Japanese skewers go together with beer like mac goes together with cheese. But when we think of Japanese skewers and beer, we usually order Asahi, Sapporo or Kirin. What about Japanese skewers paired with international craft beer?
That’s exactly what Toriki at JCube is offering. With over 20 craft beers available in their restaurant, you’ll definitely be able to find the perfect pairing for your freshly grilled skewers.
We started off our meal with the Mirror Pond Pale Ale ($9/$13/$16 for S/M/L sizes), which was on tap. It was a smooth and malty light beer, the perfect introduction for me as it was an easy ale to down.
You’ll want to head there with an empty stomach because there’s such a great selection to choose from! We started with the Avocado ($2.90), which was creamy and smooth with a lingering charred flavour.
Other yasai, or vegetables, are also available as skewers. You can get the Sweetcorn, Cherry Tomato or Leeks for $1.90 each. Premium yasai, such as the Avocado, Shiitake, and Nasu (Eggplant) are slightly pricier at $2.90 each. The Nasu is slathered with a sambal sauce that’s made from scratch. The spiciness evolves as you chew; from sweet and fragrant, to the kick of spice in your chest.
Next, it was time to sate our carnivorous appetites. Bring on the meat!
We tried three different types of Pork Belly Wrap ($3.90 each). We had the choice of tender pork belly wrapped around Tomato, Quail Egg or Asparagus.
I preferred the variant with Asparagus, because the slight bitterness and the crunch of the vegetable undercut the rich fatty flavour of the pork. The skewer with Tomato was also scrumptious, especially when the tangy juices burst in my mouth when I bit into it.
The Quail Egg skewer was perhaps the one with the most uniform taste; the rich hard-boiled yolk can get a bit jelat when eaten with the pork belly.
If there’s one skewer you must try, it’s the Suki-yaki Special ($4.50). As the name suggests, this skewer is basically Japanese hotpot on a stick. I really loved the skewer’s complex texture. Juicy pork belly is wrapped around enoki mushrooms and succulent spinach.
The whole suki-yaki experience is served on a skewer and bathed in onsen egg and a special sauce. There’s no need to worry if you can’t mop up all the egg with the skewer, because I was told that it’s customary for diners to drink up whatever’s left.
In comparison, the Tsukune ($4.50) was simpler and more uniform in taste. Essentially, a freshly-made meatball, I liked the soft and moist texture, but flavour-wise, the Suki-Yaki Special was more exciting.
From the heavier pork flavours, we move on to the lighter chicken skewers. Lighter doesn’t mean less tasty, especially when we sampled the rarer parts of the chicken, such as the heart and liver.
The Hatsu ($2.90), chicken heart, was chewier than I expected, with juices bursting in my mouth.
I preferred the Reba ($2.90), which is a chicken liver skewer and absolutely loved the creamy texture of the meat and the lingering robust flavour. The mark of a good yakitori place, indeed.
For a more filling skewer, try the Tebasaki ($3.50), the butterfly mid-joints of the chicken. I enjoyed the slightly charred exterior, which complemented the sticky, sweet glaze. Both bones in the wings are kept in when grilling, to seal the rich flavour in. After all, it’s the same reason why Chinese herbal soups are boiled with pork or chicken bones.
We couldn’t possibly miss out on the AAAA Wagyu Ribeye ($9.90). Pre-cut for our dining convenience, the meat was super soft.
The meat slid off easily from the stick, yet it wasn’t mushy, but firm to the bite. I’d recommend trying it together with the yuzu kosho, a fermented chilli paste that contains yuzu peel and salt. The slightly bittersweet citrus taste combines with the spice for a pleasant kick on top of the meaty flavour. Another condiment option is the wasabi, which was surprisingly sweet, without the burning aftertaste.
After the heavy meats, a cool drink of beer was definitely needed to cleanse the palate. A crowd-favourite, the Koshihikari ($18) is a rice lager that floats on your tongue with a slightly sweet rice aftertaste.
Light and subtle, the refreshing flavour cleansed my palate. And I was ready for round two.
Starting light again, we sampled the Asari no Sakamushi ($14.90). The fresh clams are served in a stew of sake and mirini, resulting in a fresh and sweet taste that’s punctuated with the bite of sake.
One of their popular bar bites, the Chicken Nanban ($8.90) is way crispier than your regular fast food chain fried chicken. It’s so flavourful and juicy that you can basically eat this with white rice.
Served with a homemade tartar sauce that tasted like creamy Japanese egg salad, I couldn’t stop myself from picking up piece after piece and popping them into my mouth.
Equally addictive was the Amaebi Kara Age ($8.90), these bite-sized prawns that are fried to perfection in their shells. And yes, you can eat the whole prawn, shell and all.
Because the prawns are tossed with flour that’s slightly buttered, they become slightly crispy. This ultimate bar food pairs really well with the lighter beers. I could probably finish the entire bowl on my own if I tried.
For a sweet finish to the meal, we tried their Ozeki Ikezo Peach ($12). This sparkling jelly also comes in a Yuzu flavour. Despite containing 5% alcohol content, I could hardly taste the sake in the jelly.
With a consistency that slightly firmer than Aiyu jelly and a fizz that leaves your teeth tingly, this makes for a good dessert substitute.
As a whisky lover myself, I definitely had to try the Matcha Whisky ($15). A cocktail made of three simple ingredients (whisky, lime juice, matcha), it surprised me with its complex taste.
The drink comes with a lemon to stir, so that the citrus flavour mixes into it. Surprisingly light on the palate, the matcha’s bitterness only emerges near the end. An easy cocktail to guzzle down, it glided down my throat with the faintest hint of whisky flavour. I would definitely get this unique cocktail again.
Those fascinated with the culinary arts can observe the actual grilling with only a glass panel separating them from the action.
While not in the most accessible of places for all Singaporeans, this is one secret food haven us Westies will want to keep jealously to ourselves. How else can we gorge on skewers and craft beer to our hearts’ content?
Expected Damage: $17 – $50 per pax