Ikki Izakaya, Metropolis @ Buona Vista: Not Authentic Japanese but Hella Great Experience with Live Band

First of all, if you want an authentic Japanese experience, get the hell out of Ikki Izakaya at The Metropolis just beside Buona Vista MRT. You won’t find it here. You won’t find bend-over, kimono-clad, century-old obasan, taking small hurried steps with the click-clock clogs in family-run restaurant. But wait, read on.

Authenticity in food is something that I don’t believed in. Because of the way farmers select their seeds, ingredients change with time. (So even if you use the same recipe, the food won’t taste the same “authentic” way as it did 3 years ago.) Because taste for each generation changes with time. Because authenticity is a myth, a policing apparatus created to restrict our creativity.

Kushiyaki (grilled skewers), $25 for 9 sticks

What Ikki Izakaya is is a modern izakaya (loosely translated as “drinking house”) that provides a very, very wide range of alcohols and Japanese food from yakitori (grilled skewers) to sushi and udon. And to that end, Ikki Izakaya fulfils its KPI.

One of the areas that Ikki does excellently is that they got the decor and ambience down. The high ceiling gives a sense of openness and the overall decor reminds me of Kinki.

From Tuesday to Friday, a duo band plays from 7pm to 10pm. Since we were there on Tuesday, we had the good fortune to hear them. It was 90s night, and they were fantastic. (ps: totally cannot identify with the songs, too old for me. lol. Act young. Actually, I knew all the songs, I was singing along with them.)

Kaarage (fried chicken, 6 pieces, $8)

Usually I like to order a dish from each section of the menu, but the menu is too extensive. From the appetisers section, the kaarage or fried chicken is tasty: crispy and moist. Despite the furikake sprinkled on top, it tastes more like KFC (in a good way) than Japanese fried chicken. If you judge it based on authenticity, then it’s not authentic. But if you judge it based on taste, you’ll feel happy eating it.

Pork belly cheese ($6)

Also an appetiser, the pork belly cheese is their version of cordon bleu. Quite good, tender and crispy, although I wish the cheese had a stronger flavour.

Sashimi for 2 ($32)

All sashimi should be like this. Generous and chunky and thick. Worth the money! It gives a fantastic mouthfeel to fill the mouth, rather than miserly thin slices other restaurants tend to give. There are 3 pieces of tuna, swordfish, prawn, squid, and salmon each. Glad they include swordfish, which is my favourite sashimi. Eating this, seeing this photo makes me happy.

We also ordered the 9-stick set grilled skewers ($25), which doesn’t give as much good value since one of the sticks is just cucumber. Not impressed by them. They don’t have the aromatic smokiness that is usually associated with charcoal grill.

Mentai Salmon Bowl ($14.80)

For carbs, the mentai salmon bowl, which comes with miso soup and chawanmushi, hits the spot. Some restaurants over-salt the mentai (pollock roe sauce), but here, it acts as a supporting actor to the salmon, which should be the case. Additionally, I like the not-thin slice of salmon. Some places give such thin slices.

On the whole, Ikki Izakaya has done everything right and well. If you feel stressed at work, I highly recommend coming here after work to relax. It’s a fun place to unwind. We paid $108 for two persons.


Ikki Izakaya
Metropolis, 9 North Buona Vista Drive #01-06/07 Singapore 138588
tel: +65 8138 8578
M-Th 11am – 12am, F 11am – 2am, Sat 6pm – 2am, Closed Sun

Food: 6.75/10
Price: 6.5/10
Decor / Ambience: 8/10
Service: 7/10

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Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.

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