Putting the Tori in Yakitori

HEAR:
Listen to this week’s smokelicious episode!

SEE:

yakitori_don
Yakitori Don (Grilled Chicken on Rice)

There’s nothing quite like the smoky-charred flavour of grilled meats treated with respect and skill, except maybe fresh seafood done the Japanese way and this week, our Makan Kaki Chef Anthony Yeoh recommends a restaurant that combines the best of both worlds.

Chef Asai is the affable grill master of Bincho, a tiny little Japanese Yakitori joint in Tiong Bahru. Literally a hole in the wall, you enter through the coppery back door that it takes you into the bar area, which is decked out in metals, so it’s like being in a submarine. The story goes that the mee pok man running his stall was looking to retire, give way to the setting up of Bincho and simply collect rent from that enterprise, but there was a certain amount of backlash about the gentrifying of Tiong Bahru and edging out of old businesses, so they hit upon a more collaborative idea. Mee Pok man came out of retirement to serve his beloved noodles at lunchtime, whilst Bincho operates side-by-side.

Ultimately, what you get from Bincho at Hua Bee is the unique look and ambiance of a 70-year old traditional kopitiam featuring said old school mee pok stall, classic coffee & kaya toast, classic marble tables with wooden chairs PLUS the modern open-concept yakitori bar with playful Japanese-inspired cocktails as well as Japanese whiskies, sake and shochu.

Bincho serves up wonderful lunchtime Donburi sets ranging from $25++ that includes appetizers, salad, pickles, karage, soup and dessert. Chef Anthony recommends the Uni Ikura Donburi set – it’s luxurious, super-fresh and so delicious.

uni ikura don
Uni Ikura Don

For dinner, there are three types of set menus but be sure to order off the à la carte menu for some extra tasty specialities.

Full Dinner Set with chicken
Side dishes from Dinner Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menus at Bincho change frequently depending on what fresh produce is available that day, but chicken in various ways, shapes and forms will always remain the star of the kitchen (that’s where the tori in yakitori comes in!). In fact, if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss out on the cock’s comb – gelatinous & soft in texture, it’s a delicacy that Chef Asai does exceptionally well!

cock'scomb
Cock’s Comb!

Other smoking-hot favourites include Yakitori shio: grilled parts of chicken served with three types of condiments – yuzukoshō, freshly grated wasabi and mushroom salt an Yakitori tare: Grilled chicken parts dipped into a homemade sauce and served with Japanese mustard, wholegrain mustard and kuro shichimi ‘Black Japanese Seven Spice’.

yakitori_shio_yakitori_tare
TOP: Yakitori shio; BOTTOM: Yakitori tare

But do save room for the tsukune, which is essentially a chicken meatball/ patty that is grilled to juicy, tender perfection and made even more delicious with its crowning glory – a raw quail egg cracked right on top!

tsukune_chicken_meatball
Tsukune Chicken Meatball

TASTE:
Bincho at Hua Bee
78 Moh Guan Terrace (Tiong Bahru)
#01-19
Singapore 162078
Tel: +65 6438 4567
Opening Hours:
Lunch
Tuesday – Sundays: 12pm – 3.00pm
Dinner
Tuesdays – Sundays: 6pm till late
(Closed Mondays)

This Izakaya Izawesome!

Aun & Denise
Aun & Denise

Our latest Makan Kaki is one of Singapore’s most dynamic foodies. He’s created restaurants, restaurant guides, and the Ate Group, Singapore’s premier communications agency specialising in F&B. In his free time, he also runs one of Southeast Asia’s most popular food and travel websites, Chubby Hubby. Meet the chubby hubby himself, Aun Koh!

This week, we go big in Japan without even having to board a plane. For an authentic Izakaya experience, you’ve got to try one of Aun’s favourite places to eat – KATANASHI.

It’s the Singapore branch of a bona fide Japanese Izakaya, brought in by Japanese owners, which means almost all the staff there are Japanese and when you walk in, you really feel like you’ve walked into a little piece of Tokyo. For the uninitiated, Izakayas are the Japanese equivalent of gastropubs (but obviously with a much longer history!), serving up mains, snacks & shared plates of really tasty food that pair well with alcohol.

katanashi
via Katanashi Singapore Branch

Katanashi has a relaxed atmosphere and gives you fantastic value-for-money, especially at lunchtime. Get this, their lunch sets go for only $12! And for that great price, you get a really nice salad and a variety of big rice bowls to choose from. Aun’s 3 favourites are:

  • Toritama Don – juicy chunks of fried chicken with pickle and a soft-boiled egg over rice.
  • Negitoro Don – chopped tuna belly with spring onions and a soft-boiled egg over rice.
  • Salmon Yukke Don – raw salmon marinated in Korean Yukke spices with okra (lady’s fingers) over rice. A lovely, lighter option.

But the ultimate dish that you HAVE TO order when you visit Katanashi is the “KING OF CREAM CHEESE” – doesn’t sound very Japanese, but you’ll find that a lot of Western dishes have popped up on traditional Izakaya menus because they pair so well with alcohol. The King of Cream Cheese is no exception – Western, yet interpreted in a way only the Japanese can. Imagine a very soft, homemade cream cheese, drizzled with honey and served with slices of toasted baguette. Trust Aun – this is simplicity at its phenomenal best!

Also, if you’re feeling cheeky, they also do excellent lunchtime beer specials for just a little extra. Everyone Aun has taken to Katanashi has returned for more, and you will too, for the simple reason: Katanashi is all about delicious food & booze that’s such good value-for-money.

LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S EPISODE HERE!

Katanashi Izakaya
77 Boat Quay
Tel: 6533 0490
Open: Mon-Sat 11:45am-2:30pm, 5-11:30pm (but check their Facebook for updates)