Kakurega (The Lair) Tasting Session

May 02, 2021 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Kakurega (The Lair) Tasting Session
12 Smith Street

Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 5pm - 10:30pm,
Closed Sun



https://www.kakurega.com.sg/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session.
Attended with representatives from Jennifer Yeo Lifestyle, msginginly, Purple Taste, Ms Janice Eats, and Chubby Botak Koala.



Shime Saba Aburi / Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel Fish (SGD $10.80)



Hideout For Sake & Small Bites

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 6
Ambience & Setting: 8
Food & Beverage: 6
Service: 7
Value for Money: 5
Budget about SGD $67++ per person.


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Opened since December 2020, Kakurega (The Lair) certainly lives up to the meaning of its name, 'hideout' or 'refuge'. This cozy 50-seater casual kushiyaki bar is an oasis for the weary salarymen (and women), a refuge amidst Singapore's Chinatown area. With an enticing repertoire of grilled skewers and premium Japanese sake, Kakurega (The Lair) is a great place for intimate gatherings with family and friends.

Kakurega (The Lair) Entrance
Kakurega (The Lair) Entrance



Ambience at Kakurega (The Lair) carries an understated charm. Cozy, rustic, and intimate, the 3-story bar features 4 private rooms, with carefully partitioned open seating areas that manage to feel like private dining. Pops of colour from vibrant paintings and colourful Japanese fans adorn the sleek black walls, while sturdy wooden tables and comfortable booth seats are illuminated by bright spotlights overhead. The high ceiling allows for rooms to be elevated, resulting in many steps here. The glass-walled kitchen occupies the majority of the 1st floor, offering a view of the delectable skewers being prepared.

Kakurega (The Lair) Exterior
Kakurega (The Lair) Exterior


Kakurega (The Lair) Interior
Kakurega (The Lair) Interior


Decorative Lights
Decorative Lights


Painting
Painting



Service at Kakurega (The Lair) is friendly, knowledgable, and physically fit. With so many stairs here, I feel for the staff who constantly have to climb up-and-down to serve orders and clear dishes. Diners typically stay throughout the evening, so it's good that staff proactively clear finished plates throughout. They also display good product knowledge (at least our server did), from introducing dishes to describing the various sake available. It's easy to attract their attention given the cozy space, as they often pop by to check if diners are enjoying the experience, and to see if there are further requests.

Private Room For 4
Private Room For 4


Seating


Seating
Seating


Sake Shelf
Sake Shelf


Sake Cups
Sake Cups



Food at Kakurega (The Lair) is focused on Japanese cuisine, in particular, kushiyaki or grilled skewers, but sometimes erroneously called yakitori. There's a good selection on the menu. I find quality best if the kitchen is not under pressure, especially during lull periods, when they can really focus and ensure the perfect quality in grilling skewers and ingredients. When rushed however, consistency falls off a cliff (just like most other places too). Portions are sized for communal group dining, meant to be shared. Prices have a slight premium that aren't reflective of the portion size or ingredient quality, budget about SGD $67++ per person for a meal with drinks here.

Menu Food
Menu Food


Menu Drinks
Menu Drinks


Grilling


Grilling
Grilling



The Sake Yamagata Issyou Kofuku (SGD $108) is a premium junmai ginjo sake brewed by the Suzuki Shuzoten brewery in Nagai, Yamagata prefecture, Tohoku region, Japan, using dewa-no-sato rice. With a medium strength of body, a floral aroma, and a smooth subtle texture with flavours of rice and spring water, this sake has lovely refreshing floral sweet flavour. Best served chilled!

Sake Yamagata Issyou Kofuku (SGD $108)


Sake Yamagata Issyou Kofuku
Sake Yamagata Issyou Kofuku


Sake Yamagata Issyou Kofuku



No sake bar is complete without Zensai / Appetizers & Age-Mono / Deep-Fried Snacks, and the ones here are pretty good!

Zensai / Appetizers & Age-Mono / Deep-Fried Snacks


Zensai / Appetizers & Age-Mono / Deep-Fried Snacks
Zensai / Appetizers & Age-Mono / Deep-Fried Snacks



The Eihire / Sun-Dried Stingray Fin (SGD $7.80) features thick chunky pieces of dried stingray fin, having a soft firm chew to texture with bold savoury salty smoky flavour. Good!

Eihire / Sun-Dried Stingray Fin (SGD $7.80)


Eihire / Sun-Dried Stingray Fin
Eihire / Sun-Dried Stingray Fin



The Kawahagi / Dried Leatherjacket Fish (SGD $6.80) feels rather like the dried cuttlefish snacks, with the same chewy stringy texture. Carrying salty sweet savoury smoky flavour, these strips of dried leatherjacket fish are delicious, love it. Highly recommended!

Kawahagi / Dried Leatherjacket Fish (SGD $6.80)


Kawahagi / Dried Leatherjacket Fish
Kawahagi / Dried Leatherjacket Fish



The thing that comes to mind with the Kawaebi Karaage / Deep-Fried Kawa Shrimp (SGD $7.80) is how the edges of the kawa shrimp tend to poke your mouth when bit, and should be eaten carefully. But I love the addictive salty savoury sweet flavour, which made us keep reaching for more. Good!

Kawaebi Karaage / Deep-Fried Kawa Shrimp (SGD $7.80)


Kawaebi Karaage / Deep-Fried Kawa Shrimp
Kawaebi Karaage / Deep-Fried Kawa Shrimp



Our favourite dish here, the Shime Saba Aburi / Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel Fish (SGD $10.80) was excellent and unique. The tender moist mackerel fish is cured with rice vinegar, seared and served chilled, resulting in a bright refreshing sour sweet savoury smoky flavour that is so enticing. Accompanied by crunchy juicy pickled cucumber and seaweed, with bright vegetal sour earthy sweet flavour. Yum, would return just for this. Highly recommended!

Shime Saba Aburi / Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel Fish (SGD $10.80)


Shime Saba Aburi / Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel Fish
Shime Saba Aburi / Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel Fish


Shime Saba Aburi / Flame-Seared Cured Mackerel Fish



The Niwatori Karaage / Deep-Fried Chicken With Sesame Dressing (SGD $6.80) was alright, with the medium-sized deep-fried chicken karaage chunks having a crisp texture that borders dry and moist, with a savoury salty flavour that unusually, held a sour note on the end. Suspect a little too much vinegar in the marinade.

Niwatori Karaage / Deep-Fried Chicken With Sesame Dressing (SGD $6.80)


Niwatori Karaage / Deep-Fried Chicken With Sesame Dressing
Niwatori Karaage / Deep-Fried Chicken With Sesame Dressing



The Gyu Tataki / Meltique Beef With Garlic Chips 230g (SGD $18.80) when done properly, is good. The thinly sliced, medium rare meltique beef naturally melts away in the mouth with its juicy tender texture, coating the palate with meaty savoury fatty flavour. The crisp garlic chips lend a herbal salty spice flavour, complementing the beef well. We were served a cut that had tendon through the middle, but if you're fortunate to get a regular cut, this will be good.

Gyu Tataki / Meltique Beef With Garlic Chips 230g (SGD $18.80)


Gyu Tataki / Meltique Beef With Garlic Chips 230g
Gyu Tataki / Meltique Beef With Garlic Chips 230g



Loved the Hotate Mentai / Scallops With Pollock Roe Sauce (SGD $6.80 per piece). The large grilled scallops are bouncy and juicy, with bright natural sweet savoury flavour. The generous topping of mentaiko / pollock roe sauce is thick and creamy, lending a robust salty savoury flavour, though I'd wish for a little less sauce for balance. Good!

Hotate Mentai / Scallops With Pollock Roe Sauce (SGD $6.80 per piece)


Hotate Mentai / Scallops With Pollock Roe Sauce
Hotate Mentai / Scallops With Pollock Roe Sauce


Hotate Mentai / Scallops With Pollock Roe Sauce



A selection of smoky Kushi-Yaki / Skewer Set to accompany a meal with drinks. Served with fresh crisp mesclun salad (rocket leaves / arugula, radicchio, curly endive / frisée) with vegetal herbal bitter sweet flavour.

Kushi-Yaki / Skewer Set


Kushi-Yaki / Skewer Set
Kushi-Yaki / Skewer Set


Kushi-Yaki / Skewer Set


Kushi-Yaki / Skewer Set



The Apsara Bekon / Bacon Wrapped Asparagus (SGD $3.80 per skewer) features thick juicy stalks of asparagus, wrapped with thin chewy slices of pork bacon. With smoky vegetal meaty sweet salty flavour, this was well put together, a classic combination. Worth ordering!

Apsara Bekon / Bacon Wrapped Asparagus (SGD $3.80 per skewer)


Apsara Bekon / Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Apsara Bekon / Bacon Wrapped Asparagus



Loved the Mozzarella Chizu Maki / Beef Short Plate Wrapped Mozzarella Cheese (SGD $6.80 per skewer) when it was perfectly executed. The thin chewy tender strips of beef short plate have bold meaty savoury salty smoky flavour. Stuffed within is mozzarella cheese, gooey and soft with cheesy salty flavour, slowly oozing out when bit. Good!

Mozzarella Chizu Maki / Beef Short Plate Wrapped Mozzarella Cheese (SGD $6.80 per skewer)


Mozzarella Chizu Maki / Beef Short Plate Wrapped Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella Chizu Maki / Beef Short Plate Wrapped Mozzarella Cheese



What I like about the Tori Momo Shio / Salted Chicken Thigh (SGD $3.80 per skewer) is the thick chunky yet moist chicken thigh, with a light chew to texture. The salted version has mild salty sweet savoury smoky flavour, and could do with a little more seasoning. Worth ordering!

Tori Momo Shio / Salted Chicken Thigh (SGD $3.80 per skewer)


Tori Momo Shio / Salted Chicken Thigh
Tori Momo Shio / Salted Chicken Thigh



Decent Buta Enoki / Pork Loin Wrapped Golden Mushroom (SGD $3.80 per skewer), with thin chewy pork loin wrapped around crunchy juicy golden mushrooms. The kitchen rushed this, resulting in it being rather bland, though this was easily remedied with sauce.

Buta Enoki / Pork Loin Wrapped Golden Mushroom (SGD $3.80 per skewer)


Buta Enoki / Pork Loin Wrapped Golden Mushroom
Buta Enoki / Pork Loin Wrapped Golden Mushroom



The Chashu Ringo Sauce / Pork Belly Char Siew With Apple Sauce (SGD $6.80 per skewer) has potential. The key is the char siew marinade, which lends a beautiful sweet savoury flavour to the chewy pork belly. Topped with a lovely bright fruity sweet apple sauce, which I felt wasn't required thanks to the bold marinade. Worth ordering!

Chashu Ringo Sauce / Pork Belly Char Siew With Apple Sauce (SGD $6.80 per skewer)


Chashu Ringo Sauce / Pork Belly Char Siew With Apple Sauce
Chashu Ringo Sauce / Pork Belly Char Siew With Apple Sauce



I find Kakurega (The Lair) to be a great place for after-work drinks and snacks. While quality of food could be decent, the cozy ambience and friendly service is pleasant enough for catching up with family or friends. Drop by Kakurega (The Lair) for the pleasure of fine sake paired with smoky skewers!


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