Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nanbantei Japanese Restaurant, Singapore

Singapore shopping is all about Orchard Rd isn't it? Yes, you can go to Vivo City or Raffles City and others but Orchard Rd has all the brands and shops the other places have, plus more, and even the same brands carry more variety of merchandise than the other places. So that's why we ended up on Orchard Rd day after day, and Hub slept on any chair he could find while Yi and I wore a hole in his wallet. The good thing about having a shopping companion who doesn't shop is you can dump all your bags with him while he sits/sleeps. You only need to make sure he gets to eat on time and everything will be alright.

The economy slowdown is very obvious in Singapore. There were not many tourists, and on any day on Orchard Rd, there was hardly a crowd. I've never seen Orchard Rd so quiet. Although Tang's Great Sale was on, the payment counters were free of any queues.

As Yi wanted to check out Far East Plaza, we decided to have dinner in a long-established yakitori (Japanese charcoal grilled meat and veggies) restaurant situated in the same building. We loved the pork yakitori in Takashimaya and I wanted to pig out on all things yakitori, washed down by a cool beer. I had bought a little book called Appetite Guide To Japanese Restaurants In Singapore 2009 from Borders and Nanbantei was in the area. I think Japanese food must be the second most popular cuisine in Singapore, after their own food. And btw, there's no need to pay S$5 for the book like I did. If you eat in any Japanese restaurant, ask for the book and it's free, one to a table. Bummer.

Nanbantei apparently has been around for over 20 years, specializing in yakitori. What I like about the place is that their exhaust hood was so powerful that when I got out of the restaurant, I didn't smell like I had been smoked. My sweater (I've discovered that in super hot Singapore, you must bring a sweater if you shop indoors--their aircons are on full blast) remained floral-scented from the Chloe spritz in Tangs.

We ordered two yakitori sets plus an a la carte order of beef tongue. Between the two of us, it was too much food (surprisingly) and Yi didn't help much as she went in and out of the restaurant to check out the (old) shops in the plaza. All the yakitori were very good, but I think if two people were dining, it's best to order one yakitori set and a non-yakitori dish to share. As it is, we ended up with 20 +1 (the extra order of tongue) sticks of yaki which is a bit much because yakitori is seasoned well and you need to eat it with plenty of plain rice to neutralize the saltiness which means you'll be up to your throat with food.


The wedge of cabbage was surprisingly sweet and tasty. You tear off the leaf and dip into the miso sauce if like but I found it was unnecessary.


Sashimi in Singapore is always, always better than in KK.


The first sticks to arrive were asparagus wrapped in pork, and some leaf veg and chicken wraps on top. MmmMmm.


Next was okra and pork belly, something (I've forgotten) wrapped in pork belly, shiitake mushrooms and plain okra.


Nanbantei's famous house tsukune chicken balls and leeks n pork shoulder, I think.


I love this, grilled gingko nuts with coarse salt, something I first ate in Shanghai. It was creamy, slightly sticky and sweet-salty and the gingko flavor was strong. I hope it helped rejuvenate my memory cells some.


A grilled tiger prawn and a miso sauce-covered stick of tender beef.


Some grilled quail eggs, chicken liver and I can't remember what else.


Buttery, sweet & crunchy, which was probably because it was grilled raw and not parboiled, this a la carte order of beef tongue with a sprinkle of shichimi-togarashi Jap 7-spice powder (I think) was very good but not cheap at S$9/US$5.40 each stick.


Dessert was thick red bean with a ball of soft mochi.

Including a miso soup and plain rice, the sets were about S$32-34/US$21-22 each, which was not cheap considering that this place was price-rated one $, the decor was unimpressive and the building and the shops were rather ancient. I can't imagine the bill at Tatsuya in Goodwood Park Hotel, which is the only Jap restaurant in the guide book price-rated at $$$$$. Frightening. I am looking forward to eating at Akashi on my next trip because it sounds like a great place to eat for only $$ and it's easy to find, at Paragon on Orchard Rd.

Since there are many yakitori-ya (restaurants that specialize in yakitori) in Singapore and even Tangs and Takashimaya offer yaki sticks, at 1/3 of the restaurants, I don't think I'd come back specially to eat in Nanbantei because the yakis were very good but not outstanding. Come to think of it, all yakitori I have eaten anywhere taste great so there's no point searching to the ends of the world for a good yakitori restaurant. That said, there can be bad yakitori restaurants too, but I've been lucky so far.

Nanbantei Japanese Restaurant
#05-132 Far East Plaza, Scotts Rd
Tel: 7633 5666


Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Like you, I haven't come across a bad yakitori place. Nice review. :-)

Ah King said...

lol, exactly! I remembered our last trip to Singapore, we went to Ochard almost everyday....

Agnes @ rB said...

Its obvious Singapore's quality of food is much more better than KK. Need to travel to Singapore again soon!!!!! =)

ganache-ganache said...

The grilled gingko nut is so special, will go chk it out next trip !!

hongyi said...

muah muah muah muah muah!!!

i love and miss u! but why dont i get any calls from you no more?? r u playing hard to get? geez, u're my mum, y'know.

call me. like, soon.


Big Boys Oven said...

oh your photos just amazingly gorgeous, need to learn from you! :)

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

erm.. this make me "Dai-Hoi-Ngan-Gai"
(Grrr, I hope u get wat i mean)

terri@adailyobsession said...

ll: thanx dear!

king: yes, at least they have a nice tree-lined boulevard. hey, cute schnauzer. how is his temperament?

agnes: but for street food n coffeeshop food, kl is way better. i haven't eaten any good hawker food in sing :(

ganache: can do tt at home mah

hongyi: u r d one who's always busy.i feel we are loosing our bond...

bbo: aiya, i am the one who need to learn frm u!

denise: "open eyelid"??

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

didnt come across this area..if not i would hav jumped in and have some too!

passed by raffles city..and it was packed!

Agnes @ rB said...

I don't know about the stalls in Sg that time which are best because I only know how to eat eat without tasting it for real~ At least... I know how to taste properly now :X

Haha your hubby sounds so like my dad went he went shopping with his daughters :D

Johnathan Oh said...

For yakitori, I actually prefer the cheaper Tori Q :) as it is acceptable quality to low price. ;)

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