October 6, 2015
For those of you who have already indulged in a spot of fine dining Japanese style at Ki-Sho, you’ll be pleased to hear that the team have expanded their offering to include a sake and omakase bar – Kakure – nestled within the very same building on Scotts Road. Irrespective of which you choose to visit, the chefs remain the same so a gastronomic feast is pretty certain.
However, what sets Kakure @Ki-Sho apart is the extensive and seemingly endless supply of unique, artisanal sake. With my curiosity piqued, I couldn’t wait to check out this hidden gem.
Our welcome to Kakure was warm and friendly and I found myself swiftly guided upstairs to the bar. The team have created a discreet and intimate space, with enough seating for no more than 15 people (private rooms are also available). Dark wood furnishings, vintage style cabinets and muted lighting all add to the atmosphere.
Omakase here begins from $88++ but final cost depends on the number of courses and ingredients used. The accommodating team will seek our your preferences prior to service beginning, as well as checking for dietary preferences and allergies. Sake-pairing will of course increase price further in the $150 – $250 range.
Though pricey, if you’re going all out I’d highly recommend choosing the sake pairing option as well. A special mention is needed here for our excellent sake sommelier, Makoto Iwabuchi. Knowledgeable and passionate, his pairing choices were unique and intelligent. He patiently guided us through each course, answered all of our incessant questions and kept us generously topped up at all times.
Once settled comfortably at the bar, the dishes started flowing at a nice pace. Here’s the lowdown on our 6 course omakase.
The chef whetted our appetite with a trio of pickles, yam with wasabi, radish with yuzu and seaweed with garlic and chilli. Each one was delicious in it’s own right, as well as fulfilling their plate cleansing role between courses. My favourite was the radish – crisp, subtle in flavour and refreshing.
Baigai (Japanese sea snails) and Tasmanian salmon smoked in-house
Sake pairing – Tatenokawa Junmai Daiginjo, Nakadori Ki-sho Label ($438++ per bottle. Polish rate 18%. From Yamagata)
Having never tried baigai I wasn’t sure what to expect, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The snails were fresh, sweet and and a little salty. Garnished simply with a shiso leaf this was a bold and tasty way to begin. Accompanying the Baigai were several slices of thickly cut salmon. The smoke on the fish was quite mild and did not overpower the flavour of the salmon itself. Combined, these two dishes made for a light and fresh start.
The sake paired with the first course was served in a wine glass at room temperature. It was clean and mellow to drink, and possessed a unique floral taste. It had real depth of flavour which was intensified by the fish and baigai. An elegant sake and truly delicious.
Kohada Tempura – gizzard shad wrapped in shiso leaf
Sake pairing – Masuizumi Daiginjo Kotobuki ($208++ per bottle. Polish rate 40%. From Toyama)
Our second course was a small piece of gizzard shad, delicately wrapped in a shiso leaf and fried in a tempura batter. This might be a small fish but what it lacks in size it makes up for in flavour – it’s strong, savoury, rich and salty. The tempura was delicate and coated the fish well. The crispy bite it created contrasted well with the softness of the fish inside. However, for me the oiliness of the fish combined with tempura left a finish that was just a little too greasy for my liking.
Echoing the first sake, our Masuizumi Daiginjo Kotobuki was also served at room temperature in a wine glass. Much drier than the first pairing, it was the perfect choice to balance the strength and oiliness of the gizzard shad. It’s crisp, fresh and ever so slightly acidic. Yet another incredible sake.
Sanma Kimo Teriyaki – or grilled Pacific saury fish
Sake pairing – Suminoe Gentei Junmai Nakagumi ($98++ per bottle. Polish rate 60%. From Miyagi)
A fillet of beautifully cut pacific saury was presented as our third course, a simple yet well executed dish. The fish was cooked perfectly, it was soft and had a slightly charred skin. One for true lovers of seafood as it possessed a strong, pungent flavour reminiscent of cod liver oil. It’s not a personal favourite of mine, but the chef had done well to showcase the unique flavour of this fish.
By this point we were feeling thoroughly spoilt by our sake pairings, and the third choice did not disappoint. With a sweet yet slightly bitter profile, it cut through the richness of the Pacific saury and worked well with this course.
Tai tan with daikon, tofu and red radish (traditional Kyoto-style simmered dish)
Sake pairing – Harukasumi Aka Label Junmai Muroka Nama ($105++ per bottle. Polish rate 60%. From Akita)
I should probably admit up front that I am not a fan of tofu, irrespective of how it’s cooked or presented. I just don’t get it. Therefore, from the moment this dish was set down in front of me, it was fighting a losing battle. That said, as tofu goes this dish almost converted me – almost, but not quite.
Thankfully the tofu was fried providing a more interesting texture and once combined with the daikon, red radish and spring onion it was actually a fresh, crunchy and well seasoned mouthful. Though I think the majority of that compliment can be attributed to the rest of the ingredients on the plate. Tofu lovers I’m sure will enjoy, but not a personal highlight for me.
The sake served with this dish really worked well in yet another perfect pairing. It managed to bring out each individual flavour on the plate and in particular the spring onions tasted incredible after each sip. Served warm and with a smooth finish, it was dangerously easy to drink.
Buta Kakuni (Shoyu braised pork belly)
Sake pairing – Gangi Junmai Daiginjo Muroka Nama Genshu Yunagi ($138++ per bottle. Polish rate 50%. From Yamaguchi)
This glorious piece of pork belly was my favourite course of our omakase feast. The pork was tender and sweet with a thick layer of gelatinous fat that melted in the mouth. A smear of pungent, suitably hot mustard cut through any richness and was a genius accompaniment. Sublime. The fruity sharpness of the sake pairing also worked incredibly well with this rich dish.
Cha soba with Hokkaido salmon roe
Sake pairing – Tensei Fuuro Honjozo ($88++ per bottle. Polish rate 60%. From Kanagawa)
Our final dish was a bowl of soba served chilled. The broth was cool and crisp while the salmon roe added a rich salty burst of flavour with each mouthful. We slurped this down with gusto; a great note to end on.
Our final sake pairing was a really interesting choice. Drunk alone, it was strong and lacking depth of flavour – it really just tasted like alcoholic water. However it completely transformed when drunk directly after the cha soba, it took on a whole new flavour profile and character. It became smoother, cleaner, easy to drink and lacking any alcoholic burn. It was the perfect palate cleanser to round off the evening.
There are lots of things to like about Kakure. The chefs create refined dishes minus any faddy pomp. Produce is allowed to speak for itself and, though it was not all to my particular taste, I applaud the simplicity of each course we were served. The bar itself is intimate and classy, without crossing the fine line in to being pretentious.
Above all else however, it is the sake that makes this place special. Whilst it’s a little pricey (since it’s a Japanese fine dining restaurant) if sake isn’t your poison of choice, in my view the experience is worth every penny and I left with a new found appreciation for the stuff. If on the other hand you’re a sake aficionado, I suggest you add Kakure to your ‘to do’ list immediately.
Damage: $88 – $200 + per pax
Ki-Sho (Kakure): 29 Scotts Road, Singapore, 228224 | Tel: (+65) 6733 5251
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 6:30pm – 10:30pm / Sunday closed / Last food orders at 9.30pm