Dinner @ Ippoh Tempura Bar

January 7, 2017 in Japanese

My friend and I were to meet for dinner, and it was coincidental that I got to know about newly opened Ippoh Tempura Bar through instagram. Upcoming meet up? New restaurant to check out? Perfect. Keke.

Reservation was made for a weekday dinner. However, I am not sure if it was my mobile phone or their telephone that’s spoiled but the lady on the other end (of the line) had much difficulty taking down my details. Had to repeat myself cause she couldn’t hear me properly. It was slightly frustrating cause I called during office hours and was trying to make the call short. Ha.

Did some research before my friend and I were to meet for dinner and got to learn that Ippoh Tempura Bar is an overseas outpost by Ippoh Tempura, a family-owned tempura restaurant which started in Osaka. Fifth generation master chef Masaru Seki was in town during the restaurant opening, serving some very lucky customers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. Sob.

And during the day of our dinner, I was thankful my friend drove cause Ippoh Tempura Bar was located at Dempsey. But if one is taking the public transport, it’s good news that they are not located way inside; Walking in from the main road is still manageable.

Located at COMO Dempsey, Ippoh Tempura Bar occupied a fairly small space. The counter was just 3 steps from the restaurant’s entrance with some some tables (on the far left) for bigger groups. It’s of no surprise that I requested for counter seats since I enjoy watching chef in action. Keke. And I liked that the set up at Ippoh Tempura Bar was similar to the tempura restaurants which I dined in Japan.

And from the menu, I ordered the $200 dinner course comprised of:-

1) Welcome tea, Complimentary (above)

2) Amuse (above) – Sesame tofu topped with sea urchin.

3) Assorted appetiser (trio of chef’s special) with options of:-

(A) Yam, beef, tomato (above)

(B) Yam, eel, tomato (above) – Was given the alternative of shio-marinated eel when I mentioned to the staff that I don’t take beef.

4) Assorted sashimi (above) – There should be a variety of 3 types, but I guess they didn’t have enough that night since we were only served 2 (tuna and squid). And I didn’t like the tuna. It was served too cold. My friend suspected it wasn’t that fresh too.

  

5) 11 pieces of tempura (above), comprised of:-

(A) Tempura #1, #2 (above) – Prawns. One wrapped with shiso leaf and seaweed, and the other plain. I learnt from my trip to Japan that a beautifully fried prawn would have its centre still slightly raw. So with every bite at Ippoh Tempura Bar, I would ‘study’ my half-eaten prawn. However, both prawns were thoroughly cooked. And I couldn’t help but notice the prawns were awfully thin too.


(B) Tempura #3 (above) – Scallop.


(C)Tempura #4 (above) – Shrimp toast. I liked this, although it would tasted better if the toast was pulled out from the oil a little earlier.

(D) Tempura #5 (above) – Cuttlefish wrpped with shiso leaf.

(E) Tempura #6 (above) – Onion.


(F) Tempura #7 – Sweet potato.

(G) Tempura #8 – Mushroom. I got a little flustered when the chef said “Japanese mushroom” as he placed it onto my plate. He didn’t use the word ‘Japanese’ when he introduced the previous ingredients. Does that mean the mushroom is the only vegetable that’s flown in from Japan? I hope not.

(H) Tempura #9 – Asparagus.

(I) Tempura #10 (above) – Prawn.


(J) Tempura #11 – White fish.

6) Uni, caviar and wasabi on fried seaweed (above) – Unfortunately, this failed to impress. The fried seaweed wasn’t as crispy as I expected it to. And oddly, it couldn’t hold well on its own. I had to use 3 (or was it 4) fingers when I picked it up.


  

7) Kakiage on rice with shaved truffle (above) – Served with miso soup. And this was what’s served for the $200 dinner course. However, I was disappointed with the small amount of shaved truffle which was insufficient to enhance the dish. I know truffles ain’t cheap, but restaurants should aim at getting their dish right if they wish to serve it. My friend went for the $180 course and was allowed to choose between tendon and tencha.

8) Dessert (above) – Melon and strawberry.

Manju (traditional Japanese confection) was stated on the menu, but we didn’t get any. Instead, ours was replaced with a vegetable tempura. Not very nice. The staff should have at least informed us of the change up front.

Having recently eaten at Michelin-starred tempura restaurants in Japan, I wasn’t impressed with the tempura at Ippoh Tempura Bar. Though it may be a different story if it was master chef Seki san that’s behind the stove.

That night, our tempura weren’t as crisp. And I thought it was weird that the ‘tempura skin’ easily detached from the meat/vegetable. Dinner felt rushed too. Before my friend and I even touched the piece on our plate, we were served the next. And this observation was based on my friend’s pace who was eating without taking any photographs of the food.

Would I recommend Ippoh Tempura Bar? Well… No. But if one insists, one should come during lunch instead. Lunch menu is almost similar to dinner’s, but at half of dinner’s price. Alternatively, do check their Facebook page for updates as they do mention when master chef Seki san is in.

And rest assured one would leave smelling as good as one arrived. =)

IPPOH TEMPURA BAR BY GINZA IPPOH
17B Dempsey Road, Singapore
1800 304 3388, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30
Ambience: 7
Mon – Thu, Sun : 18:00 – 21:30
Value: 6
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Service: 7

Brunch @ Open Farm Community

September 18, 2015 in European (cafe)

Most would probably notice from my recent instagram posts that I’m making the conscious effort to eat clean. Although I got to admit it can be a struggle cause I love my deep fried food. Haha. So when I got to learn about Open Farm Community, I was pretty excited to check them out.

A collaboration between The Spa Esprit Group, celebrity chef Ryan Clift and award-winning food garden specialist Edible Garden City, Open Farm Community sets out to be a farm-to-table restaurant.

And to say they are a restaurant… Isn’t quite accurate. Almost 70% of the area was dedicated to non-restaurant stuff. One would think sane businessmen would want to maximize the land and get as much returns as they possibly can. But at Open Farm Community, they were different in the sense that space was allowed for a big outdoors recreation space (table tennis table and playground) and farm!

Taken from their website, Open Farm Community aims to bring to life the impact of urban farming in Singapore. And in doing so, to strengthen our understanding and respect for food and its origins. In addition to promoting balanced living and education through farming workshops, events and activities.

My girlfriends assisted to make reservation since it was going to be an outing to celebrate my birthday! Keke. We decided to go for their brunch which was from 11am to 3pm. But what took my girlfriend by surprise was that she had to leave her credit card details as $50 would be charged for no show. So one may wish to take note!

And thankfully, Open Farm Community is located at the lower half of Dempsey Hill. So people like me who take public transport (bus) would not need to walk (too) far up from the main road. Keke.

And from the brunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), we ordered:-

1) Seared tuna, $26 (above) – With green papaya & jicama salad, fresh coconut & dashi vinegar.

2) Potato rosti, $28 (above) – Scrambled eggs, sliced pork sausages, creme fraiche & red onion brown jus. It’s a little odd that this was called ‘potato rosti’ cause the rosti only made up 20% of the dish.

  

3) Eggs benedict, $24 (above) – With poached chicken, spinach, semi-dried tomatoes, sourdough & green curry hollandaise sauce. Give this a skip. We were expecting a more generous serving. The (可怜) girlfriend’s husband who ordered this was still hungry despite having it all for himself.

4) Truffle scrambled organic egg, $24 (above) – With shimeji mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, baby spinach & sourdough.

5) Buttermilk pancake, $22 (above) – With creme patisserie, poached strawberries & ice cream.

6) Mud crab spaghettoni, $28 (above) – With Thai curry sauce, crunchy yellow squash, coconut, crispy shallot, Thai basil. Said to be homemade pasta, the noodles were thick and chewy. Not too bad, though the portion was a little on the small side.

7) Roasted baby chicken, $28 (above) – Braised leeks with hazelnut butter & wild watercress salad.

8) Lemon tart with basil ice-cream, $17 (above) – Of the 2 desserts we ordered, this was my favourite. Although we ‘destroyed’ it when we tried to slice through; The entire ensemble collapsed under our fork as we couldn’t ‘break’ the top layer successfully. Haha!

9) Hot & cold chocolate cake with chocolate sorbet & mint, $17 (above) – And yes, a candle added for the birthday girl (me).

10) Virgin mojito, $12 (above) – Apple juice, soda, mint, lime. Somehow, this tasted very much like lemonade. Ha!

11) Latte, $5.50 (above)

We certainly enjoyed the ambience of Open Farm Community. There was a certain class about the place, yet one wouldn’t feel out-of-place if one was too casually donned or very dressed up. However, food wise… Well, let’s say the portion could be bigger. Much bigger. It was pretty expensive.

Service was great! Staff were friendly and had a good sense of humour. You know how most staff would just take orders and leave? The staff at Open Farm Community made the effort to be personal as they engaged conversations with patrons, yet without being too intrusive. We made a booking for 6. So while waiting for the rest to arrive, the punctual ones decided to order drinks first. After taking our order, the staff joked and asked, “Would you like a group picture? You could also send to your (latecomer) friends.” Haha.

And have I mentioned how much I love their plates? For real. (^^lll) Keke.

OPEN FARM COMMUNITY
130E Minden Road, Singapore
6471 0306, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Fri : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 6
Sat – Sun : 11:00 – 22:00
Service: 8

Brunch @ Tin Hill Social

June 21, 2015 in European (cafe)

On the day I was to brunch with my friends, I saw an article by CityNomads of 10 new restaurants and bars which had opened in June 2015. And with that, a last minute change was made to head to Tin Hill Social instead. I was attracted by the fact that it was made up of 2 former horse stables. Ha!


However, getting to Tin Hill Social was a real pain. For us at least. Located at Turf Club, my friends and I shared a cab as we were worried we would need to walk quite a fair bit from the main road (Dunearn Road). And unfortunately for us, Google map failed us and led us to 110 Turf Club Road although we keyed in 100 Turf Club Road. How odd. So we were looking for the eatery along the wrong portion of Turf Club Road. Even when we called the cafe for help, the staff gave us wrong directions too! Argh.

So yes, just in case Google map fails others too. Do note that there’re 2 (abandoned) guard houses. Upon turning in from Dunearn Road to Turf Club Road, one should keep to the right after making a left turn at the next traffic junction for an immediate right turn. The correct guard house has a gantry beside it. If one misses the correct guard house, one will come to the entrance of The Grand Stand. Beside this entrance, there’s the second guard house. This is the wrong guard house. If one makes a right turn after the wrong guard house, one will still be on Turf Club Road, but one shall only see units 104 and 110. So yes… Hope this helps! And Tin Hill Social is not located within The Grand Stand.

So yes, by the time we found our way to the cafe, my friends and I were tired and hungry. Not exactly in the best of mood. But thankfully the place looked good. Big and spacious. I liked that they kept the wooden beams of the roof structure. Roof truss to be exact. It definitely gave the place some character. And it was observed that many who were at the eatery had popped over after their horse-riding lessons.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Rigatoni, $15 (+$3, prawns) (above) – With aglio, olio and pepperoncino. Unfortunately, this was oily. And for a simple dish as such to be priced at $15, this was definitely expensive. Not forgetting the prawns which were $1 each. I would have at least expected tiger prawns. I mean, give us our money worth lah! For pasta that’s (only) tossed in dressing, and we are paying $15? What.

2) The hill social burger, $20 (above) – 200 grams ground prime beef, in a homemade brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo, and a side of fries. I don’t take beef but my friends said this was normal. But of course, it baffled me that it’s an additional $2 for cheese and bacon respectively. I’m not sure if it’s a common understanding but to me at least, burgers ought to have cheese. Melted cheese. No? But we enjoyed the shoestring fries.

3) Beer battered fish & chips, $17 (above) – With homemade tartar sauce and mushy peas. We were not too impressed with this. Something is amiss when this was served and the potato wedges seemed to be the main item instead. Hmm… And the mushy peas was out-of-place with the other components of the dish.

4) Waffle, $14 (+$5, ice cream) (above) – Served with mixed fruit, maple syrup and crushed nuts. This was average. But cause I was expecting more, I was not too impressed. This was good only when compared to our lacklustre mains. But at least the waffle was crispy on the exterior. And for ice cream, there were 3 flavours; Double chocolate, raspberry and hokey pokey. We went with the staff’s recommendation of hokey pokey which was a flavour of vanilla and caramel.

5) Cafe latte, $6 (above)

So did I make the right choice of changing our venue at the very last minute? Sadly, no! We were let down by the food. We’ve a minimum standard and the food at Tin Hill Social barely made it. In addition, service wasn’t great. The eatery was pretty empty, yet it was very difficult to get the attention of the 6 to 7 waiting staff. The staff were somehow very occupied at the counter with their heads down. My, my… And of course, I can’t get over the fact that the staff couldn’t even give us proper direction when we were called for help.

I can only figure the only reason one should check out Tin Hill Social is if one is already in the area and one is just looking for a place for drinks. Yes, drinks only since ambience wise, Tin Hill Social makes a nice place to relax and chill.

TIN HILL SOCIAL
100 Turf Club Road, Singapore
6466 0966, Website
Overall: 6
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 5
Tues – Fri : 10:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 6
Sat – Sun : 09:00 – 00:00
Value: 6
* Closed on Mon
Service: 6