The Place Have you ever returned from a country known for its local fare, and just knew in your bones that you would never ever find that same authentic, local, real cuisine you tasted from that country you visited and all such imitations in Singapore are just sad diluted copies? That was slightly how I felt returning from Japan and heading towards a Japanese restaurant. Heart thumping as I walked outside Suntec City Tower 3 towards KURO Izakaya, and sat in the dim interior lit by well-designed lanterns reminiscent of the streets of Kyoto. Stoneware sourced from Japan; Japanese whiskey galore; matt black textured bar – aesthetic elements all checked, I anticipated the food that was to come.
The Food Are you a fan of black pork? Are you a believer of onsen eggs? Do you secretly love carbs while publicly denouncing it? If yes for any two of the above, book a trip to this establishment stat.
The starters come in a variety of Small Plates, and my favourite was indisputably the Onsen Tamago (S$12). It is served in a martini glass; and the onsen egg is superbly balanced in its light creaminess with the soft spike of ikura, the surprising musty pungence of wasabi, and the neutral crunchy bite of the Shiratake noodles. A definite craft in the choice of flavours to suit the local palatte where we are more used to savoury, strong tastes; you would not find such assertive (but complementing) myriad flavours in the same dish for local Japanese fare. A must try.
Other Small Plates (rejoice in the embrace of technology; patrons order their dishes through the iPads placed at every table) offer a range of dishes including Kaki Yaki (S$15 for a serving of 3) Grilled Pacific Oyster with Mentaiko Gratinate. I remember with fondness – and some guilt – my days spent lavishing over various Omakase dinners, and the fresh raw oysters I devoured at great cost. This dish is unique because it is slathered with torched mentaiko dressing and becomes a much more beer-friendly dish than the usual wine companion we know oysters to be. A worthy interpretation of a crowd favourite.
Dining with friends? Then you must get the Tako Karaage (S$12) because fried octopus with mayo. Just order it. Unless you’re dining alone, then order it and don’t Uber home; run home as cardio.
For mains, we had Wagyu Beef (S$38), Grilled A3 Wagyu with Momotaro Tomato, served with Lava sea salt and fried garlic. We have to say here, the beef slices go oh-so-well with the tomato which is sweet, soft, and refreshing. Japanese cuisine fans will know that Momotaro Tomatoes are premium; KURO Izakaya also sells them as separate ingredients, so home chefs can create this delectable taste too!
The next main was Gindara (S$18). Now, how do I describe my love affair with cod? Let’s just say we met a bit later in life but it was a magical love at first sight and will last well into old age. KURO Izakaya plates this char-grilled black cod fillet that is marinated with mirin, and it is a minimal dish. You know how the best things in life are simple? This is good, it’s simple, get it.
Of course, what would an izakaya be without its grilled meats? The Kuro Kushiyaki Platter (S$36 for 12 skewers of 6 types) is good for sharing. They include scallops, two types of mushrooms, pork, chicken, and chicken skin. Now this is where my view may differ from yours; while the savoury punch makes most of the skewers pretty tasty bites, the uniformity in the salty flavor and the high price tag made this dish a little less appealing to me. Perhaps it’s the lingering memories of the street grills of Japan, but somehow dishing out such a hefty sum for this does not sit well. I am not a fan of this one.
Just like at a Chinese wedding dinner, we ended our evening’s savoury spoils with KURO Fried Rice (S$12). This is where your new year diet plan gets tricky; this serving of fried rice comes with pulled pork belly and furikake, and it is huge. And by huge, I mean huge, not the “yuge” you’ve been hearing elsewhere. This is the same serving of rice your relatives would have you eat at Chinese New Year dinners. Yes, that big. Share it. Get it. Eat it. You will not regret it. (Just run a lot after)
My middle name is Dessert Fiend – all of the gluttony, none of the class – so I rubbed my hands in guilty pleasure when presented with two desserts (I pretended to share with The Rantee but really I devoured it). Green Tea Tiramisu (S$10) is a mousse interpretation of the age-old green tea flavor, which was…a reasonable perspective but not that memorable for me. Melon Ice Cream (S$8), on the other hand, was the perfect end for a dinner because of its rich flavor and light texture. The Yubari melon flavor coats the tongue so well, giving it a refreshing end even as it melts rapidly to cool the throat.
Rants The prices of some dishes are simply not worth it.
Will I Return Again? While there were plenty of hits throughout the meal, I would say some rough edges would still need to be worked on for the curation of dishes. There are definitely some golden spots though; go for the onsen egg and the black cod, and round off your meal with the melon ice cream no matter what you eat. We won’t tell anyone you ordered the fried rice too.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
3 Temasek Boulevard #01-604/605
Suntec City Tower 3
Tel: +65 6235 1066
Monday to Thursday: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 5pm to 10pm
Friday: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 5pm to 11pm
Saturday: 12pm to 2.30pm; 5pm to 10pm
Closed on Sundays
Ranted by the RanBee (yes, I am finally back)