Wagyu is the undisputable Rolls Royce of beef. It offers unrivalled rich, buttery flavour, melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and juiciness. The top tier league of Wagyu cattles are raised in regions all over Japan like Kobe, Matsusaka and Miyazaki. To maintain and promote the very high standard of Wagyu, the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu (Zenkoku Wagyu Noryoku Kyoshinkai), called the "Wagyu Olympics” is held once in every five years to select, judge and award the best Wagyu in Japan. Miyazaki beef won the top-most accolades in five of nine categories in this Olympics for two consecutive contests (2007 and 2012), and is recognized as the most superior beef in Japan and a well-known prime label overseas.
Miyazaki Champion Beef is renowned for its cherry red color, smooth velvety texture, juicy flavor and a delicate but rich taste that lingers on the palate. These unique characteristics are created by the large proportion of unsaturated fat (oleic acid) in the meat, the same oleic acid that may be responsible for the hypotensive (blood pressure reducing) effects of olive oil.
The fat, which in Miyazaki Champion Beef resembles snowflakes, is evenly distributed and produces a non-greasy flavor. It begins to dissolve at a temperature of 16°C, melting right in the mouth. For the lover of fine beef, it is an experience nonpareil.
So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to IKYU for a very special 5-course Miyazaki Champion Beef menu tasting.
IKYU needs not much introduction as it has attracted a steady stream of followers since its inception at the fashionable Tiong Bahru area last year. Chef Takuma Seki, the former Chef de Cuisine of Hide Yamamoto at Marina Bay Sands, is a very charming character behind the sushi counter. I could feel his energy level and his synergy with his sous Chef Alex through out the evening - commanding his team with a big smile; enthusiastically flipping through the Japanese ingredient "Encyclopedia" pages to explain and share with us what actually went into our tummies; sharing jokes, stories and at times a shot of sake with his regulars and at the same time preparing and dishing out plates and plates of delicacies.
I am betting the continual success of IKYU very much on his charisma, a quality that truly makes a difference between a good and average restaurant and heightens one's dining experience to something superlative.
Now, if you fancy having Champion Wagyu in an edgy and contemporary-cool restaurant, let's get started.
Chef Seki kicked off the Miyazaki dinner in style with this chilled SHABU-SHABU Beef Spring Roll. Blanched Miyazaki rib eye shabu-shabu style, together with carrot, onion, lettuce and avocado, was wrapped with Japanese rice paper and served with Japanese sesame sauce.
This refreshing dish reminded me of my favourite Vietnamese spring rolls but the Miyazaki beef gave this simple roll much more texture and flavour.
Next, raw tenderloin cut was served in the form of Carpaccio. When I first saw the menu that night, I knew this would be the dish to test the quality of the Wagyu as the key to good carpaccio lies in the meat itself.
I was not disappointed. The perfectly marbled, thin slices of buttery raw Miyazaki wagyu with crispy fried garlic chips and fresh salad green was my favourite dish that evening. With each bite, you get a bit of meat, paired with the sweet soy dressing and a touch of garlic. Heavenly.
The third dish is Karubi (Chuck Short Rib) stew with Japanese carrot, potato and broccoli. Personally, I do not think the stew is a good way to showcase the quality of the meat as the slow stewing process is capable of making even lesser or tougher cut of meat to grow tender and release their deep flavor over time.
Do not get me wrong, this was still a very good quality stew dish. I especially loved to dip the warm baguette from the nearby Tiong Bahru Bakery in the thick gravy.
While I loved the Carpaccio, the Robata grilled Sirloin would definitely score with the majority. The charcoal grilled steak was slightly charred on the outside, soft and juicy inside. It would simply melt and explode with flavour in your mouth. Presentation was simple and straight forward, just the steak and rose salt with crispy fried garlic chips.
I was a very happy man enjoying the perfectly grilled top grade wagyu with a glass of 2003 Tyrus Evan Malbec. If you ever need a dish to convert a vegetarian to a carnivore, this is it!
Many of us judge a Japanese restaurant by the sushi and the sushi rice served. For the last dish, Chef Alex prepared some Niigata rice sushi topped with ribeye cap, Aburi style and dressed with Yuzu pepper. Super tender and heavily marbled ribeye cap was seared using a blow torch which added just a hint of char. Watching the process is absolutely engrossing.
Using wasabi in a dessert may seem counterintuitive, but it works. We had hot wasabi cheesecake to cap off an amazing meal. The addition of wasabi gives a new twist to the otherwise boring cheesecake. It adds a subtle kick - not overpowering at all, but you know it's there. I liked it very much.
This special 5-course Miyazaki Champion Beef 5-course Menu (S$188) is available at IKYU only for a limited time from 22 August to 5 September 2013. It features five different cuts of Miyazaki Champion Beef presented in five cooking preparations. For reservations, please call at least one day in advance.
5 Yong Siak Street
Tel: (65) 6223 9003
Tuesdays – Sundays
Lunch: 11.30 am – 2.30 pm
Happy Hour: 5.30 pm – 7.30 pm
Dinner: 5.30 pm – 10.30 pm
Closed on Mondays