Every so often, you’ll stumble on a hidden gem that you would want to keep to yourself, as your secret go-to spot for your favourite food or drink. While I was admittedly a little hesitant to put this accidental new find of mine in the spotlight, sharing is caring.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to my new favourite Japanese izakaya in Singapore: Dosukoi x Donpachi.
Tucked away in the basement of Cuppage Plaza (also affectionately known as Little Japan), away from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road, Dosukoi x Donpachi is a cozy hangout spot that looks to be run by a husband-and-wife team. The izakaya is home to an extensive line of homemade umeshu that is prominently displayed at the counter.
This intimate bar is the literal definition of “hole in the wall”. Stepping into its unapologetically red-themed rooms, one can’t help feeling like the main character in an 80’s Japanese TV drama, with a mish-mash of alcohol on display, as well as some eccentric-looking posters that appear to have been drawn using highlighters. Dosukoi x Donpachi’s menu is entirely in Japanese, though English translations are also available.
There are 7 types of homemade umeshu available at Dosukoi x Donpachi, each with varying intensity. The Ume Chan ($18+) is a delightful brew made with janmaishu umechan which the menu described as “made especially for umeshu“. Taste-wise, it is strong on the sweet and sour side, and pretty easy to drink!
You can pair your drinks with a variety of snacks and appetisers, as well as rice bowls and ramen. The sushi and sashimi are made using fresh fish imported twice a week directly from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. Pro tip: Try to avoid Sundays as it seems it is the main chef’s day off if you want to try some of the more elaborate items on the menu.
For something wholesome and hearty, go for the Oden Lunch Sets ($18.80+ – $19.80+).
The oden moriawase – or assoted oden – consists of 6 kinds of mouthwatering oden:
- Ganmo (a fluffy fishball with vegetables)
- Hanpen (pounded fish cake)
- Daikon (radish)
- Tamago (egg)
- Shirataki (konjac noodle)
- Ro-ru Kabetsu (rolled cabbage with chicken and vegetables)
The ganmo lives up to its name, with its fluffy paste yielding easily to my chopsticks. While the ro-ru kabetsu is a little tougher to chew through with the whole cabbage leaf wrapped around the ingredients. The dashi broth is especially comforting, as the izakaya can get a little cold.
You can pair your oden with either udon or gohan (mixed rice). The udon is served dry, with piping hot, al dente strands topped with onsen egg, chilli oil, chopped spring onions, and tempura bits. As you can imagine, the combination absolutely smacks when mixed together, with the tempura coating the already delicious noodles. I think I’ve found my new favourite way to eat udon, and I’m totally stealing that chilli oil idea!
I totally enjoyed the Sanshoku Shiratama – 3 Kind of Mochi Balls ($5.80+) served with a trio of toppings, including kinako (roasted soybean flour), azuki (red bean), and matcha. The mochi balls are delightfully chewy, just like the bouncy boba we love to have with bubble tea!
Speaking of desserts, fans of the defunct Fuwa Fuwa will be delighted to know that its famed kakigori has surfaced at none other than Dosukoi x Donpachi. To the uninitiated, kakigori is a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavoured with syrup and a sweetener, often condensed milk. The traditional dessert is perfect for refreshing yourself amid the summer heat. Compared to the much popular Korean bingsu, kakigori has a flakier texture.
It’s almost captivating to watch the staff crank out bowl after bowl on the vintage kakigori maker by hand. Do note that Fuwa Fuwa Kakogori is available only from 2pm – 4pm and after 10.30pm. Though if you’re lucky, you might be able to score a bowl if the staff are not too busy!
The Fuwa Fuwa Matcha ($16.80+) is one flavour you can’t go wrong with, with its vegetal taste contrasting perfectly with the much sweeter azuki syrup. Each kakigori is served with a generous dollop of cream both in the middle as well as on top of the shaved ice, so if you’re currently attempting to diet, you should pretty much start from Day 0 after this. Although each bowl is enormous, it’s not uncommon to see couples and groups attempting one on their own!
Seasonal flavours include Melon and Peach ($22.80+), which are equally refreshing and sweet.
Dosukoi x Donpachi ticks all the boxes of an authentic izakaya, both in terms of food and atmosphere. It’s hard to believe you’re in Singapore while you’re in this charming spot! While the majority of its daytime clientele is drawn for its kakigori, it’s not hard to imagine that Dosukoi x Donpachi will soon become a hot favourite among those looking for a true blue, Japanese izakaya experience.
Address: Cuppage Plaza B1-23/24/25, 5 Koek Road, Singapore 228796
Nearest MRT: Somerset NS23
Tuesday to Saturday: 2pm – 12mn
Sunday and Monday: 4pm – 10.30pm
Contact: +65 6733 6847