High-ended Japanese restaurant Ikyu (pronounced E-Q) has opened at Yong Siak Street in the Tiong Bahru ‘old estate’. You may be surprised – another one? There are already more than 20 F&B places there.
Since 40 Hands opened across the road just 2 years back in 2010, F&B outlets Open Door Policy ODP, SocialHaus, PoTeaTo, independent bookstore Books Actually and boutique Strangelets and Nana & Bird all set its foot on this short street. This is not counting PS Café opening at Guan Chuan Street, and Japanese bistro Abe’s Diner at Eng Hoon – just minutes walk away. (Read 5 Best Places For Cakes At Tiong Bahru)
Ikyu which means “take a break” and with a tagline “is the new sexy”, sells the usual Japanese basics such as sushi and sashimi, but with a contemporary fusion twist.
The 54-seater diner seems promising – décor is modern and service friendly, sometimes too friendly as different service staff came over to ask “Is everything okay, do you want to eat more?”
Executive Chef Takuma Seki (former chef-de Cuisine of Hide Yamamoto at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands) does not disappoint, from the aesthetically pleasing plating, to the use of fresh ingredients to create Japanese cuisines with French and Western influences.
Expect food to be pricey though.
I was urged by the service staff to order the Omakase ($128), which I was reluctant for the untried and untested. Instead I went for several of the starters such as Soft Shell Crab with Mexican Salsa Sauce ($12.50) and Assorted Wrapped Pork ($15.50) and Yuba Uni ($10.00) which were delicate, definitely above average and creative.
The fish is said to be supplied from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, therefore the price of $48.50 for 5 pieces and $28.50 for 5 kinds of Nigiri. (I was promised 5 pairs by the waitress but landed up with 5 pieces. Consider her new.)
Unfortunately, the sushi did not taste anything close to those I had in Tsukiji. While it was certainly a step above those served at the conveyor belts, the sushi did not have a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.
The signature dessert, a Sho Cheesecake ($8.50), is a classic example on how the chefs could work several ingredients together, being light, fresh, pretty and delicately smooth.
In summary, good to look at and delicious, but pricey and small-portioned. My bill came up to above a hundred for a supposedly light un-filling dinner.
It won’t be long before the hipster crowd at Tiong Bahru throngs the new addition to the estate. Ikyu’s challenge is to really be on par, if not better the standards of medium-high end restaurants for it to survive in this increasingly competitive area.