Rakuya at East Coast: Affordable Omakase to put you in high spirits. That, and Sake!

If you've heard rumours about a joint up in the East that does a 8-course Omakase at just $48 (also available at $88 and $128 options), chances are that it is newbie, Rakuya. And boy, do they do it with pizazz.

I'm not going to lie, I arrived at Rakuya just slightly inebriated. Blame it on Matthew Ferguson, Glenfiddich, Jura Whisky, DFS Whisky Festival, argh, not to be flippant here, but it was a Saturday and drinks were high up on the agenda. Let's keep it real here. We made a crass entrance at around 6pm and the restaurant was a serene picture of the calm before the storm. It's a tiny space, on a slightly brutal stretch on East Coast Road. The room dominated by an L-shaped black marbled high counter seating just 10. The open kitchen behind the counter looks utilitarian at best while the cheap divider that partitions the space into an outlandish sake bar up front, and the dining room at the back, barely making any sense in terms of service flow. All it took were several chirpy greetings and genuine smiles being tossed back and forth, for me to put these brutal first impressions to rest. Okay, this place has game.

Fast forward - 8 courses in and I now wear a chagrined expression on my face. Hell is 8 courses in a bright room staring into a sterile open kitchen where chefs fiddle with petals and chiffonades of parsley using tweezers. No, give me a dark, vivacious, naughty izakaya with a pleasing menu that challenges all ideals of local fusion, like Rakuya any day.

Bak Kut Teh Udon, sake and spontaneous conversations with the family of 5 seated perpendicularly to us? You don't even have to ask.

Also amazing: the starting course of Foie Gras Chanwanmushi. Inspired by Mapo Tofu, steamed egg replaces tofu while foie gras displaces the minced meat. The crux, the homemade mapo sauce which glorious poise illustrates the expected formula of lip-tingling numbness.

Chef Derrick labours over our next course of Butter Miso Asari. It is quite a remarkable number. Butter-poached clam, shiny and glistening is perched atop a crispy sesame tuile, this is accompanied with a opulent swoosh of uni, tobiko and almond butter cream. I would take seconds and perhaps thirds and mutter to myself that food of such quality is wasted on a venue that's so distressingly difficult for me to reach.

The next dish gets cleaned out without much struggle and it like all plates here, goes back empty. The Salmon Carpaccio with ponzu and truffles is flawless simplicity; the intuitive addition of pea shoots adding a nice bitter vegetal note to the refreshing dish. 

If my drunken memory serves me correctly, the next course was a Chicken Nan Ban. You can't argue with filthily good fried chicken presented in a martini glass in a puddle of tangy sweet and sour sauce. There is abdication of thought as we dove straight into those piping hot, golden brown nuggets. 

There is one dish on gustatory journey at Rakuya that successfully sums up the restaurant. The Bak Kut Teh Udon pimped up with a gold leaf present smooth Inaniwa udon in a rich broth of such intensity and such conviction that you could be forced to eat this in silence for fear of missing out flavour nuances. Ravages of long-slow cooking have been extremely kind to the texture of the pork rib - a magical kind of fall off the bone.

The banging adventure was marred, however by the last course of Dong Po Rou. The thick hunks of braised pork belly far from the fork tender, one is promised. 

When at Rakuya, you will probably be nudged into a bottle of sake. Why not, since their collection extends to over 50 sake labels, some of them esoteric even to the seasoned drinkers. The assertive flavours from the fusion plates acting as the perfect canvas for sake to masquerade as conversation starters.

We came, we celebrated with sake (a delicate and elegant Niwa No Uguisu 50 Junmai Daiginjo), we ate till we were tired and blissful, ready to be poured into a grab. Not home, dum dum. To our next drinking hole of course! The worse for wear me will have trouble communicating where said next location was, but that's a story better left for another day. Rakuya, I look forward to my next cross-island excursion with much enthusiasm.

89 East Coast Road
t: 6440 7071

Operating Hours:
Mon - Sun: 12 - 11pm

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