Singapore’s Best Yakiniku?26 July, 2010 by Chad
Some time ago after leaving Japan, while processing the photos from the dinner we had at Odaiba, I came down with the unbearable urge for Yakiniku. MJ obliged and suggested Daidamon which was located in United Square at Novena. It claimed to be “Singapore’s Best Yakiniku”.
For those that require an introduction, Yakiniku is translated literally as grilled meat. It’s a dish that originated from the Korean immigrants who used to barbecue innards as an inexpensive dish during the post war era. It is one of those foods that evolved from a necessity into a luxury.
Even though it was Friday night, the establishment was pretty empty. On hindsight, it should had been a warning sign but we praised our good fortune instead. The restaurant had a cozy red ambiance because well, red lighting makes food look more appealing.
On the walls, were photographs of the Korean owner with some politicians. As someone I knew once said, if the creator dares to show his face on the product it better be good.
Sadly, the beef sashimi was the only meat served that had any taste. All the subsequent cuts were ordered were dry, tough and completely tasteless when cooked. We even resorted to try cooking the beef sashimi but it too became blend.
The basic menu at Daidomon costs $53. There are two step ups for $10 and $25 which allow you access to a spread of raw fish and wagyu beef respectively. I’m not a fan of wagyu so I decided to pass bu MJ had a craving for raw fish. Since the buffet was ala carte styled and they couldn’t possible have someone sitting next to us monitoring we included the optional fish spread.
Though I didn’t have any expectations for the sashimi (we were in a yakiniku restaurant after all), it turned out far worse than expected as the fish was horribly stale. Even the octopus, which is normally quite tasteless was really fishy.
The tempura also deserved an award for being the worst tempura I had eaten in my life. Even more so than those you’d get from hawker centers. I love my vegetable tempura so I grabbed a piece of pumpkin. Despite using all my strength, I couldn’t bite into it the raw piece. After trying for a while in vain, I finally gave up.
After appetizers, we order a spread of “everything from here to here”, starting with staples like ox tongue and pork belly before heading on to bigger cuts, each more disappointing than the last. While they were topped with some onions and soy sauce, none of the meats had been marinated beforehand.
Yakiniku was originally called horumonyaki in the Kansai tongue and the innards are still referred to as horumon. The ones served at here not only lacked the proper marination like all of the above dishes, they weren’t washed out properly either. Almost puked after a single bite.
Its amazing how Daidomon manages to fail so badly in something that doesn’t even require any cooking. Ignoring the awful cuts and lack of preparation in the kitchen the biggest problem were the lousy grills at the restaurant.
Instead of the usual mesh grills, Daidomon uses a striped grill with no openings at the center. The lack of any space for the oil to drip off meant that after two or three batches, everything just ended up tasting like charcoal. I couldn’t fathom the logic behind using such a grill as the ridged center couldn’t possibly be any easier to clean.
The Daidomon restaurant is easily spotted by its ovary logo. Which is probably the owner’s subtle way of saying screw you. Avoid at all costs.
After service charge and tax, the dinner amounted to $80 bucks a person. I wouldn’t return even if it had cost only $20. If the pictures in this post do look appetizing, it probably has less to do with the quality of the food and more thanks to the magic that is photoshop. The images of the food were too shocking to bare otherwise.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.