Gaijin is a casual two-storey Japanese restaurant in King Albert Park Mall, offering staples such as ramen, udon, and donburi. Where food choices are somewhat limited in the neighbourhood, among the residents and office crowd in the vicinity, Gaijin is quickly becoming a place known for its quality yet affordable Japanese comfort food.
Gaijin Karaage 3.8/5
Gaijin has a secret weapon to ensure that all its fried items are moist and succulent - that is Dr Fry. Thanks to its unique physical water molecule control technology, your fried food will stay succulent and crispy for a longer period of time, even with a reduction in the absorption of oil. The results were evident in my Gaijin Karaage ($8 for 3pc or $12 for 5 pc). These chicken thigh chunks had a light brown skin that was thin and crispy. There was a good portion of the nicely flavoured meat in every bite, rather than a mouthful of greasy fried skin and fats.
Katsu Curry Don 3.5/5
Likewise, for the Katsu Curry Don ($15), the Hokkaido Shiro Buta (snow pork) was moist and juicy with a thin, crispy skin. Given the serving size of the tonkatsu, this is quite value-for-money. However, the curry can be better. It combines the flavour profiles of two Japanese curry styles - one that’s more savoury and one that’s sweet and fruity. Although butter was added to it to bring out the flavours of the spices, I feel it wasn't as robust as I had expected it to be.
Hence, Gyudon ($14) satisfied me much more with its thinly-sliced premium Angus beef, which is chosen for its higher fat percentage. The longer these beef slices sit on your rice, the more the fats will melt into the rice underneath. The combination of the melted fats, the housemade yakiniku sauce and the juice from the sliced welsh onions made the rice really flavourful. Thus, it will take minimal effort to wipe this bowl clean.
Ebi Tempura Udon 3.5/5
The menu also covers staples such as udon and ramen. Ebi Tempura Udon ($13) uses Inaniwa udon which is relatively thinner and smoother, and its extra chewy texture works well in both cold and hot broth. The Ebi Tempura Udon serves the udon in a light dashi-based broth. The broth tasted a tad salty when I had it alone with the udon, but its higher salt content made it just right as a sauce for the accompanying tempura. The tempura set includes two black tiger prawns and assorted vegetables of the day.
Shio Tonkotsu Ramen with Kara Chilli Paste 3.5/5
It is rare to find a casual dining place that serves up decent ramen, and the Shio Tonkotsu Ramen ($12) did well with the addition of its homemade Special “Kara” chilli paste ($1). Despite the layer of homemade black garlic oil and pork fat oil floating on top of the broth, this salt-seasoned tonkotsu broth felt light on the palate after I mixed everything in, including the homemade shrimp-based chilli paste. The chilli paste provides more than just heat to the dish. A dollop of it adds depths of flavours into the broth. You will have the options from level one “mild spiciness” to level three “hot”. I reckon you can just go for level three ''hot''.
Meant to be wallet-friendly, Gaijin offers sake from Saito, Nanbubijin and more from $18 to $35 to complete the dining experience.
Words and photos by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food. Note: This is an invited tasting.
KAP Residences Mall
9 King Albert Park
Nearest MRT: King Albert Park (DT Line)
Mon - Fri: 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 9pm
Sat - Sun: 12pm - 9pm
1) Alight at King Albert Park MRT station. Take Exit A. Walk to bus stop at The Sterling (Stop ID 42051). Take any bus alight next stop. Walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]
2) Alight at King Albert Park MRT station. Take Exit A. Walk to Bukit Timah Road. Turn left and walk to destination. Journey time about 10 minutes. [Map]