Hararu Izakaya at Bussorah St

Hararu Izakaya
16 Bussorah St
Singapore 199437
Tel: +65 62915373
Online reservations: Click here
Online menu (no prices tho): Click here

Operating Hours
Mon-Sun: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order @ 10pm)

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$44 (omg why do we spend like kings)
Recommended dishes: Hotate Turkey Bacon (Scallop) (S$6), Gyuniku Nitsuke (Stewed Beef Ribs) (S$18), Negima (Chicken & Spring Onion) (S$5)

OK you guys I finally tried Hararu Izakaya at Bussorah St a couple of weeks ago! (edited to add: ok it’s now become a couple of months ago because I am just the worst and I sat on this review with about 20% to go and it just remained in drafts FOREVER).

Some of you might know I went to Tokyo on holiday in May this year, and came back literally 2 days before Ramadan began. I had an amazing time there eating my absolute weight in sashimi, sushi and even life-changing lobster rolls from Dominique Ansel Bakery (OK lah I’m not so strict which is why I *need* to keep a halal blog to encourage myself to find halal options). Unfortunately I only had time to visit one halal ramen place called Naritaya near the Asakusa shrine, prior to attending the Sanja Matsuri festival. (P.s. it’s not great, but it’ll do if you’re looking for halal food in the area!)

So you can imagine how happy I was at the opening of Hararu Izakaya in late April 2017, the first halal izakaya in Singapore! We’re still some ways away from like, a halal Shinji or even a halal Teppei for that matter, but still this is a welcome step in the right direction! You can read more about the restaurant founders in this article I found online here.

So hilarious fact: Hararu is how the Japanese would pronounce the term “halal”, just like how in Southpark, the (Japanese) people at Sony had a meeting to discuss their “serusu report” (sales report) for the new PlayStation and the launch of their Brack Friday Bunduru (Black Friday Bundle) LOL I died. Loved this episode.

Also, in case you guys didn’t know, the term izakaya refers to a Japanese gastropub, and has its origins in sake shops that allowed its customers to stay and drink on-site (‘”i” means to stay, and “sakaya” refers to sake shop.) So okay lah not super halal origins, but why should seekers of halal food be denied those delicious grilled skewers, right?

Hararu_Izakaya_Foreword

Hararu_Izakaya_Mural

Located on Bussorah St right next to Kampong Glam Cafe and opposite the now-defunct Vintage Delicafe, Hararu Izakaya occupies 2 floors of the shophouse. I made reservations about 5 days in advance and was ushered to the more pleasant upstairs seating – sweet! We were asked to remove our shoes to sit on the tatami mats (don’t worry there’s a depression “moat” in the floor around the table so you sit on the edge and put your legs in, so you’re effectively sitting on a bench instead of cross-legged and risking accidental indecency if you’re wearing a skirt lol). I was so thankful I wore sandals that could be slipped off and on with ease instead of, say, shoes with buckles UGH. Or like sneakers with ratty sockettes lol. Y’all have been warned.

Hararu_Izakaya_Decor

You sit on the floor and put your legs in the “moat”!

Hararu_Izakaya_Wall

I assume all mountains in Japanese drawings are Mount Fuji because I don’t know any other names help omg let me read up more so I don’t stay ignorant ugh

We ordered from a digital menu on an ipad attached to the table – I can’t tell you how much I love this. This iPad ordering system is prevalent in Japanese izakayas as it facilitates ordering skewers gradually and incrementally. Love it. Plus you don’t have to keep calling the waitress over to take your order. It’s great, 10/10.

So anyway we started off with the Hotate Turkey Bacon (S$6 for 2 skewers), which features grilled scallop wrapped in turkey bacon. You can choose the version with shio salt dressing or teriyaki sauce dressing, and we tried both:

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Hotate Turkey Bacon on Teriyaki sauce (S$6) – 9/10

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Hotate Turkey Bacon in shio salt (S$6) – 9/10

YUM I really liked these! The scallop tasted fresh and was flavourful, while the turkey bacon really helped raise the umami quotient. I’m a little torn with regards to which dressing is better than the other; it’ll really depend on your mood as the teriyaki dressing can be a little sweet for some but also more juicy than the salt. I’d say a solid 9/10 for both of these.

We were deciding between udon or soba noodles, and eventually decided on the Zaru Soba (S$8). Here’s a definition for you guys taken from Just One Cookbook:

Zaru Soba is a chilled noodle dish made from buckwheat flour and served with soy sauce based dipping sauce called tsuyu (つゆ). The word zaru means “a strainer” in Japanese and the name of the dish was derived from the way the noodles are served over a bamboo strainer during Edo Period.

So I always thought I was more of an udon girl; I find the chewy texture of the thick noodles in hot broth very satisfying and comforting. However, in the past year I’ve been dipping my toes in the proverbial cold soba waters (this metaphor does not work but go with me on it) and I’ve come to really like cold soba as a refreshing, light dish.

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The ones at Hararu, unfortunately, were not great. The soba was too starchy, while the good-quality ones were more refined with a springier, lighter texture. The dipping sauce was just fine, but the noodles are really the star of the show, and to have them be mediocre is a little disappointing. I hope they tweak the texture next time! 5/10

We also had the Negima chicken thigh and leek skewers (S$5 for 2 skewers):

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Negima Chicken Thigh and Leek Skewers (S$5)

YUM. Happy to report these chicken thighs were juicy and well-seasoned, yum! I even ate the leek which had a slightly charred taste yum and wasn’t super oniony YES. Definitely a staple skewer for me. 9/10

We tried to be all healthy and included the Shiitake Negi (S$4 for 2 skewers) in our order so we can say alright we had some vegetables:

Hararu_Izakaya_Shitake_Negi

Shiitake Skewer (S$4) – 6.5/10

I confess I am not usually the biggest fan of shiitake, especially in stir fries, but I don’t mind them grilled! That being said, I still found these were pretty average – a little dry and rubbery, although I honestly don’t know if they would’ve been better elsewhere. 6.5/10 I guess!

We also had to try the Gyu Kushi Ponzu (S$10) which were the beef skewers in a citrus + soy sauce glaze (bonus: click here for ponzu recipe):

Hararu_Izakaya_Beef_Ponzu

Gyu Kushi Ponzu beef skewer (S$10) – 8/10

You will not believe how many times I accidentally typed Ponzi (as in Ponzi scheme) instead of Ponzu in this review lol. Anyway these skewers were just a smidge tougher than I would have liked, but I did enjoy the citrusy-umami flavour of the ponzu dressing. A little steep at S$10 but worth a try if you like your red meats like I do. 8/10

Moving on from the skewers, we tried the Yuzu Miso Tebasaki Chicken Wings (S$12 for 6 pieces):

Hararu_Izakaya_Chicken_Wings

Yuzu Miso Tebasaki Chicken Wings (S$12) – 7.5/10

These grilled chicken wings (tebasaki literally means wing tips) were not bad – they were savoury and lightly sour, with additional flavour from the sesame seeds and seaweed garnish! While the meat was succulent, I thought the skin could have been either a little juicier, or crisper instead of in-between. 7.5/10

Finally the pièce-de-résistance was the Gyu Nitsuke (S$18) featuring stewed tender beef ribs in some sweet-savoury sauce.

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Gyu Nitsuke beef rib (S$18) – 10/10

OMG GUYSSSSSS this was really good!!! The beef was really so, so tender, and juicy, and packed with flavour!! I swear, it was super succulent and the meat slid right off the bone and onto my chopsticks UNFFFF YASSSSS.

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HNGGGGGGGG gasm.

OK full disclosure – towards the end, it did get just a little bit jelak because the sauce was a little sweet, but thankfully the dish came with some sort of dip on the side which had a hint of wasabi, helping de-cloy the flavour. I’d still rate it 10/10 though!

All in all I had a good time at Hararu Izakaya, although I do think there is room for improvement in the quality of the dishes. Nothing some tweaks and continuous fine-tuning wouldn’t fix. I LOVE the ambience of the 2nd floor seating, and I love the ipad ordering system. I do however wish they would serve more like sashimi stuff (OKAY I KNOW this is a yakitori place ugh I’m sorry but I love sashimi help please send me some).

Also I hate that they do not serve water, and a drink costs you like S$3-6 at this place. I def got a sore throat the next day because of all the skewers and not enough water (my fault for being too cheap to buy mineral water) so either come with a water bottle of your own or be prepared to pay for water (mmmm I just do not agree with paying for water ugh).

Still, looking forward to going back and trying that amazing Gyu Nitsuke beef ribs ugh.

Hararu Izakaya
16 Bussorah St
Singapore 199437
Tel: +65 62915373
Online reservations: Click here
Online menu (no prices tho): Click here

Operating Hours
Mon-Sun: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order @ 10pm)

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$44 (omg why do we spending like kings)
Recommended dishes: Hotate Turkey Bacon (Scallop) (S$6), Gyuniku Nitsuke (Stewed Beef Ribs) (S$18), Negima (Chicken & Spring Onion) (S$5)

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OmoOmoDon at The Star Vista

OmoOmoDon
The Star Vista #02-14/15
1 Vista Exchange Green
Singapore 138617

Opening Hours
1130am to 930pm daily

Halal status: Halal-certified!
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Recommended dishes: Bird’s Nest Don (S$10), Takoyaki (S$5)

Guys oh my god. Game of Thrones season 7 is over :”'( NO SPOILERS I PROMISE! I’m just sad it’s over – I totally rushed over to my friend’s place near my office at lunchtime, watched all 1h20m of the episode while scarfing down a plate of spaghetti bolognaise in the first 10 minutes (I mean I inhaled it fr), rushed back to the office and breezed past the doors into my seat like it was nbd. I guess now is a good time to get caught up on all the books! Luckily GRRM has been taking his own sweet time with The Winds of Winter so I can finish the first five books in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Anyway for those of you who don’t watch GoT, sorry! You guys must be SO sick and tired of hearing all these Throne-heads constantly talking about the latest episode etc and making countless GoT references in their daily conversations haha. Seriously though go get caught up on seasons 1-7 before season 8 comes out. OR you can bear with it for just one more season and then it’ll be over forever (but then you’ll miss out).

OKAY so now that’s out of the way, let me tell you guys about this place I recently got to try at the Star Vista called OmoOmoDon! It’s a fusion Korean-Japanese place in Star Vista serving up 18 customized signature “dons”, which are like essentially bowls of rice/noodles/grains with various toppings such as beef, chicken, chicken, and veggies!

Here’s a look at the extensive menu:

 

So the unique thing about OmoOmoDon is that you order from a self-service kiosk, wait for your number to be flashed on a screen, collect your order from the counter, and after you finish eating you put the tray away at the tray return area. MINIMAL HUMAN CONTACT YASSS. Perfect for those days when you just can’t deal with people, you know? It’s like when you get an Uber, step in, driver confirms your name and location, and proceeds to drive in silence for the rest of the ride before saying “thank you, have a good day!” FIVE STARS BABY. Please don’t try and talk to me while I’m trying to put on my makeup at 8am (who am I kidding? More like 9am) in the morning I’m just not a morning person it’s not you it’s me don’t take it personally.

So anyway the first thing we tried while waiting for our dons to arrive was the Takoyaki (S$5):

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Takoyaki (S$5) – 9/10

Ooh this was pretty satisfyin! It’s got a thick chunk of octopus inside and was pretty mushy. It was like a party in the mouth with the not-too-strong BBQ sauce and the not-too-overpowering mayo. I’m not a huge fan of mayo but thankfully they didn’t drown the balls in them. 9/10

On to the Dons! (LOL remember Don Omar with that horrible song Dale Don Dale? RATCHET.) I love my steak so we just HAD to try the Yes Sir! Yes Sir! (S$12), which features sirloin steak on a bed of kimchi omelette-covered multi-grain rice, drizzled in teriyaki sauce:

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Yes Sir! Yes Sir! Don (S$12) – 8.5/10

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UNFFFF medium-cooked steak ugh so good

Yum guys, the New Zealand chilled sirloin was pretty decent! The meat was tender, juicy and only sightly sinewy in some parts. I mean for $12, this was a downright steal. I learned that the machine that cooks the steak goes on timer, and that’s how they achieve consistency in the quality of the meat and the doneness – so brillz. The teriyaki sauce made every mouthful of the rice and omelette so moist, and the kimchi slices were so flavourful! A really good combination, although I’m not really sold on the multigrain rice as the base. Of course, this is easily remedied by building your own Don and selecting a different base! 8.5/10

Next up was the Bird’s Nest (S$10), comprising spicy chicken and onsen egg on a bed of Korean glass noodle, topped off with some tobiko (flying fish roe) and some Korean BBQ sauce:

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Bird’s Nest (S$10) – 10/10

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HNGGGGGGG MY FAVE DEAD OMG HELP

OMG THIS WAS SO YUMMY?!?!? What is this magical sweet-savoury Korean BBQ sauce that makes this thing so, so juicy?! I was all over this don like white on rice for real – this was straight up delicious and I even felt guilty for liking this so much compared to the previous don I had to tone down my enthusiasm. The sweet-savoury sauce flavour was balanced out pretty well by the spicy chicken, yum. Texture-wise this was also a home-run as the glass noodles were slightly thicker than regular vermicelli and had great bite! Plus the tobiko (flying fish roe) helped add more crunch to the texture and some umami to the flavour palette. Just, perfect. Also did I mention this was only S$10?! So crazy. 10/10

A little hard to live up to a perfect 10, but the Ji-Ji Don (S$10) makes a valiant attempt with not one, not two, but THREE different types of chicken – spicy chicken, teriyaki chicken, and soy garlic winglets, served on a bed of Korean white rice with onsen egg and bibimbap sauce.

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Ji-Ji Don (S$10) – 8/10

 

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3 types of chicken for all you chicken-heads lol (Remember Fatman Scoop being all “All you chicken heads! Be quiet!” in that massive club banger Be Faithful? Lol nonsense.

OK real though, I can’t deal with 3 types of chicken in one don, it felt way too heavy for me. I really liked the spicy chicken and the teriyaki chicken, but was pretty ambivalent about the soy garlic winglets. Even when I’m at 4 Fingers I get the hot flavour of drumettes instead of the soy garlic, so I guess it’s just a personal preference. A pretty safe-choice type of don otherwise! 8/10

Phew, so that was my first experience of OmoOmoDon, and boy was I impressed! You seriously do not get too many halal Jap-Korean fusion place, especially those that do healthier options with multigrain rice and grilled salmon as one of the proteins! YUM. The Management are planning to make OmoOmo Food Concepts at Kallang Wave Mall halal sometime in future, so watch out for that! For now though, only OmoOmoDon remains halal-certified. I really wish I had an OmoOmoDon where I work, but I guess since I’m a westie I could def pop by on the way home after work for dinner. And I DEFINITELY intend to come back here!

I’ll leave you guys with some pictures of the food and place here:

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Aside from being really hearty and delicious they’re also really photogenic ugh

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Notice that the mouth of the icon is also a rice bowl OMGGG GENIUSS

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More beauty

OmoOmoDon
The Star Vista #02-14/15
1 Vista Exchange Green
Singapore 138617

Opening Hours
1130am to 930pm daily

Halal status: Halal-certified!
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Recommended dishes: Bird’s Nest Don (S$10), Takoyaki (S$5)

The Ramen Stall

The Ramen Stall
787 North Bridge Road
Singapore 198755
Online Menu: Click here
Reservations: + 65 6655 0800

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 5pm to 6am
Sat, Sun, PH: 12pm to 6am

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 10/10 for the ramen, 7/10 for all else

Average spend per pax: ~$29 per person

Last Saturday my friend brought me to The Ramen Stall which, as promised, serves up a mean ramen, along with other Japanese fare. The menu is really very extensive, and without knowing it was available online, I stupidly took a photo of every single page haha. I’m still putting it up at the end of this post, in case you guys want to browse through without going to the Ramen Stall website.

We got there at 830pm on a Saturday night, and the place was absolutely hopping! All tables both inside and at the outside seating area were taken, so my friend and I had to sit at the sushi bar, which was fine since it felt quite private. We ordered quite a few items to share so here’s a rundown:

We got the Salmon Sashimi (S$9.90 for 7 slices) first, which came on a boat you guys! Super cute.

 

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I’m afraid the sashimi did not taste too fresh. I LOVE sashimi and I wanted so badly to like it, but I could tell off the bat from the pale orange hue of the salmon that it wasn’t going to be great. 6.5/10

At my insistence we also ordered a plate of the Teppanyaki Giant Hokkaido Scallops (S$16.90 for 5):

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First impressions – “omg this looks like super fiery black pepper sauce, will I be able to take it?!” It was intimidating. So I gingerly put the scallop in my mouth, expecting crazy heaty pepper sauce, but surprisingly it was really pleasant. I LOVE when scallops are served together with what is called “the coral”, which is the orange section around the scallop. I found that most of the lightly spicy, savoury flavour was concentrated in the coral instead of the actual scallop meat, which I thought tasted just the slightest bit bland. Texture-wise the scallops were great though, slightly chewy and you could taste the “fibres” instead of it being one fish cake-like lump. I don’t know if that makes sense to you guys :/ 8.5/10

Of course, we HAD to try a classic bowl of Volcano Ramen (S$11) in chicken-based stock. It came in 3 levels of spiciness, and we chose to go with level 2:

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It was SO GOOD GUYS!! The broth was so tasty!! It was thick, not too salty and was just rich enough. Once we mixed the two giant dollops of Chilli together with the ramen ingredients, the bowl started to resemble a cauldron of fiery hot lava. It was fierce guys. I was all but crying while working my way through the noodles – so spicy, but so delicious! The egg was really yummy especially since the yolk was mushy and partially cooked. The seaweed was thick and satisfying to bite on, since it had a little bit of resistance to it. The shimeji mushrooms were perfect – I love all mushrooms – and the corn helped add a little sweetness to pare down the biting hot heat from the chilli. Overall just a great bowl of deliciousness. 10/10

Being the greedy guts that we were, we also ordered the Kushiyaki Set A (S$12.90) which came with assorted skewers of shishamo pregnant fish, shiitake mushroom, chicken yakitori, quail eggs, beef roll with golden mushroom, AND a side of rice topped with scrambled eggs, mushroom and chicken!

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Shiitake mushrooms, shishamo fish, quail’s eggs, enoki mushroom wrapped in beef, and chicken!

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Too much food!

Full disclosure – we were getting pretty full by the time this came, and boy were we NOT expecting the rice to come with all these skewer sticks. We hardly touched the rice, but to summarize my feelings about the skewers, i thought they were all a little average, and a little dry.You CAN make yakitori that’s juicy and delicious, so I’m not sure why all of these were really desiccated. The beef in the beef roll all but disintegrated in my mouth. The shishamo also was so dry most of it stuck to the skewer stick, so the fish broke apart when I tried to slide it off the stick.  Loved the quail eggs though, always and forever. 6/10

All in all I would say I felt like the ramen was the only thing truly worth coming back for – I guess I shouldn’t have doubted the name of the establishment! You can’t go to a place called The Ramen Stall and expect them to have amazing sashimi, you know? That being said, the ramen really was so legit and so delicious, I want to have another bowl of it soon! Plus let’s not forget this place closes at 6am so you can come here at odd hours if you’re hankering for some of that yummy hot broth. YUM.

 

The Ramen Stall
787 North Bridge Road
Singapore 198755
Online Menu: Click here
Reservations: + 65 6655 0800

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 5pm to 6am
Sat, Sun, PH: 12pm to 6am

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 10/10 for the ramen, 7/10 for all else

Average spend per pax: ~$29 per person