Plum and Toro: Not so much a meal spot as a fun night out of town, literally.

Looking to avoid jostling with the crowds in the mainstream part of town? Meet Plum and Toro, a secret enclave of a Japanese restaurant located in InterContinental Robertson Quay. A little devoid of the usual Japanese izakaya vibe - cue the words, homey, unpretentious and perhaps a little dingy - Plum and Toro swings into the contemporary jive of things with a tastefully designed food menu and an intimidating full fledged list of alcoholic tipples.

Cut to the chase, as much as I have a slight antipathy towards the seemingly sterile environment of elongated restaurant (a feeling amassed, owing mainly to the shoddy workmanship of the light wooden hued tables that got my companion worked up over his inability to lean on it without an awkward rocking of the table, that threatened to topple the thin stemmed glasses holding our Thursday elixirs), the kitchen rocketed to the top with contemporary inflected comfort dishes like Japanese soup rice and donburi bowls.

The menu steers several courses, from the regular izakaya offerings of tori karaage, edamame to sushi rolls; to the more ostentatious breed of Wagyu beef truffle don and the fashionable money-insensitive Nokke roll stuffed with a treasure trove of the sea's finest, salmon roe, tuna and sea urchin. White collared workers roll in after work, knocking back suntory beers - riotously expressing a certain green-horned envy for the lifestyles of the rich and famous while trawling through Instagram feeds. As far as target audience are concerned, I wasn't quite catching the drift.. but I sure as hell was famished.

Start with the Hyogo Oyster ($8), rich creamy oysters with so much as a dash of minerality, is bathed in a glorious bathe that is dashi jelly, citrus jus and ayu soy. An amber sprinkle of golden tobiko throwing an extra allotment of seafaring credentials.

"You'll have to to just get in there and break the cracker, mix everything in," explains the waitress as a stranglet of a bowl is called to our attention. The Maguro Tartare ($18) is everything that you would expect in a regular beef tartare (with the protein replaced) and the ratios given a rough toss-up. Chopped tuna is dressed with uni caviar, enriched with a onsen egg in a pool of dashi-broth sauce, flanked by a crisp pastry encasing Japanese maple leaf. Once bashed in and stirred around, this dish is meant to be savoured. It should spark epiphanies and be shared. My only gripe would be the meagre portion of tuna which got lost in the midst of the flavor jargon.

We're not saying you'll be unhappy with your order of Sakura Ebi Somen ($20) sprinkled in a fiery red blanket of fried cherry blossom shrimp and made frarant with scampi oil. However, the mere starchiness the strands of the somen, would suggest that the kitchen was devoid of the ability to manage cooking times, or, recycled their noodle water a little too much. Either way, you'll polish off the last sakura ebi, knowing deep down inside that you've had much better.

Roll the dice, and order the Nabe Ojiya ($35) for good measure. A claypot of thin Japanese rice soup topped up with a mass of assorted seafood from scallops to fresh prawns, peels of gently curled up fish and shellfish. It's a soulful dish that's perfumed subtly with miso and mirin and proves to be a big hitter on both the comfort and the value-for-money scale.

For the month of July, you'll be hard pressed not to buy into this seduction, especially with Chope Singapore offering a 1-for-1 deal on selected mains. Use the promo code [CE7PT] when making your reservations online to enjoy this promotion.

What saved Plum and Toro from going into the list of mediocrity had to be the sweet finale. Hear me out. The Satsuma Imo ($15) was the perfect little thing of oven baked Japanese sweet potato topped with snow salt and vanilla ice cream. I might not be a big fan of the root vegetable, but it's as if the universe had conspired for this tuber to have been picked at the prime of its life. Collapsing with little resistance against the prodding of our teaspoons, sweet starch envelops the palate against the gentlest of salty rumours, the sting of cold from vanilla ice cream leaving a trail of butterfly kisses after the brief warm encounter. The effect is the dining equivalent of first love, reeling you in with such gravitational force.

If you, like me, am keeling over from that dessert, the next level you'll want to unlock is punch-drunk. Plum and Toro takes the cake with the trump card of resident bartender Shinya Koba whose Japanese cocktail making skill set has resulted in a legendary beverage list. The Corpse Revival #02-07 ($22) is a saucy mix of Nikka Coffrey Gin, Monkey 47 Gin, Torikai Ginka, Cointreau, Absinthe and laced with Kabosu (a type of Japanese citrus) - dry, poised and just tart enough to get those taste buds fired up for round two.

Plum and Toro
1 Nanson Road
InterContinental Robertson Quay
Reservations: CHOPE

Operating Hours:
Tues - Thurs: 4pm - 12am
Fri - Sat: 12pm - 12 am
Sun: 12pm - 10 pm
Mon: Closed

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