Monday, 1 June 2015

Ippin Cafe Bar @ Mohamed Sultan - Casual Japanese Home Style Dining [Sponsored Review]

First off, apologies for the recent absence! The last leg of my pregnancy has not been as breezy so I've unfortunately spent a fair amount of time feeling kinda bleagh. But let's not go there lol XD 

Back in April, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invite for food tasting at a fairly new Japanese cafe bar that labeled itself a Japanese Makan & Drinks Place~ I rarely blog about lifestyle stuff so I was initially quite baffled why I was included in the mix ^^;; But the press kit was enticing and you know how I love Japan so naturally, I accepted.

Abit of background info:

Ippin Cafe Bar only just opened late last year and, being situated along Mohamed Sultan Rd, is across the road from En Dining Bar at UE Square and thus just a short walk from Liang Court. 

They boast their very own certified sake sommelier Ayumi, who is also the owner, and naturally offer a wide variety of premium sake (Prices range $35 - $95 for 720ml), shochu and craft beers. Ippin's head chef Naomi used to be a culinary teacher in Hong Kong, teaching home style Japanese cooking to the domestic helpers of Japanese expats missing the taste of home and I also heard from my Japanese colleague that she used to teach at a very popular cooking school in Japan too!

Aside from food and drink, Ippin also offers a wide range of Japanese home and food products so you can browse while kicking back after a nice meal that incidentally may have been made using a few in-store products! This cafe bar also holds the occasional cooking workshop, flea market and other little projects so be sure to check with the staff if they have anything coming up~

Oh and may I mention that all the menu prices are NETT? I love not having to factor in taxes and all plus there's free Wifi too!

Let's take a look at the place now shall we~

 Lots of natural sunlight =)

Casual atmosphere all set up for the tasting session

I liked the general feel of the place, lots of wood and white with smatterings of colour....abit of Scandinavian and Japanese...kind of like how I would like my own home to be y'know?

Digging this sofa and table set.....

A look at the simple non-alcoholic drinks menu:

Due to the pregnancy I was unable to try the alcohol and much of the tea selection but from the reactions of my fellow diners it seems to be favourable all around! I had the Hojicha since it had the lowest caffeine content, nice!

Most of the food here comes in a set but they've since expanded the menu to include smaller bites like sandwiches and other appetizers. Sets generally come with salad, Japanese rice (with barley so it's healthier!), Hatcho miso soup, a small side of Nikujaga (pork & potato stew) and dessert so talk about a full meal!

The AWESOME Nikujaga up there that should have a set of its own. Seriously I swear the stew is really really good!

On the food tasting menu that day were:

Grilled Oyster & Veggies in Ponzu Butter Sauce Set $20 NETT

Said oysters hail from Hiroshima, famous for their clean tasting oysters. This was surprisingly light, which sort of set the tone for the rest of the session. The oysters were had a very clean taste but I wish the ponzu taste was stronger. I wouldn't have known that ponzu was in the mix if not for the menu description.

Deep Fried Oyster Set $24 NETT

Here's a closer look at the oysters & the dip (tasting size):

I liked the dip (a light but chunky wasabi mayo I think) very much, it was nice & chunky and not any sort of in-your-face taste so it didn't overwhelm the lightly battered/breaded oysters nicely~ I rarely eat oysters because I'm terribly afraid of any sort of overwhelming sea or fishy taste but these oysters (both the fried and grilled versions) tasted nice and clean. 

Oyakodon Set $15 NETT (this set comes with Miso soup and dessert)

Again, the taste is on the light side so you don't feel overloaded with a whole lot of seasoning and sauce. It's really up to personal preference if you'd like this over the usual heavier versions though. I really like the Japanese rice mixed with barley, it makes the dish less heavy and that much healthier! Also available for purchase in-store if you like ^..^ 

Miso Udon Noodle with Oyster Set $15 NETT

Yes, oysters again!!
This is Aichi Prefecture soul food and uses naturally produced red miso that takes 2 whole years to ferment. This set comes with kobachi (small side dish) and dessert.

This was....ok for me. I prefer my soups thinner so this wasn't really my thing since the soup was on the thick side. Pretty rich overall.

And lastly, the Yakisoba Set $12 NETT (comes with a small side dish and dessert)

For some reason I've never been a fan of this daily Japanese fare but some of the diners liked it very much and even bought the noodles which were available in-store.

Last look at some of the sets that were plated to show the usual serving sizes~

Background - Miso Udon Set, Foreground - Grilled Oysters & Veggie Set

Oyakodon set

I noticed this little note on free rice refills on the menu:

Furikake for the rice refills

I think it's nice that they also provide a small selection of furikake (rice seasonings) to accompany your rice refills =)

Poking around the shopping area:

Some of the food & drink selections

A selection of Washi fiber goods

Curetex Washi fiber from the Fukui Prefecture, a natural fabric with a very high fiber count, is supposedly able to absorb odour, is anti-bacterial and block UV rays while providing coolness. Items made from this fabric range from $11 for a dual-side face mitten to $82 for a T-shirt. 

It started to rain before I left so I hung back to chat and the friendly staff at Ippin let me just sit around while waiting out the rain. So I got to see how the cafe is usually arranged and it really is very cosy and casual.

Looking a tad dim due to the rain

And here's what I brought home at the end of my visit:

Clockwise from top left: Wasabi Dressing, Sudachi Honey juice ($3/280ml), Plum Chazuke (tea rice) mix,
Koji Amazake (Sweet rice juice $18/500ml) and Curetex Washi fiber face mitt ($11).

Items without prices were part of our goodie bag for the day (^__^)v

So at the end of my rather long visit to Ippin, I would say that this cafe bar: 
  • is a nice place to spend an afternoon with the girlfriends or relaxing dinner and drinks after work. 
  • has a nice casual vibe and if you enjoy unpretentious home-style fare cooked with a light touch then Ippin's menu is definately up your alley.
  • boasts a wide range of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks plus even a sake tasting where one can try 3 types of sake from their selection for just $15.
  • has friendly staff who're up for a chat if you feel like it.
Would I go back? Yes~~~ For the Nikujaga and the Fried Oysters!! ( ´͈ ॢꇴ `͈ॢ)♡ 
IPPIN CAFE BAR - Japanese Makan & Drinks Place

18 Mohamed Sultan Rd (Just across the road from En Dining Bar at UE Square)
Tel: 6733 4794
Hours: Mon - Sat 11am - 11pm
NETT prices and FreeWiFi


Last but not least, a big Thank You to Ippin and Hazel for the invite and setting up the tasting session! ♡´・ᴗ・`♡ And thank you too for reading another lengthy post! Hope you've had a good long weekend!