Dinner @ The Refinery

January 4, 2015 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Having first read about The Refinery from Honeycombers, my girlfriends and I came for dinner recently on a weekday evening.

And as I made my way to the restaurant by following the directions on Google map from my mobile, I did wonder if I was given the correct directions. The sky had turned a little dark (it was 7.15pm) and the area was quiet with automobile and mechanic shops closing for the day.

However, as I neared my destination, I spotted a unit which was brightly lit. Phew.

So while we have many hipster cafes, this would be my first in entering a hipster yakitori joint. Taken from their website, The Refinery is a part casual dining restaurant (level 1), part mixology bar (level 2) and part designer workspace (level 3).

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Signature quail eggs, $4 (above) – 1 minute “onsen” style, rich ramen broth. Priced at $1 for each egg, one would think egg must be hard (like hard boiled egg) to hold its shape. But no, these eggs simply burst in our mouths.

2) Salmon carpaccio, $12 (above) – Salmon carpaccio, radish, bonito, yuzu sesame dressing, lime zest. The salmon were sliced a little too thick to be called carpaccio, but this dish was good. I especially liked the (nutty) dressing.

3) Shiitake, $4 (above) – Clarified butter, roasted garlic (optional).

4) Aubergine, $6 (above) – Japanese baby eggplant, madeira & saikyo white miso. My girlfriends were not too keen on having eggplant, but this was ordered upon the staff’s strong recommendation. The pieces of eggplant were grilled such that it was slightly crunchy on the outside (not just the skin, but flesh too) and soft on the inside. But I did not like the thick layer of topping which was a little too overwhelming.

5) Shishamo, $8 (above) – Tobiko mayo, grilled lemon.

6) Chicken heart, $6 (above) – Tare glaze, spring onion.

7) “Chicken high”, $6 (above) – Tare glaze, chives. Another item which was recommended by the staff. These pieces of beautifully marinated thigh meat were really tender and tasty! A must order.

8) Mid-joint wing, $6 (above) – Bone-out chicken wing, tare glaze, spring onion. Maybe it was my bad (grasp of) English but when I read their menu description of ‘bone out’, I though it meant the bone would be taken out. Ha. But no, the bones were left in. With the same marinate as the chicken thighs, these were good. Tender and juicy.

9) Tiger prawn, $18 (above) – Salted egg custard, curry leaves, grilled lemon. Under the premiums range, while the sauce of egg custard was interesting and tasty, it was the prawn which failed the dish. Prawn could have been firmer and crunchier.

10) Skirt steak, Complimentary (above) – Clarified butter, smoked sea salt, pear marinade. While placing our orders, the staff strongly recommended this but we decided not to order as 2 of 3 (of us) don’t take beef. So we were surprised when the staff (actually we suspect he should be one of the owners or at least a high ranking person) suddenly presented us (or rather to my girlfriend who takes beef) with a complimentary stick. A very nice gesture. And my girlfriend said it was indeed very good.

11) Salted egg onion rings, $8 (above) – Paper thin onion rings, salted egg yolk custard sauce. This was absolutely tasty! I especially liked the salted egg yolk sauce which was salty and addictive. But of course, with its presentation of (being) served in a bag, we ran out of sauce for the onions rings which were at the bottom. A must order.

12) Chicken karaage, $8 (above) – In-house marinated chicken cubes, deep fried. A must order!

13) Rice bowl, $6 (above) – Seasoned Japanese white rice, pulled char siew, pickled shiitake, pickled ginger (optional). We ordered this as we were afraid the sticks were not enough to fill us up. Portion was small, which some may say it’s good as it allows customers to try more. So while the pulled pork was not too bad, this dish was pretty average on the overall.

14) Tonkotsu ramen, $6 (above) – Traditional rich broth, onsen egg, pulled char siew. An equally same portion and with the same pulled pork as the ‘rice bowl’. I would say it’s a matter of preference to have the pulled pork with rice or noodle.

15) Single scoop gelato with crumble, $4 (above) – We ordered 2 scoops. Matcha and black sesame flavours.

I would say The Refinery is the place to head for yakitori if one wishes to dine in a hipster environment. Okie, I am not sure if I am using the word ‘hipster’ correctly. But compared to the traditional Japanese yakitori joints, The Refinery’s menu was definitely shorter but the place was bright and lively.

My girlfriends and I noticed the mix of crowd at The Refinery was very interesting with people in office attire (clearly having come after work) and arty farty ones (with quirky spectacles and hats). We were busy eating with our mouths and with our eyes. People watching. Keke.

Platters were also available on the menu, but we decided to order a-la carte as we wanted to try more items on the menu. So yes, if one wants non-traditional yakitori in a different setting, The Refinery would be the place to head to. Have a meal within the unit before sitting at the black painted barrels, placed just outside the unit which doubled up as a high tables, for drinks. Else, head up to second storey where the bespoke bar is.

It was interesting to see the staff pull the metal can up and down whenever someone at second storey called for the bill!

115 King George’s Avenue, Singapore
9111 1210, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Thur : 18:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 8
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 01:00
Value: 7
Sun : 18:00 – 00:00
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon