Served in a multi-compartment lacquer box, the dainty morsels are conceived for easy eating. This is common in Japan as bentos are portable and outdoor picnic-friendly during cherry blossom viewing time.
A mosaic of colours, textures and flavours, the opening salvo comprises Hotaruika Udo Sumiso – tiny firefly squids with vinegar miso and udo (mountain asparagus). Pleasantly chewy, the miniature squids coupled with the crunchy green bore outstanding testament to the timeless practice of consuming seasonal food at their prime best.
Seasonal veges sourced from mountainous regions such as crunchy wild bamboo shoots complemented by wakame refreshed our palate for the subsequent tuna and sea bream sashimi. No complaints here as the freshness is uncomprising for a five-star hotel restaurant.
The flavour scale creeps up with octopus tentacles slicked with sweetish soy sauce. A whole gamut of cooked delicacies packed the last compartment: broad beans tempura, inari sushi (sweet beancurd pouch stuffed with vinegared rice and toppings of edamame, marinated saba and surimi crabstick), a salmon ikura sushi ball, boiled tiger shrimp, tamago, trout teriyaki and flavoured rice ball with burdock strips. We found the tamago somewhat bland and the fish overdone whilst the rest pass muster.
A bowl of wakame, icefish and bamboo shoot broth washes the bento offerings down. To conclude the meal, a delicate disc of flat mochi skin with red bean mash wrapped in cherry blossom leaf and fresh fruit wedges complete the array.
Earlier, our group was reacquainted with some of Iketeru’s signature specialities, starting with the House Made Sesame Tofu with Ponzu Sauce. A minimalist, deceptively simple dish that wowed us with impossibly soft and smooth texture, and clean nutty-beany nuance.
Another on-point speciality to rock the palate is the Soft Shell Crab Spider Roll - rolled sushi speckled with toasty sesame seeds and crispy fried soft shell crab in the centre, and dribbles of savoury sticky sauce on top.
The classic Tempura Moriawase – assorted deep-fried prawns, fish, vegetables and mushroom sheathed in gossamer light batter proves when it comes to the crunch, Iketeru tends to deliver.
For reservations, call Iketeru, tel: 03-2264 2264 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org