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Kushikatsu Tanaka introduces skewer options

A Japanese chain known for its fried food skewers, Kushikatsu Tanaka, has launched a Singapore outpost at Clarke Quay.

It sprang from the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, when Hiroe Tanaka and her business partner Keiji Nuki decided to end their food business ventures in Tokyo. While packing to return to Osaka, Tanaka stumbled upon her late father’s kushikatsu recipe, and convinced Nuki they should open a kushikatsu outlet.

Nine years later the business, which became a listed company last year, is valued at US$82 million (S$110.6 million). It has 167 outlets across Japan, with four more opening this month. It also has a branch in Hawaii.

Tanaka and Nuki were both in Singapore for the opening of Kushikatsu Tanaka, a franchise outlet managed by Suntory Food & Beverage International, a subsidiary of the Suntory Group, which runs eateries such as Japanese restaurant Sun with Moon at Wheelock Place and the Pepper Lunch chain.

Secret sauce

A speciality street food from Osaka, kushikatsu features skewered items battered in fine panko crumbs and fried in a blend of oil and beef fat. Diners dip the skewers into a “secret recipe” sauce. There is even a dessert version.

Other dishes on the menu include chiritori hotpan (beef or pork). To finish the broth, diners can cook curry cheese risotto on the pan. Other hands-on dishes include DIY (do-it-yourself) onigiri and DIY potato salad.

While kushikatsu goes well with Jim Beam highballs, the alcohol menu also includes sake, shochu and wine. Diners can also play a variation of the Japanese drinking game Chinchirorin by throwing two dice into a bowl. If they roll doubles, they score a free highball; an even number earns a half-priced highball, while an odd number means they pay double the price (but for a double-sized highball).

Meanwhile, other skewered foods have arrived in Singapore including Ginza Rokukakutei at Odeon Towers and Panko in Haji Lane.

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