Chef Keisuke Takeda strikes again with a spanking new Keisuke outlet at (similarly new) Onze @ Tanjong Pagar, expanding his area of influence within the Tanjong Pagar space.
His latest and 15th concept moves decidedly away from his speciality of hearty and flavoursome, collagen-rich ramen, and—as the concept name suggests—a combination of Sukiyaki showmanship, where your choice of beef is cooked at the table right in front of you, then presented (a la Gyudon) piled on a bowl of hot Koshihikari rice with soy-braised tofu and zero-calorie Shirataki ‘miracle’ noodles.
Menu here is kept concise, as usual, but instead of deciding on a broth type or flavour, diners at the sleek 14-seater choose their option of meat from a wooden ‘book’ menu: Beef Sukiyaki Don with US Prime Beef, shaved from hunks of Chuck Eye Roll ($13.90), or the Kiwami Wagyu Sukiyaki Don showcasing premium Yonezawa Beef A4 ($29.90).
Our station chef urges us to help ourselves to the complimentary pickles on the counter—pickled cabbage that’s also served at other Keisuke outlets, and an interestingly earthy (too earthy for me) mix of pumpkin, beetroot, and gobo—as he gets to working on the meat.
He starts with coarse brown sugar for a sweet caramelised base, before he adds a dose of chef’s special sukiyaki sauce mix—I caught mentions of dashi, mirin and choya(?)—into the shiny steel pot, and leek and a slice of chilli padi for complexity and that bit of extra oomph.
Notice the pots they use don’t have any handles? Chefs here use pilers to lift the pot and manually swirl the contents around. Adds to the overall showy experience, don’t you think?
The meat (a generous 110g) is then carefully cooked in the savoury-sweet brown sauce to a recommended doneness of medium, though still with a lovely ratio of rosy pink to brown, then served with seriously tasty rice (I wouldn’t be surprised if people add-on additional servings of Koshihikari rice, $2), shimeji mushrooms, creamy soy-braised tofu and Shirataki noodles (similar texture to glass noodles).
Every set is also accompanied with a yummy bowl of Miso Soup—red miso is used to give a deeper flavour—wobbly Half-Boiled Egg, and a side of Sesame ‘Beancurd’, made with kudzu root powder, so it’s more savoury mochi-like, sticky treat, complete drizzles of dashi sauce, than actual beancurd.
So, Japanese wagyu (gold bowl) or American beef (silver bowl)?
Choose the Japanese Wagyu if you’re in the mood to splurge. Beautifully, but not extensively marbled, it is tender, silky and simply melt-in-the-mouth.
That said, I found myself drawn to the juicy, meaty taste of the more affordable US Prime Beef. While not as tender, the beefy undertone that hints out with every bite was something that I enjoyed with the sukiyaki base.
FOMO? Order extra servings of US Prime Beef for $10 (120g) or Wagyu for $25 (120g).
Verdict: Honestly, $13.90 for a generous US Prime Beef Sukiyaki Don set and all its quality accompaniments make for an extremely decent lunch or dinner deal. The only thing I need to figure out now is how to get out of office early so I beat the queues!
This was an invited media tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.
Beef Sukiyaki Don Keisuke (Opens 24 September 2018)
Address: #01-01 Onze @ Tanjong Pagar, 11 Kee Seng Street, Singapore 089218
Tel: +65 6535 1129 (walk-ins only)
Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5pm-10pm