SIN: Nirai Kanai {MOVED}

The only Okinawan restaurant in Singapore?

UPDATE (26/05/2020): With the closure of Liang Court, the restaurant has moved to #01-107/108 Great World City at Kim Seng Promenade.

For the uninitiated, Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture of Japan, which is geographically closer to Taiwan. Its cuisine is thus markedly different from mainland Japan with a greater emphasis on pork and relatively little seafood despite being surrounded by sea. As I've been to Okinawa before, I can confidently say that the food served at Nirai Kanai is authentic.

I've been to the izakaya (a type of Japanese establishment serving alcohols and food to go along with) a few times. It seems like it's always packed with not only locals, but also Japanese. Besides Nirai Kanai, is there any other Okinawan restaurants here in Singapore?

Okinawan Soup Noodle Set Meal S$16.50
Taste: 8/10

This particular set meal reminds me of a single eatery in Okinawa: Shuri Soba. Unlike the typical soba (Japanese buckwheat noodle), Okinawan version is thicker and chewier. Nirai Kanai's version was delectable, though the soup could be richer. The pork belly that came with the noodle had been marinated well. There was also a serving of jushi, which is steamed rice flavoured with kelp, that came with pork and chopped vegetables.

Simmered Pork Belly Set Meal S$18.00
Taste: 8.5/10

Rafute is Okinawa's answer to Chinese stewed pork belly, which was originally served for the Ryukyuan royal family. Stewed in soy sauce and brown sugar, the pork belly was sinful, but luscious. The accompanying clear soup with seaweed and tofu cubes helped to cut though the fats of the pork. Also served on the tray were a bowl of white rice, uniquely creamy cold tofu, yellow pickled radish and what I guessed to be sweetened mashed anchovies that tasted really interesting. Pika's advice: You can upgrade your white rice to jushi and/or your clear seaweed soup to a small portion of the soup noodle for an additional S$2.60 each.

Stir-Fried Bitter Gourd with Pork, Beancurd and Egg (Large) S$9.50
Taste: 8/10

In the local language, the dish is called goya chanpuru. Goya means 'bitter gourd', while chanpuru means 'mixed', which is derived from the Malay or Indonesian word: campur. It's not surprising given that the prehistoric culture showed some intermingled affinities with those of Southeast Asian and South Pacific. Anyway, the bitter gourd were executed well. They were devoid of any raw taste and came with adequate amounts of pork, beancurd and eggs.

Okinawan Brown Sugar Pancake with Whipped Cream S$9.80
Taste: 8/10

Brown sugar plays an important role in Okinawan cuisine. I didn't try the mini rolled pancakes when I was in Okinawa, so I was pretty excited to try some at Nirai Kanai instead of going for sata andagi, which are deep-fried brown sugar donuts. Served warm, they turned out to be pretty chewy and aromatic without being overly sweet. That was a lot of whipped cream served on the side though.

Melon's Rating
Taste: 8/10
Ambience: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Given the dropping popularity of Liang Court Shopping Centre, I really hope that the eatery is going to survive. Ever since it's been acquired by CapitaLand in May 2019, many tenants have been leaving the premise.

Nirai Kanai

177 River Valley Road
#B1-01/02 Liang Court Shopping Centre
(Mon-Fri: 11.30am - 3.00pm, 6.00pm - 11.00pm;
Sat-Sun: 11.30am - 3.30pm, 5.30pm - 11.00pm)

*Prices quoted are subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.

Have a nice meal,


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