Ito-Kacho at Mandarin Gallery – Good Quality Wagyu Beef
Known for its marbling characteristics and quality, Wagyu Beef delivers a distinctive rich and tender flavor compared to other beef which makes many people drool. The most exclusive Wagyu in the world comes from Kobe, Japan. We don’t have that here but beef lovers can now enjoy the freshest top quality beef at Ito-Kacho.
Founded in 2009, with its first store in Tokyo, Ito-Kacho is a subsidary of a large Japanese corporation known as Sumikin Bussan. It was first established in 2009 in Japan with the sole intention of providing people an opportunity to taste top-grade barbequed beef.
Ito-Kacho uses only authentic Japanese Black Wagyu beef from Kyushu, which is air-ﬂown and delivered to the restaurant regularly. They are one of the first Yakiniku (BBQ) restaurants in Japan to use chilled meat instead of frozen meat. Due to the temperature at which the beef is stored at, its marbling is retained and thereby giving a better overall consistency.
We were first served Kimchi Moriawase ($9.90) and Namuru Moriawase ($8.90). Kimchi Moriwase was made up of pickled Chinese cabbage, cucumber and white radish. It is only mildly spicy which opened up my palette to welcome the upcoming BBQ meats. Namuru Moriawase is another platter of vegetables making up of lightly seasoned white radish, bean sprout, cinnamon fern and spinach. I like the cinnamon fern most.
When Dashimaki Tamago ($6.80) appeared on my table, it immediately reminded me of the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The movie is about Jiro Ono, who is considered the world’s greatest sushi chef, and his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat sushi bar located deep in a Tokyo subway station. It is the first restaurant of its kind to win a 3-star Michelin Review and has become so popular that Jiro is now taking reservations months in advance. There was a scene in the movie where an apprenticeship spent 10 years with Jiro just to learn how to make tamago.
So when I met Ito-Kacho’s head chef Michael, my first question to him was,”how long did he take to learn make a tamago?” Of course I wasn’t expecting 10 years lah! He took a few months to perfect it and now he only takes a few minutes to do it. Each piece of Dashimaki Tamago has a total of 4 layers of egg. It is not as smooth as what we usually had in Japanese restaurant but the mild sweet and eggy fragrance made me put a thumbs up.
Our BBQ dinner started with Wagyu Tongue ($29/80g, $39/120g). It was only slightly seasoned with salt and pepper to let you fully experience the flavour of the meat texture. Tip for you: you only need to grill 30 seconds for the tongue to be cooked. It has a nice marbling with a bouncy texture.
Ito-Kacho takes pride in their beef. There is a wide range of cow parts available, accompanied by a stamp of its origins. To allow customers to taste the full, original flavour of the beef, there is a limited range of condiments to go along with one’s meal. In fact, the beef that is served are only lightly marinated with shoyu sauce and it floods one’s palate with a rich flavourful sensation.
To let us have a feel of the difference in the meats, we were given an assorted meat platter with Jo-Karubi ($22/80g, $29/120g) from US, Wagyu Kainomi ($22/80g, $29/120g), Wagyu Sasami ($50/80g, $69/120g), Wagyu Tomo-Bara (80g for $36/80g, $49/120g) and Wagyu Toku-Jo-Bara (80g for $50/80g, $69/120g) and were advised to eat in this order so as to see the difference in the texture and marbling of the meats.
There are different grades for Wagyu beef and A5 is the highest grade given only to the finest beef. “A” of “A5″ means the yield grade, while “5″ shows the quality grade. The quality grade is marked by marbling, meat color and brightness, firmness and texture of meat, and color, luster and quality of fat.
At Ito-Kacho, the restuarant uses A4 wagyu meat and it has smooth velvety texture, gorgeous marbling, juicy flavor, delicate but rich taste will linger on the palate. Especially Tomo-Bara, there was this lovely tenderness in the meat and it was my favourite among all. Wagyu Sasami was not bad too, for people who do not want too much marbling in the meat.
Besides beef, Ito-Kacho also offers other top-grade meats such as Tzubo-Tsuke Kurobuta ($19/180g) which is marinated black Berkshire pork. It is known for its disputable tenderness and most importantly, the lack of the tainted smell some might associate pork with. It was nicely marinated with miso BBQ sauce in a big pot for at least 24 HOURS and each piece taste like char siew. It is chewy and very juicy, they are good enough to be eaten alone with any dips.
After an hour of meaty affair, we finally had some seafood for a change! The waiters took an effort to change the grills before Kaisen Moriwase ($56) was served. It is an assorted seafood platter with king crab, giant tiger prawn, Hokkaido scallop and squid. The scallops & squid are neatly packed in an aluminum tray with leaks & a sweet marinade. What you have to do it to put the entire aluminium plate into the grill to let it cook for 7 minutes. Perhaps I was overwhelmed by the meaty flavours from the meat, this set of seafood wasn’t as good. My advice is, just go for the meats.
My dinner ended with a hot pot of Ishiyaki Bibimbap ($15) and Ishiyaki Sundubu-Chige ($15) which is just tofu, clam and mushrooms in spicy soup served in sizzling stone bowl. As much as I love eating Sundubu-Chige, it was quite a challenge to eat this as it was rather spicy for me. The bibimbap has assortment of minced meat, Namurus topped with Shredded Dry Seaweed, Kimchi, bean sprouts with an egg cracked in the centre. They are quite generous with their ingredients and it was rather delightful.
For customers who are worried for the smoky smell from the BBQ, don’t worry, the convection system built into the barbeque pit sucks out any air that rises above the cooking food, leaving you with no smell. Will I come back? Yes, for the tamago and the BBQ beef! 🙂
Address: 333A Orchard Road, #04-08/09 Mandarin Gallery
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