#1: Sake-Pairing Omakase

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Negitoro don, topped with freshly chopped otoro, a raw quail egg and green onions by Big Sake Bar. Photo: Big Sake Bar

It has been quite encouraging to see more Japanese restaurants offer reasonably priced omakase menus. One of them is Big Sake Bar, a buzzy izakaya which offers an eight-course menu at $88 nett a person ($108 nett with sake).

The meal starts with century egg tofu topped with crunchy tempura bits, followed by a sashimi platter with swordfish, salmon and botan ebi, as well as aburi salmon. The highlight on the menu is the sliced A4 Kagoshima wagyu beef sirloin served with ponzu sauce. The flavourful beef is perfect on its own and leaves me wanting more. I also get some wagyu beef in a handroll – another delicious pairing. My other favourite is the negitoro don, topped with freshly chopped otoro, a raw quail egg and green onions.

Pair your meal with a choice of three types of sake. My preference is the Toyo Bijin, a junmai daiginjo (milled to at least 50 per cent removal of each grain of rice) with a clean and slightly sweet finish. The other two options are Nabeshima “Pink Label”, a sweet tokubetsu honjozo (milled to 30 to 40 per cent removal of each grain of rice), and Karakuchi Ki-ippon, a dry junmai ginjo (milled to 40 to 50 per cent removal of each grain of rice).

Where: Big Sake Bar, 01-02 The Concourse Skyline, 302 Beach Road

Mrt: Nicoll Highway

When: Until Jan 31, 6 to 11pm (Mondays to Saturdays)

Tel: 6291-2700


#2: Nuts For Mr Coconut

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Coconut milk tea shake by Mr Coconut. Photo: Mr Coconut

Coconut is not usually my flavour of choice, but with all the festive feasting going on, I do gravitate towards the refreshing beverage. While there are many players in the market – including plenty of canned versions – my newfound favourite is the rebranded Mr Coconut, which used to be called Xiang Yu. The signature Coconut Shake ($3.90) is made with milk, water, the flesh of young Thai coconuts and blended with crushed ice. I like that it is not too sweet or diluted.

Another highlight is the coconut milk tea shake ($4.50) – the best of both worlds for the bubble tea fan in me. Neither the coconut nor the milk tea overpower each other and the black pearls that I add have a nice bite to them. I recommend a sweetness level of 25 per cent, as 50 per cent was a tad sweet for me. For more of the coconut water itself, get the Bubble Coconut options (from $4.50). There are also coconut-based options blended with fruit juice, fruit purees and even caramel sauce.

Where: Mr Coconut, outlets at 01-14C Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road; B1-42 Northpoint, North Wing; 01-15 V Hotel Lavender, 70 Jellicoe Road

Mrt: Orchard/Yishun/ Lavender

Open: Far East Plaza: 10am to 10pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 10.30am to 10.30pm (Fridays to Sundays); Northpoint: 10.30am to 10.30pm daily; V Hotel Lavender: 10am to 10pm daily

Info: www.facebook.com/mrcoconutsg

#3: Kamoshita’s Oden

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Chicken dumpling at Kamoshita. ST Photo: Eunice Quek

On a rainy night, there is nothing more comforting than tucking into a hearty bowl of oden, which is not the easiest thing to find in Singapore. Kamoshita, a cosy Japanese izakaya, has a variety of oden options – hot or cold. These include tofu ($5), chicken dumpling ($8) and even an interesting option of avocado ($6) topped with bacon bits – all served in a warm dashi stock made with kelp, bonito and mackerel.

Other highlights include bagna cauda ($16), assorted vegetables with a dipping sauce; claypot steamed rice with sea bream (from Ehime prefecture, $29, takes 40 to 50 minutes to be served as the rice is steamed upon order); and beef filet steak with chopped oyster sauce ($42). For a more premium version of the claypot steamed rice, head to online platform Saucy to purchase a ticket for truffle claypot rice ($49). It is available until Feb 15. Kamoshita also offers omakase menus which include oden items, with prices starting from $60.

Where: 5 Neil Road

Mrt: Outram Park OPEN: Sundays to Fridays, 6pm to midnight; closed on Saturdays (and till Tuesday, reopens on Wednesday)

Tel: 6221-3950


#4: Moosehead’s Mediterranean Dinner Items

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Octopus, fried potatoes, red pepper puree and paprika by Moosehead Kitchen-bar. Photo: Moosehead Kitchen-Bar

As I try to keep up with the slew of new restaurants opening towards the end of the year, it is comforting to return to old favourites. Like Moosehead Kitchen-Bar, which has added new dinner items. They do not disappoint. One of them is the burrata, zucchini, Thai basil pesto and curry leaves dish – an inspired combination. The crunchy zucchini is pickled in-house and the crisp curry leaves go well with the creamy burrata.

A standout dish is the octopus, fried potatoes, red pepper puree and paprika ($30), where the tender octopus is sous vide and grilled on the binchotan for a lovely char. As the octopus is served in slices instead of as a whole tentacle, I have to stop myself from scooping more portions. For mains, check out the Inka-grilled grass-fed O’Connor beef sirloin (300g, $62), with a housemade mushroom ketchup, roast spring onions and chive oil. The mushroom ketchup – which adds a layer of umami to the dish – needs to be bottled and sold.

Where: Moosehead Kitchen-Bar, 110 Telok Ayer Street

Mrt: Telok Ayer

When: Mondays to Saturdays, 6 to 10.30pm, closed on Sundays (and till Tuesday, reopens on Wednesday)

Tel: 6636-8055

Info: www.facebook.com/MooseheadKitchenBar

This story first appeared on www.straitstimes.com

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