Saturday, 13 June 2015

IPPIN CAFÉ BAR - the perfect place to chill out, shop for condiments and enjoy Japanese comfort food

The delicious 4 bento sets

IPPIN CAFÉ BAR was launched in October 2014 by Founder, Ayumi Fujishiro. After suffering from temporary hearing loss, she decided to venture into Singapore to help her father set up IPPIN CAFÉ BAR – a homely and unassuming café and bar which serves tasty, unpretentious Japanese home-cooked comfort food.

Japanese snacks and condiments

IPPIN CAFÉ BAR is not just an eatery. It is a place where one can chill out after a long day at work, go for a dress-down weekend date, shop for Japanese ingredients, snacks and condiments or even learn the art of Japanese cooking. 

The restaurant’s main Chef, Naomi Shono Kawakita believes that the essence of good Japanese food is the use of fresh ingredients and natural seasoning. The food at IPPIN CAFÉ BAR is healthy and free from MSG. 

An interesting selection of snacks

Art pieces adorning the walls

The ambience is cosy and understated and is akin to stepping into a traditional Japanese home. The wall is embellished with abstract art pieces. The décor is minimalist and zen and wooden shelves line the front, abounding with Japanese tea, snacks, cooking ingredients and even paper fiber clothing. Curetex Washi fiber is made in Fukui prefecture where Japanese Washi was originally produced. Creating Washi fiber is a tedious process and it takes approximately 10 years to produce Washi fiber yarn from cutting sheets of Washi in long strips to weaving into threads and drying under the sun for durability. Each item has to be checked manually to ensure quality. These painstakingly crafted natural clothes are known to absorb odour, block UV and provide coolness. Ideal for our humid climate! 

The cosy interior

During a tasting session, we were invited to sample the different types of tea from Shizuoka, Japan’s best tea garden. The teas include Sencha ($6nett), a popular green tea which has the perfect balance of refreshing aroma, delicate sweetness and mild bitterness, Genmaicha ($6++), a stronger, nutritious tea with a mellow taste and Hojicha ($6++), a roasted green tea which is high in catechin and low in caffeine and tannin and the taste is mild enough even for children and expecting mothers. My favourite is the Hojicha as I love its pure and refined taste.

We were also invited to savour the sake (Kirai Junmai and Tokugawa Ieyasu Daiginjo) and Craft Beers such as Kanazawa Hyajumangoku Beer Koshihikari Ale ($9), Kanazawa Hyajumangoku Beer Pale Ale ($9) and Kanazawa Hyajumangoku Dark Ale ($9) and Granagri ($9). I did not try any of the sake and craft beers as I am expecting. However, many of the invited guests enjoyed them.

The Oyakudon Set

The food is delicious and is very light on the palate. If you are looking for something fancy, this is probably not the place for you. The Oyakudon set ($15 nett) is lovely. This simple combination of chicken and egg on Japanese rice is very flavourful and well-balanced and the secret is in the tantalising dashi stock. The texture is a little wetter than most oyakudon  I have tried, but I must say that the taste is something which can’t be replicated anywhere else. This set comes with miso soup and hojicha pudding (roasted green tea dessert), a healthy pudding that oozes the pleasant aroma of hojicha. 

The Deep-fried Oyster Set

The signature set is the Deep-fried Oyster ($24 nett) which is also the restaurant’s best seller. The oysters are from Hiroshima Prefecture which is the most famous area where oysters are raised in Japan. They are lightly battered and fried twice resulting in a crispy exterior and creamy interior. When accompanied with Wasabi mayonnaise, the taste is simply heavenly. The deep-fried oysters are accompanied with rice (with barley), Hatcho miso soup, Nikujaga pork and potato stew, salad and hojicha pudding. I like the Nukajaga pork and potato stew too. It is bursting with flavours and the pork is extremely tender, making every mouthful very delightful.

Grilled Oyster and Veggies in Ponza Butter Sauce Set

Diners who are not inclined towards fried food can go for the Grilled Oyster and Veggies in Ponzu Butter Sauce Set ($20 nett). The oysters are grilled in ponzu (yuzu vinegar), giving it a refreshing and tangy taste. The fresh, clean taste of the oysters combined with the ponzu sauce makes it divine. It comes with rice (with barley), Hatcho miso soup, Nukujaga pork and potato stew, salad and hojicha pudding.

The Yaki Soba Set

The Yaki Soba Set ($12 nett) is another hot favourite on the menu. Yaki Soba is one of the most popular Japanese street food and is prepared using a thick, sweet sauce which is similar to Worcestershire sauce. The Yaki Soba Set comes with hojicha pudding. 

IPPIN CAFÉ BAR is the ideal place to unwind with family and friends. This humble eatery is located at 18 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 238967. It opens from 11am till 11pm daily.

For reservations, please call 6733 4794. 

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