Address: 38 Martin Road S(239059)
Cuisine tags: Japanese, fusion, new restaurants
Good for: Weekend brunch
Summary: Artistic plating and creative flavors that pleases more than just the eyes
While often used as a post scriptum, P.S. is the dominant feature and a most appropriate starting place for this review. You’ve probably heard of P.S. Café — a swanky upscale dining venue nestled in prime locations, decorated with generous helpings of flora and tasteful decadence. Known best for shoestring truffle fries, decadent cakes (try the chocolate doorstop) and sticky toffee puddings, there’s something for even the pickiest of eaters on the menu. In the alternative, pour yourself a drink from the bar, stocked to the brim in partnership with over 20 suppliers.
Since 1999, the P.S. Group (PSGourmet Pte Ltd) has expanded across Singapore. Jypsy is the 10th addition to the group, representing the group’s foray into Japanese cuisine. The group has added their usual flair to the ‘average’ run-of-the-mill Japanese dining concept, playing on flavors in a beautiful cataclysm of east meets west.
It all begins as you step into the venue situated rather inconspicuously among the industrial chic concrete and glass faÃ§ade of Martin No. 38. While the Dempsey outlet designed by Aamer Taher featured heavily on glass and dark hues to bring out the forested surroundings, Jypsy takes a lighter and somewhat Nordic-inspired approach. Hues of light blue shade against bleached wooden floors, with side tables made of cork and wicker chairs adding a rustic feel. The entire effect is reminiscent of a boathouse.
In the driver’s seat is Chef Taka, a through-and-through chef who plays with flavors and presentation in an unconventional manner, while retaining all the familiar hints.
Take the appetizers, for instance.
For the ‘cold’ appetizers, we settled on the beef tataki ($18), green tea noodle salad ($12) and the Jypsy salmon tacos ($14 for two pieces).
Up first was the beef tataki, plated in a terrace-farming-style manner with fine sprinkles of chopped spring onion dashed across the dish. Cheekily, cracked black pepper was scattered on the ceramic as a playful reminder of Jypsy’s rebellious approach against our conception of Japanese food. What struck me despite the delicateness of the dish was the hint of ponzu which left a sharp impression on the palate, setting the stage for the rest of the show. We were similarly impressed by the delicate searing in true tataki fashion, with the centre of each slice still rich and ruby-fresh.
This was followed by the green tea noodle salad, otherwise known as the obligatory get-your-greens dish of the day. Much unlike the usual chopped-cabbage-with-sesame-dressing (nod if this image comes to your mind), strands of near al dente soba noodles were whirled together with rocket lettuce, sliced red-radish and seaweed. Again, a peculiar mix of ingredients, each clean in its own right and maintaining a zen-like balance so as to not overpower the others.
Perhaps, the most striking ‘cold’ appetizer for me was the Jypsy salmon tacos. At $7 a piece, we initially questioned whether the experience would be worth it. Again, Chef Taka nailed the presentation, with flash fried seaweed sheets perched on bronze ingots, stuffed to the brim with ikura, sashimi-grade salmon chunks, avocado and tomato salsa, all smoothened with a dollop of wasabi mayo. In three bites, the different components of the dish came together, ending on the note of a satisfying crunch. If I were to return, the Jypsy salmon tacos would certainly be a dish to order.
Off on a good start, we moved to sample the ‘hot’ appetizers. We started with the nest of fries ($11), which came as a generous helping of lightly fried shredded potato. Scented with white truffle oil, this simple yet deceptively addictive dish was in essence, a twist on truffle fries. Once more, the same flavors of wasabi mayo featured in the background, drawing us back to the Japanese elements. Noticeably, a second bite also revealed a delicate coating of teriyaki balsamic vinegar which helped to cut through the starch. Out of interest (to all these closet chefs lurking around BTC — no, not referring to the Summit), a possible play on flavors could be a light fry of the potatoes with duck fat, albeit making it even more sinful.
Next up on the list was Obasan’s sticky beef sliders ($15 for two pieces). Served on a fluffy brioche bun, generous helpings of smoky pulled beef short rib were wedged between strands of crisp cabbage. Presentation of the dish was akin to a cross between the traditional Westlake-style kong bak pau and the more avantgarde creations from Bao Makers. However, the smokiness of the dish and the richly flavored sauce slathered on the flaky short rib was anything but ordinary. As a testament to how fantastic these sliders were, the only photo we managed to take was that of an empty plate.
Feeling slightly peckish (lest we use that nasty ‘g _ _ _ _ _ _’ word) we ordered a side of karage cracker chicken ($12) which turned out to be more chicken skin than chicken. While the sushi rice crackers were a classy touch and contributed to the crunch, the dish was at its core, largely one of “form over substance”.
By this point, most of us were starting to feel rather full. However, in the spirit of going the extra mile (much in anticipation of the eventual calories to be burnt climbing up BTC), we ordered both the lobster and crab gyoza ($15) and the unagi and pork gyoza ($12). Served in different styles, the winner for me was the former, as the seafood combination was noticeably fresher and more nuanced. In contrast, the unagi was lacking and more toward the mushy end of the spectrum, having sizzled to bits on the oily pan. If there was any redeeming factor, it perhaps was the presentation and the clever pairing of sauces made of prawn bisque and dashi foam, and a distinctly oriental ginger-scallion ponzu sauce.
For the mains, we kept to three rolls of sushi and a serving of the smokey unagi fried rice.
First to arrive was the Jypsy cali roll ($17), stuffed with pickled crab, red yuzu pepper, shirasu, avocado and julienned cucumber. A squeeze of lemon provided a nice compliment to the freshly grated wasabi (definitely a plus — more so if from Shizuoka — and not as spicy as most pre-packaged wasabi comprised largely of horseradish). I appreciated the presentation of the dish, as each piece was different from the next, in terms of the cut and type of fish on top. Shortly after, the 5 stones roll ($19) was served. Composed of torched unagi, foie gras, pickled wasabi, and green apple oroshi, each piece of sushi was rolled up to look like a stone and served on a delicate slice of fresh Japanese cucumber. The last roll to arrive was the crispy shrimp roll ($16), made of tempura tiger prawns, avocado, peperonatta mayo, red yuzu, and kaffir lime. Presentation aside, the crispiness of the prawns paired well with the zest of the lime, and reminded us of Jypsy’s exotic approach to traditional Japanese pairings.
Last up was the unagi fried rice ($22). Topped with strands of egg, the wok-fried Japanese rice was certainly satisfying, with bits of Japanese pickle adding a necessary crunch. While the portion of unagi paled in comparison to that offered at unagi-specialty shops such as Uya (at Wheelock Place) or Man-Man Unagi (where I last queued for a 100 minutes), it is necessary to bear in mind that Jypsy doesn’t aim to conform to traditional means of Japanese cooking. Rather, it stays true to its roots of its dining concept: turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
If you’re looking for something familiar with a twist on flavors and a bold culinary style, Jypsy is the place for you. Moreover, the restaurant is conveniently (some say strategically) located next to P.S. Cafe, meaning you’ll never run out of dessert options to finish off the meal. In short, Jypsy lives up to its name, for it’ll certainly whirl you along a sensory journey from one dish to the next.
*All opinions and images are that of the author. This was not a sponsored review.