Admittedly, I was first enticed by the well-curated pretty-pastel coloured Instagram photos of Mio Fine Foods at Neil Road.
How much do you care about the aesthetics of your food? Or do you prefer substance over form?
Some of us, who are greedy, hope that a balance between the two is possible.
If you are one of them and love Japanese food, you may want to check out Mio Fine Foods right away.
At the contemporary Japanese restaurant near Maxwell MRT station, you get the best of both worlds: Instagrammable? Check. Tasty? Check.
In short, Mio Fine Foods does a sort of modern artisanal Japanese cuisine, building on traditional styles and flavours to appeal to a younger customer base.
Freshness and quality are the focus, with ingredients air-flown from Japan into Singapore on a weekly basis.
The menu is seasonal and rotates throughout the year.
It is safe to bet that Mio has thoughtfully put together the interior of the café to add to the overall aesthetic quality and match the food.
The design concept is based on the theme of Kanso, a Japanese Zen philosophy that places emphasis on simplicity.
What results is an outfit that invokes the look of a Japanese outdoor garden. Think round arches and wood-based decor, with bonsai and pebbles as details. There is plenty of natural lighting to illuminate every corner and add to the ambience.
The menu items range from Sushi Ball ($18), Premium Nigiri Sushi ($40), Sake Mentaiko Maki ($22), Nori Taco ($14), Hotate Carpaccio ($28), Hamachi Carpaccio ($25), Gyu Sando ($26), to Hotate Salmon Zaru Soba ($29). Quite a good range of items.
The dish most representative of Mio Fine Foods has to be the Sushi Ball ($18). These are eight assorted sushi done as rice balls, instead of the usual rectangular shape.
They were topped with a variety of ingredients, with salmon, bluefin tuna, yellowtail, squid, swordfish, and prawn among others.
This was plated beautifully along the curvature of the wooden plate, with bits of edible flower and ikura to accentuate the look.
However, to be honest, after trying of dishes, I thought this particular item was on the safe side (and thus predictable-tasting) and there were others more memorable.
The Classic Nigiri Sushi ($22), Premium Nigiri Sushi ($40) or Classic Sashimi Moriwase ($40) will be for you if you are not one for unnecessary antics.
The innovation continues with the Nori Taco ($14). Two pieces of sushi rice, avocado and sashimi-filled taco was served on a fried seaweed shell.
You can choose fillings of assorted sashimi, soft shell crab (+$2) or negitoro uni (+$8). Might be reminiscent of a traditional handroll, but with an interesting flair.
One of my favourite dishes was the Wagyu Uni Rice Bowl ($62), with a combination of rich tender wagyu beat, creamy uni on top of fluffy omurice wrapped by a thin omelette.
All of these flavours and textures come together to create an indulgent dish.
Consider the Gyu Sando ($26) as a side, at the center of which is breaded beef striploin. It is served with crispy lotus chips, which are clean tasting with a good crunch.
Others like the Potato Nesuto Tempura ($16), built like a tower, is also recommended a try.
Sweeten the meal with finely constructed desserts like the Goma Goma ($15). You get an overload of earthiness, through dense black sesame cake and smooth black sesame ice cream, served with speculoos crumble.
When it comes to Japanese food, Mio Fine Foods keeps things interesting for repeated visits.
Mio Fine Foods
82 Neil Road, Singapore 088843
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 9:30pm (Sun – Thurs), 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 10pm (Fri – Sat)
* Written by Daniel Ang and Dean Ang. Follow @DanielFoodDiary on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube for more food news, food videos and travel highlights. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.