RAPPU was our solution to shaking up our dates. They’ve become a little unexciting of late and we’ve fallen back on habitual dining options. To break away from our uninspired routine, I created a Saved List on Google Maps of date ideas. The plan was to get dressed up and discover a new place with a reservation we couldn’t back out of. The place we chose ended up being RAPPU, a handroll bar in Duxton, Singapore.
RAPPU Address and Details
- 52 Duxton Road, Singapore 089516 (Open on Google Maps)
- Reservations are encouraged and a deposit of $30 is required to secure your reservation
- Open Tuesday to Sunday for Lunch from 11.45 am – 2.30 pm
- Open Sunday to Thursday for Dinner from 6 pm – 10.30 pm
- Open Fridays and Saturdays for Dinner from 6 pm – 12 am
Table of Contents
- Looking for a Date-Worthy Restaurant
- The Inspiration Behind RAPPU
- What to Expect at RAPPU
- Service at RAPPU
- The Verdict on RAPPU Handroll Bar
- Bonus Date Ideas in the Duxton Area
Looking for a Date-Worthy Restaurant
I intentionally looked out for experiences in restaurants that had elements that would be interesting to look back on. When we go to fancy places on dates, while the quality and taste of the food are important, I also bear in mind that sometimes when we dine out, we are paying for an experience and a “story”. The interiors, choice of presentation, and ingredients are all part of the story each restaurant wishes to tell.
I won’t deny that there are many restaurants that are peppered with every cliche possible, that try to replicate a success formula to attract diners. These are restaurants that are built around an Instagrammable photo spot, trend, or dish. Yes, I’m referring to beautiful restaurants like Le Jardin. They’re stunning to look at and dine in, popular and trendy, but devoid of storytelling.
This is not to diss this category of restaurants. They’re fun to visit, but it makes me appreciate a good concept so much more. Rather than being cliched and trendy for the sake of it, RAPPU has a clear vision and story it wants to tell.
The Inspiration Behind RAPPU
Handroll Bar Origins
RAPPU was inspired by the handroll bar concept that started springing up in Los Angeles. In this dining concept, all action revolves around kaunta seki (bar counter dining) with chefs in close proximity to diners, preparing contemporary handrolls using Japanese ingredients with a touch of modern flavors, complemented by a selection of sakes and cocktails. This contemporary concept presents more like a bar than a restaurant, but the experience of having handrolls, not the booze, is the highlight. The extensive sakes are there to complement the handrolls.
Taking the Handroll Concept and Elevating It
RAPPU takes that concept and elevates it. The name itself is a play on how “wrap” would be pronounced by someone in Japanese. RAPPU sounds like “wrap”, as in the wrapping of rice, fresh ingredients, and seafood in nori to create a handroll. It also sounds like “rap”. This homophone sets the tone and vibe of the handroll bar which literally has gritty gangster rap on its playlist that had me bobbing my head for most of the meal.
Thoughtful Neo-Brutalist Interior Design
RAPPU boasts neo-brutalist interiors, with lots of concrete, dark stones, dark wood furniture, and raw textures. They complement the focal point, the kaunta seki, which is created by a 20-metre continuous quartz bar. As with neo-brutalist design, it’s bold, raw, and simple. It feels moody even during the day.
What’s also cool is how they’ve worked with a top Indonesian ceramicist, Ayu Larasati, to design custom ceramics and wares to complement the concept. In my opinion, this is remarkable attention to detail and dedication to the overall storytelling especially in a time of “everything you see is from Taobao”.
What to Expect at RAPPU
The RAPPU menu is easy to navigate. They serve Single Handrolls (between S$6.50 – S$9 per roll) and also a much more cost-effective Set of Six Handrolls (S$38), perfect for those new to RAPPU who want a taste of everything.
What Comes with the Set of Six Handrolls?
The Set of Six Handrolls is a decent portion that’s great for sharing, with a good selection of handrolls to introduce you to RAPPU.
- Hotate (Delicate Hokkaido Scallops glazed with nikiri, garnished with salted kombu)
- Kanpachi (Dry-cured amberjack glazed with shisho nikiri)
- Salmon (Brined salmon topped with house nikiri and wasabi furikake)
- Toro (Minced tuna with house nigiri, garnished with spring onions)
- Crab (Pacific Ocean Crab with creamy kani miso)
- Engawa (Torched Fluke Fin)
The amount of rice you’d like with your handrolls is also customizable upon request. We opted to stick to the ingredients-to-rice ratio determined by the chef.
We were also advised to consume our handroll within 4 minutes and not to let it sit for too long on the ceramic plate. This would allow us to best enjoy the crunch of the fresh nori and not let the handroll turn soggy which would take away from the experience.
The handrolls are a delight to eat and are prepared with fresh seafood and ingredients. Special mention to the Crab and Engawa Handrolls.
The Crab Handrolls from RAPPU is made with Pacific Ocean Crab and combined with a creamy Kani Miso and topped with tobiko. While miso and crab sounds like a potential clash of strong pungent flavors, I actually found this punchy but delectable.
Engawa (fluke fin) has such an amazing crunchy texture and a rich oily flavor. The Engawa is torched and slightly charred making it really interesting to eat. 10/10 would recommend.
We also ordered a Unagi Handroll and you can’t go wrong with glazed unagi, but I wouldn’t order again because I personally feel that the charm of RAPPU lies in the more unique handrolls you can get there (like the Engawa Roll).
There’s a Sake Pairing (S$18) option which includes a flight of 6 sakes to complement the set of 6 handrolls as well. This is great value and honestly really added to the experience. I highly recommend getting the Sake Pairing if you’re ordering a set of 6.
Of course, if you’re a sake lover with a clear idea of what you like, you can order a 100ml glass or if budget permits, an entire bottle.
There’s a fun menu of cocktails with funky names like Fuji Fizz (Suntory Whisky, Sparkling Apple, and Lemon), Rappu Bubble Tea (Spiced Rum, Milk Tea, and Pearls), and Nigori East Side (Nigori, Dark Grapes, Japanese Cucumber and Lemon). We didn’t try this during this visit as we wanted to try the sake pairing.
Izakaya Menu at RAPPU
There is a small Izakaya menu of small dishes for sharing.
We were recommended the Kampachi Collar (S$21). This is grilled amberjack, yakiniku, and topped with a sprinkling of ito togarashi (red shredded chili peppers). Great recommendation and would definitely want to eat this again as a starter. I’d definitely consider ordering more from the Izakaya menu in the future as well.
Special and Seasonal Handrolls
Hello, hello! We’ve reached the extra fancy, #forthegram, splurgy category on the menu.
Fanciest Handroll on the Menu: The High Roller
If you’re a big fan of creamy uni, caviar, and wagyu, RAPPU also offers High Roller (S$28) which is served “open-faced” and also topped with gold flakes. Totally bougie! We didn’t try this even though it is Instagram famous since my husband doesn’t take beef.
The October Monthly Special: The Tachiuo Roll
We did however try RAPPU’s October Monthly Special, the Tachiuo Roll. Also served “open-faced” with lightly torched sliced beltfish from Wakayama, glazed with sweet nigiri scallops, drizzled with lemon juice, scallion-infused oil, and topped with tobiko and chives.
The ingredients were really fresh and delicious, and I individually enjoyed eating each of these ingredients on their own. The torched beltfish had such great flavor, texture, and sweetness. Personally felt it was too many strong flavours together in one handroll. The scallion-infused oil and lime juice was overkill. Looked ridiculously photogenic though.
Service at RAPPU
The service staff are quite attentive. After all the restaurant seats around 60 diners at a time and at lunch on a Saturday I counted less than 5 pairs of guests dining counter-side.
It did take some time before service staff came by after we were seated to check if we were regulars or new to RAPPU and explain the menu to us, but they were generally apologetic about the delay and willing to answer any questions fully as well as provide recommendations. Service staff also promptly refilled our iced water throughout our meal. One thing’s for sure – we were never left thirsty.
While we were there, the chef briefly introduced each handroll as he served them on the serving dish at the bar counter. That was the extent of the interaction with the chef. They also don’t make a show of the preparation of the handrolls.
I’ve been to some restaurants where the chefs serving counter seat diners tend to be warmer and everything feels a bit more performative, but RAPPU feels more direct with less showmanship. I personally felt it was a missed opportunity that could have really added to the story they wanted to tell with the concept, but not necessarily a dealbreaker.
The Verdict on RAPPU Handroll Bar
Overall, it was a great date experience. I’d consider RAPPU Handroll Bar an affordable luxury. When I say “affordable”, I want to clarify that it’s by no means a cheap meal. But you will walk away from a satiating and high-quality meal at RAPPU paying around S$60 – S$80 per pax with drinks (depending on how much of the menu and drinks you order) which for the overall experience is very reasonable. For reference, our meal at RAPPU costs slightly above $100.
You’re given the opportunity to enjoy really premium, luxurious ingredients, but in a setting that’s not too formal and stiff. RAPPU exudes a relaxed, casual bar-like atmosphere that allows you to be yourself!
Sharing is not frowned upon and if you don’t mind, you can share bites of each handroll with your date in a judgment-free dining environment.
Bonus Date Ideas in the Duxton Area
As a bonus, the Duxton enclave is very photogenic. So you’ll also get some nice photos when you explore the area. If you’re visiting during lunch, after your date at RAPPU, you can take a walk and check out the cool boutiques and coffee shops in the area.
- Monument Lifestyle
- 75 Duxton Road, Singapore 089534
- A multi-label store where you can enjoy some retail therapy, grab a cup of coffee and homemade bagels
- 77 Duxton Road, Singapore 089536
- Blend your own signature scent at this French haute perfumery
- 79 Duxton Road, Singapore 089538
- Look, another beautiful Lululemon boutique! But this time housed in a heritage shophouse.
If you find this review useful, you can buy me pasta!