Ootoya Japanese Restaurant

While we always like giving largely empty or queue-less restaurants the benefit of the doubt, there are sadly a few grains of truth to the adage “a long queue means good food,” a sentiment long applied to hawker stalls here.

In this case, it applies to Ootoya too, which was beset with a snaking queue (nope, they don’t take reservations) when we showed up for a weekend dinner. Instantly a flash of hope shivered through us as we thought that there must be something good being served here, to make the diners sit in a neat row on the benches outside, waiting for their turn patiently with queue numbers.

While the experience vaguely reminded us of being at the doctor’s, our dining experience was thankfully pleasant—with the food justifying the long queue.

The décor here is soothing, nothing fancy but typical of the Japanese brand of Muji-like minimalism, which we didn’t mind at all. Despite being stranded at a too-small table (there were three of us), the warm, sincere and friendly staff did their best to help us look for an extra chair (which we eventually got), and didn’t just abandon us to our seatless despair.

The menu here is huge and offers loads of variety—with most dishes offering both set (tip: Grab the set—you get an appetizer and a soup!) and à la carte options. We had the Ootoya special dish—which comprised a combination of a croquette and deep-fried chicken with a sunny-side-up egg. We had a lip-smacking good time, tucking into our food—and especially loved the crispy, bursting-with-ingredients croquette, and juicy, well-flavored chicken enlivened by our perfectly-done egg. Our breaded pork loin with egg set with a pork cutlet simmered in a “special sauce,” egg and sweet onion also did not disappoint—it was lovely, tasty and comforting (yes, we slurped up all the soup).

Ootoya is not fine dining, but who needs that when you can get great service, unpretentious, delicious food and affordable prices?