By the same people behind the extremely popular Japanese hotpot Suki-Ya, Kuro Izakaya, beside the taxi stand at the outside of Suntec tower 3, specializes in kushiyaki (BBQ skewers) and Japanese whiskeys. They use a Japanese imported Kosei Charcoal Grill, which utilizes infrared waves to focus the charcoal heat on the food without drying it. When I asked if they import their ingredients from Japanese, they replied, “Even our plates are from Japan!”
Starting with $14++, the lunch sets include ramen or donburi, which are served with a starter and dessert to complete and complement the meal. The Australian grain-fed beef ramen ($20) is popular and interesting because rarely is beef used in ramen. But we tried another popular kuro pork ramen ($20), which is decent: a sweet, thick broth that isn’t oily, tender char siew, and nicely chewy noodles.
If you’re not up for noodles for lunch, there are rice bowls such as chirashi don ($18). The miso buta yaki don ($16) we tried was nice.
Because their ramen are so popular and customers come in the evenings to ask for them, they decided to include ramen and donburi for dinner.
I find some of their small plates quite costly, like smoked ajitsuke tamago ($8), consisting of only half a “ramen” egg on a dollop of Hokkaido potato salad, and onsen tamago ($12) which comes in a martini glass with shirakae noodles, yuzu, wasabi, and ikura. That said, they are not bad.
There are many dishes that are good with their Kirin Ichiban frozen beer such as the kaki yaki ($15), grilled Pacific oysters with mentaiko. Unfortunately, the oysters are overpowered by the salty taste of mentaiko, and I couldn’t taste the sea of the oyster.
Anything deep-fried is good for alcohol: Tori karaage ($8) and kawa ebi (baby shrimps, $12).
There are also “serious” slabs of meat such as the char-grilled miso Norwegian salmon ($16) and grilled A3 wagyu ($38, above). But the best dish at Kuro Izakaya is naturally the kurobuta pork jowl ($16, below), since the restaurant is named after the prized hog kurobuta (black pig). It is marinated in shoyu mirin, so the fatty juices are mixed with a sweetness.
The kuro kushiyaki platter ($36) comes with 12 sticks. Although some are over-charred, the chicken skin is everybody’s favorite.
Some restaurants are good because they serve excellent food. Some restaurants are good because there is an absence of terrible food. Kuro Izakaya belongs to the latter. The food all pass muster and I like the music here. They play jazz versions of top 40s, like this excellent version of “Bad Blood.” It is a nice place to chill out after work.
Overall rating: 3.25/4
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.