yakitori grill is by the entrance on the left. There are several Japanese restaurants along Boat Quay, but among the yakitori places, Omotenashi had the largest Japanese clientele as far as I could tell.

Damage: $$

Omotenashi Dining is quite reasonably priced, with dishes priced at around $3-4 per stick (min. order of 2 per dish). It might seem little, but since most yakitori dishes comprise of meats, I find that we often underestimate how filling they can be. Beer is also popular at Omotenashi, especially among the Japanese businessmen – I saw a beer tower or two go by in the short while that I was there.

To Go: A good hangout place for meatloving friends

Omotenashi  was reasonably priced and the food was fine – some dishes being more standout than others. Indoor-seating (air-conditioned) is rather limited and it can get rather warm if you’re seated outside, so if you have more than one layer on I suggest to go somewhere else or begin stripping unless you want to be a waterfall. Service at Omotenashi was quick and the staff were attentive and eager to be of help, and the restaurant has an old Japanese feel. Overall, a possible place to hang out with friends after executing mission: escape from the office.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

A uniformed waitress came out to greet us at the front, nodded and politely invited us to come in in a slight Japanese accent. Several tables were already taken by the riverside and the indoors was full so we were seated by the entrance and presented with the menu which contained an array of yakitori, from skewered meats to tsukune (minced meat patty/ball), in different renditions – with mustard, with cheese, etc. I asked the waitress for a recommendation between the two versions of tsukune, and she pointed at one and said, “I would recommend this… and this”, and pointed at the other version. We looked at each other and tried not to laugh.

In the end we ended up ordering the Kinoko Salad, and several kinds of yakitori, a onigiri (rice ball), and an egg dish called Dashimaki. From there, the orders were sent to the grill, and soon after, began hitting our table in rapid succession.

Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Mushroom Salad

The Kinoko Salad ($9.80) which the waitress said was very good and “popular” had a generous portion of stir fried mushrooms, beyond which I found to be pretty ordinary. You can give this a miss if you’re fine with having a mostly carnivorous meal.

The Isobe-yaki (chicken fillet wrapped with seaweed; $5 for 2 sticks) and Negima (chicken thigh with leek; $6 for 2 sticks) (featured picture, from left to right) were ordinary as well. They were a good piping hot, but the chicken was way too dry, which was surprising for the Negima since chicken thigh is typically fattier and retains juice better.
Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Tsukune

The tsukune ($6 for 2 sticks) was great – the outside was charred perfectly, caramelising slightly the semi-sweet glaze, and the inside was piping hot and extremely juicy. They were very generous with the meat – I think this also contributed to its robust flavors and texture, making it more satisfying to have than the usual thinner tsukune patties, including the one I practically grew up on from MOS Burger.Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Signature Egg

The waitress explained that the Dashimaki ($6.80) was gently cooked in a dashi stock for some time and whisked or something to give it it’s fluffy texture. To be honest I couldn’t internalise her description of the entire process because I zoned out halfway, and told myself that bottom line was that this egg was going to be more awesome than it looked. It was light but ordinary and rather lacking in seasoning, I’d happily swap this out for another yakitori.

Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Yakitori Pork Asparagus LeekIt would do you good to have this – Butamaki Shimeji (Shimeji Mushrooms wrapped in Pork Belly; $6 for 2 sticks)This is one of my all-time barbecue favorites. Whenever I host or attend a barbecue, this is a dish that needs to be present to elevate the session to barbecue stardom. Ever a crowd pleaser, this yakitori was no different; mushroom juices galore, soaking up and adding to the natural saltiness of the bacon, with cheese atop. Omg, yes!

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Bedrock Bar & Grill, Singapore

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Wanting to have a good steak, a friend asked if we should go to Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse and Restaurant or Bedrock Bar & Grill. Since I’ve been to Bistecca and not the latter, we decided to give Bedrock a shot and met up for dinner there on a Tuesday night.

96 Somerset Road, #01-05 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, Singapore 238163

The entrance to Bedrock Bar & Grill is along the alley right outside the glass doors of Somerset 313, right next to Marché, and will be the first restaurant to your left.

Damage: $$$-$$$$

Steak with prices in the region of Bistecca’s (ex. the Fiorentina steak, $188) and just a tier under Morton’s and Cut by Wolfgang Puck, it is needless to say that I was expecting a really good steak. With a starter and side dish to share, the meal came up to about $120 per head. Prepare for about $160 if you throw in a glass of red and a dessert as well.

To go: For this price, perhaps we should try elsewhere

It was good but for the price, I was not sufficiently wowed. Service was great – attentive and pro-active with the recommendations – and the ambience is cosy and romantic with comfortable booth seating at the periphery, with just the right amount of space to lend a comfortable level of chatter from guests and yet maintain privacy. There are two private dining rooms at the back as well, which can seat about 8 persons each, at which you can host a small private dinner if you so wish. In my opinion, Wooloomooloo Steakhouse is better value, equally cosy, and with equally fantastic service.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

I visited Bedrock Bar & Grill on a Tuesday evening after work. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much – the front of the restaurant is modest with a narrow reception and entrance. Following the front of house down a softly lit corridor, I found that it opened up into a comfortable space with a cosy setting of lacquer and dark brown wood, kept slightly more relaxed with the filament lamps suspended over the bar in an intentionally unintentional manner, like a man rolling up the sleeves of his carefully ironed shirt. When we entered at around 7.30pm, it was about 30% full, but by the time we left at around 9.30pm, it was packed to about 75%. Heading back out again, I noticed that the high stools which were unoccupied when we entered now had a few groups of people enjoying a drink or two.

Bedrock Bar & Grill Singapore Steakhouse Steak Food Review BlogIt is a steakhouse, so steak is what we had. I had the Bedrock Pepper Steak (300gm ribeye, $79; featured picture) which our host mentioned was Bedrock’s signature steak and had been very well received by guests on the whole. I asked for it on medium and instead of going with the default black peppercorn sauce, chose the wholegrain whiskey mustard sauce to go with. My dining companion had the same, except on rare and with the classic béarnaise. The steaks all come with a single sauce, and if you’d like, you could swap the default sauce for another or add on any of the available sauces at $4.

To begin, we shared the Caesar Salad ($22) which was one of two recommendations for starters, the other being the Bedrock Smoked Tomato Soup ($16). This, to be honest, I wasn’t at all impressed with. The baby cos was fresh, as was to be expected, but the egg was ordinary and the bacon was too hard and its presence, sparse. I couldn’t find the white anchovies which the dish’s description made mention of, except for the single good-sized one atop.

The steak was served in a typical old-fashion style on a sizzling iron hotplate. My steak was cooked to a good medium, was rather tender and kept its juices. However, for some reason, I was just not quite blown away. It was good steak and cooked well, no doubt, but in terms of flavour, there was nothing very special about it, even when supported by the special sauces – both of which I tasted. In my mind I just couldn’t help but compare it to Bistecca – which I’ll readily admit wasn’t the fairest comparison given that I’d only tried their $188 Fiorentina made from a Wagyu F1 t-bone (serves 2-3 persons), although they also have steak options in the $70 – $90 range of a comparable portion size – which had a finer grain and smoother texture than the one at Bedrock. Bedrock Bar & Grill Singapore Steakhouse Steak Food Review Blog I’ve heard many good things about duck fat, and I once had a friend aspiring to be a chef who’d asked me to hand-carry a jar of it back for her from London, and so when we were looking at the sides, the duck fat potatoes ($16) were really calling out to me. I’m not sure what exactly it’s supposed to taste like, but I knew the duck fat flavour when I tasted it and was trace. We both agreed that the potatoes tasted somewhat ordinary, so I would advise to go with perhaps the creamed spinach ($18) as a side should you visit. Or, if you’re dying to have some potatoes, I’d think the Ash roasted sweet potato with bacon & blue cheese ($16) is going to be a little more special.

&sons, Singapore

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Category: Spanish – Tapas (and drinks)

I know- trust me, I know how the picture looks. You’re thinking, WTF is that? 

&sons is one of those places with a name that doesn’t bring anything to mind by association, and yet they serve up some really delightful tapas, just as long as you know what to order.

20 Cross Street, Singapore 048422, Tel: 6221 3937, Opens till late daily

Located along the Nankin row at China Square, &sons occupies a corner unit with tall tables and high stools lined along its front. You’d have to squint a little in the dim, relaxed light, past the people having drinks outside, to make out its name quietly stuck onto the glass door to know you’re indeed at the right place.

Damage: $$

Generally, the tapas act in Singapore doesn’t come cheap, but &sons, surprisingly, offers good value. The dishes average around $10 to $20 for a tapas-sized (i.e. small) portion, but there’s no need at all to worry about getting full especially if you’re having the heavier dishes like the pasta.

To go: Sometimes, for a quick fix of special artisanal pasta and Iberico pork

I’d had the Calamari, Kurobuta Pork Neck and Roast Cod Salsa Rubra during my previous visit, and was not at all impressed. This time, however, I went with a frequent &sons patron who has tried practically all the dishes on the menu, and can say with confidence that their strongest dishes are the Tagliolini with Crab and Nduja, Paccheri with Iberico Pork and Truffle, and the Iberico Pork Belly with Tuscan Bean Cream.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Since the rest was nothing much to write about, I’m going to dive straight into specific dishes – so let’s get going!

Tagliolini Crab Nduja Pasta &Sons Artisanal Singapore Restaurant Spanish Tapas Bar Food Review

The arrival of the Tagliolini with crab and Nduja– What a sight. The pasta ($10) was enveloped in a tasty tomato-based luscious cream, with the flavours and pieces of crab meat humming it’s way through a snowfall of cheese. The mozzarella powder was so light that it was practically lighter than the texture of icing sugar. This was very tasty, albeit slightly overdone past al dente. Still, we loved it so much we got two portions of it.

We also had the Baccalá Cakes with Sea Urchin Sabayon ($15, featured picture). Personally, I didn’t like this as much as my dining companion did. Sabayon is often served as a dessert, but has a custard-like texture and in this instance, was infused with uni (sea urchin) as an accompaniment to the baccalá cakes (crab cakes). The sabayon was pick-up-the-dish-and-lick-it-all-up worthy and the light touch of the torch brought out the umami, but the crab cakes themselves lacked depth of flavour and elegance in texture, and the exterior “shell” was too hard for my liking.

Smoked Kurobuta Pork Lonza &Sons Spanish Tapas bar Restaurant Singapore Food Review

The Smoked Kurobuta Pork Lonza ($11) was moist and fork-tender, as if it had been going at the heat for at least a few hours, and had a robust flavour. The mash was finely pureed but plain and light in flavour, and provided a good balance to the kurobuta. For the meats, &sons does fantastic iberico pork as well, and so you won’t typically go wrong with one of its iberico pork dishes. Overall, a good place for pasta and meat-lovers like me.