YAKITORI WITH A SPICY MALA TWIST
I dined at Chikin earlier this week and had a fantastic time bonding with friends over good eats and rocking cocktails. The restaurant has a great vibe - dark walls with pop art, soft indirect lighting and fun music. It is perfect for a night out with friends or a casual date.
Run by the same folks behind Cantonese tapas bar Sum Yi Tai in Boon Tat Street, Chikin specialises in Japanese-style skewers with a Sichuan twist of spicy mala. The skewered items are basted with a tasty and aromatic marinade for extra kick and flavour.
Like other yakitori bars, expect all parts of the chicken, from hatsu (heart) to charred and juicy bonjiri or chicken tail. Prices range from $3 to $4.50 a stick. A platter of 10 yakitori costs $30, while a platter of 15 is $40.
Also tuck into other kushiyaki items such as quail eggs with gooey yolk centres ($3), blistered shishito peppers ($3) and beef tongue ($6).
Other must-order items include an unagi garlic fried rice with fish roe ($12), a dish with plenty of smoky wok hei; cold raw octopus in wasabi and marinated egg yolk ($9); and chilled Japanese sea snails in a slurp-worthy Sichuan sauce ($14).
There is also a long list of cocktails to complement the meal ($19 nett each). Try the whisky and sherry-based Sumoki Raisin that has been smoked with apple wood chips.
GUILTY PLEASURE STORE
I love ice cream in all forms, but eating ice cream on a stick always makes me feel young, free and less guarded.
Magnum has set up a permanent Magnum Pleasure Store at Ion Orchard where you can customise your block of ice cream - there is only vanilla for now - with various toppings ($8 a block).
First, decide what you would like on your Magnum. There are 18 toppings - you get a choice of three - including goji berries, cocoa nibs, sea salt and rose petals. For me, sea salt is a must to balance out the sweetness.
The ice cream is then theatrically dipped-to-order in a choice of white, milk or dark chocolate, before it is sprinkled with your choice of toppings.
The anticipation of tasting your mini creation will make you salivate. I opted for sea salt, pistachios and Speculoos cookie crumbs to coat my dark chocolate Magnum.
Remember to whip out your phone to take a video.
WHERE: Magnum Pleasure Store, B2-07 Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn MRT: Orchard OPEN: 10am to 10pm daily INFO: Go to www.magnumicecream.com/sg
JAPANESE RESTAURANT CLUSTER AT GREAT WORLD CITY
Japanese restaurant group RE&S opened a Shokutsu Ten Japanese Food Street at Great World City about three months ago.
It comprises four Japanese restaurants - Shimbashi Soba, Men-ichi Sapporo Ramen, Ami Ami and a revamped Ichiban Boshi - and Kuriya Japanese Market retail shop.
I dined recently at Ami Ami, which specialises in seafood, tempura and robatayaki, and was impressed by its reasonably priced menu and assortment of dishes.
A kaisen don with assorted sashimi is priced at $21.80, while tendon or tempura atop rice costs $18.80.
The restaurant also has Hokkaido scallops that can be grilled over the robataya (from $7.80 each), and seasonal fresh fish (market price) from Japan - have it grilled with sea salt or fried in tempura batter.
I had lovely pieces of kamasu or Japanese barracuda ($12) coated with light tempura batter and a whole grilled gashira or rockfish ($10) that had sweet, soft flesh.
WHERE: Ami Ami, B1-03 Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade MRT: Orchard OPEN: 11.30am to 3pm (last order 2.30pm), 5.30 to 10pm (last order 9.30pm) daily TEL: 6835-9071 INFO: Go to www.amiami.com.sg/en/
NASI AMBENG FEAST
For a communal sharing platter that is a feast for the eyes and the stomach, tuck into one of the Indonesian-style nasi ambeng sets at the Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah at East Village in Tanah Merah.
They are a stunning alternative to a fuss-free dinner party. A mound of rice, surrounded by about 10 appetising padang-style dishes, is presented on a banana leaf. Prices start at $25.80 for a two-person platter, which is good for three people unless you are ravenous.
There are three choices: the Nasi Ambeng Sahan Set (from $25.80), which comes with a serving of ayam kalio or chicken in spicy coconut gravy; the Nasi Rawon Sahan Set (from $37.50) with a side of kuah rawon tetel, a meat dish with savoury black gravy; and the Nasi Jenganan Sahan set ($37.50), which has fried fish.
The dishes in the set range from delicious sambal sotong and soft, crisp paru (beef lungs) to beef rendang and eggs topped with piquant belado sauce.
WHERE: Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, 01-65 East Village, 430 Upper Changi Road MRT: Tanah Merah OPEN: Noon to 9pm (Tuesdays to Thursdays), 3 to 9pm (Fridays), noon to 9pm (weekends) TEL: 6755-4255 INFO: Go to dapurummiabdullah.com.sg
Book a meal at Chikin with Chope.