Food Picks: Yakiniquest, The Grocer Bar and The Pantry Muse

5 days ago 30

Elevated grilled beef

For years, Yakiniquest, a terrific yakiniku restaurant, was off my radar. I could not wrap my head around its location. Boat Quay is just not a place I think of when I want a good meal.

In January, owners Suguru Ishida, 49, and his wife Tomoko, 48, moved their restaurant to Mandarin Gallery and it is back on my radar again. It says something that the restaurant has been around for eight years. Since 1998, the couple have made it their mission to eat their way through the best yakiniku restaurants in Japan.

And so, when Ishida-san grills your beef tableside, you appreciate the fluid way he rotates the grill and how he glides thin slices of beef over metal. Juicy, beefy goodness lands on your plate.

Lunch omakase meals are priced at $88++ or $128++, and dinner omakase meals at $138++ or $188++. My Lunch Omakase Appetite course ($128++) is a substantial meal with a starter, salad, wagyu goma shabu, eight cuts of grilled beef, hot beef curry rice or cold noodles, and dessert.

In the shabu course, thin slices of beef are rolled up with super-thin matchsticks of leek and cucumber, and served on a bed of housemade sesame sauce. Each bite is tender, soft and crunchy all at the same time.

The eight cuts of beef run the gamut of flavours and textures. Thin slices of zabuton or chuck flap are grilled for a couple of seconds then draped over rice flavoured with red vinegar, the better to appreciate its minerality. Thicker slices of this cut appear later in the meal, and I appreciate both its flavour and springy texture.

Tomo Sankaku or tri-tip is all texture, that sort of bounciness that makes my heart flutter. There is also the restaurant’s signature Yakisuki, beautifully marbled beef flashed grilled and ready to be swished in egg yolk, sukiyaki style. ...

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