Last Updated: April 14, 2020
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Anyone who knows me knows I have an unhealthy obsession with Japanese food, so imagine my excitement when I heard of a new Japanese eatery—[email protected]—hidden away in the heart of Serangoon serving classics like chirashi dons and more.
[email protected] is located at myVillage, a heartland mall at Maju Avenue, and helmed by Alfred Ng, the founder and head chef. His name might sound familiar—he ran an ice cream shop called The Milky Way in 2015, before going to Japan in 2018 and becoming inspired to cook Japanese food.
He had always wanted to venture into the F&B industry after studying overseas in America and developing a love for cooking while staying alone. After his eight-week stint at the Tokyo Sushi Academy with his brother, he returned to Singapore and finally decided that his dream of starting his own restaurant shouldn’t be delayed any longer.
In late July 2019, Alfred’s ‘baby’ opened its doors at myVillage in Serangoon, a conveniently short walk from his house. Its name was derived from the district where Alfred and his brother stayed while they were in Tokyo, Monzen-Nakacho. [email protected] is a very family-centric business, with Alfred’s brother helping out in the kitchen and their parents working more on back-end logistics.
Even though their main fare is Japanese-inspired dishes, Alfred explained that it leans more towards an izakaya concept, casual dining with drinks and sides. He’s planning to come out with a new menu in the future once the COVID-19 situation has stabilised, with more sides and new variations on his signature dishes.
As a starter, we had Ika Karaage (S$10) with sriracha mayo dip, which is essentially deep-fried squid. This is their most popular side dish that gets sold out really quickly, and I understood why after trying it.
Served in bite-sized squid pieces fried to a dark golden brown, the crunchy batter gave way to chewy yet tender squid, making for a satisfying bite. Paired with the spicy-sweet mayo, this was the kind of dish you could keep popping into your mouth before realising that you’ve single-handedly finished the whole plate.
Moving on to the mains, I had their signature Bara-Chirashi Don (S$15.80), which uses all premium cuts of sashimi instead of offcuts. He maintains the freshness of his ingredients by ordering just enough sashimi for one day so he doesn’t have to keep any raw parts for the next day, and all dishes are made-to-order.
The small pieces of salmon, tuna and swordfish are marinated with an in-house sauce made with drinking sake, shoyu and a dash of sesame oil. The chirashi don is then finished with tamago (Japanese egg) and tobiko (flying fish roe) over vinegared sushi rice.
The sashimi was small yet juicy, with a subtle hint of the marinade that didn’t overpower the natural taste of the fish. The contrast of the tender sashimi, especially the tuna, with the crunchy cucumber and the burst of the tobiko created an indulgent mouthful, especially with the varied flavours of the sour rice, sweet tamago and savoury fish.
The Wagyu Beef Don (S$18.80) is another of their signature dons, which features pan-seared wagyu beef drizzled with truffle shoyu, fried garlic bits and an onsen egg over white rice. Although the prices here at [email protected] are more wallet-friendly compared to other high-end Japanese restaurants, Alfred doesn’t shortchange customers—all his ingredients are premium quality, even his wagyu beef.
Tender and juicy, the small slabs of beef left a subtle but lingering truffle flavour in my mouth, which was emphasised by the fragrant garlic bits. The unique piquant garlic taste cut through the creamy onsen egg, and the rich combination of savoury, beefy and sharp flavours created an addictive mouthful that I kept reaching for.
The highlight of my meal at [email protected] was the Mentaiko Salmon Don (S$17.80)—torched seasoned cod roe mayo topping slices of salmon sashimi over sushi rice. If you know me, you’ll know that I absolutely adore anything mentaiko, but this blew my expectations right out of the water.
Dollops of torched mentai sat atop thick slices of salmon which were cooked to perfection. The top layer of salmon was seared, while the bottom was still raw. This gave it a subtle charred taste, while still remaining succulent and slightly chewy. Topped with the savoury cod roe mayo, each bite was an explosion of salty mentaiko and tender salmon, with a trademark aburi aftertaste.
After my satisfying and very filling meal, Alfred shared his future plans for the restaurant with me, including hopefully opening another outlet in the CBD. He also explained how he aimed to create an atmosphere that was homely and casual, evident in how he approached each table to enquire after his customers and build rapport with his regulars.
Seeing the camaraderie between Alfred and his employees—they spoke like friends and even visited the eatery on their off-days—was enough to convince me that [email protected] was both a restaurant and a home. Given its close proximity to many residential areas in Serangoon, it’s the perfect place for any occasion, even for drinks with friends (they have an all-day happy hour deal for S$10/pint).
To make their food more accessible to all of us with the current COVID-19 climate, they’ve recently launched islandwide delivery! You can place your orders by filling out this form and completing your order using PayNow or Paylah. Enjoy free delivery right to your doorstep if you spend over S$50, so there’s no reason for you not to give [email protected] a try.
Expected Damage: S$15.80++ – S$25++ per pax