ikoi japanese restaurant, town

amazing japanese spread at the miramar hotel. the hotel is run-down, and really looks rather dodgy from the outside, but this gem of a japanese restaurant pulls in a huge clientele (who you can usually see hanging out around the lobby and outside the hotel) with its affordable (and worthwhile) prices and frankly good food.

I wouldn’t say this is amazingly authentic, or innovative, or the best japanese food I’ve ever had. it, however, is most certainly one of the best deals in singapore for its wide range and quick service, as well as the freshness of the food food served. I’ve taken loads of photos (as you can probably see) but that is barely half the menu. there are two sittings made for dinner (if I’m not wrong), one at 6pm and the next one at 8pm. we took the six o’clock one, but by the time we got there the restaurant was already packed with people. we were rather squashed into a small table, five of us in a space meant for four, and so it was a tight squeeze, but since the food was good and service prompt, it was a small complaint in what was otherwise a great dinner.

it’ll take too much time to go through everything that we had (especially since most of the photos are up there), but the real gem here is the sashimi. fresh and sweet and tasty and everything that you really need raw fish to be, we had multiple servings of all the fish available and enjoyed it immensely. sushi isn’t really their strong point – usually a little too cold and stodgy, and a little haphazardly composed. good as a stomach filler (not that you really it to be).

the tempura comes in a rather wide variety of ingredients, from the usual large prawns – very good, to the more esoteric vegetable choices like lotus root and pumpkin. we liked all these – the tempura was usually well fried though occasionally the plates would come greasy, usually a result of the oil being at a too-low temperature. I think this might be because of the large number of tables and people they had squeezed into the restaurant, resulting in a large number of orders being thrown into the pot at a time. still pretty good though.

the salads and crudites were a good refresher throughout the meal – have you ever noticed that japanese food is quite strangely devoid of vegetables despite its status as relatively healthy food? these were served raw with a tangy salad dressing or miso on the side; I liked these. the stir-fried dishes on the other hand were more mediocre – not great choices.

just to finish, the dobinmushi (or soup in a pot) was refreshingly savoury, and the grilled dishes pretty decent. we had a lovely old lady as our server, and she was unobtrusive and very polite, and would chase up our dishes before we asked – just to show that great service truly makes a meal more memorable.

it was a great meal in all; at less than $45 per person, this was very very good. you seldom get such a great spread with these many good dishes, and even though it’s really cramped, it’s an ala-carte buffet which means you don’t have to get up and mingle with the other diners. have a try at this if you can get reservations, which are usually required at least a week in advance!

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