Izakaya was very popular with the CBD crowd. But with Covid, many were hit by the restrictions and closed. Shukuu Izakaya survived the pandemic to continue to serve the thirsty and hungry office workers looking for an after-hour drink and small bites.
ShuKuu Japanese Izakaya & Sake Bar 酒空居酒屋 was founded by four friends with a passion for sake and Japanese food. They were not properly trained in the culinary art of Japanese fine dining, but different stints in Japanese izakayas have helped honed their skills.
The interior was like those small eateries found around the subway stations in Tokyo. The walls were decorated with paintings and wallpapers of Japanese woodblock prints called Nihonga. And along the walls, empty bottles of sakes decorated the railings.
And they serve Izakaya food which are mainly salty food to go with drinks. We started with some dried stingray fins (Japanese version of dried cuttlefish) and deep fried river shrimps. One was slight chewy, sweet and smoky, the other savoury and crispy. They just made the highballs went down like water.
Next up, yakitori of different chicken parts and kushiyaki of pork belly and wagyu beef. They were all very well done, especially the savoury miso-glazed eggplant, an adaption of the classic Nasu no Miso Dengaku (茄子の味噌田楽) which I find too sweet. The Tochigi A4 wagyu ribloin was melt-in-mouth good and at $9.50 each was also value-for-money. My favourite was the Tsukune meat balls which had a mix of cartilage, skin and half-fat minced port.
Nikujaga 肉じゃが originated in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was introduced to sailors as it was high in nutrition and the ingredients are easy to supply as they are similar to the ones for Navy Curry. In the late 19th century, General Heihachiro Togo who studied in Portsmouth, England in late 1800s, asked the naval cook to create a version of the beef stew, which was served in the British Royal Navy. As the chef never tried beef stew before and ingredients like wine and demi glace sauce were not available then, the chef invented his own version with soy sauce and sugar, similar to Sukiyaki. The dish, called Amani (甘煮) back then, became popular in the commoner’s homes as well, and every mother has slightly different variation to the standard recipe.
And to round up the meal, the rice balls or onigiri. I would prefer them grilled to have that crispy, smoky crust, but instead they were coated with toasted white sesame seeds. Paired with the fermented squid (forgot to take a picture) and wasabi octopus, they were good end to the drinking session.
This was a favourite of mine – grilled whole sardine – but with the stuffed mentaiko, it was slightly overwhelmingly salty. But it was good accompaniment with onigiri.
This place was popular before the pandemic, and I was happy that it had survived the worst of time for the F&B industry. With the country easing the restrictions, the crowds are back, and I am sure this place will be back to their formal glory.
ShuKuu Japanese Izakaya & Sake Bar 酒空居酒屋
8 Stanley Street Singapore (068727)
+65 6327 9240
Visited in Apr 2022