The pairing of whisky with a fine cut of marbled steak is a time-honoured one that continues to induce salivation and unbridled cravings among those who have gotten hooked on the decadent combination.
At newly opened Wa-En Wagyu Yakiniku, found within the glimmering Jewel Changi Airport, they’ve taken this pairing to new heights by literally combining the pairing into a single cocktail offering – the Miyazaki Wagyu Fat-Washed Old Fashioned (S$24).
It’s made using just a couple of simple ingredients – Miyazaki wagyu fat, Suntory Old Whisky, Okinawan brown sugar syrup, Angostura bitters, and garnished with a slice of torched Miyazaki beef. Yet it’s the audacity of it and the technique used (i.e. fat-washing of wagyu oils) that makes this drink a standout.
In many ways, this signature cocktail of theirs embodies what Wa-En is all about: that pairing of grilled meats with Japanese whisky. There’s also wine, of course, because they’re equally a match made in yakiniku heaven.
The beef-centric food menu proudly showcases the award-winning Miyazaki wagyu as the star of the show, with premium cuts ranging from sirloin to ribeye, chuck roll to karubi. This is offered alongside less marbled Australian beef cuts, which are a nice addition for their leaner, beefier bite.
For those who don’t consume beef, Kagoshima pork cuts and an array of seafood (prawn, scallops, abalone etc.) and vegetables (mushroom, pumpkin, asparagus etc.) meant for grilling are also available.
To pair with these table-grilled dishes are a sufficient wine list and a respectable selection of whiskies. We appreciate the attention to variety here, with many regions and styles covered. Whether you’re in the mood for red or white, syrah or shiraz, you’re sure to find one to your liking.
This is especially true for the whiskies, where they go beyond the usual Scotch and macro Japanese labels, fielding unique bottlings such as the Amahagan World Malt Whisky and the Hom Mali Rice Whiskey. Drams are also priced reasonably starting from just S$10, with nothing going beyond S$23.
One feat that Wa-En has managed to get right as well is how their cocktails also pair nicely with the food. Besides the Miyazaki Wagyu Fat-Washed Old Fashioned already mentioned at the beginning, the Campfire Penicillin (S$21), a combination of Japanese whisky with peated Scotch and homemade ginger syrup, is a smoky tipple that shines well with meats.
The Mikan Martini (S$20) too is highly enjoyable. A craft gin, the Komasa Sakurajima Komikan Gin from Japan, is mixed with dry vermouth and mikan syrup for a take on the classic with nuanced citrus tones and zip. For the quality and ABV, the price point is hard to beat.
Then there’s the Umami Sake Tonic (S$17), a quaint and low-alcohol concoction of Japanese gin, sake, olive brine, and tonic water. It’s like having a Gin & Tonic, but with an addictive savoury tang mixed in. This goes well with the smouldering meat items, but also with the cold items found on the separate bar food menu.
If you’re drinking more than eating, pull up a seat by Wa-En’s intimate bar counter instead of the main dining floor. Not only is the space luxurious and inviting, you’ll get to peer at the amazing back bar too. Plus, the aforementioned bar food menu is perfect for having with cocktails, whiskies and wine.
The Wagyu Tartare (S$32) served topped with caviar is something we can’t have enough of, while the Uni & Ikura on Truffle Inaniwa Cold Udon (S$25) will have you slurping up every single strand of thoroughly marinated noodle.
Another interesting thing about Wa-En is that it’s actually part of a larger trio of spaces, being sandwiched between sister restaurants Tempura Makino and Kiwami Ramen & Gyoza Bar. The former is known for their light-battered tempura dishes fried upon order, while the latter boasts a great drinks programme (great cocktails and Japanese craft beer) too.
More than once, we’ve made a trip of it by first visiting Kiwami for a quick bite and drink (the Kiwamitini is gorgeous), before heading over to Wa-En for the main attraction of grilled wagyu meats paired with cocktails and wines, then ending at Wa-En’s bar counter for a whisky-laden nightcap.
We simply adore how there’s such a varied yet cohesive experience under one roof. Next time, we’ll be back to include Tempura Makino into the mix.
Wa-En Wagyu Yakiniku is located at 78 Airport Boulevard, #01-224 Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore 819666.
About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.