SINGAPORE - (THE NEW PAPER) I had very low expectations going into Shukuu Izakaya.
It's fairly new (opened in June), owned by four Singaporeans who are crazy about Japanese culture, doesn't have a Japanese chef and I thought it would be very drink-focused.
I couldn't have been more mistaken about this unpretentious and cool restaurant.
It's a place with lots of soul and art. There's a charcoal drawing on the wall - a tribute to their charcoal grill - and don't worry, there's a varied selection of Japanese alcohol.
Although an izakaya is more about drinking than eating (to some), the food here is recommended. Obviously not everything is good, but a lot of it is exciting. Even when the item is average, the owners' enthusiasm elevates the experience.
This is a place for repeat visits.
SHIOKARA CREAM CHEESE
I was sold on the shiokara with cream cheese ($8) at first bite. The bowl of fermented squid innards is briny and creamy, and absolutely delightful in the mouth. It's an acquired taste but I beg you to be adventurous.
The yasai miso ($8) is basically raw vegetables with an addictive spicy miso dip. When I returned unannounced, the dip was extra spicy. I preferred it milder.
Another must-try is the yaki gyutan (grilled beef tongue, $14). It's very tender and full of that beefy taste.
The negitoro don (minced tuna belly on rice, $10) is as pretty as it is delicious.
It may look like a simple dish, but the maguro yukke (tuna sashimi, $12) has deep flavours, with a seductive hint of spice.
WHAT Shukuu Izakaya
WHERE 8 Stanley Street
WHEN Weekdays 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 11pm Saturdays 5.30pm to 11pm