If you are a fan of Mappen and Oiden, then I'm sure you've discovered their sister branch Dera-Uma, a cheap and cheerful casual Japanese restaurant located in Skyview Shopping Plaza on George Street. Opened in March 2014 replacing the now closed Dog Dog Japon, Dera-Uma (meaning 'very delicious' in the Nagoya dialect) is more similar to Oiden and features mainly donburi aka 'rice bowl dish' and gourmet salads.
At 6.30pm, Dera-Uma already has a steady stream of patrons both dining in and ordering takeaways. Set in a Japanese street stall theme, the J-pop music playing in the background gives the restaurant an upbeat atmosphere. Unlike its sibling branches where the restaurants are mostly enclosed, the communal seating area at Dera-Uma spills into the open space of the general walkway, making the venue feel more spacious. There is no need for concern if you do not find yourself a seat straightaway; the turnaround time of eat in diners is pretty good you'll get a seat in no time.
Meals are made to order and you are given a buzzer once your order is placed and payment made (cash only). While you wait to be buzzed, check out all the cooking action through the clear glass window looking into the kitchen where the friendly staff are busy preparing your meal. Because Dera-Uma is more a takeaway joint, meals are served in plastic containers regardless if you are dining in or taking away.
Dera-Uma located in Skyview Shopping Plaza on George Street
Counter with a selection of topping items to choose from
Jono and I selected a few items from the menu to share, starting off with a gourmet salad and opted for the Stewed Wagyu Beef Salad, a bowl of mix leaves with three salad fillings of our choice, topped with thinly sliced stewed Wagyu beef. There is even a handy 4-step order form to use when ordering your gourmet salad: first choose your salad, then choose up to three fillings from the choices available (add 90 cents for extra fillings) followed by extra toppings (optional), and finally select your dressing (choice of sesame, balsamic vinegar, French, wasabi or Japanese) and the amount you want on the salad (light, medium or heavy). I like the mix and match option as it makes the ordering process interactive and fun. We had corn kernel, cucumber and tomato for our fillings, and wasabi dressing in medium amount to accompany our salad. Hand your completed form to the cashier on order and watch your salad being prepared right in front of you. The serving is generous and tasted deliciously healthy.
Some of the menu options available at Dera-Uma
Use the handy order form when ordering your Gourmet Salad
Choice of salad fillings - tofu, boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, olive, feta cheese, celery, kidney bean, walnuts and seaweed
Extra toppings - Pork Fillet Katsu, White Fish Fry, Chicken Kara-Age, Chicken Katsu
Dera-Uma features three Original Drinks - Iced Green Tea, Iced Lemon Tea or Iced Mugi-Cha (roasted barley tea) - all served chilled. A refreshing drink and great compliment to the savoury dishes. My personal favourite is the Iced Lemon Tea which is slightly sweeter than the others. There are also other canned or bottled drinks available such as Coke, water and non-alcoholic Japanese beverages.
Stewed Wagyu Beef Salad ($7.90) - stewed sliced Wagyu beef, mix vegetables + your choice of any three salad fillings
The Sauce-Fish Katsu was a donburi with crumbed white fish drenched in a salty-sweet fry sauce, drizzled with mayo served on a bed of rice topped spring onion and pickled radish on the side. The crumbed fish still had its crispy texture though I felt the fry sauce a bit too salty for my taste buds. Fortunately our chilled drinks helped balance out the sodium making the dish much more palatable.
Iced Lemon Tea ($1.50) and Green Tea ($1.50)
My favourite dish of the lot was the signature Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu, crumbed deep fried chicken cooked with sliced onions in a beaten egg mixture topped with spring onion. I had the pleasure of watching staff Aki prepare our dish from the viewing station - she had two mini saucepans of the tamago toji cooking concurrently on the gas stove top; she would lift the lid to check on the cooking progress every now and then whilst preparing the next batch for cooking. Timing and coordination is key so as not to overcook the food. Once ready, Aki then skilfully slides the cooked Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu onto a prepared bowl of rice, and serves it with pickled radish on the side.
Sauce-Fish Katsu ($7.50) - crumbed deep fried white fish, coleslaw, mayo, pickled radish and special fry sauce on rice
Chicken Katsu (crumbed deep fried chicken) and onion covered in a beaten egg mixture topped with spring onion cooking on the stove
Our Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu is almost done!
The partially cooked egg envelopes the crumbed chicken giving it a unique texture - a mix of tender meat with a crunchy crumbed exterior combined into a saucy/runny egg omelette. A simple yet delicious comfort food that fills my belly.
Aki skillfully sliding the cooked Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu on top of a bowl of rice
Washoku Lovers members - you would be pleased to learn that Dera-Uma is offering members the Washoku Lovers Selection Set at a special price of $9.90 which includes the Toji-Chicken Katsu Bowl, a mini salad, miso soup and an Original Drink of your choice. A complete meal set and very good deal in my books! Don't have a Washoku Lovers membership yet? Head over to their website to sign up (it's free!) and receive great food and drink deals from participating Japanese restaurants.
Toji-Chicken Katsu ($7.50) - crumbed deep fried chicken, onion & shallot, cooked in 2 or 3 eggs on rice
As an added bonus for Washoku Lovers members, if you post about your experience at any participating restaurant and hashtag it to #ilovewahosku on Instagram or Facebook between now and the end of June, you could stand a chance to win something uniquely Japanese. For the month of April, the choice of prizes include a set of Japanese sake bottles and cups from Arita valued at $160, a $200 dinner voucher to a mystery Japanese restaurant, Kyokushin Karate lessons, skincare products by i-white, and Japanese nails at Tia Rouge. Prizes change every month - see Washoku Lovers Competition for more details on prizes and how to enter.
Washoku Lovers Selection ($9.90) - Original Drink, Toji-Chicken Katsu Bowl, Mini Salad and Miso Soup
If you're intending to take away, it is advisable that you consume your meal within 2 hours. You will need to place your order at least 2 hours prior to pick up if ordering more than 10 takeaways.
Enter the Washoku Competition to win great prizes!
Overall, the food at Dera-Uma is tasty and affordable, and service was friendly and fast. Though you can upsize most dishes from regular to large for just under $2, I would recommend going for a regular to start. The regular bowl may look small but the serving is actually quite generous and dishes are sauce-heavy so does fill you up. We will have to return to check out their intriguing Grilled Beef Hamburger Steak bowls!
Jono and I dined as guests at Dera-Uma with thanks to Yuri from SD Marketing Global and Washoku Lovers.
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