Friday, 28 February 2014


My dining companions and I met up for late lunch last Sunday. Marina Square's Dining Edition on the 2nd floor was chosen for the many restaurants there (including 2nd branch of SaintMarc Café  its 3rd is slated at nearby Raffles City Shopping Centre), most of which have no other branches in Singapore. Despite so, none had a menu that was exciting enough for one dining companion to enthusiastically say "let's try this" without any hesitation. In the end, we settled on Hamanoya. Cheerful staff greeted us as we stepped into the almost empty place with clean lines in its contemporary chic interior design. Square columns of yellow-orange lights hung above square wooden tables with metal legs, paired with comfortable bench seats and cushioned chairs with backrest.

Its specialty is robatayaki (robata in short), a method of cooking where fresh produce is skewered on sticks and slow-grilled over hot charcoal. As the emphasis is on purity and freshness of the produce, little seasoning is added. From the robata or Japanese charcoal grill menu, I ordered Salmon Belly while a dining companion had Saba "Misaki Yaki"  Mackerel grilled with miso sauce. Loved how the pink moist fish was lightly grilled over a flaming charcoal fire to bring out the best flavour without being overcooked and dry. It was fresh, sweet and succulent with a tender melt-in-the-mouth texture. We shared Miso and Soy Sauce Grilled Rice Balls, and unanimously agreed that the latter was better as the former was too salty for our liking. Slightly charred on the surface, both were good enough to be eaten without any accompanying dishes.

Another dining companion settled for Hokkaido pork rice bowl, served with miso soup and pickles. Three of us also tried Scallop "Yakikamaboko" from the robata menu and Chicken Ball with Half-Boiled Egg from the yakitori yasaiyaki menu. Supposedly a grilled whole scallop topped with fishcake, it turned out to be a smooth and springy fishcake made of scallop. No doubt delicious though. And without the perfectly poached egg with runny yolk, the minced chicken ball directly grilled on the wooden spoon would have been mediocre at best. This is not a traditional Japanese robatayaki restaurant but still authentic with most meats and seafood freshly air-flown from Japan, and cooked on a charcoal grill. Oh, and did I mention its hot green tea was the most expensive I had?

Update: The restaurant has closed.

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