Have a taste of four Hokkaido cities
By Samantha Francis
Chill out over bar bites and some sake at the newly-opened Hokkaido Izakaya.
I have yet to set foot into Hokkaido but my meal at Hokkaido Izakaya has left me convinced that this Japanese prefecture is a magical place that yields the freshest produce and creamiest dairy products.
A Taste of Hokkaido
Cream Cheese Marinated with Miso
The izakaya (Japanese gastropub), which uses ingredients from four Hokkaido cities — Yakumo, Furano, Kamishihoro and Akkeshi — is the latest addition to the many Japanese restaurants in the Tanjong Pagar dining enclave.
We sat in the midst of chattering and drinking Japanese businessmen and I felt as though I had been transported to the Land of the Rising Sun. When in Rome, do as the Romans — and likewise for Hokkaido — so we toasted with glasses of Otokoyama Special Jyunmai (at $40 per bottle).
This dry sake, made with 100 per cent Hokkaido rice, had a robust and smooth taste, which cut through the richness of the Cream Cheese Marinated with Miso ($7). Salty with a pronounced umami flavour, it was the perfect bar snack pairing.
The humble (yet yummy) Potato Salad was served warm and mashed a la minute.
The humble potato may be a common staple food but in this izakaya, it’s the highlight of many of the dishes. Slightly earthy and buttery with a hint of sweetness, the Hokkaido potato is the region’s speciality.
Served warm and mashed a la minute, the Potato Salad ($9) is the best way to enjoy the creamy texture of the spud. If you prefer something with a crunch, the Potato Croquette ($8) will not disappoint. Coated with Panko bread crumbs, the croquette was crisp on the outside and fluffy inside.
Feeling adventurous, we decided to try the Steamed Potato with Vanilla Ice Cream ($7). However, the heat from the potato melted the ice cream too quickly, leaving us with a watery dessert that tasted strangely a little like sweet potato puree.
Hokkaido’s Regional Specialities
The Kakiage Tempura Soba consists of Soba noodles served in an oversized bowl of savoury bonito broth.
Not to be missed is the Kakiage Tempura Soba ($12). Soba noodles are served in an oversized bowl of savoury bonito broth with a giant slab of vegetable tempura on the side. We recommend alternating bites of the crispy tempura with slurps of the noodle, to enjoy the wonderful medley of textures.
For a satisfying end to your meal, order the Japanese Omelette Mixed with Milk ($10) and watch as the staff slathers Hokkaido butter all over the silky, multi-layered omelette. Each mouthful of the soft omelette tasted like utter bliss. Mmm…
Japanese Omelette Mixed with Milk
Before this review is published, I would’ve probably returned.
Hokkaido Izakaya, 95 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088516, Tel: 6221 7118
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 150, April 15 – April 28, 2016, with the headline ‘A taste of four Hokkaido cities’.