5 Yong Siak Street
6223 9003 | ikyu.com.sg
Takuma Seki is the ultimate showman; just as comfortable at the sushi counter as he is with a microphone in hand at a karaoke bar. He admits his husky voice is the result of too many hours’ singing the previous night, but amuses us with his energy and humour as we perch on high metal stools at the Ikyu counter, savouring his delectable food.
Ikyu has found an appropriate home in the hip Tiong Bahru neighbourhood. The industrial fit-out is the polar opposite of a stereotypical Japanese restaurant. There is not a kimono in sight, rather, exposed lightbulbs and concrete; however, the traditionally enthusiastic irrashaimase greeting remains.
Best known in Singapore for his time at the high-end Hide Yamamoto in Marina Bay Sands, Seki-san has 20 years’ experience in restaurants in the US, France and his native Japan. An artist at work, single-minded in his pursuit of perfection, comes to mind as we watch him create sushi and sashimi.
We put ourselves in his hands and sample everything he dishes up. Grilled edamame (soya beans) flavoured with truffle and Momotaro tomato carpaccio ($8.50 each) show he does not need to tinker too much with Mother Nature; the ingredients are already perfect. Indeed, their quality shines through and he delights in telling us where each one come from.
Succulent, melt-in-the-mouth Kagoshima Wagyu sirloin ($68.50) is char-grilled and served with homemade ponzu sauce. The jumbo shrimp tempura ($16.50), a succulent prawn wrapped in a mountain of crunchy shredded potato and dipped in miso dipping sauce, is satisfying, as is the fried blowfish ($16.50). Delicate nigirisushi (from $8.50) of flounder, tuna and unagi (eel) are topped with the subtle flavour of freshly grated wasabi (it’s now hard to face the version in a tube). All this is washed down with cold Sapporo beer and Prosecco ($8 each during happy hour), or take your pick of a range of sake from the length and breadth of Japan (from $13).
Seki-san insists we finish with a seasonal fruit platter ($15), and I’m glad we do. The rockmelon, sourced from Hokkaido, is the best I’ve ever tasted. But I’ll be back soon for the crispy hot salmon roll.
Must-try dish: Char-grilled Kagoshima Wagyu sirloin served with a homemade ponzu sauce