Review: Kiku Japanese Restaurant – high-end but so good

Kiku is a new high-end Japanese restaurant located at Duxton. My friends and I stumbled upon this place completely by accident. We were planning to eat Mexican food at Lucha Loco but it was closed on a Monday evening.

kiku singapore

The restaurant was nearly empty when we entered. We were shown upstairs to a cosy tatami room and proceeded to order umeshu. I chose the ryokucha umeshu, which was made from green tea and Nankou plum. My friends ordered the yuzu lemon umeshu.

This was my first time tasting green tea and plum umeshu and I was so impressed by the flavours. I have a sour and salty tooth (as opposed to having a sweet tooth!) so I really enjoy the tartness of the plum in my drink. One small glass, however, set me back by $14. If only I can get my hands on a whole bottle somewhere in Singapore…

umeshu green tea

I don’t order the rice or noodle dishes so a good Japanese restaurant to me is one that serves a good variety of side dishes. Kiku did not disappoint. We opted to skip the sashimi but we were spoilt for choice with the cooked dishes.

First, everyone was given a small helping of pumpkin for starters.

japanese pumpkin

Then we tucked into sashimi salad, edamame and tofu. Pretty standard Japanese fare, I know, but the cold tofu was really good with the sauce.

kiku restaurant

The next dish was my favourite of the night. Its looks so ordinary and it was easily the tastiest.

According to Barbara, this was pretty fusion – it was cabbage fried in mentai, which were the small orange balls of fish roe with the vegetables.

japanese mentai

My second favourite dish was also an unassuming one. This was eggplant with minced pork. Yes, the same brinjal that you can get at the economic rice stall. But 10 times better, trust me.

eggplant japanese

Next up was tender pork belly. They melted in my mouth.

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This was followed by salmon, which was quite ordinary. I think I like salt-baked salmon the best after trying it at Sangokai Restaurant.

salmon japanese

Our next dish was probably the poorest of the night. Alicia thought the squid was rubbery.

kiku squid

Lastly, we had soft shell crab. Somehow I don’t remember eating this so maybe I didn’t get my hands on it.

soft shelled crab

Customer service was good at Kiku. The waitresses were patient and didn’t mind the ruckus we were creating laughing and talking. We had great reason to be cheerful. We were celebrating a birthday and an engagement for our good friends!

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What I love about Kiku was the best dishes were the ordinary ones. We didn’t have to eat the expensive sashimi or the typical Japanese dishes to enjoy our meal. Even the humble cabbage can taste amazing if cooked well.

For paleo eaters out there, you have plenty of choices if you don’t want to eat noodles or rice. The only drawback is that Kiku is quite high-end and more suitable for special occasions.

Kiku Japanese Restaurant | 21 Duxton Road

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