Yujin Izakaya located just opposite Great World City is the latest addition to the Les Amis family, by chef-owner Freddie Lee. This hidden izakaya joins the range of Japanese restaurants already under the Les Amis brand.
This small and unpretentious restaurant boasts a warm and dimly-lit interior with an intimate setting. It’s great for laid-back hangouts with friends or casual dinner with a special someone.
The restaurant also has a 10-seater interactive bar counter where I could watch the chef prepare the individual sticks. They even offer pufferfish and homemade tsukune (meatballs)!
While their menu focuses on mainly drinks and izakaya-style bar bites, they also do have udon and an unusual Fugu Mirinboshi (S$13++), which is dried pufferfish.
Pufferfish is relatively uncommon in the Singapore food scene, due to the certification required to handle these extremely poisonous fishes.
Imported in dried from Japan, these pufferfish slices are then grilled again on the charcoal grill to give it a smoky flavour. Chewing on a piece released prominent caramelised sweetness followed by a subtle briny flavour.
The texture of the fish was slightly stringy, similar to that of dried cuttlefish. The mayonnaise on the side helped to round off the flavours for a more palatable combination.
This dish was very intriguing for me as I have never had pufferfish before. These bite-sized slices of dried pufferfish make for a great snack between dishes too.
Moving onto the house specials, we tried the Tsukune (S$6++/stick) which was a homemade meatball that has been grilled on a stick. The large meatball is also thickly glazed with teriyaki sauce.
I was expecting the meatballs to have a caramelised sweetness from the teriyaki sauce. However, the meatballs leaned more towards the savoury side.
The meatballs were subtly sweet, succulent and juicy with bits of chicken cartilage for an extra crunch. The meat went really well with the teriyaki sauce.
I would recommend going for the Kakutma Umeshu (S$9++/30ml, S$95++/720ml). It is a Japanese liqueur which has been infused with plum, giving a sweet and tart flavour.
The umeshu complemented the Tsukune well, lifting the sweetness of the meatballs and refreshing my palate. Not just that, the tartness also cut through the greasiness of the meatballs, preventing the dish from being too overwhelming.
We also tried the Beef Tataki (S$15++), a cold dish which I really enjoyed. The beef was a U.S. sirloin that’s grilled to give it a smoky flavour before it is chilled and drizzled with a ponzu sauce.
The rare beef had a pronounced sweetness and simply melted in my mouth. This was elevated by the tangy ponzu sauce which added a sour hint to the dish.
I recommend wrapping the onions with the beef, giving each mouthful a subtle crunchy texture.
To end off the meal, I recommend going for the Katsu Sando (S$16++). Toasted till golden brown, the sandwich was evenly slathered with Pommery mustard and tonkatsu sauce.
The U.S. beef has been battered with a thin buttery panko crust then deep fried, keeping the meat medium-rare.
The Pommery mustard gave a sharp spicy kick while the tonkatsu sauce had a tangy and tart flavour which enhanced the sweetness of the beef.
I really enjoyed the multitude of flavours coming together in one bite as well as the different layers of texture. The crispy bread and melt-in-mouth beef came together in a tasty mouthful.
This Katsu Sando (S$16++) certainly stood out from the rest!
Yujin Izakaya certainly lives up to its motto of being an unpretentious izakaya restaurant. I felt that each dish was well-thought out and has been put together intricately. With tables arranged close to each other, the restaurant also felt very homely.
With that said, I wished that there was more seating in Yujin Izakaya to accommodate larger groups. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who wants to have a taste of Japan without actually leaving the country.
Expected Damage: S$30 – S$50 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
56 Zion Road, Singapore 247781
56 Zion Road, Singapore 247781