Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar Tasting Session

October 09, 2016 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar Tasting Session
9 Raffles Boulevard
#02-07 Millenia Walk


Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 12pm - 2pm (Lunch), 6pm - 12am (Dinner)
Closed Sun



https://www.facebook.com/kurama.yoi/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session.
Attended with representatives from Coffee & Cravings, FelEATS, Dear Babette, Aaron Handajani, Mighty Foodie, Luxe Society Asia, and Madame Chewy.



Tsukune (SGD $8)



Intimate Japanese Dining Destination With 2 Concepts

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 10
Value for Money: 7
Budget about SGD $65 ++ per person.


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Opening its doors in August 2016, Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar is a dual concept Japanese dining destination, combining 2 vastly different experiences into 1 bespoke restaurant. A collaborative effort between its 2 owner-chefs, Raymond Tan and Max Lai, Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar offers a sake bar with over 50 labels of sake from across Japan, as well as an authentic robatayaki / barbecue skewers restaurant.

Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar Exterior


Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar Interior



Ambience at Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar is vastly different. The entrance leads into Yoi Sake Bar, designed to resemble the food alleys of Tokyo, Japan. Here, a striking metal grille fence, lined with rows of colourful koinobori / carp fish streamers, gives way to a dimly lit, narrow bar. Within are high bar tables made with colourful plastic crates, bright red walls adorned with anime artwork, paper samurai sculptures, sake drums, and a long chiller, stocked with 50 labels of premium sake, including the exclusive Kokuryu, Juyondai, and Isojiman.

Separated by a non-descript white cotton curtain, a world of difference awaits. The delibrately discreet entrance into Kurama Robatayaki gives diners the sense of being in an exclusive secret club, where only those who know may enter. Here, there is elegant sophistication, an aura of intimate fine dining. Low hanging paper lanterns in the brightly lit, 15-seater space lined with functional wooden furniture, make for a striking visual. Perhaps more striking, is the live show kitchen, where fresh premium produce, imported from all over the world, is displayed.

Yoi Sake Bar
Yoi Sake Bar


Kurama Robatayaki
Kurama Robatayaki


Entrance


Samurai Costumes


Domo


Art - Godzilla Drinking



Service at Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar is excellent, bar none. The most impressive part is the ability to indicate to chef which item you like from the fresh produce, and they'll prepare it for you right in front of your eyes! The small, intimate setting allows you to watch chef at work, preparing dishes, and they'll even engage and interact with you. Each dish is properly introduced, and product knowledge is excellent amongst the servers. Staff come around to check on your meal experience, regularly clearing away empty / dirty plates from the table, each time replacing cutlery. They even hold a welcoming ceremony during the meal for all guests, which you can participate in by clapping your hands along with the rhythm!

Open Kitchen


Head Chef Kenji Live Preparation


Serving Oar



Food at Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar is prepared in front of you, using only fresh, premium ingredients, which are sourced from all over the world, with most of it from Japan. Cuisine is distinctly Japanese kushiyaki / barbecue skewers and sake, the kind of everyday comfort food for the Japanese salarymen after a hard day's work. There is no doubt the food here is tasty, simple and straightforward, uncomplicated by sauces. Each shines on its own merits. Portions are naturally tapas snack sized, designed as small bites for individuals. However, prices are higher than usual as compared to other kushiyaki / barbecue skewers restaurants, due in part to the premium labels of sake, and the fact that you get dining entertainment with chef's showmanship. Budget about SGD $65 ++ per person for a decent meal here.

Fresh Fish


Grilling Fish



The Sake Juyondai Junmai Ginjo (SGD $1100 / 1.8L) is a rare, aged rice wine sake, produced in limited quantities by Takagi Shuzo brewery in Yamagata Prefecture, located in the Tohoku region of Japan. Made with polished Aiyama rice and aged for 3 years, it's known for a smooth medium-body texture, clear transparent colour, and bold fruit driven flavour, without being fortified with any distilled alcohol. Notes of green apple, melon, white vinegar, and white rice on the palate, sweet with a hint of sour, no bitterness at all. Can see why it's so expensive. Good!

Sake Juyondai Junmai Ginjo (SGD $1100 / 1.8L)



The house made Dipping Sauces - Ponzu, Sesame, Miso Paste are served to each diner. The ponzu sauce is zesty, tangy, and light. The miso paste lends a wonderful deep savoury flavour to dishes. The sesame sauce I felt was the weakest of the trio, not as nutty or fragrant as I would like.

Dipping Sauces - Ponzu, Sesame, Miso Paste



The Tako Wasabi (SGD $8) features diced tako / octopus, in a sharp but light sauce of light soy sauce, and wasabi. The fresh, bouncy pieces of octopus are delightfully tasty, though I wish it was bigger, so as to make it easier to pick up.

Tako Wasabi (SGD $8)


Tako Wasabi



The Tofuage Karamiso (SGD $10) is a fine example of the skill of the chefs. They're able to elevate a simple soft silken tofu beancurd into something totally delicious. Largely due to the savoury burst of miso flavour from the skin, and the refreshing spring onions on top. So good!

Tofuage Karamiso (SGD $10)


Tofuage Karamiso



Loved the Fugu Mirin (SGD $15), essentially, grilled strips of puffer fish that have been marinated in mirin rice wine. Smoky salty savoury in flavour, the best way to describe the taste is like eating dried cuttlefish and bak kwa together. Really good, made me wish for more. Highly recommended!

Fugu Mirin (SGD $15)


Fugu Mirin



The Kinoko Butter Yaki (SGD $15) are stewed mixed mushrooms (shimeiji, enoki, shiitake), in a butter gravy. While fresh, the taste is largely decent at best, lacking that depth of flavour to make it good. A more flavourful dashi seaweed stock may have helped this.

Kinoko Butter Yaki (SGD $15)


Kinoko Butter Yaki



The Truffle Onsen Salad (SGD $12) is a bowl of fresh garden salad, lettuce and cherry tomatoes, topped with an wobbly onsen egg and perfumed with truffle oil. Mix everything together, and you'll get the contrast of crunch from the vegetables against the silky texture of the egg. I like that they've only sprinkled the truffle oil sparingly, it doesn't overwhelm the fresh flavours here.

Truffle Onsen Salad (SGD $12)


Truffle Onsen Salad



The Kuruma Ebi / Giant King Prawn (SGD $18) looks impressive, then you bite into the semi-firm, slightly dry prawn / shrimp, and disappointment sets in.

Kuruma Ebi / Giant King Prawn (SGD $18)


Kuruma Ebi / Giant King Prawn



The Lychee Ham (SGD $6) is among the best items I had here. Simple, a piece of salty savoury ham, wrapped around juicy sweet lychee. Grilled slightly, so it takes on a hint of smoky aroma, and the fruit sugar caramelises slightly. So good. Highly recommended!

Lychee Ham (SGD $6)


Lychee Ham



The Hotate / Scallop (SGD $20) features a large, meaty, fresh scallop, deshelled and cleaned in front of you, the diced and plated back into the shell, along with mirin rice wine and a knob of butter. It's grilled this way, taking on a smoky layer of flavour, over the naturally sweet savoury taste of the scallop. Good!

Hotate / Scallop (SGD $20)


Hotate / Scallop



Among the better dishes I had here, the Hamachi Kama / Yellowtail Fish Collar (SGD $25) is a generous portion of meaty fresh yellowtail fish collar, sweet savoury in flavour, with hints of smoky aroma from the grill. The meat is clean-tasting, coming easily off the bone in chunks, and is so delicious. The salty burst of flavour from the crisp skin is beautiful too. Highly recommended!

Hamachi Kama / Yellowtail Fish Collar (SGD $25)


Hamachi Kama / Yellowtail Fish Collar



Loved the Tsukune (SGD $8), a skewer of minced chicken meatball, savoury sweet salty in flavour, served with a wobbly soft boiled egg. Mix the chicken meatball into the egg for a silky, luscious texture and eggy flavour. Absolutely tasty. Highly recommended!

Tsukune (SGD $8)


Tsukune



Thought the Buta Bara / Pork Belly (SGD $9) was decent. The pork belly is meaty and moist, savoury salty with a hint of smoky aroma, and has a nice chew to texture, without being gamey. Simple and straightforward. Good!

Buta Bara / Pork Belly (SGD $9)


Buta Bara / Pork Belly



The Gyu Seiro Mushi (SGD $38) features a bamboo steamed rice bowl, with a unique base of vinegared glutinous rice / sticky rice, garnished with strips of savoury salty beef meat, egg, and seaweed. Incredibly filling and satisfiying. If the light kushiyaki / barbecue skewers and snacks don't fill you up, then this will. Slightly pricey for the size though. Good!

Gyu Seiro Mushi (SGD $38)


Gyu Seiro Mushi



The Peach Bavarois (SGD $12) was tasty, with a creamy soft base of bavarois cream (egg yolks, sugar, cream), sweet peach compote, floral rose wine gelée, and sour tart raspberry jam, topped with gold leaf. I took a liking to this dessert, it's sweet but not overly so, with floral and fruity notes. Good!

Peach Bavarois (SGD $12)


Peach Bavarois



My fellow diners agreed the Hojicha Crème Brûlée (SGD $10) was possibly the best dessert of the evening. With a wobbly soft custard infused with Japanese brown tea, it has notes of roasted rice and barely grains, earthy and sweet. The crust is nicely caramelised, and cracks easily under pressure. Highly recommended!

Hojicha Crème Brûlée (SGD $10)


Hojicha Crème Brûlée



The Gooseberry Panna Cotta (SGD $16) is a modern deconstructed dessert, with a gooseberry infused panna cotta that is soft and wobbly, plated with mix berries, mango puree, blueberry gelee, strawberry gelee, raspberry soil, pieces of vanilla meringue, and edible flowers. Incredibly pretty to look at. While the textures were spot on, the main issue was that every single component of the dessert was overly sweet and cloying. We didn't finish this.

Gooseberry Panna Cotta (SGD $16)


Gooseberry Panna Cotta



Overall, there is great potential for a memorable dining experience at Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar, due to its outstanding ambience and service. While the food is not as affordable as it could be, you do get pretty good quality, though dishes are simple and uncomplicated. Sake lovers will have a field day with the extensive variety available here, making Kurama Robatayaki & Yoi Sake Bar a worthwhile visit, if it's not too crowded.


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