IKYU, Modern Japanese Dining in the Heartland of Tiong Bahru

Long ago,  Tiong Bahru was a sleepy, quiet and old estate with mostly senior citizens living in the area.  However in the recent years, much life has been restored as cafes and indie stores sprang up in the neighborhood including a brand new addition, IKYU.

IKYU is a modern Japanese restaurant helm by Executive Chef Takuma Seki, former chef de cuisine at Hide Yamamoto.  It is said that one of the patron at his former restaurant enjoyed his food so much and got him over to head this restaurant.  I was invited to IKYU on one of the weekday night for dinner and was surprised by the crowd during older this soft launch period which consist of both young hippies and the older ones as well as families.

Are they loyal patrons of Chef Takuma Seki or there’s something special in his food?  Read on to find out!

For the record, Chef Takuma Seki is very particular about the quality of food served and insist all ingredients freshly flown in from Japan twice a week.  Over here, he is showing a wooden sign which states the rice he use are strictly from Hokkaido.  Hence, the price of the items on the menu are sightly higher than other Japanese restaurants but it is said to be of better quality.

For starters, I was served the Grilled Edamame flavoured in Truffle ($8.50).  Pretentious you might say with that bit of truffle oil but it hit my weak spot especially for truffle lovers like me.

French Foie Gras flavoured in Yuzu ($18.50)?  Definitely not something you will see at a traditional Japanese restaurant.  This is certainly a must-try as it tasted better than some of the French restaurants where I’ve tried.  The foie gras were first seasoned with yuzu to break down the texture and then char-grilled on the surface till it is crisp and golden brown.  The combination of smokey and buttery flavour with the melt-in-your-mouth texture was simply too good for words.

Where was a last time I had a really great wagyu beef?  I can’t exactly recall as I had one too many mediocre ones.   Chef Seki’s carefully prepared Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Sirloin (120g) ($58.50) is probably the best I’ve tried.  The portion was well-marbled and succulent as I took a bite into the tender meat.  For those who love a more robust flavour, onion flakes and ponzu sauce of yuzu were served alongside to complement it but it is already so good by itself.  I wish the portion was bigger as I can have a few more servings of this by myself.

Blue Fin Tuna O-Toro ($58.50), fresh thick slices of glorious meat from the center of the blue fin tuna’s belly.  Although it is not widely found in other Japanese restaurants, I can do without this endangered species as I didn’t like the strong fishy aftertaste.

When the sushi platter, I thought it would be very normal as I had such great foie gras and wagyu beef earlier.  However, these sushi were unique prepared.  From the left, they are:- kinmedai (snapper), hokigai (artic surf clam), maguro (tuna), engawa (flounder).  The raw fish slices on the sushi were lightly marinated Edo-style as people in the past do that to keep fresh fish edible for a longer period.

I enjoyed the engawa the most as the part of the fish was from the fin, the most tender-licious part of the fish and best of all, it is topped with yuzukosho (yuzu pepper) to add a mildly spicy and tangy kick to the sushi.

Ending the dinner, Chef Takuma Seki brought out a Hokkaido Rock Melon which could have easily cost S$100 off the shelves of high-end supermarts.  I was surely in for a treat!

Chef Seki is very warm and hospitable person by specially treating us to a plate of Japanese seasonal fruits which include Japanese peach, pear and fig compote!  They were so sweet and juicy and it left me smiling from ear to ear.

Chef Seki has a saying which goes “Love and peace, we are living together in a small world.”  He believes that every single customer no matter who they are should be treated equally with respect in his restaurant and deserves the best service.  If you’re planning to visit IKYU, don’t forget to have a chat with him!

The interior of the restaurant is very modern without all the traditional Japanese elements.  Dimly lit and fitted with mirrors on the wall, it is unlike any of those Japanese you’ve been to.  Casual, cosy with food of fine dining standard.

There’s also a bar area where you can have some of the best of Japanese Sake and cocktails.


  • 5, Yong Siak Street
  • Singapore 168643

Opening Hours:

  • Tuesday – Sunday: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10.3opm


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