Review of Ichi Umai: Affordable Japanese Food at Junction 9, Yishun

        Today, Japanese food can be found everywhere in Singapore, from popular restaurants such as Omote to stalls selling fresh and cheap sashimi such as The Japan Food Alley. When I was introduced to Ichi Umai, a hidden gem selling affordable, quality Japanese food at Junction 9, I decided to check out Yishun with friends.
       Ichi Umai draws on co-founder Chef Lowe’s 39 years of experience working with Japanese chefs to bring modern Japanese cuisine to the heart of the country at affordable prices.
        Of course, we ordered sushi rolls with mango sauce, since I had only eaten rolls with mango slices at sushi stalls before. The $14.50 Aburi Sakebi Roll is a grilled salmon and shrimp sushi roll topped with a bright yellow mango and tobiko (flying fish roe) sauce.
       The flavor of the mango in the creamy sauce was more subtle than I expected, but the subtle savory notes complemented the sweetness of the crispy fried shrimp and the banana-like heat of the seared salmon fillet.
        Their sushi rolls are also very large. Although one piece looks small when picked up with chopsticks, little eaters can make do with just one roll of six pieces.
        Ichi Umai also offers a selection of rice bowls, curry rice and ramen snacks. From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., they have a great lunch menu ($2.90 add-on) where each meal comes with your choice of drinks and sides.
        We chose Set D which came with Kani Kurumi Korokke (also known as crab cream cakes) and hot green tea. If you choose the lunch set, other drinks include a variety of ice-cold canned drinks and mineral water.
        The golden croquettes are freshly fried and arrive very hot. There was a nice crunch when I bit into it, but the oozing cream was too thick for my taste and required a sip of tea to wash it down. For the price I think it’s worth it, although I may have to try other sides of the menu on a future visit.
        Our first course was the classic Bara Chirashi Don ($16.90), which featured colorful pieces of raw salmon, scallops and thinly sliced ​​swordfish, lightly marinated in soy sauce and served with sushi rice. Finish with furikake, nori and amaebi (sweet shrimp sashimi), then add salmon roe or ikura.
        One of the things I value most in life is fresh fish, this is especially important when it comes to sashimi. The sashimi that came with the bowl of chirashi rice was very fresh, and I liked the slight sweetness that balanced the slight sourness of the vinegar in the sushi rice.
       The smooth texture of the fish also contrasted nicely with the crispy furikake, which I thought was one of the best parts of our meal at Ichi Umai.
        Probably the most attractive part of the dish was the sweet shrimp. As someone who rarely eats shrimp sashimi, I found it fresh and sweet, although the natural sticky texture of ammi shrimp took some getting used to. If I could, I’d probably pass this up in favor of more sashimi, but for those who like shrimp sashimi, Ichi Umai won’t disappoint.
        One of the menu items that caught my interest was the signature Kuri Buta Belly Kare ($13.90), also known as pork belly curry rice. The first page of their menu advertises that their pork is chestnut, imported from Spain. In case you didn’t know, pigs fed chestnuts are said to contain higher levels of healthy fats, which gives their meat a sweeter taste and better marbling, so we were interested to see if we could taste the difference.
        To the pork’s credit, it did taste sweet, although it was probably cooked with Japanese curry rather than the meat itself. The sukiyaki was cut into strips; the lean meat was tender and well-cooked.
        Surprisingly, their curry was very thin, like a creamy soup rather than the typical stewed consistency of Japanese curry. It’s slightly spicy and has a sweet flavor from the carrots and onions, which I think makes it a kid-friendly dish.
        In my opinion, this is a nice and simple dish where the curry, rice and pork come together perfectly to make every bite delicious. If it weren’t for the pork, the subtle curry and mild spice level probably wouldn’t have made me order this again.
        Tucked away in the corner of Junction 9, a 13-minute walk from Yishun MRT Station, the colorful flags and lanterns hanging overhead and the Japanese pop art prints plastered on every wall make you feel like you’re in Ichi Umai. . Try one of Tokyo’s Yokocho restaurants, also known as alley restaurants. You will almost forget that you are in Yishun.
        During peak lunch and dinner times at Ichi Umai there may be a bit of a wait, although our arrival after lunchtime meant there weren’t many people around during our visit. However, the sounds of other busy tables and background pop music resonate in the small space, creating a lively atmosphere. During our visit the staff were very efficient and helpful, happy to advise what to order and ensure prompt service to all tables in the restaurant.
        The price and quality of Japanese cuisine at Ichi Umai truly makes it a hidden gem in Yishun. While the presentation was simple and straightforward, I loved how carefully the ingredients were combined for each dish, and the fresh sashimi was some of the best I’ve had in a while.
        That being said, I felt like there were aspects to every dish we tried that I didn’t quite like, and going to Ichi Umai would only be possible if I happened to be in the area. If you love Japanese food and live nearby, this is definitely one of the places I recommend visiting.
        For more affordable Japanese cuisine, read our guide to the best Japanese restaurants in Singapore that won’t break the bank. Also check out our review of Ima Sushi Restaurant at SMU: This is a great place for students to enjoy fresh sashimi while studying.
       Address: Yishun Avenue 9, #01-19, Junction 9, Singapore 768897 Opening Hours: Daily 11:30am to 3:30pm, 5:30pm to 9:30pm Tel: 8887 1976 Ichi Umai Website is not a restaurant , certified according to the halal principle.

Post time: Nov-08-2023

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