Sake gastrobar Tanoke on Purvis Street impresses with its modern Japanese cuisine and premium sake list in a cosy, contemporary setting.
Tucked on an upper floor in a shophouse along Purvis Street is Tanoke, one of the newest sake-focused establishment to hit town. It takes over what used to be craft beer bar Mikkeller Singapore, but you wouldn’t recognise the space now after its transformation into one of the more elegant dining rooms along this crowded F&B enclave.
Opened by the same folks behind casual izakaya and sake bar Kabuke, Tanoke can be best described as Kabuke’s more sophisticated cousin. Where Kabuke offers a modern spin on the Japanese don (rice bowl), the more refined Tanoke instead taps on quality produce, traditional Japanese know-how, modern culinary techniques, and a trusty binchotan grill, to put out some of the best-executed eats we’ve had in a while.
Yes, you can tell we’re impressed. Then we find out that Chris Ng, formerly of highly-lauded but sadly defunct Ah Bong Italian, ran operations here. And it all made sense.
Take for example its Fruit Tomato. A Japanese twist on the Italian burrata, this version comes a plump and sweet Japanese tomato from Shizuoka accompanied by creamed tofu and dressed with a piquant yuzu vinaigrette. We are not too ashamed to say the interplay of textures and flavours here sent our bodies into uncontrollable raptures. Then there was the Gobo Age. Now burdock root tends to be tough and stringy, and possesses a bitter flavour that require a skilled touch to work around. Here it’s braised and then turned into crisps with a mellow, bittersweet flavour. They were, as you can imagine, extremely addictive.
For mains, the Coastal Lamb Rack comes highly recommended. Lamb can be gamey, but these ones from the free-range, grass-fed New Zealand producer are mild and sweet. Skilful grilling here retained the juices inside, while searing a perfect Maillard crust on the outside. We’re certain the farmers over at Coastal Lamb will highly approve.
Also a must-order is the Surume Ika Ichiyaboshi, also the recipient of tender-loving care at the grill. The problem with grilling squid is that just 5 seconds separate one that’s perfectly tender and moist, from a tough, rubbery chew. Ours, thankfully, came out perfect.
As a hat-tip to Kabuke, Tanoke also offers a couple of rice bowls, albeit more upmarket versions compared to its more casual cousin. The Tanoke Classic comes as a choice of Australian Striploin MB7 or A5 Tochigi Ribeye served atop Niigata Koshihikari rice and an onsen egg drizzled with a most delectable truffle shoyu. If you’re feeling loaded, there’s a more decadent Tanoke Premium that also comes with uni, foie gras, and ikura.
Oh, and a good way to enjoy the culinary mastery here is through its tasting menus – with an option for sake pairing – that serves between two to four people.
Tanoke’s sake list is not among the most comprehensive we’ve seen, but the small batch, artisanal range they have is very well considered and perfectly suited the cuisine on hand. Certainly speak to the very knowledgeable sommelier; the Katsuyama En Tokubetsu Junmai from the Miyagi Prefecture producer he recommended paired swimmingly well with most dishes. The rounded umami notes of our Sharaku Junmai from Fukushima Prefecture’s Miyaisen stood up well to the robust flavours of lamb, while the Hakurakusei Junmai Daiginjo by Niizawa – also from Miyagi Prefecture – offered a lovely acidity to offset the richness of our luxurious beef bowl.
From its polished dishes and carefully curated sakes to the warm and friendly service, Tanoke ticks all the spots we want in for a cosy, intimate dinner with a loved one, or some very close friends.