Dinner @ Donpachi Sake Bar 本家呑八

April 11, 2017 in Japanese

I was on instagram when pictures of an izakaya piqued my interest. However, the pictures were geo-tagged to Cuppage Plaza and not to the eatery. Determined to hunt down the place, I put on my ‘Sherlock Holmes’ hat. Haha. Thankfully, I managed to find the name to this low-profile izakaya. Yes, Donpachi Sake Bar. And what came next was like a reflex action; I immediately shared with my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) news of my newly-found eatery and asked if she was keen in checking out Donpachi with me. And she was keen! Yeah.

Donpachi’s operating hours starting at 8pm was a real blessing for me because I don’t get to leave office early these days. And I would feel guilty if it had to come from me to suggest eating late cause I know my IGGF prefers starting early. Keke.

And with that, reservation was made for a Friday night. And yes, for 8pm.

On the day of our dinner, my IGGF and I met at Somerset MRT station before making our way over to Cuppage Plaza. However, even though we were armed with the address of Donpachi, we stood outside of the unit unsure if we were at the correct place. I mean, I knew Donpachi was a low profile izakaya. But it can’t be to the extent of having no signage… Erm, right?

In the midst of our uncertainty, I decided to peek through the door gap. To which, we confirmed we were at the correct place when I saw chef inside. Ha!

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

1) Oyster pickled in olive oil, $4.50 (above) – When my IGGF wanted to order this, I told her to order just 1. I was pretty sure I haven’t gotten over my phobia for oysters. But a (brave) bite of this dish under much coaxing by my IGGF showed that I should always ‘give it a try’. The oyster was seasoned very well. No fishy taste, and its texture was very smooth. Nice.

2) Maguro yamakake, $8 (above) – This confirmed my theory that one should stick to ordering sashimi in restaurants (ie, sushi-ya) and not at bars.

3) Smoked daikon marinated in cream cheese, $8 (above) – There were pickled pieces of radish too which introduced crunch to the dish. I really like this.

4) Geso age, $8 (above)

5) Jakonegi tofu, $8 (above) – I am not one to order tofu salad, but this was surprisingly good. Paired with leek sauce, I liked the addition of fried baby fish which added savouriness to an otherwise bland dish.

6) Chicken liver paste, $12 (above)

7) Raisin marinated in sake lees, $8 (above) – Sake lees (sakekasu) is the byproduct of sake-making process. And it was fascinating this tasted like rum and raisin flavoured cream cheese. And because it tasted like rum and raisin, this felt like a dessert dish to me.

8) Tenpura teishoku, $24 (above) – Not too bad. Pretty impressive considering it’s food served in a bar. The batter didn’t turned soggy even though my IGGF and I took a while to finish.

9) Saba, $9 (above) – This was good. Grilled to perfection, this was meaty and juicy.


10) Sake (warm), $21 (above) – Warm sake seemed to be Donpachi’s speciality. We ordered twice and were given 2 types of sake to try. Have a specific sake to try? Just point to one of the bottles on the shelves or let chef decide!

11) Beer, $13 – Wished I had a better picture for posting on my blog. I was busy chatting with my IGGF and took a little too long to shift attention to my beer. By the time I wanted to take picture of my beer, the beautiful layer white foam had subsided much. And by ordering a glass of beer (without referring to the menu), one was served Premium Malt’s by default.

I definitely recommend Donpachi for their wide range of purse-friendly (warm) sake and yummy finger food to go with the drinks.

But don’t expect much of the interior decor. It’s done up very simply. But it’s that which I liked about the place. It was cozy and warm. Take the counter seats to watch chef, with his signature straw fedora hat, prepare the drinks. Seated directly in front of the hot bath machine, I noticed how careful he was in ensuring the sake was served at the optimal temperature.

And oh, I was surprised when chef walked us to the door when we left the place. I wasn’t expecting that, but was glad as it reminded me much of the great hospitality of Japanese. Especially since it has only been slightly over a month since I returned from Japan.

DONPACHI SAKE BAR 本家呑八
5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, #B1-23, Singapore
9667 3659, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 20:00 – 04:00
Ambience: 6
Value: 7
Service: 7
 
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Kakure

October 1, 2016 in Japanese

So after our recent disappointing dinner, I was determined to make it up during our next meet up. Now… I have been interested to check out Kakure. And after viewing the pictures shares on Instagram, I was convinced the food wouldn’t disappoint. I mean, the food shouldn’t fare badly since it’s from Ki-sho, I assumed. And I had an enjoyable dining experience when I dined at Ki-sho.

And with that, reservation was made for a weekday dinner at 8.30pm. Parking wasn’t an issue as there was ample parking space within their compound. It’s also pretty manageable if one takes the public transport. It’s an estimated 15 minutes walk from Orchard MRT station.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Pre-appetiser, $10 (above) – And we were served assorted pickles comprised of mountain vegetable, sesame cucumber, yuzu radish, lotus root and cabbage after our orders were taken. So no, we didn’t realise the pre-appetiser was chargeable. But it certainly helped to pacify our empty and hungry stomachs as it took a while for the first dish of our omakase to be served.

2) Kakure omakase, $138 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above) – Starting from bottom left in a clockwise direction, we served clam, octopus, tofu skin with soya sauce and wasabi, and seasoned egg plant in miso sauce.

(B) Fish tempura (above) – Using belt fish (tachiuo), this was really good. And it being my first (I think) to learn about tachiuo, I asked the staff to repeat the Japanese name of the fish. But I (still) didn’t get its name. Haha. So it was nice that the staff googled the fish up and showed us a picture of a long silver fish on his mobile.

(C) Seasonal sashimi (above) – Comprised of tuna, big eye snapper (kinmedai) and squid.

(D) Sesame tofu tempura (above) – In a dashi-based Hokkaido king crab sauce.


(E) Pork belly braised in shoyu (above) – This was nicely braised such that it disintegrated nicely within my mouth. However, the pieces were too fatty.


(F) Ki-sho chirashi sushi (above) – Unfortunately, there was too many things going on at the same time; Sea urchin, tuna belly, salmon roe, omelette and cucumber. Yes, our taste buds got confused. My friend didn’t even bother to finish his bowl.

(G) Desserts comprised of:-

i) Fruits (above)

ii) Sweet treats (above)

3) Cured stingray fin, $12 (above)

4) Sea urchin and caviar, $98 (above) – Signature dish of Ki-sho. Seasonal sea urchin topped with oscietra caviar and rice vinegar dashi jelly. Unfortunately, this wasn’t as good as I remembered it from my dinner at Ki-sho. We were told by the staff that the supply was affected by a recent typhoon. And that they still went to purchase it (despite the heftier price). Unfortunately, the weather must have affected the harvest cause there was significantly lesser flesh. Didn’t really enjoy thist. Certainly wasn’t worth the $98 price tag.

5) Juyondai sake, $210 (non-bottle portion) (above) – And of the 3 sakes we tried, this was our favourite. And it was interesting that our sake was served in wine glasses. Apparently the use of wine glass enhances the sake’s attributes. I did a little research after dinner, and read from internet that it enhances by allowing the aroma to be collected in the glass; Enhances as one smells and consequently tastes it.

What’s my take on Kakure? Well… One shouldn’t come with higher expectation of their food than sake since Kakure is after all a sake bar. I committed that (mentioned) mistake of coming for their food, and was left much disappointed. Cause really, the omakase offered on Kakure’s menu is very much ‘finger food’ to go with their large range of sake.

And I blame it on the instagram feed too. The glorious dishes shared was misleading as those were food ordered from Ki-sho but served in Kakure so that the patrons could enjoy sake-pairing.

So yes to Kakure if one is after sake. But no if one is after a gastronomical experience. Head over to Ki-sho instead for that.

KAKURE
29 Scotts Road, Level 2, Singapore
6733 5251, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 01:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Lunch @ Suigei Sake Salon

April 27, 2016 in Japanese

My girlfriend was excited to share her new find with me. She being a barachiraishi fan, she exclaimed, “Better than Aoki‘s (mazechirsahi).” And with that, we arranged to meet up for a Saturday lunch. =)

Suigei Sake Salon is very much a hidden gem now. But once words get out, reservation is a must as the place is small (but cosy) and has a cap on the set lunch’s availability. Yes, only 5 sets are available for each of the 3 different set lunch. My girlfriend took charge of making reservation. And because we knew what we’ll be ordering (since she was bringing me there just for their chiraishi set. Ha!), she made reservation for 2 barachirashi too.

Suigei Sake Salon is very conveniently located in Orchard. So it’s pretty straight forward if arriving by public transport. Take the train to Orchard MRT station and walk towards Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. Parking, on the other hand, may be trickier cause of parking charges. I guess one can park at neighbouring shopping malls if Marriott’s parking rate is too expensive?

And since I am one who like to try significantly sufficient dishes on the menu before sharing a review, I headed back for a 2nd visit (on my own). =p The lunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) at Suigei Sake Salon is pretty limited with only 3 options for the set lunch and some finger foods which can be ordered a-la carte:-

1) Chirashi sushi set, $33 comprised of:-


  

(A) Chirashi sushi, miso soup, small dish & oshinko (above) – As mentioned by my girlfriend, Suigei Sake Salon’s take on the barachiraishi is wonderful. There’s a good variety of fishes, and they were generous with the portion. And I don’t just mean the rice, but the sashimi toppings! And for the small dish, we were given hairy crab cream croquette. The croquette was so good! This can be ordered on its own from the a-la carte menu at 2 for $16.

  

(B) Dessert (above) – Soy bean pudding with matcha cream.

2) Tendon set, $29 comprised of:-


  

(A) Tempura bowl, miso soup, small dish & oshinko (above) – Comprised of prawn, radish, pumpkin, asparagus, fish and lotus root tempuras. With hairy crab for the small dish.

  

(B) Dessert (above) – I was given the option to choose between soy bean pudding and pumpking pudding. Since I had the former before, I went for the latter; Pumpkin pudding with whipped cream. And this was smooth, with some grains for texture. Thick, good pumpkin puree. I like.

And Suigei Sake Salon is opened by the same people behind Sushi Ichi. As taken from their website, they have collaborated with the one of the most famous Sake Brewery Suigei of Kochi Prefecture in Japan. Sake list carries mainly Suigei Sake, and over 30 varieties of selected Sake from Japan. One may also opt for their in-house bartender to create sake-based cocktail that’s not on the sake menu (pages 1, 2, 3).

Will I recommend Suigei Sake Salon? A definite yes if, and only if, one loves barachirashi. And since they share the same kitchen and supply of fishes as Sushi Ichi, the freshness of the fish is guaranteed. And it’s very value for money.

However, I did notice inconsistency in their service. On my first visit, they had a Japanese waiting staff donned in kimono attending to us. On my second visit, the bartender was running the entire show. I guess the waiting staff had to help out at Sushi Ichi. That said, I like the ambience. Good for some quality ‘me time’. Which was why I didn’t mind heading back on my own for my repeated visit. =)

SUIGEI SAKE SALON
320 Orchard Road, Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, Level 1, Singapore
6235 5514, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Mon
Service: 7