September 12, 2012

Izakaya Nijumaru ~ Simple & Homely 日替わり定食 (Daily Lunch Special)

I’m blessed to be working in a company where the office is located in Orchard area, because… I have the luxury of having an abundant choices of places to have lunch! However, there’s one place which I find myself re-visiting very often, and that is - Izakaya Nijumaru, a Japanese restaurant located at the 2nd level of Cuppage Plaza. The restaurant has already been around for 25 years, with the same Japanese chef hemming its kitchen! Not only does it has a main dining area, it also occupy several units surrounding it, creating its very own "overflow" rooms to accommodate all customers during peak hours.

This is a place where you can find simple & homely 日替わり定食 Higawari Teishoku (set meal consisting of main, rice & miso soup which changes daily) lunch special at an affordable S$10 nett on weekdays.

As the higawari teishoku menu changes daily, this little menu slip which is newly available on every Friday allows me to plan ahead my lunch for the coming week. Sometimes I find myself coming here a few times in the same week because the items seem so tempting and I wanna try it all! There will always be a good mix of different mains & sides so no worries about having similar items within a short period.


If the higawari teishoku is not to your fancy, there’s always the ala-carte menu where you can order items like bentos, donburi, yakimono, agemono, amongst others. I came for dinner before and was impressed by their teriyaki gindara and niku jaga, which I highly recommend.

Check out the menu which is almost entirely in Japanese! But fret not if you do not understand the hiragana and katakana, because the staff is always around to give you recommendations. There are no kawaii manga-style maids here, but our very own local obasans who speak English, Mandarin and a smattering of Japanese. Well, at least they can pronounce the items on the menu effortlessly! Service is prompt and straightforward.

I always try to come early at 12pm because their higawari teishoku set is limited and it sometimes can be sold out by 1pm plus on days when they have mains like grilled salmon or teriyaki chicken, which is popular with the office crowd. You will also find quite a number of Japanese enjoying their meal here.

 I can't wait to get started! Itadakimasu!

Here's the Rosu Katsu (Deep Fried Pork Cutlet) which I had during my latest visit! My mouth was salivating the moment this arrived at my table, as I've tried their deep fried mains many times, and it almost always never disappoint. This pork cutlet is no exception.

The pork loin is enveloped by a layer of breadcrumbs and deep fried to a crispy exterior, while still retaining its moisture within. The texture is slightly chewy with a nice well marinated delicate aftertaste. I like how it is without the overwhelming porky smell and being not too oily. While this may not be the best pork cutlet I've tasted, this is still very tummy satisfactory when eaten with the bowl of warm Japanese rice, tofu miso soup and refreshing shredded cabbage.

The lunch set also comes with a side dish of Atsuyaki Tamago (Sweet Omelette Roll), which is a bento box staple and popular sushi topping. Over here, it is wonderful here as a not-too-sweet, soft, moist companion.

Free flow of Japanese green tea is also being served with the meals. If this doesn't excite you, maybe some Japanese beer or sake, at an reasonable prices, will. Afterall, this place is supposed to be an Izakaya, a Japanese drinking place where locals enjoy some after-work drinks, though the food is taking centrestage here.

My only gripe is that the place is not very well ventilated due to the open kitchen where the chef does the grilling. Be prepared to leave the place with a smoky smell.

Izakaya Nijumaru always draws me back with their homely style dishes, in a no-frill unpretentious setting at affordable prices. It is a nice break from the usual Japanese restaurant chains, with its relaxing and laid back environment. I believe many of their regulars shared the same sentiments. While waiting for my meal earlier, a Caucasian guy walked in and announced loudly "TADAIMA"!! before all the obasans service staff greeted him brightly and showed him to his regular table. "Tadaima - I'm back"- This is what the Japanese say when they reached home. And this is what this place feels like - coming back home for a nice comforting meal.

Izakaya Nijumaru
Address: 5 Koek Road, #02-10 Cuppage Plaza, Singapore 228796
Contact: +65 6235 6693
Opening Hours: Lunch Mon – Sat 12pm – 2:30pm, Dinner  6pm – 10pm / Sun Dinner 6pm – 10pm

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