CHIKIN which means “chicken” in colloquial Japanese specializes in Szechuan Yakitori and exquisite cocktail infusions. The second and newest venue by lifestyle group Coterie Dining Concepts (the team behind popular Cantonese Tapas Bar, Sum Yi Tai), CHIKIN Szechuan Yakitori & Cocktails strives to amp up Singapore night scene by introducing the Japanese Yakitori experience through the devise of ‘Szechuan Mala’ skewers. The end result? You get to enjoy an assortment of great Izakaya dishes and delicious cocktail concoctions within a buzzing atmosphere!
CHIKIN Szechuan Yakitori & Cocktails – Concept & Philosophy
The bar’s concept came from the desire to merge the best of two Asian disciplines: the art of Japanese Yakitori and the mouthwatering flavours of Szechuan Shao Kao (aka BBQ). From there sprouted a three-storey conservation shophouse dressed in Japanese pop art-themed murals, neon-lit walls, a crazy fun-filled attitude, and Singapore’s first Szechuan Yakitori bar.
“I have always loved the ease of Yakitori as a dinner choice, and I admire the skill it takes to deliver good Yakitori,” says Ms. Tay Eu-Yen, Co-Founder & CEO, “then on my trips to Chengdu, I fell in love with the taste of Szechuan peppercorn on skewers. The spice is delicious & goes perfectly with alcohol, which takes the edge off then leaves you wanting more! So we decided it was time for a spicy variation to disrupt the realm of traditional Yakitori.”
CHIKIN Szechuan Yakitori & Cocktails – Space & Decor
Standing outside the Szechuan Yakitori bar, you will first get a sense of the quirkiness that characterizes CHIKIN from the black and white window display massed with an eclectic mix of iconic Japanese cartoon collectibles. Accentuating CHIKIN’s super fun and “anything goes” vibe, the interiors is furnished with custom-designed installations and artworks by veteran Creative Director, Cheah Wei Chun. In line with the pop-culture theme, Cheah showcased fashion, music, art and cartoons that are reminiscent of 80’s Japanese pop nostalgia.
On the ground floor where a long bar and open kitchen sits, you will be greeted with wall-to-ceiling murals plastered with iconic Japanese pop art symbols that are enlivened with neon lights. Through a climb up the stairway, the bar opens up to a lounge-like dining space catered for sit- down dining and larger groups. A long bench is set against a splashy backdrop, where more pop art icons vivify a busy scene of merrymaking. Deeper into the dining hall, leather sofa seats are placed under a double void high ceiling, where a tastefully provocative art piece is framed in gold.
On the third floor, the fun continues with an open karaoke and dining attic where you and your party folks can belch out tunes to their hearts’ content over food and drinks. Doubling as a private party venue suited for corporate events, group gatherings or celebrations, you can book out the entire attic at a minimum spend. The CHIKIN open karaoke and dining room is open from 8pm to 1pm and can only be accessed by reservation.
CHIKIN Szechuan Yakitori & Cocktails – Eat
Although CHIKIN uses Japanese methods of grilling skewers over Binchotan flames, they ditched the traditional Japanese tare sauce. In its place, a signature Szechuan peppercorn (or “mala”) sauce spices up its Yakitori. A first in Singapore, the combination of the Japanese technique of grilling skewers with the most addictive Szechuan spice, sets CHIKIN apart from other Yakitori joints.
CHIKIN’s Szechuan Yakitori menu carries 13 parts of the chicken including thigh, wing, heart, gizzard, tail, windpipe, skin, and cartilage, with other Kushiyaki (meat and vegetable) options. Affordably priced from $3 per skewer, you are spoilt for choice with options. Available in original Szechuan or Less Spicy renditions, folks looking for a varied taste can opt for the Yakitori Platter for 10 skewers or 15 skewers at $30 and $40 respectively.
There is also a variety of Izakaya style dishes to complete your dining experience. Among these are spicy variations of Japanese “tidbits” & comforting Japanese favourites. Highlights include cold dish options such as the refreshing Thinly-Sliced Salmon Cartilage in Spicy Sauce ($9), and the Chilled Japanese Sea Snails in Szechuan Spice ($14) for a bite with a flavourful kick.
Folks seeking a satisfying crunch must try the crowd-favourite CHIKIN Karaage ($9) or the Unagi Garlic Fried Rice with Fish Roe ($12) which comes with generous slices of grilled eel and bursts of tobiko.
CHIKIN Szechuan Yakitori & Cocktails – Drink
CHIKIN is proud of its infused cocktails, crafted by its resident award-winning bartender Sam Wong. Sake, Whisky, Gin, & other spirits are infused with fresh ingredients over three to four days to achieve the optimum flavour for each cocktail. Each infusion is completed with garnishes & treatments to enhance the balance of flavours before serving.
CHIKIN boasts a bevvy of up to 20 different cocktails (all at $19 each and $15 each during Happy Hour), with a majority of 15 being cocktail infusions. Promising variety with its colourful range of infusions, some of the regulars’ favourites include the Dozo Mango, a light sake and gin infusion with tropical hints of mango and pineapple, and the spirit-forward Sumoki Raisin that mixes whisky, sherry, raisins, and smoked wood chips for complex sips with a whiff. Immersed in a medley of melons and other fruits, the Sake Sangria is a delicious and easy-to-drink pleaser, while the Gin & Ginseng presents an earthy botanical profile that is acquired and intriguing.
Alongside the infusions, the cocktail menu also serves up a couple of on-the-spot classics with a Japanese twist, such as the martini inspired Shiso my Mojo, and the Japanese Mojito. CHIKIN’s cocktails are largely inspired by Japanese ingredients such as Shiso leaves & Kyoho grapes, but the list harbours a potent Szechuan Bloody Mary with 5 peppercorn spice levels to offer drinkers a spice challenge – The spicier you dare, the better you will fare! Ultimately, each of the cocktails are designed to ensure a mighty good night for everyone.
For those who prefer straight-up and fuss-free drinks, the bar carries Asahi Super Dry & Super Dry Black on tap, a strong list of great Sakes, a menu of natural & organic wines, as well as almost every Nikka whisky selection for the Japanese whisky lovers.
CHIKIN Szechuan Yakitori & Cocktails – Vibe
With its innovative Szechuan Yakitori, CHIKIN presents a deliberately over-the-top atmosphere with a light-hearted vibe to bring forth the fun side of Yakitori dining. Completed with happy tunes that span across the early 90s to current hits to encourage you to sing along, the space is fashioned for lively gatherings with great food and drinks.
“At CHIKIN, it’s all about having a good time guzzling on Szechuan Yakitori and yummy spirits. If you start to get a little buzzed and want to dance, we’d say just get up and do it!” says Ms. Sandra Sim, Co-Founder & COO.