The month-old Niku Katsumata at Duxton Road is the first overseas outlet of Katsumata in Ebisu, Tokyo. The Tokyo outlet, started by the owner Tsuyoshi Katsumata in 2012, is an exclusive member-only restaurant serving gourmands and celebrities. In the same year, the owner started Japan Meat Sommelier Association. He also lectures at culinary schools and consults for restaurants.
In Singapore, the restaurant is helmed by Chef Taiki Fujikawa, who has 10 years of experience, and a very striking manager Yosuke Aoki, who looks like the hansamu version of the actor in Train to Busan. All three of them—the chef, the manager, and the server–are imports from the Ebisu outlet. It feels like Tokyo at the restaurant.
The restaurant serves 2 set courses at $128++ and $198++, with a la carte options. The set consists of 150g-175g of beef. The yakiniku grilled meat shop uses Kagoshima wagyu beef of marbling 3 to 4 (except for Australian beef tongue). They cook the beef on a crystal plate which distributes the low heat evenly, so that the beef retains its tenderness and moisture. Because there is no contact between the fire and fat, there is no smoke. Because there is no smoke, there is not stench on clothes.
I want to know about the crystal plates: are they Swarovski crystal? Hahaha.
But before the grilled beef, there are some beef dishes, like the appetizer prosciutto melon and onion soup; and wagyu sashimi and tartare (from rump), which is mixed with a nice sweet Japanese sauce.
After the appetizers comes the grilling. The selection of beef includes rump, rib, flank, fillet, loin, etc. Simply season it with salt or with their delicious secret sauce, which includes onions and two fruits.
The marbling is not very high because they believe that you can taste the true “beef-ness,” something I agree on. Over the years, I’ve grown to enjoy a slight bite to the beef, to like more meat than fat on beef. It’s healthier, and it is also more commonsensical to eat meat, not fat.
The selection is very good, because you can taste a variety; some are very tender and some has a bit more bite, all are succulent but none is oleaginous. Towards the end of the meal, you’ll feel good, and not heavy.
The wait staff provides table service and grills the meat for you. Most of the times, I prefer to grill the meat myself because it’s more fun and interactive. But Aoki-san has a special way of grilling the fillet; he grills it, leaves it aside to rest, and then grills it again. As a result, when you bite into it, the juices splash in your mouth. It’s good to leave the work to the experts.
On the platter, there is also a Kagoshima pork. Usually we Chinese cook pork thoroughly, but Aoki-san assured us that there is no bacteria in Japanese pork, so it doesn’t need to be well-done. And true enough, it’s delicious and juicy. And no diarrhoea. Haha.
At first, we thought we wouldn’t be full, but at the end of the beef courses, we were. But Japanese always ends with a carb. There is a choice of curry rice or chicken soup torisoba. The curry rice has been written about in a popular Japanese magazine; it is sweeter and thicker than usual Japanese curry, and also more Indian-spice-y. But go for the torisoba. The soup is boiled for 8 hours, packed with collagen. The noodles are slightly soft—which is how I like Asian noodles–and very slurp-worthy. Chiobu just drank straight from the bowl. Who cares about spoons?!
We were surprised by the tiramisu. (Thought we were getting ice cream or fruits.) The dessert is fantastic, full of rum. There is something crunchy (oreo crumbs?), which adds a great dimension to the traditional Italian dessert; very smart.
On the whole, the price is rather reasonable, more affordable than other yakiniku joints like Magosaburo and beef specialist shops like Ushidoki. I like it that Katsumata serve a lean cut of wagyu, I didn’t miss the oily, jerlat feeling of fatty wagyu at all; The lean beef is just as delicious. But what I miss is the charcoal-aroma of yakiniku. Give and take, no smoky beef also means that our clothes are odor-free when we leave the restaurant. An excellent meal.
Niku Katsumata Singapore
47 Duxton Road, Singapore 089511
T: +65 9162 7502
Overall rating: 3.625/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.