You are here
Japanese food goes casual at Jypsy
38 Martin Road
Open for lunch and dinner Tues to Sun: 11.30am to 4pm; 5.30pm to 11pm.
Closed on Mon.
NOBODY goes to a PS Cafe for the food. Come on, seriously. People go there mainly to soak up as much design inspiration as they can, so that they can go home and redecorate their living rooms. But they can't. Because the folks behind PS Cafe are not real people. They're design magazines with feet.
Effortless chic is fed intravenously into their veins. For dessert, they munch on landscaped greenery. After which, they spit out perfectly formed capsules of cool - trendy yet timeless, with every cushion, lamp and plant recruited for the manner in which they project the kind of lifestyle you will spend hours convincing yourself you are a part of.
Eventually, of course, the food will have to matter - somewhat - and in PS Cafe's favour it is largely dependable, straightforward fare that's hard to go wrong with. They've been less lucky when they deviate from the original formula as they did with the Americanised Chinese fast food in Chopsuey. Its Dempsey outlet is still around, but at Martin Road, Chopsuey has switched nationalities and is now Jypsy, touted as a modern, casual, Japanese cafe.
Although the chef is a true blue Japanese chef from Osaka, the menu is a mishmash of California-style maki, robatayaki snacks, and Asianised carbs such as udon goreng and unagi fried rice. It's the edible equivalent of an easy-listening music track - palatable, good for mindless nibbling but nothing that you are going to remember for very long.
A whole momotaro tomato (S$16) is meaty but bland, so it really needs the wafu dressing and savoury tomato jelly crumbled around it to get any flavour out of this cold starter. When you get the right amount of each in the same mouthful, it's pleasantly cold and refreshing.
Spicy pork balls (S$13) overcompensate for the tomato by being too salty, with a mashy texture. Three of them spiked on a stick are presented with a trio of sauces - chilli oil with crispy garlic bits; a spicy Japanese barbecue sauce that best matches them; and a sweetish citrusy miso dip.
"Classic" sashimi (S$31 for 12 pieces) is fished from the nearest supermarket chiller, so contain your excitement when you see the prices that start at S$19 for six pieces. Three slices each of salmon, tuna, torched salmon belly and mekajiki sit like deflated egos on a ceramic plate, willing you to quickly swallow them and end their miserable existence. We almost leave them on the plate to prolong their suffering, but dammit, there's no stopping our appetite for raw fish so down the hatch they go, regardless.
If you do need something else raw, you can try the beef tartare maki (S$18), although you barely taste the hand-minced beef tenderloin stuffed in a roll of sticky rice and capers, wrapped further in a shroud of pickled radish that overwhelms the tartare.
Granted, it isn't something that we are recommended since our server seems more confident about the 5 Stones maki with unagi and foie gras. But we already have our eyes set on the unagi fried rice and do not want a double whammy.
Oyster tempura (S$14) features two lightly battered shellfish fried till gently crisp and replaced in their shells, topped with a green tea tartare sauce which has no taste of tea. It's pretty and a nice take on fish 'n' chips, even if the oyster itself falls short of pristine.
Japanese gyoza and lobster bisque engage in a quickie liaison with lobster and crab gyoza (S$15 for six pieces), where wonton skins are filled with a farce of finely minced crab and lobster meat, boiled and then served like ravioli in a creamy bisque sauce. The dumplings themselves are seared on the bottom like regular gyoza, but you dip them into the airy whipped bisque to moisten the dry filling.
Obasan's sticky beef sliders (S$12) is a treat for fans of pulled stringy meat in a bun, in this case an airy brioche that dries out quickly although it gets sufficient moisture from the braised beef sauce, and crunch from the pile of shredded cabbage within. You either like it or not, and the same table of diners can be divided into both camps.
One dish that no one quibbles about is the immensely satisfying unagi fried rice (S$22) where everything falls into place - chewy rice kernels fried over high heat for wok hei; a soft, wobbly slab of very fresh grilled eel; extra eel bits worked into the rice itself; shredded omelette, tofu slices, cabbage strips for crunch and pickled ginger to counter the richness of the eel. This carb fest puts your stomach in a happy place as you contemplate how to further increase the enjoyment with dessert.
Tofu cheesecake isn't served that day, so we have a perfectly acceptable large cream puff stuffed with vanilla cream (S$9) and a creamy coconut matcha panna cotta (S$10) in decorative green and white swirls.
Styled like a deconstructed fishing village in hues of blue and large wicker lamps, Jypsy is designed to make you want to linger over your meal, hopefully ordering one small plate after another. Perhaps the design DNA will rub off on you, but otherwise you will still end up stylishly stuffed.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
Our review policy: The Business Times pays for all meals at restaurants reviewed on this page. Unless specified, the writer does not accept hosted meals prior to the review's publication.