From haute cuisine to French-inspired pastries, these Japanese dining spots are sure to ignite your taste buds!
ISHINOMAKI GRILL & SAKE
#B1-02/02A/03 Palais Renaissance, tel: 6737-1065.
With its raw wood interior and fishing ornaments, this restaurant that serves up authentic robatayaki (grilled seafood, meats and vegetables) is reminiscent of a fishing village – rustic and homely. Try the a la carte robatayaki menu (from $3), the Unaju Set ($22) is a value-for-money lunch set that comes with chawanmushi with yuzu peel, a selection of fresh sashimi and succulent grilled eel served with rice; the Crayfish from Kyushu ($6) is boiled in seawater – the way native fishermen prepare it. It’s served au naturel, bringing out the freshness and sweetness of the crayfish; for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Japanese-style Crème Brulee ($8). The layer of adzuki beans under the custard is a nice surprise, lending that extra bit of sweetness to every bite.
#01-01, 54 Blair Road, tel: 6222-8846.
Housed in an unassuming whitewashed shophouse, this cosy eatery offers a good variety of yakitori, sushi, rolls, sashimi and dons. It features a choice of dining spaces – an alfresco seating area, main dining area and a sushi and sake bar. Try the Signature Yakitori ($19) for a platter of their signature skewers – chicken wings, Kagoshima pork belly, salmon belly cubes, chicken breast with cod fish roe mayonnaise and wagyu beef; the Kagoshima Pork Belly Don ($35) comes with the most addictive garlic fried rice; the Shiro Maguro Carpaccio ($29); Kuro Goma Yam ($15) dessert is a ball of deep-fried yam on a scoop of sesame ice cream – a good contrast of hot and cold that is neither cloying nor oily.
66 Circular Road, tel: 6536-4875.
An online ramen delivery service that’s a household name in Japan, Takumen set up its first brick-and-mortar shop in Singapore. Try signature bowls from six famous Japanese ramen shops, whose chefs made a trip here to impart their recipes to Takumen’s chefs. Go for the bright red broth of the Bingiri Ramen (from $19.90), this offers a real kick of flavour. Add an onsen egg for an extra $2. Also try the Hajime Ramen (from $14.90) hits all the right spots with its light yet flavourful chicken broth and generous slabs of juicy chicken breast; the Honda Shoten Ramen (from $15.90) has a rich porky taste and fatty cha shu, and will appeal to traditional ramen lovers; and a combination of chicken- and pork-based broth, the Sakutaya Ramen (from $16.90).
#02-01 Marina at Keppel Bay, 2 Keppel Bay Vista, tel: 6271-7414.
A multi-concept restaurant serving a combination of sushi, robatayaki and teppanyaki, Takumi Kacyo has a to-die-for view overlooking the picturesque marina at Keppel Bay. The top-grade seafood is flown in daily from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market. Go for the signature Premium A5 Wagyu Tenderloin ($120) with a citrusy ponzu sauce; Takumi’s Style Caesar Salad ($14) has chunks of salmon done aburi-style (lightly charred on top), paired with a light, homemade Caesar dressing.
Level 10 OUE Tower, 60 Collyer Quay, tel: 8425-7835.
If exclusivity and decadence are what you’re after, this eight-seat haute Japanese restaurant is it. Housed within Tong Le Private Dining, a classy, modern Chinese restaurant, it is helmed by one-Michelin-star Japanese kaiseki chef, Nobumasa Mieda. It specializes in kaiseki (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) sushi, but also serves a la carte dishes in dainty portions. If you have a taste for adventure, there’s fried fugu (pufferfish), uni (sea urchin) and cod milt (cod sperm), which are rarely served even in high-end Japanese restaurants. Must tries include the Snow Crab with Sea Urchin Bonito Jelly & Spinach ($50); Abalone and Barracuda with Cod Roe and Kyoto Carrot ($60); deep Fried Fugu with Manganji Red Pepper ($45); and the nine-piece kaiseki sushi platter (from $120) was heavenly, with supremely fresh tuna, salmon belly, flounder, tiger prawn and uni on slabs of warm sushi rice, served one piece at a time.
Level 4 Mandarin Oriental Singapore, tel: 6885-3595.
Teppanyaki fans, rejoice! This new restaurant specialises in teppanyaki but also has a range of sashimi and sushi rolls on offer. Located in the Marina Bay area, it’s the perfect spot to take in views of the city skyline while indulging in contemporary Japanese cuisine. Try the signature starter, Kumi’s No. 1 ($13.50) for a rich and savoury combination of crab meat, creamy avocado and white fish served in a baked dome, with a special cheese sauce; get the Rainbow Roll ($25.50) to share. The California rolls are generously packed with crab meat and avocado, and wrapped with fresh slices of tuna and salmon sashimi. For something with more kick, the Spicy Tuna Roll ($21) is perfect; the Seafood Teppanyaki (from $78) lunch set is a substantial meal of fresh scallops, salmon, king prawns, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus and capsicum that’s served with rice.
For Breakfast / Tea
9A Dempsey Road, tel: 6479-5518.
The sleek, modern décor and cushy armchairs at this French-inspired Japanese patisserie are well-suited for afternoon tea with the girls or an after-dinner sojourn with Hubby. Go for the silky, tissue-thin Crepe Suzette ($22); the Dome ($29), a chocolate sphere that holds a parfait biscuit with almond and strawberry. When set aflame, it dissolves into a delicious mess of melted chocolate, strawberry and crunchy biscuit; the Lemon Tart ($7.50) if you like a bit of zing, with a bottom layer of almond cream, topped with smooth, zesty sour lemon cream; Iced Muscat Tea ($8.50) is infused with the fragrant aroma of Muscat grapes, and was sweet and delicious even sans sugar syrup.
15 Queen Street, tel: 6703-8703.
Few cafes, or even restaurants, have the luxury of space that Asanoya Bakery enjoys, with its high ceiling and full-length glass panels. More than just a place for bread and pastries, the bakery-cafe makes for an energising pit stop for salads and quiches, too. Must tries include the Karuizawa Raisin Bread ($2.60 for 100g) is crusty on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside – best eaten fresh, and perfect with a cup of floral tea. Also good with tea is the Fruit Rye ($12.50 a loaf), with its addictively eclectic mix of rum raisins, orange peel, almonds and walnuts; and the Fruit Danish ($3.20 each) with gleaming berries and peach on crisp, flaky pastry and the bed of light cream beneath the glazed fruits.
By Cheryl Leong, Simply Her, April 2015