Mouth-watering yakitori and house-infused shochu joint springs up in Bishan Park
Nestled in the heart of Bishan Park is ToriYard, a newly opened stylish yakitori joint by actress-turned-business owner Jazreel Low. Only a stone’s throw away from its sister restaurant, Canopy Dining, you’ll spot the traditional red lanterns that adorn the storefront of ToriYard amidst Bishan Park’s lush greenery – a refreshing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s city life.
Inside, the 129-seater is lit with light bulbs hanging down from exposed beams. The industrial aesthetic is kept minimalist with metal tables, but freshened up with pops of colour from the red accents and blue and green chairs. The bar area showcases their wide range of sakes, wines and spirits, while the sauce bar displays 11 types of condiments you can pair with your dishes. The casual restaurant also features a live kitchen, where diners can snatch a counter seat and watch chef Hasegawa Isao grill up their skewers over charcoal.
Having trained for 40 years in Japan, France and Malaysia, chef Hasegawa helms the ToriYard kitchen with aplomb as he serves up an enticing menu we can’t help but gush over. Previously under the tutelage of a yakitori master in Japan, chef Hasegawa‘s demonstrated special techniques in preparing the fresh chicken meat (more on that later on), while his French culinary training was evident in his fine knife work and precision.
We started off with the Sashimi Salad ($19) drizzled with a tangy wafu and goma dressing. Teeming with salmon, swordfish, sweet shrimp, and tuna sashimi slices and topped off with a dollop of ikura, the salad made for a refreshing start to the meal. The indulgent Onsen Tamago Cocktail ($17) is a showstopper in its own right. Cooked for exactly 45 minutes at a steady 63.5°C, the egg white is kept delicate and soft. Break open to reveal a smooth creamy yolk that coats the hunk of charred foie gras gloriously. Ikura and sea urchin lend to the dish a taste of the sea, while a sprinkling of chopped negi and seaweed cut the richness a tad. You are recommended to enjoy all the ingredients together for an elevated experience.
The Tebasaki Gyoza ($15 for 3 pieces) is an interesting starter. Boneless chicken wings are stuffed with a flavourful mince mixed with soft bone for texture, which we think goes excellently with a squeeze of lemon and the house-made mentaiko sauce from the sauce bar. (Tip: Use the tip of the wing as a handle.) The Tsukune Ohba Tsutsumi Age (deep fried chicken ball with perilla leaf, $12 for 5 pieces) is another sharing option, though its refreshing flavour profile may resonate better with diners with lighter palates.
Moving on to the star of the show – yakitori!
Only fresh chicken meat brought in daily from Malaysia is used, and you can really taste the difference in their skewers. The Momo ($7) is a must-try for it’s mind-blowing juiciness. In chef Hasegawa’s signature style, chicken thigh meat is carefully rolled in chicken skin before being skewered and trimmed to ensure an even grill. His careful preparation of the dish shows in the crispy chicken skin juxtaposed against the tender, juicy chicken meat, and we dare say it’s perfect on its own without any sauce.
The charcoal grill imparted a smokey aroma and flavour to the Tebasaki (chicken wing skewer, $4), which was cooked and charred evenly to give a crispy exterior to cater to local tastes. We paired it with the sweet yakiniku sauce.
Savour a smorgasbord of other skewer options like a fresh Ebi (Tiger Prawn, $6) skewer, and truffle-infused Shiitake Mushroom ($4). We especially loved the peppery Gyu (US Angus Ribye, $8) for it’s pink medium cook, and the unassuming Buta Kubi (Canadian Pork Neck, $5) for its tenderness and meaty flavour.
For something a little different, try the Tsukune (chicken meatball, $8), which comes with an onsen egg and teriyaki sauce. Don’t let its size fool you – the packed meatball and runny egg yolk combo is sure to satisfy your appetite. If you’re still hungry after all that meat, try the Wagyu Fried Rice ($16). We liked the slices of Wagyu beef, and the fact the flavour of the beef (and fat) had been absorbed by the rice. The fluffy egg coating the grains kept the dish moist and fragrant.
We washed it all down with an iced orange shochu with soda. Refreshing and light, it is perfect for shochu novices. Toriyard infuses their own shochu with seasonal fruits (eg. apple, plum, orange) imported from Japan, so check out their ever-changing selection when you’re there.
Our last course was the Jikasei Chiffon ($14), a light and fluffy matcha-red bean chiffon cake served with warabi mochi, and vanilla ice cream from Hokkaido prefecture. The warabi mochi was outstanding with it’s springy, smooth consistency, and the light dusting of soybean powder that was not too sweet. A sweet, dark coffee-infused shochu was a great dessert-drink as well, and fitting way to conclude an extremely satisfying meal.
We loved ToriYard for its straightforward, yet brilliant yakitori and beverage options, if not for its hideaway vibes and serene location. If you love your Japanese grilled meats (or a glorious Onsen Tamago Cocktail), you’ll want to give ToriYard a try.
1380 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Bishan Park 2
Tel: 9296 5988