Ikkoten | The Newest Kyoto Kaiseki-Style Omakase at Telok Ayer
Ikkoten is the newest Kyoto Kaiseki-Style Omakase that opened just a stone throw away from Telok Ayer MRT station. Helmed by head chef, Brandon Low, who has had experience working at restaurants like Chikuyotei and Yoshi, Ikkoten is meant to be a space for Chef Low to integrate the traditional taste of Kyoto cuisine with his own spin to things. We had the “Hana” ($298++) menu during our visit.
After settling in, we were served with an appetiser: homemade black sesame tofu with uni and dashi sauce. I am partial to black sesame, and the taste comes out strong in the tofu.
The hassun was a medley of dishes – pickled vegetables topped with shredded bonito flakes, summer fruit fig with egg miso and yuzu, deep fried broad bean stuffed with homemade fish cake and baby sweet fish tempura, which is in season now. The sweet fish tempura can be a tad bitter so if you intend to visit Ikkoten soon, bite into the dish with some caution. The summer fruit fig with egg miso and yuzu was delightful – sweet and refreshing.
The soup course was next – Japanese seabags cooked in kyoto style green pea soup. There is no sign of fishiness in the soup as it tasted clear with the hint of sweetness from the pea.
The seasonal sashimi course was the three line grunt fish rolled with traditional sour plum soy sauce topped with a silver of uni.
We also had the bluefin tuna belly (otoro) surface charcoal grilled with bubble shoyu. The otoro was reverse-grilled by letting the heat from the charcoal warm the otoro, which causes it to “sweat” and drip onto the charcoal, resulting in a smoky flavour.
The next course is Chef’s signature sushi. Instead of the usual negitoro handroll or sushi, chef used crispy crystal crackers topped with negitoro and uni with seaweed soy sauce. Just before you eat it, Chef will sprinkle some edible gold dust on it for extra “luxe”. I must confess that whilst it is something different, I prefer the usual carb-filled roll / sushi as a base to complement the negitoro and uni.
The seasonal simmered dish is the homemade egg tofu with simmered sea eel and thickened dashi sauce. The firm and fresh eel complemented the creamy egg tofu well.
We then had the grilled Japanese Spanish mackerel that was topped with burnt egg sauce. The topping gave it a slight crust, which was a welcome textural contrast to the meaty mackerel.
The meat dish was charcoal grilled A5 wagyu beef that was hay-smoked and served with sesame ponzu sauce.
The star of the meal has to be the Donabe – Umami cherry blossom shrimp collagen claypot rice.
The rice was very flavourful and I could not resist second servings despite having many courses earlier. Fret not if you cannot stomach anymore because Chef shaped the leftover rice into little onigiris for the diners to bring home, which they can heat up subsequently.
Apart from seasonal fruits (Shizuoka crown melon and Muscat Grape), we also had the matcha pudding with red bean. Under Chef Low’s lead, Ikkoten is an up and coming place for multi-coursed, kaiseki style dining. Priced at $298++ for its dinner omakase menu, it can be fairly steep for most diners. But those looking to try some of Chef Low’s creation can drop by for the more affordable lunch menus, which start at $88++ and features the signature donate too. Budget per person: $88 to 298 per person