Yokowa is a new Japanese restaurant serving Kaiseki as well as a la carte options. For diners interested in Kaiseki, prior reservation a day ahead is necessary because they need time to prepare. A 13 course meal cost $118.00++ which is not really a high price in my opinion.
For my tasting, they served the a la carte items as well as bento boxes.
Bento Set – $28.00++
Featuring 2 bento boxes of the 3 options available. Bento boxes are stated as a lunch item, but the staff told me they serve it during dinner as well. You might want to call them to clarify.
Each bento comes with 6 dishes, chawamushi, miso soup and special rice. If you look closely, 3 out of 6 items of each are the same while the other 3 are different. In the foreground is Set A and it comes with cod, chicken karaage and agedashi tofu. Set B in the background comes with salmon fry, stir fried sliced pork and brinjal.
Food served with such good presentation cannot be bad. I pretty much liked everything with extra interest in the chicken karaage and fried salmon. I could be lucky to get a new batch of oil or something but whatever the reason, it was very well fried and remained in good texture even when eaten cold (after like 500 photos…). Usually many restaurants serves low effort chicken karaage which you would suspect it came from a supplier, but this one was different. The batter tasted different and it was also very well marinated. Coming from a fan of fried chicken, I would say this was one of the better chicken karaage I’ve had.
Do note that all these items can be ordered a la carte as well! If you’re a chicken karaage fan as well, you could get the full portion.
Also worth mentioning is the chawanmushi and the rice. The chawanmushi is one of the softest in texture I’ve ever had. You can almost feel nothing because it will disintegrate in your mouth. I can’t remember when was the last time I had such delicate chawanmushi.
As for the rice, it is not the regular Japanese rice (which is already a notch above normal rice), but instead it’s glutinous rice. This style is called okowa, where glutinous rice is mixed with seasonal ingredients. To get the rice to be shiny and of such good texture, they rinse it with only cold water and it is never squeezed so as not to destroy it. The ingredients it is cooked with varies daily as they have 4 variants in rotation for their okowa. Rice is very important for a Japanese meal so I’m glad they did not choose to be low effort about it.
For every order of the Bento set, you can get a side sashimi for $15.00++. This includes salmon belly, tuna and swordfish.
Unagi Kabayaki– $48.00++
Unagi has become one of my favourite items ever since having super good ones in Japan. Good quality unagi should be soft and tender instead of rubbery in texture like most mass market restaurants serve. The difference could be traced back to the origin of the eel rather than the handling so you can’t hide bad quality ingredients. This one here belongs to the soft and tender category and tastes like high quality eel for sure, but it could be even better if was grilled with more character. Like having a bolder charred tasted of a charcoal grill or something.
Chanko Nabe – $36.00++
This I was told was the chef’s specialty.
The pot consisted of meat and vegetables and you can add this special dried chili powder to make the broth taste different. This powder is no generic spice but is specially mixed by the chef. Indeed the flavour of the soup changed upon adding this and the taste was quite unique. It was a bit spicy and sour.
Almond Milk Pudding
This dessert isn’t very typical of Japanese meals to me. They do have other options like black sesame pudding and azuki bean jelly.
With increasing awareness about authentic Japanese food nowadays among Singaporeans, I noticed a trend whereby people are shifting away from mass market chain Japanese restaurants to restaurants of finer quality. It’s as though our people are over the phase of those all you can eat style salmon sashimi and chawanmushi and they want something better. Boutique style Japanese restaurants serving authentic fare is sure in higher demand now, with some popular ones having 6 months long queue for reservation. You know which one I’m referring to.
Anyway, from my experience here, the quality here is definitely higher than mass market restaurants, and the prices aren’t exorbitant especially for the bento boxes. Moreover, the dining atmosphere is comfortable. No squeezing or soaking up grease.
It’s a good thing for sure, to have more good options around aiming to serve authentic, affordable yet good tasting Japanese food. And I’m glad that Yokowa is one of them.
Overall: Authentic style Japanese cuisine with a comfortable dining environment.
21 Duxton Road
Closed on Sunday