Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dosukoi Sakaba - Little Izakaya at Cuppage Plaza Basement

Cuppage Plaza, with its clean yet seedy at night, with all those foreign talent standing along the railings giving "free shows" with their "ahem" on weekdays when business is drier, offers a unique slice of expatriate life in Singapore. With its drab exterior, it is uncompromisingly Japanese in flavor on the inside, with lots of little karaoke bars, izakayas and restaurants. One time as teenagers, we were walking along the corridors, one of my friends ducked his head into one bar on a dare, to see a row of sexy ladies in very short office wear (it was "OL" night). The guys solemnly promised to go there when we grew up, but till date, no one has ever done it, though we had our fill of ogling the bored looking women as they chatted idly or looked into their iphones outside the bars.
They had sumo wrestler chopstick rests!
Then another time, a Japanese salaryman at the next table taught the two of us how to get rid of a soy sauce stain on his tie at Kushigin. He demonstrated to us, by asking for a bit of rice from the waitress, then pressing one rice grain gingerly on the spot onto his tie. Banzai!

It being still B1's birthday, we were trying to figure out what to eat in the evening, and had somehow ended up walking the connection between Bugis Junction and Illuma for like 5 times back and fro. At first we thought we would stay at the Bugis area because B1 was unlucky enough to get "summoned" (fined for parking beyond the stipulated time on the coupons). But we seriously could not think of what to eat. Then B1 said why not the Izakaya Nijumaru which we always go? 
We ate there often enough that the aunties recognize us and we order without looking at the menu. Always niku jaga for me and ika natto for him as sides! I thought about it... how about the izakaya at the basement? A few weeks ago, I wanted to bring him to the izakaya at the corner of the basement which A and I went once. We sat at the counter even though we had the option of sitting at the room on the side. Wanted to experience the Japanese salaryman counter experience, even though she and I know not a single word of Japanese between us. 

It was pretty nice, and the mama-san wore a humongous diamond on her wedding finger, as she waxed lyrically with the cluster of Japanese salarymen around the counter who turned out to be strangers who became friends with each other. 

But that time when we walked in, there was no seat left in the izakaya, not even at the counter and the mama-san was replaced by a younger, friendly guy. So I thought, why not go there and try our luck today? So while B1 was parking the car, I went into the gastropub and was asked to wait 5 minutes while an earlier party departed.

Seated where I was (at the corner of the bar), I couldn't really see what were the dishes on the counter. Usually this izakaya will have a few dishes on the countertop for you to choose from, and then they will reheat them for consumption. Or you could order from the menu. That day they had hijiki, tofu and some seafood dish (I forgot what it was), according to the pretty Japanese waitress.

So we ordered the tofu, ika natto, katsu curry and tonkatsu bento. They reheated the tofu, and I had to admit it was a bit like Atashi ni chi Mama of me to try to guess what its flavor reminded me of (there was one episode where she was invited to an upscale french restaurant and proclaimed that truffle reminded her of natto to her snobbish friend's mollification). Anyway the tofu tasted like canned fried bamboo shoots.

The tonkatsu was awfully tiny and dry, complained B1, who frankly tells me he thought the food sucked. I was ok with the curry since it is the kind that comes from the packet, so it couldn't go wrong, but I really liked the ika natto (and B1's potato salad). It was the first time where we ever had an ika natto dish where the ika quantity was more than the natto (haha).
The rice bowl is bigger than the meat!!!!
We had more fun with the drinks. My green tea came in a very artifically bright green, while B1 drank sake. However we later got the Hoppy Bier (we were intrigued by the name). Hoppy gets its hops from Germany (proclaimed its bottle) but was alcohol-frei, which made B1 cringe. The guy explained that they serve it with two fingers of sochu, which makes it about 4.5% in alcholic content.  When you finish the glass, he says, we can top up the sochu again (S$4) for the remaining bier.
Forget it. We drank the remainder sochu-less.

The bill came to about S$90plus with the drinks. I guess we were paying for the experience to sit at the counter, though we two perverts had our fun staring at the pretty waitress out of the corner of our eyes.

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