Before I begin, allow me to highlight that this is a sponsored food tasting session initiated by J Passport.
This is the 2nd time I visited their outlet in Singapore, both visit at their Orchard Central branch. The first time was a few years ago and I didn’t bother to blog. But I was immensely impressed after visiting their branch in Sendai (Japan) last Summer, hence when J Passport offered me this opportunity for a food tasting here, I decided to re-visit.
The motto of Ootoya is to serve traditional Japanese home-cooked food with healthy and hearty ingredients that a mum would normally prepare for the family. As such, don’t expect flamboyant setting despite the slightly higher pricing as compare to their franchises in Japan, after all, somebody gotta top up the premiums for air freight, and naturally, it’s the customers.
I was offered the selection of a set menu, an à-la-carte, a Serio Soba, and a dessert. But as I don’t feel easy simply walking away without paying anything, therewith I also ordered a side plus beverages.
It took quite a while, and the Serio Soba was first served.
There were apparently some communication breakdown here. Upon invitation, I indicated that I would be bringing a dining companion along, so I was assuming, as per my previous food tasting session, that each of us would have 1 set each. Perhaps I should have clarified, but when I learned (and it wasn’t from the staff) that there would be only one set for us to share, my dining partner had already finished up a big portion of it! LOL! By then, the Soba noodle wasn’t even cold anymore. So, what can I say about the taste? To be absolutely honest, whatever I have to comment would certainly be heavily discounted, but to quote what my dining partner mentioned, it was nice. And that the Soba noodle was at least chewy.
All I can add is what I researched from their menu, that they are using buckwheat flour imported from Hokkaido, and handmade in-house. In addition, I really like the way Ootoya indicates the ingredients on their menu, informing patrons of any potential allergic upfront, that’s pretty thoughtful!
Seriously, I won’t mind paying additional for my dining partner (then I won’t bother ordering the side), but if the food is meant to be shared, then at least provide another cup of Soba sauce (for hygiene reason) and perhaps additional plate, then there won’t be unnecessary ambiguity. Of course, I could have simply come out my own money for a fresh order, but it’s quite a big portion, besides I would rather try their other dishes in that case.
I hope that’s a fair statement.
Charcoal Grilled Atka Mackerel Hokke Fish Set
The accompanied rice, Miso soup, and condiments
I didn’t find any opportunity to ask the staff, but it is believe that the Atka Mackerel Hokke fish was harvested from Okhotsk Sea, wind dried, and then grilled prior to serving. It still retains a chewy texture with a mild umami. I must say, at $22.80++ for the set meal (or $17.80++ alone), the price is reasonable for half a grilled Hokke fish. Though to be honest, I thought the condiments were a little mediocre, perhaps the idea was not to take excessive limelight from the Hokke fish. Anyway, the motto was to serve a Japanese home styled meal, like I said, nothing flamboyant, but decent heartiness. For paying patrons, I think it’s possible to ask for free rice refill and a switch to more healthier rice such as Gokoku Rice, Tororo Gohan, Jyako Gohan, or Yasai Gohan, but once again, I didn’t have an opportunity to clarify.
Grilled Yongenton Silky Pork Belly Marinated with Shio-Kouji
Now, THIS IS HEAVENLY!
The marinated pork belly ($19.50++) was grilled to distinction with an excellent crisp and succulence that it’s so good to eat on its own, the sweetness is absolutely remarkable! And sprinkled with a zest of lemon gives it an extra dimension, not to mention the enclosed wasabi!
Yongenton is a crossed breed of 4 different pig species, or more commonly known as Silky Pork. Surprisingly, it originated from USA. These are what I researched, and the taste is probably better than some Kurobuta I have tried. As for Shio-Kouji (塩麹, 塩糀), it’s a natural seasoning made of salt, water, and rice kouji (Kouji is the key ingredients in making miso), and Ootoya’s menu mentioned that they are adhering to a recipe passed down from Sendai 300 years ago.
You would usually associate salad with French dressing, Thousand Island dressing etc, but that’s not what Ootoya did here. They use soy sauce, and the outcome was rather interesting! But to be honest, the pork is so good which rendered the accompanying salad as mere decorations.
Oh, I also ordered their Yakko (a.k.a. Tofu). As I mentioned, I don’t feel right walking out after meal without paying, so I ordered this Japanese Tofu (as well as green tea). I have done my research before heading down for the food tasting, Ootoya claimed that their tofu is house made, and in their menu, this is suppose to come with freshly grated dried Bonito flakes, but the Bonito flakes never came (I only remember that when I’m reviewing my pictures for this post). I ended up pouring some soy sauce to ‘enjoy’ it with the tofu, along with the supplied ginger, which otherwise tasted bland. Sorry, but this failed, especially without Bonito flakes, the chief ingredient that lifts its flavour.
I had the Maccha Parfait ($8++) as dessert, and it can be noted Ootoya is sparing no effort to mark off a hearty dining with this. In the picture, you will find Maccha ice cream, red beans, and the cube stuffs behind are the Warabi mochi dipped in Maccha powder. What you can’t see underneath are Castella (sponge cake) cubes, Maccha Jelly, Maccha Pudding. Take my words, it’s a very fulfilling dessert for someone who loves Maccha!
I have come to the end of this post, and as a pre-requisite for the food tasting, I am obliged to include a link for Ootoya’s offer tie-in with J Passport. J Passport members get to enjoy free Limited Seasonal Pumpkin Parfait with every meal ordered. Kindly refer to the following link for details:
The above offer is valid until 31 Jan 2019, but you can always refer to their page in J Passport for more ongoing promotion. If you ain’t a member yet, you can join J Passport for free to enjoy these benefits. Ootoya currently has 3 outlets in Singapore, kindly refer to their website for information and promotions. Lastly, many thanks to Ootoya and J Passport for hosting us!