If slurping up oysters and highballs is your idea of a perfect dinner, I’ve got just the place for you.
Yet to hear about Kura Oyster & Highball (also known as Kura Bar)?
The moody yet intimate bar and restaurant hidden away in Telok Ayer specialises in Japanese-inspired fare with an emphasis on seafood dishes and, of course, oysters.
Start off with a refreshing Highball (S$12) in flavours like Yuzu, Grapefruit, and Green Lime, which unfortunately not were strong enough for my liking.
I may not be the biggest fan of raw tomatoes in general, but sweet, cold, and tangy pickled tomatoes are hard to pass up.
We highly recommend you whet your appetite with the Vinegar Tomatoes (S$8), cherry tomatoes that have been marinated in pickled plum brine, and snack on them throughout the meal as a form of palate-cleanser.
The restaurant serves up a curated selection of seasonal Japanese oysters from Hyogo, Sakoshi, Kujukushima, and Murotsu that rotates every two to three weeks.
Although you can enjoy them Naked (S$15 for 3pcs) with tobacco and a squeeze of lemon, there are three other (more fun) variations to choose from.
We got to try a tasting portion featuring mild and meaty Kujukushima oysters, and as much as I adored the aromatic Truffle (S$19 for 3pcs), crowned with truffle oil and truffle caviar, the Ponzu Jelly (S$17 for 3pcs) with citrus jelly, salmon roe, and spring onion was the most appealing.
Other dishes that celebrate oysters are the grilled Butter Yaki Oysters (S$16), Kaki Furai (breaded oysters, S$19), and locally-inspired Oyster Omelette (S$15), but we went for the Signature Oyster Somen (S$19), comprising oyster tempura perched atop silky Hiroshima noodles and oyster jus.
As much as I enjoyed the thick and fleshy tempura, the noodles were a tad bland, but I believe it’ll sit well with those who prefer clean-tasting dishes!
Moving on to the non-oyster selections, both my dining partner and I were really, really excited about the Wagyu Beef Tartare (S$21), which was topped with a luscious, yet slightly too-large egg yolk.
You’re supposed to mix everything together and enjoy the tartare, which was rich in flavour, if not a little slimy in texture (due to the size of the yolk), with crispy rice crackers.
If you don’t take beef, the Salmon Tuna Tartare (S$18), a crowd-pleasing combination of minced tuna, salmon, tobiko, and spicy mayo, dressed generously with furikake, nori, and spring onion, will more than suffice.
It is served alongside deep-fried triangles of spring roll (popiah) skin, which you can never go wrong with.
Here’s another dip-and-crackers combo that’s on the more unique side, the Nama Ebi Senbei with Cheese (S$15), comprising wasabi and smoked radish cream cheese paired with Japanese prawn crackers.
It was almost dessert-like but with subtle hints of spice and tang — pretty addictive!
Mentaiko lovers will go crazy for the Kanitama Mentaiko Gratin (S$15), Japanese snow crab macaroni gratin topped with a generous layer of torched mentaiko mayo.
Instead of the typical chicken karaage, Kura Oyster & High serves up a similar izakaya staple that pairs oh-so-well with beer, the Chicken Soft Bone (S$13), or crunchy and chewy battered chicken soft bones with lemon and mayo.
It ended up being one of my favourite dishes of the entire meal!
If you want to end on a comforting note, opt for the chef’s selection of Oden (S$12 for three, S$18 for six), which can also be ordered a la carte.
My top picks? The Japanese Daikon (S$6), Aburi-Age (tofu pouch, S$3), and Arabiki Sausage (S$3).
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Photos by Christabel Tan