Rebecca Lynne Tan Food Correspondent recommends

Food Picks: Affordable Japanese wagyu barbecue at Niku Kin

Wagyu hamburg katsu ($12.90)
Wagyu hamburg katsu ($12.90)PHOTOS: NIKU KIN, HALCYON & CRANE, SUSHI SHIN, REBECCA LYNNE TAN
Beef and tomato braised rice ($28)
Beef and tomato braised rice ($28)PHOTOS: NIKU KIN, HALCYON & CRANE, SUSHI SHIN, REBECCA LYNNE TAN
Abalone served with a rich, creamy sauce made with umami abalone liver
Abalone served with a rich, creamy sauce made with umami abalone liverPHOTOS: NIKU KIN, HALCYON & CRANE, SUSHI SHIN, REBECCA LYNNE TAN
Bak chor mee sua ($4 a bowl)
Bak chor mee sua ($4 a bowl) PHOTOS: NIKU KIN, HALCYON & CRANE, SUSHI SHIN, REBECCA LYNNE TAN

AFFORDABLE JAPANESE WAGYU BARBECUE AT NIKU KIN

A new, reasonably priced yakiniku restaurant serving only Hokkaido wagyu has opened in Craig Road.

How can Japanese beef from Hokkaido be affordable? Well, it is at Niku Kin because the beef here comes directly from black wagyu ranch Farm Chiyoda Biei Cho, about 30 minutes from Biei City in the Kamikawa sub-prefecture of Hokkaido - no middlemen and no distributors.

Expect to spend about $50 a head for yakiniku here, which is much more affordable compared with more upscale restaurants, where on average, one would spend about $200.

The restaurant uses only fresh, chilled meat. Here, the whole cow is used. There are 32 cuts of beef, but every day, the chefs, who are from Japan, decide the best eight cuts to serve - from short rib to chuck roll to premium cuts such as tenderloin. Expect at least two premium cuts a day.

Try the beef sets that showcase a range of cuts - some are chewier, while others have a more intense flavour. They are priced from $48 for a set that is good for one or two, to $338 for a set for four to five people.

I prefer the premium cuts of ribeye, tenderloin and sirloin - from $41 for six to eight slices (80g) to $98 for a 200g sirloin steak. It is more expensive, but good value for money compared with other wagyu yakiniku joints.

The meat is well marbled and flavourful, but not overly fatty. But if it is still too cloying, cut through the fat with housemade kimchi ($4.50).

A must-order is the wagyu hamburg katsu ($12.90) - a juicy and robust hunk of chopped rump with a good ratio of fat, dressed with a light and tangy housemade apple katsu sauce. Niku Kin will serve hamburg steaks - breaded with panko crumbs and fried, or non-breaded and grilled - with rice and soup for lunch from Nov 26.

The restaurant plans to sell its various beef cuts directly to dine-in customers from early next year.

WHERE: 53 Craig Road MRT: Tanjong Pagar OPEN: 5 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 5pm to 1am (Fridays and Saturdays), closed on Sundays. It will open for lunch from Nov 26 TEL: 9817-0591 INFO: www.facebook.com/nikukinwagyu


CAFE FARE WITH A SICHUAN TWIST

A new all-day dining eatery has opened at The Paragon in Orchard Road, where one can expect classic cafe fare with a fiery twist.

Think dishes such as a shakshuka with Sichuan cured sausage ($20) and smoked tuna tataki salad ($21) drizzled with a piquant red oil vinaigrette. The beef carpaccio ($23) takes on an Asian spin too - it comes with a wild chilli, ginger, scallion and Sichuan pepper vinaigrette.

The speciality beef and tomato braised rice ($28) reminds me of a hearty home-cooked stew. Mixed grains such as kamut, pearl barley and quinoa are served in a rich tomato-based beef brisket and beetroot stew made with a beef broth that is slow-cooked for 16 hours.

For something lighter, go for the chicken and mushroom vermicelli ($23). The vermicelli used here is from Chengdu - it is silky but with more bite. It comes served in a flavourful chicken broth with assorted mushrooms and black fungus.

WHERE: Halcyon & Crane, 03-09 The Paragon, 290 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: 9am to 10pm, daily TEL: 9727-5121 INFO: www.facebook.com/halcyoncrane


SUSHI SHIN POP-UP AT NAMI RESTAURANT

Edomae-style sushi specialist Sushi Shin, located near the popular Niseko ski area in Hokkaido, has a pop-up at Nami Restaurant & Bar at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore from now until Nov 18.

The restaurant is owned by the same chef who is behind three-Michelin-starred Sushi Miyakawa in Sapporo.

Everything is delicate and delicious. The sushi rice, a blend of two types of rice for flavour, bite and texture, is slightly tangier than usual and I like it. Stand-out items in the omakase menu include perfectly supple abalone served with a rich, creamy sauce made with umami abalone liver.

For dessert, there is a smooth and elegant milk ice cream from the Takahashi Farm's Milk Kobo in Niseko, sandwiched between airy wafers. Delight in a bite.

WHERE: Nami Restaurant & Bar, Level 24 Tower Wing, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove MRT: Orchard WHEN: Until Nov 18; Wednesday to Sundays (noon to 2.30pm), Tuesdays to Thursdays - one seating only (7.30 to 10pm) , Fridays and weekends - two seatings (6 to 8pm and 8.30 to 10.30pm) PRICE: 14-course nigiri sushi menu ($165++ a person, additional $138++ for sake pairing), 19-course omakase menu ($380++ a person, additional $168++ for sake pairing). For dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, only the omakase menu is available TEL: 6213-4398 INFO: E-mail dining.sls@shangri-la.com


BAK CHOR MEE SUA IN CIRCULAR ROAD

There are now two coffee shops opposite each other in Circular Road selling bak chor mee - one called Yan Kee Noodle House and the other, a stall in BK Eating House.

One claims to be the original, while the other claims that its competitor is not the original.

I tried a bowl of bak chor mee sua at Yan Kee Noodle House and it reminded me of the version that I used to eat at BK Eating House.

The noodles ($4 a bowl) are coated with that distinct deep, husky chilli - rough and raspy but robust in flavour, its colour a dark, earthy hue.

So, if you're in the area, here is a place for a good bowl of noodles.

WHERE: Yan Kee Noodle House, 9 Circular Road MRT: Raffles Place OPEN: 24 hours a day, closed on Sundays

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe