Rebecca Lynne Tan Food Correspondent recommends

Food Picks: Affordable Japanese wagyu at Niku Kin, Niseko's Sushi Shin pop-up and bak chor mee sua with kick

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 and chuck roll to premium cuts such as tenderloin.
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 and chuck roll to premium cuts such as tenderloin.PHOTO: NIKU KIN

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 can be. That's because the beef 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, no distributors.

Expect to spend about $50 a head for yakiniku here, which is much more affordable compared to more upscale restaurants where average spend starts at about $200 and upwards.

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 and chuck roll to premium cuts such as tenderloin. You can expect at least two premium cuts a day.

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

I much 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 is good value for money compared to 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 the house-made kimchi ($4.50).


The wagyu hamburg katsu ($12.90) is dressed with a light and tangy house-made apple katsu sauce. PHOTO: NIKU KIN

Make sure you also order 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 house-made apple katsu sauce. Niku Kin will serve hamburg steaks - breaded with panko crumbs and fried, or not breaded and grilled - with rice and soup for lunch from Nov 26.

The restaurant also plans to sell its various beef cuts directly to dine-in customers from early 2019.

WHERE: 53 Craig Road MRT: Tanjong Pagar OPEN: 5pm 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/

SUSHI SHIN POP-UP AT NAMI RESTAURANT


A stand-out item in the omakase menu is the perfectly supple abalone served with a rich, creamy sauce made with umami abalone liver. PHOTO: SUSHI SHIN

Edomae-style sushi specialist Sushi Shin, located near the popular Niseko ski area in Hokkaido, Japan, 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, you are presented with a smooth and elegant milk ice cream from the Takahashi Farm's Milk Kobo in Niseko, served sandwiched between airy wafers. Delight in a bite.

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

CAFE FARE WITH A SICHUAN TWIST


The Speciality Beef and Tomato Braised Rice ($28) is reminiscent of a hearty home-cooked stew. PHOTO: HALCYON & CRANE

A new all-day dining eatery has opened at The Paragon in Orchard Road where you 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 a bit more bite. I love the texture. It comes served in a flavourful chicken broth with assorted mushrooms and black fungus.

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

BAK CHOR MEE SUA IN CIRCULAR ROAD


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. ST PHOTO: REBECCA TAN

There are now two coffeeshops opposite each other selling bak chor mee in Circular Road - 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.

Whatever the case, let's let the noodles do the talking, shall we?

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's a place for a cheap and pretty good bowl of noodles.

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