Kamameshi 釜飯 refers to “kettle rice”, a type of traditional Japanese rice dish cooked with various types of meat, seafood, and vegetables in an iron pot called “kama”.
Many East Asian cultures have similar ways of preparing rice, such as Cantonese with claypot rice, and Koreans with Dolsot Bibimbap.
The kind of food you would want to have during cooler weathers, to keep your bellies contented.
I was quite excited when I heard of a new Kamameshi specialty restaurant, especially when it is an offshoot from Takayama at Downtown Gallery by Chef Taro Takayama.
Chef Takayama is formerly chef de cuisine at Mandarin Orchard Singapore, and began his career at 3-Michelin-starred restaurants Kashiwaya and Koryu in Osaka.
You get to experience signature favourites from his omakase menu offered ala carte, served in a more casual setting with a couple of private rooms.
The ambience at Takashimaya Shopping Centre did seem rather inviting and cosy at the same time, but looked like prices might be on the higher side. As I didn’t reserve, I waited for about an hour before getting a seat.
The Kamameshi Rice starts with $32 for a pot with Grilled Kinmedai Fish.
There are other options of Sea Urchin & Salmon Roe, Slow Cooked Abalone, Wagyu Beef, Lightly Salted Grilled Salmon & Salmon Roe, and Corn with seasonal vegetables, priced from $35 to $45 for a pot good for the individual.
They tell you “good things come to those who wait”.
Diners have to kill time for approximately 18 minutes while waiting for the Kamameshi to be cooked, and refrain from opening the lid before the fire is out.
I set my timer to 18 minutes, though the service-staff told me that I just needed to look out for the flame below to be extinguished. In the end, the stop-watch on the phone went on till about 27 minutes and I appeared slightly concerned.
Anyway, what do we do in between for 18 (or more) minutes? Look lost and awkward, scroll the phone aimlessly, or order more food.
There are other side items of Sashimi, Appetiser, Salad, Grilled & Simmered Items, and Tempura to order.
To be fair, dishes arrived fast and cups of tea (at $5++) were refilled frequently, so it did not feel too long a wait.
The Crispy Fried Chicken Karaage ($9) were juicy though a tad on the salty side; while the Assorted Tempura ($14) with tiger prawn and vegetable tempura were crisp and decent – perhaps of better quality than the average casual Japanese restaurant.
Moving on to the main star of Kamameshi, the pot was cooked using Japan’s Koshihikari rice with seasonal vegetables and specially prepared dashi stock.
Reviews had been pretty-mixed though, with some commented the rice tasted bland and portion surprisingly small for the price.
I did expect the rice to be more flavourful though, but it was overall hot and comforting with tender wagyu slices adding some smokiness and savouriness. There wasn’t any crisp rice bits at the bottom for my pot.
Some diners may find themselves having to mix in some of the soy sauce.
In a time when we always find ourselves rushing for meals, taking time to wait for rice to be cooked can make a comforting, communal meal.
Hanare by Takayama
391 Orchard Road #03-07, Takashimaya Shopping Centre Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238872
Opening Hours: 12pm – 10pm (Mon – Sun)