Seasoned kid on the block, Ippin Cafe Bar, recently revamped their interior, leading to a refreshing vibe across the homely establishment. We take a trip down to the cosy cafe and bring you the best dishes in the house.
Nestled deep within Mohamed Sultan road, Ippin Cafe Bar stands out from its Japanese peers. It could be loud, pumping familiar Pop music and vibrantly colored, but we found ourselves drawn to the place. It was a curious little cafe, a bit of a cafe-meets-Daiso mix.
The dining area was casual and comfortable, looking more like a home than a restaurant because of their shelves after shelves of brilliantly dotted Japanese memorabilia. Here, you can pick up wallet-friendly items straight from the land of sakuras. They carry anything from a curated bottle of sake to a box of rare tea leaves. Daiso’s offerings come nowhere close.
A touch of tofu
We started our course with a small cup of Tsutsumi Brewery Plum Wine ($29 for a bottle). It was a smooth piece, cocooned in subtle sweetness. It readied our taste buds for the promising meal ahead as we tucked into our first appetizer of the day, the Tofu with Toppings ($5).
The Tofu with Toppings pays homage to the Tochigi Prefecture, with its selection of toppings inspired by the local’s recipe. The tofu was admittedly plain but it was spruced up with a plethora of toppings such as sesame oil, peanuts and finely diced onions.
The toppings added an almost gyoza-esque taste to the simple dish. Dip heavily in soy sauce if you prefer a stronger flavour, as I did!
An un-missable Japanese staple
Hailing from the Chiba Prefecture, the Yakisoba set ($12) is probably the most distinguishable Japanese dish. Ippin Cafe Bar teases that this dish is exactly like Dad’s cooking, but a level up in terms of taste!
The dish was one of the most satisfying of the night because the good folks at Ippin Cafe bar served it up together with a small plate of their signature beef steak set. The soft and savoury eggs paired nicely with the pork, but it stood no chance against the more delightful dish, the beef!
The beef here is tender to a fault and succulently salty to the last drop. I like my food strongly seasoned and this one matches my bar. I dipped it generously in the sauce provided and it added another dimension of savoury on top of the flavour-rich and chewy beef. You have to ask for the same combination I had! This beef will be worth your while.
The Yakiosoba set is completed with a kobachi, a refreshing salad and a hojicha pudding, a roasted green tea dessert.
True star of the show
But the surprise star of the show was actually the dessert – this brilliant Mochi & Green Tea with Rice Cracker ($12)
I loved the matcha whip cream with red bean paste variation. Since Japan is the undisputed king of matcha, of course they would pair it up in the best way to do the flavour justice. The deliciously chewy and fresh red bean paste was warm, complementing the flavourful vanilla ice cream to a T. Cold matcha meets warm red bean paste meets chilly ice cream? More please!
I broke the remaining crackers into crumbles and took them together with the cheddar provided, adding a little French twist to the Japanese dish.
The dessert came paired with a jelly form of moscato wine and a small shot of muscato wine. The jelly was ordinary but the wine was fine, I would’ve asked for a taller glass!
Cheers to it all!
And of course, what better to finish a meal than with some sake?
Settling ourselves at the bar, the friendly sake sommelier brought out her arsenal of sakes for us to choose from. I opted for a Miwakuno Strawberry Sake. At 7% alcohol, it was one of the lightest sakes they had, but it was a charming mouthful. Sweet and tangy, this wine became my favourite of the night.
I proceeded to try the Strawberry Tochi Otome ($31), otherwise known as strawberry yogurt, sake as well. At first sip, it was ordinary but when the aftertaste kicks in, you’d be able to revel in the small tanginess as it glides down your throat!
Wee Kiat tried both sakes then opted for the strongest sake in the house, the Purple Sweet Potato Shochu ($48), which stands at an impressive 25% alcohol content. I passed on this so I can’t tell you first-hand how it tastes, but he comments that it was smooth and strong, and almost vodka-esque. Whiskey and vodka lovers might find solace in this sake!
All in all, this is a nice place to kick back and watch the world go by over beef cubes (request for the dish!) and small cups of sake. I can think of no better way to spend a leisurely day!
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ippincafebarms18.
IPPIN Cafe Bar, 18 Mohamed Sultan Road, #01-01, Singapore 238967, opens 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm
By Nicole Lee (@minicolee)