Boat Quay has gone through many facelifts and in 2016 it went through another — all the al fresco areas were given a makeover and now everything looks uniform and sleek.
The Container Japanese Tapas and Bar + Aburiya Japanese Yakiniku couldn’t have picked a better time to bring premium wagyu and craft cocktails to the once ah beng paradise. Still packed with seafood restaurants from front to end, the inclusion of this new variety has been a fantastic addition to the evolving tastes of young professionals in the area.
The space is bigger than what most would imagine; many would assume them to be two separate venues, but they’re really not. The Container is an al fresco section that serves tapas and drinks, whilst the Aburiya Japanese Yakiniku is indoor and provides grilled wagyu and drinks, albeit from different menus.
The Container Japanese Tapas & Bar
I began with cocktails and tapas because unlike some of you, I’m honest about my love for alcohol and the occasional light bite. And with infused whiskies available, I dived right in.
Being a man of many loves, I count beef and whisky amongst them. The marriage between these two made me forget my entire purpose of the evening and all I wanted was to hear how they met.
Was it love at first sight or was it arranged? I took it all in, I just wanted some – okay, let’s not kid, I wanted all of it in my belly. It was beefy and aromatic, full-bodied and definitely oilier than any other whisky, yet delightfully savoury.
I learnt that the wagyu fat used to infuse the whisky came directly from Aburiya, the yakiniku section of this establishment. At The Container, they use what would have been waste to fat wash the whisky, giving it its unique aroma.
Every batch of Wagyu Whisky ($14 per 45ml) tastes unique, as the fat used comes from a different part of the cow every time. And whilst you can consume the wagyu whisky over rocks or neat (which is recommended), there are cocktails specially created to use the whisky as a base.
The Amai Sanaa ($19) is a sweet alternative. The wagyu whisky serves as a base and provides the tart cocktail with a full body, intensifying the sweet strawberry notes. It’s also served with an edible homemade strawberry leather tied around the stem of the glass.
Classy AND functional.
For a light bite to complement the drinks, we tried the Wagyu Tartare ($18) which is served with a nest of crispy cha soba and a raw quail egg to be mixed in with the beef. A feast for the eyes, it also tasted remarkably fresh and well-prepared.
The tartare was creamy and literally melted in my mouth. The cha soba nest, on the other hand, didn’t retain too much of its flavour, although it did provide the necessary texture to break up all the melting from the wagyu.
Aburiya Japanese Yakiniku
Done with our quick round of drinks and tapas, we headed indoors to the yakiniku section. There’s a stark contrast between the two areas and you’ll immediately notice that it’s more intimate inside, setting the mood for a great dining experience.
There are private rooms, private booths, as well as open tables to choose from. So whether you’re looking for a small party venue, or to meet with a Shogun in safety and privacy, you’ll find your needs well catered to.
We started with the Aburiya Yuke ($18), a thinly-sliced wagyu brisket served in a signature sauce. You don’t have to grill this as it’s supposed to be eaten raw or wrapped in cabbage.
It’s recommended that you try this if you’re dining here, but if the thought of raw beef doesn’t excite you, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
Try the Tokusen Wagyu Misuji ($28) which is a little pricier, but there’s a reason behind this. Each cow only yields three kilograms of this rare oyster blade, and for that alone it’s a must-try.
True to its name, it is indeed a delicacy with very complex flavours. If you’re going for this, be sure not to overcook it! I don’t usually like to tell people how to eat their beef, but a medium rare on this cut is a must.
The Aburiya Kirotoshi Tokumori ($24 per 150g) is probably the signature selection. It’s usually a fixed order and is also featured on the very first page of the menu. The meat is really silky and like most of the dishes served, melts away in your mouth lusciously.
As with most yakinikus, you’ll find that it can be a little tiring or over indulgent to be consuming so much meat. However, there are a variety of sides and substitute meat options for you to choose from.
The prices for the grade and cuts of the meat are set at reasonable rates and really live up to the establishment’s philosophy of making wagyu affordable.
So if you’re looking for quality wagyu and thoughtfully concocted cocktails for your next get-together with old friends, this laid-back joint would be the perfect place for it.
The best part? You can sip on a cocktail by the river and wait for all your friends who you know will arrive fashionably late.
Expected damage: $30 – $40 per person