In search of good Japanese food: Otowa Yakitori & Katana-shi

By 8 June, 2014Food, Japanese

So in my quest for good Japanese food haunts, I’ve been asking everyone where I can find great Japanese food and I thought the perfect ones to ask would be my Japanese sponsors!

Rika-san from Peony Tokyo has been in Singapore for over 7 years, while my eyelash sponsors Nao-san and Tomoki-san have been in Singapore for around a year or two, and I thought it was perfect to ask because Rika-san would know the best places after being here for so long, and Tomoki-san would know the best food that resemble home’s.

Otowa Yakitori

Orchard Plaza #03-16, 150 Orchard Road
Tel: 67335989  (call for reservations / to check if they’re full)
Opening Hours: 7pm – 11pm Mon – Sat (closed on Sundays)

Otowa Yakitori came HIGHLY recommended by Rika-san as “possibly the best Yakitori in Singapore” and that means we just HAVE to try it out. By some stroke of luck we managed to get a seat for 3 at around 9pm+ and we made a quick dash for it!

Be warned though, that service is quite curt – only the chef doing the bbq-ing is (evidently) Japanese and somehow it seems to lack a friendly, cozy Japanese feel. They could probably take a leaf or two from the super affable Teppei-san (who has also just opened Hana Hana, his Yakitori joint just next to his Omakase place) but most importantly, we’re here for the FOOD.

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Otowa is a tiny Yakitori joint which seats up to only 12 pax maximum and it is located in quite the dingy location of Orchard Plaza amidst pubs and karaoke lounges on the 3rd floor, which feels… even quieter and older than Cuppage Plaza. Word of advice: get someone to accompany you to the toilet if you’re female.

Japanese chef doing his thing, expertly turning the skewers when they are nicely crispy!

Japanese chef doing his thing, expertly turning the skewers when they are nicely crispy!

Smoked duck as an appetizer once you're seated. Comes after the hot towel service.

Smoked duck as an appetizer once you’re seated. Comes after the hot towel service.

Each person gets a plate with salt and lemon, and super  cute chopstick holders!

Each person gets a plate with salt and lemon, and super cute chopstick holders!

Yang and I ordered the Oolong Tea... and felt quite shortchanged by the $9 price tag! Order beer.

Yang and I ordered the Oolong Tea… and felt quite shortchanged by the $9 price tag! Order beer.

Let the 焼き鳥 begin!

Let the 焼き鳥 begin!

If you noticed, he grills items by type – some go on a grill instead of facing the charcoal directly. Ventilation in this place wasn’t too bad, but expect to smell a little.

First up, chicken with leek!

First up, chicken with leek! Yummy and tender and nicely grilled - you can choose between shio (salt) or tare (dipped in sauce).

First up, chicken with leek! Yummy and tender and nicely grilled – you can choose between shio (salt) or tare (dipped in sauce).

I had the shio, but I preferred the Tare!

I had the shio, but I preferred the Tare!

Chewy yet crispy chicken skin! Delectable. Tare wins again for this round!

Chewy yet crispy chicken skin! Delectable. Tare wins again for this round!

Chicken meatball! I like it because it's really flavorful but try to wait a while before eating it cos it's HOT!

Chicken meatball! I like it because it’s really flavorful but try to wait a while before eating it cos it’s HOT!

Grilled Eryngii (or Eringi) Mushrooms! I love Eringi mushrooms more than Shitake because it doesn't taste bitter.

Grilled Eryngii (or Eringi) Mushrooms! I love Eringi mushrooms more than Shitake because it doesn’t taste bitter.

Nankotsu, aka 软骨 - Urgh I cannot understand why Yang eats this part.

Nankotsu, aka 软骨 – Urgh I cannot understand why Yang eats this part.

Tebasaki! I was amused by the shape it came in, lol

Tebasaki! I was amused by the shape it came in, lol

Actually, I love that it's spread like that cos it makes it super easy to eat! Also, opt for the Tare. Super delicious and I almost wanted to order another one! Haiya opt for Tare everything lah.

Actually, I love that it’s spread like that cos it makes it super easy to eat! Also, opt for the Tare. Super delicious and I almost wanted to order another one! Haiya opt for Tare everything lah.

Beef was $28 but heck I sprung for it anyway. It was cooked just nicely, oh my... but I don't recommend that you eat it alone because I had to do that since my companions didn't want to take beef.

Beef was $28 but heck I sprung for it anyway. It was cooked just nicely, oh my… but I don’t recommend that you eat it alone because I had to do that since my companions didn’t want to take beef.

The last dish of the day was the BEST. This came just before the bill, and it was.... quail's egg, ramen-egg style! I mean, the yolk of the quail was actually soft and gooey inside! WTF. It was surprising and definitely sealed the deal into me coming back to this place next time I'm in the area.

The last dish of the day was the BEST. This came just before the bill, and it was…. quail’s egg, ramen-egg style! I mean, the yolk of the quail was actually soft and gooey inside! WTF. It was surprising and definitely sealed the deal into me coming back to this place next time I’m in the area.

At the end of the day, I won’t say it’s the best Yakitori in Singapore (I’ve yet to try all the Yakitori joints so it’s hard to make a verdict) plus I’m not a huge Yakitori person, but it’s a nice place for a little chat with 1-2 friends – it’s all counter seats so it can be a little hard to converse. Great food, but don’t expect bantering like you would at Teppei (maybe I’ve been spoilt by the talkative chefs at Teppei!).

It’s averagely priced, but expect approx $30 per person (depending on the number of sticks you eat of course!) since the drink already costs $9, yah?

 

Katana-shi

77 Boat Quay
Tel: 65330490
Opening Hours: 12pm – 1130pm Daily
Check their Facebook page for daily specials!

I usually avoid Boat Quay like death because it’s just SO HARD to find a parking lot there. And even when you do you better have some serious parallel parking skills and then pray that no drunkard pukes on your car, etc etc. Okay la that’s at night. But even in the afternoon it’s a terrible terrible place to park. Plus you have to walk so far if you don’t park near where you’re eating!

BUT.

This place is good enough to make me wanna come back. Even if I have to take public transport!

Katana-shi was recommended to me by Nao-san and Tomoki-san and they say that this place charges reasonably.

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Katana-shi occupies a little shop house along Boat Quay, near all the 杀人放火 tourist-trap places and Yang was surprised that the food was so good! And I was even more pleasantly surprised by the Japanese staff and Chef!

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This place serves a good variety of cocktails/mocktails/alcohol, but the menu is not exactly izakaya-expansive – however, all the dishes that we ordered came super, super good. They also serve you REALLY fast, which is a plus!

Did I mention? Super cute, hand drawn towelettes lol. Also I saw a figurine of Elizabeth (from Gintama anime) at the counter and I decided that this place deserves my money. LOL

Did I mention? Super cute, hand drawn towelettes lol. Also I saw a figurine of Elizabeth (from Gintama anime) at the counter and I decided that this place deserves my money. LOL

Yang's gingerale something arrived in a stylish barrel cup! And I went for the safe tea option, which was better to wash down my food with.

Yang’s gingerale something arrived in a stylish barrel cup! And I went for the safe tea option, which was better to wash down my food with.

 

Okay, what's this...!?

Okay, what’s this…!? Edamame Jan Ken Pon?!

So, you get to play a game of Scissors, Paper Stone (Jan Ken Pon) with the staff, and if you win, you can grab the edamame with 5 fingers (as much as you can basically) for just $5.50! If you lose... 3 fingers like... I can't think of any characters with 3 fingers but maybe an alien.

So, you get to play a game of Scissors, Paper Stone (Jan Ken Pon) with the staff, and if you win, you can grab the edamame with 5 fingers (as much as you can basically) for just $5.50! If you lose… 3 fingers like… I can’t think of any characters with 3 fingers but maybe an alien.

Fried Sweet Potato with Honey and Mayo dip! SUPER NICE. Although I wasn't too used to eating sweet potato so crispy...

Fried Sweet Potato with Honey and Mayo dip! SUPER NICE. Although I wasn’t too used to eating sweet potato so crispy…

Chicken KFC-style. Basically fried chicken la! This portion was super tiny (you order by number of pieces) at $1.50 each I believe? It was not bad but Sooooo tiny.

Chicken KFC-style. Basically fried chicken la! This portion was super tiny (you order by number of pieces) at $1.50 each I believe? It was not bad but Sooooo tiny.

Tebasaki aka Chicken Wings! You also order this by the number of pieces and I really liked this one too! Never mind that it was a little small... I can see this going super well with beer!

Tebasaki aka Chicken Wings! You also order this by the number of pieces and I really liked this one too! Never mind that it was a little small… I can see this going super well with beer!

Yaki Udon! The noodles were cooked to the perfect texture and I would have devoured the whole bowl if I wasn't on a carbo-diet.

Yaki Udon! The noodles were cooked to the perfect texture and I would have devoured the whole bowl if I wasn’t on a carbo-diet.

Now this one is interesting! It's deep fried Renkon with shrimp paste wedged inbetween. My god it's the most delicious thing IN THIS PLACE! (Well I could be biased since I love Renkon).

Now this one is interesting! It’s deep fried Renkon with shrimp paste wedged inbetween. My god it’s the most delicious thing IN THIS PLACE! (Well I could be biased since I love Renkon).

I had no expectations for this dish cos the menu was without pictures but I ended up loving this so much I very nearly wanted to order it a second time!  Can you see the ebi paste wedged inbetween? It's just minced shrimp, lah. But Oh my god so good. so so good. And even better when dipped in the accompanying green tea powder!

I had no expectations for this dish cos the menu was without pictures but I ended up loving this so much I very nearly wanted to order it a second time!
Can you see the ebi paste wedged inbetween? It’s just minced shrimp, lah. But Oh my god so good. so so good. And even better when dipped in the accompanying green tea powder!

Pork belly with some sort of special cheese on it! This one was really good too but it gets gelat after a while, even for 2 persons. Maybe cos by then we were too bloody full to finish anything else!

Pork belly with some sort of special cheese on it! This one was really good too but it gets gelat after a while, even for 2 persons. Maybe cos by then we were too bloody full to finish anything else!

Caramelized sweet potato with Ice Cream. *dies instantly*

Caramelized sweet potato with Ice Cream. *dies instantly*

This dish, I love! Makes me wish I didn't order the first sweet potato dish cos it goes so well with the ice cream *_* SLURP.

This dish, I love! Makes me wish I didn’t order the first sweet potato dish cos it goes so well with the ice cream *_* SLURP.

Katanashi has ample seating (more than Otowa for sure) but it can be quite crowded so do make a reservation before going down! And remember that part of the street beside Boat Quay gets cordoned off for the safety of drunkards on weekends. : x So don’t drive there on Friday cos you’re gonna have to walk quite a distance.

They also have seating outside, beside the river and I find that spot fantastic actually, if you can do without air conditioning.

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I’ll be sure to ask to be seated outside next time! There will DEFINITELY be a next time cos imma bring my friends here! ; D Even the husband likes this place, which is rare! The chances of him liking a place I recommend is like 1-100, man. -_-‘ What a picky eater.

Oh yes this place offers special set lunches too! I’m looking forward to trying it out when my husband gets a chance to run out a bit further. ; p

 

 

Okay, till the next Japanese food review! Upcoming on this blog will about the beef dons offered at both Yoyogi & Fat Cow, and Teppei’s latest yakitori joint, Hana Hana!

P.S. I’m not the best food reviewer I know because of my limited vocab for describing food but you all must try okay when I recommend a place! ; p

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