To be honest, I did not intend to participate in this episode of Dine and Dish because being Asian myself, I did not find the theme too exciting. Having said that, I did have a couple of excellent Asian meals over the weekend and because I want to review and rave about it, (perhaps an attempt to relive those moments of sheer pleasure?), I thought of killing two birds with one
Japanese is my favorite Asian cuisine. Like many other cuisines, there is the “fine” and there is the “rustic or what I like to call “home-style”. But either way, there is an emphasis on using fresh ingredients and simple preparations to allow them to shine individually. Over the last weekend, I visited a restaurant in each category – Akane for the former, and Minoru for the latter – and both excellent.
I shall begin with Minoru, since I had dinner there first. The restaurant had been on my to-try list for a long time since other foodies highly recommended it. The location was the only show-stopper but anyhow, I found myself there and was transported to Japan’s back alleys occupied with little eateries for a couple of hours while we were there.
To my surprise, the quiet shopping complex houses not just Minoru, but two other Japanese restaurants. I wonder if there is sufficient traffic to maintain business. Anyhow, Minoru was tucked behind and was a non-pretentious restaurant. Once you pass through the typical Japanese two-piece-cloth doors, you find the décor kept simple – a counter bar and a few tables. You just cannot help but be comfortable. There were the usual posters typical of a home-style Japanese restaurant – some of them are calendars cum intro 101 to sushi, mostly beer ads showing a bikini-clad girl holding a bottle. Minoru also stocks a variety of Japanese reading material like magazines and comics for browsing.
We were served green tea and an appetizer which looked nasty at first sight but tasted otherwise. It was a braised salmon fishhead, deepfried first before slow-braising, such that the bones disintegrated without much fight when I bit into them. Browsing through the extensive menu, I was again in a dilemma since my eyes got bigger than my stomach. I had a hankering for tempura but yet, I would rather judge a Japanese restaurant by their sashimi. Finally I decided that tempura would not do good to my sore throat so I settled on the sashimi set (picture above) (S$18).
The sashimi comprised of fresh-tasting slices of sake(3), maguro(3) and hamachi(2). The slices were not cut evenly and I found it disturbing. Somehow, I thought a good chef should at least be able to cut things of even thickness. The maguro, while fresh, was rather bland and grainy. I wonder if it could be because the fillet had been cut in a wrong direction but in any case, I was left with a piece of fiberous and stringy thing after going through a slice. On the other hand, the hamachi was excellent! The flesh was soft yet supple and tasted of the sea. I truly enjoyed it with a little bit of wasabi and dip in soy sauce. The sake was the neutral party; good but non-memorable. Completing the set was a potato salad, a cold tofu, pickles, an excellent miso seaweed soup and a slice of watermelon. I was a very full and satisfied girl at the end of this meal.
J on the other hand, had the beef teppanyaki set (S$18) but requested for teppan fried rice (+S$3) instead of the white rice. The fried rice was delicious and full of smokiness. The beef, on the other hand, was a little bit over done but saved by the tasty sauce and loads of garlic.
Minoru proved that one can get quality Japanese fare for good value. There tons of other food I would love to try (nabeudon, tempura, sushi etc) and I would definitely be back again. Sadly not often I reckon, because I am just not a west-coast girl.
Minoru Restaurant Pte Ltd
154 West Coast Way Singapore 127074
Tel : 67758879
(Stay tuned for Dine & Dish #5 Part II...)