Nirai-Kanai Okinawan Restaurant
With a couple reader comments posted about En on Mohammed Sultan recently, it must have crept into my subconscious to go get Okinawan food tonight. I had been to Nirai-Kanai (Tanglin Shopping Centre #04-05, 6737-5811) quite a long time ago, so I really didn't remember too much of it, although it didn't leave a bad impression on me by any means.
We got a spread of dishes tonight, ranging quite a bit in taste. Of course, in Okinawan cuisine, one has to get pork, or as the menu puts it, "Healthy Pork Dishes" (it's very interesting too that Okinawans have some of the longest lifespans in the world - I guess pork isn't as bad as it is made out to be?). So we got the yaki suchika, or thick cuts of pork and fat grilled with salt. It tasted just like it sounds: kinda like really thick bacon, actually. Another Okinawan dish is okura chanpuru, or ladyfingers stir-fried with egg, tofu, and pork. I didn't care too much for this as it was a bit bland; it tasted more like Chinese food, although I guess that's what makes Okinawan food to begin with. We also got a basic yaki gyutan, which unfortunately was not grilled as much as I like it (and it had no salt on it - you had to dip it in a miso-based sauce instead...is that an Okinawan style or something?).
One thing that I was quite fond of was a tuna, cheese, and scallion dish mixed in a red spicy oil; almost like Sichuan food, but with tasty little cubes of cream cheese in it. Who'd have known? It was salty, but definitely the highlight for me. We closed of the meal with tsukemen, which interestingly had a thicker broth with a hint of egg (and MSG?) flavoring, as well as ochazuke, which was very savory. Some Okinawan alcohol, zanpa awamori, also helped cleanse the palate.
This place takes last orders until 11 PM on weekdays and 2 AM on Friday and Saturday, so here's another place to throw on my late night list. But admittedly, Okinawan food never quite struck an emotional chord with me, so I'm not expecting to get cravings for this anytime soon. It's been a while since I'd been to En, but I think I remembered liking that place better (then again, I don't exactly profess to know much about Okinawan cuisine to begin with). It is quite lively here at least.