A Japanese friend recommended Nirai-Kanai in response to a request on Facebook. When ever someone recommends a restaurant from their native land it has to be checked out.
Liang Court has never been a mall that I have paid any attention to. Next to Clark Quay, the only reason I have even been in before, is to go to the toilet whilst walking to or from Robertson Quay. So you can understand my surprise to hear that a top-notch restaurant would be in there.
It seems like Liang Court is a Japanese themed mall with a Japanese supermarket and other Japanese shops. To find Nirai-Kanai you need to head down into the basement, deep into one of the corners. So not one you’re going to stumble across.
The restaurant is Okinawan rather than Japanese, which is the only part of Japan I visited. The restaurant is very reminiscent of our trip there, no windows and dark inside. Also great to see the beastie statues from the island that protect the homes there.
Inside the tables are all in booths with old wood dividing up the space like a stalls in barn or an old warehouse.
The staff were great fun, we were (OK I was) all over the place with ordering and our server joined in the fun and laughed along. Even when we took ages and kept changing our minds.
As with a lot of asian food there didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the order that it arrives. We chose to have everything in the middle and share. First up was the assorted sashimi and Okinawan seasoned rice.
The cubic beef steak was tender and succulent, nice and pink on the inside.
Stir-fried bitter gourd on the other hand was not my thing, even if the others said they liked it, I guess the giveaway is in the name. The ladies had insisted on a vegetable dish. My argument that there were vegetables in the pan-fried dumplings unfortunately did not win the day as they were great.
Next up was something that our friends had researched and were looking forward to. Okinawan fusion food, deep-fried tacos spring rolls, as you can see below they were stuffed meat and cheese. I know not everybody is happy with the big American army, navy and airforce bases in Okinawa but one of the upsides is this kind of multicultural food.
Grilled chicken thigh with a peanut sauce or big non-spicy satay was another success. I’m a sucker for a peanut sauce and this was great, all creamy and nutty.
The dish that stole the show though was the deep-fried Fusilier fish with ponzu. I’ll be honest there was an element of trepidation with the ordering. For our last dish we asked the server what he would recommend. He recommended the above as being the most popular dish. So we asked for the best dish and after hesitation said it was the same. We were good up to the hesitation. In the end the visual master piece that you see below arrived. It tasted as good as it looked, crunchy on the outside and succulent and soft as you bite into the fish.
The bill for 4 adults, with 2 beers, 2 plum wines and 4 awamori high balls (don’t bother they just tasted like soda water) came to $198.91. At just under $50 a head I thought it was very good value for money and we will be back.
Nirai Kanai Okinawan Restaurant
177 River Valley Road
#B1-01/02, Liang Court Shopping Centre
Tel: +65 6339 4811