Sushi Tei, Sakae Sushi, Ichiban Sushi, Ichiban Boshi, Watami, Itacho Sushi… Most of us would have dined in at least one, if not all of them, on some occasion.
These Japanese restaurants dot every mall in Singapore and are always a favourite pick among Singaporeans for a cozy dinner, or a weekend lunch.
Typically, Japanese food isn’t as cheap as other type of cuisine as the ingredients and preparation tend to be more complex. That said, this doesn’t mean you should just order any dishes you want at a Japanese restaurant with the presumption that they all offer similar value for money deals.
Before you get engrossed in the delicious photos on the menu and orders everything that look good, we caution you on some items you will be overpaying for.
# 1 Edamame
This Japanese green bean is an all time favorite side dish. They are fun to pop out of the pods and they make an excellent appetizer. A small plate of Edamame (at most 200g) costs $4.80 at Sushi Tei.
However, at NTUC, you can get 500g of it at only $2.60.
All you need to do to create your own restaurant edamame is to bring water and salt to a boil, add edamame and cook for 5 minutes until the edamame are tender and easily released from their pod.
Seems like the only skill here required for you to enjoy this dish at home would be knowing how to boil water. Give it a try at home instead.
# 2 Soba & Udon
Soba and Udon never fail to be the choice selection as a carbohydrate dish among diners at Japanese restaurants. The presentation of it makes all the difference – green tea soba on bamboo mats gives us the sense that we are having an authentic Japanese experience.
With bowls being priced at about $10, we think you are definitely overpaying.
At the supermarkets, you can get one serving of Soba for only $2 ($3.80 for the organic version which restaurants don’t use). Get some soba sauce and you can whip up your own soba! It is also a healthier option as well because you also remove any MSG in the soup.
Udon is even cheaper at only $0.85 per 200g serving at NTUC. Even at higher-end Japanese supermarkets like Isetan, it will still be much cheaper than what the restaurant serves you.
# 3 Sukiyaki
Sukiyaki is a dish with vegetables and tofu slowly boiled in a special Japanese soup base. The dish usually comes with a few slices of beef or pork, and costs up to $19. Upgrading to Wagyu beef slices would cost you more.
We think this is not worth your money as the vegetable portion is extremely small. Every additional serving of raw vegetable would cost you $4. Anyone who has done grocery shopping before would tell you that the vegetables that are typically served in Sukiyaki soup don’t cost that much.
Beef and pork slices are of course more expensive than vegetables. Yet, if you look at the beef or pork slices, you would know instantly that you get will more for your money ordering them at steamboat restaurants where you can enjoy far more meat at a fraction of the price.
Of course, we are not discounting the delicious soup base that the vegetables are cooked in. The soup base can be made with sake, mirin (Japanese wine), sugar and soy sauce. These are common ingredients in all Japanese dishes. Yes, it takes a little more work but if you’re into genuinely into Japanese cuisine, you should try making the soup base yourself and treat your family and friends to a homemade Japanese Sukiyaki meal.
# 4 Maki
We are sorry but, unless you really love Japanese rice, it’s not worth it to order maki (sushi rolls).
Rice make up about 70% of the roll. If you like a particular ingredient inside the maki (e.g. tamago, salmon, avocado, unagi), it worth be better to order a handroll that has less rice, the same amount of ingredients, and probably cost much lesser.
Handrolls are definitely fresher as well because all handrolls has to be made on the spot (so the seaweed is sweet and crunchy). Makis are usually pre-made hours before they are served. That’s why you frequently see them on the conveyor belt.
Out of all the makis, we think the cucumber maki, crabstick maki, tamago maki and California rolls are the most overpriced items.
# 5 Single Sashimi Plate
A single plate of salmon sashimi (with 5 slices) can cost around $8. That makes every sashimi slice a whopping $1.60. You might just be paying for the pretty plate, the white radish and the plastic (non-edible) leaf decoration.
If you love Sashimi that much, getting an entire block of sashimi from Japanese markets would be much cheaper. The chef will even slice it for you too. If not, we believe that a sashimi platter or even a chirashi bowl would be a better option for your sashimi fix.
Do you agree with the dishes that we have highlighted in this article? Or are there othere dishes that you think should have been on our list? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.