It seems that there is a growing variety of Japanese establishments opening up at Fortune Centre of the late.
From the same folks behind Nobu-Ya and Motsu-Ya situated in the same building, Yama-Ya is their latest concept, serving up Japanese cuisine that is pretty much unlike that of other establishments. Decked in an environment which sees extensive use of wood in its furnishings and fittings amidst soft, yellow lighting, the establishment has an intimate and cosy vibe — very welcoming and not intimidating, whilst comfortable to sit in. Serving two different menus for lunch and dinner service, we made our visit during their lunch service where they were serving the Japanese Authentic Lunch Menu the which features dishes as a set with rice and Soba options, as well as ala-carte. Dinner service sees Yama-Ya turn into a watering hole, serving up smaller Japanese plates with a wide variety of Japanese liquor to choose from. Pretty much like Nobu-Ya, Yama-Ya adopts a house rule where patrons must order alcohol during dinner hours, and that patrons younger than 15 years old are not allowed during lunch service.
The Yamaya Gozen is essentially the full works here — the Japanese Authentic Lunch Menu item to order at Yamaya for those who are looking to try a wide variety of dishes available in the ala-carte menu. It comes with assorted Sashimi (two kinds), Tempura (three kinds), Oden (three kinds), Chawanmushi, Rice and Japanese pickles; a rather substantial item which is pretty value-for-money at $16.80 considering the variety of items served. Starting off with the Chawanmushi, the Chawanmushi is without doubt, smooth and silken; coming with a load of ingredients within, the slight hint of dashi stock provided the Chawanmushi with its signature savouriness, whilst coming with earthy mushroom, a chunk of tender chicken at the bottom, and a sizeable chunk of prawn which was fresh, sweet and carried a good bite. Moving on to the Sashimi, each order comes with two types of Sashimi; the type of Sashimi served dependant on the variety available for the day. On the day we made our visit to Yamaya, the Sashimi which accompanied our order were the Yellowtail and Tuna; both being thickly-sliced for good texture and was fresh. The Oden came with various fish cakes and tofu in a clear soup; yet another item that wow-ed us with its clean flavours, while the fish cakes come with a firm, yet soft bite – the tofu also being soft and silken. Moving on to the selection of Tempura served on the day of our visit, it featured various greens as well as seafood such as prawn. Whilst all of the pieces came with a light and crisp golden brown batter on the exterior which shatters without effort while being chewed on; also pretty much free from grease, the piece that was the most memorable was one that featured a fish wrapped in shiso leaf which still maintained the flaky, tender flesh of the fish despite being a fried item; a rather unique item that is rarely seen around Japanese restaurants of such price range. Combining all of the items mentioned earlier with the pearly short-grain rice and the Japanese pickles which helps to provide a refreshing crunch in between the items, the Yamaya Gozen is no doubt filling yet satisfying, considering how all the items came fresh and well-executed wit quality in mind; something which we would certainly go for yet again.
(Shabu Shabu Don – Pork)
We also went for the Shabu Shabu Don; the item comes in both pork or beef options, which we chose the former. It is also worth noting that the Shabu Shabu Don is also available as part of the Shabu Shabu Don Set, which not only comes with the sous-vide egg and Japanese pickles that come default with the Shabu Shabu Don, but also comes with a side of mini salad at a dollar extra. While the Shabu Shabu Don reached the table, it is noticed that the sous-vide egg comes served in a cup on the side; patrons can choose to have it on its own or have it mixed into the Don by pouring the sous-vide egg into the Don, which we did the latter. The Pork Shabu Shabu is no doubt tender; no veiny nor excessively fatty bits here; just thin slices of pork simmered in a light soy sauce that carries just a hint of savouriness which does not much effort to chew. Served with caramelised onions that were soft and providing a touch of very subtle sweetness to the pearly and fluffy short-grain rice beneath, the Shabu Shabu Don is incredibly value-for-money at $8.80; well-executed, comfort food at its best, and a great item for those who are looking for a fuss-free, thoughtful Japanese cuisine akin to home-cooked style food.
There is really no doubt in how Yama-Ya is possibly one of the most value-for-money Japanese cuisine places in the neighbourhood that it is set in. Despite the building already being crowded with Japanese establishment by the same owners (i.e. Nobu-Ya and Motsu-Ya), each of them has their own unique style that attracts their very own crowd; Nobu-Ya being an Izakaya meant to be a watering hole for the working class for after-work hours, while Motsu-Ya serves up comforting Japanese cuisine in a more casual setting. Yama-Ya seems to sit nicely in the middle; quite evidently so with its restriction with kids below a certain age in the day and requiring patrons to order an alcoholic drink (much like Nobu-Ya) at night. The items served at Yama-Ya is also significantly less commonplace in other Japanese establishments elsewhere, creating a niche of its own especially considering its rather wallet-friendly lunch menu. With all the right boxes being checked, it is no wonder that Yama-Ya is a well-kept, off-the-radar secret at Fortune Centre; a haunt for office workers who are craving for quality, value-for-money Japanese cuisine. Being off a promising start, Yama-Ya is a spot we would certainly be looking forward to revisiting in the future (and had already been doing so); we wish the folks behind Yama-Ya all the best in what has to come!
190 Middle Road
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/yamayasg/