Q-WA Izakaya at Beach Road Bugis is a new Japanese restaurant that specialises in yakimono (Japanese grilled skewers). It prides itself on serving quality yakimono with ingredients imported from Japan and using sawdust bincho-tan–which is dense coal made from oak–to grill the food. After their first outlet at East Coast, they recently open their second which emulates the hole-in-the-wall experience that one may get at izakayas in Japan.
To start with: something different from the usual soft shell crab, the crispy Japanese freshwater baby crab ($ 7.90), is well-seasoned and a hint of spiciness can be detected. Even though small in size, the sweetness of the crab meat comes through. This pairs very well with a cold Asahi in hand; perfect pub grub to share among friends.
From L to R: Tomato maki, cherry tomato bacon with cheese ($ 3.20); Uzura Maki, quail egg bacon ($ 3.30); Shiitake Maki, mushroom cheese bacon ($ 3.30); Enoki Maki, golden mushroom bacon ($ 3.30); Asupara Maki, asparagus bacon ($ 3.60); Tsukune, chicken meatball ($ 3.60)
The skewers are ok but nothing to shout about. They are marinated with an in-house garlic spice powder and moshio or seaweed salt. Unfortunately, they are too heavy-handed with their seasoning as most of the skewers come out as sodium bombs and I can feel my kidneys crying. Considering that the skewers are grilled over bincho-tan, it is disappointing to note that most skewers lack smokiness, an essential element of good yakimono.
From L to R: Butabara, pork belly shio ($ 2.90); Butabara Miso, pork belly miso ($ 3.20); Tebasaki, chicken wing ($ 3.50)
The chicken meatballs ($ 3.60) are tasty and have a nice texture but they remind me of Tori-Q. Other interesting items are the fatty ox tongue ($ 6.80) and ox tongue special ($ 12.90), with the former being tender and the latter chewy but both don’t fare well in the taste department (my taste buds possibly may have already been…desensitized by all the salt).
From L to R: Negima, chicken with leek ($ 2.90); Negima Cheese, chicken with cheese ($ 3.30); Enoki Gyu, golden mushroom beef ($ 4.80); Asupara Gyu, asparagus beef ($ 4.90)
The chicken tail ($ 2.80, pictured below) is, however, the highlight of our meal. Funny how inexpensive cut of the chicken ends up being the prized skewer. The chicken tail, or some term it euphemistically as “Parson’s nose”, is nicely charred and the fat-like texture of the rump is flavourful and packs an umami punch.
Fatty ox tongue ($ 6.80) and ox tongue special ($ 12.90)
Thankfully, the teriyaki glaze on the Japanese squid ($ 15.80) is not excessively sweet and that helps to lift the otherwise bland squid.
Another recommended item on their menu is the seared mackerel marinated with vinegar ($ 18.80). Having the fish on its own is okay but after squeezing lemon over it, the touch of lemon juice instantly jazzes up the dish; the acidity of the lemon cuts through the richness of the mackerel. However, the skin of the mackerel could have been crispier.
Overall, the food here is satisfactory but they could go easy on the salt.
103 Beach Road, #01-02, Singapore 189704
Tel: +65 8336 7728
Daily 11.30am–2.30pm, 5pm–11pm, Closed on PH
You may be interested in…
–Chao Chao Gyoza, Royal Square @ Novena: 1971 Osaka Izakaya, Serving Not Just Gyoza
–Grand Jeté Cafe, Ngee Ann City: Japanese-Western Cafe, an Oasis Away from the Crowd
–SENS Sushi & Grill, Holland Village: When I Maki in the Summer
–Hokkaido-Ya, Vivocity: A New “Smart” Japanese Casual Eatery by Sushi Tei Serving One-Bowl Meals
Written by Vanessa Khong. Vanessa is someone who enjoys checking out the local food scene. She believes the way to her heart is through her stomach.