Kyodai offers butter beef bowls in various flavours
I’m the friend who’s expected to know where all the hot new places to eat at are, but leave it up to me, and it’s almost always something Japanese. From ramen and donburi, to yakitori and matcha, I developed regular cravings for Japanese food even before I realised it’s weaved itself in as a daily choice. Hands down, it’s my favourite cuisine, but the pursuit for better taste is precisely why it’s been tough to satisfy my increasingly demanding tongue.
I knew I’d soon discover a hole-in-the-wall gem deserving of a star on a map, but in no way did I expect the unassuming stall of Kyodai to be it. In plain sight along Bencoolen Street, the little eatery that mostly does takeaways is just wide enough to seat a line of five customers. Yet it was not the random and average stopover I thought it was. Their hearty rice bowls were leaps beyond run-of-the-mill with some refreshing creativity that added a twist.
Food at Kyodai
Fret not if you feel little for sushi or sashimi because Kyodai has its focus on rice bowls. The small bar sells a variety of food made upon order and includes rotating promotions. One spoonful into their Starboy Bowl ($13) banished any apprehension I had. Slices of pork belly were arranged atop a bed of evenly cooked Japaneses rice with an onsen egg nestled in its centre. A showering of fried shallots, black and white sesame seeds, some spring onions, and Japanese pickles added delish colours.
The pork belly was sweet from its marinade and smoky flavour rose from its blackened bits. Each slice had a gorgeous layer of fats and char while its meat retained moist tenderness that was soft to chew into. It fats easily melted, weaving between the rice grains as I chewed, balancing the sweet meat with umami flavour and savouriness.
Puncturing the yolk didn’t bring on a stream, as the many ingredients cradled the yellow yolk. It didn’t matter though because the bowl was best after a good mix. The creamy egg bound with the moist grains and the tender torched meat richened each mouthful with sweetness and savouriness. The garnish lent some contrasting crunch to the deep flavours.
Wasabi Butter Beef ($12.90) was made up of a blanket of beef slices over Japanese rice with an onsen egg, pickles, sesame seeds, fried onions, and spring onions. Visually, it was similar to the Starboy Bowl save a pale green knob of wasabi butter which made it decidedly not #basic.
If you’re as curious as I was, it exuded a distinctly buttery scent when held close, and turned into a smooth melt in my mouth. The butter mellows out the heat of wasabi, leaving just its flavour – at least for the first few moments. In fact, they have a lineup of seven flavoured butters for choosing including teriyaki, Japanese curry, as well as bacon and lime. There are four options for the meat – pork collar ($9), pork belly ($10), beef shabu ($15), and ribeye ($15) – with rice or dry udon at an additional $1.
Their thinly sliced beef cooked in an addictive sukiyaki marinade was so, so scrumptious. I picked up a piece to dip into the yolk, and pressed another into the green butter. The meal’s bold flavours were hearty and full, which made this comforting for Monday blues, or on any day for any reason I could think of.
The most creative name on their menu is Wasabi Butter Beef Gyocos ($8.90) which come in pairs. Think gyoza and taco to imagine a gyoco. Crispy gyoza skin worked like a taco wrap to clasp together a seaweed sheet, sushi rice, lettuce, onions, beef, some wasabi butter, and spring onions. Their Gyocos include choices such as tuna sashimi, pork belly, pork collar, or beef, with any flavoured butter.
They are made for you to hold and eat them like tacos, and each was heavy enough to shake my senses awake as a sleepy midday snack. It was essentially a few bites of Wasabi Butter Beef on seaweed with gyoza skin which gave a crunchy backdrop of fried flour.
Ambience at Kyodai
Kyodai is an open-air eatery and a sunny afternoon can really get to you with its heat, so it’s common for orders to be takeaways. Michael Buble and Mariah Carey tunes played from the inside as we waited for a staff member to prepare our food. They have Asahi Mini ($3), Baird Pale Ale ($12), Baird Session Ale ($12), and Paulaner Kristal ($13) if you want to knock back a few rounds.
It’s cash only and prices are extremely affordable for such upscale tastes, especially because our Starboy Bowl and Wasabi Butter Beef were at an opening promotional price of $9.90 each with hot or cold green tea included.
Kyodai is close to a few schools, including SMU and NAFA, and having been a student before, this belongs to one of those most decadent and luxurious things I could ever eat while killing time between classes. Each item definitely needed a bit of a wait to be served but the friendly service made me chill out quite a bit and there’s a kawaii tips box that kept me occupied.
When I visited Kyodai, their menu wasn’t yet final since they only recently opened for business on 27 October. We were told they would probably take sashimi off completely because it’s hard to keep that fresh and the bulk of their customers have been tourists who were averse to raw dishes.
Nevertheless, the dishes we had were undoubtedly the beginnings of the must-haves here and would hopefully be signatures to stay. With the opening of the Downtown Line, this spot is only a few steps away from Bencoolen MRT Station and the food we had was outstanding for its price. I left with my mood lighter albeit with a heavier belly. For more delicious Japanese grub near Bencoolen MRT Station, check out 300 Boru and Japanese Curry Express! If Japanese rice bowls are what you’re looking for, this list of affordable donburi might come in handy.
Address: 47 Bencoolen Street, Hotel Bencoolen, Singapore 189626
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 10pm
This is an independent review by Eatbook.sg