Recently, I was invited to visit Sake Labo to experience their new Japas (Japanese-Spanish tapas) and sake menu helmed by new Executive Chef Derek Ang and award-winning sake sommelier Reuben Oh.
Disclaimer: Even though this is a media invitation for food tasting, all opinions stated in this review are of my own.
Located at Telok Ayer, this multi-faceted sake bar exudes a variety of personalities from Japanese contemporary at the basement, casual business at the second floor to a hint of playfulness with graffiti at the backdoor.
Sake Labo is a retail store, sake bar, and offers chef’s table experience in one venue.
New Executive Chef Derek
Sake Labo’s new Executive Chef Derek has years of experience working with worked with world-renowned chefs and opened a number of restaurants around the world.
After the opening of El Patio, a Spanish restaurant in Shanghai, Chef Derek returned to Singapore to lead Sake Labo.
Sake Sommelier Reuben Oh
Together with sake sommelier, Reuben Oh, a sake scholar who was awarded the Young Sake Ambassador Award by the Sake Sommelier Association this year, I was looking forward to trying what they had prepared for the evening.
New Japas Menu at Sake Labo
For starters, I had the Popcorn (SGD 5), new Maguro Cornetto (SGD 18 for 3 cones) and signature O.F.C (SGD 12) paired with Tatenokawa Junmai Daiginjo Seiryu which was light, fruity and flowery with a hint of umami and rice.
Even though the pre-packed Popcorn (with butter, nori and shichimi) lacked the crunch for me, I enjoyed the refreshing Maguro Cornetto and juicy O.F.C. with the sake pairing.
New on the menu, the Maguro Cornetto is made with marinated chopped medium-fatty tuna, topped with ebiko (shrimp roe) and avruga caviar (caviar substitute made from herring and other ingredients without real fish roe) served in seaweed cones.
It was a fun start to the evening munching down the savoury ice-cream-alike dish without any mess.
Next, the O.F.C (Our Fried Chicken) with furikake and sazon mayo dip is a must-order. This is one of their signature dishes.
Sake Labo is so confident with this bite-size fried chicken that they won’t even charge you if you don’t like it.
My verdict on this dish? It was gratifying for bar food.
I finished the entire dish which it was good for 2-3 pax. I’ve definitely overdone it since I was still at the start of my sake-pairing meal.
But it was too hard to resist.
After filling myself up with the O.F.C, I was a little full when the Tamago Estrellados (SGD 15) arrived. Oops. A little hearty and it was on me since I chose to visit alone.
Sake Labo has a playful interpretation of this original dish called Huevos Estrellados with their version of Tamago Estrellados – Japanese egg, chorizo and potatoes finished on a hot pan. This Spanish-meets-Japanese style dish was mixed by the server in front of me.
I was glad the staff waited a little longer before serving me the next dish…
This dramatic Unagi “Sushi” (SGD 18) dish is a head turner.
Instead of using sushi rice, Chef Derek uses rice crisp to hold the grilled unagi that is topped with torched mentaiko sauce and assorted caviar like ebiko (shrimp roe), ikura (salmon roe) and avruga caviar.
While I find that the mentaiko sauce was redundant as the grilled unagi was already good on its own with the assorted caviar, this dish will appeal to guests who prefer food that has a heavier taste profile or love to order something for the ‘gram.
Reuben paired the O.F.C, Tamago Estrellados and Unagi Sushi with Azumarikishi Akiagari – an autumn special that was aged for 3 years – and it went so well together.
Chilled Truffle Kombu Udon
Now if you’ve been eating out long enough, you’d be familiar with the signature Cold Angel Hair Pasta at Gunther’s that took won the hearts of food connoisseurs in Singapore. Some western restaurants in Hong Kong are still drawing inspirations from it till date.
So when the Chilled Truffle Kombu Udon (SGD 25) was presented to me, that was my first thought.
Was that Chef Derek’s interpretation? Maybe.
Instead of angel hair pasta, Chef Derek uses Inaniwa udon for its chewiness and slightly thinner than regular udon thickness.
This hand-stretched, eggy udon worked like a charm when tossed in the truffle oil and kombu as it absorbed the flavours so beautifully.
The Chilled Truffle Kombu Udon is topped with the assorted caviar like ebiko, ikura and avruga caviar, as well as crispy sakura ebi and spring onion.
I’d request to omit/reduce the crispy sakura ebi as I find that it overpowered the elegant taste of the Chilled Truffle Kombu Udon.
You can also choose to add on an uni topping (+SGD 35) if you’re feeling extravagant. I didn’t get to try with the uni so I can’t comment if it is worth it.
This dish was paired with Born Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi which was pasteurised only once instead of twice usually. It has rich flavours of nuts, yoghurt and autumnal spices like cinnamon which complemented the udon dish well.
If you’re up for takeaway or couldn’t finish the dinner like me (I was eating 2-3 pax portion by myself. Guilty as charged), I’d recommend ordering the Chilled Truffle Kombu Udon too.
The takeaway package was thoughtfully packed with ice that kept my leftover udon so well chilled throughout my journey. I kept it in the refrigerator for a few hours before tucking in for supper at home.
Guess what? It tasted even more amazing!
Sake Labo SG$15 Weekday Lunch Deal
During the tasting dinner, I also got to try Sake Labo’s latest SGD 15 Lunch menu – Available during weekday lunch, except public holidays.
Even though the Hae Mee Udon that I had was a supplement of SGD 3 that makes this dish SGD 18 for lunch, the Jasper-grilled fresh kelong jumbo prawns were well worth it.
The grilled prawns tasted so succulent, smokey and charred that I just had to finish them on the spot even when I was already full by then.
The Hae Mee Udon has a creamy broth that was cooked with pork bones and prawn heads for more than 8 hours to achieve the level of umami while the choice of noodle is the light and gently chewy Inaniwa udon which complemented the taste and overall texture really well.
You can choose from a variety of udon in soup, chilled or stir fried styles lunch items.
Overall, Sake Labo is a go-to spot for all from sake newbies to sake connoisseurs with fun japas (Japanese + Spanish tapas) food to complement the sake and a value-for-money lunch spot for unconventional udon dishes.
Sake sommelier, Reuben Oh, is always ready to share his sake knowledge whenever you have any questions, while new Executive Chef Derek Ang has playful interpretations of Japanese and Spanish tapas that keep you in a light-hearted mood.
Address: 29 Stanley Street, Singapore 068738
Tel: +65 8764 6758
Mon-Fri: 12pm-2.30pm, last order 2pm
PH Hours: Closed for lunch
Opens from 5pm