The Place Opened last month along Neil Road, I checked out the new Mod-Jap restaurant IKO Restaurant and Bar along 65 Neil Road. An abbreviation for ‘let’s go’ in Japanese, the contemporary 55-seater Japanese restaurant is decked in dark hues with concrete walls and cool black and grey steel frames, where the dining setting is casual.
The Food Expect contemporary Japanese creations and Robata-grilled bites, as well as a wide collection of sake and Japanese-inspired cocktails.
The kitchen is helmed by Singaporean chef Jeremmy Chiam (previously of Le Binchotan), with the menu presented in six categories; Raw, Cold, Small, Robata, Rice and Noodles, and Sweet. The restaurant also offers a compact lunch menu, comprising a selection of Cold and Small dishes along with Zosui; traditional Japanese rice soup served in clay pot.
For a start, I had the Uni (S$28), purple cauliflower pudding simmered in dashi broth with a layer of homemade dashi jelly made with a combination of kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). The icing on the cake is definitely the luscious Bafun Uni, which adds to the creaminess of the dish.
Next up was the Somen (S$29), a pink ume-infused Japanese noodle served in a light bisque foam; along with green chive oil and shiso oil, two torched botan ebi, ikura, and purple viola flowers.
The Tai “Crudo” (S$23) dish is fresh Tai (Japanese red snapper) cured with salt and sugar, served with a citrusy sauce made from ponzu, sudachi zest and shoyu.
Eggplant lovers will like the Burnt Aubergine (S$12), where the charred eggplant is tossed in sesame yoghurt sauce. There is also the added nuttiness from the addition of wild rice, toasted white sesame, La-Yu oil and shichimi goma.
Another dish good to share is the Asari (S$18), a bowl of clams cooked in sake broth and dashi with enoki and butter.
The Robata section of the menu comprises of seafood and meats that are chargrilled over binchotan. I like the Iberico Pluma (S$36), a glistening slab of pork loin served atop a bed of house-made carrot puree and raisin. Pluma refers to the special cut taken from the neck end of pork loin. There is a nice char to the meat, and it is very flavourful.
Don’t skip the Angus Short Ribs (S$38) as well, where the beef is lightly charred on the Robata, then drizzled with port wine jus and garlic confit. Very succulent and flavourful beef here, and I took consolation that it is as good as the pork dish.
A lightly meat option is the Japanese Black Cod (S$38) which comprises a thick fillet cured in saikyo miso for up to 72 hours, then grilled.
For carbs, there is the vegan-friendly Mushroom Donabe (S$30), which spots an aromatic truffle whiff. It is a huge serving of Japanese rice cooked in shiitake broth with fresh shimeji and king oyster mushroom, served with black truffle paste.
For dessert, I had the 74% Dark Chocolate (S$18), a combination of dark chocolate cremeux, raspberry white chocolate meringue, beetroot jelly and freeze-dried yogurt bits, served atop crushed caramelised hazelnut. I enjoyed this dessert as it is not too sweet, and is a good balance to the flavour profile of the savoury dishes I had.
Rants Relatively dim dining lighting, with some bits of neon element which may not appeal to some.
Will I Return Again? For me, the meats are the highlights of IKO. This restaurant is ideal for a casual date night, or small group gatherings where you can afford to try more dishes.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 43.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
IKO Restaurant and Bar
65 Neil Road
Tel: +65 8866 5218
Monday to Saturday: 11:30am to 2:30pm; 6:00pm to 10:30pm
Closed on Sundays
Ranted by The Ranter