But suppose you’re looking to treat yourself (and maybe even your loved ones from abroad) to a sumptuous feast showcasing the best of Japanese yakiniku without having to leave the airport. In that case, Wa-En Wagyu Yakiniku is where it’s at.
The restaurant was established in Hong Kong more than a decade ago, becoming a popular go-to for premium A4 and A5 wagyu cuts from Miyazaki, Japan. It was even recommended in the 2016 and 2017 Michelin Guide, so you know you’re in for an exquisite beef-centric treat.
Wa-En Yakiniku has finally made its first foray into international waters with an elegant yet minimalist space decked out in delicate Japanese wood tones, all while offering stunning views of the rain vortex. It also boasts cosy booth seats and private rooms, making for a more premium dining experience.
Unique to this outlet is the first-ever Wa-En Bar (the closest thing to an airport cocktail bar), which serves as the perfect place to unwind over craft cocktails, wine, sake, whisky and bar bites before catching your flight.
Start off with a cocktail, such as the eye-catching Miyazaki Wagyu Fat-Washed Old Fashioned (S$24), that’s garnished with an actual slice of aburi Mizayaki wagyu. It was silky with a pleasant citrus twang, but a tad too sweet for my liking.
Moving on to the stars of the show, you can take your pick from an extensive selection of top-quality yakiniku cuts (available as platters and individual a la carte servings), side dishes, and even wagyu sashimi.
Those who want to try a little bit of everything can go for the Wagyu Beef Platter (S$158), comprising seven different cuts from both Miyazaki and Australia:
- Deluxe Miyazaki Marbled Wagyu Karubi
- Premium Miyazaki Wagyu Karubi – Original and Salt Sauce
- Premium Miyazaki Wagyu Chuck Roll
- Australian Wagyu – Salt or Miso Sauce
- Australian Wagyu in Grilling Sauce
- Premium Beef Tongue Stick
It’s also the most value-for-money option, given that a la carte options like the Deluxe Miyazaki Marbled Wagyu Karubi (S$50) can cost a pretty penny.
But boy did this decadent, richly marbled cut of wagyu instantly melt in my mouth. It was, to put it simply, sublime.
Unlike most yakiniku restaurants that tend to offer a dizzying range of sauces, you only need yakiniku sauce, minced garlic, and a simple blend of salt and pepper here — it’s the best way to enjoy the unadulterated flavours of the meat.
Gyutan fans must, must try at least one of the beef tongue dishes, be it the Premium Australian Thick-cut Wagyu Beef Tongue (S$48) or the Thin-sliced Beef Tongue (S$40), which I thoroughly relished with the accompanying salt & scallion sauce and a squeeze of lemon.
If you’re getting all beefed out, other indulgent meats like the Premium Iberico Pork Jowl (S$22), which is served with your choice of salt or yuzu sauce, will more than suffice.
You can also supplement the meats with a selection of seafood like the plump and juicy Hiroshima Oyster (S$18 for 4pcs) — they take on a whole new flavour dimension when grilled.
And of course, it is a must to balance everything out with a serving of Assorted Vegetables & Mushrooms (S$12 for 2 pax), or even a refreshing salad.
But don’t worry about getting caught up in the meat-induced excitement and leaving the restaurant smelling all funky. Each specially imported yakiniku grill is equipped with a unique furnace structure that effectively funnels away all that smoke and grease.
The non-barbecued dishes at Wa En Yakiniku are also worth checking out, such as the Miyazaki Wagyu Beef Tartare (S$23), raw beef coated in a savoury and mildly sweet yangnyeom sauce, topped with a luscious Okinawa egg yolk.
As someone who loves balancing out all that beefy grease with a bowl of refreshing cold noodles whenever I go for yakiniku, the ponzu-based Morioka Cold Noodles (S$18) was absolutely delightful (in between bites of buttery wagyu).
Ready to have a grillin’ good time in the comfort of Jewel Changi Airport?
Reservations can be made here.
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Photos by Christabel Tan