Last Updated: August 24, 2017
Toa Payoh is home to a lot of Hawker Centres and kopitiams. Although there are many cheap and good food options in the vicinity, they are usually local Singaporean delicacies.
A relatively new entrant, Donya, has joined the food scene in Toa Payoh, serving up authentic Japanese cuisine at wallet-friendly prices.
Opened by three friends who grew up together in Toa Payoh, Keat Hwee, Andrew and Jonathan wanted to bring premium Japanese Dons (rice bowls) to the people in this neighbourhood and let others share their love for Japanese food.
Before we dived into trying the rice bowls, we order a round of Gyozas ($3.80). Although they look ordinary, the gyozas were very well done.
The thin skin encased generous amounts of fragrant minced meat before it was pan-fried to a delightful crisp. Despite the small price tag, the quality of the gyozas was akin to those from expensive restaurants.
We then moved on to one of the signature dishes, the Donya Maki ($5.80). That affordable price will get you four pieces of maki, making this dish quite the steal.
The sushi was filled with crabstick, avocado and cucumber before it was topped with salmon, torched tama (egg) and bonito flakes. It’s no word of a lie when I say that this was one of the best plates of sushi that I’ve had in Singapore, and was the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour.
Like the Donya Maki, the Mentai Maki ($5.80) came in fours and was filled with crabstick, avocado and cucumber. It also came with slices of salmon, drizzled with mentaiko and then aburi-ed.
This sushi tasted a lot creamier than the former because of the generous amount of mentaiko, but might get too overwhelming after one too many. Fish roe lovers, however, will really enjoy the ikura that was piled on high, giving the dish quite a bit of texture.
We were very excited to try the Salmon Mentai Don ($8.80). Just look at how much mentaiko there was on top of the salmon! The Japanese rice was drizzled with house-made teriyaki sauce, and a huge slice of salmon sat on top of the rice with a crown of mentaiko.
The mentaiko given was so generous that it was almost the same thickness as the salmon. The salmon was also very fresh and was pan-fried perfectly, leaving crispy salmon skin for extra crunch.
The Unagi Tama Don ($8.80) sold here is basically like a Katsu Don, but the pork is replaced with unagi instead. I counted eight pieces of unagi! (Yet again another generous serving).
The semi-molten, mirin-tinted eggs blanketed over the steamed Japanese rice made for a very comforting bowl to tuck into any time of the day. The onions in the egg also elevated the flavour profile of the dish by adding fragrance, and the unagi pieces were very fresh, with no fishy taste at all.
The unagi pieces were also grilled well and had a perfect consistency – tender but not mushy.
With so many Japanese restaurants selling such expensive rice bowls and sushi, this stall definitely stands out with the small price tags. We were impressed by every single dish we tried and were surprised at how food with such a high quality is priced so affordably.
If I lived in Toa Payoh, I would probably visit this place thrice a week for my Japanese food fix. Head down to Donya to try the food for yourself and let me know if you’re equally impressed!
Expected damage: $5.80 – $10 per pax