Shin Kushiya Japanese Charcoal Grill Restaurant @ Jem, Jurong East

Shin Kushiya prides itself on serving Japanese style grilled skewers, or “kushiyaki” (kushi meaning ‘skewer’ and yaki meaning ‘grill’). You may be familiar with yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), a common izakaya bar snack. This restaurant offers much more than just that. From uzura tamago skewers (quail eggs with soy glaze) to their special foie gras skewers (goose liver with caramelised green apple) to gindara teriyaki skewers (Atlantic black cod fillet with teriyaki sauce), there is something for even the most adventurous of eaters.

I should probably mention that we visited this restaurant about a year ago when holidaying in Singapore. Sadly, after some research, I’ve discovered that this particular branch at Jem Shopping Mall is no longer in operation. However, since we liked what we ate and there are still existing Shin Kushiya outlets operating around the country, I am definitely happy to blog about our experience to let you know what the franchise has to offer, just in case you decide to venture out to try their food at their VivoCity outlet or Far East Square outlet (psst, there’s also one in Medan, Indonesia).

Kikumasamune Sake (S$11 per 125ml | S$20 per 250ml)

All of their skewers are grilled over Japan-imported binchō-tan (white charcoal), which is known to burn at a high temperature of up to 1,200°C. This imparts a crisp exterior to ingredients whilst sealing in their natural flavours and juices. Their Mixed Kushiyaki Set (S$18.80) offers a selection of buta bara (pork belly), tomato maki (cherry tomatoes wrapped in pork slices), black pepper yakitori (chicken), nikuzume shiitake (mushrooms stuffed with minced chicken) and ebi (tiger prawn) skewers. All their grilled sets come with an appetiser, rice, pickles, miso soup, salad and fruit. For under $20, I’d say it’s pretty darn worth it.

We also tried their Kimuchi Nabe Udon Set (S$20.80), Japanese claypot noodles in a spicy kimchi stock, served with two appetisers and fruit. You can get the noodles without the sides for S$17.60 (a good idea because the noodles alone could feed a small family). One thing I like about Shin Kushiya is that they offer so many other things, not just skewers. They have a range of soba dishes, Japanese pasta dishes, rice bowls, sushi sets, sashimi platters and various charcoal-grilled delicacies like their Sake Kabuto Shioyaki/Teriyaki (salmon head with sea salt/teriyaki, S$13.60). Their food presentation is superb.

They also have a huge dessert range. We had trouble deciding between the Yuzu Sherbet with Homemade Tofu Cheesecake (S$9.20), Umeshu Tiramisu (S$7.80) and Warabi Mochi (S$7.80). In the end, we went with the mochi, which entailed chewy squares of warabi (starch from the Japanese bracken fern) dusted with matcha powder, topped with black honey syrup and served with green tea ice cream. It was a good choice, but I think I’ll order their low-calorie tofu cheesecake next time.

In conclusion, Shin Kushiya makes a decent Japanese restaurant that offers an array of grilled skewers to snack on. Their skewers are everything you’d expect from a chain restaurant found in the middle of a suburban mall. The food will not blow your mind, but what they offer is good enough to pass for a quick weekend lunch date. A good experience for those wanting to try different types of skewers at one place. However, in my opinion, kushiyaki is best reserved as a bar food at an izakaya. Of course, they do make good snacks if you’re taking a quick break from your shopping. They also offer value-for-money lunch sets, various non-kushiyaki items like donburi rice bowls, noodle bowls and sushi platters, and a large range of sweet desserts to choose from.

Shin Kushiya Menu Shin Kushiya Set Lunch Menu

SHIN KUSHIYA JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Official Website | A La Carte Menu | Set Lunch Menu | Drink & Dessert Menu

VivoCity
#02-120, 1 Harbourfront Walk
Phone: 6275 8766
Opening hours: 11.30 am – 10 pm (Mon – Sun)

Far East Square
#01-01, 33 Pekin Street
Phone: 6438 8991
Opening hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Fri)

Saké Restaurant & Bar @ Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane

Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, James took me to the highly acclaimed Saké Restaurant & Bar, located at Eagle Street Pier in Brisbane. Eagle Street Pier, famous for its iconic waterfront precinct, was buzzing with life by the time we arrived at 6pm. The area is graced with numerous dining options and gorgeous views of the Brisbane River. This prime location is fitting for Saké’s award-winning status in the world of contemporary Japanese dining. The restaurant interior is modern yet cosy. It is surprisingly spacious and boasts a clean layout with interesting décor, soft lighting and various seating options (book early to get the best seating arrangement). Continue reading “Saké Restaurant & Bar @ Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane”

Anpan あんパン (Japanese Sweet Red Bean Buns)

Red Bean Buns

I’ve been craving bread. Sweet and impeccably soft Japanese bread in particular. Not quite sure what started this recent desire for pillowy soft buns, but with a severe lack of Japanese bakeries on the Gold Coast, I’ve been forced to get into the kitchen and bake whenever the craving strikes. I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

Anko, Red Bean Paste Dough Dough

Anpan are essentially delicious Japanese bread rolls filled with sweet, moist, melt-in-your-mouth anko (red bean paste), and honestly, they taste much better when baked at home. Nothing beats warm, fluffy, fresh-out-of-the-oven anpan! That satisfaction when you bite into one and find that gooey, sticky, sweet red bean centre… so indescribably good.

Anko, Red Bean Paste Filling the Buns Filled Buns

If you’ve never had anko before, it’s a rather dense paste made by boiling and mashing earthy red beans (also known as azuki beans). Sugar is than added to sweeten the paste. It is a very popular ingredient featured widely in Asian desserts. For this anpan, I used the chunky version of the paste (tsubuan). If you prefer a smoother paste, look for koshian. Both of these can be easily made at home or found in certain Asian supermarkets.

Red Bean Buns Red Bean Buns Red Bean Buns

Just look at how cute the little anpan are, especially with those itty bitty sesame seeds sitting pretty on top! I’ve found that these buns make a great breakfast, accompanied by nice hot coffee or smooth hōjicha to cut through the sweetness of the anko.

Red Bean Buns Red Bean Buns

Anpan あんパン (Japanese Sweet Red Bean Buns)
soft bread buns filled with sweet red bean paste | yield: 8 small buns

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups bread flour (high protein flour)
3 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon milk powder
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons egg, beaten
100ml water, warm
2 tablespoons butter, softened

for the filling & topping:
350g anko (red bean paste/azuki bean paste)
Egg mixed with a bit of water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Preparation:

The full recipe has been moved to our new website, Milk & Dust.

Check out the recipe here: https://milkanddust.com/lifestyle/recipes/anpan-recipe-japanese-red-bean-buns/

Red Bean Buns

Yuuga Japanese Restaurant @ Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Yuuga Japanese Restaurant Interior

We’d been meaning to make a visit to Yuuga for quite awhile and finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been there twice since (thrice for James) and have consistently been impressed by both the quality and the presentation of their dishes. Their dinner menu is colourful, extensive and well-organised. They also have a more modest lunch menu available between 11:30am and 2pm.

Yuuga Japanese Restaurant Interior Yuuga Japanese Restaurant Menu Hakushika Sake

We had quite a number of dishes over the handful of visits we made. If you are minding your wallet, this place can be quite pricey if you don’t watch what you order; the bill can very quickly add up here, especially since they have a lot of delicious-looking things on their dinner menu that are hard to ignore! The following is just a taste of what we ordered (and consequently enjoyed).

Tsukune Tsukune

Tsukune (3 pieces for $9.80)

These tsukune are essentially gorgeously cooked minced chicken and bamboo shoot patties smothered in a very nice sauce and sprinkled with white sesame seeds. While the sauce was indeed strong and flavoursome, it thankfully didn’t overpower the taste of the chicken patties. The patties themselves were perfect; firm in texture but not rubbery or dry. But now that I think about it, perhaps three pieces of tsukune aren’t quite worth the $9.80 you pay.

Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi Tofu (3 pieces for $8.80)

Apparently a Yuuga specialty, they have concocted their own version of the agedashi tofu, with three pieces of lightly fried tofu squares in a sweet ginger soy sauce, topped with crispy green beans, pumpkin slices and lightly sprinkled with crushed peanuts. I found this combination very interesting. The vegetable toppings gave the dish a different touch. While not something you typically see (I’m used to spring onions and nori flakes as garnishing), it was a wonderful addition to the traditional agedashi tofu. The tofu pieces themselves had a soft, creamy interior and a light, chewy coating.

Gyoza

Gyoza (5 pieces for $6.80)

These minced pork and vegetable pan-fried dumplings were pretty good. In my opinion, they come in a close second to the Hakataya Noodle Shop’s succulent gyoza. The texture of the wrappers were nice, but could have been a little crispier on the bottom. Also, they could have been a bit juicier on the inside (that’s what makes Hakataya’s gyoza so darn good). Nonetheless, they they were still lovely. And reasonably priced.

Karaage Chicken

Karaage Chicken (5 pieces for $9.80)

These marinated deep-fried chicken pieces come with some salad on the side. I really appreciated the size of the chicken pieces. They were generously big and meaty, with a nice even coating that wasn’t overly floury or overcooked. Definitely better than, say, Sushi Train’s karaage, but not quite as juicy or flavoursome as Uchouten’s.

Chicken Wings in Teriyaki Sauce

Teba – Fried Chicken Wings in Teriyaki Sauce (3 pieces for $7.80)

When you order fried chicken wings at Yuuga, you get a choice of either spicy sauce or teriyaki sauce to go with them. We went with the teriyaki and were not disappointed. Although a little too salty, the sauce definitely packed a delicious punch. The wings came perfectly cooked with some interesting garnish on top. This was probably one of my favourite items on the menu, though I’d quite like to try the spicy sauce wings next time.

Mixed Sashimi Mixed Sashimi Mixed Sashimi

Mixed Sashimi (11 pieces for $26)

Yuuga’s standard mixed sashimi platter comes with three chunks each of fresh tuna, salmon and kingfish, as well as two scallops adorned with tobiko (flying fish roe). These were very fresh. Everything on the platter was kept cold thanks to the ice bowl underneath. And the portion sizes of the fish were impressive; they gave us firm, thick, generous slices.

New-Style Sushi Set New-Style Sushi Set New-Style Sushi Set New-Style Sushi Set

New-Style Sushi Set (9 pieces for $32)

This modern-style sushi set was a visual feast in itself. Mainly because, as you can see, these aren’t your typical everyday nigiri-zushi! This dish gets an A+ for the presentation of each item. A colourful array of culinary delights, each individual piece of sushi clearly has its own theme going on. And the little finishing touches on each one (from the little spurts of sauce to the carefully laid bits of garnishing) gives you an idea of how time-consuming the crafting of this platter must be.

Yuuga Delux Kaiseki Bento Yuuga Delux Kaiseki Bento

Yuuga Delux Kaiseki Bento ($42)

The Yuuga Delux Kaiseki Bento is a large lunchbox meal that includes the following: grilled cod marinated in saikyo miso, seven thick slices of sashimi, three pieces of flame-seared nigiri, a serving of tender wagyu beef, tempura, miso soup and a choice of dessert. Everything is done perfectly, so this is definitely something you’d want to get if you were looking for a big meal with a variety of yummy things to keep your dinner interesting.

Japanese Style Simmered Pork (Yuuga Gozen) Sashimi (Yuuga Gozen) Tempura (Yuuga Gozen) Yuuga Gozen Yuuga Gozen Yuuga Gozen

Yuuga Gozen ($38)

The Yuuga Gozen is a meal that includes lots of sashimi, tempura, a small serving of Japanese style simmered pork, pot-steamed hotchpotch (chawanmushi), mixed sushi (or grilled eel in sweet soy sauce, if you prefer) on rice, miso soup and a choice of dessert. My favourite out of the lot was the chunks of Japanese-style simmered pork, which sat in a lip-smackingly delicious sauce and was gorgeously tender and soft and fatty and juicy.

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Black Sesame Ice Cream ($4.80)

Their black sesame ice cream is sprinkled with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and served with some whipped cream and a chocolate-filled wafer roll. Other flavours you can choose include vanilla and green tea, and they all come in small ($4.80) or medium ($6.80).

Zenzai

Zenzai ($6.80)

Something slightly more interesting than a standard scoop of ice cream, Yuuga’s zenzai is made up of glutinous rice flour dumplings and vanilla ice cream sitting in a sweet red bean soup. With a simple yet lovely presentation, the position of the ice cream in the middle of the circle of dumplings was a nice touch. The ice cream cut through the earthiness of the red bean and the chewy dumplings balanced out the sweetness of the other two components. A very nice way to finish a meal.

Yuuga Japanese Restaurant Interior

All in all, I think we can say that Yuuga scores a lot of points in the presentation department. All the charming arrangements and little finishing touches make you really appreciate their attention to detail. With friendly staff and a cosy atmosphere, the restaurant does well in making you feel comfortable. But the most important thing is the quality of their food, which has impressed us greatly. Would we go back? Most definitely.

Yuuga Japanese Restaurant
YUUGA JAPANESE RESTAURANT
38 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Gold Coast, Queensland, 4217
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:00pm & 5:30pm – 9:30pm (Mon-Sun)
http://www.yuuga.com.au/

Yuuga Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Strawberry Mushipan (Japanese Steamed Cup Bread)

It seems that steamed cakes are the ‘in’ thing now. During my recent trip to Singapore, many sweet bread stores were selling an array of them, from marbled steamed cake to glutinous steamed cake. Freshly baked, individually wrapped in plastic and sold out before the end of the day, they were real hits in Singapore. When I had my first bite of the marbled steamed cake, I swear, I was in heaven. It was the softest, moistest cake I had ever put in my mouth! I was an instant fan! Good thing they were cheap because I bought quite a few of them!

Following the success of my Matcha Mushipan (Green Tea Japanese Steamed Cup Bread) recipe, I have returned with a different version of the simple steamed cake. Because of the sudden abundance of large, succulent strawberries sitting in my fridge, I decided to adapt my previous mushipan recipe to incorporate strawberries. Because strawberries are fairly tart and not overly cloying (like bananas or peaches), they lend a subtle sweetness that does not overpower the senses. Soft, fluffy and delicately fruity cakes are a lovely change to those typical dense, heavy, sugar-filled chocolate ones!

Depending on the size of your cupcake moulds, this recipe makes about 5 or 6 steamed mushipan.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
4 large, ripe strawberries (leaves and stems removed)
2 tablespoons sugar (or equivalent sweetener of choice)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

Preparation:

  1. Prepare a large steamer filled with an inch or two of water. Leave the heat off until you are just about ready to steam your mushipan.
  2. Line small ramekins with cupcake cases. If you have no ramekins the size of your cupcake cases, use silicone cupcake moulds instead. You don’t have to line these.
  3. Mash strawberries in a small bowl with a fork until only small chunks remain.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder and mix well.
  5. In a smaller bowl, combine egg, mashed strawberries, sugar and oil. Mix well.
  6. Gradually pour this mixture into the flour mixture, mixing slowly until smooth. Batter will take on a faint pink tinge.
  7. Carefully spoon batter into cupcake liners/moulds, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  8. Turn up the heat to prepare your steamer. Once water comes to a rolling boil, place cups in steamer, cover steamer with lid and steam on high for about 6 minutes.
  9. Remove cooked mushipan (will be extremely hot!) and place on wire rack to cool.
  10. Serve warm, please! :)