There’s one good reason to visit Yen Social, the casual offshoot of Michelin-lauded Yen Yakiniku. But it’s not their signature dry-aged wagyu ribeye you might think.
Whenever reviewing a new restaurant I look out for the one dish that impresses. That one thing, if I cannot remember anything else about the place, to mark my dining experience by. That singular epiphany I can, pun fully intended, write home about.
At Yen Social – the more casual concept opened by Michelin-rated Japanese yakiniku specialists Yen Yakiniku at DUO Galleria in July this year – I found it, not among the dry-aged wagyu specimens for grilling they are so incredibly proud about, but in the form of an appetiser.
It was their Yukke. Yukke (ユッケ), also known as yukhoe (육회), is a dish of Korean origin that sees strips of marinated raw meat served much like a tartare. In most cases it even comes with a raw egg yolk that you break and stir into the meat, as you would with steak tartare. Here Yen Social’s version comes as delicate strips of melt-in-the-mouth wagyu beef, beautifully marinated in a secret barbecue sauce (we taste sesame oil).
It was absolutely divine.
This is in no way saying that the other dishes are forgettable. Yen Social conveniently serves its meats for grilling in convenient platters meant for sharing – there’s social in the yakiniku joint’s name for a reason. The Yen Social Butcher Platter are available in different sizes and serves from 2 to 8 persons, featuring a variety of cuts such as karubi, chuck eye roll, intercostal, and ribeye steak.
Their signatures come separately. For a more deluxe experience, their 30 Days Dry Aged Wagyu Ribeye offers that slight aged funk for those who enjoy that deeper flavour. There’s also a Whisky Dry Aged Wagyu Ribeye, where the meat has been aged in Taiwanese Kavalan whisky.
“Singaporeans are particularly adventurous and like trying new things, which is why we have created a new whisky dry-aged wagyu ribeye after much research and trials,” Head chef of the Yen Group Jones Chen tells us. Having tried a number of whisky-aged steaks, I can’t say I enjoy them any more than regular steaks though.
He is also looking also looking to introduce a gin dry-aged ribeye at the end of the year.
Yen Social has seafood options too, but that’s not what you really go for at a yakiniku.
A close second favourite to the yukke was their Wagyu Beef Noodle. Taiwan-born Chef Chen – who has some 15 years of helming yakkiniku restaurants in Taiwan and Singapore – pays tribute to his roots with this elevated version of that Taiwanese favourite. You’re looking at Hokkaido snow beef chunks and tendon pieces along with noodles in an incredibly rich yet delicately flavoured broth for a full-on umami kick. If the noodles offered more bite it may just rival the yukke.
Yen Social runs a compact drinks programme that revolves around a small selection of whisky, sochu, and wines, with a number of highballs. The Yuzu Sour and Grapefruit Sour are refreshing and good for washing down grilled meats, while the shochu-based Oolong High is great for cleansing the palate. If you love sake, their sake flights are a fun distraction from grilling meats.
With the addition of Yen Social, DUO Galleria is turning out to be quite the food lover’s destination. There’s the fabulous French bistro So France, casual Japanese unagi eatery Man Man, and steakhouse The Meating Place, among others.
But I dream of yukke.
Address 7 Fraser Street, #01-25/26 DUO Galleria, Singapore 189356 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 11pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays