If there's any Japanese dish that never cease to amaze me, it will definitely be Chirashi Don. How can a simple mix of fresh sashimi slices, tamago, egg roes be so damn amazing? The most memorable part of my trip to Japan (other than overeating everyday) was definitely visiting Tsukiji Market. Rows and rows of gigantic tuna slices, exotic looking crabs, and criminal amount of crates of fresh uni stacked at every corner builds the stage for the most legendary Chirashi Don and Salmon Don I've ever tasted.
Fast forward to last week, when we were en route to Gyu Nami at Amoy Street Food Center, we spotted a parade of handwritten Japanese menu. I have to admit, handwritten menu is my weakness. Something about it is just so warm, authentic, and inviting. So when we passed by Sakanadonya Kunimaru, I immediately made a mental note to visit it the following week.
Browsing the menu, the dish that immediately jumped out to me was the Kaisen Don ($16). Fresh slices of tuna and salmon for a very reasonable price? Count me in. I've got to say, straight off the bat, the service and atmosphere of the place was definitely pretty amazing. "If you're lucky, they'll be cutting the tuna soon, I think that'll make a good picture" one of the waiters told me.
Alas, that didn't happened but the vibe was amazing nonetheless. The place is actually kind of like an atas hawker place. It has an outdoor seating area that faces the road (pretty nice lunch spot if you don't mind the heat) which it shares with an Italian restaurant called L'Operetta. So technically you can have your Kaisen Don with a glass of white wine.
Few minutes later our Kaisen Dons arrived! At For it's price, I think the variety of the dish is pretty good. Each Kaisen Don comes with slices of tuna and salmon sashimi, grilled salmon, jellyfish, tamago, egg roe, and seaweed. I guess in that way this bowl is a mix of Bara Chirashi Don (cooked seafood) and a Kaisen Don (sliced sashimi on a bed of rice).
The first bite that I took was of course the tuna. Ever since the crisp, plump perfection of a tuna that I've tasted in Tsukiji, all tuna sashimi has to live up to that standard. Unfortunately, this one fell a little bit short. The freshness of the fish was definitely there, being shipped from Okinawa and all, but it lacked the buttery and creamy nature of a high end tuna slice. The tamago tasted equally fresh, spongy and rich.
The salmon slices tasted slightly creamier than the tuna, though not as creamy as I would love it to be. Surprisingly enough though, the grilled salmon performed much better. With it's smoky and rich aftertaste and mixed with the rice (which I loved even though it was a little bit heavy on the vinegar) I can imagine it being an amazing salmon onigiri. Also, instead of the usual large fish roe scattered liberally on the don, this place has the smaller fish roe placed on top, it tasted good though so can't complain.
Ultimately, I think that Sakanadonya Kunimaru is a reasonably priced place with a friendly atmosphere to chill at. Is it the best Don that I've ever tasted? I wouldn't venture as far as to say yes, but the sashimi slices that were served were really fresh so kudos for that. It's definitely worth a try if you happen to be in the area for the vibe alone, but it seems that the search for the best Chirashi Don in Singapore is definitely still on.
7 Boon Tat St, 069614
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Saturday and Sundays)
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