Dinner @ Yakitori UMA 焼鳥馬

November 28, 2016 in Japanese

Continuing our quest to uncover all yakitori joints in Singapore, my ‘yakitori buddy’ and I were off to check out Yakitori UMA located in Somerset. Keke.

It was a wet Tuesday evening that I arrived to an empty restaurant at 8pm. And I’ll be honest. Having reached before my friend, I did consider texting to ask for a change in our venue. But one thing that I learnt from years of checking out new eateries was that one shouldn’t make assumption of one’s upcoming meal based on first impression. While first impression is important, it can be deceiving. So, I pressed on… Haha.

I immediately noticed the interior decor of Yakitori UMA is pretty old school. Or should I better describe it as straight forward. It’s plainly done up with the counter taking centre stage. And that could be a good sign to show that their focus is on their food.

Upon seated, I was given the menu and difference sauces. And yes, I decided to go with booth seat instead of counter seat. The different sauces included mustard (karashi) and dipping sauces for breaded, deep-fried (katsu) and grilled (yaki) items. And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), we ordered:-

1) Tomato, $.40 (above, left)

2) Shishito, $5.60 (above, right)

3) Waka, $4.90 (above, left) – Tender chicken.

4) Negima, $4.90 (above, right) – Chicken & spring onion.

5) Tebayaki, $5.40 (above, left) – Chicken wing.

6) Tsukune, $5.40 (above, right)

7) P-toro, $5.80 (above, left) – Pork neck.

8) Tako-yaki, $6 (above, center) – Octopus.

9) Sasami, $4.90 (above, right) – Chicken white meat.

10) Uzura, $4.90 (above, left) – Quail egg.

11) Waka-kara, $5.50 (above, right) – Chicken.

12) Fillet Cutlet, $5.80 (above)

13) Isobe-age, $5.20 (above)

14) Koonyaku, $5.20 (above) – 2 sticks of konnyaku can be too many especially since it’s an acquired taste; My friend didn’t like it. So for the same price, one may want to get the dengoku set which entitles one to 1 stick of konnyaku and 1 stick of tofu. You know… More variety too! =)

15) Udon, $6.20 (above)

Did the food match up to our expectations? A definite yes. Besides grilled items (kushiyaki), Yakitori UMA also offered deep fried items (kushikatsu / kushiage) on their menu. So when we were placing our orders, we were often in a dilemma. To order as grilled, or to order as deep fried. And we were fortunate that all our bets were right. =)

But if one is looking for a stylish restaurant, then one would be disappointed. Instead, if one is alone in town and is craving for skewered food, I would recommend coming to Yakitori UMA. As my friend and I were dining, I noticed a few number of (Japanese) businessman came in solo for a quick (dinner) fix.

Yakitori UMA 焼鳥馬
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #01-26/27/28, Singapore
6734 8368, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 6
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Toriki とり喜 (Tokyo, Japan)

November 17, 2016 in Japanese

And through Instagram (Yes, Instagram again. Ha), I got to learn about a new (yakitori) dish; Chochin which is chicken with egg yolk. It was the one dish I had to have in Japan cause it’s not available in Singapore at all. And along with wanting to try the unfamiliar dish, I wanted to dine at a Michelin-starred yakitori joint too. =p

However, I faced 2 challenges. I bought my flight ticket only 2.5 weeks prior to flying. So by the time I did my research, I was left with only 1.5 weeks. And the 2 Michelin-starred yakitori joints which I was interested to check out are known to be notoriously difficult to make reservation at cause they are very popular. And yes, famous too.

My other challenge was making the reservation. Cause even if there was a slot, they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Japanese. I made an overseas call, but was rejected politely with “Sorry, no (understand) English”.

But I was fortunate my friends had (Japanese) friends living in Japan who assisted to call the 2 yakitori joints and secured a slot for me at Toriki. Yeah! =) And I was updated that it was a course menu which would stretch over 2 hours. No issue with me!

Google map is definitely my best friend when I am abroad. I relied heavily on it to find my way to the restaurant. And the good thing about first seating was that I got to be seated even though I arrived 10 minutes early. One had to wait for customers from the first seating to leave if one belonged to the second seating.

After being shown to my counter seat, chef Yasuhito Sakai san took out the English (food) menu (pages 1, 2). That’s when I realised the dish which I came for was not part of the course. So as I placed my order for my drink sake, I told chef Yasuhito Sakai san that I wanted to order additional sticks. And with that, I started my dinner with:-

1) Set course, ¥4000 comprised of:-


(A) Pickled vegetables (left) & grated radish (right)

(B) White breast with wasabi (above) – Sabiyaki.

(C) Chicken thigh (above) – Kashiwa.

(D) Petit onion (above) – Kotamanegi.

(E) Liver (above) – Chigimo. This was so huge that when it was served, I thought it was chicken meat. Haha. And it was creamy good!

(F) Chicken meatball (above) – Tsukune.

(G) Small aubergine (above) – Konasu.

(H) Tofu pouch (above) – Kinchaku. Instead of the usual rice cake (mochi) filling, Toriki’s version was of vegetables.

(I) Chicken gizzard (above) – Sunagimo.

(J) Quail egg (above) – Shiratama.

(K) Chicken skin (above) – Kawa. It was mentioned on the menu that it’s grilled till crispy. But I guess that’s where our definition of crispy don’t align. This was probably the only stick I didn’t really enjoy. Skin was really fatty. But that said, I finished everything. Ha.

(L) Cold tomato, Complimentary (above) – Hiyashi tomato.

(M) Wings with bones (above) – Tebayaki. And when this was served, chef Yasuhito Sakai san asked if I knew the proper way to eat. I shook my head. To which he took my plate, held the stick down with one hand, and pulled the bones out effortlessly in an upwards motion with his other hand. I watched in amazement. Haha

(N) Gingko nut (above) – Ginnan.

(O) Shiitake mushroom (above) – Shiitake.

(P) Chicken soup (above)

(Q) Green tea ice cream (above) – I was told to squeeze some lemon juice over my ice cream. Now, that’s something new. The effect the lemon juice had on the ice cream was almost akin to putting salt in milk.

2) Chicken tail, ‎¥270 (above) – Bonbochi.

3) Chicken with egg, ‎¥320 (above) – Chochin. When I was told to eat everything in one go, I was a little worried. I wasn’t confident I could fit the 2 yolks into my mouth. And it would be a disaster of the yolks broke outside of my mouth. But of course, my worries were unfounded. And I really enjoyed this dish. In fact, I noticed all the other (Japanese) patrons had also ordered this as an add-on to their courses.

It was a memorable 2.5 hours dinner. Especially because it had many ‘first’ for me. My first meal upon touching down in Japan for my first (and definitely not last) solo trip. =)

I was lucky to be seated directly opposite chef Yasuhito Sakai san’s work station at the counter even though the stacked plates that were placed in front of him blocked my view of the grill. I enjoyed watching him fanning hard away in a rhythmic manner. It was that which kept me entertained throughout my meal.

And I must had caught chef Yasuhito Sakai san by surprise when I promptly stood up to make my exit after making payment. Cause he hastily put down his fan just to pass me his business card. “Hope to see you again,” he said sincerely. I was genuinely touched.

I definitely recommend Toriki!

1-8-13 Kinshi, Sumida, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 墨田区 錦糸 1-8-13 小坂ビル)
+81 3 3622 6202, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 17:30 – 22:45 (L.O.)
Ambience: 7
Sat : 17:00 – 22:45 (L.O.)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2018.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019.

Dinner @ Shunjuu Izakaya

September 13, 2016 in Japanese

It has been a while since my ‘yakitori buddy’ and I met for yakitori. The last session being in June 2015. How can! And I figured we were destined to check out yakitori joints only because we tried a non-yakitori place on our last meet up and it was my first ‘miss’. Yeps!

And with that, reservation was made at Shunjuu for a weekday evening at 7.30pm. Reservation is a must if one wishes to sit indoors as the unit could only house up to 8 groups. Else, alfresco seats were plentiful.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), we ordered:-

1) Otoshi, $6 (above) – My friend was almost 30 minutes late. So for this instance, the appetisers which were served once I was seated were warmly welcomed by me because it allowed the hungry me to munch on something as I triedy my best to wait patiently for my friend. Ha.

2) Pitan doufu, $4 (above) – Tofu with century egg sauce.

3) Tori kawa ninniku, $6 (2 sticks) (above) – Garlic rolled with chicken skin. My buddy refused to have more than 1 piece because he felt the garlic was too overwhelming. However, I enjoyed this very much. I liked the contrast between the crispy chicken skin and garlic which had become soft from grilling.

4) Mochi buta maki, $7 (2 sticks) (above) – Rice cake rolled with pork.

5) Enoki maki, $7 (2 sticks) (above) – Golden mushroom rolled with pork.

6) Tsukune, $6 (2 sticks) (above) – Chicken meatball.

7) Lamb yaki, $19 (2 pieces) (above) – Lamb chop.

8) Mongo ika karaage, $13 (above) – Squid. This was good! Please try. A must order.

9) Kaki omuretsu, $17 (above) – Oyster omelette. I don’t usually eat oyster cause I developed a phobia after having too much of it at an oyster buffet years back. But I was curious to try a Japanese-styled oyster omelette. And it was indeed different with it served wet. It was in fact too wet for our liking.

10) Hamachi kama, $55 (above) – Yellowtail cheek. And at 7.30pm when I was placing my order with the staff, I was told that they were left with the last piece of yellowtail cheek. Wow. And after having tried the dish, it came as no surprise why this was so popular. Meat was fresh and juicy. Totally yum.


11) Tako shio konbu cha-han, $13 (above) – Octopus and seaweed fried rice. I seriously liked this. It was very fragrant. Every grain was evenly (and sinfully) coated with… Lard? Haha. I was trying my best not to finish the entire bowl. And of course, the sight of the excess oil / lard at the bottom of the bowl deterred me from cleaning up the bowl. Ha.

And I am glad this turned out to be a ‘hit’! My buddy claimed this was better than our last yakitori session. o_O I say both are good.

Will I recommend Shunjuu? For sure! It’s a pity the skewers had to be ordered in pairs. Cause the menu was very extensive, and I wanted to try more.

So while it was difficult to get the staff’s attention as they were very busy, I was touched when a staff brought me a magazine to read when she saw I was still waiting for my friend after 10 minutes!

30 Robertson Quay, Riverside View, #01-15, Singapore
6887 3577, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Thur : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 23:30 (Dinner)
Service: 7
Sun : 17:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)