Hearty and delicious, these rice bowls are a whole meal-in-one.
In recent years, the popularity of Japanese dons and chirashi bowls have grown, spawning a rice bowl trend here in Singapore. In the simplest terms, rice bowls are a bed of warm fluffy rice topped with some ingredients. However, in the hands of some of the best chefs in town, we see endless delicious possibilities, and here are some of our absolute favourites. Some classic, some new, some indulgent and some an absolute steal.
1. Flaming Japanese Wagyu Beef Bowl at The Butcher’s Kitchen
The Butcher’s Kitchen opened by The Butcher, a renowned Australian butcher brand with over 15 years of history in Singapore, launched their first Flaming Hokkaido Beef Bowl in January 2018. It was reportedly so well received that they have come up with a series of “flaming” bowls where the succulent meats are doused in a specially concocted Cognac sauce and set ablaze, giving the sliced meat a smokey-sweet aroma. The bowls include the Flaming Japanese Wagyu Beef Bowl ($23.90) and Flaming Wagyu Beef Bowl ($15.90) where the best quality cuts of marbled beef (either Japanese or Australian) available each season is used.
For those who prefer organic meats, there is a Flaming Organic Beef Bowl ($13.90), which uses Australian grass-fed beef. The Japanese Wagyu Beef Bowl we tried really packed a punch of flavour. With a base of warm Japanese rice, covered with tender slices of Japanese Wagyu that is covered in a tangy homemade yoghurt sauce and a robust homemade brown sauce, and topped with a raw egg and flamed in said Cognac sauce, how can it not? Flaming bowls of diced beef (from $13.90), including one that is scented with truffle oil, are also available – this comes with a choice of rice or mashed potato.
Suntec City, #02-472, Singapore 038989, https://www.facebook.com/thebutcherskitchensg
2. Stellar Japanese-styled Rice Bowls at The Bar at Waku Ghin
The Bar at Waku Ghin (yes, the very same two-Michelin-starred restaurant by renowned chef Tetsuya Wakuda) is not just a splendid place for drinks. You may not know this, but the bar features a lovely menu alongside its long list of cocktails, premium sake and spirits. While the Toasted Parma Ham and Black Truffle Sandwich (S$26) may sound enticing, you really should check out the exquisite (read: quality, not quantity) rice bowls. Think creamy Murasaki sea urchin from Hokkaido and briny salmon roe atop warm Japanese rice with freshly grated wasabi and pickled ginger (S$38), marbled Ohmi Wagyu lightly grilled over charcoal and seasoned with sansho pepper and served on Japanese rice ($30), or marinated tuna belly on seasoned rice ($28). The Bar opens from 6pm till late, last order at 11pm.
Level 2 Dining, L2-01, 2 Bayfront Avenue, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956, Tel: 6688 8507, https://www.marinabaysands.com/entertainment/nightlife/lounge-bars/bar-at-waku-ghin.html
3. Duck on Rice at Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke
The ever-creative “Ramen King” Keisuke Takeda opened his latest ramen concept Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke in March 2018 at Holland Village and it is all about celebrating the robust flavours of plump Irish hybrid duck. The 32-seater ramen restaurant serves three types of soup ramen and two types of dry ramen (from $14.90), which includes ramen with rich duck soup and tsukemen (dipping noodles) with concentrated duck soup.
But we are here for the Kamo Ju or duck on rice ($29.90). The fatty duck is slow-cooked at low temperature and each slice a delicate pink and oh-so-tender. Each serving has 10 slices of duck laid on top on fluffy Japanese rice, which is seasoned with a little grated wasabi and furikake (Japanese rice seasoning), and under the rice, there is some minced duck. Set the duck slices aside and give the rice a little mix to maximize your enjoyment of mildly spicy hints of wasabi, umami furikake and savoury minced duck with each slice of duck. And don’t forget to finish up that lovely accompanying duck broth. There is also the minced duck on rice ($8.90), which is also delicious.
16A Lor Mambong, Tel: 6463 4344, http://www.keisuke.sg/kamo-soba-holland-village
4. Wholesome Rice Bowls at The Clan Café, Straits Clan
Set in a beautiful and inviting “dining room” of natural wood and greens designed by local design studio Takenouchi Webb, the Clan Café exudes a loungey, stylish vibe that is instantly charming (Straits Clan is a members’ only club, but The Clan Café is open to public). The café’s all-day menu, conceptualized by David Thien, Executive Chef of Straits Clan, features a selection of Asian-inspired grain bowls, broths and tea blends. The healthy bowls, which feature a mix of quinoa, brown rice and white rice as the base, are hearty and nourishing, and portions are pretty substantial.
We enjoyed the light yet satisfying flavours and textures of the Miso Salmon bowl ($17) that also has carrots, sliced lotus roots, edamame, and sugar snap peas added to the mix. The Quinoa Crusted Chicken bowl ($17) with carrot pickles, slabs of thoughtfully cut corn (kernels only), Asian mushrooms, and cauliflower, was also delicious and relatively guilt-free. We also had our eyes set on the Grilled Angus Ribeye bowl ($19) accompanied by an onsen egg, a medley of Asian mushrooms, but perhaps for when we next return.
31 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089845, Tel: +65 6320 9180
5. Asian-styled Rice Bowls at White Rose Café, York Hotel Singapore
Inspired by the dynamic cuisines of Asia, Charlie Tham, Executive Chef of White Rose Café at York Hotel Singapore, and his team came up with a special menu featuring Asian Rice Bowls ($16) that is perfect for a quick meal. Offerings include Beef Donburi with Japanese-styled sauce and wobbly onsen egg and Braised Pork Rice with braised egg served with a tangy chilli sauce.
For those who like it spicy but not overpoweringly so, do try the Minced Pork with Thai Basil rice bowl which has steamed fragrant rice topped with moreish ground pork stir-fried with basil leaves, long beans stir-fried with chilli and a sunny-side up. There is also a vegetarian friendly Healthy ‘Vegan-licious’ Rice Bowl inspired by the Korean bibimbap that has deep-fried bean curd, sautéed mushrooms, kimchi and a medley of vegetables including black fungus and cucumber served atop aromatic olive fried rice. Each rice bowl is served with a vegetable broth as well as a choice of Ice-Kachang, Chendol, Chng Tng or Chin Chow with Palm Seeds. Available for lunch and dinner till 31 July 2018.
21 Mount Elizabeth, Singapore 228516, Tel: 68301156
6. Modern Japanese Rice Bowls at Boruto Tapas and Sake Bar
Apart from the remarkably large selection of sake and its modern Japanese tapas such as Ahi Tataki (sliced tuna tataki with black olives, Japanese leek, chili and wasabi yuzu dressing) and Teba Gyoza (deep fried chicken wings stuffed with minced pork, wild vegetables & silver fish), the rice bowls at Boruto are also a hit with diners. Rice bowls such as the Ebi Tempura Don, which has bite-sized pieces of crispy deep fried prawn mixed with moreish rice seasoned with konbu and Japanese seasoning ($18.80), pairs well with sake.
For the ultimate rice bowl, put in a request for the Big Boss Bowl or Big Boss Don ($68.80). This totally indulgent bowl by Chef Angus Chow brings together fragrant Japanese rice from Akita, fatty char-grilled A4 Wagyu from Kagoshima, creamy sea urchin from Hokkaido, luscious foie gras from France, wobbly onsen egg and is topped with avruga caviar and shaved Italian summer truffles. It is not on the menu and is subject to availability; so do put in a request when making reservations. Tapa bar opens from 6pm.
#01-01 Golden Castle Building, 80 South Bridge Road, Tel: 6532 0418, http://boruto.com.sg/
7. Taiwanese-inspired Rice Bowls at The Salted Plum
At The Salted Plum, which opened in early 2018, Chef Shawn Koh dishes up Taiwanese-inspired cuisine in a casual 98-seater restaurant located in a 2-storey shophouse. Prices are kept affordable and most dishes go for $5 or $10 – the savoury bamboo shoots braised in pork broth ($5) and silky smooth steamed egg with dashi and oysters ($10) are must-tries. The $10 Lunch Bowls here are also highly popular. There are seven rice bowls (premium quality Jasmine rice is used here) to choose from and we would recommend the hearty Lu Rou Fan, which consists of fork-tender slow-braised pork belly that takes over 6 hours to prepare (though pork belly is served in a slab and not cut into small pieces like most traditional Taiwanese versions of the dish), kai lan, sous vide egg, and the Burnt Chilli Chicken Rice bowl with tender seared chicken spiked with chilli padi and coriander, and served with sous vide egg.
10 Circular Road, Singapore 049336, Tel: +65 6260 0155, www.facebook.com/pg/TheSaltedPlumSG
8. Modern Unagi Rice at Neon Pigeon
There is unagi rice – grilled freshwater eel basted with a savoury-sweet sauce and served atop warm rice – and then there is Neon Pigeon‘s winning take on this popular classic (from $18 for small). Helmed by Head Chef Justin Hammond and Chef de Cuisine Dennis Smit, the 3-year-old modern izakaya serves what they call “progressive Japanese” cuisine that has a strong Japanese influence with a contemporary spin. Their version of Unagi Rice consists of plump grains of rice cooked with a homemade dashi paella-style till creamy and just al dente and topped with smokey-sweet barbecued eel, crispy tempura seaweed, crunchy sweet pea and raw egg. Mix it all up to get the best of all textures and flavours and take time to savour every delicious mouthful.
Also try Pigeon’s Pickles (from $10 for small) from their new Spring menu. This dish showcases the methods of pickling and fermentation with house-pickled miso carrots, eggplants, lotus root, ginger shoots, nori and slices of creamy avocado, and works well as a starter and also palate cleanser.
1 Keong Saik Road, #01-03, Singapore 089109, Tel: 6222 3623, www.neonpigeonsg.com
9. Mentaiko Rice Bowl at Tokyo Eater
In celebration of its 30th anniversary, RE&S Group (they also run Ichiban Sushi) will be launching a series of Mentaiko Madness menus across its various concepts in the upcoming months. And we have our eyes set on the rice bowls at Tokyo Eater located at Serangon NEX. Mentaiko is usually slightly spicy and tastes of the sea. The recommended way to enjoy the full flavours of mentaiko is in the form of the Mentaiko Don ($11.80), which serves the spicy cod roe on a bed of fluffy egg & steaming rice accompanied with pickles and an appetizing spicy cod roe soup. For a more modern take, try the scrumptious Aburi Mentai Mayo Salmon Don ($14.80) or Aburi Mentai Mayo Chicken Don ($12.80), which has salmon or chicken blanketed in a creamy mentaiko mayonnaise served on warm, fluffy rice. Available until 31 July 2018.
#B1-80 NEX, 23 Serangoon Central, Singapore 556083, Tel: 6634 7437
Photos by Xie Huiqun and respective restaurants
By Xie Huiqun