Hidden in a corner of Orchard Road is a place we have nicknamed Little Tokyo. Many Japanese eateries have popped up and you almost imagine being there in Tokyo. Tonight we went to a literally hole-in-the-wall of an Izakaya.
When it comes to being master of your own universe, size doesn’t matter. Who needs a galaxy when you have a 200 sq ft shoebox that you command like a minor feudal lord whose menial serfs slog in a hot kitchen, feeding itinerant strangers who willingly pay more than a few coppers for the favour of a few oysters and a plate of grilled chicken liver?
Kakiin Oyster Bar is that universe that served up yummy dishes to go with your drinks.
白子 Chicken Shirako
Not for the squeamish, these were not on the regular menu. Chicken shirako (or testicles) I ate a lot when I was in Taiwan, but they were usually cooked in sesame oil and made into a gingery soup that I didn’t quite enjoy. But I really liked this Japanese version where they were poached and served with spicy mashed daikon (radish) and ponzu. Yummilicious.
活き生牡蠣 (3ヶ）Freshly Shucked Oysters (3 types)
The boss snapped into action when an order for oysters comes in, when he swiftly shucked and washed a selection of Irish (the smallest), American and Canadian (the largest of the lot) oysters and personally serves them to you on a platter complete with dry ice effect.
And they were good. Good liquor for the Irish, salty and metallic; middle of the road for the American ones; and just big and fleshy for the Canadian. They were fresh and satisfying.
トリュフ枝豆 Truffle Edamame
Warm but mushy, the edamame was too soft for my liking. Made more luxe with the truffle, it would be perfect if they were al dente.
鶏炙りレバー Chicken Liver
From the griddle, you can get creamy sweet chicken livers in a tangy ponzu sauce and raw onions. Each bite of the firm but tender liver did not lack that characteristic and distinctive taste of liver, which was nicely balanced out by the savoury sauce.
鶏砂肝 Chicken Gizzard
This is a chicken part that can get very wrong very easily. When fully cooked, it becomes very chewy and hard. When undercooked, it will be very gamey. The trick is to get the doneness just right so that the flavours are locked in with the crunchy texture of chicken gizzard. And they nailed it perfectly. Served with a dash of chilli sauce that tasted like those served with Hainanese chicken rice.
ブリの刺身とアブリ Yellowtail Sashimi and Aburi
Yellowtail served two ways. Came with a ponzu sauce.
鶏ハツ Chicken Heart
Like the gizzard the came before, the chicken heart needed the same timing and skill or it would easily be overcooked. Unlike the gizzard that was cooked plainly with salt and pepper, the heart was cooked with a teriyaki-like sauce.
鶏なんこつ Chicken Cartilage
The soft bone that separated between the two pieces of breast was cut up and stir-fried with a sweet, savoury sauce. The crunchy soft bone made good drinking snacks.
大きいあさりの酒蒸し Steamed Large Clam
The clams were OK, but the sake and clam juice infused soup that came as a result was delicious.
牛タン Beef Tongue
These were grilled thick-cut beef tongue served with a liberal amount of horseradish cream and capers.
イカの揚げ物 Fried Squid
This was added while we were having drinks and chatting. It turns out to be the only miss for the evening. The squid was quite chewy, like all deep fried calamari that came before this.
北海道四元豚の豚バラ Hokkaido Yongenton Pork Belly
The pork belly pieces were pan fried to a crisp with enough char for that wonderful Milliard flavour.
鉄板牡蠣ガーリックライス Oyster Garlic Fried Rice
The Oyster Garlic Fried Rice is another must-order at Kakiin. Expertly cooked up by the chef-owner, the tasty rice had the right amount of stickiness, and was packed with ample punches of garlic. The fat oysters were not overly cooked and still retained their creamy centres. Even though we were super full by then, we wiped the entire plate clean.
Only a Japanese mind can pack in a full working kitchen, a counter seating up to eight socially distanced diners AND a long storage shelf for alcohol – in a space that would fit one single bed in our house and a very disgruntled occupant.
It was a surprise find, but glad I chanced upon this place. Without a doubt, this place is going to be on my re-visit list. I can’t wait to try the other dishes already. Come for the second seating if you want to stay longer. Otherwise, the 5.30pm – 8 pm slot would be enough to get a drink or two, and filled up the tummy with something delicious.
Kakiin Oyster Bar カキーン
150 Orchard Rd, #01-37 Orchard Plaza, Singapore 238841
Tel : +65 9644 2487
Visited Jun 2023
@Kakiin-Oyster-Bar-カキーン @kakiin.sg @kakiinoysterbar