My best and most favourite meals usually centre around people dear to me. As much as I love well-executed, close-to-flawless chomps, it counts for nothing if you do not have excellent company to share it with. The combination of good food and bad company is as unappealing to me as that can of Korean silkworm pupae I bought but never got down to eating (I opened it, was grossed out and threw it away, yes it’s that bad. yuck).

Was discussing this with a friend the other day and we both agreed on how important good dining companions are. Eventually, even if the food is not stellar, you can still have a good time if conversations are engaging, and especially if there’s humour involved, lots of it – you can always laugh about how bad the food is (okay maybe if it is a really really expensive, but lousy meal, then minus the humour, all of you can bitch about it together and swear to tell all your other friends…bitching about bad food can be quite satisfying…or even better, when you DO something about it!).

Truthfully, there have been certain meals that made me just want to tell a lie – something along the lines like, oh I actually have to get back early because I have work the next day, to excuse myself, to remove myself from a possibly excruciating time. Thankfully, though, these are rare occurences because the company I keep, they are mostly just like me. People who enjoy food and know how to have fun. Light-hearted, easy-going, and humourous – in case you were wondering what I consider good company.

A recent dinner with two very close friends of mine reminded me of how blessed I am. Blessed to be able to afford comfortable, delicious meals and to be surrounded by dearest friends who love me, just as much as I do them. I am a friendly person by nature, so it is not hard to make friends, but there are those you meet and you know. That they are of the same make and there will never be a dull moment with them. These two individuals are just that; my best friend Dot, and my ‘uncle’ Cenydd (he gave himself that title, so don’t ask me why. he said he saw me grow up. haha. i guess that’s what long-time friends say).

While Dot and I meet up ever so often to scour for delicious eats (especially porky savouries), Cenydd is always so busy with work and tying him down to a dinner appointment is an impossible task. After several attempts at fixing a date, he finally made time for Dot and I. We had dinner and had a fantastic time. The bonus was, what we ate at dinner. That sealed the deal, and made me put this restaurant in my ‘hot favourites, must recommend to everyone’ list. Even the name of the place, I adore. Ootoya. It’s oooooh-so-good.

The food that Ootoya serves, I would classify as hearty-home-cooked Japanese fare. It’s a tad rustic. Don’t expect refined omakase or lavish sashimi sets. It’s a teishoku-ya (restaurants that serve mainly set menus) after all.  A relatively famous chain restaurant from Japan, Ootoya has garnered quite a following. This time that we were there, the wait was about 20 minutes. Apparently, there’s always a long queue. Dot’s colleague had been raving about Ootoya so we decided to see what the fuss was about.

One of the star items at Ootoya is the charcoal grilled Atka mackerel:


The fish was nicely grilled, with its skin slightly crisp. Lightly seasoned, it’s good enough to eat sans rice. I appreciate smokey grilled foods so I like this. Top some of the accompanied condiments like grated radish and cucumber and eat with hibiki dotted rice (like mine) and enjoy. It’s not a complex dish, so anything goes really. I even took some of the sauce from the charcoal grilled pork and smeared it on the mackerel. Suffice to say, I loved it. This is my hibiki (seaweed) dotted rice:


And the charcoal grilled pork, well it hardly needs any introduction. Firstly, it’s P-O-R-K. Secondly, did you see how gorgeous it looks? It had to the picture I start my post with. To draw you in! Nothing works better than a piece of glistening, charred pork as bait. If you are still reading, that means it worked 🙂 I got you at pork!

Allow me to pause a moment, and give thanks to God for creating such a wonderful animal like the glorious pig. Thank you God. Pardon my abrupt declaration but I really do love pork and think it to be the tastiest meat on the planet. I am so glad to not be vegetarian. Please, if you fancy this fatty meat, please try the charcoal grilled pork when you decide to dine at Ootoya. There’s a high chance that you will be thinking about it the next day. I say that because I did. So much so that I was running around telling my colleagues that they have to try it. What’s so great about it? Everything. As mentioned, Ootoya is a homey place. Nothing complex about the food. But that said, they use fresh good ingredients and it shows. This pork was marinated just right and it came coated with a slick of light brown sauce that was slightly sweet and savoury, like a lighter version of teriyaki sauce. Look closely and you can see the charred bits of black. Just how wonderful charcoal grilled items are? Well, I’d say that it worked wonders here. I was sad when I came down to the last piece.


Next star item is their hamburg. There are two hamburg choices. We chose the one that came with plum sauce that we had to douse the patty with:


I thought it brilliant to dress the patty with grated radish and plum sauce. Good combination. The layered flavours made the patty light yet absolutely tasty. I like sour flavours so I had no problem with the plum. Though I thought it queer when on a separate second visit, the waiter asked me to reconsider my choice of hamburg when I ordered the one with the plum sauce instead of the demi glace one. He said, “May I recommend you the demi glace option? I’m afraid you might think the beef is spoiled if you go with the plum sauce because it is sour.” I was amused. Are waitstaff supposed to down play any dish that your restaurant serves? Isn’t it always “sell, sell, sell”? Of course I understand that perhaps recent customers have complained about the sour taste and accused them of serving spoiled beef. So I smiled ever so sweetly and said that I won’t be changing my order because I like sour foods and I’ve tried this before and love it. He got my drift, nodded and left to punch in my order. I was just glad that he did not try to continue convincing me.

Moving on away from hamburgs and sour preferences, here’s the soup that we ordered:


Ever so ordinary looking, the soup was pleasant. Ingredients were simple, it was a comforting slurp for us all. Good to wash down our meats and fish.

All of us were quite full after wiping three set meals and a soup but as usual, I could not leave without sampling their desserts. It did not take much to convince them both to try the desserts. Naturally, I was left to make the choices. Now look at what I picked:


Banana parfait with coffee ice cream. Yes, the word ‘coffee’ jumped at me. Had to try that. Plus the photos in the menu looked good. Really glad to see that the actual dessert was not too far from one pictured in the menu.


Will you just look at that tofu-looking custard/pudding on top? Been trying to figure what it was exactly. Milky and rich, it was very smooth. Maybe it was milk pudding made with very good milk? Hokkaido milk perhaps? Whatever it is, I liked it, and the coffee ice cream and the works. Adore the fact that they use alot of brown sugar syrup in their desserts. I like brown sugar. There’s an earthy sweetness that I fancy.


The soymilk blancmange and matcha green tea parfait was dreamy. A mish mash of various elements including tofu pudding, brown sugar syrup, matcha ice cream, castella (egg sponge cake), azuki red beans, whipped cream and banana slices, the parfait disappeared within minutes. Note the layers.


Dinner ended quite late because we had lots to catch up and we had to juggle between laughing, and talking lest we choke on our food. We all agreed that this place was a gem and worth a second, third, fourth visit … oh what the heck, multiple multiple visits. After dinner, workaholic Cenydd still had to go back to office to finish up some work. It was okay because well well well his office was in Orchard Central too. How convenient. The company he works in, Ape Communications, is working on several projects for Orchard Central so they were given an office space to work in. Cool, no? Best part is, it is fully furnished by Lorgans, a retro furniture store. They sell some really really vintage looking pieces.

Here’s a peek at Cenydd’s office, located at B1 in Orchard Central. The office acts as a show room so if you see anything you like, ask them, it might just be for sale:


That’s Cenydd and Dot. I have no idea what kind of face he was making. Check out the carpet grass ‘wall paper’. Me likes. And look at that table, and retro radio set. I wish I was working in an office as funky as this.


Asked Dot to pose under the tree mural. Look at that brown arm chair and look at that leather satchel? The satchel is NOT for sale. It’s mine! I think it’s very photogenic. I’m sure you’d agree. It fits right in, yes? 🙂


The entire office. Go pay them a visit okay? Tell them I asked you to. Ha. After the office tour, we left and I remember thinking to myself on the bus, how incredibly blessed I am, to have dear friends like those two and also, the chance to enjoy good food. Trust me, this sense of satisfaction, it cannot be bought. What can I say, it is always the simplest things that make me happy.

You are after all, the company you keep.

Hang out with crazy happy fun people and you become crazy happy fun.


Ootoya (website in Japanese only)

08- 12, Orchard Central,

181 Orchard Road,

Open daily 12 to 930pm

Tel: 6884 8901

Posted on 16th Jan 2010 in Japanese


There Are 8 Comments


myfoodsirens commented on January 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I love the soymilk parfait!! Craving for it now =D


StoryofBing commented on January 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm

So happy that you are blogging again!


Sherlyn commented on January 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm

hi, i like your new blog site..simple yet refreshing look.

Yup, I agreed with u wholeheartedly that ootoya serve very good meals.


juanna commented on January 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm

hey there,

i love jap food (: just wondering, how’s the price range like in this jap restaurant?

thanks !

love, ju


Joy commented on January 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I so agree with you that good company matters when it comes to dining and it enriches the entire experience. Definitely eases the pain especially when you make a sucky choice at the dining spot. | Ootoya Teishoku-Ya at Orchard Central commented on February 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

[…] speaking of excess, one of the reasons for a repeat visit is the Charcoal-grilled Pork. More than highly recommended, this is one dish I’ll disregard all inconvenient truths for. The flesh was slightly dry but […]


Canvas Photos commented on March 16, 2010 at 6:46 am

Looks like a nice place to check out. Thanks for sharing.


milton commented on July 28, 2014 at 1:40 pm



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