Best donburi for under $25

Find a bowl of happiness in these 10 food outlets 

Photos: Jung Hyerin
Photos: Jung Hyerin
06 Jun 2016

Photos: Jung Hyerin

In Japanese, “don” is a general term for bowl and donburi typically refers to a bowl of cooked rice with different types of ingredients (such as sashimi, meat and vegetables) served atop. Amongst the wide variety of donburi dishes, gyudon (beef bowl), chirashidon (sashimi bowl) and tendon (tempura bowl) are most commonly found in restaurants.

Last month, local media reported that the health authorities have identified white rice as a major cause of diabetes. According to the report, replacing 20 per cent of white rice intake with brown rice is sufficient to lower the risk of diabetes by 16 per cent.

Meanwhile, there is a growing trend of food outlets offering healthy modern rice bowls. Instead of carbohydrate-laden white rice, you can choose less-sinful alternatives such as grains. Topped with proteins like wagyu beef, salmon and braised meat, the versatile dish forms a hearty meal without impacting your health. The plethora of colours presented in each bowl also makes the donburi a visual spectacle.

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, there is no lack of options in Singapore. From a hawker stall to hipster joints, we suss out the most value-for-money and gastronomically satisfying places to get your donburi fix.
 

Tanuki Raw
Tanuki Raw
06 Jun 2016

Tanuki Raw

Judging by the daily long queues, Tanuki Raw needs no introduction. The restaurant offers a delectable range of Japanese-inspired donburi including crowd favourites Foie Gras Truffle Yakiniku, Salted Duck Egg Char Siew and Tanuki Kaisen Chirashi – none of which is priced above $25. During lunch hours, these bowls start from $12.90 and you can add $2 for miso soup, salad and green tea for a set meal.

Every component of the Foie Gras Truffle Yakiniku don – pan-seared foie gras, generous and tender slices of black angus short rib, a gooey onsen egg and Tanuki’s signature rice drizzled with truffle soy sauce – is good on its own. When mixed in a bowl, the layers of rich flavours are intense and memorable, leaving you wanting for more.

Tanuki Raw
Tanuki Raw at Orchard Central: 181 Orchard Road, #04-01, Singapore 238896
Tanuki Raw at Kapok: 111 Middle Road, #01-05, National Design Centre, Singapore 188969
(Ed’s note: The menu differs in the two outlets. More details on their website)

 

 

Kilo at PACT
Kilo at PACT
06 Jun 2016

Kilo at PACT

Located in the same mall as Tanuki Raw, Kilo at PACT is a strong competitor and may be favoured by those who are more health-conscious. Kilo’s bowls are priced at $18 each and are only available for lunch. Choose from five options: Pork Belly, Beef Short Ribs, Roasted Veggies & Tofu, Pan-seared Donburi Salmon and Tempura Prawn. Each bowl comes with shimeji mushrooms, corn, avocado and nutritious vegetables like wasabi sprouts, sugar peas, radishes, cherry tomatoes and bean sprouts. If you need something substantial, stick to sushi rice. Alternatively, you can opt for brown rice or quinoa.

Kilo at PACT
181 Orchard Road, #02-16/17/18/19, Orchard Central, Singapore 238879


Photo: Kilo

Hana Hana and Teppei Syokudo
Hana Hana and Teppei Syokudo
06 Jun 2016

Hana Hana and Teppei Syokudo

Other than a slew of Korean eateries, Tanjong Pagar is also home to several restaurants that serve excellent Japanese cuisine. Teppei is no stranger to food lovers, but did you know that its sister restaurant Hana Hana (located next door) also serves up delicious Kaisendon (seafood bowl) for just $17.60?

Fresh pieces of salmon, tuna, swordfish, scallop and more are mixed with a special seasoning and capped with roe and nori strips – flawless for people who love strong flavours. If Tanjong Pagar is too far from your office or home, visit the Teppei Syokudo takeaway kiosk at Takashimaya Food Hall or the minuscule outlets at Millenia Walk and Republic Plaza for the same dish at a lower price ($16). The newly opened branch at ION Orchard even allows you to DIY your donburi with different choices of toppings. What are you waiting for?

Hana Hana
1 Tras Link, Singapore 078867

Teppei Syokudo
391 Orchard Road, B2 Takashimaya Food Hall, Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238873
9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-105, Millenia Walk Singapore 039596
9 Raffles Place ,#01-14, Republic Plaza Singapore 048619
2 Orchard Turn, #B4-57, ION Orchard Singapore 048659

 

Tendon Ginza Itsuki
Tendon Ginza Itsuki
06 Jun 2016

Tendon Ginza Itsuki

In collaboration with the acclaimed Ginza Itsuki Sushi restaurant in Tokyo, popular ramen chain Ramen Keisuke launched Ginza Tendon Itsuki, the first tendon specialty shop in Singapore, last July. Even though there are only two choices available (Special and Vegetable), you can expect long queues outside the tiny outfit day after day.

After taking your seat, you will be greeted by steaming bowls of chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) and miso soup. For the price of $13.90, a bowl of Special tendon comes with two crispy tempura prawns laying on top of perfectly fried pumpkin, chicken breast meat, mushroom, baby corn and vegetables. Before digging into the bed of rice that is sprinkled with light soy sauce, you will find an oozing onsen egg hidden below the beautiful mess. Given the generous portion and awesome flavours, the Special tendon is worth every bit of your money and calories.

Tendon Ginza Itsuki
101 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088522

 

May May
May May
06 Jun 2016

May May

A restaurant that specialises in Asian-inspired cuisine, May May serves donburi only during its lunch hours. Prices range from $12 to $18 and all bowls are well-balanced, both in terms of texture and taste. The menu boasts a selection of five rice bowls topped with yummy proteins like Butter Poached Cod or Braised Pork Belly – we especially enjoy the fresh and sleek pieces of cod fish. Each bowl is paired with a variety of sides such as wasabi sprouts, pickled lotus roots, grilled mushrooms, wakame (seaweed), oven-roasted tomatoes, red onions and soft-boiled egg. For a healthier option, swop the rice for quinoa (add $2). 

May May
65 Tras Street Singapore 079004

Photo: May May's Facebook
 

Ninja Bowl
Ninja Bowl
06 Jun 2016

Ninja Bowl

Established by former Power 98 DJ Darren Wee, Ninja Bowl is the latest addition to the dining enclave at Duxton Road. It offers eight different kinds of Japanese-style bowls that are served carb-free. If you need something more filling, you can add Ninja Rice (a mix of vinegared Japanese pearl rice and brown rice with seaweed flakes), Orzo (pasta tossed with honey, multigrain mustard, miso and chilli) or Garden Greens (a collection of vegetables) for $2, or Quinoa for $3.

The Buta bowl ($14) consists of torched pork chashu that gives a smoky taste and is surprisingly tender, as well as balsamic tomatoes, ume-pickled apples, roasted pumpkin and an onsen egg. Thanks to the myriad of ingredients in the bowl, every bite is exciting and impressive. Not only is the food at Ninja Bowl lenient on your waistline, it is also easy on your wallet. Prices are nett, with none of the menu items exceeding $20.

Ninja Bowl
15 Duxton Road, Singapore 089481


The Burning Oak
The Burning Oak
06 Jun 2016

The Burning Oak

Housed in the revamped Bedok Marketplace hawker centre (or affectionately known as Simpang Bedok), The Burning Oak is known for its yakitori skewers. However, the nondescript stall has also gained loyal fans for its affordable and quality donburi options that could give big restaurants a run for their money. In fact, the rice bowls are so popular that they are now available during dinner hours too.

We strongly recommend the Wagyu Beef Rump Cap Don ($13) for the irresistible charred slices of Wagyu or the Iberico Pork Cheek Don ($12). As if we were not stunned by the incredibly soft pork cheeks (which practically melts when it comes in contact with our tongue), the runny onsen egg buried within the rice is a delightful find.

The Burning Oak
348 Bedok Road, #02-16, Bedok Marketplace, Singapore 46950

 

DSTLLRY
DSTLLRY
06 Jun 2016

DSTLLRY

DSTLLRY is an art gallery, sound space, bar and omakase restaurant rolled into one. Drop by during lunch hours to enjoy their donburi offerings such as Salmon Belly Don ($16.90) and Barachirashi Don ($16.90).

The fresh salmon belly sashimi is seasoned with sea salt and torched to such perfection that it dissolves in your mouth. Wasabi is grated and used as a topping to rejuvenate your senses on a sleepy afternoon. On the other hand, the Barachirashi Don is topped with fat chunks of salmon, maguro (bluefin tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail). If you find the seasoning at Teppei overwhelming, DSTLLRY’s version may be more palatable.

DSTLLRY
21 Media Circle, #01-01, Infinite Studios, Singapore 138562

Photo: DSTLLRY's Facebook
 

Chikuwa Tei and Manzoku
Chikuwa Tei and Manzoku
06 Jun 2016

Chikuwa Tei and Manzoku

Craving for a scrumptious and reasonably-priced bowl of chirashidon? Chikuwa Tei is the place to go. Widely rated as one of the best in Singapore, the sashimi rice bowl is made of thick slices of raw fish. The freshness of the fish brings out its sweetness in entirety and the sizeable serving would leave your tummy happy and contented.

Another member of the Yoi Group, Chikuwa Tei’s sister restaurant Manzoku lives up to expectations and makes up for the lack of mid-end Japanese restaurants on the little red dot. Here, you can also find a good variety of donburi dishes, including Katsu Don (pork cutlet rice bowl), Maguro Nakaochi Don (rice with chopped tuna) and Oyako Don (chicken and egg over rice).

Chikuwa Tei
9 Mohamed Sultan Rd Singapore 238959

Manzoku
18 Purvis Street #01-01 Singapore 188597

Photo: Chikuwa Tei's Facebook
 

The Sushi Bar
The Sushi Bar
06 Jun 2016

The Sushi Bar

Apart from its signature Salmon Aburi Rolls, The Sushi Bar’s menu also comprises an assortment of donburi. For tuna fans, the Negitoro Don ($24.90) is a gorgeous combination of raw fatty maguro and spring onion served with sushi rice. On the other hand, the Unagi Don ($21.90) does not disappoint in presentation nor taste. Nothing spells appetising like a liberal slab of unagi coated with teriyaki sauce sitting on a field of sliced egg and rice. Tender and chewy at the same time, the flavourful unagi will tempt you into ordering an extra portion of rice.

The Sushi Bar
391 Orchard Road, #05-34/35, Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238873
14 Scotts Road, #04-28, Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213
 

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