Let’s check out Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine don bowls at Bukit Panjang with a dinner dine-in. This store was a pretty interesting find in this part of Singapore, especially it being situated in a coffee shop.

No, thats Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine, not a chicken rice store alright.
No, thats Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine, not a chicken rice store alright.

Yes, you got that right, Mentai-Ya is located at Bukit Banjang Kopitiam open air coffee shop. Also, this means you can also utilise your Kopitiam card here for a hearty discount. Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine menu pricing ranges from an affordable range from $6.80 to $9.80. However, I don’t find the offerings value for money. The portions are pretty tiny, but first let’s see what is on offer.

A tale of 4 Rice bowls

Mentai-Ya touts to offer well-priced quality Japanese Cuisine, with a store name probably mistaken for a Japanese supermarket chain in Singapore. Menu selections generally range from dons (rice bowls) paired with varying meat staples. Selections includes chicken, salmon and Unagi (eel).

Salmon don.
Salmon don.

On chicken, selections starts at $6.80 for their Chicken Katsu don. Sadly, you get few strips of chicken katsu and topped with an egg. Quality is sub-par and does not scream in any way. And the portions are really tiny, like kids meal tiny. Moving up, to $7.80 gets you their Chicken Mentai Don including spicy variant at the same price.

Chicken Katsu don with egg $6.80
Chicken Katsu don with egg $6.80.

Similarly, Mentai-Ya fish offerings wraps up the menu options with their $8.80 Salmon Mentai don. You get a small single slice of breaded salmon on sticky rice, also served with regular and spicy variants, dressed with sweet mayo, I would not recommend the dish.

Is that enough for an adult
Is that enough for an adult?

Try their Eel don

Topping up the more premium offerings is their $9.80 Unagi Tama Don. Their more premium eel rice is actually not bad, and is probably what you ought to dine at. The boneless eel is nicely flavoured and tender to the bite. But you only get 4 pieces of the grilled eel. It is notably priced on the upper end of the offering too.

Unagi Tama Don $9.80, with Gyoza sides
Unagi Tama Don $9.80, with Gyoza sides.

Moreover, if you were to compare their offerings to premium Japanese Don sellers, $10 for an unagi bowl quite a steal. But it is not quite the case. At its core, Mentai-Ya is neither premium nor budget. It sits in an uncanny market segment. Also, in comparison, your alternate typical Kopitiam Japanese food court bento set meals offers twice the servings at the same quality from $5.90 a set, which also gets you miso soup and extra meat and fruit servings. You get none of these here at Mentai-Ya.

And stay away from everything else

Furthermore, I would also recommend staying away from their sides, their 4 piece Gyoza is priced at $3.80, their 4 piece Tori Karage chicken ($4.80) and their Tamago priced from $3.80 to $4.80. Moreover, Mentai-Ya operates on a split shift arrangement with daily opening hours from 11am to 2.30pm and 5pm to 8.30pm daily.

Their Gyoza's ain't fantastic, trust me on this
Their Gyoza’s ain’t fantastic, it has the cooked from frozen texture and bland in taste.

Additionally, your rice bowls (Dons) are served in paper bowls which has a hipster-style “environmentally” friendly vibe. While you can understand the intent of the execution, something always fail short, like using single-use disposable plastic cutlery spoons and packaging containers.

All in all, I would just recommend you to just shortlist Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine. The portions are tiny with varying quality levels and is not really value for money. It does not really justifies seconds, and leaves you still hungry for better food somewhere else.

Verdict:

Must Go! | Actually pretty Good | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid
Makan Place Locality Map
Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine @ Bukit Panjang
628 Senja Road (Stall #8),
Singapore 670628
Opening Hours Daily: 11am–2:30pm, 5pm–8:30pm

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