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!

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Singapore

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Category: Singaporean – Hawker Centre

My favourite go-to food centre in Singapore, Old Airport Road Food Centre has some of the best of Singapore’s most popular dishes and is highly revered among Singaporeans. While these are familiar dishes to the locals, I figured it would be helpful to write a little for friends from overseas coming to visit, and since I was at Old Airport Road Food Centre for lunch on Sunday, that’s exactly what I did.

19 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390019

Located in the vicinity of Mountbatten and Geylang, Old Airport Road Food Centre is a two-storey stocky-looking building situated in a relatively open space, painted in bold colours of yellow, blue, red and green (I know…), with a carpark on one side and a few residential buildings by it’s front. Any taxi driver would be able to take you, and if you’re coming by the MRT (i.e. train), the closest station would be Mountbatten.

Damage: $

It’s the foodie’s heaven, with reasonable prices ranging from $3 for pie tee to $5 and up for noodle-dishes. When you come, I can almost guarantee you’ll be hypnotised by the delicious wafting smells and will want to try everything – in which case… maybe I should increase the damage to $$.

To go: Of course! (Is this a trick question?)

No reservations about it – if you want to have an authentic experience amongst locals and try some of the best of Singaporean cuisine, this place should be at the top of your list.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

This review will consist of a few sub-reviews.

Kangkong Jiu Eng Cai, $3, and Pie Tee, $3 (Feature picture, from left to right)

Kangkong Jiu Eng Cai is a dish made from kangkong (a kind of long skinny vegetable), and jiu (cuttlefish), which often features cucumber, pineapple cubes and beansprouts. This dish uses cured cuttlefish, which I didn’t like because of its translucent agar-like texture, but the sweet prawn paste sauce with chilli and peanuts was fantastic – light, tasty, and yet full of flavour. Our favourite stall for this dish faces the front of the food centre, and has a purple sign with red chinese words together with white words announcing “Homemade springroll, springroll skin”; if you look carefully on the right, it says “Fortune Food” in english.

Otak-otak, 80 or 90 cents each

Crab otah singapore food review old airport road

Look at the crab flesh embedded inside! Otak-otak is traditionally a grilled “fish cake” made from fish meat, tapioca starch and spices, wrapped in banana leaves and speared with little toothpicks at the ends to keep them intact when grilled over the fire. Now, otak-otak has expanded to a wider variety of different fillings to include crab. The one from Lee Wee Brothers is very tasty and generous with the meat, and also is just nicely toasted, unlike some places which overdo it until it chars.

Char Kway Teow, $3-$5

Char Kway Teow Singapore's favourite dish Revew

Ah, Singaporeans absolutely love their fried kway teow. Also known in the local dialect as “char kway teow“, this dish is a stir-fry of flat rice noodles, with beansprouts, slices of chinese sausage, egg and cockles in a chilli and soy-sauce based sauce. Lao Fu Zhi has one of the best char kway teows around – it’s situated along the middle aisle and always has a queue. The noodles are well coated with a thin flavourful sweet-savory layer of sauce, and with eggs deliciously stir-fried into it. Watch for when the man himself is handling for the wok, because he does it best.

Another Singaporean favourite is Hokkien mee, also known as fried prawn noodles. While I didn’t have it this time, you should be sure to give it a try and the one at old airport road food centre is very good.

Other dishes to try

roasted chicken wing singapore food review

While you’re there, have the roast chicken wings with the local chilli sauce from Tong Kee Charcoal BBQ as well – freshly roasted until the skin is golden and crispy, while the meat remains tender and incredibly juicy (careful – the juices will flow out!). Also try some local desserts like Tau Suan (essentially a sweet soup made from split mung bean) and sesame paste (picture below, left to right).

tau suan sesame paste old airport road singapore food review

Kim Heng HK Roasted Meat, Singapore

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Category: Chinese – Hawker – Roasted Meats

My colleague and friend has been raving about this place for weeks on end, and so I finally made my way down on a Saturday morning to give it a try. Before going, I did a quick search which yielded Kim Heng as the “Best all rounder” in an article by the Straits times on the best roasted meat stalls, and so I went with high hopes.

Block 214 Serangoon Avenue 4, 01-88, Tel: 6283-3695, Opens 8.30am to 7pm daily

Situated in a clean coffeeshop at the corner of the ground floor of a HDB block facing the Serangoon Stadium, Kim Heng HK Roasted Meat is easy to find and can be seen from a distance away; even before lunchtime, a long queue of customers would have formed, cutting right across the path.

Damage: $

It’s roasted meat after all, and in a coffeeshop, so it can’t (and shouldn’t) be that expensive. That said, it’s steeper than some of the other places I’ve been, but that could be because we ordered ribs in the mix. It came up to about $14 for each of us, for a platter of mixed meats and 2 small soups to share 3 ways.

To go: Perhaps, if you’re in the area

I’m personally not convinced that this is the best all-rounder for roasted meat in Singapore. It was okay; nothing really special if you ask me, and unfortunately not as mind-blowing as my friend made it out to be (I mean, when he was describing it to me, he really went all out with the expressive hand gestures to accompany the mouthwatering descriptions in addition to a look of bliss). The sio ba (roasted pork belly) was better, but I remain a skeptic about whether this place warrants the queue and the hype.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

I cut through the building, entering from the side of the carpark, and straight away saw the long line to my right. My friends had recommended going just before 11.30am when, from experience, a freshly roasted batch of sio ba would be ready and displayed alongside other tantalizing meats, ready to be devoured.

Kim Heng HK Roasted Meat Serangoon SingaporeWe ordered a mix of char siewxio ba, ribs and roasted duck (feature picture). The char siew (roasted pork slices) was average – way too fatty and not as caramelised on the outside as would be ideal. There were little tasty bits here and there, but nothing came close to the char siew I’d had at this place called Sun Ming in Cheras, just a little way out from Kuala Lumpur – which, to date, still stands as the best I’ve ever tasted.

The sio ba was springy and the skin was lightly crisped, but I found that it was not exceptionally fragrant although on the plus side, it wasn’t heavy from overused oil which is a common mistake. The ribs were a disappointment – there was very little meat, and it wasn’t particularly tender. If you go, I’d recommend you save your rib fix for another day at some place else like Morganfields which has the ultimate sticky bones.

And so my search for the best roasted meats in Singapore continues. If you have any recommendations, please do let me know – I’d really love to hear all about them!

Kim Heng Roast Meat Serangoon Singapore