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Flanked by a pair of akachochin (red lanterns typical of izakayas in Japan), Kokonoka Ryori’s bright storefront sticks out amid the gloom of a dingy kopitiam on North Bridge Road. It serves yakitori, not exactly a common dish found in coffee shops. “It’s something different compared to the bento meals you’d easily find in a kopitiam. We noticed that a lot of uncles like to sit at kopitiams and drink beers in the evening – we wanted to give them some small bites to eat while drinking,” one of its co-owners, Stephen Lau (middle) explains. 

Yakitori, which translates to grilled chicken in Japanese, often refers to grilled meat-on-a-stick sprinkled simply with salt or glazed in salty-sweet sauce. This hawker version is set up by three pals from Sarawak, Malaysia. Lim Sii Xu (far left) and Lai Yiew Jian (extreme right) have been cooking since they relocated to Singapore in 2008. They man the stall daily, while Stephen (middle) helps with backend work. Expect meat and veggie skewers cooked over a gas-powered grill to order, as well as heartier sharing plates.

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