Appare's (天晴) main selling point is their udon and tempura, but what first attracted me to visit this Japanese restaurant at Novena Square 2 (Just above NS20 Novena mrt station) is their impossibly cute animal character sushi photos which I saw on Instagram! Well, I guess most of us are visual creatures and easily captivated by pretty things naturally. Food when it's enticingly presented will add to the enjoyment level of an overall dining experience to a certain extent. I'm happy to say that Appare has managed both presentation and taste aspects of their dishes rather well. Their tempura is especially delicious!
Shop layout of the shopping mall might be a bit of a labyrinth, but Appare is easily visible as we took the escalator up to level 2. Its entrance is flanked by a row of counter seats in front of the open kitchen, ideal for Me-time meals, quick hunger fixes or if you wanna catch the chefs in action.
We had the comfort of a booth seat, though being at an intimate corner meant that grabbing the attention of a service staff was rather challenging at times. Communicating our food orders to our server who is Japanese was less of a difficulty though he spoke minimum English. Well deserved a pat on his back for the patience and efficiency he displayed while answering our queries and acceding to our numerous small requests. ありがとう!
The menu showcases a good variety of Japanese favorites such as Sushi Rolls ($8-$10.50), Donburi ($12-$16.50), and of course their signature Udon ($10.50-$20.80) and Tempura ($11-$18).
Appare pride themselves on "cooking each single tempura with all their heart, ensuring that it's freshly fried, served piping hot right from the kitchen and arrives to customers at its best condition." I can believe that they have taken this 'mission' seriously, as our Assorted Vegetable Tempura ($11.50 for 6 pieces including pumpkin, green pepper, onion asparagus and sweet potato) was a plate of utter enjoyment.
Each tempura piece was delightfully crispy with a thin batter encasing fresh ingredients. The crispiness remained even after some time into our meal and no trace of stale oil smell or greasiness can be detected. Perfectly executed! It just need a dip into the sauce made from Kombu (Japanese kelp) stock to accentuate the delectable experience. I will come here just to eat the tempura alone.
We ordered California Roll Sushi ($10.50) to indulge in the usual pleasing medley of salmon, avocado, egg and mentaiko bursting in one satisfying mouthful. As for the Bear Inari Sushi ($8.50), admittedly it was more for cutesy novelty than anything else. The panda-face shaped Panda Roll Sushi ($8) would have a place on our table too, but it was already sold out when we went during dinner time.
Essentially vinegared sushi rice stuffed in sweet aburage tofu pouches, the bear inari sushi is given an adorable touch with chocolate as eyes outline, barley for ears and tiny round biscuits similar to Wang Wang Xiao Man Tou (旺旺小馒头) for nose. We can't bear to eat it, but still ate the bears eventually haha. The taste was endearing simple, evoking images of what a Japanese mum would pack into her kid's bento box.
We can't leave without trying their specialty, udon. The noodles are made from carefully-selected flour and paired with a variety of bases including Mentaiko Cream ($19.50), Carbonara ($18.50), Sesame Tantan ($14.80), Tomato Hot & Sour Soup ($14.80).
Served in huge over-sized bowl (I think I can wash my face in it!), food portion was thankfully manageable for one person with a normal appetite. The Beef Udon ($16) is complemented with a Japanese traditional style wafu dashi broth, clear yet flavorful. Though the noodles were not exactly awe-inducing, it was decidedly tasty with an enjoyable chewy texture.
Japanese-style curry always occupy a soft spot in my heart so Fried Prawn Curry Udon ($18.80) was a "no-need-to-think-lah" order. Mildly sweet with an aromatic blend of spices, the curry's slightly creamy consistency was just right. If only the fried prawn was served on the side, as the crispiness it should have was sadly lost in the curry broth. How? How? I'd probably request to have it plated separately or get more ala-carte order of tempura to go with the curry udon next time.
And those adorable panda roll sushi, watch out! I'd be back to eat you! 楽しみに!
Appare (天晴) Udon & Tempura Japanese Restaurant
Address: 10 Sinaran Drive, #02-65 Novena Square 2, Singapore 307506
Contact: +65 6397 6780
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-10pm
Prices are subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST