Tucked in the heart of Chinatown, Kakurega (The Lair) is a new hideout for Japanese sake lovers and anyone who needs a nightcap. Living up to its name, the three-storey bar gives an impression of a cavernous dining area with dim ambient lighting and stairways leading to four other private rooms.
It is the place to mull over daily undertakings with a premium selection of sake such as Junmai Daiginjo, Daiginjo and Junmai Gingo. Junmai means ‘pure rice’ which means that these sake have no other additives such as other types of alcohol or sugar. Few things beat having chilled sake served with yakitori after a hard day’s work. The food menu is categorised into Zensai (starters), Kushi-Yaki (skewers), Sumi-Yaki (charcoal-grilled), Age-Mono (deep-fried) and Itame (sauté) dishes.
Both Eihire (Sun-dried Stingray Fin, $7.80) and Kawahagi (Dried Leather Jacket, $6.80) are served warm and their texture remain chewy without being hard to bite. The stingray fin is packed with flavour and the dried leather jacket reminds me of the dried cuttlefish snacks I used to eat in school.
The Shime Saba Aburi (Flamed-seared Cured Mackerel, $10.80) is cured wonderfully. The layer of fats between the skin and meat melts in the mouth. It Is seared so delicately that the fish remains tender and moist.
They may just be tiny shrimps but the Kawaebi Karaage ($7.80) are still full-bodied and not deep-fried to a crisp. They are lightly salted and I can still taste the sweetness of the shrimps. Addictive little fellas.
Niwatori Karaage ($6.80) are juicy morsels of boneless chicken served with house-made sesame dressing.
The Gyu Tataki ($18.80) gives off an overpowering aroma. The thin slices of beef are best eaten with the fried garlic chips. It could have been better if it is a thicker piece of fillet that is thinly sliced to provide a semblance of rareness of the beef. This feels more like a well-done piece of marinated thin steak.
The Hotate Mentai ($6.80) is a huge scallop that is grilled to perfection. I love the freshness of the scallop that remains juicy and plump. However, it is too heavily doused with mentaiko sauce. Most of us just scrape the excessive mentaiko sauce away.
The Aspara Bacon ($3.80), Tori Momo ($3.80) and Buta Enoki ($3.80) are the usual suspects in a yakitori establishment. The skewers are generally good. The Chashu Ringo Sauce ($6.80) is served with a smidgen of apple sauce that adds a lot more dimension to the taste.
The Mozzarella Chizu Maki ($6.80) comes as a huge wrap of mozzarella cheese enclosed by a slice of beef short plate. I strongly advise smaller bites than to stuff the entire piece into your mouth. It is filling and heavy.
The waiting time for some of the food items is long but otherwise, the food is served hot and freshly grilled or fried. It is a great nook to unwind and relax with friends and colleagues.
Kakurega (The Lair)
12 Smith Street Singapore 058926
5pm – 10.30pm, Closed Sun
Tel: +65 223 0102
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–OmoteNashi Dining Gosso, Boat Quay: Many Japanese Customers at Yakitori Joint But It Was Middling
–Wa-i Sushi, The Scarlet Hotel: New and Intimate Sushi Omakase Restaurant
–RAPPU, Duxton: Original Gangster Meets Sushi Bar
–Kiyoshi Japanese Restaurant, Amoy Street: Specialises in Inaniwa Udon and Many Popular Japanese Dishes
This is an invitation. Written by Cheang Shwu Peng.