Mon - Fri: 18:00 - 00:00
Sun: 18:00 - 00:00
Mimigar is offering authentic and delicious Japanese cuisine with Okinawa flavours. Okinawan diet is believed to offer health benefits, especially longevity.
Mimigar at the Gallery Hotel is an izakaya; a Japanese pub serving small plates of food and alcohol, much like a Spanish tapas bar. And a worthy one at that.
It’s a cosy space – from the bar counter, chefs can be seen preparing items from the menu of salty eats. The food is Okinawan, hence dominated by pork, a sign of Chinese influence.
The menu is detailed and exotic, as demonstrated by our 15-plus chosen dishes: we started off with a passable okonomiyaki ($14), a Japanese pancake with toppings of cabbage, octopus, cheese and salmon. The flat dish is piled on with bonito flakes and drizzled with mayonnaise and a fruit sauce not unlike Worcestershire sauce. Sadly, the dish was only passable despite the numerous ingredients; perhaps the batter needed more seasoning.
This, and crab croquettes ($9) with a soft potato and cream center helped line our stomachs for the izakaya ritual of alternate drinks and food that followed.
We could not resist the pork belly, an Okinawan speciality done two ways: one, cooked until fork-tender in a sweet soya sauce, and another cured in salt then grilled.
Vegetable lovers would take to the bittergourd and ladies fingers ($7 each). Both stir-fried with beaten egg and pork, these chanpuru (‘mixed’)-styled dishes are reminiscent of Chinese home-cooked fare that hit home with us.
Noodles on the menu came bathed in a rich and tasty thick black squid ink sauce ($17), easily beating any Italian restaurant’s version. The seasonal tempura sweet potato sticks ($15) are sweet and nutty, while the deep fried seaweed dumplings (aosa tempura, $9) are redolent of the ocean.
Unfortunately the Mimigar Ponzu (pig’s ear in a tart citrus-based sauce, $8) was a let-down. It came thinly slivered and meagrely tossed with bean sprouts in a sour ponzu sauce. The shreds were so fine they were hard to find among the sprouts.
We washed it down with the comforting barely-set yushi tofu soup (fluffy tofu soup, $10) and zenzai ($8), a Japanese version of the ice kachang studded with soft chewy rice cakes.
In all, an experience like this is not cheap – costing about $50 a head, excluding drinks.
The first time that struck me about Okinawa was their warm and cozy ambience and the next thing I noticed was the large numbers of Japanese diners so I reckoned the food must be up to standard. Well, I was right, the food was indeed great and I loved the Rayu-Ae and Tuna Souman but wait, what is this pig ear thingy about..ee. Anyway the bittergourd tofu was good too and the service was ichiban!
Well known for its fountain-of-youth-like properties, the Okinawan diet has become popular among many Singaporeans hoping to eat their way younger. To understand more about this seemingly magical cuisine that promises to endow one with everlasting good health (and maybe great looks to boot), we went to this genuine Okinawan restaurant in the Gallery Hotel. And we were not disappointed. A good first sign of authenticity was that the placemat menus were entirely in Japanese, which was probably fine for the good number of Japanese patrons in the busy restaurant—another good sign. More proof lay in the fact that the food was the real deal, and we ordered plentifully and freely.
There are unusual Okinawan items like “mimigar” or pigs’ ears; “sea grapes” which are a kind of seaweed; and a copious amount of pork (a hallmark of Okinawan food). We passed, however, on the exotic stuff and dove in with a heavenly pork belly (rafute, $12); grilled Wagyu ($35); a very fresh stir-fried bittergourd and bacon (goya chanpuru, $6); an interesting tuna with kimchi ($13); and some delicious raw, marinated fi sh ($24). We could have easily kept going but the small portions were deceptively rich and fi lled us up. To cut through the food, we ordered a few single servings of a uniquely and seriously strong Okinawan alcohol called awamori. Don’t mess with this drink; it is 30-60 percent alcohol and at its most concentrated is flammable. If the Okinawans are tough enough to drink this, no wonder they live to over a hundred. This alone would draw us back here, along with the plentiful good food to help the booze from going straight to our heads! Give this place a try—it’s sure to be a hit whether you’re young or old.