Yen Yakiniku – Quality Grilled Meats with a Taste of Passion
Inspired by 大腕燒肉專門 (Da-Wan Yakiniku) in Taiwan, three traders decided to set up modern grill restaurant called Yen Yakiniku along Ann Siang Road. This Japanese BBQ-centric restaurant is notorious for serving the crème de la crème of Wagyu beef and pork. Since its opening in April, two philosophies are at work within it. The first has to do with the quality of the meat, which is superior to many other Japanese BBQ restaurant. The second has to do with the diversity of the cuts of meat Yen Yakiniku offers their customers.
This cozy restaurant that seats about 25 people around a large bar and each group of patrons has their own individual charcoal grill. Usually, the grill is set up, raw meats are brought to the table and customers are expected to do the cooking. This wasn’t the case at Yen. Each dish we ordered is skillfully prepared and served by the chef at our table ensuring that everything was cooked to perfection. The charcoal heats the mesh of the grill; the exhaust pulls heat and smoke silently away from the table. The waiter skillfully puts the meat on the hot grill, one by one, bit by bit.
The menu is straightforward. There are a few sides like the Yen’s special salad (S$14) – finely julienned cabbage and Japanese mizuna tossed in a peanut-studded tangy sesame dressing which is a replica of Da Wan’s original. Topped with pieces of fried egg tofu, it’s ordinary but a great alternative to coleslaw.
Next up, Japanese ox tongue ($25) was thinly sliced and served with a mound of grated onion, sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkle of salt. The beef was gently seared on once side. The chef recommends eating the beef with just a touch of lemon juice, no sauce needed. It’s only a few pieces on the plate, so take your time to savour the tenderness in each piece.
Owner/Chef Jones Chen still insists on cutting the meat by himself. All the meat is marinated and prepared in front of you before going on the grill. Servers at Da Wan sear/grill the beef to absolute perfection and serve it to you piece by piece, this means no over cooking. Once you’re finished eating your first piece, they will then start searing the second piece for you. It’s like watching a sushi chef at the sushi bar. Every single one of them are very knowledgable and they know the meat inside out and the time for different parts of the meat to grill to achieve optimal tenderness.
If there is one dish that you need to order, that would be the Wagyu Oyster Blade ($36). The Toriyama beef shoulder is marinated in sweet soy and garnished with chopped onion. Each slice is cooked to a medium rare on one side, then rolled up and served. It has the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and doesn’t need any sauce, just a touch of lemon juice.
When Wagyu Beef is referred to as Fullblood, that means the Japanese Wagyu that has not had any other breed introduced into their bloodlines. Different sides give a different flavour and texture when done right. It has a smooth buttery caramel flavor that is intensely sweet and delicate. The Ribeye Fullblood ($130/260g) that I had is cooked to medium rare served with wasabi and sliced raw garlic. It amplifies the taste of all that it touches.
The meats are offered for grilling in one of two styles: either marinated in BBQ sauce or simply dressed with garlic, salt and sesame oil. After all the solid ones, I also had a plate of beef slices marinated in barbecue sauce that’s super tasty. But if you’re considering the rib-eye or oyster blade, you ought to stay with the plain ones which will allow you to experience the true taste of beef.
Non beef lovers, don’t be disappointed! They have chicken and pork options as well! The Pork Jowl ($13) is glistened with generous marbling of fats.
The most popular seafood item – Sashimi grade Hokkaido Scallops ($15) is grilled to medium-rare. It has a smokey profile, slight charred exterior combined with the juiciness of the freshest sashimi grade scallop on the inside.
Make sure to ask for vegetables as well. Having soft Japanese Yam ($12) after a piece of simply dressed rib-eye is feels good. Consumed all the above with the restaurant’s excellent sakes, draft beers or whiskey, it will raise what might seem a stunt meal into a real one.
What really sets it apart is the quality of the meat and the meticulous attention to detail. The service is always on point and the servers have an in-depth knowledge of the food. Another good thing about dining here is, I don’t leave the restaurant with a smoky head! Currently only opened for dinner, hope they do lunch soon.
Address: 15 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069695
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 6pm – 12am
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