Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Bowled over by halal Korean-Japanese fare

The Yes Sir! Yes Sir! bowl ($12) comes with sirloin steak, a purple multi-grain rice called japgokbap, kimchi omelette and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.
The Yes Sir! Yes Sir! bowl ($12) comes with sirloin steak, a purple multi-grain rice called japgokbap, kimchi omelette and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.ST PHOTO: ANJALI RAGURAMAN

Ordering your rice and noodle bowls at Korean-Japanese fusion concept Omoomodon (pronounced omo-omo-don) is like something out of a science-fiction film.

A self-service food concept means there is no one to take your order. Instead, you key it into a touch-screen kiosk near the kitchen, where you can choose from one of the 17 bowls on offer.

The combinations at this recently halal-certified joint include meat and rice, meat and noodles, seafood and rice, seafood and noodles and even vegan bowls.

I pick one called Yes Sir! Yes Sir! ($12) that comes with sirloin steak, a purple multi-grain rice called japgokbap in Korean, kimchi omelette and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.

There is even the option to specify the doneness of the meat; my medium-rare steak slices are perfectly cooked.

The dish is balanced, with just enough teriyaki sauce so that it is not overwhelmed with sweetness, while the kimchi in the omelette adds a slightly salty and vinegary note.

  • OMOOMODON

  • 02-14 The Star Vista, 1 Vista Exchange Green; tel: 6734-1863; open: 11am to 10pm daily

    Rating: 3.5/5

My dining companions choose Bird's Nest ($10), which comprises spicy chicken and an onsen egg atop a bed of Korean glass noodles, which are thicker and have more bite than tang hoon noodles.

The real star is the delicious sweet-savoury Korean barbecue sauce that glazes the noodles and elevates the dish.

We also have the more Japanese-style Fri-Date With Me ($12), which is an udon bowl with a bland soya-based soup and topped with breaded salmon and an onsen egg.

For $5 more, you can make the meal a set with one side, such as fried dumplings, takoyaki or spicy tofu, and a soft drink or water.

The entire process is seamless. The machine dispenses your change and you wait for your number to be called. One gripe was that the wait is a little long for a process that is otherwise quick.

When you pick up your bowl, you get to choose from five dipping sauces: BBQ mayo, bibimbap, cho gochujang, teriyaki and yuzu wasabi. You can either tip it into your bowl or use it as a dipping sauce.

The portions in the heavy ceramic bowls are not particularly generous, but filling nonetheless.

I like that the don bowls are inclusive without compromising on quality.

Although pork is widely used in Korean cooking, I do not miss it at all in the flavourful dishes here.

The sides, though, are disappointing. The takoyaki balls are more flour than octopus and the chicken karaage is chewy.

I know someone who has been back five times and tried a new bowl every time. With so many options, it is no surprise.

You can also customise your bowl from scratch from $8. Choose from a base of Korean white rice, multi-grain rice, fried glass noodles, udon or mixed greens, followed by proteins ranging from chicken karaage and grilled salmon to fried mushrooms and vegan "prawns".

Omoomodon has three other outlets - at Kallang Wave Mall, Downtown East E!Avenue and Northpoint City - and all outlets are halal-certified.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Bowled over by halal Korean-Japanese fare'. Print Edition | Subscribe