Dinner at Kazu

I’ve been wanting to go back to Kazu for some time now and I finally capitalised on that craving this evening.  I did not regret my decision in the slightest.

Let me start of by saying that Kazu is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Singapore by some margin. It is reasonably priced (OK, I’ll admit that “reasonably priced” is extremely relative but given the quality of the food, I think Kazu’s pricing qualifies as “reasonable” on most levels), the food is great and the service is excellent. The atmosphere is cozy, if a little cramped, and at capacity the restaurant can probably sustain up to 40 covers at any one time. There is counter-seating available although the majority of the restaurant’s layout is conventional, i.e. tables and chairs.

Kazu is famous for its yakitori and the owner-chef, Kazu-san, personally grills each and every stick. However, where Kazu really shines are in its array of specials, which may or may not be on the menu, and one is advised to ask the staff for the day’s specials. I would also suggest seeking their recommendations as the staff are well-drilled and know their product very well. The specials will often consist of fresh produce which has been flown in direct from Japan and may include various types of sashimi (to my recollection, the most exotic of which was horse sashimi), oysters, fresh Japanese vegetables and the like. I once even had corn sashimi (which was excellent). Don’t get me wrong, the yakitori here is still the main draw and, more importantly, is quite affordable. However, if you have a little money to spend or are simply feeling adventurous, I highly recommend ordering ‘off menu’ to supplement the yakitori. A word of caution, if you are price conscious it would be prudent to ask just how much you are going to have to pay for that fresh uni. As with all restaurants of similar ilk, ordering ‘off menu’ fare can result in a very hefty bill. For my part though, it is usually worth every single cent.

Without further ado…

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Fresh ikura (salmon roe) nestled in a bed of Japanese seaweed jelly and garnished with a pinch of fresh wasabi. This appetizer (which is off the menu) may not be much to look at but it was nonetheless a treat. I can’t recall having had ikura like this, where the membrane of the roe was so taut yet firm that it was slightly difficult to burst. When it did though, the taste was fresh and unlike the Sushi Tei staple you may be accustomed to.

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Uni with fresh beancurd skin and garnished with fresh wasabi. Again, another off-menu item. Personally I thought the flavours of this one didn’t quite match as the beancurd skin was rather overpowering. Further, the uni had clearly been slightly charred with a blowtorch. Whether this was to give the uni a smoky finish, or to cover up a want of freshness, I wasn’t sure. What I do know is that I am certain that I would have preferred the uni unmolested.

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Chicken skin with ponzu jelly. Another off-menu appetizer, this dish was perfect with the flavours finely balanced. The zesty, vinegarish-ness of the ponzu jelly was a perfect foil for the chicken skin, which almost had the bite of jellyfish.

Onto the yakitori

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US Beef yakitori. This dish is consistently excellent, if a little over-salted. But as I like my food on the salty side, I really had no complaints. Despite the thinness of the cut, Kazu-san nails this perfectly medium each and every time. I doubt very much that this is USDA Prime, but when it’s cooked this well, does it really matter?

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Often the highlight of any trip to Kazu, the foie gras yakitori is always brilliant, namely runny in the center, crisp on the outside and well seasoned. There is also something about the yakitori grill that adds a smoky finish to the foie gras, which is surely the coup de grace. This is a must try along with the US beef.

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Lamb cutlets also cooked on the yakitori grill. This has to be one of my personal favourites although at $10 a cutlet, it may be a little steep. Again, perfectly grilled at medium – red in the center and pink on the fringes.

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Beef tendon yakitori. Only order if you relish that beefy taste, e.g. if you like bone marrow. If you do, this yakitori is awesome.

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Any Japanese meal may be considered incomplete with the ultimate in comfort foods – cold udon! This is another off the menu item and is freshly made by Kazu-san. This particular udon is known as Inaniwa udon, which is  one of the thinnest types of udon (think thin linguini). The bite was fantastic and the sauce, if a little salty, was excellent.

Overall, my dinner at Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant was consistent with past experiences, that is to say, excellent.

All images shot with a Canon EOS 700D on a 28mm f/1.8 USM lens; post-production, where required, performed with Adobe Lightroom 5.

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