Shin Kushiya, a Japanese restaurant specializing in yakitori, has 3 outlets here – VivoCity, the new Galleria in Suntec City, and Far East Square. We found ourselves at the VivoCity outlet on New Year’s Eve, amongst the throngs of people who were heading there for the Mediacorp Countdown Party. Being decrepit aging folk, we had an early dinner so that we could escape before the whole of VivoCity got taken over by screaming hordes of Taufik fans.
As far as yakitori places go, this one’s pretty good. Food quality probably isn’t as good as Kazu’s, but it’s a lot less of a stressful production eating here. Somehow going to Kazu is always a bit of an intimidating experience, what with Japanese businessmen and people on expense accounts all around you, ordering up a storm. There’s also quite an impressive variety on the menu, both of skewers and other typical offerings like sashimi, sushi and rice/noodle dishes.
To start with, I ordered the Onsen Tamago – a lightly-poached egg served chilled in a bonito broth, topped with chopped spring onions. After getting over the initial misgivings of a cold soup, this was very refreshing; a bit like a lighter and cleaner-tasting version of our Singaporean staple – the coffeeshop soft-boiled egg.
(left to right: gyu karubi, pork neck with mustard sauce, salmon belly with grated daikon, enoki mushroom wrapped with bacon)
We then proceeded to order a whole bunch of skewers. Unlike at Kazu, each order here is for one skewer. At an average of $3 per skewer, it’s one of the cheaper yakitori restaurants, but coming here on an empty stomach may prove to be rather expensive. Luckily we were looking for a lightish meal, and they’re very generous with the quantities on their skewers here. From the first batch, the pork neck really stood out because the meat was quite fatty and very tasty. The beef karubi was a bit on the chewy side, but the salmon was good.
(clockwise from left: teriyaki rice ball, button mushroom, mozzarella wrapped with bacon, squid, scallop wrapped with bacon)
From this batch, what really stood out was the scallop. This definitely warrants a repeat order when we go back. The scallop was fresh, sweet and not overcooked, and what ingredient doesn’t benefit from being wrapped in bacon? Delicious. The mozzarella was quite unique and A liked it a lot, though I found it a tad rich after a while. The squid was a slight letdown – it was very meaty and thick, and ended up being quite chewy.
(left to right: asparagus wrapped with bacon, shitake mushroom wrapped with bacon, pork belly with garlic, salmon belly with mentaiko sauce)
Surprisingly, the plain ol’ button mushrooms in the second batch were better than the shitakes. They were meatier, fresher and fuller-flavoured. The salmon with mentaiko rocked (though anything with mentaiko – cod roe – will probably rock), and I liked the pork belly too.
A was too full for a King William shake from Boost, so we ended up ordering dessert here – a fresh cononut konnyaku jelly, which was quite refreshing.
I definitely want to come back here; if the yakitori was so good, I’m assuming the rest of their Japanese offerings can’t be bad either. VivoCity seems to be our destination of choice at the moment (we’ve got $70 free parking credits from buying a new TV), but I wouldn’t mind trying their other 2 outlets as well.
Would order the scallop and the salmon ones again. Considering the quality of the fish, maybe I might try the sushi too.
Avoid the squid unless you like it chewy and they (like most places in Singapore) do a lousy zaru soba.
Except for one very blur girl we couldn’t understand at all, the staff are very knowledgeable and quick to please.
Verdict: Not a destination joint, but definitely a top pick if you’re in the area.
Open daily: 11.30 am to 11 pm