ikyu, tiong bahru

quite pricey, but also rather homely japanese dining in hipster tiong bahru – those two characteristics seem incongrous, but the restaurant manages to feel both a little exclusive and quite familial.

as with most upscale japanese restaurants, the lunch set makes for the most value – and unlike most upscale japanese restaurants, this place extends that offer even on the weekends. how good is that?

and because I was there for lunch – admittedly much less expensive than their regular à la carte menu – I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to say that the food is pretty much just about okay. it’s not particularly overwhelming or special, but the atmosphere makes it a good place for a meal to catch up with friends.

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much of the upscaleness of the place can be attributed to its dark interior, which indicates that this place caters more to dinner than lunch, and its modern and nondescript exterior. it’s a slim, long restaurant, so reservations are recommended, and you get seated quickly upon entering (the small space means there’s not much room for people to manoeuvre if you’re loitering about).

we started with two appetisers: two small grilled mentaiko (marinated roe), which were rich and quite flavourful, if a bit dry; and a crispy spider roll of soft shell crab sushi dipped in pretty pale-yellow fish roe. both quite tasty, but I would rather the rolls from sushi tei (nothing much has ever come close to the balance of flavors I get there).


and of course we all got the lunch sets, two of the grilled seasonal fish (this was a white fish collar), and one bara chirashi.

their grilling prowess is apparent in the crispy, slightly charred skin of the fish, and the oily, tender, flakey insides – very good with rice – and I heard no complains with the raw fish either, which was generous with the fish cubes and roe.

the set comes with both appetizer and dessert, the latter of which were jelly cups topped with a bit of fruit and cream. quite unexceptional, and good only as a palate cleanser (and a refreshing one, if you abstain from the cream as I did).

it’s definitely good value for this sort of restaurant, and perhaps one of the best options in the area. but singapore is rife with japanese restaurants, and even our mid-range options like akashi and sushi tei serve up pretty good meals – I’d treat this as just another option for lunch, rather than a must-visit.

perhaps they save their stellarness for dinner?

IKYU
5 Yong Siak Street
Singapore 168643
tel +65 6223 9003
$$.5: 30ish at lunchtime (with the set)

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