There are few gourmet havens for wagyu lovers to frequent here in Singapore, which doesn’t make things easy when you’re trying to savour one of the finest foods known to the world. But one of the places gourmets have been counting on for a top-flight wagyu experience is The Gyu Bar.
Nestled in the dining enclave within the Mercure Hotel’s premises on Stevens Road, this contemporary Japanese dining bar is opened by Chef Tomoo Kimura of the eponymous one-Michelin-starred restaurant at Palais Renaissance, together with F&B entrepreneurs Karen Cheng and Chua Weiling, to offer its version of omotenashi (that’s the special term to refer to Japanese hospitality) to the art of wagyu gastronomy.
Originally focused solely on yakiniku, using smokeless Shinpo grills embedded in tabletops, The Gyu Bar has expanded its dining repertoire with the introduction of sukiyaki and shabu shabu.
Drawing from an extensive network of suppliers that the founding team has built over the years, wagyu served at this establishment is sourced from prefectures all across Japan and regularly air-flown into Singapore.
Marrying technique to food is an art; and at The Gyu Bar every nuance of flavour and composition, texture and mouthfeel, is enhanced with the right cooking style to allow the wagyu to shine.
To showcase its wagyu at its most exquisite, The Gyu Bar has introduced a new nine-course wagyu-focused omakase menu highlighting various regional livestock. Conceived as a journey through the best of wagyu-based gastronomy, you will literally eat your way through seven different regions of Japan – from Furano in the north to Kagoshima in the south.
What to expect in The Gyu Bar’s nine-course wagyu-focused omakase menu
To showcase wagyu at its most exquisite, The Gyu Bar offers two different eight-course omakase menus, each with a highlight of quality beef prepared yakiniku-style.
For something heartier, there’s now the nine-course wagyu-focused omakase menu that takes you on a wagyu journey through seven different prefectures of Japan, from Furano in the north to Kagoshima in the south.
Featuring seven wagyu breeds prepared in the style that displays the beef to its best advantage, it is an unforgettable gastronomic education that wagyu lovers mustn’t miss.
The adventure begins with a duo of snacks: beef tartare is made with Kumamoto Prefecture’s Wa Oh wagyu chuck rib and onions, tossed in a house-blend tare and filled into a mini waffle cone crowned with Hokkaido uni. The second snack, uni “tempura”, is a gem of textural contrasts.
You’ll then dig into a chilled roast wagyu salad with mixed greens dressed in house-made sesame dressing that highlights Kagoshima Prefecture’s Satsuma wagyu chuck rib, known for its balanced flavours and signature tenderness which have won the breed first place in the 2017 Wagyu Olympics.
The following platter of seasonal starters includes a bite-sized piece of Shiga Prefecture’s Ohmi wagyu temari – a luscious slice of sirloin is torched and served draped over plain Japanese rice, allowing the beef flavours to shine.
Then comes a staple of the cuisine – Japanese curry – paired with Iwate Prefecture’s Tankaku wagyu sirloin steak katsu. Coated in panko and deep-fried, the flavoursome lean cut beautifully sets off the robust curry flavours.
World-famous for its high degree of marbling and extraordinary depth of flavour and tenderness, Miyazakigyu from the Miyazaki Prefecture is an ideal choice for yakiniku, so you’ll be indulging in three different cuts – sirloin, tenderloin, and chuck rib that are selected for the unique profile each offers.
Next, it’s time for Sanuki olive wagyu, one of the rarest wagyu in the world with a small herd of just 1,700 cattle in the Kagawa Prefecture. At The Gyu Bar, the rich umami of the sirloin is elevated with shabu shabu.
In the finale, Hokkaido Prefecture’s Furano wagyu chuck rib is torched and paired with rice or noodles, highlighting its soft texture and balanced flavour. You can choose between the Aburi wagyu uni chirashi mini don, or for a refreshing dish, the Chilled aburi wagyu inaniwa udon served with cold kombu dashi shoyu broth.
The meal rounds off with seasonal soup together with seasonal Japanese fruits and desserts.
Have time for a short lunch only? Ask for the five-course executive lunch omakase menu
We get it, not everyone will have the time to go through a nine-course omakase menu even if it’s the finest wagyu we’re talking about.
That’s why The Gyu Bar has also designed the new five-course executive lunch omakase menu so that everyone can enjoy the best wagyu the restaurant has to offer.
The five-course executive lunch omakase menu, which AVENUE ONE had the chance of sampling, features an appetizer, a seasonal platter as well as the restaurant’s signature yakiniku with three different cuts along with one main course.
The first course set the tone for our tasting session, as we delighted in Kumamoto Prefecture’s Wa Oh wagyu chuck rib and onions that were tossed in a house-blend tare before going into a mini waffle cone that was crowned with Hokkaido uni.
The beef was sweet and buttery, and the subtle textural play between the melt-in-your-mouth beef, fresh uni, and crunchy waffle cone was simply sublime.
For our seasonal platter, we enjoyed the bite-sized piece of Shiga Prefecture’s Ohmi wagyu temari with a plate of spinach and burdock root plus a bowl of onsen egg with ikura and jelly – save for the beef slice, the ingredients for these two dishes will change depending on the seasonal produce.
The luscious torched slice of sirloin was slightly savoury and undoubtedly tender, and the beef flavour was further amplified by the mini servings of vegetables and soft-cooked egg.
After the beautifully put-together starters, we moved on to the highlight of the five-course omakase menu: the yakiniku, which has a slight variation to the more extensive nine-course version.
For the five-course menu, you will get two beef cuts instead of three which will be paired with a slice of pork shoulder that’s served with apple sauce.
The yakiniku is also served with five condiments – house-made tare sauce, leek and garlic sauce, fried garlic chips, wasabi, and pink sea salt – that are meant to accompany the beef cuts.
We liked the wagyu with each of the condiments but ultimately, the beef slices were already perfect on their own so feel free to do it our way and just enjoy the cuts without any of the frills.
For the main course, you can choose between Wagyu uni chirashi don and Wagyu udon. We had the opportunity to try both but found that the udon in cold kombu dashi shoyu broth complemented the sweetness of the beef better.
We completed our meal with a dessert of the day, which was sea salt ice cream served alongside macaron and mochi, all made in-house by the team.
Whether you choose the nine-course or five, we definitely think it’s worth the money spent as you’d be able to try different types of wagyu from different Japanese regions and compare one to the other.
Apart from tantalising your taste buds, you’ll learn something new about this transcendently tender, umami-rich delicacy, and you will appreciate it for more than just being so expensive.
What else you can get from The Gyu Bar
For a quick lunch, there are other sets comprising a main course (choose from rice bowls, hot stone rice, or noodles) with soup and salad that you can consider. Hearty and convenient wagyu dons are available for dine-in as well as takeaway or delivery, and these come in aburi, yakiniku, or sukiyaki styles.
Beyond wagyu, The Gyu Bar serves delicious offerings of pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables. Seasonal specials such as hotaru ika (firefly squid) and shirauo (ice fish), and rare cuts such as chateaubriand and tri-tip are on the menu whenever they are available.
Hotpot dishes such as sukiyaki and shabu shabu are ideal for light meals, wherein Japanese wagyu sirloin or Hokkaido pork collar and belly are served with appetisers, assorted vegetables and tofu, and konnyaku noodles alongside Hokkaido rice.
For indulgent moments, there is yakiniku and three omakase menus of premium produce, as well as beef platters of assorted cuts, allowing enjoyment of a variety of beef grilled to perfection.
The carefully conceived lunch sets and dinner à la carte dishes, as well as two yakiniku-focused omakase menus, are also regularly refreshed based on supplier’s choice cuts of wagyu and the season’s produce to heighten the eating pleasure.
On top of that, the restaurant also prepares bentos for delivery and takeaway so that those who prefer to enjoy wagyu within the comforts and safety of their homes can do so.
If you’re at The Gyu Bar for dinner, you’d be invited to choose your preferred sake glass from the owners’ prized 150-piece personal collection; and the first drink is on the house.
Then, with consummate care and expertise, the team will guide you through the various cooking styles – yakiniku, shabu shabu, sukiyaki – advising you on the best method for your particular order.
With such a level of attention to detail, you can count on an exceptional dining experience every time you visit The Gyu Bar to treat yourself to some exquisite wagyu.
The 9-course wagyu-focused omakase menu is priced at $238++ per person, and 24-hour advance notice is required for reservations. The Gyu Bar is located at 30 Stevens Road, #01-08, Singapore 257840 (near the entrance of Mercure Hotel). The restaurant opens daily for lunch from 12pm to 3pm and for dinner from 6pm to 10pm. For reservations, email [email protected] or call The Gyu Bar at 6732 0702 or 9150 3164.