Published on Monday, 22 May 2017 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in Singapore, but IPPIN Café Bar stands out in stark contrast from the rest with its warm and homely ambiance further heightened by great tasting comfort food commonly enjoyed in Japanese households.
There is nothing better than home cooked food, and the Japanese residing in Singapore vehemently agree with that as they flock to IPPIN for a nostalgic taste of home. If you are looking for fine Japanese cuisine with fresh sashimi and intricately marbled wagyu beef, IPPIN is not the place for you. What IPPIN offers instead is a true taste of home, simple comfort food with no-frills that a maternal crinkled-face obasan would serve if you stepped into an ordinary Japanese household just in time for dinner.
The best part about IPPIN is that if you fall in love with any of its dishes while dining there, you can purchase the necessary ingredients from its well-stocked shelves full of edible Japanese products to replicate at home. Seek the help of the friendly staff on site and you will be privy to all of IPPIN’s thoughtfully concocted recipes.
Besides consistently bringing in a large array of new items from various parts of Japan, IPPIN also prides itself on importing sustainable seafood from the world’s famous fishing port – Kesennuma Shishiori.
Kesennuma Shishiori is located on the coast of the Miyagi Prefecture and is one of the world’s three largest fishing grounds. Kesennuma Shishiori overlooks the Sanriku sea waters which is best known for catching a variety of fishes such as bonito, swordfish and sharks. The fishermen who make their living off the Sanriku sea waters hold a deep respect for the ocean and use sustainable fishing method, avoiding overfishing and keeping the ocean teeming with fishes for many more generations to come.
Not only will you be playing an ethical role in choosing seafood that comes from responsible catching, you will also be contributing to the Kesennuma Shishiori economy that took a huge hit after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Vegetable Stick, $5
The draw to this simple medley of assorted vegetables lies in the delicious dipping sauce made of chiba baked green onion miso imported in from the Chiba prefecture mixed with wasabi mayonnaise derived from the Shizuoka prefecture. The fresh and crisp carrot, Japanese cucumber and radish sticks nicely balance out the creamy sauce bursting with aromatic and savory flavors with a tinge of sharpness of the wasabi peeking through.
Classic Salted Squid Guts with Cream Cheese, $6
If you a big fan of cheese, this unique amuse-bouche is definitely the thing for you. It has a strong, pungent and deeply musky taste similar to blue cheese with a rich, silky and melt-in-the-mouth texture. The squid guts add a salty and briny flavor and a springy contrasting texture to the cheese.
Tuna Wasabi Croquette, $5
Crisp and flaky on the outside and perfectly deep-fried to golden-brown perfection, the croquette is stuffed with two types of tinned tuna incorporated with wasabi mayonnaise. The tuna within is moist and creamy, the wasabi barely making a statement, the creaminess of it resonating beautifully with the crunchy exterior.
Salmon Flake Rice Ball with Tororo (Tangle shavings) Flake, $13
This dish fell flat on our tastebuds as it lacked robust flavors. Japanese rice and salmon flakes are thoroughly mixed together, rolled into a ball and coated with tororo-konbu (tangle shavings). We would have preferred it if there was a heaping of salmon chunks stuffed in the core, but because the salmon was diffused throughout, its flavors were overwhelmed by the rice and tororo which had a nuanced dried seaweed taste.
Grilled Pacific Saury with Garlic Oil, $15
Tasting somewhat identical to saba fish with the same dense and meaty texture, the grilled pacific saury is pleasantly fragrant, rich, oily and savory which gives more than enough flavors to the salad with the addition of aromatic garlic oil so that it does not require any other dressings for it to taste delicious and wholesome.
Ikura Don, $35
Fresh ikura shipped in chilled storage by the carton is generously piled into a don adorned with salmon flakes, sliced carrots, shiso leaves and cucumber. The ikura is as fresh as it gets and has the thinnest membrane that pops from the heat in your mouth, releasing all its lovely and savory omega 3 oils and delicious juices that pair wonderfully with the mild tasting salmon flakes.
Seared Bonito Sushi, $16
Bonito is usually served as dried flakes on top of takoyaki or okonomiyaki, and for good reason. We could not appreciate the fish for what it is as it was too fishy for our tastebuds with a texture almost identical to rare steak.
WAKU WAKU Beer, $11
From left to right: pale ale, koshihikari ale, dark ale, weizen
As the hopheads (and quite possibly, alcoholics) that we are, we have sampled quite a few craft beers from around the world and can soundly say that $11 for a bottle of Japanese craft beer is considered a steal. There are four variations of WAKU WAKU Beer available at IPPIN; pale ale (blue) , koshihikari ale (gold), dark ale (brown), weizen (green). These beers are extremely dangerous to indulge in as they are all so equally delicious that you will polish off a bottle within seconds. The pale ale carries a nice citrusy fruitiness with a subtle bitterness that ends in a floral finish. The koshihikari ale contains a rice-like sweetness, is crisp and light, with a mild honey aftertaste. The dark ale has a pronounced taste of coffee, chocolate and burnt caramel with a very strong dark malt. The weizen, being a wheat beer, is full-bodied in yeasty flavors with a mellow taste of creamed corn.
Address: 18 Mohamed Sultan Rd, Singapore 238967
Hours: Mon – Sat 12pm – 3pm & 5pm – 11pm (Closed Sun)
Tel.: +65 6744 4794