This is my second time at Renga-Ya at CHIJMES, a Japanese yakiniku charcoal BBQ restaurant. I didn’t review it the first time round but shall take the opportunity of their recently launched new items to do so.
Yakiniku is always expensive but Renga-ya imports their beef as whole cows (and sometimes a yakiniku restaurant in Japan splits a cow with them, one taking the front, the other taking the rear). And because this, Renga-ya manages to keep costs low. Their beef is also imported directly from farms or factories to ensure traceability and culpability. Their signature is beef from Oak Leaf Farm in Hokkaido. The cattle are raised on natural (Non-GM) feed mixed with herbs, and the beef is slow-aged for more than 40 days.
Besides beef, they also have seafood which is sourced directly from all over Japan, including direct from Tsukiji.
Different cuts of beef for their new lunch beef ricebowl
In collaboration with Saucy, their new lunch item, 7th Heaven Gyudon ($35.90), is a rice bowl with 7 cuts of Kagoshima and Hokkaido beef. It’s limited to 15 portions a day and the promotion ends on 30 Apr 2018.
The lunch beef bowl is usually prepared in the kitchen because people usually want a quick lunch to get back to work. But we had the good fortune for them to demo one cut for us.
The seven cuts of beef include Kagoshima wagyu rump, Kagoshima wagyu shabu, Hokkaido Prime tataki (seared), beef tongue, Hokkaido Prime karubi (chuck short ribs), Hokkaido nikomi (tendon), and beef maitake (mushroom) consomme.
How to eat it: You eat it in a clockwise fashion starting with the beef on the left side of the rice. This is because you taste the light flavours first before going in to the hardcore ones. Remember to leave half a bowl of rice. Once you finish most things, you can throw the condiments and beef consomme into the half-full rice bowl, and eat it like chazuke or Teochew porridge.
Renga-ya’s beef bowl is definitely more refined (and twice as expensive) than elsewhere’s (like Sandaime Bunji) where they dump a tower of beef on rice. The flavours here are nice: the Kagoshima wagyu is paired with a ponzu sauce that is tart and refreshing. The seared Hokkaido Prime tataki has truffle ponzu, which must be a favourite for many. On the whole, while the beef bowl doesn’t leave an impression, it is not bad. However, I wonder if it’s priced too highly since with that price, you can get a decent 3-course lunch.
During the tasting, we heard that the restaurant has imported in half an Ohmi cow and will serve it after Chinese New Year. The owner obliged us and gave us a sample of their leaner cuts, which are popular in Japan now, the shoulder and back round.
As with lean cuts, they can be tough even though the shoulder is treated in a waterbath before grilling. But while the cuts are tough, that beefy juices are amazing.
Saucy has also launched a great and easy drink: sour plum vodka, soda, lemon. It’s simple but addictive and delicious. They took a long time to source for their sour plums, and eventually it turns out to be a mixture of 3 types of sour plums from Taiwan. Even if you are not a drinker, order this. It’s sweet with just a slight hint of sourness.
Also, for desserts, order the Nama chocolate ($4.90), Nama matcha ($4.90), and strawberry snow Hokkaido ($9.90) which shaved strawberries on shaved ice and strawberry ice cream drizzled with condensed milk. This is the second time I tried them and they are even better than the first time.
CHIJMES, 30 Victoria Street #01-11/12 Singapore 187996
Tel: +65 6352 1966
12pm-2.30pm daily; M-Sat 6pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-10pm
You may be interested in:
–Niku Katsumata 肉勝又, Duxton Road: Healthy Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Yakiniku, Grilled on Crystal Plate
–Gyuu Yakiniku Grill @ Emporium Shokuhin, Marina Square: Japanese Supermarket Housing 7 Restaurants
–Ito-Kacho Yakiniku Dining, Mandarin Gallery
–The Hitsuji Club, Boat Quay: Hokkaido BBQ and the Silence of the Lambs
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.