Who says you can’t dine lavishly at hawker centres? More and more stalls are serving dishes that are commonly seen in restaurants at our good ol’ local hawkers, in which I’m thankful for — happy belly, happy wallet!
Unkai Japanese Cuisine is one of them, located strategically at Old Airport Road. So when you’re there for some satays or bringing a friend from overseas to try out our local foods, do pop by the stall to start your meal with some fresh seafood appetisers.
The Hotate Tobiko Yaki ($15) is a must-try that comes presented in its shell! Enticing in every way.
Half a dozen of scallops topped with a layer of mayonnaise are freshly baked upon placing your orders, it is then sprinkled over with flying fish roe and flame-torched for that added charred taste.
Squeeze some lemon juice on top, scoop the scallop up and pop it entirely into your mouth. Your taste buds will be hit with a slew of flavours and textures — sweetness and bounciness from the fresh scallops, creaminess from the mayo, and a slight crunchy from the tobiko.
If you do a little fast math mental calculation and break it down, all these for just $2.50/scallop!
I’ll grab any opportunity to indulge in sashimi anytime. The Sake Sashimi ($6) which comes in five slices, is served atop a bed of ice and dressed with shredded daikon (radish). Each piece had the same consistent thickness, showing off the delicate knife skills of the chef.
The salmon fish is of a lighter shade of orange, fresh and delicate in texture. Eat it fast, as we were told by Mr Teo, the stall helper that it’s not good when the sashimi gets soaked in the melted ice.
Each piece of sashimi only costs $1.20, cos math.
Premium Fresh Oysters ($18, half a dozen) is seen on Unkai’s menu too, and we knew we had to get it. They were shucked live in the stall, ensuring that each oyster is as fresh as it gets.
The slippery goodness were glistening, waiting to be seasoned with a drizzle of lemon juice and hot Tabasco sauce served in a plastic saucer.
Each bite bursts in brininess, and the lemon juice aids in balancing its salinity. The oysters here were slightly softer than what I usually prefer, and would have been perfect if it were a little firmer in texture.
Having these dishes in the midst of a loud, bustling hawker centre is quite an experience. We’ve seen passersby stealing glances at the foods on our table, whose faces had puzzled expressions, before taking a good look at the stall’s menu.
If you’re still up for more, you could also try the Hiyashi Ebi ($14), 10 pieces of cold prawns, and Hiyahi Kami Cold/Grilled Crab (seasonal price). Of which I may return, next time with a bottle of cold beer, in the company of more friends to jolly the night away, at a low price.
Expected damage: $6 – $18