October 10, 2016
A new concept to En group’s restaurants, En Sakaba in Orchard Central offers a Japanese Tapas concept of sorts — think of small dishes to go with your Japanese sake, whisky and other alcoholic beverages. If you are looking for a proper meal, this restaurant serves other heavier and more filling dishes too.
The word “Sakaba” refers to bar, and it’s what you will see the moment you step into the premises, comprising of high tables and an open kitchen. It felt like a casual bistro and the ambience was welcoming indeed.
The Japanese sake is the highlight of the bar and it is hard to argue against that with its comprehensive list of various sake choices that fills up page after page of the menu.
Do ask for recommendations for the right sake to suit your preferences, especially if the variety seems a little too daunting. En Sakaba serves up cocktails, beers, hard liquor and non-alcoholic beverages too, ensuring that there is definitely a drink that you can enjoy with the food.
To start off with a cold dish, we had the Beef Truffle Carpaccio ($13). Carpaccio is normally very finely sliced or hammered to achieve an even thinner texture, but this dish has slightly thicker beef slices and is slightly charred on the edges.
The drizzling of truffle yuzu soy sauce over the meat gave it a tangy flavour and a hint of truffle, adding a level of flavour and complexity to the dish.
The Kurobuta Niku No Hoho ($10) was a dish that we felt would be a great complement to alcohol. This tender and flavor-packed grilled pork cheek with wafu sauce liken it to our familiar char siew. The fattiness of the Kurobuta pork (black pig) melted in the mouth almost immediately, exploding with a robust flavour that we enjoyed thoroughly.
The Zuwai Kani Miso Kourayaki ($13) is a dish of crabmeat with its roe and gut grilled together in its shell. If you are a fan of crab, you will not want to miss this.
The roe and gut mixed with the crab gives a strong umami that was scrumptious. We heard that this was grilled with some sake too, which was probably why the crab flavours were enhanced with a subtle sweetness.
Branding itself as a Japanese tapas concept restaurant, we expected that grilled scallops would be a huge part of the menu, and it was. Here, you can choose from various toppings to go with your grilled scallops.
We went for the Jumbo Hotate Yaki with Mentaiko Cheese ($11) that came sizzling hot. The large scallop was cut into cubes, which allowed it to be doused completely in the sauce that came with it. The roe’s tang and the cheese combined seamlessly, without overpowering one anotherr, creating another satisfying tapas dish.
Beef is always a feature in Japanese restaurants and En Sakaba offeres the Foie Gras Yakiniku Onsen Tamago Don ($22). The first focal point of this dish is the beef tataki, a thinly sliced seared beef, which tasted and looked a lot like the beef from the Carpaccio we had earlier.
The buttery foie gras melted into with the rice and beef when eating them in a huge spoonful, adding a whole extra layer of flavour to the usual Yakiniku Don (grilled beef with rice). The egg was also a great addition both taste-wise and aesthetically.
The last dish we had was the En Kaisen Chirashi ($28). Here we had 15 different kinds of fresh sashimi, carefully selected by the chef daily, and served on top of En’s famous pink sushi rice. What caught our eye first was the burst of colours from the various types of sashimi, with everything looking and tasting fresh. Premium ingredients like the uni (sea urchin) and Hokkaido scallops ensured that this bowl would be pure delight for sashimi lovers.
En Sakaba is a great place if you are looking for Japanese drinks and some good food to go with. We also recommend this bar and restaurant for its convenience and comfortable setting. It is not often that you will get a combination of these factors, so head down if this is what you seek.
In addition to their ala carte menu, do note that En Sakaba serves reasonably price lunch sets too. Kanpai!
Expected Damage: $30-50 per pax