Last Updated: March 27, 2017
Located below the residential area of the UE Square, right opposite Fraser Place, Yonpachi Gyojo serves up an assortment of fresh fish sourced from several ports across Japan.
A humble Izakaya that uses high quality and fresh ingredients, grabbing a meal here provides diners with a taste of authentic Japanese food without the hefty price tag.
In order to ensure freshness and quality, the fishes brought in are purchased directly from the Japanese fishermen, cutting out the middleman — this not only regulates a sustainable living for the fishermen, but also results in lower prices for the customer.
Step into the restaurant and be greeted by Japanese-inspired furniture and decor. If you look around carefully, you’ll see actual pictures of the fishermen with their various catches, and maps depicting the locations the fishes are sourced from.
When the staff at Yonpachi say their fish is fresh, they mean it. The restaurant brings in a new catch of fish from Japan every two days and guess what, the types of fish vary depending on the catch(es) of the day!
Upon getting a seat, you’ll be greeted with a huge basket containing the catch of the day. Don’t worry if most of the creatures look alien to you, a staff member will introduce each fish, entailing details such as it’s origin, the best preparation for it, etc.
Each fish goes for about $20 – $30, for the whole fish inclusive of its preparation and cooking. Choose to have the whole fish prepared a certain way, or go half-half with two different preparations. These fishes usually appear on the Seasonal Menu, with unique dishes on top of Yonpachi’s regular menu.
How can we visit a restaurant that prides itself on fresh seafood and not order for a platter of sashimi? The Yonpachi Mori ($48) serves up to three people and contains an assortment of eight different kinds of seafood, seaweed and accompaniments such as wasabi, sea salt and Japanese herbs are served with the platter to enhance and accentuate the taste of the fishes.
For our platter, we had Houbou (Sea Robin), Aji (Horse Mackerel), Wakashi Buri (Baby Amberjack), Salmon, Hon Maguro (Blue Fin Tuna), Botan Ebi (Large Prawn), Isaki (Threeline Grunt), and Hirame (Flounder). Do note that the types of fishes may change every few days, depending on what the fishermen catch.
As a general guideline, coarse sea salt is paired with white (fleshed) fishes, but feel free to try different combinations, depending on your personal preference.
One of our favourites was the Botan Ebi, or Large Prawn. Sweet, succulent and juicy, could it get any better? Dipped into the shoyu along with a touch of wasabi resulted in a perfectly balanced bite; definitely for all you prawn fanatics.
Another component of the platter we thought was particularly interesting was the Aji, which was served with a sesame sauce and julienned cucumber. The sesame sauce was reminiscent of the satay peanut sauce we’re familiar with, and it lends an earthy flavour to the dish. Together with the cucumber, the sauce was flavourful but still allowed the fish to shine through as the hero.
Next, we had the Nishin Ippon Boiled In Sweetened Soysauce (Seasonal), we were served a whole fish with lots of roe hidden within its belly. The herring was perfectly cooked, the tender flesh absorbed the flavours of the braising sauce.
The roe in the fish was a nice surprise and lent a textural contrast to the dish; do look out for the small bones present as you savour it.
From the same people that brought you Tsukada Nojo, it is no surprise to find Kaisen Bijin Nabe ($68) on the menu. Being a fish-centric restaurant, the broth here uses both seafood and chicken, as well as seafood as the main ingredients of the hotpot.
This particular hotpot was served with salmon, minced prawn balls, crab, clams and an assortment of vegetables, of which 80% are organic.
The staff members here will cook the ingredients for you, starting with the seafood, so simply kick back and wait for your meal to be ready. If you wish, get a ladle or two of the hearty broth for yourself to sip on as the ingredients simmer.
The Bijin Nabe was served with a house blended chilli sauce consisting of seven chillies, a yuzu-pepper paste and sesame seeds. Our favourite was the chilli, which was not only unique to the restaurant, but provided a kick to the dish.
Of all the seafood, the most enjoyable were the thick slices of salmon, which are simmered till tender. Apart from that, the prawn ball added a nice touch, with the broth complementing the natural sweetness of the prawns.
If you’re looking for a side dish, consider the Hirota Tsubu ($14.80), which is whelk grilled in garlic and butter. In contrast with the sauce, the mild sweetness of the whelk balanced out each bite nicely. The dish was served with a fist-sized hunk of baguette that we used to (enthusiastically) soak up all that buttery goodness left behind.
Cook it over the grill if you’re seated outside, or opt for it to be cooked first if your seated indoors.
To finish off a traditional Japanese meal, we had the Stone-Roasted rice with Whitebait and Mentaiko ($19.80). Just mix everything together and voila, it’s ready to eat.
Being fans of mentaiko, we really enjoyed how the flavour was particularly prominent throughout the dish.
If you prefer it to be milder, pour in some of the homemade dashi stock and have the rice Chazuke-style. The broth had an umami flavour that complemented the savouriness of the rice well.
The restaurant offers a good spread of Japanese alcohol and sake; the standouts being the Hakkaisan Minus 12 °C Yukibie ($25 per bottle). Unlike your regular cold sake, this one is served at a temperature of -12 °C, resulting in a slushie consistency.
For an authentic Japanese experience, accompanied by dishes cooked with quality, fresh ingredients, head down to Yonpachi Gyojo today. Fresh fish and good food that’s easy on your wallet? Who can say no to that?
Expected Damage: $50 per pax
* This post was brought to you in partnership with Yonpachi Gyojo