Located on the 8th floor of Orchard Central, Ootoya proposes a range of simple Japanese classics, just like in Japan. This is in fact a branch of a Japanese Franchise that is well known in its home country.
The first thing you'll notice is that unlike most other businesses in Orchard Central, Ootoya is packed most of the time, with a queue of people waiting outside the shop. That makes you wonder how good it is, considering that the mall isn't busy and other restaurants are struggling.
The restaurant is structured a bit like a traditional Japanese tatami room with a U shaped table following the perimeter, such that guests can go around the table and eat on each side of it. It's a Japanese concept to optimise space and make eating more social.
I only tried a few of the dishes out of a fairly comprehensive menu. The homemade tofu was pretty good, in the sense that it's unique for Singapore. The texture is quite grainy and not as smooth as most of the tofu served on this island, which makes it more interesting, although not nearly as creamy as some of the tofu I had in Japan. The buta-kimchi is a Japanese version of the Korean kimchi-bokum, quite modified for the Japanese palate, with a rounder and sweeter flavour.
The Charcoal Grilled Atka Mackerel is my favourite. The meat appears dry on the surface, but extremely juicy inside, but the best part of it is the grilled skin. The charcoal flavour is so intense that you really can't resist it, especially when you pair it with Japanese rice.
Ootoya is overall good value for money. The queue is annoying, so I always go late (after 9), when I can get a seat straight away. The service is good enough, and the food is well priced and well executed, for a "fast-food" type of restaurant that is more or less on the same price range as Waraku and other similar chains, but delivers incomparably better food.
#08-12 Orchard Central
Tel: +65 6884 8901