When I first heard of this place, I honestly thought that this place specialises in hamburger (because of the name right? #noob). So up till we ordered the food I was expecting to have a nice Japanese inspired buns and patties, but I was pleasantly surprised when Keisuke turned out to be a totally different experience.
When I went home, I started to obsessively educating myself in this special dish. Hamburg Steak is actually Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) which has it's roots from American Salisbury Steak, a dish that made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients (such as chopped onions and egg). Though it is not clear when the dish was introduced in Japan, there has been a lot of permutations and improvements done to the dish.
The restaurant itself was very warm and inviting. There's a sitting area outside for you to wait to be seated in the restaurant with a complimentary serving of chestnut tea. My favourite part of the the dinner was actually sitting right next to the sliding door and getting a whiff of the steak sizzling away inside. You can actually take a peek at a little bit the kitchen itself while you're sitting outside. There's something both comforting and exciting watching the chefs working away and preparing the dishes.
Once inside, the restaurant actually opens up to a much bigger space and you're hit by the tantalising smell of the grilling steak. We were then given a bowl to take the side dishes with (this what convinced me to come to this place, more of the amazing side dish bar in a little bit) and the menu. There are two types of hamburg steak you can choose from. Their Keisuke Prime Beef Hamburg Steak Set (SGD 18.80) and their Triple Cheese Prime Hamburg Steak Set (SGD 20.80). My friend and I decided to go for the patty with the cheese inside (duh!) and paired it with the mayonnaise dip sauce. Will it be overkill? We're about to find out.
After ordering we quickly scooted out of our seats to check out the side dish bar. Now, you can call me cheap, but the main reason why I actually wanted to check out this place was because the side dishes are FREE FLOW. Yes, this is not a drill, everything that they have at the bar is free flow. With that in mind however, my standard for the taste was pretty low, but man I've never been happier to be wrong. Here are some of my favourites!
The girls that I sat next to while waiting for our seats were gushing about how good the choices of eggs were so you can be sure your girl went to try that one out first. The selection of eggs were pretty good considering they have more than just the old tamago. There's also scrambled eggs and sunny side up egg. I was reluctant to try out the scrambled egg at first, but my friend Deanna told me that it tasted like the Gordon Ramsey's scrambled egg (have you guys ever watched that youtube where he makes the fluffy scrambled egg - iconic) so I raced back to the bar and got some.
Let's be real, how good can scrambled eggs be right? Well let me tell you, this one is bout to blow your damn mind. Fluffy and creamy, it was tasty and so delightfully spongy and rich. One thing that I hate about scrambled egg is the moisture consistency, it's often too dry or too watery, but Keisuke has managed to do their's just right. The tamago and the sunny side up was tasty as well, but the scrambled egg was the real winner for me.
Similar to the selection of eggs, the soba comes in three varieties. There's their signature green soba, spicy soba, and the cream soba. Flavour profile wise, they are very close to the taste of cold noodles (my friend Deanna actually compared it to cold taiwanese noodle.) The three sobas were honestly the highlight of the side dish bar for me. I can imagine buying and eating these sobas on it own, that's how good they were. Springy and packed with flavours, my only regret is the fact that I can't eat more of it.
3. Japanese Mashed Potatoes
I love, love, love Japanese mashed potatoes. The creamy, buttery goodness of the potatoes mixed with the Japanese mayonnaise is such a treat. I was scooping and piling them like ice creams on top of the soba because #whynot. Again, quality of the mashed potatoes was so good I can imagine them eating this on it's own.
Other than the side dishes above, there are a score of fresh vegetables available at the Keisuke. The corns and seaweed were the highlights for me. But if you're a fan of plump cherry tomatoes and crisp cabbage slices, then this is truly the place for you. There's also a mixed bowl and chickpeas and kidney beans which I think is a good alternative if you find the pasta and the potato side dishes to be too filling.
5. Sauces and Dressings
The selection of sauces and dressings is top notch here in Keisuke. Thousand Island who? Dip into the signature Keisuke suces. I mixed and matched their signature sauces (yes, even the spicy one) with the sesame salad dressing and it was soooo dope. The sauces was light and had a tangy bite to it. It worked especially well when mixed with more buttery side dishes like the mashed potatoes or the scrambled egg.
With all these wide selections of the side dishes, I almost expected that the hamburg steak will be served as a single slice. But by this point I've learned that Keisuke is here to defy all expectations. Each slice of hamburg steak comes with a side of rice as well as a fried ebi. Since we ordered the mayonnaise sauce, there was a very generous serving of it next to the tangy sweet signature sauce.
When you break into the steak, melted cheese immediately oozed out. Coating the beef with salty sweet flavour, the experience is completed when you dip it into the mayonnaise sauce, mixing is with the creamy and sweet flavour. Even though it seems like there are too many things going on, every pieces of the dish creates a perfect simple umami together. The cheese was of high quality (not those cheap cheddar type) and the portion was very generous. It was pretty safe to say we were stuffed at the end of the meal.
All in all, I had such an amazing experience at Keisuke. So much so that I visited the place a second time in the same week. I think its one the best hidden gems that Tanjong Pagar have. It's so heartwarming to see such a balance in value and taste, when most of the time the taste is sacrificed for larger portions or even sadder, prettier plating.
Hamburg Steak Keisuke
72 Peck Seah Street,079329
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm, 5.30 pm to 10.00 pm