Ippoh Tempura Bar By Ginza Ippoh is one of the restaurants at the new Como Dempsey lifestyle cluster on Dempsey Hill Singapore. Ippoh is said to be Osaka’s oldest premium tempura restaurant. The Dempsey restaurant in Singapore is their first outlet in South-East Asia. This small Japanese restaurant in Dempsey has a 12-seater bar counter and a small table for four. It shares Block 17 with The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar by Jean Georges Vongerichten on one side and Candlenut Peranakan restaurant on the other.
There was only one deep frying stove at Ippoh Tempura with one Japanese tempura chef in attendance. The area was really tight but the ventilation was good as we only had the faintest smell of tempura after our lunch.
Ippoh Tempura Dempsey Menu
In addition to an ala carte menu, there were three set meals for lunch and dinner. The lunch options are more affordable ($60, 80 & 100) than the dinner options ($140, 180 & 200). We selected the mid-range Momiji course ($80) for lunch.
Prior to the start of the lunch proper, the chef presented the raw ingredients for the Momiji course which was a 10 piece tempura course plus a final kakiage (tempura with bits of seafood and vegetable) with rice.
Our tempura condiments were a bowl of tempura sauce, grated radish and half a lime. A small tofu and salad appetiser started the ball rolling. Just as sake is the perfect drink at a sushi counter we tend to prefer beer when dining at a tempura counter. At Ippoh, we tried the Sapporo draft ($17 for 500 ml). It was crisp and fresh tasting.
The tempura started flowing soon after, starting with two prawns, the first was a bare prawn, the second was prawn wrapped in a mint leaf. From here onwards, I can’t really remember the sequence of the items, the flow of freshly made tempura continued for about 60 minutes.
The delicate seafood items were best eaten with a squeeze of lime and a touch of the sea salt.
The humble egg-plant was as good as the prawn, Tasty and creamy.
Asparagus and small fish. The fish was superb.
Next came the scallop and mushroom. Very good but not as memorable as the others.
The sweet potato was another memorable dish. Gold in colour and with a complex taste.
Ippoh Tempura has a special item unlike any other at any tempura restaurant – tempura shrimp toast. This was a deep-fried mini sandwich with some prawn paste inside. It reminded us of otak sandwiches which has fish instead of shrimp paste. The final result was very good. Ultra crisp on the outside and the inside part of the bread and paste still white. The whole thing was not oily.
The final tempura item was anago – sea eel.
A request to select the type of the final kakiage and rice dish signalled the end of the tempura items. There were three variants to choose from. The basic version which served the kakiage separately with rice, The tendon set that served the kakiage on top of a bowl of rice with some sauce. The tencha set that served both in a bowl of green tea. We selected the tendon and tencha.
The tendon turned out to be the better choice as eating the kakiage ‘dry’ with some sweetish sauce tasted better than drowning the whole thing with tea.
A scoop of green tea brought our tempura lunch set at Ippoh Tempura Bar to a sweet end. It was a pleasant meal in the quiet restaurant. We think that the 10 piece meal was quite adequate for lunch. The difference between that and the higher priced Ume course ($100) was a small appetizer and an extra tempura piece made with sea urchin and caviar. Our neighbour was having this course. From what we could see the extra appetizer would not tempt us to try the higher priced set, but the last piece of tempura with premium ingredients did look enticing.