If you’re the sort of ravenous carnivore who prefers to inhale your meat, YEN Yakiniku is not the place for you — the narrow 24-seat space along Ann Siang Road straddles the divide between a restaurant and a masterclass in meat appreciation. Opened last May by Taiwanese head chef and partner Jones Chen, together with The Yen Group, YEN Yakiniku looks to educate diners on what they’re eating while filling their bellies.
And you’re in good hands here. Chef Jones got his start in F&B in wine sales and distribution, and then he made a career switch to spend eight years as the yakiniku chef at Da Wan Yakiniku Restaurant in Taipei, which, going by a casual internet search, has earned glowing reviews from a swathe of travel sites and food bloggers.
YEN Yakiniku has three or four chefs — all trained by Chef Jones — working at any one time, each looking after serving the same number of diners, charcoal-grilling every piece of meat, seafood and vegetable with expert precision and control. And that careful attention has its value: Considering the premium cuts and varieties used — Kagoshima wagyu, USDA prime beef and more — it’s better to leave it to the professionals to make sure you’re consuming them at optimal doneness rather than DIY-ing it and gnawing overcooked or charred bits (which we’ve all been guilty of at some point in our lives).
Standout dishes include the marbled oyster blade with minced onion and lemon juice, which showcases Chef Jones’s preference for straightforward flavours with no showiness, and ox tongue, a rare cut from the root of the tongue that yields barely five slices per animal. Kalbi, or beef short ribs, offer a solid punch, while sashimi-grade Hokkaido scallops star in the seafood section of the four-page menu. Even vegetables are worth a shot — we’ll remember the grilled asparagus best. And given his knowledge of wines and spirits, Chef Jones has a hand in selecting the premium sakes and other tipples stocked in the restaurant, rounding up the educational experience of dining at YEN Yakiniku.
15 Ann Siang Road; Tel: 6221 6380