Advertisement

Oiishii Corner: Toa Payoh’s best-kept secret is a halal & affordable Japanese hawker stall

What a time it is to eat at hawker centres, and I’m not just saying this from an economic point of view! Gone are the days when you’d only find the usual chicken rice, duck rice and your assortment of Indian Muslim stalls selling the same nasi goreng and prata dishes. Nowadays, you can easily find restaurant-quality Western food and more recently Japanese food— a case in point is Oiishii Corner, located at Kim Keat Palm Market & Food Centre.

Oiishii Corner - Exterior Shot
Oiishii Corner - Exterior Shot

For many, Japanese cuisine comprises delicate preparations, fresh ingredients as well as precise cooking methods. It’s no wonder why other alternatives such as Oiishii Corner are usually glossed over in favour of their air-conditioned counterparts. Having said that, I do still see people queuing up for the generic Japanese stalls at kopitiams (the less spoken about the food there, the better). 

Oiishii Corner - Interior Shot
Oiishii Corner - Interior Shot

Oiishii Corner is not without any merit— the owner was a former part-time chef in Japan. He wanted to use the experience he gained to provide a halal Japanese food experience and so, he started the stall in 2017. I was the happy guinea pig that wanted to see what it was all about.

What I tried at Oiishii Corner

Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don & Inari Ramen
Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don & Inari Ramen

There was a surprising array of Japanese dishes that you could choose from, such as

Teriyaki Chicken Ramen (S$7.50), Chicken Katsu Curry Don (S$6) and Salmon Teri Don (S$6.50). It even has freshly made sushi like the California Maki (S$4/S$8) and Salmon Maki (S$7)

Upon the recommendation of the owner, I went with the Oiishii Beef Don (S$6.50) and the Inari Ramen at S$5.50. They wanted me to try the udon noodles, but unfortunately, they had run out.

Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen
Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen

Had there not been the frequent flaps of bird wings and an old uncle selling newspapers across from where I sat, I would think that this bowl of ramen came from one of the established ramen spots in shopping malls.

 I’ve never seen something so well presented in a hawker centre before. From the placements of the inari to the meticulously sprinkled spring onions topping it, it was visually inviting. I did notice I was missing narutomaki slices, which I assumed ran out.

Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen
Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen

The broth was stocky and had just enough spiciness to place you in a mind-controlled state, unable to stop yourself from continuously sipping. This was the first time I’ve had halal ramen where it had more than a salty chicken stock flavour profile. 

The ramen was perfectly done. It had just the right amount of chewiness and was springy to bite. I could do with a larger portion of ramen noodles though as they were that good.

Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen
Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen

The inari, which is deep-fried tofu pouches, was bursting with the delicious broth as it was soaking it all. It had a surprisingly sweet and savoury flavour of its own which wasn’t really for my taste buds. When I eventually return to Oiishii Corner, I’ll make sure to opt for either the teriyaki chicken or beef option.

Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen
Oiishii Corner - Inari Ramen

I also appreciated the other ingredients in my bowl. The egg was still runny and made the spoonfuls creamy, while the little corn bits added a refreshing burst of sweetness at every slurp. There was also kimchi and cabbage in the mix, providing a nice crunch. This was obviously curated by an expert.

Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don
Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don

Next up was the Oiishii Beef Don and yet again, the appearance won me over before I had a nibble at it. The owner did warn me that the dish will be packing a fair amount of heat which could explain why ingredients such as cucumbers and mayonnaise were used. 

Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don
Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don

I couldn’t resist going for the beef slices first, which there was a generous amount of. What hit me was how similar it tasted to the sauce used in McDonald’s Samurai Burger. It had that smoky taste of teriyaki sauce with a mild spiciness (for me) from what seemed to be chilli padi skins. 

I also noticed caramelised onions and soybeans intermixed within the brown pile, which added some sweetness to the slices. The beef itself had a really tender bite and had me switching to the spoon for maximum beef slice scooping ability.

Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don
Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don

They were also generous with the sauce that was used on the beef slices, to the point where even the rice was soaked in it. This made for a heaven-and-earth combo with the sticky and chewy nature of the rice.

Yet another attention to detail was the rice used. It was of the short-grain variant which is the usual rice of choice in Japan because of its extra starch content, which means they stick together easily. This may or may not be from an actual Japanese brand of short-grain rice but I need to give credit where credit’s due.

Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don
Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don

The combination of mayo and lettuce provided a textural change as well as a break from the rich flavours of the beef. I never thought I’d enjoy mayonnaise on rice, but there I was lapping it all up. It goes without saying that I wiped it all clean in no more than 5 minutes, and I’ve got to say, it was 5 minutes of pure bliss.

Final thoughts

Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don & Inari Ramen
Oiishii Corner - Oiishii Beef Don & Inari Ramen

Even though Oiishii Corner never claimed to serve authentic Japanese food, I was surprised by how excellent its offerings were, which came with top-notch presentation and at wallet-friendly prices. What more is there to say? I’d go for a stall like Oiishii Corner than a thousand authentic Japanese restaurants any time of the day. Who’s to say what’s authentic and not these days, anyway? 

Do yourself a favour and come get good and affordable Japanese food at Oiishii Corner.

Expected damage: S$6 – S$12 per pax

The post Oiishii Corner: Toa Payoh’s best-kept secret is a halal & affordable Japanese hawker stall appeared first on SETHLUI.com.