Friday, April 4, 2014

Nobu-Ya - Foodies' Best Kept Secret

Hello folks, it has been a month of feasting in March with hardly any time for bits of sharing with you guys. So the lions vow to catch up on backlog this busy month. Sweat!

The lions head for the low key Fortune Centre at Middle Road,
more known for its humble sprinkle of vegetarian stalls. The recent
months have seen a quiet explosion of great joints here for meat
lovers as well. Out of these, the lions' favourites are two Japanese
hole-in-the-wall joints. One of which is already steadily gathering an
ardent fan base among the Japanese expat community here, including
local foodies. The other is a home grown humble Jap joint headed by a
local chef whose jaw-dropping friendly prices will stun you speechless.
We start with Nobu-ya, the low key blue-eyed boy of the
Jap expat community here. We are almost reluctant to share
it (shiver if it goes the way of reservation nightmare -Teppei).
Head in via this door at the facade - it's more fun this way.
Like a traditional izakaya joint in Tokyo.
Take some time to go through the 3 page menu that consists
mainly of small bites. And then proceed to order without
a care in the world - yes, prices hover at around 6 to 8 for
non premium items. No pesky GST and service charge too.
Mmmmm icy cold draught Sapporo on a sweltering hot day.
Meow! Judging from the full house and incoming stream of
people, this beckoning cat is doing a great job:)
Then again, with friendly prices, great grub and founding chefs
that used to work for Mikuni, what's there not to like?
Simple furnishings in a tight space that sits less than
20 pax.
Eihire Tatami Iwashi or Sundried stingray and anchovies
was a steal at 6 bucks. The Eihire was delightfully chewy
and fragrant while the homemade anchovy crackers were
toasted to a nice crisp. A perfect complement to beer.
Homemade Goma Tofu looks deceptively straightforward
but charms with its unique texture. It's not silky smooth
like tau huey but comes with a welcomed coarseness and bite.

One of the chefs was coaxing the lions to try the
Hokkaido Matured Potato. "It is matured under the snow",
he quipped. They loved the yuanwei or the innate sweetness
of the warm potato slices. Another dish to savour slowly.
There are daily chef specials and that night, a selection of fish
flown straight from Kyushu was available. The lions decided to go
for the "Tai" or Sea Bream. "Tai", an important symbol in Japanese culture,
is usually in season in spring and is called the "King of Fish" in Japan.
A whole "tai" is usually quite expensive at restaurants but the whole
fish (done two ways: grilled & sashimi) was going for $28 that night.
The "tai" sashimi slices were fresh and very clean tasting with a rougher
Counter seating is best.
The fresh "tai" comes in its entirety when grilled with pickled daikon.
Very tight set-up for the compact restaurant. Purists will lament the absence
of a live charcoal fire for grilling, most of which is done in a mini oven here,
but the quality more than makes up for such theatrics.

Takenoko Jako Gohan or Spring Young Bamboo Shoot Rice.
Cuchi rather like the experience of cupping this warm bowl
of rice while huddling shoulder-to-shoulder at the counter
with other hungry patrons. Simple, peasant stuff makes her
thoroughly happy nowadays.
These drapes offer some privacy from curious eyes.
A few uninitiated ones sneaked in to check out the action
before slipping away.
These lightly boiled baby squids with a citrus sauce
and seaweed were refreshing.
Of course the lion couldn't resist a bit of offal
- a trinity of chicken, pork and beef guts was braised so well
even the lioness could stomach a few chewy pieces.
What's interesting is that the chefs would display some of the pre-cooked
food in bowls at the counter for that visual feast. The lions thought that
these bowls were only for display until the wait staff started scooping some
of the warm grub out to serve. Lol.
The not-so-fun entrance. The lions were lucky that day to get counter seats
without any reservations, otherwise calling in early to book is recommended.
We hear that Bjorn Shen from nearby Artichoke is a huge fan as well.

Other tenants (but we are not revealing the other Jap joint yet):

Vegetarian bakery with very healthy tasting breads.
The lioness tried the bun with yam filling. It was
like cooked teochew orh nee without any fatty oil.
A little too dry for her... ...
Ok meat and dim sum lovers, please try this and tell us
about it. It was full house during the weekends.
Vegetarian Japanese where fruits are used to mimic sashimi slices.
OMG hahahaha love the tongue-in-cheek name of this
A vegetarian bakery & cafe.
This place just sends us back to the 70s... ...
Time to jalan jalan after the meal... ...
the archways of Stamford Arts Centre.
Old school letter boxes.
Albert Food Centre
with its resident fat cats getting huge on hawker fare.
Old style toys.

190 Middle Road
Fortune Centre
Singapore 188979

1 comment:

  1. I visited Nobuya today and was astounded by the authenticity of the dishes and also the ambience. The buri sashimi and tai head Nitsuke I had were exceptionally good. I'm really curious about the other Japanese joint you mentioned, could you share the name? Thank you!