“Arm Wrestle and Win Free Beer”
You might be familiar with the chain of sushi outlets located at various MRT stations – Umi Sushi. Well, Neo group has established a brand new Japanese dining and bar concept at the newly opened and iconic sports hub. Issho Izakaya is the new Japanese watering hole in the east.
“Issho” means “to gather” in Japanese, and as it suggests, the interior is a cosy and warm venue for your intimate gatherings and get togethers with loved ones and friends. Its family friendly too. The décor does make you feel like you have entered a Japanese bar at night, since the 88 seats are mostly Kotatsu (traditional low wooden table frame).
For something more private, Issho Izakaya offers private rooms as well for events and parties.
What is a Japanese bar without sake? At the front entrance, you will be greeted by a massive selection of Sake and Wines. Some of these are only distributed to Issho Izakaya, so be sure to ask for the seasonal specials.
The Izakaya is a type of Japanese drinking establishment, and the food served is supposed to accompany and complement the drinks. The resident executive chef, Chef Takayuki, has had experience in various other countries. This thus puts him at the helm of Japanese fusion cuisine.
Roasted Brown Rice Green Tea was served in a glass tea pot with double walled tea glasses as well. The fusion of the brown rice and green tea produced a very subtle aroma, but was full bodied in taste.
Yuzu Sake, Abarishi Ryuhyou Blue Beer ($15++). Issho Izakaya serves a plethora of alcoholic beverages and we had the opportunity to try two of their favourites. The Yuzu sake was very sweet, while the blue beer was something new to us. It has a greyish blue tint to it, and the blue is from the seaweed used to brew this beer. Its very refreshing, and has a light and unique taste to it.
Buta Shabu Salad ($12.80). The salad features thinly sliced pork belly meat topped with a generous serving of goma (sesame) dressing. Its a light appetizer despite the heavy dressing, and is refreshing to the palette too.
Grilled Yellow Jacket. On first glance, the yellow jacket doesn’t look that appealing, but the crisp exterior and taste of the sea is quite appetizing.
Buta Kakuni ($12.50). The pork belly is stewed for 2 days in special broth and is served with half an ajitama egg and a side of mustard. The meat is so soft that it disintegrated in my mouth upon first bite.
Potato Croquette. Piping hot and crispy on the outside, encasing the slightly moist potato filling. The croquette was paired with tonkotsu dipping sauce and served with a side of salad.
Liver Pate ($7.80). As the name suggests, the appetizer is made from chicken liver and topped with pink peppercorns. You might think – ew gross, liver! But it doesn’t taste like liver at all. In fact, it is sweet and savoury at the same time, a sort of umami aftertaste. The pate also comes along with thin and crisp slices of mini toast.
Tomato Buta Maki Kushiyaki ($7/2 skewers). Each of these juicy baby Roma tomatoes are wrapped in a thin slice of pork belly. They are then glazed with a special sweet sauce and then grilled to perfection. Not too charred or undercooked. The tomatoes burst in your mouth upon first bite and dances around your tongue.
Issho Chanko ($88 for 4 pax, $168 for 8 pax). Also known as sumo pot, the amount of food you see in the picture is what a sumo wrestler typically consumes per meal. A simple broth with healthy ingredients for all your sumo wrestling needs.
I think the best and most exciting part about this Issho Izakaya is that with every order of the Issho Chanko, you’re entitled to challenge any – yes ANY of the staff on duty in the restaurant to an arm wrestling match. This includes the chef! You get to win a mug of Sapporo beer on the house if you succeed the challenge. The staff will twirl their den-den-daikos around you in the spirit of competiton, so be prepared for the attention.
The deserts were an art piece on their own, and showcased Chef Takayuki’s flair for fusion cuisine. The chocolate mousse was nothing spectacular, but his creme brulee jad me craving for more! The burnt sugar crust was even all round and the custard was made with vanilla beans instead of extract. It was smooth and silky, while not being too sweet. I would definitely be back to try his black sesame dessert though, it looked exquisite on the menu.
While the dishes featured here are mostly tapas style, tempura, sushi, sashimi, agemono and nimono items also available on the menu. Some items are even sports themed to match its locality. Will I be back here again? Yes of course, the sake and dessert looks too good to be missed.
Expected Damage: $25- $35 per pax