Enbu was the first of seven Japanese dining concepts by Komars Group ANA Trading, the retail arm of ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA) to make its foray into the ever bustling F&B scene in Singapore. With an increasing appetite for Japanese cuisine, it was definitely a timely opportunity for both restauranteurs and diners alike.
Like all Izakayas where alcohol takes centre stage, patrons can choose from a staggering line-up of exquisite craft beers, from the fruity Coedo Craft Beer White (350ml, $15) to the soft bitter Coedo Craft Beer Ruri (350ml, $15), Sakes and a variety of Suntory highballs.
Enbu specialises in Warayaki, a grilling style unique to Kochi prefecture in the Shikoku region of Japan. Resident chef Tatsunori Yara, despite being an Okinawan native, is an expert in using straw to smoke and grill meat.
We had both the Chicken Warayaki with Special Spring Onion Sauce ($19) and the Katsuo Warayaki ($16).
The chicken was succulent and the fragrance from the smoking of straw was strong and lingering, almost the same aftertaste you get from drinking aged whisky. The dish also came with lettuce, spring onions and Korean Gojujang sauce which gave it an interesting Korean twist.
Like the Warayaki, the Taco Salad ($15) was an interesting dish adopted from Mexican cuisine. It was also playful as we had the chance of making our own salad. We were given glass bottles to shake the main ingredients before dressing the salad with guacamole meat sauce and grated cheese, placed into a fried spring roll skin bowl on top of generous servings of diced cabbage.
The fried spring roll skin added an Asian texture into an otherwise ordinary Mexican dish.
Other dishes were much less adventurous, like the Homemade Steamed Tofu ($12), which was simply a bowl of steamed tofu with accompanying condiments such as the Japanese soy sauce and grated ginger. While the tofu tasted good and was served in a pretty ceramic bowl, I thought it was on the pricier side.
The Smoked Salmon with Homemade Cheese Tofu ($12) was also good though the taste was somewhat anticipated and lacked originality.
Uni was an recurring theme on the menu of Enbu. The Deep Fried Tofu with Uni Sauce ($12) and the Oyster and Spinach Teppanyaki with Uni Sauce ($15) were amongst the crowd favourites.
The uni dishes were slightly more savoury than usual, presumably made that way to pair with the beer we were served.
If you are thinking of ordering these dishes, I would suggest getting alcoholic drinks to better accentuate their brine.
My favourite of the night would be the Sashimi Platter ($60 for 2). The Chutoro (medium fatty tuna) was perfect with its marbling of fats, and it melted onto my tongue before the oil of the fish filled my entire mouth. Equally excellent was their Hamachi (Japanese amberjack), the Katsuo (Skipjack tuna) and the huge dollop of Murasaki Uni. My only gripe was they served Sashimi without gari-gari or pickled ginger.
We were wondering where they got their supply of sashimi from when Kazuhiro Nakao San, Senior Manager of ANA Trading revealed that the fish were specially air-flown from Tsukiji market by ANA air cargo in the morning. Fresh fish are air-flown in cargo from ANA almost on a daily basis to ensure that customers get to enjoy only the freshest of Sashimi. With the airline as a partner, Enbu and the rest of the group’s restaurants definitely enjoyed a logistical advantage for fresh Japanese ingredients that are unmatched for.