Photos: Kagayaki

Teppanyaki will never be the same again, thanks to Junichi Yoshida. The teppan expert who founded Ishigaki Yoshida in Tokyo in 2013 impressed Michelin Guide inspectors so much that they awarded his restaurant a star two years later. This accolade elevated the status of the teppan as a craft in its own right. 

The 18-seater Kagayaki by Ishigaki Yoshida at Keong Saik Road — an offshoot of Ishigaki Yoshida in Tokyo — offers teppanyaki with culinary finesse. Head chef Nobuyasu Kamiko, an Asakusa native who has been cooking for 30 years, is in command here. Having dedicated the last 15 years to the teppan, Kamiko is a firm believer that teppanyaki is more than just culinary showmanship.

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“Preparing complex dishes on the teppan as diners watch you cook and serving them immediately requires practiced skill, experience, and a deep understanding of the teppan you’re working with,” he says.

Exclusive produce meets excellent techniques

Masuda beef. (Photo: Kagayaki)

The teppan’s flat cooking surface has multiple unmarked temperature zones, and it takes a skilled chef to negotiate the heat gradient of the cooking surface as the food is grilled and seared on these heated iron plates.

This is why Junichi Yoshida’s Ultimate Crispy Yaki Steak is a hallmark dish. It features the stunning Masuda Kagayaki Beef, which the restaurant has exclusive access to. Masuda Farm in Gunma Prefecture rears premium female calves for 36 months — nine months longer than the norm for Japanese wagyu. The lengthy breeding period gives adequate time to increase the amount of amino acids in the calves and imparts an umami flavour to the meat. Each month, just two calves are delivered to the Singapore restaurant, and Kagayaki is the only restaurant in Southeast Asia that serves Masuda beef.

As opposed to the conventional practice of quickly searing meat on the teppan, Junichi Yoshida’s technique of showcasing the deep, rich flavour of the Masuda beef is brilliant. Kamiko explains: “Each side of the steak is seared before the meat is placed at the top left corner of the teppan, where there is very low heat in a continuous flowing movement, allowing the oil from the beef to season the teppan before slowly cooking it.”

The steak is then grilled over ubame oak tosa binchotan, which imparts an aromatic smokiness while emitting little smoke. Depending on the thickness of the cut, the cooking time for this signature dish can take up to an hour, so it is prepared at the start of the meal.

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Another highlight is the exquisite scrambled egg dish. The Mangetsu eggs from Aichi prefecture feature a vivid orange yolk and a rich flavour due to a special diet fed to chickens. Prepared in front of guests on the teppan, the scrambled eggs are topped with Manjimup truffles, plenty of uni, and a side of homemade brioche, lightly toasted on the teppan with French butter.

Lobster in Uni Sauce. (Photo: Kagayaki)

The cuisine at Kagayaki comprises handpicked ingredient selections from all across Japan, including wild scallops from Hokkaido (between May and August), seasonal fish like the amadai from Hagi in Yamaguchi, and lobsters from Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture.

Kamiko weaves these exceptional ingredients into the menu using insights from his European training, creating sauces that typically necessitate hours of cooking time, all in a bid to let diners discover how French and Italian techniques can be fruitfully adapted in a  Japanese course. The amadai, for example, is delicately grilled with scales intact and served with wasabi beurre blanc.

Kagayaki by Ishigaki Yoshida, 27 Keong Saik Road, kagayaki.sg