Ikkagoyo is a new Japanese kaiseki concept that opened along Amoy Street on the 21st of March 2023. Helming the relatively lean kitchen is Chef-Owner Mitsutaka Sakamoto who hails from Hyogo, Japan. The name Ikkagoyo stems from a Japanese proverb which means “one flower opening up to five petals.”
The entrance to the restaurant is relatively obscure. Despite the stated address, one comes in not from Amoy Street itself but from Gemmill Lane at the back.
Kaiseki versus Omakase – what’s the difference?
In Singapore, it seems like the terms “omakase” and “kaiseki” are used interchangeably but there are actually differences between the two. Kaiseki, which Ikkagoyo adheres to, is represented by refined and predetermined set courses using seasonal ingredients. Omakase on the other hand, is also a multi-course meal but with dishes that are selected by the chef depending on diners’ reactions.
It is with this premise that I entered Ikkagoyo and found a uniquely presented printed set menu on top of my plate. Chef Sakamoto is fastidious about the producers and artisans he works with and the left side of the menu shows where he procures his ingredients. During the course of the meal, he is also proud to showcase some of the more unique cutlery and utensils that he uses.
Ikkagoyo occupies a small tube-like space with 8-pax capacity counter seating and private room that can fit another 8 persons. But while the space is small in size, there is definitely nothing miniscule about the service level or the food that they offer. Ikkagoyo’s set menu is priced at S$338++ per person and consists of 12 intricate courses. Most of the cooked dishes are prepared a la minute in front of the diner. Almost all of their dishes are imported from Japan with the exception of a select few such as truffles.
Sea and Land
Hidden inside a capsule-like container, our starter consisted of beancurd skin, Japanese pen shell and kuruma ebi with an ikura paste mixed with rapeseed flower. The dish carried a yuzu-like fragrance but I found out later that it’s actually hyuganatsu, a citrus fruit from Miyazaki prefecture.
I did not expect a carbohydrate dish to come so soon in the meal but I am not complaining. We were served a congee using uruchimai (Japanese short-grain rice) topped with briny Mie clams and lightly-grilled butterbuds. Overall, the congee carried a rather earthy flavor.
Golden Soup Stock
There are three main elements in this dish. The first is the naturally-flavored yellow soup made using kelp and freshly-shaved tuna flakes. The second is a chunk of delicate sea bream and the third is a piece of bamboo shoot. While the sea bream was tender, I found the bamboo shoot to be the highlight. It carried an unexpected umami to it.
Gift From the Sea
This course was a crowd-pleaser during the evening I dined at Ikkagoyo. Where available, this course is served in two parts. The first part is buttery Spanish mackerel with its skin cooked by a press piping process on hot charcoal rather than the usual blow torching for the aburi effect. It is then topped with fresh onions marinated with ponzu coupled with Japanese ginger and shiso flower. This combination elicited a taste that reminded me of chye poh and was just perfect when combined with the mackerel, with its crispy skin and all.
The second part of “Gift From the Sea” comprises sliced fatty tuna sashimi topped with kombu shoyu and gold flakes. To balance out the fattiness of the otoro, an orb of daikon is served on the side together with fresh wasabi.
Japanese Traditional Hassun
This is probably the most theatrically-presented course of the evening with Chef unveiling a basket filled with traditional hassun. The unveiling procedure entails him burning the lid in a tadah moment.
The hassun is made up of 3 components. The first is spinach dressed with miso. The second is wakame made into jelly cubes. The third is a Japanese delicacy and a highlight of the season – velvety monkfish liver that is steamed over dashi.
The vegetable course changes depending on what the crew imports from Japan. At the time of my visit, it consisted of a colorful medley of wild, seasonal vegetables from Shizuoka prefecture.
Chef Sakamoto’s specialty course is a most beguiling eel with cream cheese and truffle wrapped in pancake skin. While I have eaten Japanese eel several times, I have never imagined to eat it in this way. The presence of the pancake wrap evoked some similarities with how Peking Duck is devoured in Chinese cuisine.
This is an alternative to tempura with yellowtail and bamboo shoots enveloped by deep-fried rice paper, as opposed to the usual crispy batter. It is topped with caviar which I thought was a bit overdoing it.
The second carbohydrate course of the evening is a most chewy and well-textured hand-stretched udon sauteed with abalone liver sauce and butter. At the time of my visit, the udon was topped with succulent pieces of uni.
My favorite dish of the evening has got to be the A5 wagyu shabu shabu. Having come from Hyogo prefecture, it is perhaps only apt to expect that Chef Sakamoto will only bring in the best kind of beef and indeed it did not disappoint. Cooked medium-rare, diners are able to have it 3 ways. First is with the katsuo dashi that it comes with. Second is with a raw egg dip and the third with miso. Of the three ways, I really enjoyed dipping it on the egg which gave it a smoother and silky feel as it entered my mouth.
For the main rice dish, Chef Sakamoto gave us 3 options. I chose the gyusuji option (beef tendon with rice). It came in a sizzling stone pot. Delicious! It can be thought of as a mini-meal in itself.
The dessert course in Ikkagoyo is served in two parts. Rather than the usual fresh fruits which Chef Sakamoto finds too sweet, I was served Amazonian cacao sorbet for the first part. Chef was quick to point out that he liked to do it this way as there’s no need to put in any dairy and he only drizzled a little sugar.
The second part is a homage to Singapore with handmade shiroi warabimochi made of coconut milk and served with walnuts inside.
Ikkagoyo is a great addition to Singapore’s small kaiseki dining scene and I would consider it one of the more impressive new restaurant openings I have tried in recent months. It is highly evident how much careful thought was made not just in crafting every dish but also in the tools and materials used. The seasonality of the menu means the experience can be quite varied even for someone who last visited just a month ago. The space is relatively intimate which makes for a quiet dinner spot near the CBD, even at full capacity.
115 Amoy Street
(enter thru Gemmill Lane)
+65 8457 8732
Daily except Sunday, 6:30PM to 10PM