iKO is a vibey modern Japanese bistro serving fatty tuna “ice cream”, wagyu bowls & more in Tanjong Pagar

by Christabel Tan

Be it date night or a birthday dinner with the gals, Tanjong Pagar , with its countless cafes, restaurants, and K-BBQ joints, is a go-to for many. If you’re in the mood for fusion Japanese cuisine that’ll dazzle your tastebuds, check out iKO, a vibey modern bistro along the lively Neil Road.

iko
Photo: iKO

Helmed by Chef-Owner Dylan Ong of The Masses, a popular Franco-Asian restaurant along Beach Road, iKO strives to bring guests a taste of “Modern-Japanese Bistronomy”. You can expect Japanese produce with European cooking techniques and vice versa, showcased in a seasonal menu that changes every four to five months.

Photos by Confirm Good

Step into the 55-seater restaurant and be greeted by mood lighting, cheeky posters and murals, and upbeat music from an eclectic playlist curated by Chef Dylan himself. There’s an energetic and convivial vibe, further amplified by the open kitchen, where guests can observe the team at work.

You’re in for an extensive line-up of unique, mouthwatering creations best savoured alongside an exceptional array of sake, wine, and Japanese whiskey.

Snacks

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Photos: iKO, Confirm Good

Here’s how to have dinner and drinks the iKO way”: order a bottle of sake (the refreshing Mutsu Hassen Summer Sake was my pick) and the iKo-Bee (S$15), a fun bag of homemade chips seasoned with sour cream and bottarga powder to start.

iko
Photo: Confirm Good, iKO

Both the Salmon Ice Cream (S$18) and Negitoro Ice Cream (S$18) are served in adorable seaweed cones, the latter filled with negitoro (minced raw tuna), cured egg yolk, and menegi (green onion bud).

Other fun snacks include the Lil Basket (S$20), bite-sized beetroot baskets meant to resemble kueh pie tee stuffed with Hokkaido snow crab, spicy avocado mousse, and lime gel, and the Hay Smoked Hamachi (S$24), fresh hamachi in ponzu brown butter with scallion garlic oil and sweet compressed grapes.

Starters

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As an avid beef lover, I absolutely adored the A4 Wagyu “Sukiyaki” (S$28), tender wagyu slices, shiitake mushroom, leek, scallion, and wobbly egg yolk in a comforting, mildly sweet white sukiyaki broth.

Another sensational starter, the Dope You Up Bowl (S$42), was bursting with riotous flavours courtesy of premium ingredients like bafun uni, A4 wagyu buri, ikura, egg yolk, and wagyu fat emulsion.

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If you and your friends like making jokes about that “high SES life”, do not hesitate to order That High Sess Somen (S$38), which features silky somen topped with the good stuff — chutoro, Hokkaido snow crab, bafun uni, kaviari caviar, and clam sauce. It’s reminiscent of Chef Dylan’s signature dish at The Masses, the C&C&C&C Pasta, and is also available as a main.

For something a little less indulgent, the 8 Hrs Braised Abalone (S$28), consisting of abalone liver sauce, taro stem, asparagus, pearl barley, and braised shiitake mushroom, will more than suffice.

Mains

Photos: iKO

Sweet and tender miso-marinated cod takes center stage in the signature Miso Black Cod (S$36); it’s served alongside creamy pumpkin puree, clams, firefly squid, carrot, nectarine, and a clam emulsion.

Otherwise, the Hay Smoked Guinea Fowl (S$32 for single, S$62 for sharing) is the perfect plate of poultry, adorned with seasonal Japanese vegetables and sake ume sauce. For the uninitiated, guinea fowl tastes like a darker, gamier version of chicken.

Dining in a large group? Go for the decadent A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Donabe (S$78), a claypot filled with A5 wagyu, truffle rice, mushroom, chive, kombu, porc noir de bigorre (French black pig), and seasonal black truffle — perfect for sharing.

Desserts

Photos: iKO

For now, there are only two desserts on the menu, the Cream Cheese Panna Cotta (S$14) and the Yuzu Semi Freddo (S$15), but you won’t go wrong with the latter, a combination of honeycomb caramel, yuzu curd, miso caramel, Hokkaido milk ice cream, and mint sponge.

Pair it with the zesty Miyakanbai Sparkling Yuzu (S$38 for 330ml) from Umaji (Kōchi Prefecture) for a refreshing good time.

Special promotions

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Photo: iKO

Drop by iKO for Highball Night every Monday (free-flow House Pour Whisky Highballs at S$10!), BYOB every Tuesday; and Ladies Night every Wednesday (can’t say no to a free glass of prosecco).

The restaurant is also currently serving up a fabulous 10-course ‘iKO x OCBC tasting menu’ at S$98 per pax (U.P. S$128), exclusive to OCBC cardholders. A deal like this is something you definitely don’t want to miss.

Reservations can be made here.

iKO
Facebook | Instagram | Website
???? 65 Neil Road, Singapore 088897
???? 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–12am (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun

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I'm always feelin' either boozy or boujee ✨????

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