Friend: “Let’s go have ‘shiok’ maki for lunch today!”
Me: ” ‘Shiok’ maki, what’s that?”
Friend: <eyes widen in horror>”YOU NEVER TRIED SHIOK MAKI BEFORE?!!?!”
Ok, so I guess I must have been living under a shell since I’ve never heard of Shiok Maki up until now. But I sure am glad that I finally doooo… 🙂 If you are a fan of salmon aburi sushi and maki, then chances are you will love the Shiok Maki.
When I reached the entrance of Koh Grill & Sushi Bar – the home of the famed Shiok Maki – I understood why I hadn’t discovered the food here earlier, it didn’t seem like a place that one would expect pretty decent japanese fares, let alone delicious good quality ones. In fact, I have walked by this eatery many times before, but I was never drawn enough to walk in and give it a try.
Situated on the 4th floor of Wisma Atria, Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is one of the 3 mini restaurants located within Food Republic. There are no walls separating the different mini restaurants and the different food and drink stalls within Food Republic, hence the atmosphere of the sushi bar felt very open and unlike a restaurant, leading me to perceive it as a cheap fast food quality sushi place. But as they say “never judge a book by its cover”, sometimes behind a humble setting lies await a tantalizing experience!
The place is a modest little space within a food court. It has a bar counter seating that looks directly into where the chef’s kitchen is. The rest of the seating are little wooden tables and chairs. Sometimes if it is crowded, you might be asked to share a long table with other guests.
Before I get to the food, it should be noted that despite the satisfying fare, you might find the service here wanting. Definitely not the friendly nor decent customer service experience that every good food place should have. It seems that there is a short-hand of staff as the waiting time for the food is extremely long especially during peak periods. I once came at 1plus in the afternoon and another time at 3 plus, and both times it took at least 30mins for the first dish to arrive and even longer for the rest to come. Whenever I called on the waitress to check on my food, I always received short and curt replies that it is coming, just wait. It is also very difficult to get the servers’ attention as they are always busy doing something and manage to magically avoid eye contact like a ninja. The tea and water won’t be refilled unless you ask them to, hence I was left thirsty most of the time since it wasn’t easy getting their attention. But then again, being a mini restaurant and situated beside food stalls where self service is the norm, I didn’t expect much from the service to begin with. On another note, my friends who have gone there at non-peak periods have said that the waiting time is slightly faster and the service better so maybe I just picked the wrong timings to visit.
Moving on to the food, I was surprised by the wide selection available from the menu. There were grilled items (yakitori sticks), sushi, sashimi, makis, ramen (noodles) and bento sets, so I would say there’s something for everyone in the menu. I ordered the Shiok Maki, Century Egg Tofu, Pitan Maki and a bacon asparagus yakitori. And boy were they yummy!
Shiok Maki ($16.80) – This rice roll was a sheer delight. It contains eel and avocado slices rolled up in rice, topped with lightly seared salmon and tobiko roe, drenched in a sweet creamy sauce that tasted like miso paste and mayonnaise. It was a melt in your mouth SHIOK experience, definitely a perfect match for the Singaporean palate – rich, tasty and over-the-top! The portion is perfect as a main course for 1 person, but sharing is a recommended option if you want to leave room to try other stuff:)
Pitan Tofu ($4) – This century egg tofu dish is excellent and one of the nicer ones that i have tried so far. The sauce is mostly made from the yolk of the century egg, but the taste differs from restaurant to restaurant depending on what they add in their sauce mix. The egg “white” is chopped into tiny pieces and drizzled over the tofu and sauce together with tobiko roes and spring onions. At Koh Grill & Sushi Bar, the taste of the sauce is smooth and sweet. I like how the odour and taste of sulphur and ammonia that is common in century eggs is subtle and not noticeable here, which is not the case in most other cheap places. Sometimes other restaurants are stingy with the sauce making the dish a little dry, so I really enjoyed how generous the serving of pitan sauce was here. There was enough to eat with the tofu and still have a decent amount left over to savour alone.
Yakitori – There’s not much to say here except that it was decent and not too burnt. Overall your typical average decent quality grilled stick.
Pitan Maki ($16.80) – Being an avid lover of century eggs, I just had to try the pitan maki since I really loved the pitan sauce that came with the century egg tofu. I have never tried pitan sauce with sushi rolls before so I was pretty excited to see what the taste is like. Overall, it was nice. Century egg lovers will certainly like this maki, but for me I thought that it was a bit dry eating pitan sauce like that. The taste is more delightful when complimented with a tofu, so I will stick with just the pitan tofu in the future.
RESTAURANT: Koh Grill & Sushi Bar
SPIED AT: Wisma Atria Singapore Level 4, #04-02/14
435 Orchard Road, Singapore (238877)
RESERVATION NUMBER: 6836 0609