If you love kushiyaki and cosy, tucked away dining spots, you must know of Box n Sticks down by Kandahar Street (by the back of Arab Street). Well, we’re here to share the great news that they’ve got a another shop down by Burlington Square. Round the corner from Rocher MRT station, and across the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Box n Sticks’ second branch delivers the same mouthwatering, juicy, fresh-off-the-grill kushiyaki with a spanking new look and a slightly modified menu.
The store’s name is a twist on Box n Sticks’ own, just swop out ‘Box’ for ‘Bento’ and ‘Sticks’ for ‘Kushiya(ki)’. Plus, its exactly what the store offers, don (rice bowl) bentos and kushiyaki bentos.
The store’s interior is warm, welcoming and has a sakura matusri theme. Despite the space constraints, the atmosphere is airy, party-like and distinctly Japanese.
They even have almost-private two seaters which are very Japanese-like. Most fast/convinient eateries in Japan are invididualistic. Diners tend to eat by themselves and Bento Kushiya has managed to capture that feeling but minus the isolation.
The menu caters mainly for the students in the area which means its fast, fuss-free, varied and affordable. Ordering is a simple process, just step up to the counter, have a look at what you want, order and wait for your food to be sent to you. They also do take-aways and pre-orders. Simply drop them a call before you head down and they’ll have everything ready by the time you get there — perfect for students rushing between projects or classes.
You can choose from pre-matched sticks and bentos or you can check out what’s hot off the grill and pick from there instead. The aroma of freshly grilled sticks are droolworthy and every stick smells so incredibly tempting. If you have the space, try one of everything, you won’t be disappointed.
Some sticks, like the yakitori, comes with five different kinds of dressings including spicy, mentai and garlic mayo.
For our lunch, we tried the yakitori, tamago, chicken with garlic mayo and chicken with mentai; and boy were our tastebuds delighted. The meat was tender, chewy, juicy and grilled to perfection. Our favourite was the chicken with mentai — the mentaiko had popping candy-like explosions in your mouth with every bite and the garlic was crisp and lent its rich flavour to the chicken. If you get a bento set, the sticks come with a serving of rice and heartwarming miso soup. Also tossed into the rice were some tanuki crumbs, which was basically little bits of tempura batter which gave the rice some extra texture.
Next up on our to-try menu was the buta kakuni don. Heaven in a box is what this is — thick slices of flavourful braised pork with tender meat and melt-in-your-mouth fat layered over warm rice soaked in their one-of-a-kind savoury-sweet sauce accompanied with a wobbly, just-right soft boiled egg and bright yellow pickles. Chef told us that this is the most popular dish in the store. He joked that he basically spends all day making buta kakuni because it always seems to be running out. If you only have the stomach for one dish when you visit, this is it.
Despite our almost bursting bellies we had more thing to try before we could say we were done, the Mantou and Chilli Crab Sauce. We certainly didn’t expect to see such a local flavour on the menu, so when we did, we just had to try it out. The mantou are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The golden outer layer is firm enough for you to hold and tear the buns apart while the soft inner quickly soaks up the sauce without getting too soggy. The chilli crab sauce is simmered over 3 hours and is tarty and just a little spicy. While a little bit too sour for this reviewer, it makes for a good itchy-mouth snack solution.
Box n Sticks has taken the best of their original store, spruced it up and made it very student friendly. The menu is a little stripped down compared to their original store, but it still has the stars of their show.
Bento Kushiya 6835-9878 Burlington Square #01-57, 175 Bencoolen St, 189649 Tue-Sun (Closed on Mon) 11.30AM–9PM