The Place We are spoilt for choice by the new OUE Downtown Gallery in Tanjong Pagar. After trying Express by Chatterbox (read our full review here), we checked out the one week old Sama Curry & Cafe, a Soup Curry concept which hails from Hokkaido. The brand has ten outlets in Japan currently, mainly in Hokkaido, Sendai, Tokyo and Fukuoka. There are also two outlets in Hong Kong, and Singapore is the second country Sama Curry & Cafe opens outside of Japan.
The restaurant is decked in a casual Japanese dining style, with bright lights and mainly wooden furnishings. There are some tables by the window which we can imagine will be nice in the day.
The Food The menu is straightforward as you get to select your Curry Choice, followed by the spiciness level and then the Soup Base Choice. The Curry Choice is essentially your main ingredients, which spot choices like the Ocean Trophy (S$18.90), a mix of seafood such as prawn, scallops and mussels, and the Marathon Chicken (S$14.90) which comprises of tender chicken leg.
There are three levels of spiciness from a scale of 0 to 30, split into Baby Bear, Adult Bear and Crazy Bear.
For Soup Base Choices, choose from the heavier options like the Coconut and Tomato, or go for the lighter ones like Japanese and Shrimp.
We started with some side dishes to share. The Sesame Chicken Wings (S$6.50/3 pieces), an addictive crispy texture and flavours which were delicious, served with mayonnaise sauce.
Another must try and one of our favourites here is the Hokkaido Imomochi (S$6.50/2 pieces), a fried dough filled with cheese directly imported from Hokkaido. We can’t pinpoint exactly what cheese mix is present, but we didn’t regret trying it. Do dip it with the accompanying light shoyu sauce.
Other side dishes to nibble on include the Shrimp Gyoza (S$6.50/6 pieces) and the Hokkaido Crab Cream Croquette (S$6.50/2 pieces), which were equally good to try if you still have space.
On to the highlight of Sama Curry, we had the Cheesy Bear (S$16.90) with Tomato at level 15 Adult Bear spiciness. The most intriguing part of this concept is how do you gauge the spiciness level? It’s intuition really. I can stomach laksa well, but going for ‘Mala’ hotpot is not really my first choice. Level 15 is manageable and it should be a safe choice for first timers if you are up for it.
On the Tomato soup, it is interesting to see this fruit in a soup curry version. You don’t get the light Tomato broth here, but instead a richer and heartier tomato flavour. The Cheesy Bear contain fried chicken with cheese, roasted cabbage and assorted vegetables such as eggplant, broccoli and potatoes.
Every order is also served with one of the best quality Hokkaido rice, Yumepirika rice. We are sold.
The other Curry Choice we went for was the Hungry Bear (S$18.90), which contains chicken leg and an additional choice of either the pork or hamburger patty, along with the Coconut soup base. I enjoyed the Coconut soup base more as it was much richer than Tomato, yet it doesn’t really get too cloying like our local coconut curry version as this Japanese coconut flavour is much more mellow. Our only gripe here is the pork we chose, which was too tough and dry.
Rants The seats by the window is a little cramped, which is not that comfortable if you can’t sit still.
Will I Return Again? As a casual dining restaurant, we enjoyed Sama Curry & Cafe generally. The food is hearty, price is reasonable and the soup curry concept is relatively novel in Singapore. The challenge lies in drawing in crowd on weekends due to its CBD location, though we have no doubt the concept will resonate well with the CBD folks.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Sama Curry & Cafe
OUE Downtown 2 Gallery, #03-26
Tel: +65 6224 0590
Daily: 11am to 9pm
(Sunday operating hours may vary)
Ranted by The Ranter