IKYU is the art of the possible
Can something so different, so challengingly cutting edge, be so steeped in time and terroir?
Most certainly, for such is IKYU.
IKYU is the soul of Japanese food reinvented and revitalized by Chef Seki. IKYU defies limits and definitions, and puts surprise and wonder back into eating. What can be imagined can be put on a plate.
There is the world of staid, cookie-cutter Japanese restaurants … and there is IKYU.
IKYU is the state of mind
Who would insist on offering you only the best rice and sake in Japan — products of Chef Seki’s wintry, pristine home prefecture of Niigata? Or airfreight seafood, fruits and vegetables directly from Japan’s Tsukiji Fish Market three times a week; or serve Miyazaki Champion Beef, arguably the finest Wagyu in the world?
As Japanese restaurants go, from its concept to its cuisine to its edgy post-apocalyptic décor, IKYU is anything but typical. Rooted in age-old artisanal traditions, IKYU is at the same time avant-garde and cosmopolitan, owing to Chef Seki’s artistic mind and international experience, which includes 3 years as Chef de Cuisine of celebrity restaurant, Hide Yamamoto, at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
“Food should be something sincere and uncomplicated,” says Chef Seki.
One year into its existence, IKYU has become a joy to the jaded palate, and a balm to the senses in a noisy harried world. In Japanese, IKYU means ‘take a break’. What could be more appropriate?
IKYU is food with heart
IKYU does contemporary Japanese with a touch of discovery. Schooled in classical Japanese cuisine, and having worked in the US, France and Japan, Chef Seki creates in the Japanese culinary idiom with a pronounced western influence. From delectable salads to fried and grilled seafood; from hearty meats and the freshest of sashimi to amazing nigiris and rolls; IKYU’s menu is tantalizingly, appealingly, broad.
It is also flexible, with set, a la carte and omakase options, and seasonal changes for the autumn and winter. The aim is to extract maximum intensities of flavor from the very best ingredients — including “Uonuma” Koshihikari, known as the ‘jewel’ rice of Niigata, and the world-famous Miyazaki Champion Beef — in often surprising ways that mirror the idiosyncratic personality of Chef Seki.
Food that is unpretentious, meticulously sourced, and exquisitely prepared … then humbly proffered for your private delight.
That is IKYU
IKYU is iconoclast and comforter
Like its mercurial chef, IKYU thwarts mundane expectations. Its bunker-like interior first jolts the visitor; then draws you in.
From the heat and glare of the street, you step into a cocoon of tonal browns, minimalist planes, and soothing metal tactility. Diners huddle on raw concrete lounges beneath moody lighting. Jazz music hangs languidly in the air. A tight herringbone of scratches on cement becomes wallpaper, and there is little by way of frills and cushions. Starkly Zen it may be, but this is no Ryokan.
The service is attentive, efficient, and friendly; entering guests are greeted by name with a warm smile. The chefs’ laughter habitually rises above the hum and fills the restaurant. Everyone feels at home.
“My motto is to make people happy with my food,” says Seki-san. “Always.”