RAPPU, Tanjong Pagar: With these handrolls, ‘Originality is nothing but judicious imitation’

It usually begins with an idea; an elusive magical fairy-like thing that flitters and darts around mysteriously while you try desperately to grasp at it. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch it or find it curled up surreptitiously right under your nose—which is how I would like to think the founders of RAPPU came up with the concept of a handroll bar in Singapore. It’s so simple and genius, it’s almost criminal.

RAPPU has decided to do away with bells and whistles that come with Japanese cuisine and zero in on one thing: handrolls. If you must know, the folks behind RAPPU are the same team that came up with The Feather Blade, the steakhouse that was trend fodder a little while back. RAPPU has the same focus that The Feather Blade had—doing one thing and doing it exceptionally well.

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Ideas are only as good as their execution, and owner Sheen Jet Leong is just as shrewd from when I met him at Feather Blade. RAPPU is, for now, a pop-up every Sunday till 21 November 2020 and housed in REVAMP Cocktail Bar. However, a little birdie tells me that they might move into a permanent home soon. It seems like the year might be looking up after all.

RAPPU doesn’t allow for precious mulling over the menu. Instead, it implores you to try all their handrolls at once. Their set of six handrolls comes up to S$36, which isn’t too much of a shock to the wallet. If you don’t want to put the REVAMP experience to waste, you can go for the sake pairing that comes at S$18++ per roll, which, if you know your sake, is well worth the chump change.

When the notion of opening a handroll bar occurred to Sheen, what follows naturally is the fun part—the extensive R&D. Here, Sheen and his partners spent eight weekends having a ball (or a roll?) of a time testing out different types of rice and combinations of raw fish.

What I tried

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Which was why the Crab roll was an unexpected serving that left me yearning for an encore. Encased in a bed of warm sushi rice, were delicate, sweet shreds of Pacific Red Crab mixed in with the potent liquid gold of Japanese Snow Crab Kani Miso.

Kani miso is not for the faint-hearted or the casual seafood diner.

Made mostly from crab tomalley, this miso spells an intense crab flavour that I suspect might not be everyone’s cup of tea. With a sprinkling of gauzy lime zest and briny tobiko roe, and paired with the crisp and fruity Sanzen Junmai Ginjo sake, it makes for a perfect bite if I do say so myself.

While these rolls might look like open-faced sandwiches, just know they come fully rolled up, and these are for that elusive peek behind the curtain.

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What was really the breakout star was the Kanpachi (amberjack). At RAPPU, they spice it up with a dry rub before curing and what you get is a mellow but clean-tasting number that cemented my love for kanpachi.

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Since the Engawa impressed so many at the table, I felt that it was worthy of a mention. Engawa has slowly been charting on sushi platters everywhere, and it’s prized for its oily and milky texture. This fluke fin can rack up as much as the perennially-in-demand toro, and that’s already half the appeal.

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The right way to enjoy the Engawa is to have it aburi-style so that you get that tantalising char while still enjoying the natural sweetness of the fish. Glazed with their house-made nikiri, it’s hard not to like this one especially when the richness of the fish coats your tongue. While most people go for flashy cuts of toro, which are still solid options, if you do see engaw on the menu—order it.

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There were the usual crowd-pleasers such as Salmon, Hotate, and chopped Toro which were pleasant and necessary to the ensemble but we know can never handle a solo career after the group breaks up—sort of like the forgettable members of One Direction. I must say the seaweed crinkles up pretty quickly, so time is of the essence when eating these rolls.

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The last one that comes dripping in luxury is the High Roller (S$28++). Truly, the glitterati of the sushi world, it was a party, and they were all invited. Bright, creamy pockets of uni mingling with tender chiffon-y ribbons of Wagyu, while the deliciously salty onyx orbs of caviar danced with bouncy ikura roe around the billowing gold flakes on this Gatsby-esque roll.

With a crowd like this, every guest needs to shine on their own without stealing too much of the spotlight. RAPPU pulled all out all the stops and this luxe little piece that barely fits in the palm of your hand had all the fireworks and dazzle it needed. The after-party is a much calmer affair with warm miso soup in a cup and a singular Ansari clam.

Final thoughts

RAPPU shines just as The Feather Blade did. A no-frills joint that wants nothing more than to feed you and to feed you well. RAPPU doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel or introduce a new one; instead, it does what many are already doing only better. Just as Voltaire so elegantly said, ‘Originality is nothing but judicious imitation’.

Expected Damage: S$36 – S$50 per pax

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

RAPPU pop-up at REVAMP Cocktail Bar

61 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 08848

Our Rating 4/5

RAPPU pop-up at REVAMP Cocktail Bar

61 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 08848

Operating Hours: 11am - 10.30pm (Every Sun till 21 November 2020)

Operating Hours: 11am - 10.30pm (Every Sun till 21 November 2020)
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