After taking a break with a very satisfying Omakase lunch at Ikyu Japanese Restaurant, I was certainly keen to get started writing this article and sharing the delights of the meal with everyone. The 11-course Omakase meal features a glimpse of Executive Chef Takuma Seki’s (formerly Chef de Cuisine at Marina Bay Sands’ Hide Yamamoto Japanese Restaurant) ingenuity on bridging quality ingredients at reasonable prices. With traditional delights like Chutoro, Uni, Miyazaki Wagyu Grade A4 appearing on my menu, I was certainly pleased by the range of ingredients harmonised together for a unique experience that is certainly different from the regular. And with this course appearing for an attractive price of $138++, I am definitely seduced for a return visit.
In Japanese, Ikyu means to “take a break”. It is an ideal that Chef Seki wishes his diners to have, where each meal gives rise to pause and a chance to appreciate. Beyond that, it also reflects the restaurant’s philosophy of balancing dishes between the domains of complexity and simplicity. By marrying ingredients together, new flavours are formed, shaping the start of excellent dishes to come.
The lunch begin with a serving of Grilled Truffle Edamame. Grilled over an open fire and later glazed with salt and truffle oil, this was my first time enjoying a portion of young soybeans that go further in its flavour index. Already with a hearty and robust flavour on its own, the edamame is taken to the next level with the fragrant scent of truffle delicately enveloping the stronger smoky fragrance immersed throughout each bean. Excellent.
I then moved on to an appetizer mixture. For this plate, there was the Fatty Tuna Grilled with Citrus Sauce, the Clam Steamed with Sake and served with Liver Paste, and the Shishamo Roe topped with Mayonnaise. Each portion of tuna was fatty and crisp, nicely complemented with a slight charred fragrance. I particularly enjoyed the zesty citrus essence well infused within the tuna. It lightened the fatty flavours up a notch, while providing an flavourful intensity that certainly opens up the appetite.
The Shishamo Roe topped with Mayonnaise is a simple crowd pleaser that gives good texture and satisfaction. Each crunch is almost a delight to hear, only to be followed by bursts of savoury salty intensities from each egg that adds more to the experience. The clam steamed with sake and served with liver paste was a unique side that will appeal to some. While the steamed clams with sake was good, not all may appreciate the more darker looking liver paste that is pureed and served by the side.
The Sashimi Platter for the day was just as unique. On the plate there were portions of Chutoro, Shima Aji, Aburi Hokkaido Hotate and a slice of Live Tako topped with Uni and Ikura. Put it simply, I was well impressed by the freshness and quality of ingredient placed on the plate. The Chutoro was crisp, buttery and tender, nicely complemented with the distinctly sweet Hokkaido scallops that easily gives way in the mouth. The Shima Aji was firm, fresh and sweet but the main attention has to go to the live octopus that was a marvel in both texture and flavour. The octopus was soft and a touch chewy, but very nicely paired with the side of sea urchin. The sole salmon roe was a teaser, and it would definitely be much more exciting if perhaps another egg was served.
Next up, I was served the Fried Halibut steamed with Oyster and wrapped in Shiso Leaf, topped with yam and ikura. It was a unique experience but certainly not one to my liking. While the fried halibut can be appreciated by some, I found the overall flavour profile to be a touch too salty, especially with the bursts of salmon roe simply accentuating the already flavourful gravy. Still, I would call this dish comfort food, and it might be good with gohan on a cold, rainy day.
Those who know Wagyu will appreciate Ikyu’s serving of Miyazaki Wagyu Grade A4 for this upcoming item. Each portion of meat is lightly grilled and seasoned with a sprinkle of pepper, thereafter served with ponzu sauce as a side dip. Grade A4 seems to be an excellent choice for both its quality, serving style and the entire meal’s price point. Nicely marbled yet not overly fatty, the beef retained a firm bite, accentuated with a crisp crunch within each serve. I thought that the beef was excellent on its own, but the side of homemade ponzu sauce was just as good as it lended a tangy ascent to the overall flavour.
Pair the wagyu with slivers of leek and toasted garlic.
It has been some time since I had good sushi prepared by hand, and topped with ingredients that goes nicely with the sweet vinegared rice. First, I had the Hamachi Belly Nigiri Sushi. This melt in the mouth delight was almost too good to be true. The buttery smoothness of this yellowtail was an excellent start and the slightly warm sushi rice was just as satisfying.
I was also just as impressed with this combination of Akami (lean tuna) sushi marinated with shoyu, sake and ginger juice. It is a very refreshing experience through and through. Slightly tangy, with a mild spice permeating throughout, I thought that the marinade brought out the essence of tuna in a deep, complex manner that is well worth the attention.
The creme de la creme for this sushi course has to go to the Ginmedai, slightly aburied and topped with a pinch of freshly grated wasabi and sprinkled with some yuzu pepper. This portion of snapper was divine, with a meaty and luxurious texture that demands every moment to savour. While the other sushi were excellent, this was a fitting end.
Ah but I was mistaken as the chef then prepared a portion of Kaisen don. This serving features Koshihikari rice topped with minced tuna, sea urchin, salmon skin, tempura crisps, ikura and finally topped with some grated wasabi husk. This was a wonderful play on textures and flavours that ranged from the sea ‘butter’ to the salty to the complex savoury. I loved this and will come back for more!
To slowly round up the meal, Chef then whipped up a dish of Miso soup topped with Sakura ebi. While the miso soup itself was already fragrant and flavourful, the Sakura Ebi lended texture and deeper savoury flavours that provided body to the entire dish. I thought this was a very satisfying way to easy myself into understanding that the meal was coming to an end.
For dessert, I enjoyed a portion of Hokkaido Melon Ice Cream served alongside Fresh Fruit, and a portion of Japanese Mango and Sauce. Although I seemed to find my experiences with Hokkaido Melon Ice Cream as a little too sweet for my sweet tooth, this pairing with fruits and a tangy sweet mango sauce nicely balanced out the entire composition.
The restaurant also wanted me to try their specialty SHOCHU Cheese Cake that is available on their a la carte menu. Priced at $15++ a portion (tasting portion depicted), this was a marvelous slice of cheese cake that carried a texture that was almost like firm tofu. Mildly flavoured and then spruced up with bits of raisin and the biscuit base, this was one of the best cheese cakes I’ve had in some time. An excellent recommendation. And if you are wondering, yes this cheese cake is made with Shochu.
The restaurant also serves a unique range of sake specially curated by Chef Seki.
During the set lunches, guests can opt for a sample serving of three different kinds of sake (lineup changes seasonally) for an additional $18++. A very good experience if you wondered how different sakes actually taste when placed alongside each other.
The Sake Bar
Sitting at the counter provided a unique window into the team of chefs working their magic.
In all, Ikyu Japanese Restaurant’s $138++ Omakase menu is well worth the price and experience. There is a good variety of quality ingredients presented, each with their own special touch that make the dish unique in their own way. Although the presentation and plating was kept simple with one or two dishes missing the mark along the way, I must say that the general experience was still excellent. Ikyu also serves up some reasonably priced set lunches that offer a glimpse into what Chef Seki and his team can prepare. Having that with some sake or Japanese whisky and I believe that that meal experience will be one worth remembering. I look forward to making a return visit, and perhaps be surprised with another range of the Chef’s ingenuity and creation.
Thank you Ikyu for the invitation.
|5 Yong Siak Street|
Reservations: 6223 9003
11.30am – 2.30pm
6pm – 10.30pm
Closed on MondaysNearest MRT Station: Tiong Bahru
Omakase Meal: $138++ per pax. Dishes are not fixed and are set to what the chef wants to present based on the ingredients available.