Published 01 June 2012
Want to know a secret? It’s about a great little Japanese restaurant in Singapore that’s not within walking distance of Clarke Quay or the CBD. No, it’s a little way out of town but the taxi drivers know the way. It’s called yakiniku ten, and it’s damned good.
Text by Thomas Jones
Tucked away off the airport road at the Laguna National Golf & Country Club may be a little hard to get your head around as a destination for a restaurant, but don’t let that confuse you. What’s even better is that it’s actually two restaurants in one, side by side: Enmaru is an izakaya-style pub serving lots of grilled meat and simple Japanese dishes, and Yakiniku TEN, the focus of my visit, a more upmarket restaurant with all the accoutrements of your archetypal Japanese dining establishment – kimonoed staff, paper lanterns, pebbles and rocks, water, and lots of shadows and spotlights. It’s all very tranquil, all very Zen, and all very, very delicious.
Like most memberships of Asian golf courses the Laguna Golf members make up a rich and demanding demographic who expect the very best, and considering that a large proportion of the clientele comes in straight off the course after blowing a small fortune on a round of tropical golf there had better be something noble and quality awaiting the hungry palate at the end. Yakiniku TEN gets it right every time.
Designed by Brocks Interior Design, it is heavy on the use of bamboo, latticework panels, rough plaster and solid walnut. Blinds separate the tables discretely without creating barriers and diners also have the choice of sitting at one of the gently lit semi-private dining areas for a more exclusive experience.
Hiroshi took extra special care of me and he was keen for me to try every section of the menu, which was extensive.
There are no limits to the ingredients that they can obtain at Yakiniku TEN and, while Japan is the number one source, they also serve the very best and freshest produce from around the region and all the best cuts of fish are flown in from Japan twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. According to manager Hiroshi, and contrary to popular opinion, including my own, sushi should be eaten a day or so after its caught so it has time to soften and mature. Super-fresh fish is best grilled. So, with that in mind, mid-week and weekends are the best times to come for sashimi.
Laid out before me this night was a wide array of Japanese treats from all the major food groups including some I had never considered. Hiroshi took extra special care of me and he was keen for me to try every section of the menu, which was extensive. There were salads, sushi, sashimi (excellent tuna and kingfish) grilled lobster, fish eggs, wild mushrooms, fried fish, and fresh soba noodles made with imported Japanese flour. This translated into huge amounts of food and it was tough going but I just dug in my heels and persevered.
The masterstroke came with the yakiniku beef, cooked on my very own bbq hotplate at the table – one plate of Australian wagyu versus a plate of Japanese karubitokoju, one of their best. And yes, the Aussie beef, as expected, was delicious and so full of melt-in-the-mouth goodness that it was be hard to beat, but beaten it was by the Japanese cuts, which were, well… simply better. That’s why the Australian’s borrow the term wagyu, I suppose, and not the other way around. In keeping with Japanese hospitality, it was all accompanied by a large bottle of Nagano daiginjo sake, a very good drop, and just the right amount of icy-cold beer, without which no Japanese meal is ever complete.
There’s an extra added advantage to Yakiniku TEN’s location in that it’s not only Singapore dwellers who can enjoy their hospitality. Being only ten minutes from Changi Airport, and having seen and experienced the food and restaurant selection on offer inside, I would seriously recommend anyone with more than a three-hour stopover to consider what they really want to eat for that lunch or dinner before getting on a long-haul intercontinental A380. Take the initiative and take a taxi to Yakiniku TEN. It’s almost worth missing a flight for.
11 Laguna Golf Green,
Laguna National Golf & Country Club
Tel: +65 6248 1722