YEN Social is more than food. It’s an experience. This yakiniku and dry-aged beef specialist is brought by the same team behind Yen Yakiniku, the only Michelin-recommended yakiniku restaurant in Singapore.
Helmed by Chef Jones Chen, the restaurant offers an extensive range of hand-selected meat cuts grilled to precision, in a plush yet relaxed dining ambience.
It’s located within the architecturally-stunning DUO Tower, right by Parkview Square. Navigate the maze to the restaurant, and you’ll be greeted by slabs of meat drying in cabinets at the entrance. Tables are equipped with state-of-the-art ventilation systems that promise a comfortable smoke-free environment. A private dining room is also available with a minimum spending amount.
Despite the style of food, which is Japanese, the beef used across most of the menu is Australian, apart from the YEN Wagyu Beef Noodles. The menu items I was introduced to highlight the various cuts of beef. Each individually selected for the best balance between marbling, textures, and flavours. With how rich the cuts of meat are, the menu is accompanied by refreshing sides and drinks that balance out its flavour. It is a well-conceptualised menu that takes into consideration balance.
We began the meal with a Farmer’s Salad (S$16). I am not a fan of salad greens, or lettuce, so this watermelon salad with candied walnuts was quite a welcome change. The mesclun salad added a bite to the dish which provided another dimension of flavour. The oil-based yuzu dressing complemented the fresh starter and opened up our appetite.
YEN Social prides themselves on service, and it’s something that most grill restaurants do not have. Diners can enjoy the fun of grilling easy-to-grill cuts themselves. They can also indulge in the satisfaction of having thick, juicy wagyu steaks grilled to perfection by the grill chefs. It’s an opportunity for socialisation, which I believe food should be centred around.
The YEN Social Butcher Platter is a signature at the restaurant. The size ranges from 300 grams to 1.2 kilograms for a party of nine and costs from S$109. The progression of meats starts from thin and light, to thick and rich: comprising of thick karubi, chuck eye roll, chuck short ribs, and Australian Wagyu ribeye.
My favourite from this selection was the Karubi Intercostal, or ‘rib fingers’. They are chewy, however, the char obtained from the grill is the most satisfying across the board. It is marinated lightly in sesame and garlic.
The Whisky Dry Aged Wagyu Ribeye (S$58 for 100 grams) is yet another highlight. YEN Social is Singapore’s first yakiniku to introduce dry-aged wagyu ribeye using Kavalan single malt whisky from Taiwan. The strong whisky infuses flavours of malt and cask into the meat, giving it a richer flavour and moist mouthfeel. I prefer the depth of flavour this ribeye presented as compared to the Australian Wagyu ribeye without the dry-aged.
Chef Chen’s favourite dish, the Wagyu Beef Noodle (S$25) completes the meal. He spent six years refining the recipe which is inspired by his hometown in Taiwan. Generous Japanese Wagyu beef chunks and beef tendons are slow stewed for 48 hours with daikon and local herbs.
The rich broth is aromatic with notes of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, star anise and more. The gelatinous tendons almost melts into the broth, adding yet another flavour profile. The noodles are not overly starchy and act as the perfect base for the soup.
A visit to YEN Social is a journey. Not only can you enjoy respectable food, you can discover the difference of aged-meat selection through ready conversations.
(Images: YEN Social)