- Liwen Ong
Mentaiko Madness, NEX
As part of RE&S’ 30th Anniversary Celebration, it has launched a series of exciting promotions including “Mentaiko Madness” at four of its restaurant concepts: Tokyo Eater Pop-Up Store, Kabe No Ana, Men-ichi Japanese Ramen and Ichiban Sushi.
Mentaiko fans rejoice! The Tokyo Eater Pop-Up store located at the basement of NEX is exclusively dedicated to serving all things mentaiko. The Pop-Up concept store is open from now till 30 September.
I tried the Aburi Mentai Mayo Salmon Don ($14.80) that comes with a bowl of soup on the side. This is my first time trying mentaiko and therefore finding it very salty with a spicy aftertaste. However, the tamago found in this dish was sweeter than usual, allowing all the items found in this dish to complete each other.
The next dish served was the mentaiko Mazesoba ($12.80; $13.80 with onsen egg). Although I usually eat my Mazesoba accompanied with a thick broth, this dish was surprisingly tasty on its own without the soup. I especially enjoyed the tender pieces of Char Siew.
For sides, I got to try the Mentaiko Chikuwa Isobe Age ($2.30) which reminded me of spicy fishcakes. There is a strong presence of mentaiko in this dish, perfect for those hardcore mentaiko fans.
The Mentai Mayo Cheese Imo Mochi ($2.30) confused my taste buds as I usually have my mochis sweet but this dish was well done with its creamy texture and wasn't too chewy.
Mayo lovers, I suggest ordering the Mentai Mayo Cheese Croquette ($2.50). This dish does not have an overpowering mentaiko taste but it is sure to complement your mentaiko main course with its rich and creamy flavour.
I never imagined the marriage between mentaiko and ramen until I tried Men-ichi’s Hakata Mentaiko Tonkotsu Ramen ($14.90). This dish came with tarako, a fresh and salted pollock roe that has a spicy after-taste, adding an extra flavour to your usual bowl of ramen.
Ichiban Sushi has always been my go-to for affordable japanese comfort food. Their Kaisen Mentai Roll ($13.90) lived up to ichiban standards however I did not find any mentaiko taste at all. Ichiban wazens never fails to fill your belly.
The Ishiyaki Mentai Chazuke Wazen ($21.90) is a hot stone rice set that comes with sides of seaweed battered dory fish with Japanese tartar sauce, chawanmushi and mentaiko ice cream. I found the hot stone rice bowl comparable to “teochew porridge” as the dashi broth is poured into the rice. The broth was not too salty making the mentaiko in the rice bowl somewhat of a seasoning where customers can mix as much as they want for a stronger flavour.
The mentaiko ice cream ($4.50 ala carte; $3.50 with any set meal at Ichiban Sushi and $3.90 at Tokyo Eater) a in my opinion will only appeal to those with an acquired taste, try to imagine the flavours of sweet, salty and spicy all in one bite.
Kabe No Ana is known for their authentic Japanese-Italian fusion dishes. I tried the Mochi Mentaiko Pizza ($16.90) which came with generous cheese cubes. There was not much mentaiko presence allowing this dish to taste like your typical japanese pizza.
The Mentaiko Gnocchi Set ($22.90) is one that gives you the best value for your money among all the dishes here as it comes with a glass of plum soda and a plate of Iberico pork with tomato salsa and smoked duck and grapefruit salad in shoyu dressing. I found the gnocchi a bit starchy resembling more of a potato than a pasta. The whole dish consists of generous servings of ikura roes that bursts in your mouth as well as chunky pieces of salmon.
With the vast selection of Japanese food available in Singapore, RE&S has done a good job in giving customers a different experience with its creative mentaiko creations. The promotional dates are from now till 30 September for Tokyo Eater Pop-Up Store, now till 4 June for Men-ichi Japanese Ramen and Ichiban Sushi, and now till 2 July for Kabe No Ana. Hurry and pay a visit to Mentaiko Heaven while you can!