Looking for an izakaya and sake bar in Singapore?
Contemporary meets classic at Kakurega (The Lair), a dining hideaway in the vibrant Chinatown.
Eccentric in its décor with oodles of Japanese traditionality, Kakurega (The Lair) 隠れ家 promises a playful yet snuggly atmosphere, ideal for a relaxed evening packed with food, drinks, and plenty of merriment.
The 50-seater sake bar may have a modest entrance, but it boasts ample dining space spreading various levels.
You can also book one of their four private rooms for more privacy. They have two large ones that accommodate eight diners and two smaller ones for up to four guests.
Among bottles of sake, traditional art pieces, and Japanese fans, you can find on display a variety of colourful Bearbrick – some limited edition.
Like one in particular? Luckily, some are available for purchase (simply scan the QR code on their display to check for details).
However, the highlight of any visit is the restaurant’s classic Japanese menu, especially its charcoal-grilled yakitori.
So, enter the lair and commence your dining experience with an expansive menu featuring a repertoire of refreshing Zensai (starters), Kushi-Yaki (skewer), Sumi-Yaki (charcoal-grilled) items, Age-Mono (deep-fried) creations and Itame (sauté) dishes.
Here are some of Kakurega’s recommended items:
Hotate Mentai ($9.80)
Grilled just right, the Hotate Scallops were succulent with a light buttery taste. The torching on top further gave them a nice golden-brown colour without overcooking them.
The house-made mentaiko sauce, typically consisting of cod roe marinated in spices, elevated the flavours by adding a creamy somewhat spicy element to the dish.
Buta Bara ($3.80)
Pork belly skewered and grilled over a charcoal fire, the Buta Bara is a tender favourite with a street-food-like character.
The best parts about the Buta Bara were the slightly burnt ends and the pork belly’s smokiness that comes from slowly grilling the meat.
Gyu Tataki ($19.80)
One of the restaurants most popular’s item to go with sake, the Meltique beef (230g) is seared along the edges, marinated in soy sauce and mirin, and cut into thin slices.
(Meltique beef production involves removing all bones and excess fats, recreating meat that has consistent tenderness.)
Scallions and garlic chips give the meat with a slightly pink centre, a bit of punch and crunch.
Fugu Mirin Boshi ($15)
Food lovers with a penchant for the exotic should find the Fugu Mirin Boshi to their liking.
The sun-dried pufferfish (Fugu) is a world-famous adventurous Japanese eat, not readily available everywhere.
Raw pufferfish tends to be chewy, but when cooked ever-so-slightly, like in this case, it has a soft and pleasant texture – that may even remind some of bak-kwa.
At Kakurega, the chef gives an intense flavour to the subtleness of the fish by cooking it with premium rice wine, Mirin.
Kohitsuji Yaki ($30.80)
The Chargrilled Lamb Chops were a bit small in size and not exactly “gamey.” Still, they had this pastoral fatty juiciness, giving the dish a likeable meaty character.
My favourite bit was the chips that added a pungent garlicky crunch to every bite. In this case, I would have liked for the lamb to have a little less char that was giving the meat a tad burnt taste.
Ebi Mentai-Yaki ($9.80)
Grilled Prawns encapsulate the goodness of the sea with their tender flesh and salty-with-a-hint-of-sweet taste. Add to that the creaminess of Mentaiko (cod roe) sauce.
Tomato Risotto Croquette ($9.80 for 3 pc)
The Italians have their arancini (rice balls), whereas the Japanese love their Fried Tomato Risotto Croquettes.
Crunchy on the outside, with a nearly gooey interior, the croquettes are a bite-sized comforting snack that pairs well with any alcohol.
This Japanese-meets-European item may need some getting used to, as we are accustomed to have soft potato centres rather than risotto grains. If you prefer something more convention, there is a Creamy Crabcake Croquette ($9.80) version.
Kani-mi Tamago Yaki ($6.80)
The Tamagoyaki, a Japanese layered rectangular-shaped omelette is delicate and spongy.
Soft crabstick adds a spot of freshness and sweet taste to the dish. But it was the mentaiko sauce that gives the otherwise plainer sweet egg roll a noticeable savoury-spicy flavour.
Tatami Iwashi ($12.00)
The name Tatami Iwashi comes from the cross-sectional look of the grilled dried sardine sheets, which resemble Japanese tatami mats.
Crispy in composition, the sheets make for a light snack with a salty, somewhat sweet, and fishy taste, best enjoyed with sake.
Unguided Sake Experience at Kakurega ($67 per pax)
Kakurega at The Lair Singapore is having an Unguided Sake Experience at a special price of $67 per pax (promotion ends 20 September 2022). Get 50% off Unguided Sake Experience by purchasing this voucher today.
What you get are 5 Sakes and 5 Sides which includes:
– Sake: Yamagata Issyou Kofuku Junmai
– Food: Tomato Risotto Korokke (1pc)
– Sake: Hakkoujigoriki Junmai Ginjo
– Food: Kaki Fry (1pc)
– Sake: Kawatsuru Junmai Daiginjo
– Food: Sake Mentai-Yaki (2pcs)
– Sake: Born Ginsen
– Junmai Daiginjo
– Food: Hiyashi Tofu Salad
– Sake: Ohmine 3 Grain
– Pasteurized Yamadanishiki
– Food: Tako Wasabi
Kakurega also carries a selection of premium-grade sake, including Junmai Daiginjo, Daiginjo and Junmai Ginjo.
This curated collection of Japanese sakes is an opportunity to admire the sophisticated intricacies of the drink, the type that makes connoisseurs and casual drinkers shout Kanpai in glee.
Among the most notable from the selection is Junmai Daiginjo. Manufactured in minimal quantities, this is the highest grade of rice sake in Japan, often set aside by locals for special occasions.
The result is a smooth and delicately aromatic drink with complex notes. The sake goes well with lighter foods.
Kakurega (The Lair)
12 Smith Street, Singapore 058926
Tel: +65 6223 0102
Opening Hours: 6pm – 12am (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Unguided Sake Experience Voucher
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Kakurega.