Hidden around The Sail under an Asahi sign and across from the bright signage of Smile Dentist, is a new sake gastro bar targeted at the after-work CBD crowd and close by the buzz of Asia Square.
The gastro bar centers around one long bar counter with large open windows helping to make the place more inviting than a traditional narrow Tokyo Golden Gai bar. The lighting, ambiance and music definitely gave me the impression that Kimoto would be a good place to visit for post-work drinks and food to pad the stomach.
The affordable prices would also make it a good choice for those without expense accounts!
While we were there on a Friday evening at 7pm, the place wasn’t too busy and all the food we ordered was served pretty quickly by a relatively attentive team. Interestingly, while we could see bottles of sake and other alcohol in refrigerators and on counters around the restaurant,
we weren’t offered the separate drinks list, just the food menu. We were, however, encouraged to walk up to the refrigerator of sake bottles at the far wall of the restaurant.
The extensive selection, stored at the ideal temperature, definitely caught my eye as a Sakemaru writer, but I didn’t see any other guest during my time at Kimoto similarly take a look – clearly a missed opportunity!
What I saw inside the refrigerator impressed me, especially with many succinct tasting notes positioned under most bottles to guide selection.
Besides the usual standard bottles of Dassai, a wide variety of brands and prefectures were represented, including one type of nigori and one namasake. Since there wasn’t a sommelier on staff, I decided to try the nigori and namasake, both of which I hadn’t sampled before.
The wide selection of premium sakes, although they were, unfortunately, all out of the Kamoizumi Junmai Ginjo Nama from Hiroshima.
The most expensive bottles I saw available were the Born Yume Wa Masayume for S$650 (1L) and Hideyoshi Daiginjo Tenma Sarawo Kakeru from Akita for S$290 (720ml).
We tried the Kawatsuru Sanuki Cloudy Nigori from Kagawa first while waiting for the food and were immediately overwhelmed with its sweetness. It’s arguably one of the sweetest nigoris we’ve ever had and not one we’d order again.
Feeling more hopeful with the namasake, our perennial favourite category, we next tried the Manotsuru Junmai Muroka Nama from Niigata with our food. While it improved as it warmed and decanted, the Manotsuru was much too alcohol forward for our liking, especially given the S$78 price tag. We ended up alternating between the two to help balance out the tastes, finding mixing the two produced the most drinkable result!
Admittedly, my wife and I have a specific taste profile, so we could have just been unlucky, especially without the guidance of knowledgeable staff. However, we didn’t feel like finishing either bottle and presented the helpful staff with the remainder of the namasake.
In return and after we shared we didn’t like the sakes we ordered, they kindly presented us with a tasting of Kiminoi Junmai Daiginjo Yamahai from Niigata, which they sell for S$114 for 720ml.
The first mouthfuls of it were better than the other two, especially with the strong melon taste. Unfortunately, upon drinking more, the alcohol forward taste became even more pronounced and, once again, wasn’t a favourite.
We had two of everything given the order of two bottles simultaneously. I was impressed that the waitress was good at regularly emptying the water as the ice melted from the “Art of Sake” branded chirori.
Thankfully, the food fared better with a number of standout dishes, especially the Iberico pork belly, Buta Bara. The delicious pork was well-marbled and very tender, melting in your mouth.
Still feeling a bit hungry after trying something from every other section of the menu, including the tempura, sashimi and a la carte kushiyaki, we finished up the meal with the chef selection Kushiyaki Don, which was filling, with two meats and three vegetables, along with a slightly runny cooked egg over the steamed rice.
Despite having a much broader menu, the quality of the food isn’t on par with Kabuke or nearby Kinki. However, with such a wide sake selection, customers aren’t likely choosing Kimoto for the food anyway.
Learning after our meal that sakes can be ordered by the glass and half-bottle, I’d suggest sake lovers in the CBD should definitely try a visit to Kimoto after work.