Get hit by an umami blast at Ebi Bar
When you first spot Ebi Bar at the basement of Cuppage Plaza and take in the trendy interiors, you may think a new ramen shop has opened.
Well, it does serve noodles and soup, but the no pork, no lard Ebi Bar is a prawn noodle soup restaurant.
To fully enjoy the experience, you will need to slurp up a full-on punch-you-in-the-guts bowl of prawn soup. It is unabashedly strong and unapologetically umami.
If you prefer a subtle and genteel soup, or if you are allergic to prawns, this is not the place for you.
The broth starts with about 40kg of prawns being fried, then water is added before it is boiled for up to 10 hours. The result is a precious, delicious bowl of soup that is good enough on its own.
When I posted about Ebi Bar on TikTok and Instagram, some diners wrote to me to say they found the soup too much and too salty, but you have to expect strong flavours.
The Signature "Chao Da" Ebi Noodles ($14.90) is probably the most photographed dish here.
The foundation is of course the broth, with a firm noodle in place of the traditional yellow version. A pair of charred prawns sit atop it.
It is gorgeous, but because the broth is so spectacular, any topping would not make a difference to the experience.
Having said that, the Pan-seared Chicken Noodles ($10.90) - which has a chicken roulade on top - works.
The chicken roll is tasty, and the subdued flavours compliment the soup instead of fighting for attention.
There is also an Ebi & Vege-crispy Fritter Noodles ($12.90), which I also like because of the two components.
The crispy prawn and vegetable fritters have a good flour-to-ingredient ratio.
Consume the fritters and soup separately because it is crazy to soak something so nicely crisp into a bowl of soup.
To broaden its appeal, Ebi Bar has introduced truffle, mala and miso broth booster shots (from $1.90).
You can add these to your soup to change the flavour.
I would skip this because the truffle makes the soup taste "fake" and muddies the glorious umami of it.
The mala provides a kick but not much else, and you can achieve that with chilli padi.
The miso probably fares best, giving the soup a roundness, but I think it is unnecessary.
One of the snacks offered is the Chilled Tofu with Homemade Sauce ($4.90 a la carte).
I am not a fan because the sauce is curiously sweet, and I like to keep my dessert and savoury separate.
It has been a few days since I have eaten at Ebi Bar, and I still cannot decide if I like the Salted Mackerel Fried Chicken ($6.90). That is the eatery's own take on prawn paste chicken, with a marinade of grounded salted fish.
Strangely, it hardly has salted fish flavours, and without the prawn paste, it is basically fried battered chicken bits.
It is not unpleasant. In fact, I finished the portion before I knew it. I may need to eat it one more time to make up my mind.
#B1-21 Cuppage Plaza
Opens Tuesdays to Sundays, 11am to 10.30pm