Okinawan Food @ Nirai Kanai

I was craving noodles so after the mooncake tasting event at St Regis, I hoped that the group would take my suggestion to go for Nirai-Kanai's Okinawan food at Tanglin Shopping Centre. They seemed more keen on chicken wings at Jerry's, which I wasn't in the mood for but went with the flow. Thankfully (shh...don't tell the others), Jerry's was closed! Ha ha! the stars are shining in my favour!

The chopsticks look like divination lots in a Chinese Temple

Okinawan cuisine has a strong Chinese influence (lots of stir-fries). The chopsticks in their holder remind me of divination lots in a Chinese temple.

I'm prepped for food
DL had introduced Nirai-Kanai to LK & I about 2 years back. It was a refreshing change from standard Japanese fare. In spite of its inconvenient location, it's always crowded everytime I've visited.
Peanut Beancurd (Jiimamii-Dofu) @ Nirai Kanai Jiimami-Dofu (Peanut Tofu) @ S$8.00++
When DL raved about the Peanut Tofu, LK & I were a little skeptical but gave it a try anyway because DL is known to be a picky (Politically Correct version: discerning) eater. The Peanut Tofu was excellent! It had a texture that was similar to pudding but despite the paleness of the tofu, the flavour of the peanuts permeated throughout. Though I don't generally like sweet food, the sweetened soy sauce added an interesting dimension to the dish. It reminded me of the sauce (albeit a slightly thinner version) used to coat Mitarashi Dango (a traditional Japanese sweet of boiled rice flour balls coated with a sweetened soy sauce). This is a Must-Try!
Pork-Rib Noodle @ Nirai-Kanai
Pork-Rib Noodle @ S$6.60++ (small) / S$8.80++ (medium)
This is the dish that I had been craving, the fact that the restaurant was located in a building within walking distance from the St. Regis made my craving even stronger. I raved about this bowl of noodles to the others and recommended that they order medium portions without any hesitation.

On my first visit, I had ordered a small bowl in an effort to pace myself since DL had ordered quite a few other dishes but regretted the decision because the small serving was definitely not enough to sate the carb-freak in me. The rich and flavourful broth was comfort food for the soul. The springy noodles (like a Japanese version of Linguine) went very well with chunks of well-seasoned and tender pork. This is a Must-Try!

Okinawan Pancake @ Nirai-Kanai Okinawan Pancake @ S$9.00++
Another dish that I like here is the Okinawan Pancake. It's floury (read: carb-y) and reminds me of Korean-style pancakes that contain more flour than ingredients. It's not filled with seafood though but relies on toppings of bonito shavings, pickled ginger and seaweed to add flavour.

Grilled Pork Belly with Salt @ Nirai-Kanai Grilled Pork Belly with Salt @ S$12.00++

The last 2 times I visited, they ran out of Grilled Pork Belly so I had to settle for the Braised Pork Belly, which I found to be a little wanting because the flesh was not as tender as I would have liked it. The flesh for the Braised Pork Belly was also a little stringy. I was determined to try the Grilled Pork Belly when I realised that it was available.

It was awesome! The crisp exterior added a fragrance to the well-seasoned slices of pork belly. Though I generally try to avoid the fat in pork belly, the browned fat bits were tasty and added an interesting touch to the flavour. Squeezing some lemon juice on the slices helped to cut the fattiness of the pork belly and whetted the appetite for more. We loved it so much that we had 3 servings! So much for a light bite after all the mooncakes that we ate! This is a Must-Try!

Unagi Fried Rice @ Nirai-Kanai Unagi Fried Rice (forgot the price)
I am not a big fan of Unagi (Grilled Eel), I guess it's because I ate too much of it when I was younger. I tried some out of curiosity. This was fabulous because the fried rice was very tasty with bite-sized chunks of eel and egg. The dish had "wok hei", a quality that is treasured in many Chinese stir-fries whereby a smoky flavour and enticing fragrance is imparted to the dish (by cooking over high heat). This is a Must-Try!
Grilled Ox Tongue Grilled Ox Tongue
I'm not a fan of organ meat so I was really apprehensive about trying this dish. I took a little piece and found that it didn't taste as bad as I thought it might. On the contrary, the marinade used to season it was very tasty and helped to counter the organ-y flavour. I added quite a bit of lemon juice to make it more palatable though in general, this is not a dish that I see myself ordering when I return.
Deep-Fried River Shrimp Deep-Fried River Shrimp
We were feeling pretty stuffed after all that food but the glistening plate of deep-fried river shrimp that passed our table was too enticing to miss. The serving size wasn't large so we ordered a plate to try. It was a good thing that we did because it was delicious! The deep-fried fresh and sweet shrimp had very crunchy shells and a succulent core. The flavour was enhanced by squeezing lemon juice over the shrimp and a dip in the little mound of salt. This is a Must-Try!

Nirai-Kanai 19 Tanglin Road #04-05 Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore 247909 Telephone : +65 6737-5811

Operating Hours: Lunch: 12pm to 3pm (Mondays to Saturdays only) Dinner : 6pm to 12 am (Mondays to Thursdays) 6pm to 2am (Fridays & Saturdays) 5pm to 12 am (Sundays)

Okinawan Diner Nirai-Kanai (smaller menu) B1-01/02 Liang Court 177 River Valley Road Singapore 179030 Telephone: +65 6339-4811

Operating Hours: Daily: 11.30am to 1am