Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nikuya for BBQ Dinner

Nikuya Japanese BBQ and Tonkatsu Restaurant

I can't remember if I've mentioned this on the blog yet but I'm getting married in August! Woohoo. It has progressed in my mind as something that is 'sooooo far away' to 'omg there's only 4 months to go!' Along with this realisation, I've churned through waves of emotions as varied as pure panic, excitement, OCD level planning and forgetting that it's even on. At the moment, I think I've got most things organized so I'm sitting on content with the unshakeable sensation that there must be something I've missed.

Last weekend Marc and I had a trial photoshoot that we loosely termed our Engagement Shoot even though we got engaged about a year ago. To make the most of it, I tied in my bridal hair and makeup trial on the same day so that I could see the results on camera. I then decided that being so nicely made up and dressed only to go back home to sleep afterwards would be a huge waste so I booked dinner out at Nikuya. This, I called our anniversary dinner because it was roughly 3 years since we met. I'm excellent at finding excuses to eat out.

We arrived at Nikuya just before 8pm on a Sunday night. The restaurant was really, really quiet. I pondered if this was a Sunday night thing but some of the other restaurants at the M and A complex seemed busier (Mighty Mighty) and others still weren't even open (Locanda).

Nikuya is a large restaurant spread across two themed levels. The lower level is its izakaya, i.e. more casual food and drink scene. It apparently delivers top notch tonkatsu (fried, crumbed pork cutlets) but I can't comment on that because we opted for the upper level, which focuses on BBQ.

This whole upper level was completely desserted when we got there but one family arrived half way through our meal. Sometimes I get creeped out at really quiet restaurants but this wasn't too bad. Actually, it was quite nice having the place almost entirely to ourselves. Our waiter was funny, friendly and attentive but he had a little bar area to duck behind so he could remain unobtrusive.

The BBQ menu allows individual orders or, meat platters or banquets (including a meat platter and set entrees). We opted for the minimum effort choice of a banquet. I wasn't in the mood for any decision-making that night. For anyone who's never been professionally photographed before, it's an extremely energy draining experience. I just wanted to eat, not think.

Our particular banquet started with a salad, edamame, kim chi and fried prawn wontons. All these components were fresh and had a good flavour. The salad leaves were bright and green. The dressing was a zesty sweet soy that kept the salad interesting. Edamame is something that I don't love but if it's in front of me, I can't stop eating it.

Prawn wontons

The wontons had crisp fried skin but it wasn't too oily. There was enough for one each and they came with a soy dipping sauce.

Sashimi platter

The sashimi platter arrived next. Including a sashimi platter was one of the reasons I chose this particular banquet in the first place. Marc and I love sashimi but we're too poor to fill up on sashimi so we can only enjoy it when coupled with other foods. The sashimi platter at Nikuya included salmon, tuna and scallop.

BBQ meat platter

Our BBQ meat platter was stunning to look at. Wagyu beef is one of the only meats that look better raw to me than cooked. The marbling is like a milky white patterned promise of goodness to come.

The waiter suggested we cook the pork belly first if only to release some fats and coat the hot plate. The hotplate was very clean and non-stick so it probably didn't need that but went as recommended. All the meats were good but the wagyu was the stand out.

Trio of dipping sauces

We had 3 dipping sauces to use and they all served to bring out the flavours of the meat. It was also recommended that we cook the wagyu to medium because it was a premium cut. We enjoyed this very much.

Green tea ice-cream

After we had devoured our hefty meat platter, we were comfortably full. I had forgotten there was still dessert to come but was very excited to hear it. After a fatty and meaty main, a cooling ice-cream seems like the perfect counterpart. We had the choice of black sesame ice-cream or green tea ice-cream and both Marc and myself chose the latter. This had an aunthentic green tea flavour and was served with some cream and adzuki beans.

I very much enjoyed the BBQ banquet we tried at Nikuya. It was an easy order for us because we didn't have to do any thinking. The food was well-balanced and we got to taste a variety of things in one meal. It was perhaps on the pricier side but service and ambiance was lovely and we got our parking validated too.
Nikuya Japanese on Urbanspoon

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