With the Japanese food craze that hit Singapore showing no signs of abating, I think we can safely conclude that this penchant is here to stay. Indeed, when my Japanese friends from university visit you and are amazed by the sheer amount of Japanese food available in Singapore, you know something is up.
The problem though, is that when you get so used to Japanese cuisine, you develop cravings. Yes, days when you think to yourself: “I need some raw fish. And mentaiko. And sushi.” But with Japanese food being anything but cheap, what do you do when you get these cravings regularly?
You go to En Sushi.
Conveniently located in town next to Rendezvous Hotel, this little place is within strolling distance of not one, not two, but three MRT stations: Dhoby Ghaut (on the North South Line), Bras Basah (on the Circle Line), and Bencoolen (on the Downtown Line). How’s that for immediate gratification wherever you are in Singapore?
But we don’t go to Japanese places for their accessibility. We go there to eat, and that’s the meat of this review (excuse the bad pun!) En Sushi delivers tasty Japanese food at very very reasonable prices. It’s not like eating in Japan, but given how wallet-friendly this is, I might find reason to reduce the frequency of my trips up north!
If onsen tamago is good and onsen tamago with ikura is better, then what kind of heaven is onsen tamago with ikura and uni?
Beginning with appetisers, the Uni Ikura Onsen Tamago was quite a joy. Onsen tamago is good, onsen tamago with ikura is better, onsen tamago with ikura and uni is heaven. The ingredients were fresh, and the flavours mixed well with just a hint of soy sauce to help add that umami kick. I’d eat this quickly though: onsen tamago is temperature-sensitive, so as it warms up to room temperature (it’s served cold), it does lose a bit of its glory.
Thinly-sliced, but thick on flavour. Mentaiko is always a joy and goes well with the hotate’s (scallop) texture.
Another noteworthy starter is the Hotate Mentai Aburi. Thinly-sliced scallop carpaccio lightly blow-torched and then dressed with the spicy mentaiko sauce, this is one good mix of flavour and texture. I only intended to have one slice and leave the rest to my dining companions, but this dish is surprisingly more-ish and you’ll find yourself picking up slice after slice whilst engaged in conversation.
Century egg and tofu: a classic dish, but reinvented in a glorious way.
Rounding up our trio of starters, I thought the Pitan Tofu was quite something to try. Served chawanmushi-style in a small bowl, the distinctive century egg flavour was well-balanced by the tofu without being overpowering, make it a good start to the meal. Easy to finish by yourself too, remember to leave some for your friends!
On to the mains, then.
Since one major draw of Japanese food is sashimi, I’ll talk about the various dishes all at once. En Sushi serves reasonably decent sashimi platters, but I thought that would be something easily gotten elsewhere. If you are in the mood for it, get it, but I thought I’d save my stomach for other things that are even better here…
…what’s that you say? Bara chirashi dons?!
In my undergraduate days in Japan, I loved bara chirashi dons. I mean, what’s not to like about them? Fish and rice, a simple dish but ah, such soul food. And I have many good memories of running to my neighbourhood 500 yen (525, then 540 yen to be precise, they always didn’t factor sales tax in their advertising copy) chirashi don place. Now, this isn’t quite 540 yen, but at $10.90++, it’s pretty damn close. This is where I put down all pretence of being a food snob (oh the fish must be divine and the colour must be just right) and begin calculating how many bowls of bara chirashi don I can afford to eat each week. I’ve found my new go-to for dreary days when I need a pick-me-up that doesn’t break the bank.
Some days you want more fish, and you want bigger slices of fish. Right then, En Sushi’s got a premium chirashi don too. That should satisfy you.
I have to squeeze in a mention here though, for a dish that also counts as soul food for me. Chicken katsu curry pasta. You’ve probably eaten each of the components separately, but trust me when I say that eating them all together is like having a warm snuggly blanket around you on a cold rainy day. This is going to be comfort food for me, and I totally didn’t see it coming.
Finally, we’ll talk about rolls. No, not your stop, drop and roll fire prevention ones. I meant the maki rolls. I enjoyed the aburi salmon maki rolls: they came in three varieties, with unagi, fried ebi, and soft shell crab in their interiors. If you can only order one, get the soft shell crab, or the fried ebi! I enjoyed the difference in textures: the soft shell crab provided a wonderful crunch while the aburi salmon provided a lovely dollop of flavour. Unagi was good too, but I thought the lack of contrast meant that the unagi didn’t get to shine as much as it could. If you’re an unagi fan though, go with your heart (and tastebuds).
With all that, I was rather satisfied. I will admit that nothing about En Sushi’s food, location, or ambience is spectacularly stand out: I’ve had better elsewhere. But what these guys manage to do, is to combine all of that into a great package, with an unbeatable price. That in itself is what determines whether I come back or not, since for the same amount of money, I get a huge assortment of dishes to choose from that are all guaranteed to keep me happy. I will give them the highest compliment that a reviewer can pay them: I will come back to dine on my own dime. And the best part? I know I can go anytime I feel like it, because it really is that wallet-friendly.
Thank you En Sushi for the invitation.
This post was written by Lan Yingjie
30 Prinsep Street
Reservations: 6253 1426