Ishiro: Tender Grilled Pork Belly Japanese Rice Bowls + Blow-Torched Mentaiko Poached Salmon From S$7.90 At Telok Ayer

If you work or stay around the Telok Ayer area, you know there’s a ton of good eats, so much so that it’s hard to decide what to have for lunch everyday.

Add Ishiro to the list—it’s a quaint little stall nestled in China Square Central‘s basement and sells affordable Japanese rice bowls. From tender Iberico pork slices to poached salmon topped with blow-torched mentaiko, Ishiro’s rice bowls are priced from S$7.90 to S$10.90 and all come with a delicate onsen egg.

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This isn’t Ishiro’s first branch. It started out in Nanyang Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic, selling affordable Japanese rice bowls to hardworking students who wanted a quick fix in-between classes and lectures. Now, it opened another branch in China Square Central to cater to the working crowd.

When I visited its newest branch on a weekday afternoon, I was stunned by the throng of people waiting for their orders. I attributed the crowd to the fact that it was lunchtime, and also because Ishiro was holding a buy-one-get-one-free opening promotion.

I placed my order and proceed to wait patiently for my food.

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Ishiro doesn’t have a sit-down dining area, so you’ll either have to settle for a standing table in one of the common areas nearby, or get takeaway and bring it back to the office.

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I tried the Ishiro Chasu Bowl (S$8.90), which came with a bed of fluffy Japanese white rice, slices of grilled pork belly, an onsen egg, and mixed greens.

My first impression was that for S$8.90, Ishiro gave me plenty of pork belly slices—I counted four—and each slice was thick and glistening with marinade. The bowl of pork belly looked so inviting that it instantly made me want to dive in and eat it.

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The pork belly had been marinated in savoury soy sauce and other condiments before being cooked, so the minute I bit into it, I tasted a burst of rich smoky, salty, and savoury flavours that were absolutely delicious.

The chashu was tender and I loved how the glistening layers of fat, skin, and meat melted in my mouth like soft butter. There was a sharp aftertaste, as if each pork belly slice had been finished off with a thin layer of vinegar, and I appreciated how the sourness cut through the copious amount of salty meat.

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The Gyudon (S$8.90) was served with Japanese rice, sukiyaki beef slices, stewed onions, an onsen egg, and mixed greens. It was also topped off with chilli flakes.

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I’ve got to say, Ishiro’s onsen eggs are consistently on point, and every single onsen egg I got was soft and jiggly.

I prodded at my gyudon‘s onsen egg with my utensils, and watched with pure satisfaction as it broke apart easily and glorious golden yolk spilt over the beef slices.

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The beef slices were fragrant and soft, and I loved how it had absorbed all that savoury sukiyaki sauce, so every bite was packed with a tangy and rich sweetness.

Plus, the slices of stewed onions added a caramelised smokiness to each slice, which made each spoonful utterly comforting and satisfying.

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I also tried its Mentaiko Salmon Bowl (S$10.90), the priciest item on its menu, and loved how generous they were with the piece of poached salmon—it was so large that it almost couldn’t fit inside the rice bowl!

It was topped with blow-torched mentaiko for a decadent finish.

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While the salmon wasn’t as moist as I’d like—it was more on the dry and flaky side—I loved that it had been baked until its sides were crispy, so there were little addictively crunchy bits that I’d pick out of the bowl.

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The mentaiko was one of my favourite parts of this rice bowl. It was rich and salty, and there was no fishy taste at all. I could tell that mayonnaise had been added to the mentaiko, but rather than dilute the umami flavours from the mentaiko, it added a velvety creaminess to it.

I was so tempted to scrape off the layer of mentaiko and eat it just like that, but I ended up pairing it with the flaky salmon to balance out its dryness.

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Last but not least, I tried Ishiro’s Chikin Bowl (S$7.90), which is its cheapest item on its menu.

It was served with slices of marinated chicken thigh, an onsen egg, and mixed greens.

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While the Chikin Bowl is by far the most nondescript item on its menu, Ishiro makes up for it by doing a fantastic job with the chicken slices.

I know how hard it is to cook chicken meat well—it’s easy to overcook and the meat tends to become hard and dry. But Ishiro’s chicken slices were succulent and juicy, and I bit through the meat with ease.

Ishiro’s delicious and affordable rice bowls make me wish I worked around the Telok Ayer area just so I can get myself a satisfying bowl of chashu rice for lunch every other week.

All its items are definitely wallet-friendly and they don’t scrimp on rice, meat, vegetables and other ingredients, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.

Expected Damage: S$7.90 – S$10.90 per pax

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5


18 Cross Street, #B1-127, China Square Central, Singapore 048423

Our Rating 4/5


18 Cross Street, #B1-127, China Square Central, Singapore 048423

Operating Hours: 10am - 8pm (Mon - Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun

Operating Hours: 10am - 8pm (Mon - Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun
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