Box n Sticks: Salmon Mentai Don + Clam Linguine Under S$20 At This Izakaya In Bugis

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Tucked away just a few streets away from the well-known Haji Lane, Box n Sticks is a hidden and affordable Japanese eatery. Targeted at the working adults around the Beach Road area, Box n Sticks offers value-for-money lunch sets by day and becomes a relaxed izakaya by night.

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Sandwiched between shophouses, we could easily spot Box N Sticks by the excessive number of menu stickers that have been stuck on the walls outside.

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The small restaurant also had cosy wooden walls and numerous magazine cutouts on the wall, giving it an authentic Japanese izakaya vibe.

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Despite its complicated menu with a range of dishes to choose from, we started off with a simple Soba Salad (S$14.90). Considering that there isn’t GST or service charge, and the meal even came with a drink and two free rotational sides, I found it extremely affordable given its prime location.

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The dish featured a cold green tea noodle tossed in a nutty and fragrant sesame sauce that coated the noodles evenly. The noodles were cooked al dente hence it had a springy and chewy texture which I enjoyed.

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The noodles came with a bed of crisp lettuce as well as sides of crunchy cucumbers, tamago slices and crabsticks. The crisp crunchy texture of the lettuce and cucumber also provided a contrast in texture to the chewy noodles.

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The tamago slices were made in-house and added some sweetness to the dish. Each piece of tamago also soaked up the sesame sauce, so each bite was full of sesame fragrance too.

Refreshing and well-balanced, I wouldn’t mind ordering this dish again.

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For some variety, we went for the Salmon Mentai Don (S$18.90) that also came with two free sides and a drink. The don was served with a large, generous portion of salmon that was slathered with a mentaiko sauce.

The sauce had a distinct bright pinkish-orange colour and a robust creamy flavour. On top of that, I could also taste the individual bits of tobiko which gave the sauce a slightly gritty texture.

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Pan-seared till the skin was crispy, the salmon was unfortunately slightly dry. which perhaps due to the cooking process. Despite that, the rich mentaiko sauce helped to make it more palatable.

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Beneath the salmon, there were flakes of tempura bits which gave a pleasant crunchy texture together with the rice. The tempura bits also added a buttery flavour to the dish, making it stand out from most other salmon dons.

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The dish was then topped with a wobbly soft-boiled egg which helped to bring the different flavours in the dish together.

Despite the salmon being dry and was not as juicy as I thought it would be, the creamy mentaiko and the silky egg helped to add more flavour to the salmon.

I would still come back for this dish, as it cost only S$18.90 with the free sides and drink, so there’s really nothing much for me to complain about.

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We were also recommended the Asari Aglio Olio (S$14.90). Like the other dishes at Box n Sticks tradition, this also comes with two free sides and a drink.

You can choose from three different spice levels, and I would recommend going for Level One to get a more subtle hint of spice bringing out the natural flavours of the dish.

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The first thing I noticed was the heaps of clams glistening on top of the linguine. The aglio olio was tossed in both freshly chopped garlic and golden-brown, fried garlic. The fried garlic had a stronger, muskier flavour as compared to the freshly chopped ones, and also gave the dish some much-needed crunch.

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I really liked the use of linguine instead of regular spaghetti. Because of the flat, broad surface area, the pasta was able to pick up large amounts of garlic which gave a robust aromatic taste.

Cooking the pasta with the clams lets the pasta absorb the sweetness from the clams. On my first bite, I tasted the fragrant and distinct garlicky flavours followed by a succulent sweetness from the clams.

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I would recommend boosting your experience with a bottle of sake which enhances the natural sweetness of the clams. The dry finish from the sake would cut through the oiliness of aglio olio, preventing me from having that oily feeling at the back of my throat.

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Box n Sticks offers a chill ambience for the night crowd as well with their izakaya.

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This includes their homemade Tskune (S$4.80) that comes with an egg yolk and honey teriyaki sauce dip as well as their Tori Kawa Ninniku (S$2.40), which is chicken skin wrapped around garlic.

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What made Box n Sticks stood out to me was the numerous games available for diners to get away from their phones, even if it’s for a little while.

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One of the games was getting to roll three dice with the purchase of a beer or sake (one jug = one roll, two jugs = three rolls, three jugs = five rolls). If you get three-of-a-kind, then you can get 40% off the beer or sake. A straight (consecutive numbers) would get you 20% off beer or sake.

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Another game would be the Shoot ‘n’ Win. If you spend S$50, you can shoot a nerf gun at a spinning wheel for a chance to win prizes.

The top prizes include Negitoro Don (S$18.90), Spicy Chicken Don (S$14.90) and Signature Buta Kakuni Buns (S$9.80), which are all claimable on the next visit with no minimum spending.

All things considered, Box n Sticks has really impressed me with their really affordable lunch. Box n Sticks has now become my go-to Japanese spot in town, thanks to the wallet-friendly prices and high-quality ingredients.

Drop by for a quick weekday lunch, and enjoy some value-for-money yummy dishes!

Expected Damage: S$10 – S$30 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Box n Sticks

28 Khandahar Street, Singapore 198889

Our Rating 5/5

Box n Sticks

28 Khandahar Street, Singapore 198889

Telephone: +65 6341 7780
Operating Hours: 12noon - 3pm & 6pm - 10pm (Tue - Sun), Closed on Mon
Telephone: +65 6341 7780

Operating Hours: 12noon - 3pm & 6pm - 10pm (Tue - Sun), Closed on Mon