p Picks and Pecks: review: kazu sumiyaki

Saturday, April 6, 2013

review: kazu sumiyaki

address: 5 Koek Road, #04-05 Cuppage Plaza
tel: 67342492

 "You've got to try the yakitori at Kazu"
"It's at Cuppage Plaza"

Say what? No, my friend wasn't pulling my leg. Cuppage Plaza sits off the edge of Somerset and is easy enough to find even for a foreigner like myself. When I walked up to it, I instantly felt that it deserved its seedy name. Think of a mall that was built around 30 years ago - the walls are grey, the shops were all closed by 6 pm. But I was there early for a reason - I was told that I needed reservations at Kazu, and I had not prepared. So I had to be there to book a spot!

Waiting in the dingy hallway, it didn't surprise me that there were already other parties waiting outside the door. Although I had been warned about the surly service, the hostess was nice enough to seat me, provided I left before 8pm. No worries, I thought - an hour should do me perfectly fine.

The first thing I ordered was something I'd always wanted to try - chicken liver sashimi! The liver came lighly blanched, but still raw enough that it was soft, slippery and iron-y in the center.. it didn't make me feel squeamish though - I just enjoyed the richness of the liver. The ginger and scallions that were served with it helped to cleanse the palate a little.

Next was an innocuous looking salad - but this had  boiled potatoes and fish roe. It was a little hard to spot the roe, but I could definitely taste the small nuggets of roe rolling on the tongue, with a slight squeaky texture as I chewed. I didn't feel that the roe contributed to the taste of the salad though - might give it a pass the next time. 

Fatty pork with apple - such a traditional combination, whether in Western or Japanese cuisine. The tartness of the fruit helps to cut the oiliness of the meat.

Foie gras on a skewer! Do I need to describe how rich, smooth and creamy this tasted on the tongue? Importantly, it was also adequately seasoned, and seared over high heat so that there was a crispy crust on the outside of the foil. I could have easily eaten two more of these!

Chicken skin followed - it too was salted so that it almost tasted like bacon since there was a smoky flavor from the grill.

Bacon wrapped around oysters was the only seafood item I had - the oysters were still bursting with their juices as I popped it into my mouth. The briny flavor of the oyster still came through - that slightly metallic taste of shellfish against the smokiness of the bacon.

Grilled rice balls were something I tried for the first time. The crust on the outside reminded me of the yummy "burnt" rice you get when you scrape the bottom of a claypot. Beware though - since the rice is tightly packed, it is rather dense and filling! Two was just too many!

A simple grilled mushroom - but I could feel the care that was taken since they paired with it a much coarser crystalized salt which provided almost a crunchy contrast to the soft fungi.

I saved the best for last. As I sat down and ordered, the hostess asked me if I wanted a baked sweet potato since it would take 45 minutes to prepare - and it was worth the wait! The potato came simply halved, with a pat of butter that melted and coated the sweet, soft flesh of the tuber. I would love to try to make this at home, but I almost feel like I need to cover the potatoes under the embers of a barbeque pit to get the same effect, so I was happy and contented with my "dessert" at Kazu.

address: 5 Koek Road, #04-05 Cuppage Plaza
tel: 67342492