Monday, 3 May 2021

Kakurega – Modern Yakitori and Sake Bar [MEDIA INVITE]

Shime Saba Aburi 

Kakurega (The Lair) is a new Japanese Sake Bar, which opens in December 2020, in Smith Street, Chinatown. Kakurega in Japanese means a hideout. As a sake bar, it is a place to get away after a busy day at work or think of it as a place to meet up to enjoy charcoal-grilled yakitori and sake.

Kakurega - The Lair
Kakurega occupied 3 stories of the shophouse, with a seating capacity of 50. It has four private rooms: 2 larger ones able to seat eight diners and their other two can accommodate four diners. The ambience is cosy with modern Japanese restaurant decoration. We were seated on the second floor, where one side of the wall filled with sake bottles.

Private Dining Area 8 Pax
Image Credit: Kakurega
We started our tasting session with Eihire (Sun-Dried Stingray Fin, $7.80), Kawaebi Karaage (Deep-Fried Kawa Shrimp, $7.80) and Kawahagi (Dried Leather Jacket, $6.80). The kawaebi karaage is my favourite, as it is crispy and crunchy The Eihire and kawahagi almost have the same texture, but the kawahagi has a softer and enjoyable compare to the usually dry eihire. All these three side dishes are nice to enjoy with beer or sake.

Eihre, Kawaebi Karaage & Kawahagi

To accompanied the starters, we were served Kakurega house sake, Issyou Koufuku Junmai Ginjo ($98 for 720m, $168 for 1800ml). According to LD, the sake is light and easy to drink.

Kakurega house sake, Issyou Koufuku Junmai Ginjo
Shime Saba Aburi (Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel, $10.80). Plump and juicy mackerel fillet. You can taste the vinegar cured in the mackerel and the lightly torched infused a touch of smoky flavour in the fish. Delicate and reduced the fishy flavour in the mackerel, served with crunchy seaweed on the side.

Shime Saba Aburi 

Shime Saba Aburi
Gyu Tataki (230g Meltique Beef with Garlic Chips, $18.80). It is a good value from the price point. The beef is tender, covered with sweet and tangy sauce. In a certain cut of the steak, you sometimes get that unpleasant bite of the muscle, which is a bit hard to chew. For the garlic chips, Kakurega should use sliced garlic, which has a bigger and wider surface instead of chopped garlic, to give the dish more class.

Gyu Tataki

Gyu Tataki
Hotate Mentai (Scallop with Mentai Sauce, $6.80). One of the best dishes of the night. A huge plump and juicy scallop covered the delicious mentai sauce. It is so good, you will be asking for more. Yum Yum.

Hotate Mentai 

Hotate Mentai
Niwatori Karaage (Deep-Fried Chicken with Sesame Dressing, $6.80). An unusual version of karaage served at Kakurega. Usually, tori karaage is marinated in mirin and oyster sauce, resulting in a sweet taste of the chicken meat. However, here, the chicken meat tasted tangy, almost like the cured saba. The exterior is crispy and served with sesame dressing and the usual Japanese mayonnaise. Not sure if I will order this again though.

Niwatori Karaage

Niwatori Karaage
We finally reach the Yakitori section. We started with Apsara Bacon (Asparagus wrapped in Bacon, $3.80) and Mozzarella Chizu Maki (Creamy Mozzarella wrapped in Beef Short Plate $6.80). The asparagus and bacon is a classic yakitori combo, consist of crunchy asparagus wrapped in crispy and salty bacon. Yum.

Aspara Bacon & Mozzarella Chizu Maki 
The creamy mozzarella wrapped in beef short plate impressed me. Juicy beef cuts covered the sticky and chewy cheese. Juicy and delicious, though you must eat this fast before the cheese hardens.

Mozzarella Chizu Maki & Aspara Bacon 
Buta Enoki (Enoki Mushroom wrapped in Pork, $3.80) and Tori Momo (Chicken Thigh, $3.80). LD and I were quite surprised when we bit into these two sticks. The taste is very subtle, almost unseasoned. When we ask the manager, they said due to the feedback from the customer, they have tone down on the salt seasoning. LD ask for red pepper powder to spice up these sticks. Regular izakaya and yakitori fans, please take note when you order the yakitori, you might need to have them salt it more to get the taste that you are used to.

Buta Enoki & Tori Momo
Chashu Ringo Sauce (Pork Belly with Apple Sauce, $6.80). Not the usual bold, sweet and sticky chashu sauce, instead the focal taste comes from the apple sauce. You can see the apple puree on top of the pork belly slices.

Chashu Ringo Sauce 

Chashu Ringo Sauce 
Overall, it was a unique yakitori experience at Kakurega. It is not the traditional Japanese yakitori style, instead, Kakurega dares to challenge the norm to come out with a new, creative and healthier version of the yakitori to pair with their sake. If you are looking to try something new, give Kakurega a try. Kanpai! Cheers!

Private Room for 4 Pax
Image Credit: Kakurega
Thank you very much Jennifer Yeo Consultancy and Kakurega Team for hosting us.

Food & Drink: 6.75/10
Value: 6.75/10
Service: N/A (Media Invite)
Budget per Person: $51 - $80; $81 and above.

Kakurega (The Lair)
12 Smith Street
Singapore 058926

T: +65 6223 0102
IG: @kakuregasg
Mon – Sat, 17.00 – 22.30
Closed on Sunday
Menu Available Online

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Meat n’ Chill – Smoking Sixth Anniversary [MEDIA INVITE]

Smokin’ Wagyu Striploin Steak 

Meat n’ Chill (“MNC”) is celebrating its sixth anniversary with Smokin’ Special from this April with two special offerings. Smokin’ Wagyu Striploin Steak ($68) and Smoked Whisky ($16).

Meat n' Chill

A bit of background of MNC. Meat N’ Chill is a “Meat Centric” restaurant born from the friendship of three good friends that are foodies at heart. MNC is an ideal restaurant to gather, enjoy a hearty meal and chill over a few glasses of drinks. Located just outside Sixth Avenue Bukit Timah, MNC is very accessible. Helm by Chef Bruce, these three good friends spend countless hours experimenting to come out with their secret marinade and produce the perfect marinade for the meanest ribs in town.

Back to the steak, The Wagyu Striploin [MB5], promising a delicate marbling that gives a buttery flavour and tender mouthfeel. I find the overall experience is just intriguing. 90% of the flame grilling are done in the kitchen. The service staff brought the steak to the table, covered with the glass dome attached to the smoking vessel. The service staff then lit the vessel and the smoke slowly engulf the steak and sides inside the dome.

The Wagyu Striploin [MB5] in Smoking

Vessel for Smoking

Shortly after, the dome is removed and as the smoke slowly dissipates, the “diva” appeared. True to its reputation, Wagyu MB5 is just delicate and easy to slice. I ask for medium-rare and it was cooked to perfection. Although the hickory smoky flavour is strong, the aroma remains subtle on the steak. I am glad that MNC uses striploin instead of ribeye, as you can taste the flavour of the beef, as it melts in your mouth instead of just the fats. A #beefgasm experience.

The Wagyu Striploin [MB5]

The steak is served with smoked bread and butter with greens. If you like a strong smoky flavour, you should eat the steak with the bread. It acts as a sponge and absorbs most of the smoky flavour. The baby asparagus is crunchy, butter and lovely.

The Wagyu Striploin [MB5] - Medium Rare

***Please take note that the Smokin’ Wagyu Striploin Steak is a limited edition. Only available on Tuesday to Thursday and only 6 portions available per day.

Smoked Remy VSOP

Smoked Whisky ($16) choice of Jim Bean / Glenfiddich 12 / Chivas Regal 12 / Remy VSOP. As I can’t drink alcohol, my dining partner Alvin ordered Remy VSOP. According to him, “the smoky scent was nice, adds some dynamism to the taste of the Remy VSOP. There’s a fuller sweetness in the taste as opposed to whisky”.

Smoked Remy VSOP

Of course, you can’t come to MNC without ordering MNC “Meanest Pork Ribs”. We choose the Hickory flavour with coleslaw and chili cheese fries. Smoky, juicy and succulent pork ribs. Don’t expect fork-tender pork ribs, instead, expect a lovely succulent pork ribs texture coated with the hickory flavour BBQ sauce. Leave the cutleries aside and just use your fingers.

Hickory Pork Ribs

Hickory Pork Ribs

For chili cheese fries, MNC uses thick-cut fries which have a crispy exterior and soft interior, a good vessel to carry the smoky chili and cheese. However, I find the fries can do with another scoop (or 2 scoops) of chili. The coleslaw is way too watery to my liking.

Chili Cheese Fries

Overall, the Smokin’ Wagyu Striploin Steak is a worthy dish to celebrate the sixth anniversary of MNC together with the Smoked Whisky. It was an awesome experience and I don’t mind coming back for more. Cheers!!

Thank you very much Protegie and Meat N’ Chill Team for hosting us.

Food & Drink: 7.75/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: N/A (Media Invite)
Budget per Person: $26 - $50; $51 - $80.

Meat N’ Chill – Steak N’ Ribs Restaurant
805 Bukit Timah Road
#01-04. 6th Avenue Centre.
Singapore 279883

T: +65 8812 4455
IG: @Meatnchill
OH: Daily 08.00 – 22.00
Menu available online

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

PIPES by Hattendo – Café, Roaster & Izakaya Under One Roof [MEDIA INVITE]

Salt Baked Barramundi 

Hattendo, a popular Japanese bakery known for its signature cream bun has expanded and opened its FIRST overseas outlet with dual-concept Café & Roasting Gallery and Izakaya, PIPES by Hattendo (“PIPES”). LD and I used to get their cream buns from Tanjong Pagar Centre and we are pleased to see that they have elevated their offerings by introducing a dual-dining concept.

PIPES by Hattendo

To complete the café experience, PIPES brought in the NOVO Mark II automated coffee roasting machine and roast their beans on the spot. Known for its revolutionary automated coffee roasting machine, its aesthetic design allows café owner or roaster to showcase the beautiful machine at their café. For coffee aficionados, PIPES also provide you with an exciting coffee experience where you can choose the best beans source from around the world and roast them on the spot to your desired roasting degree.

Roasting Room with NOVO Mark II Roaster

I tried Iced Americano using PIPES house blend, Antimatter Dark Roast. I find it very easy to drink. Low acidity, with a light nutty and chocolaty flavour. Check out their full coffee menu from their website.
Iced Americano using PIPES house blend, Antimatter Dark Roast

LD choose Momoemeshu ($11 per glass), a light umeshu on the rocks with the flavours of peaches bursting in your mouth. A good drink to have with your gal friends with the izakaya dishes. 


We started the Izakaya tasting with Hiroshima Oysters. It comes in 4 different flavours Umibudo ($8), Ikura ($6), Mentaiko ($8), Hokkaido Cheese ($8). The oysters are plump and juicy. The Hokkaido Cheese adds a light and creamy finishing to the oysters, while the umibudo (sea grape, quail egg yolk and shoyu) enhance the natural ocean flavours in the oysters.

Hiroshima Oysters, Clockwise from Top: Umibudo, Mentaiko, Ikura, Hokkaido Cheese

The mentaiko is rich, creamy but not overwhelming. While the ikura surprisingly tasted sweet instead of salty. Superb topping all round for the oysters.

Hiroshima Oysters

Sashimi Moriawase - Chu toro, Scallop, Salmon ($38). Generous slices of each sashimi. The scallops are sweet, plump and juicy. The salmon is fatty, while the chu toro deliver an almost melt in your mouth sensation. Accompanied the sashimi are PIPES homemade sashimi sauce, which is light and sweet plus paired nicely with the freshly shaved wasabi for the subtle kick. For a non-regular wasabi eater, I scooped the wasabi on a few slices of my sashimi to LD amusement.

Sashimi Moriawase: Salmon, Chu Toro & Scallop

Sashimi Moriawase: Salmon, Chu Toro & Scallop

Yaki Onigiri ($12, 2pcs). A homemade onigiri filled with pork belly, tamago and furikake. The rice is light and fluffy, while the juicy and aromatic pork belly and furikake give the onigiri the OMPH flavour. It is served with 3 different pickles, to balance the richness of the rice.

Yaki Onigiri

Yaki Onigiri

Mozambique Lobster ($42, 3pcs). Grilled to perfection, the flesh of the lobster sweet, tender and melts in your mouth. It is served with 3 different types of dipping: rock salt, sweet sauce with shallots (like Indonesian grill fish sauce) and Japanese green chilli dip.

Mozambique Lobster 

Mozambique Lobster 

Tonkatsu Sandos ($20). The bread used here is made from the same flour used in Hattendo’s signature cream buns. The soft, fluffy and buttery bread cradle the juicy, succulent and crisp Tonkatsu. It is rich and delicious, probably can do with some of the pickles served with the onigiri to cuts through the richness.

Tonkatsu Sandos

Tonkatsu Sandos

Salt Baked Barramundi ($58, 1kg). Known as Shiogama-yaki cooking technique in Japan, the salt crust works in two ways. One to seasoned the fish and the other to provide a protective layer to ensure the fish retain the soft and juicy flesh. The chef also engraves the salt crust to make it looks like a fish. I had fun hammering the crust and cutting through it to get to the fish.

Salt Baked Barramundi 

The salted baked barramundi also served with sweet sauce with shallots and Japanese green chilli dip, the same ones served with the Mozambique lobster. Those who liked Thai salted baked fish, you will surely appreciate the Japanese refine version here.

Salt Baked Barramundi 

For desserts, we decided to try the Hiroshima Lemon Bun ($3) and Seasonal Mango Cream Bun ($3.50). The mango cream bun is delicate and packs with mango compote and signature cream. Meanwhile, we find the Hiroshima Lemon Bun is unique, especially with its crispy bun unlike the rest of the soft cream buns.

Hiroshima Lemon Bun and Seasonal Mango Cream Bun

Hiroshima Lemon Bun and Seasonal Mango Cream Bun

The setting of PIPES by Hattendo is café centric. The left side of the café is set aside as a roasting room, the middle part is for cosy seating and dining area, together with the coffee order and coffee counter, while the right part of the café is catered for small group or individual seating area.

The Coffee / Bar Counter

Overall, we like the new concept by Hattendo. The dual concept caters to different type of customers and for different occasions. The coffee is good, LD like the alcohol list and the Izakaya food is delicious complete with signature Japanese flair in each dish. We’ll definitely come back to try the rest of the menu and the Salt Baked fish. Kanpai!! Cheers!!

Thank you very much Protegie Consultancy and PIPES by Hattendo Team for hosting us. 

Food & Drinks: 8.5/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 7.75/10
Budget per Person: $26 - $50; $51 - $80.

PIPES by Hattendo
331 New Bridge Road
#01-02 Dorsett Residences
(Beside Outram Park MRT Exit H)
Singapore 088764

T: +65 8113 6096
IG: @hattendo_singapore
Tue – Sat: 11.00 – 16.30; 17.30 – 22.30
Sun: 11.00 – 19.00
Closed on Monday
All Menu Available on the website


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