Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yakitori! Satsuma at River Valley

with Michelle C.

Satsuma...certainly an old name in yakitori cuisine in Singapore. I had been there several times some years ago, but have almost forgotten about the restaurant...till Michelle suggested it for our lunch. I am rather fond of the chicken yakitori place down in the basement of the Dai Ichi Hotel in Shimbashi where all parts of the chicken are served by this elderly couple. I can almost imagine being there, everytime someone mentions yakitori.

Only the upstairs dining room is open for lunch...just as well, as I would have preferred the upstairs as well...cozy, but still reasonably good lighting for shooting the food...



The interior is somewhat a bit worn for age, but still looks nice.

An appetizer of cut daikon, carrot is presented on arrival.



Eaten with the bean sauce dip, the fresh vegetables taste very good...especially when you are hungry.

We then ordered a slew of yakitori...in Japanese style, this is typically grilled on a small charcoal fire. So here are the dishes:

Chicken balls...one of my favourites:



In my reference store in Tokyo, I believe the chef mixes in bits of the chicken's soft bone for an extra crunch...I am not sure if Satsuma does this, but this is really nice. The outside is nicely charred, with a great smoky flavour. The inside is tender, juicy.

We also had short ribs:



The beef was a bit chewy...not as tender as it could have been. I guess this would be grass fed Australian grass fed. This was no wagyu. But the toughness has some redeeming qualities...it makes the beef more flavourful, and I can almost taste the grass...:-)

Apparagus with bacon:



The spears of asparagus was wrapped with a thin slice of bacon...fat, full flavoured. Grilled. Can something this wonderfully made taste anything but wonderful?

The cod fish roe sausages...mentaiko sausage.



Not my favourite dish...the mentaiko was a bit salty and did not really allow the flavour of the eggs to come through.

We also tried the jaw bone of a cod...



This was quite good. The grilling was expertly done...just enough to get a charring for the smokey punch, but not overcooking the fish. Big boned fish, charred always brings me back to one of my first trips to Tokyo...it was cold...winter in Tokyo can be freezing...indeed, memory tells me it was 0C...it was late-ish (for dinner at least...about 9pm, I think), and I had no idea what to eat...walking around the streets...peering into the restaurants. I decided to go into one...climb up the narrow staircase. And was presented with a Japanese menu with no pictures! Hmm...I guess the waiter must have noticed, and called one of the kitchen staff over...he made his way over, smiling...and asked..."Singapore?"...I meekly affirmed...and he said, "me Malaysian, makan apa?". That saved the day. I said...you choose for me...this was my very first trip to Japan, and I was a young man...and he served me this huge boned fish, huge bone, of course, but also huge chunks of meat...perfectly barbecued...but a most memorable and delicious meal.

And to round up the Satsuma meal, we had the garlic fried rice:



A winner dish. With the flakes of deep fried, crispy garlic adorning the expertly fried rice. Very nice. Enjoyed it very much.

Overall, a nice Japanese yakitori place which is less crowded than many others during lunch. Good for many revisits.


Satsuma
1 Nanson Road (Gallery Hotel...its located in one of the pods in the compound of the avant guarde hotel)
Singapore 238909
6235 3565
Open Mon-Thu 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm;
Fri 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-1am;
Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 6pm-10:30pm
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