Last year saw plenty of tempura joints pop up around the island, each selling its own take on tendon. But at Ippoh Tempura Bar, the stakes are raised – each fried golden morsel is treated with absolute devotion. Or so I’m told. The price points confirm it: lunch starts at $60 and goes up to a whopping $100, while dinner’s an even more extravagant affair, priced between $120 and $200.
But is it worth it? Simply put, nope. And it’s largely the fault of the batter. Instead of being light and crisp, the batter forms an oily coat on the palate and is soggy at points – certainly not hitting the expectations raised by Ippoh’s claim of being Osaka’s oldest premium tempura restaurant, with culinary traditions dating back to 1850.
As with most high-end Japanese spots, the emphasis is on the quality of ingredients. Everything is imported from Japan, down to the limes used to squeeze over the seafood. The meal starts with two shrimp, one wrapped in shiso leaf and the other without, that are perfectly cooked, sweet and juicy. Similarly, the squid, kisu fish and anago are delicate and soft, like biting into crispy pillows of varying tastes and textures.
But the vegetables that follow are a disappointment. The sweet potato is powdery, the asparagus tasteless and the mushroom too oily. The biggest let-down, however, is the tempura seaweed with uni, caviar and wasabi – it had the texture of stale keropok. Even the decadent toppings fail to salvage the situation.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional