Healthy Soba IKI is a health-conscious Japanese restaurant with a mission to promote ‘coolness’ (or iki) in Singapore. The underlying principle of iki is that “you are how you act”, meaning unwarranted acts of kindness (i.e. being kind for the sake of being kind, rather than for recognition or praise) are iki. I know this because every table in Healthy Soba IKI has a large printout explaining the principle, alongside the (abundant) health benefits of eating oodles of (Japanese buckwheat) noodles. Or soba.
Edification aside, HS-IKI is proud of its soba. Posters proclaim the fact that its soba is made of “100% pure buckwheat from Japan”, and the menu has eight different soba dishes to choose from. Two are purely vegetarian – the daikon oroshi (or grated Japanese radish) soba, and the tomato soba. A range of appetisers and other dishes (including various galette’s and okonomiyake) are also available.
Whilst the menu and mission is good, the ordering and collection of food is a rather confusing process, and any payment under SGD 30.00 must be in cash. The kitchen is open-plan and clearly visible from the restaurant. It’s a clean, bright and functional space that is one part classroom, one part restaurant. A perfect balance, if you ask me.
Healthy Soba IKI
#04-47, One Raffles Place
Open 11:30-21:00 Monday-Saturday; CLOSED Sunday
One of the two vegetarian soba options available, the main ingredients were grated Japanese radish, two pieces of beancurd and, of course, soba. It was served cold – the radish in particular was very chilled. The soba was springy and smooth (must be the 100% buckwheat talking…), and nicely garnished with chopped spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. What really got me going, however, was the sauce. It had strong citrusy notes (thanks to the yuzu), which were delicately balanced with soy sauce and vinegar. It was a bowl of absolute refreshment. Perfect on a hot summer’s day, or any day in Singapore for that matter.
I have – believe it or not – made one of these things once or twice before, and I can honestly say that mine were better. I say this not for the purpose of self-aggrandisement, but for shaming whoever thinks it reasonable to charge five dollars for the worst tamagoyaki I have ever eaten. It was both too sweet and too eggy at the same time, and a few bites tasted uncooked. Most disappointing, however, was the construction of the omelette. The layers were too loose and did not bind together – a sign of amateur craftsmanship if ever there was one.
A cool concept that, in my opinion, may be stretched a little too thin. I think HS-IKI would work much better on a smaller scale, in a smaller space, serving a smaller (soba-only) menu. The soba was delicious, but the overall experience was rather disjointed.