CHEAP & GOOD

No-frills Japanese 'cai fan' at Wasai-Ya in Junction 8

The daily menu at Wasai-Ya features more than 20 dishes.
The daily menu at Wasai-Ya features more than 20 dishes. PHOTO: WASAI-YA

Rare is the foodcourt or hawker centre that does not have a mixed rice or economy rice stall.

If and when I do eat from such stalls, it is only because I'm in a rush or there are dishes that I really like. I usually have sweet and sour pork, a tofu or egg dish and green vegetables. Oh, and blanket my rice with loads of curry gravy, please.

At Wasai-Ya in Junction 8's Food Junction, the stall cleverly rides on this typically Singaporean concept, with a Japanese twist.

Think of it as Japanese "cai fan" - with chawanmushi as the steamed egg option, chicken katsu instead of chicken or pork cutlet, and deep-fried saba in sweet and sour sauce if, like me, you must have something sweet and sour on your plate.

The daily menu features more than 20 dishes. Set meals are priced from $5.90, with three dishes served with rice and miso soup.

  • WASAI-YA

  • Stall MR4, Food Junction, Level 4 Junction 8, 9 Bishan Place

    Open: 10am to 10pm daily (until 5pm today, closed tomorrow and Tuesday, 3 to 10pm on Wednesday)

    Info: www.facebook.com/wasaiya

    Rating: ***

A la carte items cost either $2 or $3. Each item is colour-coded and special items such as salmon teriyaki ($5) cost more.

I pick the $6.90 set on two occasions and like the no-frills dishes I've tried so far.

These include chicken and vegetable gyoza; oyako-don (chicken and egg with sweet soya sauce); grilled saba or mackerel; ika yasai-itame (fried squid with vegetables); crispy chicken katsu; and nikujyaga (potato and beef with sweet soya sauce).

My favourites are the saba, which is particularly juicy without being too oily, and the lightly breaded chicken katsu.

Japanese curry gravy or gyu-don beef gravy can be ladled over the rice. Of course, I pick the curry.

While all the dishes look appetising, more food warmers should be added as the food is not piping hot - some are barely warm. I guess this is an issue that many mixed rice stalls face as well.

For takeaway, add 30 cents for a standard box or 60 cents for a bento box.

Wasai-Ya is by Dining Innovation Group, which also runs Sumire Yakitori House in Bugis Junction and shabu shabu stalls Shaburi Express at Food Junction in Raffles City and Junction 8.

Judging from the steady stream of diners who flock to the stall tucked at the back of the foodcourt, I guess more branches will open in other foodcourts soon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 07, 2016, with the headline 'Japanese 'cai fan''. Print Edition | Subscribe