Chikuyotei is one of those restaurants that seems to exist in a parallel dimension. Although I've passed it by a million times (while using the Intercontinental loo whenever I was at Bugis - hey, lots of Bugis-patrons do the same!), I'd never really noticed the unassuming Japanese restaurant. Despite being a relative unknown to locals, Chikuyotei is very familiar with the Japanese expat community. In fact, the low-key restaurant has another branch at the very exclusive Japanese Association.
Chikuyotei specializes in unagi and kagoshima wagyu, and while I thought the food was perfectly nice, I'd expected to be blown away because it's frequented by the Japanese. I think, our somewhat forgettable experience was perhaps due to us not ordering their highlights. I mean, we spied a celebrity chef introducing Chikuyotei to his Swiss friends, and if it's good enough for celebrity chefs, it should, a fortiori, be good enough for us mere mortals, right?
The service was gracious, but a tad uninformed and lacking in initiative. We were only given the set lunch menu, without sight of the ala carte menu. I suspect, if we had the benefit of house-recommendations from the ala carte menu, lunch may have left a bigger impression.
The Mini Unaju Set ($39) of a half-portion grilled unagi burnished with a tare glaze, complemented the sweet flavour of the eel.
The Tennen Maguro Chazuke Set Lunch ($48) was not unlike our Teochew porridge, delicate and clear and soupy.
Basically, you DIY the whole ensemble with fresh tuna lardons drenched in a nutty creamy sesame sauce,
sprinkle, sparingly, salty pickles for a heightened flavour,
steamed sushi rice,
and drench the entire shebang with boiling hot dashi broth.
The sets were sided with a gorgeous salad of mesclun, chrysanthemum petals, grilled red pepper strips, baby corn, a crisp fried lotus root chip, and a couple token slices of fresh hamachi.
An appetizer of grilled fishcakes, mushroom slivers dusted with bonito, was served refreshingly chilled.
Pickles for some crunch.
The daily dessert of matcha ice-cream for a cleansing finish.
We also ordered a Dashimaki ($12), fluffy and dense at the same time.
Intercontinental Hotel Singapore Level 1
80 Middle Road
Tel: 6825 1064
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner