Quick Picks: Weekday eats that won't gnaw into your wallet.[Part 1] || Koji, Attap House, Nan Hwa Fishboat

Eating on a budget doesn't need to swear off tastiness and border on mediocrity. Here are some of my quick picks for lunch/dinner spots that would be great catch-up spots with friends or even a less romantic deviant for a weekday date night.

First up, Koji, a name synonymous for delightfully engaging chirashi don bowls amidst some pretty tight circumstances. Yes, squeeze your way past the backed up chairs against the wall surrounding the middle island of frenzied chefs and pent up frustrations, and you'll be rewarded with a superfluity of fresh seaward bounty. 

The Sushi Set C ($19) pleases with its meticulous nature and uniform sizing highlighting unagi, salmon, sweet prawn, sea bream and sword fish. Go ahead and lacquer each piece with a healthy dose of soy sauce as you please; as the lingering pot of soy glaze leaves it mostly to the participant's devices. However, the more luxurious option of Sushi Set D ($23) steals the show with the treasured appearance of fatty tuna, albeit a magnificently thick slice of it draped over rice (that could have used a tinge more vinegar). The rest of the entourage, striped jack, greater amberjack, sweet scallop and conger eels roping in looks of contentment from my companions.

For me, the real deal lies in the Sashimi Rice Bowl ($17), neat cubes of tuna, salmon, maguro lie above a suitably sauced up bowl of brown rice that retain a bit of crunch and whisper notions of health with every bite. Crispy tempura bits keep each bite interesting, and the tangy sauce drizzled over the towering pile makes you hanker for another bite as soon you've destroyed the last.

For those looking to head down the carbless route, there's the Sashimi Salad ($15) which retains the pleasantries of the rice bowl sans the presence of it's waist expanding culprits and replacing the tangy sauce with a creamy goma infused sauce. This may eventually evolve into something so jarringly sweet towards the end, so do take heed.

Still, Koji proves to be a real gem within the China Square quarters. Service is brisk and amicable given the brief interactions with the chefs over the counter, if you're looking for something quick and easy on the pockets to curb the Japanese food cravings, this could be your best solution. Claustrophobic members, please avoid as the tight space and endless shuffling does get pretty annoying after awhile.

Koji Sushi Bar
3 Pickering Street
#01-42 Nankin Row
t: 6225 6125

My work situation being in One-North means that I have the privilege of exploring the precinct as a gourmand. Attap House located in Fusionopolis place may appear a tad expensive for the type of food it carries, combined with unpretentious kopi-tiam vibes; however, I can assure you, your $6 meal will leave you satiated till dinner time hits. 

Take my lead and order the Pork Chop Sambal Fried Rice ($6.50) - the usual suspect sees a fancy face lift here with the encouragement of accompanying sweet pork chop. It's blackened coat of caramelization extremely winsome and poignant against the fragrant grains of fried rice. A magic carpet of sunny-side egg enlivens the deal with promises of flowy egg yolks.

For something that runs a little more along the comfort food lines, get the Braised Hokkien Mee ($5.90), it's gravy galore as you dive into the thick strands of flat yellow noodles coated so sumptuously in thick brown sauce, carrying wafts of seafood and lard in its flavor. 

Need some more chili to hit the right spot? -  The jovial crew (or I suspect, highly hum sup in some instances) will happily oblige.

Attap House
1 Fusionpolis Place
#01-04 Fusionopolis Galaxis
Mon - Sat: 7 30am - 7 30pm

Rainy days, which fortunately have lessened in the month, beckon for something steamy and reassuring, to wash away the woes of wet socks amongst other negative things that have unfold throughout the day.

Nan Hwa Chong (Ah Chew) Fish Head Steamboat, which has taken residence at North Bridge Road for the last 88 years have finally decided to expand out of their neck of the woods with a second outlet along Owen Road. Situated just right across a gym, you'll be treated to a spectacle of half naked, wet and compelling bodies that were made to make you feel bad about the feast you're going to tuck into, in the next instance.

So, I digress. Ignore the guilt treatment and focus on the star of the show, which is the Fish head steamboat; choose between Grouper ($38/$48/$68), Chinese Pomfret ($38/$48/$$68) and Red Snapper ($28/$38/$58) - with the soup base meticulously cooked with fish bones till a milky tinge surfaces, the 5 hour recipe shy away from the usual rendition haunted by MSG and the additional boost of milk. 

Whilst you're there, tuck into other signature dishes such as the Champagne Pork Ribs ($12.80/$18.80) which I had taken quite a fancy to, the pork ribs beatened and flattened out have a lovely coating of sweet sour sauce flecked with sesame seeds and toasted almonds. The Stir-Fry Sambal Sotong ($11.80/$17.80) are addictive and can persuade anyone to consume more rice than neccessary.  My favourite had the be the Prawn with Golden Pumpkin sauce ($18.80/$28.80) - each golden nugget consisting of crispy fried prawn, still firm in the middle yet, devastatingly friable on the outside, glazed with a slightly thickened and chalky mix of golden pumpkin. You can't help but make enemies over the table at the sight of these plump beauties. 

The Authentic Shan Lao Hor Fun ($6.80/$12.80) proved to be the most disappointing of the lot. Insufficient wok skills and a lack of control of heat, meant chunks of noodle that were coated in umamified sauce whilst the rest were rendered uncovered and tasteless. 

Despite the fluctuating standards, Nan Hwa FishBoat still captures the nostalgia of families and friends bonding over a traditional steamboat meal. It's silky smooth and slurp-worthy soup deserving of revisits with family and associates alike.

Nan Hwa Fishboat
93 /95 Owen Road
t: 8518 1927

Interested in more lists?
Visit the rest of my recommendations

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