The Place The ever changing dining scene of Tras Street has seen another new opening recently, the few weeks’ old Birders is a Japanese Yakitori and Grills restaurant (opposite Terra by Chef Seita and down a few rows from Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan) with a strong focus on dishing out grills from the different parts of a chicken. The long shophouse setting of Birders has a casual and modern vibe, unlike the traditional rowdy and smoky impression we have of Yakitori bars and Izakayas.
We understand from Birders’s owner Adam Chen, that the main inspiration behind Birders is to create a casual dining Yakitori concept which is accessible and easily understood by the masses. The menu is fully in English for a start, and we noticed that the drinks menu boasts an easy to decipher Sake section with a reference index of the sweetness and acidity of each Sake.
The Food The menu here is mainly split into three main sections – Grill & Yakitori, Sharing Plates and Fillers (think Oyako Don and Yakitori Don). The main guy who conceptualised the menu is Chef Makoto Deguchi, who is an alumni of the one Michelin starred Sola in Paris.
We started off trying some of the Yakitori – the Thigh (S$3.50), Breast ($S3.50), Tail (S$4), Sasami (S$4.50), Oyster (S$4.50), Tsukune (S$4.50), and Skin (S$4).
Our favourite of the lot is the Chicken Oyster, which is arguably the best part of the chicken’s backbone. Even though this was merely lightly seasoned with salt and lemon, it was so tender that we couldn’t help with more bites of it. This is a must order.
The Tail is not literally the tail but the portion of the meat just behind it. It was seasoned and grilled with garlic shoyu sauce, which is quite an interesting and unique part to try.
The parts which could potentially fare better are the Chicken Thigh and Breast, which we felt were under-seasoned beyond its toppings like Negi Puree for the Thigh and Panko for the Breast. We have passed our feedback to the team and hopefully it will get better beyond this teething period, given that we visited during the soft opening phase of the restaurant.
Other than the chicken-centric sticks, we enjoyed the Nagaimo Mentai (S$8), grilled yam topped with cod roe mayo. The grilled yam had a crunchy texture, while the cod roe mayo topping complimented the otherwise singular flavour of the yam very well. Another must order on the menu.
We love the Pork Belly (S$4), period. The fatty meat was well-seasoned, tender and we ordered another plate eventually. Other worthy options we recommend are the Beef Skirt (S$6.50) and Shiitake (S$6.50) stuffed with minced chicken meat.
On to the Sharing Plates, we strongly recommend the Potato Salad (S$8), an unassuming option on the menu which we would usually strike off easily. This version is very delicious, and it has elements of Yuzu Mayo and Mentaiko which turned out very well when all mixed together.
The Birders Wings (S$10) is another addictive plate which we lost count of the number of pieces we had. The bony and thin chicken wings were seasoned with Black Vinegar and Sake, which gave it a very rich and tasty flavour.
Other options off the Sharing Plates include the Egg Tempura (S$8) with oozy lava egg, and the Asparagus Fry (S$12), where the asparagus is wrapped with bacon, cheese and bread crumbs then deep fried.
Oh, we almost forgot the Kawa Senbei (S$10), the deep fried chicken skin. Sinful, but good to go with a beer, definitely.
If you are thinking that a bottle of Sake is too much to stomach in a night, we appreciate that Birders offer Cup Sake (180ml) which makes it easier and incentivize us to try different varieties.
And if you find the name of the owner familiar, you might have recalled him from his days at Mediacorp and SPH’s now-defunct Mediaworks. Adam Chen, actor-turned entrepreneur, was acting in highly-rated dramas including 2006’s The Shining Star, and more recently, Tanglin. Hopefully you will get to catch him at one of his restaurants now, including Park restaurant at Holland Village and Five Izakaya Bar.
Rants It would be ideal if the menu at Birders has a few more vegetable-centric grills like Brussels Sprouts or Green Pepper, while staying true to the Yakitori theme.
Will I Return Again? We like how Birders has presented a different way and environment for us to enjoy yakitori, definitely a welcome addition to Tras Street. Not all their sticks worked for us during our meal, but for those that did, it was well worth the calories. And while at Birders, enjoy the birds with some of the affordable sake cups.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
55 Tras Street
Tel: +65 8748 4585
Monday to Thursday: 6pm to 12am
Friday to Saturday: 6pm to 1am
Closed on Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter & The Rantee