Iko experiments with new wave of modern Japanese delicacies at Neil Road

The restaurant’s That High Sess Somen. Photo: iKO
The restaurant’s That High Sess Somen. Photo: iKO

All photos by iKO

A modern Japanese restaurant has revamped its menu and is looking to do the same to tastebuds by serving up new experimental flavors.

iKO, which opened in April on Neil Road last year, has brought onboard a new French-trained chef Dylan Ong to bring a lineup of Japanese dishes made with European cooking techniques.

“I created the new dishes at iKO with three factors in mind: my foundation in French cuisine, my love for Japan and its produce, and being an experimental and adventurous sort,” Ong said in a news release. He is also the founder of Franco-Asian restaurant The Masses. 

The 55-seater dimly lit space is mysterious with dark furniture like black booth seats and steel tables. They illuminate once its neon lights flash intermittently but sadly, makes it tough to see or snap photos of the food. Pop art and pop culture-related posters also filled the walls, even made to cover murals on the walls. 

Like its decor, the food is served with a side of foreign even though it is made up of Japanese produce.

Starting off with a light snack, the iKO-Bee (S$15) are addictive hand-sliced potato chips seasoned with sour cream and bottarga powders but are served in a paper bag that you have to shake up.

Then you have the raw fish served in ice cream cones. The Negitoro Ice Cream (S$18) has a seaweed cone stuffed with minced raw tuna, cured egg yolk and menegi (green onion bud).

The Salmon Ice Cream (S$18) is another that is filled with minced raw and smoked salmon, creme fraiche and ikura (salmon roe), and the Lil Basket (S$20), which resembles the traditional kueh pie tee, is made of beetroot baskets stuffed with Hokkaido snow crab, spicy avocado mousse and lime gel.

A take on the great jalapeno poppers is the A Japanese Curry Piquillo State of Mind (S$20) which is roasted piquillo pepper stuffed with beef brisket that is braised for 16 hours and served with red wine curry sauce garnished with diced onions, carrots and potatoes.

A highlight of the evening would be the simple but flavorful Soy Chawanmushi (S$18) which is packed with rich and heavy chunks and shreds of deep-sea red prawns, prawn tempura and prawn oil, and topped with burned string cheese, dill oil and dashi verjus.

That High Sess Somen (S$38) is another worthy mention. The cold appetizer is made with chutoro, Hokkaido snow crab, Bafun uni and Kaviari caviar, finished with a decadent clam sauce and chives. 

A heavier dish would be the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Donabe (S$68) which is a claypot with 110g of A5 wagyu served with French black pig, truffle rice, seasonal black truffle and mushroom, chive and kombu. 

As for desserts, end the meal with the Yuzu Semi Freddo (S$15), the restaurant’s spinoff of a sundae. It is made up of a panna cotta and rich cream cheese with fresh Kyoho grapes, red wine and grape compote, hazelnut soil and a scoop of ‘Bubble Yum Grape’ ice cream.

The restaurant’s tipples make it easier to throw back more food. Their best-selling Mizubasho Junmai Ginjo is a sweet, refreshing sake with a gentle finish, while the Gekkeikan Koh No Karakuchi is dry, spicy sharp one with a clean finish. 

There is also Highball Night every Monday with free flow house pour whiskey highballs and ladies get a free glass of prosecco on Wednesdays.

The Soy Chawanmushi (S$18).

The Lil Basket (S$20).

The A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Donabe (S$68).

The iKO-Bee (S$15).

RELATED – Korean street food stall-inspired restaurant opens tomorrow at Tanjong Pagar

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