By the same people behind Tsukada Nojo which serves collagen hotpot 美人锅, the popular Yonpachi Gyojo with more than 20 outlets in Japan has arrived in Singapore.
The concept is interesting: Yonpachi Gyojo (which literally means “48 Fishing Grounds”) gets its seafood from fishermen from 48 ports all around Japan. In the Japan’s restaurants, you get same-day delivery; seafood caught in the wee hours of morning are dished on the tables by evening. In Singapore, the seafood are imported 3 times a week.
Yonpachi Gyojo is also committed to sustainable seafood by following the Norway’s ITQ system of single hook fishing and fixed netting.
Yonpachi Gyojo has two menus, a permanent one and one that changes almost daily depending on the catch of the day. Unlike Tsukada Nojo, this is an izakaya, focusing on alcohol and food.
Naturally, you have to order the Yonpachi Mori (assorted sashimi, $48), enough for 2 to 3 persons. $48 for sashimi, priced after their source of 48 ports, is reasonable and auspicious. There are 8 types of sashimi, changed daily depending on the catch. Quite good quality, firm and not slimy. We could not appreciate that the kanpachi was doused in a salty, grainy fermented bean paste but the botan prawn and hotate scallop stood out for their sweetness.
In any case, it is also worth ordering their affordable sushi at $20.80 for 5 pieces and $28.80 for 7.
They also have a version of collagen hot 美人锅 here. The difference between Tsukada Nojo’s hotpot and kaisen bijin nabe ($68) is that the former uses pure chicken collagen, and the latter uses a mixture of flying fish and chicken collagen. And the flavors turn out very different.
Here, the broth is thinner and less intense than Tsukada Nojo’s, so it is more suitable to sip alcohol and eat at the same time. It is still very sweet, reminding me of Chinese hotpot soups that have been boiled with lots of prawns. Needless to say, the seafood is fresh and the vegetables are sourced from a local organic farm.
As an izakaya, they have some bbq items, such as bbq fish, but we couldn’t possibly stomach more food, so we got small dishes. The sakura shrimp kakiage ($16.80) may be just a deep-fried lump of sakura shrimps, but the crisp and saltiness go amazingly with beer. We finished this entire dish despite our full bellies.
Cream cheese ($8) is marinated with soy sauce, and you wrap it with nori seaweed and pop it in the mouth. This goes well with sake, but I didn’t like the combination of the saltiness of soy sauce with the sharpness of cheese.
The crab butter and mayonnaise on bread ($8.80) is creamy and very salty, might be overly salty, but my first thought after eating it was “I need a beer to wash it down.”
Speaking of alcohol, it’s worth noting that Yonpachi Gyojo has some tricks up its sleeves. The highball ($11) comes straight from the tap, eliminating any human inaccuracy of mixing. And it is easy to drink, very gassy, not flat. For sake, they may be the only one to carry Hakkaisan Echigodesoro ($15/glass). The yukibie ($25/bottle) sake is served frozen at -12 degrees Celsius. Great for a hot day.
The Japanese always end with a rice dish, and when in a Japanese restaurant, do as the Japanese. Whitebait and mentaiko with butter rice in stone bowl ($19.80) is too salty for me, and I didn’t like the heavy pungency of shiso leaf pushing to the foreground. So I poured dashi over it, like ochazuke, diluting the taste, making it easier to eat.
On the day we were there, the restaurant was packed with Japanese although the restaurant was barely one month old. I do prefer small, cozy, independent izakayas with fewer than 20 seats, but the effort, consideration, and ethics behind the sourcing of ingredients and the planning of the menu at Yonpachi Gyojo are worthy of encomium.
205 River Valley Road, UE Square #01-75, Singapore 238274
T: +65 6732 3110
Overall rating: 3.531/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.