Lunch at Ikkukan

collageIt’s been a long time since my darling friends and I had lunch together, so it was with alacrity that another one was set up and agreed upon. This time it was to be Ikkukan.

Ikkukan is a small but very well-appointed restaurant in a small lane called Mohammed Ali, just off Club Street. The last time I was here was about 3 years ago (long before this blog), I had a fantastic lunch featuring grilled items off the menu. I surprised that it was still open especially near such a competitive place as Club Street. I guess this means Ikkukan has staying power.

Spartan but comfortable that is typically Japanese. When I arrived, I was the only Chinese there. It was filled with Japanese businessmen and groups of Japanese tai-tais. Unfortunately, because the place is small (about 6-8 tables inside), we were seated by the door which was bad because of the high humidity and the ins and outs of people.

The menu offered quite a lot of choices including a Macrobiotic lunch set, “Macrobiotic” here means “very healthy but you need a full lunch before eating it”. 😉 The grill menu is as good as ever. What caught my eye was the Prix Fixe Lunch ($59+++, I think) that included a very intriguing item called Meltique.

I’ve heard of Meltique but have never tried it. It is essentially Australian lean beef “larded” or injected with beef tallow (or canola or sunflower oil according to some people) and then shaped to specifications. Sounds very unappetizing, but as a meat-lover, this is a must-try for me.

Appetizers for the Prix Fixe set came. I had the Tuna Carpaccio while others had the Uni on Tofu.

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The carpaccio was very refreshing. The toasted barley added a smokey flavour to the sweet tuna. There was “Mountain Fish Caviar”, but it was really hard to bite on. The Uni on Tofu must have been good because it was polished off without a sound.

One of the first courses was the Foie Gras Chawanmushi which I did not order.

Foie Gras Chawanmushi

A decision that I immediately regretted because it looked absolutely dangerously delicious. No matter, as I bravely stood by my choice of a grilled Maguro steak.

After all, Ikkukan is famous for it’s grill, I tell myself while kicking myself under the table as I wonder if it is correct to use the word “myself” in the same sentence twice.

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Actually, it is not right to dismiss the grilled Maguro with black and red peppers just because the neighbour made an lovely choice. The grass is always greener, so to speak.

No. The Maguro steak was very well done. Floating on a beautifully savoury potato mash, seared to perfection on the outside and very sweet on the inside, the tuna was excellent. The peppers did not distract the tastebuds, it heightened the taste.

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It does the soul good to see such wonderfully done grilling.

Others opted for the Hambāgu set. It was a huge Salisbury Steak served with rice instead of a bun. There is something very comforting about eating Salisbury Steak with rice.

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I think this is a very nice way to get your beef fix and I was told the white radish on top gave it a nice zing and texture too.

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The Salmon set was also great value for money. There were two platters full of good stuff!

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One of the main courses of the Prix Fixe set selected by my friends was the Grilled Salmon on Miso with grilled Ginko nuts.

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It really looked very cool when the hot stove was placed in front of her, but I think there was some difficulty in eating it was it looked precariously perched on a leaf that hid all the edges of the grill.

Finally, the Grilled Meltique Ribeye was placed on my table.

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Served with a healthy (hahaha!) side of salad, I was speechless as I inspected the steak all round. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a perfectly grilled steak. Normally, when you order medium-rare at a steakhouse, you’d pray that you see some pink in the interior (which is actually medium and not medium-rare). I am in awe at the skill of the grill master.

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The Meltique beef was soft and buttery. For those who are not used to well-marbled beef like Wagyu, you might not like the fatty texture. For the rest, it had that melt-in-your-mouth texture and taste that simply fills your mouth. It was almost perfect.

What dragged it down from the heights of perfection was the absence of that “Beefy” taste that one looks in a slice of beef. It is the taste that satisfies. Such beefy taste is particularly strong in an aged Black Angus or subtle in a Wagyu, but it was absent in the Meltique steak I had.

The Meltique Steak was served with a choice of white or Brown rice. Brown rice was recommended by my neighbour; I enjoyed it, especially with the seaweed. Both the smokey brown rice and Black Pepper and mustard condiment made an excellent accompaniment to the Meltique Beef.

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All in all, it was a very pleasant lunch with friends. Service was harried but decent and accommodating and of course, the food was excellent. Ikkukan has held up its reputation for great modern Japanese cuisine. Do try the grill.

Oh yes, I had fun looking at all the groups of Japanese Tai-tais having a great time with cocktails and food. Makankakis are universal.


Posted on 12th Dec 2006 in Food and Drink, Lunch Bunch

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There Are 3 Comments

 

LSD commented on December 16, 2006 at 1:43 pm


very good entry here Ivan. I’ve walk by this place on a few occasions wondering if it’s really good. After reading this, I plan on visiting. 🙂


 

Ivan commented on December 31, 2006 at 5:22 pm


@LSD: Thanks. It’s definitely worth a try. So far I have not been disappointed in all my visits there.


 

[…] However, Umami and other people reassured me that this is one of the best Sushi and Sashimi restaurant they have been to. And thus I found myself at Kaisan at the Raffles Hotel on Beach Road with the Lunch Bunch. […]


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