Must tries: Kushi moriwase, yakitori, buta kakuni with rice, asari miso
Arab Street is a gem in Singapore, with rows of shophouses selling quirky items, handicrafts and fabrics, and restaurants offering Indian, Turkish and Muslim cuisines. Expect the unexpected here because on the corner of Aliwal Street, is a casual Japanese eatery selling bentos and kushiyakis–thus the name Box n Sticks.
Owner Michele Koh says that they have always loved the culture-rich location. Box n Sticks is a little less traditional, but yet still manages to provide authentic Japanese food—thanks to the executive chef who has more than 15 years of experience in Japanese cuisine.
Box and Sticks was started with the aim of offering good Japanese food at wallet-friendly prices. Therefore, customers will be very pleased with the reasonable price. On top of that, the restaurant doesn’t charge GST or service charge.
Asari miso with wakame, tofu and fresh clams
For starters, we had the asari miso ($6.80), traditional Japanese soup with wakame, tofu and fresh clams. Here, the ubiquitous Japanese soup is enhanced by the slight brininess of fresh clams. But despite the fact that additional clams were added, the brininess was not overpowering. The soup remained delightfully light.
We were recommended the buta kakuni with rice ($8.80), a Japanese braised pork dish, which literally means "square simmered". We were expecting it to come in a bento box, but the dish arrived in a clean white dish. The pork belly had the ‘melt in your mouth’ texture, while the thick salty teriyaki sauce lingered in our mouths.
Kushi moriwase, a mixed platter of one stick each
The kushi moriwase ($22.80) mixed platter is value-for-money, considering that yakimono (Japanese grill) is usually quite pricey in other restaurants—ironic because yakimono originated to satisfy the poor people. There are some hits and misses in the mixed platter which consists of yakitori (chicken), butabara negimiso (pork belly), tsukune (meatballs), uzura bacon (bacon with quail egg), shitake mushrooms and shishamo. My favourite remains the yakitori because the chicken meat was tender and evenly marinated.
Overall, it’s an interesting place with good food at decent prices. Definitely worth making a trip there if you’re keen to try out a new joint.
Exterior of Box n Sticks
14 Aliwal Street
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs: 11:30am-11:00pm; Fri: 11:30am-2:30am; Sat: 6:00pm-2:30am; Closed on Sun)