Gake (pronounced gah-keh) means cliff. Depending on your perspective, it’s either a great vantage point, or a dangerous precipice. It can also be both.
The omakase menu at Gake feels just like that. The restaurant feels exceedingly Japanese with its minimalist decor, clear shouts of irasshaimase that ring out occasionally, and racks of sake. Despite that, all expectations of a traditional Japanese omakase fall away the moment dishes start arriving at your table.
Behind the counter is chef-owner Angus Chow, whose accolades include being 2018’s World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence Chef of The Year while he was the head chef at Japanese restaurant Boruto.
You might get some very traditional omakase staples: seasonal ingredients prepared simply to showcase their value, like creamy, mild shirako (cod milt) briefly seared to give it a whisper of millard depth; or a plump Hiroshima oyster that draws inspiration from the flavours of kimchi, with mildly spicy ponzu and diced nashi pear. These are safe, delicious decisions that can easily fit into any menu; but Chow chooses to take risks and — to further that cliff metaphor — teeter frighteningly close to falling into inexplicable territory.
It’s right at the edge where you find the best view though, and Chow attempts this with the introduction of all manners of locally-found inspirations into his omakase menu. Scallop, simply seared, comes with a bisque-like laksa emulsion that, depending on your predilection for purity of flavour, might or might not overpower the shellfish.
Other times, you get glimpses of brilliance. An unassuming grilled Patagonian toothfish arrives, but it is perfectly grilled with crispy skin, silky yielding flesh, with a crowning glory of salted vegetable and chilli relish inspired by the flavours of Teochew steamed fish.
Another one of Chow’s multicultural mash-up dishes that work is a medallion of foie gras covered in homemade satay sauce, with crunchy Japanese pickles scattered on top. It’s a dish that’s Japanese in construction, French in produce, and Singaporean in flavour; and it works. In judicious amounts, the dish is — as described by Chow — all the best parts of a skewer of pork satay: the textural contrast between chunky, spicy peanut sauce, a tender chunk of fat, and charcoal smokiness from a Kopa oven.
Chow also has a habit for extravagance — his take on the now-classic truffled kombu angel hair pasta is done with cold somen instead, and additionally features luscious lobes of uni, smoked herring caviar, and crunchy tobiko.
If you’re in the mood for further indulgence, there is also an off-menu (not included in the omakase, although nothing’s stopping you from ordering it separately) wagyu sandwich that, at the time of its creation, has been dubbed the Super Sando. It’s all the good things you can think of, jammed between slices of toasted brioche: A5 grade wagyu, foie gras, and uni, finished with an almost-obligatory smear of mustard.
There’s promise in Chow’s bold approach, and we might sit comfortably at the edge of the cliff just yet.
GAKE is located at 36 Carpenter St, #01-01. Tel: 6781-3603