The Muttons create an itch you want to scratch with affordable authentic Japanese food in Singapore.
A Japanese restaurant named Itchy Bun, gettit? Word puns are a typical Muttons thing and they proved it with their first restaurant, Fook Kin. Now, the Class 95 RJs – Justin Ang and Vernon A – reckon they can make it 2 successes out of 2 and are throwing open the doors to Itchy Bun on 22/2/22.
This dressed-down Kyoto-style affordable Japanese restaurant fits right in with the laidback Prinsep Street vibe. It’s a cosy 30-seater within the SMU, NAFA, etc. ‘school belt’ so I forecast long queues, come end-Feb. Fortunately, we got a sneak peek (and taste!) of the menu in the company of The Muttons and it was a lively, hilarious and delicious affair.
What I tried
Kaarage is front and centre at Itchy Bun and rightly so because this place does it so well!
For me, the star of the show was the Tori (Chicken) Kaarage (S$7.80), which comes with either Spicy Ponzu Mayo or Yuzu Cream. One serving is a pair of buns but it’s going to be incredibly hard to stop at just 2.
Every piece was crispy and there was none of the doughy texture I’ve often found in kaarage at other Japanese restaurants in Singapore.
The Muttons are particularly proud of this dish and spoke enthusiastically about the R&D that went into its perfection. I mentally shook my fist at the lucky people who got to be on the trial panel.
Leading the Zensai (Small Bites) part of the menu is Ika Geso Karaage (S$11.80), which is squid deep-fried in Itchy Bun’s special batter.
I loved how it was prepared to just the right level of fried-ness, absorbing all the flavour of the oil but not becoming too greasy or soggy. If you haven’t tried wasabi mayo before, your first time should be in Itchy Bun.
Fancy yourself a donburi? Itchy Bun spoils you for choice.
I had a taste of Teriyaki Chicken Don (S$6.80), Unagi Don (S$10.80), and the crème de la crème, Subarashii Don (S$19.80).
I gawked at the price of this premium bowl until I saw what goes into it: foie gras, kaarage, and pork belly kakuni. That’s apart from the Japanese pickles, Onsen egg, tobiko (flying fish roe), and dried nori (seaweed sheets) that come with each serving of donburi. The furikake dusting on the rice adds just the right amount of savoury pleasure with every mouthful.
Visually, I found the smattering of sesame seeds on the meat in every bowl simply tantalising.
Finally, the titular Itchy Buns were unveiled. The Spicy Kaarage Bun (S$5.80), Mentaiko Kaarage Bun (S$7.80), and Pork Belly Kakuni Bun (S$5.80). You can tell them apart at a glance by the colour of the condiments with which each is served – green wasabi sauce, light orange mentaiko roe, and yellow daikon radish respectively.
You could mistake them for bao at first glance but take a closer look and you will find that they lack the sheen of moisture of traditional steamed buns. However, ‘dry’ they are not. I found the combination of bun and kaarage even better than kaarage on its own.
So much of that is due to the sauces which add a wonderful kick. My favourite was the Spicy Kaarage but if you are a fan of soft and melty meat, go for the Kakuni.
Justin and Vernon explained that they are keeping prices down by sourcing almost everything locally. Their logic is simple – it strengthens the local F&B industry and associated businesses while creating stronger social links.
The feat is put into perspective with the Subarashii Don (S$19.80). A huge donburi with foie gras, kaarage, kakuni, onsen egg, and more for less than $20? Who would have thought that a generous helping of 3 meats in one bowl could be so cheap?
Itchy Bun is a collaboration between the pair and Bernie Tay, owner of Fat Boys Burger and the pair’s business partner in their debut restaurant, Fook Kin. This preview was an excellent opportunity to speak to The Muttons about the idea behind this wallet-friendly Japanese restaurant.
When our conversation turned to, “Why this?”, Vernon describes Itchy Bun as the casual ‘spinoff’ from Fook Kin and explains that their ultimate goal is to be “like 7-11”, with a store on every corner.
The duo also spoke about the steep learning curve that comes with every new business, even if it is in the F&B industry.
“It has been a challenge sourcing the ideal ingredients and finding the perfect staffing fit. Then, you have to find the right way to market to the right segment.”
“Itchy Bun is a spot for fun casual Japanese dining – get your snacks with frozen beer and sake.”
Their fun take on casual dishes is a sure winner in my eyes (and mouth!) Leave the smart casual behind and rock up to Itchy Bun in whatever you please from 22 February.
Expected damage: S$6 – S$20 per pax
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Our Rating: 4 / 5
44A Prinsep Street, Singapore 188674
44A Prinsep Street, Singapore 188674