It can be difficult to find affordable dining options when we’re in town, but fret not because I’ll let you in on a hidden gem tucked in the corner of Ngee Ann City’s Basement 2 Food Hall.
A popular place for working professionals to have lunch during weekdays, Nakajima Suisan Grilled Fish has been faithfully serving up affordable grilled fish teishoku (Japanese Set Meals) for years.
Queues can form here pretty fast during lunch and dinner hours, but the line moves relatively quickly, so it’ll be your turn in no time. The setting is very simple and fuss-free so patrons usually leave quickly after finishing their meal.
For customers queuing to be seated, there’s a small waiting area with chairs to rest before getting a table. A display of the restaurant’s staple menu items allow you to decide beforehand what you’d like to order.
Apart from the regular menu items, Nakajima Suisan Grilled fish offers seasonal fishes as well. But they are shown only via little placards at the cashier where you’ll have to order and pay first before proceeding to your table.
Did I mention that this place has no additional charges for GST and service charge?
The Saba Shioyaki Set ($8.50) is its most affordable set, which comes with rice, pickles, salad and miso soup, as well as refillable hot green tea — extremely value-for-money considering the portion and location.
The tart and crunchy pickles were actually quite addictive and I munched on them for quite a while before remembering I had a main dish .
Grilled to a light crisp, the mackerel managed to retain a nice amount of juiciness. The amount of salt used was spot-on and did well to highlight the mackerel’s natural flavour.
The saba is notably larger in portion size and smelt less fishy than those sold at food courts. For those who tend to be sensitive to the fishy smell, the additional lemon wedge and grated radish will help to mask it further.
This right here is probably the best grilled saba I’ve had in Singapore, especially with its pocket-friendly price.
We also tried the Mero Saikyo Set ($16.50) and were served a slab of grilled snow cod fish with miso glaze. This turned out to be the highlight of the meal.
Moist, flaky and tender, the snow cod hit all the right spots with its luxurious mouthfeel while the gentle, nutty and slightly sweet miso glaze elevated the dish to the next level.
After finishing the last morsel of it, I felt a little pang of sadness. “Ah, there’s no more cod left”, I thought to myself. Not that the portion is small by any means; the cod was just that delightful.
For those who might be confused while reading the menu (like I was), both Mero and Gindara are both species of cod. However, the helpful staff kindly explained that the former is Black Cod while the latter is Snow Cod, which explains the slight price difference.
In fact, if you get intimidated or confused by the Japanese dish names, simply approach the staff and they will be more than happy to explain them to you.
Overall, I would strongly recommend Nakajima Suisan Grilled Fish to anyone who is looking for a fuss-free and value-for-money dining option in Orchard. Both dishes were outstanding in their own right; mackerel with its value, and the snow cod with its superb taste and mouthfeel.
I enjoyed my meal here very much and will definitely return again to try their seasonal offerings.
Expected Damage: $8.50 – $16.50 per person