Huoyanshaiziniu 火炎骰子牛 was one of those food kiosks with lady luck shining on them before opening, receiving much pre-publicity from many channels such as MediaCorp Channel 8, Mothership, GoodyFeed, EatBook, and Damn Worth It.
My Facebook feed was literally flooded with videos of flamed up beef cubes at one point in time.
What’s the fuss, you may wonder.
They serve up Taiwanese style flamed grilled beef cubes. This street food recently became popular in night markets such as Shilin and Rao He Ye Shi, attracting long queues and wait.
Huo Yan Shai Zi Niu located at the basement of Plaza Singapura is not a Taiwanese franchise though, but a local set-up by two young entrepreneurs.
It will soon open its 2nd branch at ION Orchard (though its unit looks like it was previously occupied by the very short-lived Mango King.)
Its offerings are straight-forward – 130g Angus Ribeye at $6.90; the beef with Japanese rice at $8; and rice with draft beer at $10.
I have yet to experience drinking draft beer while finding a place to eat in a mall basement.
”Come try our beef cubes.” A tall young man (should be the boss) was urging passersby who looked with curious eyes.
There was zero queue when I went during lunch (a reminder to future food owners/marketers that post publicity is equally important.)
I ordered the Angus Beef with Japanese rice, given the choice of garlic and / or seaweed powder to sprinkle on.
”Please eat them soon”, as I asked for a take-away bag, hearing that slight tone of worry.
He was right, as these cubes are best eaten hot.
In the Taiwanese street night, the grilled beef was probably fired and torched up in much higher temperatures and bigger fires. I can only imagine the limitations of operating such a kiosk in a Singapore mall.
So the key difference is, what you get in Taiwan (at least in the good stalls) are supremely hot smoky lightly charred beef with contrasting juiciness.
The ones here were only moderately hot, moderately tender. These were a few pieces which were too tough to chew on.
I enjoyed the fluffy rice, even though the combination was slightly to the saltier side.
In terms of taste, perhaps the average customer (means those who don’t need to IG this) would not find the clear difference between this and Japanese teppanyaki which are dime in a dozen.
Huo Yan Shai Zi Niu may need to create another USP, or perhaps think about having wider offerings to attract repeat customers.
Huo Yan Shai Zi Niu 火炎骰子牛 – Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road, #B2-49 Plaza Singapura Singapore 238839
Opening hours: 11am – 9:30pm Daily
Huo Yan Shai Zi Niu 火炎骰子牛 – ION Orchard (opening soon)
2 Orchard Turn #B4-63 ION Orchard Singapore 238801 (Orchard MRT)