ito-kacho, town

really good, really really good japanese grill-it-yourself hidden away in the mandarin gallery – which has a surprising number of decent restaurants (note to self: go back and have a look). my parents first came here on their silver wedding anniversary – gosh! – and were so enthralled with the food they brought us along the next week, and for very good reason. for all you fans of marbled, fatty beef, this is your place.

the prices here are on the steep side: you pay for the quality of the meat – it comes appetizingly dark, sliced just precisely so – for the great service and the quiet ambience for the restaurant, but it’s easily justifiable – just create find an occasion to come.


at the heart of it – it’s a simple concept beautifully done. you choose your cuts of meat – they have a wide range, with different types of marbling determining how exorbitant your meal – decide between the marinated or au naturel, and then cook it to a tender slab on the gas grill. the menu does include more-pedestrian offerings such as rice options and tempura which help round out the meal – which I think is a really nice thing. sometimes specialty restaurants choose to focus very narrowly in showcasing their quality and skill, which leaves me a little wanting for a little diversion – but I was a happy camper here.

there is remarkably little to say about very good food cooked well – especially when much of the cooking is done yourself – but the meat held up beautifully. I like it medium rare, which gave it an incredibly beefy wholeness, and even done at medium well (I apologize for my sister – she’s learning), it was tender and very juicy. I personally enjoy the leaner cuts of meat – so it was great that they offered it – but I have to mention the marinated pieces that came in this rather adorable earthenware jar. the marinade lent itself to a little more char and even more flavour – very nice. there was also a little hidden prize at the bottom in the form of a slice of onion – you really ought to place it on the grill till it gets soft and sweet.

we bulked out the meal with rice – both plain and a special one with mentaiko for the sis – as well as tempura, slabs of tamago, an egg soup (this is the one dish I think we might not get again for its plainness), and a lightly-dressed salad to help with palate-refreshing. all decent renditions, though not quite as spectacular as the beef – but that’s perfectly alright, since it would have been a little tiring for the senses to have been titillated to that level by everything.

I mentioned that prices are high, but I think also that these would be considered competitive (and dare I say, below expectation) for such skill and quality. service is both sincere and enthusiastic: they were always on hand to change the grills, offered recommendations and took feedback. I feel it’s more an occasion restaurant – it’s a little heavy-going in flavor for too-regular visits – but the cosy atmosphere, its rarefied quietness and flavours keep us fabricating reasons to return.

333A Orchard Road
Mandarin Gallery #04-08
Singapore 238897
tel +65 6836 0111

11 thoughts on “ito-kacho, town

  1. Korean BBQ is quite popular here in New Zealand, but I’ve never seen a Japanese version. Gorgeous photos. Restaurant lighting is notoriously bad for photography. What lens do you use?

    • the japanese version is also less common here than the korean – and usually much more expensive!

      I’m usually on a 14mm f2.5, but I think the biggest difference is my family has gotten used to me whacking a tripod out for photos – I like the longer exposures :D

      • I don’t ask before, but I’m pretty open about it (especially difficult to hide with a tripod), and stop when they ask! I think there’s a culture in asia for food photography so restaurants are pretty kind.

        is it unusual to take photos of food where you are?

        also – I’ve been thinking a long time about getting a 35mm for a while. you must be on a dslr?

      • It’s fairly unusual to take photos of food when you’re out. Not unheard of, but enough for me to feel a bit embarrassed if I want to. I will never forget when I was in a restaurant in Malaysia last year and taking photos of my food, I looked up and there were even bigger cameras at every other table in the restaurant. I felt like I was home.

        I love my 35mm and it hardly ever comes off. I used to have a 50mm but found it was much too close for my cropped camera. I use a Nikon D3000. I’ve probably outgrown it, but it still works so I’ll keep using it until it dies on me.

      • I hold sentimental value to my camera too – I recently upgraded the body and felt like such a sad mum when I sold the old one off. asia is a fantastic playground for food photography (my favourite type!)

  2. I read previous comments. I also have some hassle for ask permission to take photo inside cafe or when try to photographing inside cafe with low light without attract suspicious.
    There less restriction for use camera in Asia than in Australia or Europe. Nobody yelled to me when I use my camera.
    Nice detail shots.

      • No worry. It was my experience when I took shot my lunch in one of cafe in Melbourne. The waiter just mistook my intention and approached me due he felt I would disturb other customer. I told him I was just a tourist and he satisfied with my explanation. Weird enough, I was looking around later and cannot spotted any no photography sign in the cafe. They are more concern about people privacy instead the food.

        I prefer use my iPhone when I took shot inside cafe today.

      • I think that food photography must be pretty unusual there, so they didn’t think of the need for a no-photography sign. at least you didn’t get yelled at!

        that phone camera is a neat workaround!

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