I can't believe I'm blogging about Sakae or that I even went there. There is a reason Sakae's first syllable sounds exactly like "SUCK!". But this is their specialist Teppanyaki foray and I was curious after seeing some reviews. I visited the Bugis Junction outlet earlier in the week, before my MIL's heart episode, ironically with a friend working in SGH, where MIL would be warded.
This is their chicken set (S$11.99++) - the teppan-grilled items include chicken, tofu steak, vegetables and scallops on the half-shell. Surprisingly decent. The chicken pieces are well-seared and caramelized on the outside but still moist within. Nadine liked the tofu steak better though.
All sets come with white rice but you can upgrade to garlic fried rice for S$2.50. I love garlic fried rice. It seems like a simple dish but it's so easy to burn garlic and make it bitter. Here, it's all right - there is just that faint hint of bitterness. The sakura ebi topping is a nice touch.
Vegetables are done just right, not overcooked - they still have that slight crunch, which is nice for bean sprouts and pea shoots (dou miao).
My friend got took the beef set (S$12.99++) which comes with chawanmushi, interestingly in a hollowed onion "bowl" or "cup". I didn't try it but it looked really soft, smooth, and was without any bubbles. Nadine loved it, I think she must have whacked half of it.
I tried one piece of the beef - tender but without any wow factor flavourwise. Ya Kwang's beef teriyaki is way better! However, my friend who normally likes chicken, preferred the beef to the chicken in my set.
My favourite item of all and the reason I chose the chicken set (despite normally preferring beef) - the scallops on half-shell! Garlic is such a wonderful partner for seafood. Just lose yourself in the heady juices evocative of the sea.
Too bad the lunch sets don't include foie gras anywhere. The dinner beef set does, and for S$19.99++ sounds like a good deal. Side orders of the foie gras are available but at S$15.99++ which is more than my entire meal. Gave it a miss.
OK, in conclusion, it's not too bad if you're not fussy and willing to put aside all memories of any teppan you've had in Tokyo or other upmarket joints locally. I did feel very thirsty afterwards though. And also hungry soon after. In fact, I was ravenous by dinnertime.
Sakae Teppanyaki has mushroomed to eight outlets islandwide in less than two years. But I've seen bad reviews too, and I think it might be due to the skill of the chef you get - most look quite young. Which means even within the same outlet, you may not get the same experience. So, it can really be a gamble. But even that is a better bet than their pseudo-sushi joints.
Eight outlets in Singapore and one in Malaysia
Addresses and opening hours here