Charcoal-Grill & Salad Bar Keisuke

The hype: It’s Keisuke Group’s 19th opening in Singapore—after a whole string of successful ramen stores and other boutique concepts ranging from gyoza to gyudon restaurants—and it still garners hype thanks to a solid delivery each time.

The vibe: Taking over a cosy corner basement space at Paya Lebar Square, the 33-seater Charcoal-Grill & Salad Bar Keisuke, like many of Chef Keisuke Takeda’s concepts, is a functional space focused on fast service, quality mains, and a good dollop of sides that ensures taste variety. Come for a casual, but always wholesome meal.

The food: The idea here is simple, and very much similar to Takeda’s hit restaurant Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei, but instead of hamburg for mains, you get traditional sumiyaki fish dishes. Simply order any main, and you’ll be entitled to free-flow servings at the salad bar (more on that later).

You can’t go wrong with the signature Charcoal Grilled Dried Atka Mackerel Set ($14.90), where a generous portion of charcoal-grilled mackerel is served alongside condiments like grilled cheese, potato and pickles, as well as an onsen egg meant to be eaten with kettle boiled rice. If this sounds like a lot for that value, it is—and we haven’t even factored in the salad bar offerings yet.

But we’ll highly recommend the gindara dishes, like the Charcoal Grilled Miso Marinated Black Cod Set ($21.90), usually a pricey dish at Japanese restaurants, but supremely friendly on the wallet here as it comes with the aforementioned items too. Other sumiyaki fish dishes include those made using salmon, yellowtail or halibut, and even a homemade fishcake ($10.90). For those not feeling like having seafood, the only non-fish dishes here are the chicken ones, that either come grilled with rock salt ($9.90) or with teriyaki sauce ($10.90).

As mentioned, any order of main (each guest has to order one) will grant access to the salad bar, where over 30 dishes are free for the taking. You get items from greens to beans, pastas to soba and more. Get dessert here too, like fruits and the popular and potent coffee jelly with cream. There’s more variety here compared to the salad bar at Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei, but the trade-off is the live egg station. How much eggs can one eat anyway, right?

The drinks: Like most Keisuke joints, have refreshing colas that come in interesting flavours like green tea and sakura ($3.80 per bottle). Else, there are the usual soft drinks and hot/cold cups of green tea to choose from.

Why you’ll be back: It’s the perfect balance of quality and quantity—provided you don’t go overboard at the salad bar—where one gets a deeply satisfying meal at a price point that is worth the spend any day of the week. They don’t take reservations, so just show up to get seats.