Monday, March 31, 2008

Casual, Fun Japanese Food Bazaar

Folks who thought that the Marche concept is dead should think again. While Vil'age has almost copied Marche's concept wholesale, a new kid on the block has given it a refreshing twist.

Shokudo offers causal, affordable Japanese food in a lively and fun setting. You'll soon see why it's concept mirrors Marche's to quite an extent though not as blatantly as Vil'age.

Upon entering, diners are each issued a card. This card is to be used for the purchase of food and should be presented upon ordering. Loss of this card will result in a $100 penalty which goes to charity.

Select your table (free-seating) and place this reservation token/tablet on it to mark your territory.

To start off lunch that Sunday, we had the Beef Miso Stew Served with Baguette ($6.80). The pale-looking baguette was pale-tasting, with an uncomfortably too soft texture. The stew was more decent. Thick and warm, it eased nicely into the stomach. The single chunk of beef was also tender and I enjoyed the gelatinous bits. I didn't detect much miso though. Oh and the potato was crunchy. I hope it was not meant to be that way. It definitely needed more time simmering in the stew.

Moving along to a pasta dish, the Crispy Sakura Ebi Spaghetti with Wafu Sauce ($8.80) certainly packed a powerful punch. For intense garlic-lovers, this would be your heaven. For those who are adverse to garlic or prefer a milder tone would do best to avoid this dish...and the person eating it for that matter. While I found the garlic taste too strong, I do like the aroma that it adds. The Sakura Ebi was just slightly crispy and had this subtle savoury 'seafood' taste. A simple dish of spaghetti tossed in a light Wafu sauce (with loads of minced garlic) and topped with Sakura Ebi.

Marche fans would remember their rosti. Pan-fried shredded potato served with sour cream. What's not to like? Shokudo's Plain Rosti ($4.80) was average and nothing to shout about. It could have been fried longer to get that crisp outer coat and seasoned a with a little more salt. But still, as it was, I could polish off another plate, or two. Carbo-lust.

The Robatayaki counter caught my attention with its offerings of skewered meats and seafood. The whole Grilled Squid as well as the Saba looked tempting and were priced very reasonably. But seeing that dinner would be in 3 hours, I decided to give them a pass. Sob.

What I did get to try was the Shishamo ($3 for 3 pieces). Grilled lightly and seasoned even more lightly, it tasted fresh if a bit bland.

The other item from the Robatayaki counter I ordered was the Pork Asparagus ($2.50). Again, the flavours were kept very light. No heavy sauces or seasoning. A pity the asparagus was a tad fibrous.

While I can do with little salt, I feel that a bit more was needed to really enhance and bring out the flavours of some of the food items.

On the whole, Shokudo appeals to me as a comfortable place for casual and affordable Japanese food. Though the competency of the food could do with more tweaks, one should probably not nitpick (unlike me here. tsk tsk.) nor expect too much at these prices. My comments were meant to be some sort of feedback and I thik Shokudo needs a bit of time to iron out the kinks. With that being said, the variety of food here is huge so do come in a bigger group to be able to sample more of their dishes.

The interesting twist to a popular concept makes dining here a little more pro-active (you hunt for your own table and food) and fun! Btw, do remember to return the reservation token/tablet at the cashier.

Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6837 3793
Opens: 11.30am - 10pm daily.

Chew On This: Parents with kids can entertain the little tots at the play corner, near the exit. More places are indeed becoming increasingly kid-friendly. :)


JOjo said...

saw review on this place in other blogsphere. Apparently, they keep their seasoning to the bland side.
But a good concept of dining and watching they whip up ur order in front of u =)

The Hungry Cow said...

jojo: For me, minimal salt is fine as long as there is enough to bring out the flavours. I agree. The concept's pretty fun!