Japanese rice bowls, or in Japanese, Donburi, normally consists of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients simmered together and served over rice. A typical sauce used for simmering would be dashi broth with soy sauce and mirin.
I’ve always loved having myself a hot bowl of Donburi; they’re just so hearty and make you feel all warm and cosy inside. Never have I eaten a good bowl of Donburi and was left feeling unsatisfied.
The beauty in Donburi is that you could put anything on top of rice, resulting in a multitude of different possible types of Donburi.
Here’s where you can find good hearty bowls of Donburi at really low prices:
10. Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant
Yayoi’s Oyako Don ($10.90) has amazing chicken and egg that are just soaked with flavours after being simmered in dashi sauce. The chicken in tender and the eggs are so flavourful and soft – when eaten with rice, makes a perfect combination.
The meal comes with miso soup, but if you think this isn’t enough for you (the rice portion is quite small), just add $3 and you get a piping hot bowl of udon.
9. Genki Sushi
Genki’s Chirashi Don ($9.80), albeit being just slightly smaller than the average donburi, is still extremely worth its price. With four prawns, two slices of salmon, two slices of blue fin tuna, a slice of swordfish, two slices of tamago, two crabsticks and a generous portion of salmon roe on top of quality sushi rice, I’d say $9.80 is a big steal.
All seven of Genki’s rice bowls are under $10 and their low prices don’t compromise quality either.
Genki Sushi (Bugis+): 201 Victoria Street, #01-13, Bugis+, Singapore 188067 | Tel: 6636 6606 | Website
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm (Daily)
8. Kinsa Sushi
For Kinsa Sushi, I love their Wakatori Don ($9.80) – grilled teriyaki chicken rice bowl. The chicken has crispy skin which is a lovely surprise, considering it’s grilled rather than fried.
I get very annoyed when cheap donburi places are stingy with their sauces, but this one has the perfect proportion. Lathered with sweet sticky teriyaki sauce, this rice bowl is a wonderful blend of sweet and savoury.
It’s served with a hearty bowl of miso soup with freshly diced tofu and mushrooms – a nice warm ending to my meal.
7. Gyu Kaku
Straying away from the conventional rice bowls, Gyu Kaku adds a spicy Korean twist to theirs. Only available on their lunch menu, the Buta Kimuchi Don ($10) comes with a salad, kimchi, and wakame soup (seaweed soup) on the side.
The pork belly slices are tender and marinated thoroughly with kimchi flavours, with the spicy sour tang a flavourful addition to the clean flavours of premium Japanese rice.
Gyu Kaku (Novena Square): #02-46, 238 Thomson Road, Novena Square, Singapore 307683 | Tel: 6252 4001 | Website
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10pm (Daily)
6. Men Men Don Don
With several outlets scattered all over the different regions of Singapore, Men Men Don Don blesses us all with cheap but good rice bowls. With a large variety of extremely cheap rice bowls to choose from, it’s been my go-to rice bowl place for years now.
Their Gyu Don ($7.50) has very thinly sliced beef that are fatty, springy, and have completely absorbed the sweet-salty sauce they’ve been boiled in. Even the egg is good – fresh and wobbly. When you mix everything together, it just becomes a heavenly blend of hearty goodness.
Chicken Katsu Curry Don ($8.80). Their katsu has a thick layer of crunchy skin and crust wrapped around the chicken, which isn’t dry at all. The curry is viscous too, unlike many other cheap Japanese curry rice bowls which have runny curry. So sinful, but so so good.
Men Men Don Don (Westmall): 1 Bukit Batok Central Link, #01-02, West Mall, Singapore 658713 | Tel: 6794 5472 | Website
Opening Hours: 11am – 9:30pm (Daily)
Beef Rice with Hot Spring Egg in Tokyo Style Set ($9.90).
Watami has this only under their lunch set. With the set comes salad, miso soup, and a drink of your choice.
I’m a huge fan of Gyu Dons (Beef rice bowls), but it’s difficult to find good ones that are cheap. Watami’s beef slices are thin, fatty and not tough at all, making it really easy to chew. The onions are so soft and nicely soaked, while the egg gives the whole bowl a smooth lovely creaminess.
What’s more, you can top up your meal from a large range of sides for just a few dollars more.
Watami (Ion Orchard): #B3-23, 2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard, Singapore 238801 | Tel: 6509 9366
Opening Hours: 11:30pm – 10pm
4. Aji ichi
Under their set lunch menu, this Chicken Katsu Curry Set ($9.90) comes with salad, edamame, miso soup, chawanmushi, and green tea. Their chicken katsu, fat and tender, is breaded and fried to a perfect golden brown crisp.
I know some of us might be dubious of the quality of the chawanmushi considering such a low price for this entire set, but I can vouch for it; it’s so soft and brothy.
Their lunch sets are available during weekdays (except for public holidays) from 11:30am to 5pm.
Apart from their set lunches, they’ve also got Oyakodon ($9.90) which definitely is not as worth it as the set lunch. But if you’re visiting this place outside of lunch hours, this one falls under the below $11 category, and is still pretty bomb.
Fun Fact: Aji Ichi uses premium Niigata rice, which is chewier and stickier in texture.
3. Yugo Izakaya
Yugo Izakaya is the place to go to for students because their student deals are amazing.
Angus Beef and Tamago Don Set ($10.90), on the Lunch Set Menu, has grilled angus beef and tamago (egg), and comes with a side of fruits and green tea.
The angus beef is served medium-rare, tender and juicy. When paired together with that oozing egg and their chewy rice, its value to me is way higher than its price. Without the egg, their Angus Beef Don is only $9.90, but come on who in the right mind is gonna pass on that sexy egg.
Their cheapest don would be the Panseared Salmon Don ($8.90), and they’ve still got plenty of others on their menu.
Yugo Izakaya: 44 Prinsep St., #01-01, Singapore 188673 | Tel: 66596606 | Website
Opening hours: 12pm – 3am (Daily)
2. Koh Grill & Sushi Bar
Although Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is irrevocably famous for being the creator of the famed Shiok Maki, I foresee they’ll also be famous for their extremely value-for-money rice bowls.
Kakiage Don ($8.90). Shredded vegetable tempura served over rice and drizzled with home made sweet sauce. With the vegetarians in mind, the creator of this dish, Dorin Koh, decided to offer up a rice bowl equally as delicious as her other creations for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike to enjoy.
The shredded veggies (carrots, eggplant, mushroom) are very crispy and fried in a light batter, while somehow still maintaining their sweet freshness. I’m not usually a fan of veggies, but I’m pretty sure i’m this don’s number one fan.
Ten Don ($10.90). I’m really amazed at the amount of ingredients and effort that’s poured into making this dish, and yet still amount to a small price of $10.90.
With two giant tempura prawns, assorted vegetables, tempura wakame, and tempura lava egg, the bowl is practically overflowing with tempura goodness. So good, crispy and sweet, and with that lava egg oozing eggy goodness all over your rice, this Ten Don deserves a ten out of ten. Hahaha get it?
Koh Grill & Sushi Bar: 435 Orchard Road, #04-21, Wisma Atria Shopping Centre, Singapore 238877
Hidden deep inside the recesses of Thomson Plaza lies a little eatery called Sushiro. To find it, look for a snaking queue. With only 12 seats including bar counter seats, it’s extremely tiny which is probably the reason why there’s always a long queue, but trust me the queue is so damn worth it.
Don’t let its looks fool you; despite not being a restaurant in any sense, everything is still of top notch quality. At Sushiro, there are two rice bowls that fall in the under $11 category: Salmon Teriyaki Don ($10.80), and Chicken Katsu Don with Onsen Egg ($10.80).
I got the Salmon Teriyaki Don.
The salmon is BLOWTORCHED before being served, so it comes slightly charred and gives it a smokey accent. With a slight coating of buttery fat, the salmon is rich and juicy. It’s so soft that it falls apart in pink giant flakes and when it enters your mouth, disintegrates instantaneously.
I wouldn’t mind queuing for hours for just that bowl, but do give the other items on their menu a try as well.
Sushiro: #01-113F, 301 Upper Thomson Rd, Singapore 574408
Opening Hours: Wed – Mon: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 9:30pm | Tue: Closed