Craving for Japanese cuisine but not sure what to get? Here are two new Japanese eateries you may wish to check out – Gaijin Japanese Soul Food and Jimoto Dining. Launched earlier this year, Gaijin Japanese Soul Food and Jimoto Dining cater to two different groups of diners so that you can pick your choice depending on your mood. Gaijin is excellent for those who prefer a simple Japanese meal over some beer with friends, while Jimoto Dining provides a more sophisticated, pampered dining experience best enjoyed with a significant other.
Gaijin Japanese Soul Food
Gaijin Japanese Soul Food opened in King Albert Park Mall in May 2019. With a wallet-friendly price point, Gaijin fills the void for authentic yet inexpensive Japanese comfort food in the neighbourhood.
Gaijin, which means “foreigner” in Japanese, is a cheeky take on the fact that every dish on the menu is made and created by a team of foreigners who live and breathe the gist of ‘Native Japanese Approved’ Japanese cuisine.
Gaijin’s menu boasts a variety of affordable Japanese comfort cuisine; including donburi (rice bowl), karaage and ramen dishes.
Gaijin Karaage sets itself apart from the rest in terms of ingredients that go into marinating the karaage. The dish sees chicken thigh chunks marinated with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and mirin. The pieces are then deep-fried with the help of Dr Fry – a piece of equipment that reduces oil absorption – producing karaage not as greasy as other common run-of-the-mill variants. The crispy outer skin of the karaage steals the show with its slightly sweet crunch.
Thinly-sliced premium Angus short plate slices and white onion slices are pan-fried in a house-blended yakiniku sauce and topped with negi (Welsh onions), beni shoga (umezu pickled ginger strips) and a gooey onsen egg.
Mix it all up before eating, and the beef slices seem to melt in your mouth with every bite. The sweetness of the yakiniku sauce and pan-fried onions, coupled with the creaminess of the egg-mixed rice, only enhanced the savouriness of the Gyudon.
Katsu and Tori Katsu Curry Don
Gaijin serves up two styles of curry don – Tonkatsu (pork) and Tori Kastu (chicken). The curry dons in Gaijin sets itself apart from the rest by combining the flavour profiles of two Japanese curry styles – one that is more savoury and one that is sweet and fruity – and adding butter to the mix.
While nothing was outstanding about the meat, the curry served at Gaijin is smooth with a sweet, buttery taste – unlike the conventional curry dons. Furthermore, you may end up falling in love with how a viscous onsen egg is added onto almost every dish.
Shio Tonkotsu and Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen
The broths served in both the Shio Tonkotsu Ramen and Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen are sweeter and lighter in flavour than usual and are combined with homemade black garlic oil and pork fat oil.
The broth was strong but maintained its richness of flavour. The Shoyu Ramen was particularly tastier, with the addition of thin Snow Pork slices and shredded red pepper.
Launched in March 2019, Jimoto Dining brings an authentic Japanese omakase experience to the diners in Joo Chiat. With its intimate ambience, elaborate and intricate décor and reasonably affordable price points, Jimoto Dining’s selling point lies in its omakase menu, which features a variety of traditional Japanese cooking styles.
Formerly from Sushi Hashida and Melbourne’s Kakizaki, Tokyo-born Chef Takahiro Sato leads the kitchen in curating four value-for-money Omakase options, as well as offering a daily rotating selection of à la carte dishes.
The affordable five-course Toki ($55) offers a quick dinner fix for those seeking a light meal and is served only from 6pm to 7pm. The remaining three options – the introductory Sanpuru ($68), innovative Kakushin ($98), and the premium Zeitaku ($128) – are available for seven-courses and include a sashimi course.
The Tempura Mori (assorted tempura) sees prawn, pumpkin and king mushroom tempura served with a side of grated radish and ginger, along with the tempura sauce. The tempura tasted more savoury than usual, probably owing to the tempura batter, which is mixed with umami-laden seaweed flakes.
Grilled Tuna Head
The top of the tuna fish head is extra fatty and more tender than most parts of the fish. The tuna head is grilled on binchotan charcoal, resulting in a smoky aroma and crisp outer.
While the grilled tuna head was very crisp on the outside, the flesh and fats inside are soft and chewy – you can almost feel it melt inside your mouth! The inside of the tuna head was so moist that the tuna oil dribbles out with every bite into the tuna head.
Ikura, Uni and Tonburi Rice Bowl
Jimoto Dining’s seafood bowl is topped with a generous serving of ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin) and tonburi (land caviar). For the uninitiated, Tonburi generally feels like ikura but its almost tasteless. Hence, the combination of all three ingredients may have been overkill – it got too chewy and felt mushed, you could barely tell them apart once you dig in.
Sashimi and Sushi
The sashimi and sushi courses change daily, depending on what head Chef Takahiro sources from the market or get from suppliers. He then spends the day marinating and slicing the seafood himself.
As the ingredients are procured daily, the seafood is as fresh as you can get in an omakase setting. The flesh of the seafood slices is shiny, semi-translucent and free from any milky slime, and the consistent colour and deep hue of the slices only affirms the freshness of the ingredients that Jimoto Dining prides itself in.
Venue: 325 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427582
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/gaijinsoulfood/
Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.