Don & Tori

The hype: Right now, there’s barely any—and we’d like to keep it that way. Modern Japanese restaurant Don & Tori joins the Tras Street enclave of great Japanese food places as the new kid on the block, serving up quality classics treated with a luxurious Western touch. On the culinary team are local heavyweights that include chef Raymond Tan (of Sushi Jin, and before that Fat Cow and Kinki) and Max Lai (from Sushi Murasaki); so you can expect the real deal here.

The vibe: At 74 Tras Street, the establishment is comfortably away from the mess and traffic of Tanjong Pagar, offering a safe haven for anyone looking to enjoy an honest meal, uninterrupted. The space features a central omakase counter, cozy private booths, and a bar at the back of the restaurant serving Japanese-inspired cocktails. Most distinctively, adorning the walls are large murals done by local artists, which tell the love story of fictional lovers Don and Tori; very cute.

The food: Chef Jack Chang helms the culinary exploits here; despite a background in kaiseki (a strictly traditional multi-course Japanese dinner), his inventiveness with Western ingredients is what keeps Don & Tori’s menu fresh. A seasonal menu rotates what items are available, but feel free to pick and choose from the a la carte dishes too.

Take a seat at the live sushi bar, and watch your sashimi, flown directly from the iconic Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan, prepared fresh in front of you. There’s so much to try, but the Truffle Salmon Carpaccio ($18) is a must—there’s something refined about the way the salmon is soaked in truffle oil, leaving a delicate truffle aftertaste. Another decadent starter is the Foie Gras & Scallop ($22), so buttery is the Hokkaido scallop that it melts perfectly into the foie gras, till you can’t tell either ingredient apart.

Move on to the juicy Mentaiko Prawn ($22), which features king prawns grilled and slathered in mentaiko sauce. For something a little less conventional, there’s Chef Jack’s special Okonomiyaki ($25) served with a twist—atop a thick slice of bread and topped with fresh bonito flakes; it’s the closest okonomiyaki will ever taste to pizza.

But the true star at Don & Tori is the Truffle Wagyu Foie Gras Don ($38), which marries seared Joshu wagyu, foie gras, truffle oil and an onsen egg, on a bed of soft rice. It’s incredibly rich and sinful, but the explosion of flavors in your mouth makes the heftier price tag worth every cent. If there’s one thing to order here, it’s this.

The drinks: For an establishment focusing on dons, Don & Tori’s cocktail menu is, surprisingly, one to be reckoned with. Head bartender Haran (he goes by only his first name) has a penchant for incorporating savory ingredients like salmon and wagyu into old-school cocktails. Topped with a wagyu beef cracker, the Bold Fashioned ($23) is one such creation, taking Japanese whiskey and washing it in beef fat, while cinnamon bitters create a beautiful woody aroma that’s just a prelude to the heavy whiskey flavor.

For those who prefer lighter drinks, the Flower Fashioned ($17) features the same Japanese whiskey, but flavored with sakura and elderflower for daintier floral notes. There’s also the Tori Tini ($23), a martini glass of chrysanthemum gin infused with lychee and sprinkled with real elderflower petals that Haran recommends you eat for good complexion. Still, our vote goes to the Wasabi Sour—which isn’t on the menu, but steals your breath away in a truly unique concoction of wasabi, egg white, agave nectar and Japanese whiskey. A layer of foam made from wasabi and mandarin orange seals all the flavor in.

Why you’ll be back: It’s been a while since we had such decadent Japanese food (Chef Jack’s heavy-handed use of truffle is much appreciated) and the perfectly paired cocktail creations were the cherry on top of a fantastic meal. Don & Tori spares no expense in delivering a quality experience, yet stands on the more affordable side of the scale compared to its more famous contemporaries. Come before the secret gets out.