Dinner @ IRU DEN

January 31, 2022 in Japanese

Chef-owner Javier Low has definitely come a long way since his IL DEN days. Back then, IL DEN could only house 8 people maximum. And chef Javier was pretty much a one-man show; Doubling up as the waiter, cashier and sommelier. But now? His restaurant has shifted to a new premise under the new name (IRU DEN), and he is leading a team of at least 5 people (based on what I could see during my meal). In all honesty, I was surprised to learn IRU DEN was located in one of the black and white colonial houses along Scotts Road. That’s such a jump from his Orchard Plaza days. And all over a span of 3 to 4 years? I am impressed!

Reservation has since become relatively simpler. I made the reservation for my girlfriend and I via their website. Counter seats are more popular, so do plan at least 1.5 to 2 months in advanced. Especially so for Fridays and Saturdays (They are closed on Sundays). The only con is that IRU DEN requires 2 people minimum for the bookings. No solo dining…

Between the 6pm and 7.30pm seatings, my girlfriend and I went with the later slot. We also had to pre-select our menu when reservation was made. There’s 3 options; 7 courses ($198), 10 courses ($268) and 10 courses special ($368). We decided against the $368 menu because the $100 top up seemed to be solely for the claypot rice upgrade to abalone (awabi donabe).

So while my girlfriend and I thought we were to enter the colonial house through its main entrance, there was a sign to inform IRU DEN diners that IRU DEN entrance was at the side. After taking our drinks order and settling us down with the menu, we started our 10 courses omakase dinner, $268 with:-

1) Cold appetiser (above) – Aka ebi, tosazu, nanohana pesto. I enjoyed this dish. Especially liked the sourness of the accompanying sauce.

2) Sashimi (above) – Buri, moroheiya, nasu. Wished the yellowtail pieces were bigger. Everything was gone with just a few chews.

3) Shari (above) – Goma saba, vinegared rice. Didn’t like this. The mackerel was fishy while the rice was a bit mushy.

4) Tempura (above) – Suzuki, harumaki, oba.

5) Chawanmushi (above) – Black winter truffle, avruga caviar, tori dashi.

6) Signature (above) – Bafun uni, somen.

7) Grilled (above) – Tsukune, tori, hakusai, sansho.


8) Grilled (above) – Iberico buta, presa, parsnip, gobo. One could choose between A5 Kumamoto wagyu or iberico buta. I went with the latter since I don’t eat beef due to religious reason.

9) Donabe (above) – Kegani, ebi imo, yumepirika rice. 2 mouthfuls into the dish and I was thinking “Is this right?” to myself. So while I enjoy bits of scorched rice for the extra crunch, there was simply too much of it. I tried to separate the scorched rice from the normal rice, but it was impossible. The staff came round and ask if we wanted seconds. I said yes not because the first bowl was impressive, but because I wanted to give it another chance. And the second bowl turned out better because there was less scorched rice. Phew. And naturally, I paid more attention to the staff when they prepared the claypot dish for other groups. And the staff was scarping hard at the claypot… Okie, that explains.

10) Palette cleanser (above)

11) Dessert with options of:

(A) Mont Blanc (above) – Marron, winter black truffle.

(B) Brioche (above) – Oolong, shio kombu caramel.

12) Petit fours (above)

While I wasn’t blown away by the food, it was an overall pleasant dining experience. But there was something about the portions. Although we left IRU DEN feeling stuffed, my girlfriend and I were always commenting about how small portion each dish was throughout our meal. So while I know it’s nice to give diners variety (ie, 10 courses), I felt in the case for IRU DEN, it would have been better if they did just 9 courses with slightly bigger portion. Cause you know… We diners feel better when we see substantial portion on our plate even if it’s fine dining. Yes? No?

That said, I had to make a very last minute update to my girlfriend’s dietary requirement (one day before our meal). Was very grateful that they were able to oblige despite our late notice.

Would I recommend IRU DEN? Hmm… I am on the fence. Would I see myself returning? Hmm… Probably not in the near future.

27 Scotts Road, Singapore
Website, 8923 1127
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 6
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

[Revisit] Dinner @ Sushi Kimura | Sushi Restaurant in Orchard

November 11, 2018 in Japanese

My first meal at Sushi Kimura was in 2017. That’s when they were still in their first month of operation and before they were awarded 1 Michelin star. So when my siao-on instagram foodie friends (who are also big fans of chef-owner Tomoo Kimura) suggested heading to Sushi Kimura for dinner, I was up for it. One could also say I was curious; From the photographs which others posted of Sushi Kimura on instagram, the food was looking better with time.

Being a group of 5 and only wanting head chef Tomoo san, our first preferred date for dinner was not available. So yes, one should plan in advanced if coming in big group and wish to have head chef Tomoo san.

Though not late for our dinner appointment, I was the last in our group to reach the restaurant. And of course my ‘siao on’-sters had already placed order since we dined together often enough to know we would all be going for the omakase menu (I am assuming they ordered Oribe, $330). And with that, we started our dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Salmon roe (ikura), tofu skin (yuba) and dashi jelly.

2) Dish #2 (above, left) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with Hokkaido hairy crab and Hokkaido sweet corn.


3) Dish #3 (above) – Abalone (awabi) with sauce made with its liver. And to clean up the remaining liver sauce properly, we were given a spoonful of sushi rice (shari). However, I didn’t know we would be given rice and had scarped clean whatever that’s left of the sauce with my fork. Oops. But thankfully head chef Tomoo san given me additional sauce. Yeah! Haha.


4) Dish #4 (above) – Autumn’s seasonal vegetables with sashimi assortment of grouper, blue marlin (kajiki), giant clam (ishigakigai) and spotted prawn (botan ebi). It was a funny lame moment when I went “so pretty” as head chef Tomoo san placed the ishigakigai on my plate and my friend responded with “imagine if a guy say you are as pretty as an ishigakigai.” (^^|||)

5) Dish #5 (above) – Binchotan grilled pacific saury (sanma), green pepper and edamame.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Salmon roe in sac (sujiko), violet sea urchin (murasaki uni) from Yoichi, short spine urchin (bafun uni) from Hamanaka and crisp seaweed.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Mozuku seaweed, jellyfish, Hokkaido swimmer crab in sweet vinegar sauce.


8) Dish #8 (above) – Nigiri sushi assortment of 3 year old yellow tail (inada), striped jack (shima aji), striped bonnito (hagatsuo), marinated tuna (akami zuke), ‘binchotan coal’ seared premium tuna belly (aburi otoro), unicorn leatherjacket (usuba-hagi) with its liver, pacific saury (sanma), barracuda (kamas), salmon roe in sac (sujiko) and cuttlefish (ika). It’s also to note of the pieces served, 3 were ordered as extra pieces (sanma, sujiko and ika). And I really enjoyed the aburi otoro. It’s interesting how head chef Tomoo san used a few thinly sliced otoro instead of a thick slice. Yum.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Instead of the signature rice bowl, we were given hand roll. And for the cut of tuna, we were told it’s from the flesh right by the red muscle (chiai-gishi maguro).

10) Dish #10 (above) – Soup.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago).

12) Dish #12 (above) – Homemade red bean paste and rice cake (mochi) which we were to eat with the wafer biscuit (monaka), grape and musk melon.

It was a great dinner at 1 Michelin star Sushi Kimura. Nothing beat the fun company of my siao-on instagram foodie friends. In fact, I was a little apologetic to the other customers because we were slightly noisy whilst communicating among ourselves and with the very friendly head chef Tomoo san.

And with the few extra items ordered, dinner came up to a total of $380 (per head).

390 Orchard Road, Palais Renaissance, #01-07, Singapore
6734 3520, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tue – Sun : 19:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Circa 1912 // CLOSED

August 26, 2018 in Asian, Chinese

With the sudden influx of pictures circulating on instagram in April and May 2018, it certainly piqued my interest about Circa 1912. Did a search on Google and learnt that Circa 1912 was inspired by the food David Yip grew up with; Cantonese food from restaurants such as Southern Sky, Cathay, Spring Court and other leading restaurants of the time where dishes were elaborate, and cooked with premium ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

Why 1912? Because it’s the year when Cantonese cuisine peaked. An era when blenders were non-existent and chefs were graded for their knife and sauce making skills.

And I visited Circa 1912 twice. Once with my family for weekend lunch (with dim sum) and shortly again with my instagram foodie friends for weekday dinner. It’s also this meal that led to the start of my friendship with @abbey_thebolobao, @thetravellingcow and @free.the.umami. Blessed much.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), we ordered:-

1) Roast “golden coin chicken”, $5 per piece (above) – Made with candied lard, chicken liver and pork, this was really good. But as it can be too sinful for some, one may request to have the portion halved (as pictured) and share it instead of taking the full portion.

2) Deep-fried fish roll with preserved meat, $38 (8 pieces) (above)

3) Deep-fried superior stock and pig’s brain, $28 (8 pieces) (above) – It was slightly daunting at the prospect of eating pig’s brain, but this was done nicely. Its texture reminded me of milt (fish sperm sac/shirako), but denser.

4) Deep-fried crab ravioli, $5 per piece (above) – Like a huge wanton, it was enjoyable to bite through the crisp skin and into the juicy meat filling within. But I didn’t finish the skin because it was slightly pretty oily.

5) Wok-fried goat milk with chicken and seafood, $38 (above) – Order this because I was intrigued. But hmm… It was like eating egg-white omelette?

6) Traditional sweet & sour iberico pork, $38 – Upon ordering, the staff highlighted the meat would be fattier because iberico pork was used. But we really enjoyed this dish. Good ratio of fats and meat (for most of the pieces), crisp and interestingly glazed with a more-sour-than-sweet sweet & sour sauce where its sourness was achieved with hawthorn. But of course, I couldn’t make sense of the addition of strawberry into the dish.

7) Quick-fried wheat-shaped squid, $28 (above) – This was ordered because we read beforehand that the squid was sliced to resemble wind-blown shafts of wheat.

8) Trio of roast meats, $30 (above) – When my family and I placed order for the trio which usually comprised of crispy iberico charsiew, plum-flavoured roast silverhill duck and nam yue (red fermented bean curd) roast pork belly, we were unfortunately told the duck was sold out. Sob. So it was replaced with braised chicken smoked in Chinese tea. And the roast pork belly was a standout. A must try.

9) Plum-flavoured roast silverhill duck, $68 (whole) – This was ordered during the meal with my instagram foodie friends. And this was so, so good. Instead of using salt to marinate the inside, duck was roasted with plums stuffed inside. A must order.

10) Garoupa, $9/100g (above) – Fish could be cooked steamed, fried or braised. However, we didn’t like the sauce which the fried fish was drenched in. Once I put a piece into my mouth, a strong whiff of sourness hit the back of my throat. I kid you not. Which was a pity cause the garoupa was fried beautifully. And the dish came up to $108.

11) Sunflower chicken, $200 (above) – Not on the menu, we ordered this in advanced when we made reservation for dinner. And yes, I certainly didn’t know the poached sunflower-fed chicken was going to be so expensive. Taste wise, it reminded me of… Kampong chicken? I am sorry. I’m probably not educated enough to properly appreciate this.

12) Plain chicken-essence congee, $3 per bowl (above) – If one’s serious about one’s congee, this would be a ‘must order’. Silky, creamy and smooth. Infused with the essence of chicken (ie, chicken broth), the mixture of glutinous rice, old and new jasmine rice was cooked at high heat for two hours. And if one ordered the sunflower chicken like us, the congee would be complimentary (as verified on our receipt).

13) Braised crab meat with winter melon, $28 (above)

14) Hong Kong kai-lan, $18 (above)

15) Braised spinach in Chinese ham broth, $18 (above)

16) Pan-fried mee hoon with seafood, $18 (above)

17) Baked red bean puff pastry, $6.80 (above)

18) Aged tangerine peel red bean soup, $10 (above)

19) Tangerine bean curd with orange broth, $8 (above) – We were puzzled to how we should enjoy theis dish till we flip the tangerine over to see the almond bean curd filled within.


20) Almond tea with egg white, $6 (above) – My favourite of the four desserts we ordered.

Would I recommend Circa 1912? Well… Pardon my ignorance and lack of appreciation for this style of cuisine (early 20th-century Lingnan cuisine), but I honestly don’t see myself returning to Circa 1912. As in… True, I enjoyed dishes like the duck, roast pork belly, and sweet and sour pork. But there’re other Chinese restaurants which execute these dishes equally well too.

So unless one knows how to truly appreciate dishes cooked with traditional cooking techniques or wishes to try nostalgic dishes which David has brought back from the past (like the deep-fried superior stick and pig’s brain), I won’t actively recommend Circa 1912.

And yes, if one is curious about the dim sum at Circa 1912 which my family also had during our weekend lunch, click here for the dim sum menu and here for pictures of the dim sum we tried.

CIRCA 1912
1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre, #03-07/11, Singapore
6836 3070/9242 9046
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7