Naga-Imo: Foie Gras With Japanese Yam Tofu & Deep-Fried Wagyu From SG’s 1st Omakase & Izakaya Dual-Concept Restaurant At Telok Ayer

As someone who enjoys indulging in good Japanese food, I’m always happy to explore new restaurants popping up in the area, especially if they do things a little differently from the rest.

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When I found out about Naga-Imo along Club Street—opened in October 2019—I had to pay them a visit.

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Stepping into the restaurant, the first floor simply looked like your traditional sushi restaurant, with intimate counter seats for you to watch the chef at work.

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But wait: trot up the stairs, and you’ll realise that this is actually a dual concept restaurant. The chef serves up exquisite omakase on the first floor for 10 pax, while the second floor houses a 25-seater izakaya.

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And the third floor even has a private dining room which can accommodate 18 diners.

I was lucky enough to enjoy the omakase dinner (S$150, S$180, S$200, S$250, or S$300), though Naga-Imo also offers a la carte dishes and lunch sets (S$28 to S$88).

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Diving straight into the food, the chef immediately delivered a tasty appetiser to us. Two wedges of Japanese fruit tomato sat prettily in a stemmed glass, drizzled with goma sauce and sprinkled with furikake.

Juicy, firm and definitely appetising, this healthy snack really helped to whet my appetite.

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I have to admit, the cosy space and proximity to the chef made me a little antsy—there was just the slightest pressure to really savour each bite and be present, a far cry from today’s lifestyle where everyone rushes through their meals.

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The next dish was a delicate seafood creation, consisting of king crab leg and a dollop of uni, topped with ikura spheres.

Roll a briny sphere between your teeth, and bite down—the burst of oceanic sweetness will surely surprise you. The springy crabmeat and melt-in-mouth uni were fresh and sweet too, which made this a superb seafood starter.

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I thought the next dish would be the sashimi, but we had one more marinated dish to go. Three slices of hamachi (Japanese amberjack) came with different toppings—okaka (also known as bonito flakes), kombu (edible Japanese kelp) and shaved black truffle.

I’d recommend trying the one with black truffle last, simply because the taste is just so overwhelming. I prefer the kombu seasoning, which was earthy and savoury, complementing the almost buttery mouthfeel of the hamachi.

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Moving on to the sashimi dish, Naga-Imo offers a selection of five different fishes (and uni)—from left to right, we have otoro (fatty tuna belly), tai (sea bream), aji (horse mackerel), engawa (flounder’s fluke fin), and uni (sea urchin). This comes with shoyu that’s made in-house, and Japanese shallots which add an edge of spice.

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My absolute favourite was the otoro. Fatty, soft and nearly melt-in-mouth, I only wished I could get a whole platter of this to myself. The uni was fresh, creamy and sweet, as always.

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The aji was smooth and chewy without much taste, so I recommend dipping it in the shoyu sauce or enjoying it with the shallots. In contrast, the tai was soft and buttery, though with more bite than the otoro.

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I found the engawa the most interesting, as it isn’t something I’ve tried before. Chewy, springy and almost fibrous, this was somewhat of an acquired taste.

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The next dish was something I’ve never seen before: a piece of foie gras was sandwiched in-between two slabs of Japanese yam “tofu”. This is the brainchild of the chef, and it’s unlike anything I’ve tried at Japanese restaurants.

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Japanese yam, or nagaimo, is naturally sweet—and yes, the yam was the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Nibble on the top piece first, so you get the natural flavour of the yam “tofu”. Then enjoy the foie gras together with the bottom layer of yam “tofu”, so that the savoury, creamy foie gras melts into the subtly sweet and nutty yam “tofu”.

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We got to try grilled kinki (channel rockfish) next, as we visited during the winter season. Fatty, juicy and much sweeter than most white fish, Naga-Imo salt-grills the kinki fish till the skin curls with delicious crispiness.

Taking a bite, I was pleasantly surprised at how soft and buttery this fish was. It was a little tricky to navigate the many tiny bones, though.

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For those who prefer something meatier, you’ll love the deep-fried wagyu. Lightly-battered and served with a special housemade sauce, this dish is newly-created and sure to wow diners. Wagyu purists may scoff at having this premium beef in any way but on its own, but I can tell you, this dish really works.

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The well-marbled beef retained its juiciness, and biting into the crispy batter rewarded me with a mouthful of melt-in-mouth fats and tender lean meat. Dip the meaty morsel into the sauce; you won’t be disappointed. This creamy concoction was slightly citrusy, with sesame fragrance—much like a mix of ponzu and goma (sesame sauce).

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Another fish dish for those with lighter palates, the asari (clams) with sea bream wasn’t the strongest dish in the line-up. Grilled until the fish skin was crispy, the sea bream came in a sweet clam sauce. I found that the fish was a little dry, possibly because it was served in such a thick slice, though dipping it in the sauce helped to mitigate the dryness.

The clams were quite fresh and sweet, but to me, there just wasn’t anything that made this dish particularly special—especially when compared to the innovative dishes earlier in the meal.

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Moving on to the sushi section, the first piece was an itoyori (threadfin bream) nigiri, topped with a sliver of Japanese tomato. Slightly chewy and lean, slight herbaceous notes from the tomato complemented this white fish.

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The next piece was the classic tuna nigiri, specifically the akami (red meat) portion. This was leaner than the otoro we had earlier, and this simple, soft nigiri went well with a smidge of wasabi to brighten the flavours.

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Instead of the usual shrimp sushi you might find elsewhere, Naga-Imo brings this meal up a level with botan-ebi (sweet shrimp), ikura and uni. Plumper, juicier and larger than the more commonly-found ama-ebi, this was a surprisingly sweet and refreshing nigiri.

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Fans of tuna will enjoy this next nigiri—the chef placed a grill of edible charcoal over chutoro nigiri, lightly searing the fish and imbuing it with smoky notes.

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I placed the whole piece of sushi into my mouth and enjoyed it in one bite—the chutoro was absolutely divine, melting in my mouth and leaving a buttery mouthfeel.

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The pièce de résistance is the mini handroll, served open-faced with nori, diced tuna, uni and topped with gold flakes. The chef recommends eating it in one whole bite, and I concur. Simultaneously sweet, savoury, briny, and earthy, this dish proves that good things can come in small packages.

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After the parade of dishes, we finally arrived at the end of the meal. Simmered with prawn heads for that rich, briny and sweet flavour, the broth also came with egg strands and assorted bits of seafood. While this wasn’t something new or intriguing, I really enjoyed how comforting this dish was.

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To end the evening on a sweet note, the chef brought out a slice of musk melon from Shizuoka. Juicy and sweet beyond any melon I’ve tried before, this was great as a palate cleanser after the heavy meal.

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If you’re looking for a cosy new spot for date nights, or for a solo dinner spot, Naga-Imo offers food that’s good enough to capture your heart (and stomach).

Expected Damage: S$150 – S$300 per pax for the omakase menu

Price: $ $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5


82 Club Street, Singapore 069450

Our Rating 4/5


82 Club Street, Singapore 069450

Telephone: +65 9638 8182
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5.30pm - 10.30pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 9638 8182

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5.30pm - 10.30pm (Daily)