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I felt blessed to have my tempura meal at Ippoh Tempura Bar prepared and served piece by piece, by none other than Chef Masaru Seki. He is the 5th generation of the founding member of the oldest tempura restaurant company in Japan, and is in Singapore this week.
After my host Celine and I had settled into our seats at the 12-seater counter, we chatted with Chef Seki-San for a bit - he is such a friendly chap.
We sipped on sake as we perused the menu to decide which of the three set meals priced at $70++, $85++ and $100++ to get. A few of you may notice their prices have been adjusted recently so they're more pocket-friendly in comparison to when they first opened last year. Anyway, as this was my first visit, I opted for the $70++.
The tempura here is done in the Osaka style, which has earned Ippoh widespread fame and popularity throughout Japan and beyond. As expected, the food served at this cosy space is a lot more refined than what you get at those bigger casual places specialising in tempura ricebowls. What made me go wow were the "Live Shrimp with Shiso Leaf" and the "Chestnuts". In tempura form, they're new to me and really delicious!
If I were to compare the battered coating of Ippoh's and Mizuki (where I had also dined at recently), I'd say the latter's is paper-thin and crispier. Ippoh's is a little bit thicker, which gives it a slightly gentler crunch. "Less keropok" (Asian cracker snack) would be another way I'd describe it.
For the last course, they offer a choice - you can have the kakiage on rice or ochazuke (green tea porridge). Having not had the crispy fritter with anything but the former, I went for the ochazuke and I liked it. Do note you should select this only if you don't mind the kakiage getting a bit soft from the green tea.