Kabuke – Truffled Gyudon And Tempura Unagi, At Hidden Japanese Sake Bar In Telok Ayer
Kabuke is a 50-seater Sake gastrobar, so named as it combines the art of kabuki and the wonders of Japanese Sake.
While located in the heart of Telok Ayer near Amoy Street Food Centre, the Japanese inspired bar may be slightly hard to find, located on the second floor of a heritage shophouse. Look out for My Awesome Café and Pantler.
It is opened by a group of friends with a common love for Japanese Sake, who came together wanting to marry the art of kabuki, Sake and good food.
Helming the the kitchen is Chef Rio formerly from Fat Cow and Kink Restaurant & Bar, also a finalist at the Japan’s World Washoku Challenge in 2015 and 2016; while Sake sommelier Keiji used to manage Bar Ippudo – the first Sake bar by the ramen chain.
Both times I went for lunch, which offered a Japanese rice bowl menu of Wagyu Bowl ($28),Wagyu Suki Bowl ($18), Miso Pork Bowl ($15) and Gyudon ($15) topped with onsen egg.
In an area proliferated with rice bowl shops big and small, Kabuke had a slightly disadvantage as it was located out of plain sight with a secret door, and the interior as done up dark bar style – still stylish though.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Gyudon ($15), which contained grain-fed striploin topped with onsen egg and garlic chips.
Some other Gyudon I tried elsewhere tasted like beef on rice with some sauce, and that was it.
These beef slices had succulent flavour and enough tenderness, made more pleasurable with addition of truffle shoyu which added that tinge of saltiness with subtle aroma.
On another occasion, I had the daily special which was the Unagi Tempura Bowl ($15). They should just make this dish permanent there.
The pieces were moderately crisp, while it was rested on steaming, soft fluffy rice, and I appreciated that.
Comforting and satisfying from start till end as the bowl stayed relatively warm throughout.
In addition, the unagi pieces didn’t have that strong fishy taste that I know some won’t fancy.
For dinner, the recommended dishes are the Baby Corn which is Chef Rio Neo’s personal favourite; Wagyu Tataki of pan-seared Striploin in Garlic Shoyu and Raspberry Reduction; Shiso Tempura with Hotate Tartare ($15); and deconstructed Takoyako Fries ($12) – a modern reinterpretation with diced Octopus, Ikura, Ebiko served atop a golden bed of shoe-string fries; and Crispy Goma Goma Wings ($12) of sesame flavoured wings served with egg mayo wasabi yuzu dip.
Some of the above are seasonal items and not listed at the menu. Check with staff for prices.
The under-the-radar of Kabuke could do with more publicity and stronger branding perhaps. It may give the impression that it is primary a Japanese sake bar, but actually the food is not to be ignored too.
200A Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068638 (Telok Ayer MRT Station)
Tel: +65 8822 5525
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2:00pm (Mon – Fri)
Dinner 5:00pm – 11:00pm (Mon – Fri), 5:00pm – 12:00am (Fri – Sat), Closed Sun
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