Japanese restaurants in Singapore abound and several offer good versions of chirashi and bara chirashi don, where raw fish is served atop sushi rice.
In a chirashi don, fish is served in thick slices much like in a sashimi platter, while bara chirashi don refers to cubed marinated sashimi.
Raw items in these bowls range from fish such as yellowtail and salmon, to uni and surf clam (akagai). These bowls also usually include pieces of tamagoyaki or sweetened omelette, cucumber and pickles.
Here is The Straits Times' list of seven cheap to mid-priced chirashi bowls to try, listed in no order of preference.
1. TAN HSUEH YUN RECOMMENDS: TEPPEI & TEPPEI SYOKUDO
Teppei Japanese Restaurant at Orchid Hotel might be scruffy, hot and stuffy, but it serves a reasonably priced bara chirashi, which is called kaisen don ($17.60) here.
The chef, Teppei Yamashita, has also opened a takeaway arm, Teppei Syokudo, at Takashimaya Food Hall, Ion Orchard and Millenia Walk, where it sells kaisen don for ($16).
Large chunks of raw salmon, tuna and white fish top lightly tangy rice. There is also a scattering of salmon roe and daikon sprouts.
The fish is marinated in shoyu, which is supposed to impart umami. Less Japanese soya sauce would be preferable to better appreciate the flavour of the fish.
Still, at $16, the amount of fish is generous. A little more rice and it would be perfect.
WHERE: Teppei Japanese Restaurant, Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link, tel: 6222-7363; Teppei Syokudo - three outlets: Takashimaya Food Hall, 391 Orchard Road, B2-07-7-3; Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, B4-57; and Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, 01-105
MRT: Tanjong Pagar, Orchard and Promenade
OPEN: Orchid Hotel - noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday; Takashimaya & Ion Orchard - 10am to 10pm, daily; Millenia Walk - 11am to 9pm, daily
2. REBECCA LYNNE TAN RECOMMENDS: SUSHIRO
At $12.80 each, Sushiro's bara chirashi bowls are among the cheapest in town.
It is decently fresh and generous, especially for the price. But don't expect the top grade stuff you'd find at fancier Japanese eateries. As far as cheap bara chirashi bowls go, this is probably as good as it gets.
This bowl of marinated raw fish will hit the spot for sashimi lovers without making much of a dent on the pocket.
The standard barachirashi comes with chunks of tuna, salmon, octopus and ikura, or salmon roe. Add $3 for a set with salad and miso soup.
WHERE: Sushiro, Thomson Plaza, 301 Upper Thomson Road, 01-113F
OPEN: 11.45am to 2.30pm, 5.45 to 9.30pm (Wednesday to Monday), closed on Tuesday
INFO: E-mail email@example.com
3. TAN HSUEH YUN RECOMMENDS: SUIGEI SAKE SALON
Suigei Sake Salon, at the lobby of the Marriott, serves a messy-looking chirashi, which is priced at $33 with an appetiser, pickles, soup and dessert.
The catch is that there are only five bowls available each day, so it is best to call ahead and book.
The combination of fish in this chirashi is different each time. Items might include hirame, akami, sayori, akagai, mirugai, amaebi, ikura and hotate. There is also usually anago, cubes of omelette, crunchy cucumber and ginger. It is a substantial bowl but one that will not weigh you down the rest of the day.
WHERE: Suigei Sake Salon, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, 01-04, tel: 6235-5514
OPEN: Chirashi available noon to 2.30pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
INFO: Go to www.facebook.com/suigeisakesalon
4. REBECCA LYNNE TAN RECOMMENDS: KOJI
There is a cheap and cheerful Japanese counter-dining restaurant at China Square Central, popular with officer-goers in the Central Business District. It is a gem of a find that will satisfy your cravings without breaking the bank.
Here, a sizeable Sashimi Rice Bowl or bara chirashi costs $18 (additional $9 for uni) and a five-piece nigiri sushi set starts at just $9.
Its bara chirashi includes Hokkaido rice topped with marinated cubes of scallop, amberjack, tuna, chopped tuna belly, whelk and salmon. Mixed-grain rice is available for an extra $1.
WHERE: Koji, China Square Central, 3 Pickering Street, 01-42 Nankin Row, tel: 6225-6125
MRT: Telok Ayer/ Chinatown
OPEN: 11.30am to 3pm, 5 to 10pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday & public holidays
INFO: Go to www.kojisushi.com.sg
5. EUNICE QUEK RECOMMENDS: THE SUSHI BAR
Thick slices of raw fish such as salmon, tuna, hamachi and swordfish adorn a bowl of rice topped with a slice of blowtorched salmon belly for extra oomph.
A normal chirashi don costs $24.90. The restaurant also serves bara chirashi or cubed marinated raw fish a top a bowl of rice for $19.90.
WHERE: The Sushi Bar - two outlets: Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, 04-28, tel: 9653-6464; and Ngee Ann City, 391B Orchard Road, 05-35, next to Best Denki, tel: 8818-3535
OPEN: Far East Plaza - 12.30 to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm (Monday to Thursday), noon to 10pm (Friday and Saturday), closed on Sunday; Ngee Ann City - 11.30am to 10pm, daily.
INFO: Go to thesushibar.com.sg
6. REBECCA LYNNE TAN RECOMMENDS: AOKI
Okay, here's a secret: lunch at Aoki, a sushi bar-restaurant in Shaw Centre, is actually a lot more affordable than you think. Lunch sets start at $35++ and up, and includes a salad, small appetiser of the day, miso soup and dessert - usually a pudding, a mini scoop of ice cream and a piece of jelly.
Go straight for the mazechirashi ($40++), sushi rice topped with mixed cubes of raw fish marinated in shoyu. Expect everything from salmon to tuna toro, ikura and uni. Eat each mouthful with a smidgen of wasabi for extra zing.
The bowls here are filling enough to keep your tummy satisfied till dinner time.
Lunch here is value-for-money considering what Aoki charges for dinner (a minimum spend of $100++ a person from Monday to Thursday, and $180++ on Friday and Saturday). Other sets include nigiri sushi and other cooked items.
WHERE: Aoki, Shaw Centre, 02-17, 1 Scotts Road, along Claymore Hill, opposite the HSBC bank branch, tel: 6333-8015
OPEN: Two lunch seatings on weekdays, noon to 1.20pm & 1.30 to 3pm
INFO: Go to www.aoki-restaurant.com.sg/aoki
7. EUNICE QUEK RECOMMENDS: SUMIYA CHARCOAL GRILL IZAKAYA
Sumiya offers a value-for-money Mix Kaisen Bara Don (set lunch with salad, appetiser, chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert at $20.80) with marinated cubed fish such as maguro akami (lean tuna), chutoro, toro, amberjack, salmon and avocado.
The restaurant, which has outlets at Orchard Central and Suntec City, is part of Japanese restaurant group RE&S, which also owns Kuriya Dining, Ichiban Boshi and Shimbashi Soba.
WHERE: Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya - two outlets: Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 12-02, tel: 6509-9618; and Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard, North Wing, 03-332/333, tel: 6235-1816
MRT: Orchard and Esplanade
OPEN: Orchard Central - noon to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm, daily; Suntec City - 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm, daily
INFO: Go to sumiya.com.sg
This article was first published on Oct 01, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.