Sleek interior of HY California
I'm a food nerd. I had a professor who once confessed that he enjoys trawling through IPO prospectuses and company annual reports in his free time. I thought he was crazy. The thing is, I'm not all that different, except the things I trawl through are online restaurant menus, food review sites, food section of lifestyle sites, food blogs... you get the drift. According to yelp, HY California is no great shakes, so I never thought to try it. That is, until Y and I were out of time and desperately looking for a lunch spot and I thought the place did look decent. This is, I suppose, a classic example of how reviews (including my own) are not gospel...
Japanese Fried Chicken Bento, $16
Most of the diners probably had inflated expectations because of the Hide Yamamoto name. But it's just not realistic to expect to get the same Hide Yamamoto quality at a fraction of the price. I find it admirable, actually, when celebrity chefs attempt to make good food more accessible, and I feel that HY California achieved just that. The lunch bentos start at only $16 for the Japanese Fried Chicken Bento, up to $26 for the Beef Steak Bento. Regardless of the 'mains' selected, each bento comes with a chicken spring roll, sashimi, tempura, miso soup and either white rice or a california roll. Can you believe it?
Beef Steak Bento, $26
The food was surprisingly good. The california roll was wonderful - a cut above anything you get at similarly priced sushi chains. The spring roll had been done in a sesame dressing and tasted great - refreshing with a nice crunch. The sashimi, which was sweet and fresh, hit the spot for me. Even the tempura, while not perfect, was very decent. The batter was lighter and more airy than it looked. The beef steak was tasty, but I found myself enjoying the Japanese fried chicken a lot more. The chicken had been deep fried with a thin, crisp batter that reminded me a little of Izy Izakaya's mind-blowing karaage. Don't expect a dramatic food 'arbitrage', it is what it is - a very lovely bento selection with a good combination of dishes at a really sweet price point.
P.S. Speaking of menu trawling, Hide Yamamoto's lunch sets, which start from $38, are really calling out to me...
#1-86, Marina Bay Sands,
2 Bayfront Avenue
Tel: (65) 66887426
Open: 17:30 - 23:00 daily
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