“Oh no, if it’s not founded by a true born-and-bred Japanese, it must not be authentic” is the general consensus thrown at any food establishment of said cuisine. Duxton handroll bar Rappu was not exempt from this sweeping statement, according to its owner Sheen Jet Leong. This is barely a point of concern fortunately, given the success of the joint alongside his steakhouse The Feather Blade that is a street across.
Still within the same neighbourhood, Leong has unveiled Mezcla. Named after the Mexican term for mix or blend, the casual gastrobar offers quite simply Japanese ingredients translated through Mexican execution. Like at the two other restaurants, the menu here is not complicated. Averaging around SGD10 a pair (apart from the Uni & Scallop, understandably), taco portions are relatively generous for what you’d expect from a spot like this.
If you prefer your tacos with a crunch, this is also the place for you. We found the blue corn, tomato and spinach tortillas on the drier side, but the typical base, which has been replaced with fried salmon skin and seaweed tempura, worked well for the Japanese half of the taco items. For petite sharing plates, the punny UniCorn (SGD18) reimagines the Spanish elotes with grade-A sea urchin and cotija cream atop purple tortilla chip.
What makes it all special though would surely be the in-house hot sauces in ascending spice levels. Beginners can start with the entry-level tangy Yuzu Tomatillo, and work their way up to the Chipotle Teriyaki, which is as savoury and sweet as it is spicy. If you can handle your spice, a couple of drops of the Ghost Reaper, made from the Californian Reaper and infamous Naga Ghost peppers, is sufficient as the perfect taco garnish.
Don’t leave without having a blended margarita (SGD13), which comes in six fruit flavours and in a flight of three (SGD16); you might find the tequila base still goes best with Pink Guava. Otherwise, Beta Carotine (SGD18) is an interesting cocktail of pickled carrot, yellow bell pepper and pickled honey with Mezcal and Espolon tequila. Dessert isn’t spared the taco treatment as well, with bite-sized Churros Tacos (SGD9) for a little pop of Valrhona chocolate sweetness to conclude the meal.
Mezcla is at 43 Craig Road, Singapore 089681.