When Ben suggested we meet up at Shukuu Izakaya at Stanley Street right at the heart of Singapore's Central Business District, I wasn't thrilled but just went along out of politeness. I assumed it will be some trend trailing slick joint with so-so food. So, I was surprised that Shukuu Izakaya is located at a somewhat dingy looking back street behind of a row of drab functional office towers. Interesting..... 😃 The bold facade further piqued my interest and drew me into the orange lit restaurant.
I was surprised, delight actually, when I stepped Shukuu Izakaya - it's just like those small eateries found around the subway stations in old Tokyo (I've not been back to Tokyo city for 20 years already).
Ben introduced me to Luis, one of the owner chefs at Shukuu Izakaya. (All 4 partners at Shukuu Izakaya are junior and high school mates sharing the same passion for Japanese cuisine. So cool, brothers! Reminds me of the 1986 movie "Stand by Me".)
Luis, a Singaporean, is a self taught Japanese chef. He was temping at Japanese restaurants since his high school days in Singapore. Louis learnt his craft from Japanese chefs - by observing them and by persuading them to teach him how to cook. "Can you teach how to cook this dish for my mother?" is always persuasive.
You know... bad sake is like bad vodka, just not sure which is worst. But, just as good vodka is out of this world, it is the same way with good sake. This Sake-Hanaabi Muroka Nama Genshu 武藏 is so full of savoury sweet aromas and fruity flavours that comes in many gentle layers, it's just wonderful. I shan't pretend that I know anything about sake, but just say that I enjoyed this tremendously.
Louis is a certified sake sommelier and Shukuu Izakaya stocks a wide range of the Japanese spirit. Shukuu Izakaya even have a sake specially bottled for them by a heritage brewery established in 1842 in the city of Nikko in Tochigi prefecture.
Luis started us off with this Sashimi platter appetiser. Thick slices of fresh Salmon, Hamachi and Bluefin fish. This moriwase costs SGD28++.
Then followed, Chicken Liver in Shoyu Sauce (Reba Shoyuzuke SGD6++) - it's heaven's gift for sake lovers. Savoury sweet flavour, soft creamy grainy texture - perfect complement to the Japanese spirit.
Deep fried chicken skin with a sweet marination SGD7++ (served with grated radish). I lost count of the number of pieces of these savoury sweet crackers that I picked up unconsciously. Latest medical research say chicken skin is good for health... so OK 😄
Shirasu Ponzu Capsicum (whitebait with capsicum in ponzu sauce SGD6++). Diced juicy tangy sweet capsicum splashed and tossed with citrusy ponzu sauce then topped with lightly toasted dried whitebait fish. Another, simple ingenious flavoursome dish. Savoury sweet tangy, chewy, juicy crunch - all there.
The Omi Wagyu SGD9.50++ a stick. Cut into like cubes like those rubber gummy, marinated in shoyu blend, charcoal grilled on order and served smoking hot. Nice gummy tender bite, warm juicy with layers of savouriness and beefiness.
Hokaido scallops smothered with mentaiko then torched SGD17++. Crowned with salmon roe after the mentaiko is slightly browned and charred. Again a sweet savoury balanced dish. Nice.
I like this dish very much, the Shukuu Rosti (SGD8++). Potato cut into skinny strands like pasta then sauteed in sizzling oil. Dressed with thick dribbles of mentaiko, torched and served on a hot heavy cast iron plate. Layers of sweet and robust savouriness with crunchy potato sweetness. Shiok.
Tsukune (Chicken meatballs SGD4.50++ a stick). This dish is really interesting and delicious. The minced chicken balls are made with chicken meat and skin, as well as tiny bits of cartilage to give the tender, juicy balls a bit of soft gritty bite. Grilled to a slight char outside. My kind of beer / sake food. Must order this 😋 A steal at this price.
Kurobuta Tontoro (Bershire "black" pig | Iberico Pork Collar SGD5.50++ a stick). Tender chewy texture. Mainly savoury flavour from the shoyu sauce marination. Biting into the Iberico pork cubes squeezes out the warm juices which have slight porky sweetness. Nice.
Kaki No Sakamushi (Sake-cooked Oysters SGD12++). Soft spongy savoury oysters in a robust salty sauce served on a large shell.
Gyuniku Jaga (SGD7++), a savoury sweet beef stew with hand-sliced beef steeped for hours with potatoes and carrots to achieve the right balance in umani and sweetness. Homely comfort dish - the flavoursome soft beef stews pairs perfectly with sweet pearly Japanese steamed rice. Good value, tasty light meal.
It was time to go. I was more than full. Then, Ben couldn't resist ordering this Inaniwa Udon (SGD14++) - one more for the road before leaving.
I wasn't really too keen, but still took a spoonful of the broth out of curiosity. Oh man...., I liked this broth instantly. The watery tea coloured broth has nice gentle layers of savouriness from shoyu sauce, bonito shavings, tempura cracklings and spongy Japanese style fish cake. So basic yet so tasty. The noodles done slurpy tender had a nice wheat taste too. Must try this.
4-Star (out of 5). Shukuu Izakaya is a good place for an affordable Japanese style lunch in Singapore's CBD. A good hangout for yummy bites and a beer / sake after a hard day in the office. The food is delicious and priced at a level which encourages revisits. The service is earnest and warm, while the ambiance is unpretentious, a little gritty even which makes it easy to feel at home and relax. Your friends will be impressed with how you found this little gem in a back street in Singapore's financial heart 😛
Disclosure: Please note that this was an invited tasting.
Restaurant name: Shukuu Izakaya
Address: 8 Stanley Street, Singapore 068727
GPS: 1°16'48.3"N 103°50'52.5"E | 1.280071, 103.847913
Hours: 11:30am - 2:00pm, 5:30pm - 11:00pm (Sunday off)
Date visited: 8 Nov 2016
Return to Johor Kaki homepage.