Sunshine Maki ($8.99) – The yellow is very vibrant!
I celebrated Dad’s birthday today with the family in a colourful lunch at Sakae Sushi located in the bustling city of Orchard at Wheelock Place. We arrived early at 1130 when the doors of the restaurant just opened. As many may know, Sakae Sushi holds a strong reputation as a Sushi buffet where you can literally stuff your stomach at affordable prices. But I was to discover that beyond that door of buffets and coloured plates, actually lie a casual yet delicious menu that hark the beauty of Japanese cuisine.
Out of all the dishes I savoured today, I typically enjoyed the Sunshine Maki the most. A creation of the restaurant chain, it tastes almost as good as it looks. Simply vibrant with a yellow hue that aims to lift a smile on the face. It was a little sweet because of the thinly sliced mango that wraps around the rice. And the “drops” of salmon eggs on each piece gives a good burst of salty sea flavour coupled together with the crispy tempura prawn that leaves a delightful crunch.
As a standard fare of almost all Japanese sushi restaurants, sashimi is a must have on the list. This is a customized platter made by the restaurant manager, Grace, and it presents 5 different types of raw seafood. Maguro, Salmon, Hamachi, Tako and Amaebi Prawns. All were good and fresh. Especially the maguro which was crystal clear in its taste. This is a stark difference to what I had many years ago at the restaurant itself.
As always the tako is tough to the bite, but the hamachi to my surprise was actually soft and slightly chewy. A new discovery!
Roar! – The Dragon Roll ($8.99)
Dragon Roll simply shrieks for the avocado lovers. Each piece has a generous portion of that creamy green fruit served with it. The tempura appears as standard fare in the makis, but in this case, it complements very well with the avocado. More mild and subtle in taste and texture, it was still good.
Unagi Tofu ($6.99)
This was something new for me – Unagi Tofu. While I have tried Agedashi tofu, Fried tofu, and just plain ol’ tofu, Unagi tofu was an eyeopener to me. Not only was it presented very beautifully, true to the zen style of the Japanese, it was very soft all around. The combination of eel and tofu is such a good pair that I wonder why I have not tried this before. The light simmer in a thin savoury sauce just gave burst to a flurry of flavours that leaves one feeling warm all over.
You can also sit at the counter watching the chef at work over the charcoals.
The Sakae Outlet at Wheelock place as of now is the only branch that serves Sumiyaki dishes. Sumiyaki as I was told is actually skewered meats or vegetables that are meticulously grilled over hot charcoal. For me, anything that is cooked over charcoal will simply mean delicious charred bits and that smoky flavour embroidered in the meat.
Gyuu Baa with Mochi ($2.50)
This is the Gyuu Baa with Mochi – Grilled Beef Belly with Japanese Rice Cake. Texture wise, it was a little chewy like gum. It was not entirely to my liking but definitely a worthwhile experience to order it for the first time. The beef was also a little thin but it was nicely charred giving rise to mild flavours striking from within. Pair this with the miso dip provided if you need a little more salt in your life.
Gyuu Baa with Enoki ($2.50)
The Gyuu Baa with Enoki – Beef Belly with Golden Mushrooms, were more to my liking. A layer of beef wraps the mushrooms and the entire thing is grilled evenly. Somehow, the Gyuu Baa was more juicy and definitely carried a more thorough aroma of the charcoal. The golden mushrooms added texture and a stringy crunch.
Foie Gras with Kamo ($6.90)
Who would expect that Sakae would offer Foie gras as part of its menu. Well, the Foie Gras (Goose Liver, and not some sort of vegetation) with Kamo (duck meat) was simply marvelous for me. Very smooth and soft, it was creamy to an extent with the grilled parts being a crisp skin. Tantalizing with the slight hint of charcoal grilled duck.
Irori Gozen ($19.99)
Dad ordered the Irori Gozen to satisfy his stomach.
It came with a simmering pot of savoury sweet soup, sukiyaki beef slices plus the egg, grilled mackerel, potato salad, a side dish of sashimi and rice.
The soup itself was sweet and not too salty. Much lighter in flavours than ordering the Sukiyaki by itself. A delightful umami flavour was embodied throughout.
This was irresistible. The beef slices were not too thick and yet fresh enough to give a light flavour to the meal.
Uni Sushi ($7.59)
Somehow I was disappointed with the Uni (Sea Urchin) sushi. To my opinion, it was not entirely fresh as it carried a very strong sea aroma. Not justifiable for its price even if you consider this a dish for those with an acquired taste. While I justify that this needs to be air flown to Singapore, standards must be standards and this was simply not there.
Mixed Tempura and Grilled Eel (Bento : $15.99)
Mum ordered the Tempura and Unagi Bento. Rather average in my opinion. The tempura is found to be coated with a slightly thick batter even though it was still juicy and crispy. I feel that tempura batter itself should be thin, delicate and crisp. Not heavy, lumbering and floury.
Unagi itself was nothing fantastic though the Tamago (sweetened egg) was a plus point in contrasting the flavours of the eel.
I was full from eating rice.
Drizzle of Strawberry sauce covers the Tempura Ice Cream ($3.99)
Sakae itself offers a very limited range of desserts (only 3) so the Tempura Ice Cream was called up to present itself as an end to the meal. Always enjoyed this. It was sweet, crispy and not oily even though it is deep fried before serving. =)
Private room for 6-8 people. Looks cozy.
Sakae Sushi at Wheelock place has opened for slightly over a year already. The concept layout of the outlet itself is slightly different from its other branches. With a more spacious feel, larger seats, tables and a fresher environment, it sets itself to be a more trendy place for families.
While not all the dishes were fantastic, some of them were hidden gems amongst the stones while some were simply standard fare good enough for the regular customer. Still with a myriad of Japanese outlets opening in Singapore, I believe that the chain has ways to go before it can finally indulge in that warm cup of green tea. And I believe that one day it will reach its goal.
Thanks to Manager Grace (Wheelock Outlet) for providing a good service experience at the restaurant. Lunch compliments of Sakae Sushi.
501 Orchard Road
Tel : 6737 6281
Discover sumptuous dishes at Sakae beyond the door of buffets and coloured plates.