Last Updated: July 2, 2021
I’ll be honest; the CBD reeks of overworked, over-jaded people in expensive suits and loosely-put together ties trying to just get through the day. And it’s exhausting. But at least, there exist spaces like Taki Izakaya Bar at Collyer Quay, where—with enough booze or good enough company, whichever’s cheaper—it’s easy to forget you’re an overworked salaryman just for an evening.
Of every all-too-serious, ostentatious establishment that gives you three tiny forks too many for a dinner course of this size, there will always be the more relaxed cousin a few doors down, waiting to receive you with welcome menus. And tonight, I’m taking a table for two.
Perfumed heavily with truffle oil, the Hamachi Carpaccio (S$16.80) is a clever choice to start you off with; walking the fine line of delivering just enough of a savoury punch in anticipation of more to come, yet still keeping things light. We’ve seen salmon and tuna done carpaccio-style, but hamachi’s mild, subtle flavour does the trick tonight.
Sushi buffs will be thrilled to know that they’ve got maki rolls for days over here—you get a maki roll! You get a maki roll! Though amidst their extensive repertoire, the Spicy Maguro Maki (S$17.80) stands out as an exciting blend of tuna sashimi, avocado, and a spicy sauce that you’re almost guaranteed to get a kick out of. Of course, the perennial Spider Avo Maki (S$16.80) remains unfailing; its crunch and pops hitting home with each bite.
The Taki Bellini (S$18.80), a meld of lychee liqueur and prosecco, is a cocktail built for lovers of all things light and fruity, while the Gingari (S$18.80) keeps things earthy with a simple pairing of gin and ginger.
To go splendidly, a bowl of Gobu Karaage (S$7.80), which, for the uninitiated, translates to deep-fried burdock root, makes it hard to stop myself from popping one piece after the other. But if, like me, you’re willing to lie to yourself to evade guilt just like every responsible adult does, you can take comfort in knowing that these ‘truffle fries’ stand-ins are probably half the calories, but still all fun.
As some of my colleagues at SethLui.com already know, chicken is always last to be picked in a protein lineup for me, simply because of how painfully pedestrian it can be. But Tori Nanban (S$11.80) is an interpretation I can get behind. First things first, who doesn’t love fried chicken? Well, me actually, up until about three months ago when Jollibee changed my mind. But the point is, I’m a believer now. And there are few ways to make an already lip-smacking dish even better because you simply don’t mess with genius.
A well-seasoned, creamy tartar sauce though, is one of those few ways. Gloppy, slightly tart sauce coats crispy chicken batter, and when you bite in, all’s well with the world again. The tori nanban might not be earth-shatteringly stellar, but it’s comfort food at its finest.
When one thinks of an izakaya, petite pieces on a stick also often come to mind. Try it all with Taki’s Kushiyaki Platter (S$24.80) of eight skewers, or curate your own tasting flight with their a la carte options instead.
Yakitori (chicken thigh) (S$6.80), Buta Bara (pork belly) (S$6.80), Buta Enoki (pork belly-wrapped enoki) (S$7.80), Okura (lady’s finger) (S$5.80), and Gyu Kushi (beef cubes) (S$9.80) form the usual line of suspects, but I’m paying close attention to the glee that is the skewer of Tomato Bekon (S$7.80). A honeyed pearl of cherry tomato bursts and gives way to a thin, umami-laden slice of bacon that’s enough to keep just about anyone hard-pressed for seconds.
A carafe of Tomizu Tokubetsu Junmai (S$45) is a smooth sake house pour, but if you’re going straight for the good stuff, then Onna Nakase Junmai Daiginjo (S$58) is what you want. Arguably, no meal at an izakaya’s complete without sweet, sweet sake, but that could just be the hedonist in me speaking.
And If you’re up for it, exhaust Taki’s dessert menu which consists of all but Goma (sesame) (S$4.80) and Matcha (green tea) (S$4.80) ice cream. But a small menu doesn’t always fall short. Sometimes, it’s all the more baller to keep things lean and concise.
Today’s awards are just a little bit driven by the heart, rather than the palate. The solace of still being able to knock back a shot or two of sake with fried chicken at your fingertips in uncertain times such as these warms my cold, little heart. Dinner with friends over chicken nanban is no longer a given, it’s like coming home.
It’s the way you can walk in and eat grilled this and fried that, whiling away every precious minute spent in someone else’s physical company, for me. Taki Izakaya Bar is where you’ll come for the food, but stay for the comfort.
Taki Izakaya Bar is currently offering free-flow highballs at S$48++ per pax on Saturdays, and also 50% off any agemono or kushiyaki when you order a maki roll. Terms and conditions apply.
Expected damage: S$35 – S$60 per pax
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Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Taki Izakaya Bar
16 Collyer Quay, #01-05A/B, Singapore 049318
16 Collyer Quay, #01-05A/B, Singapore 049318