Now living at the far end of the west, the times I’ve been to NTUC Downtown East could easily be counted with my fingers on one hand.
But just last week, I’ve made the pilgrimage to the East for one particular food joint that opened after the recent expansion of the mall.
Opened early in 2018, Wa Bento offers customisable bento sets, from curry rice and soba, to pork belly chunks and unagi.
You start with a Base for your bento set by selecting from Japanese Curry Rice ($3.90), Cha Soba ($1.90) and more. After which, you get to choose ingredients from three categories: Cold Items, Hot Dishes and Grilled/ Fried Food.
With how indecisive I am, I would’ve probably taken an hour to decide what base to go with. Caleb, co-owner and head chef, prepared a couple of dishes for us to try out so I didn’t have to wrack my brains.
We started with the Japanese Curry Rice ($3.90) along with a cup of Kakkuni No Amai ($5.90). There was a generous amount of Japanese curry in the rice, taking up the top half of the bowl. The flavours weren’t too bold in the curry, which is good if you’re looking for something lighter.
It was thick and slightly peppery with a pleasant sweetness. The mellow flavours would go well with the other dishes, though on its own the curry would be a little bland.
Now there are multiple reasons why the Kakkuni No Amai is a hot favourite at Wa Bento. One of which would be the undeniably generous portion; you get about 12 pieces in each cup!
These pork belly pieces go through a meticulous cooking process of steaming, caramelising and braising, to become bite-sized explosions of flavour. The meat was juicy and tender but still firm. But what really sold me was the meat’s faint smoky scent.
After trying all the three dipping sauces (Smokey Tonkatsu, Wasabi Mayo and Spicy Nacho Cheese), I’d recommend the Smokey Tonkatsu. The sauce and meat carried similar flavours, which enhanced the flavours.
I highly recommend you order this when you come to Wa Bento!
The next dish doesn’t need any customising because the dish itself is a medley of ingredients. This Mini Kaisen Don ($5.90) is a chirashi don that is rather value-for-money.
Like any other chirashi don, this dish comes with an assortment of fresh seafood: salmon, tuna, octopus and prawns. And of course, there was the generous pour of tobiko atop.
All the sashimi cubes were fresh, and I love the extra crunch in texture from the edamame. The dish has generous portions at an affordable price, making it the perfect pick-me-up!
At this point, I was hooked on the sashimi and desperately craved more. Caleb offered me the Salmon Mentai ($5.90), for salmon in a different form.
The sauce was thick and creamy, and just a tad savoury which accentuated the taste of the salmon. I also liked the subtle sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. The combination of salmon and mentaiko can never go wrong, but this dish proved that it can definitely get a whole lot more right!
Wa Bento may be a little out of the way, but trust me, it’s worth the extra mile. The food is affordable, and the customisation adds a touch of fun to the meal.
You’ll definitely need to get the Kakkuni No Amai. If anything’s going to stop you from getting your dream body, it better be those decadent chunks of pure bliss.
So if you’re looking for good food that’s really bang for the buck and big on taste, then I can think of no other place to recommend but Wa Bento.
Expected Damage: $5.90 – $10 per pax