Japanese yakiniku specialists Aburiya has entered the cocktail space with The Container, a Japanese-inspired tapas and cocktail bar on the waterfront at Boat Quay.
Traditional Japanese yakiniku restaurant chain Aburiya is best known for its wonderfully marbled cuts of quality Japanese wagyu beef roasted over top-grade binchotan white charcoal. That kind of food calls for copious amounts of beer or sake; cocktails, not quite so. But its new concept space, The Container at Boat Quay, is of a totally different, and more modern, breed. Aburiya calls it a Japanese tapas and cocktail bar; what you get are bites mostly centred around – yes, you guessed it – wagyu beef, and cocktails that are of a decidedly Japanese slant.
But the Japanese we’re talking about is not the kind of elegant, debonair experience one may get at a Ginza cocktail bar the likes of Bar High Five or Star Bar. At Aburiya it’s all about creative uses of Japanese ingredients – in most cases, cocktails here employ a spirit that’s been infused with ingredients one normally associate with Japanese cuisine. For example there’s the Kauri No Yo Ni Kunu ($18++, main picture), which combines gin that’s been infused with mozuku – a seaweed commonly found in Okinawa – along with honey vinegar, cucumber, and syrup-infused with Japanese torch ginger for a curiously refreshing tipple.
Fat-washing spirits has become quite the trend in recent years, and when your calling card is Japanese wagyu, it’s almost expected to find whisky here that been fat-washed. In Aburiya’s case, though, it’s not just any kind of fat, but leftover premium wagyu beef fat. You can either taste the wagyu whisky on its own, or have it incorporated into a cocktail as is with the Kemuri No Kontena ($18++, above), a concoction of wagyu whisky, apricot liqueur, and a honey- and teriyaki-based syrup.
The list goes on, ranging from the interesting – tequila infused with oba leaves, for example, to the very contrived, such as the whisky infused with Japanese arare rice crackers (really?).
As one can expect from a bar affiliated to a yikiniku restaurant chain – in fact, there’s an Aburiya outlet right next to The Container at Boat Quay – the food here is top notch. You can’t go wrong with the Wagyu Roast Beef ($14++/$25++, above), an almost ultimate expression of excellent top grade wagyu, or the Smoking Wagyu Carpaccio ($19++), which arrives at the table in an impressive covered dome of encased smoke. The fatty marbled A4 wagyu slices within, lightly infused with apple wood smoke and coated with truffle oil is melt-in-the-mouth.
In Hokkaido, Japanese wagyu farmers would normally end the day by gathering in an old, used container that’s been converted into an informal bar to share food, sake and beer. Now, the office workers who inhibit Singapore’s financial district have a Container to call their own.
Address 78 Boat Quay, Singapore 049866
Opening Hours 6pm to 11pm on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6pm to 12mn Fridays and Saturdays, closed on Tuesdays
Tel (65) 6532 0365