Sushi Ichizuke is a “music-driven” Japanese omakase restaurant by Zouk Group that combines fine sushi with edgy electronic music.
For us, Sushi Ichizuke was a different kind of omakase dining.
It was transcendental, if for reasons not just related to its cuisine.
The experience starts at the door. Sushi Ichizuke, a sushi restaurant by Zouk Group, shares the same building complex in Clarke Quay as sister concepts Japanese-themed speakeasy bar Here Kitty Kitty and cosy modern Asian eatery Maison Shūko; you’ll need to be led through dimly-lit corridors with Japanese-accented decor to the right space.
Sushi Ichizuke is decked out like any traditional Japanese sushi restaurant. An inviting open kitchen – complete with the requisite cutting station and a binchotan grill – takes pride of place in the centre of the 16-seater restaurant, flanked with seats on both sides. The bar configuration allows guests to fully witness the kitchen mastery, but also accords resident head chef Daisuke Suzuki and his team closer interaction with every diner.
But it also instantly feels different. The first thing you’ll notice is the dim lighting; the illumination more intimate gastrobar than sushi restaurant. Then it hits you. The music. Instead of the expected piped-in traditional Japanese hogaku instrumentation or meditative Zen-like atmospheric sounds, music here is edgy, electronic and vibrant.
It’s unmistakably, undeniably Zouk.
Sushi Ichizuke offers curated omakase dining menus for both lunch and dinner, catering to different budget and indulgence levels. Prices range from the modest $198++ for the four-course ‘Oboro’ during lunchtime, to the seven-course ‘Omakase’ that comes in at S$480++ available for dinner. Dishes vary depending on season; the restaurant sources seasonal fish and other ingredients from Tokyo’s Toyosu market (Tsukiji’s spiritual successor) that’s flown in twice a week.
Youthful 35-year old Chef Daisuke – who looks like he could belong in a J-pop boy group – then turns that bounty into some impressive creations. Our appetiser of monkfish liver was particularly inspired. The creaminess of ankimo here is offset by an umami-loaded pickled watermelon that’s been aged in sake. Then there’s the nodoguro, or blackthroat seaperch. The firm seawater fish is seared over bincho, then served up as a delicious handroll. The awabi, or abalone, Chef Daisuke treats with a light touch; this simply steamed into a combination of crunchy chewiness and juicy tenderness. You eat this with an unctuous dipping sauce made from the abalone’s guts (it’s a lot yummier than it sounds).
Nigiri sushi is Chef’s Daisuke signature. His culinary calling card – garnered from over a decade of experience including stints at one Michelin-starred Ginza Iwa in Tokyo, and Kyoto’s three-star Gion Sasaki – is his own take on shari. He makes his vinegared rice by first soaking short grain Japanese rice in water for up to 10 hours, which supposedly helps yield a sweeter flavour that’s then tempered with aged red vinegar.
His rice works best with fatty fish, its acidity cutting through richer cuts. Toro (tuna belly) was particular sublime over it, as was isaki (chicken grunt). Uni worked well too. Unfortunately our nigiri with sumi ika saw the delicate sweetness of the ink squid overpowered by the rice’s assertiveness.
Throughout your meal, you’ll be tempted to leap out of your seat. Partly from amazing flavours offered by Chef Daisuke like that immaculate ankimo and pickled watermelon combo, but also from the throbbing vibe of electronic music. As it is we find our shoulders involuntarily twitching to the music’s beat between mouthfuls, which made for a bizarrely fun experience different from that of other fine-dining sushi joints.
If dining over a masterful sushi chef’s fine creations to the edgy beats of electronic music doesn’t faze you, you’re in for a good time at Sushi Ichizuke.
Address 3E River Valley Road, #02-02, The Cannery, Clarke Quay, 179024 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12.30pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 12am Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays
Tel (65) 9489 8357