Hokkaido Izakaya @ 95 Tanjong Pagar Road

Tanjong Pagar has always been a melting pot of culinary culture. From hipster cafes to ‘atas’ restaurants, Korean BBQ, Japanese ramen houses and booze-loaded bars, this food-centered district located within the Central Business District caters to almost every diner’s cravings. Joining the food scene this year is Hokkaido Izakaya, a casual Japanese gastropub which serves authentic Japanese dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients from 4 different cities in the prefecture of Hokkaido – Yakumo, Akkeshi, Furano and Kamishihoro.

Dinner was off to a promising start with 4 different appetizers to appease our rumbling bellies. The Scallop Liver with Sesame Oil $9 and the Cheese Marinated with Miso $7 were the first two appetizers that arrived shortly after our orders were taken.

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Despite its raw and not too aesthetically-pleasing appearance, the scallop liver exuded beautiful oceanic flavours which were concentrated in the tiny organ within the shellfish. A thin coat of sesame oil helped to boost the richness of the liver whilst mellowing out the fishy odor. The miso-marinated cream cheese too was an uncommon yet pleasant combination, although the tiny portion might not be worth its price tag.

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Moving on, while it is always a shame when potato salads are served mushy or mayonnaise-dominated, the Potato Salad $9 served here however, was simply creamy and luxurious! A whole potato from Furano was mashed in front of us alongside with sliced carrots and cucumber, and a whole egg. The dallop of mayonnaise tied the mixture nicely without overwhelming the star of the dish. The unassuming Cucumber with Salted Konbu Seaweed $5 too was simple and refreshing, perfect with a cold glass of Japanese beer.

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Moving on to mains, we had the Seasonal Hokkaido Wagyu Roast Beef $25 which was air flown from Kamishihoro city in Hokkaido. With its gorgeous marbling and delightful seasoning, this plate of indulging meaty goodness left us battling with our chopsticks over the final piece.

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The Chicken wings $6 and Japanese Omelette Mixed with Milk $10 complemented the alcohol, but unfortunately dulled on its own. Wings were lacking the desired crispness, and felt somewhat bland whilst the Japanese omelette was similar to the former albeit the addition of butter and cottage cheese. However, the saving grace of the omelette was its fluffy texture and moist interior.

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Featuring the seasonal ingredients of Hokkaido once again, both the Potato Croquette $8 and grilled Scallop $10 from Furano City and Yakumo Town won my two thumbs up. Croquettes were deep fried till golden crisp, with a soft mushy centre seemingly bulging out of the thin batter while the grilled scallop was equally delectable; tender, plump and juicy!

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To amplify the Izakaya experience, we ordered the Smoked Salmon Belly $15 and Milk Hotpot with Salmon $18 to relief the alcohol in our stomachs. While the salmon belly was lacking in flavour and crispness, the milk hotpot was just heavenly. The thick, milky broth transformed the salmon into warm, tender slices of bliss with an added creamy texture that was plain enjoyable, especially on a rainy evening.

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Before proceeding to dessert, we had to try one final dish which was the restaurant’s signature Kakiage Tempura Soba $12 made with 100% buckwheat flour. The soba noodles were soft and gentle for the stomach, but the highlight of the dish would be the humble dashi stock that was essentially comforting, especially after gulping down glasses of alcohol.

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Summing up the night with a unique dessert, we simply had to order the Steamed Potato with Vanilla Ice Cream $7. In case you might be wondering, we were neither drunk nor potatoes!  Served atop 4 quarters of the prized Furano potato was a generous scoop of ice cream with red bean paste and butter. Bizarre as it might have sounded, the potato gave the ice cream a nice substantial base whilst the butter transformed the ice cream into a smooth, velvety cream! This dessert is definitely a great conversation starter.

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Overall, Hokkaido Izakaya is a great place that offers the ultimate Hokkaido experience without you needing your passport or layers of winter clothing. The food is as fresh as can be, directly imported from the Hokkaido towns while the place itself is fuss-free, casual and just welcoming for a night of cold beers and authentic Japanese cuisine.

95 Tanjong Pagar Road
Singapore 088516
Tel: +65 62217118

Opening hrs:
Monday to Saturday:
11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 12.00am (midnight)
Sunday & Public Holidays:
11.00am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 10.30pm

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Words and Photography by Kenneth Lim (@exasperatedmilk)
The writer is an avid tea drinker who enjoys slicing cakes with his golden fork. 

Singapore

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