A first of its kind (at least to my knowledge), this boutique sake bar, Kakure, is an extension of omakase powerhouse, Ki-sho. This 16-seater space provides an intimate first-hand look into the hidden world of sake – something you can’t quite get yet in Singapore. Many of us would order sake to go with a Japanese meal, but do you genuinely know how to appreciate sake? As language is a barrier for most, we are not able to read the content on the bottle, much less know about the origin of it. Thus Kakure is here to fill the gap with certified sake sommeliers who will be able to transfer some knowledge to you during your meal! During my tasting, we had Makoto-san, who is the No. 3 sake sommelier in the whole of Japan, to pair our 6-course omakase dinner with different types of sake and talk us through all of them. Omakase start from $88++ per pax and final cost depends on the number of courses and type of food. The price for sake pairing is separate from omakase.
Housed in the same black-and-white colonial bungalow as Ki-Sho, Kakure reflects the look of Japanese inns and homes during the Meiji and Taisho eras of Japanese history. Spot that table with a sunken hearth and pot hanger – how authentic! The entire space feels extremely cosy, yet exclusive. It’s one of those places that you want to come back again and again.
Do you know that the sake list at Kakure is one of the largest in Singapore? The list has been carefully curated to focus on small handcrafted sakes from Japan that is not widely available in Singapore. Each of these sakes is brought in only once, in limited quantities to create a unique experience each time you visit. Just like how Ki-sho’s Chef Hamamoto’s philosophy of serving the best seasonal ingredients, the sake menu changes as and when the team discovers new artisanal sakes!
Assortment of Pickles [Young Ginger, Wasabi Yam, Spicy Sea Kelp, Yuzu Pickled Radish] (Ala-carte $6) – You know dinner is off to a good start with yummy pickles that are not overly-seasoned. I’m never one of those to eat ready-made pickles.
And here goes. Before every course, we’ll have a mini introduction to the sake which we will be pairing our food with. Makoto-san swirls the sake around the entire wine glass so that the aroma of the sake will be released. Just like wine, take a whiff of the vapours before tasting it. This technique was only applied to certain sakes, while the rest were drunk from the usual small sake cups.
Sake pairing for 1st Course: Tatenokawa Junmai Daiginjo, Nakadori Ki-sho Label ($458++ per bottle. Polish rate 18%. From Yamagata.) – Served exclusively in Kakure and Ki-sho, this house sake hails from the Yamagata prefecture of Japan. The cold weather means that sake brews tend to ferment slowly, resulting in more fruit-expressive sakes. This tasted similar to dessert wines and was light on the palette – a perfect concoction to awaken the taste buds for the treat ahead. I could easily tell why this is their house wine as it could literally go well with any dish harmoniously. Remember not to drink too quickly though, ‘cos there is more to come!
1st Course: Tsubugai Shellfish and Smoked Salmon [Japanese sea snail and smoked salmon] – Instead of the usual fresh sashimi, this was smoked. I must say I still prefer the traditional style of sashimi but the shellfish won me over. Spiked with lots of yuzu, the citrus aroma was extremely desirable by the palette and the shellfish was cooked to perfection. Such exquisite execution.
While you’re having your food and sake, Makoto-san will be tasting the sake on the side to see the suitability of it for the next course. At the same time, don’t be shy to interact with Makoto-san and ask him all the questions you may have of sake! From the creation process to the specialisation of certain prefecture, Makoto-san will be able to answer them all.
Here’s our 2nd sake.
Sake pairing for 2nd Course: Dewazakura Daiginjo Nama ($450++ per bottle. Polish rate 40%. From Yamagata.) – As you have noticed, the alcohol content of this sake was more than double of that of the first one. This tasted stronger (obviously) and had a stronger taste of rice. As good as a shot!
2nd Course: Anago Tempura [Fresh anago eel tempura with plum and Shiso leaf] – One of the most delicate tempuras I’ve ever had, the eel was chunky, moist and soft. The shiso leaf lent a light, herby aroma to the fresh eel after being deep-fried. You have to savour them slowly or these will leave you wanting more.
Sake pairing for 3rd Course: Junmaiginjo Murika “Kei” ($136++ per bottle. Polish rate 55%. From Shimane.) – One of the strongest sake of the meal was… really too strong for me. Well, it probably came a little too early on in the meal. After a few sips, I could feel it getting to my head and it’s time for some hot tea! That said, this sake was on the sweeter side which makes it perfect to pair with our next course below!
3rd Course: Saba Misoni [Simmered Mackerel in Miso Sauce] – This was comfort food at its best. Cooked in sweet miso with lots of yuzu (see the connection), the meaty mackerel had no trace of any fishy smell or taste. I’ve never had saba cooked this way, so it’s definitely a testament of Chef Hamamoto’s skills in combining the best ingredients with his unique style of cooking. I made sure every single drop of the broth was downed. The sweetness of the broth paired really well with the stronger sake as they balanced each other out. With each mouthful of the saba, take a sip of the sake and your next mouthful of saba would be as though you’re tasting it for the first time. It’s like falling in love over and over again. 🙂
That’s a huge one!
Sake pairing for 4th Course: Hououbiden Winecell 2014 Junmai Ginjo ($278++ per bottle. Polish rate 55%. From Tochigi.) – Similar to wine, this tasted close to the house sake as it is sweet and fruity in nature. Alright, I just realised that the alcohol level is at 55%. With its sweetness and aroma, I absolutely had no idea that it was this strong.
4th Course: Tai Tan [Classic Kyoto soup flavoured with homemade Bonito, Seaweed, Dashi stock, Chicken Consomme, served with radish and tofu] (Ala-carte $15) – What a homely dish! Poached in a power chicken soup, the radish was toothpick-tender and the tofu was silky-smooth. Notice how all the dishes on this menu are very light? Definitely the way I like it and it leaves you room for more sake! Oh, did I mention? Lots of yuzu in this dish again! Happiness.
Sake pairing for 5th Course: Masuizumi Zenkoji Junmai ($155++ per bottle. From Toyama.) – Served at room temperature, this was my favourite sake of the night! I was really intrigued by the prominent honey flavour and it was a clear winner for me. It literally tasted like honey alcohol – if only we can start each day with this for breakfast! A must-try (if they still have it)!
5th Course: Buta Kakuni [Shoyu Braised Pork Belly from the Kagoshima Prefecture] (Ala-carte $18) – And my favourite “honey sake” is paired with pork belly! With an equal ratio of fats to meat, it melts in your mouth instantaneously and don’t you even think of removing those fats, ‘cos that’s what makes them so good.
Sake pairing for 6th Course: Tenmei Junmaishu ($140++ per bottle. Polish rate 60%. From Fukushima.) – Ending the meal off with a bang! 60%! As I’m not a fan of very strong alcohol, this didn’t gain much of my favour. You know which I stand with.
6th Course: Ikura Cha Soba [Matcha cold noodles served with fresh Salmon roe and topped with Japanese seaweed and spring onions] (Ala-carte $15) – Handmade soba alert! Uber springy soba with a generous spoonful of roes – this combo could easily send anyone to paradise. Such a simple dish, yet full of satisfaction for the one who savours it.
Desserts [Wafer ice cream, matcha chocolate, mochi] – Even the bite-sized desserts are so perfect I could cry (well, almost). Alright, I’m leaving you to imagine it or rather, go try it for yourself.
My first time having 6 sakes in a night!
Many thanks to Makoto-san for entertaining us the entire night! Can’t wait to see you again!
This sake-pairing omakase experience was truly an incredible one. You know, it’s really alright if you may be a newbie to sake as it’s all about exploration and experimentation. After a meal at Kakure, I’m sure this insight into sake will leave you a deeper impression and appreciation of a truly unique Japanese culture. This is what life it about.
Many thanks to Cyndiana for such a wonderful night!
29 Scotts Road, Level 2
Hours: 6.30pm – 1am, Monday to Saturday
Reservations: 6733 5251