Boggled by the many Japanese food halls or clusters springing up around town? We check out the newest and the old to give you the low-down on each of them, so you can plan your own foodie trails across Japan– right here in Singapore.
#01-18 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard. Tel: 6224 3433
What is it?: Shokuhin literally means ’food products’ in Japanese, and that’s what they have. Opened in 2015, the Japanese food cluster stands at an expansive 34,000 sq ft and holds eight different dining options.
First impressions: The first thing you notice coming down the escalator from Marina Square is their temperature-controlled room, where large slabs of
meat are hung up to be dry-aged. Sleek wooden panelling, warm lights and a $10 million price tag give the place a decidedly more upscale feel.
Come here for: A Tsukiji Market-style experience. The live seafood section holds an array of tanks that contain monstrous (but so delicious) Alaskan king
crabs and rows of oysters. Different types of seafood appear seasonally and you can occasionally find live flounders and Dungeness crabs. The prices here are also slightly lower than average, as Emporium Shokuhin directly imports their own produce. This also translates to lower prices at the various restaurants in the emporium, as they draw from the same suppliers.
The yakiniku grill restaurant offers a range of meats, including USDA prime, Australian and the prized Japanese A5 Miyazaki beef–imported by Emporium Shokuhin themselves. The meat is aged on the premises, resulting in improved flavour and texture. The restaurant also offers seafood and Kurobuta pork to be cooked on their smokeless grills.
Umi+Vino Seafood Wine Bar
Luscious seafood done all ways including a la plancha and ceviche. Pair them with a selection
from their respectable wine and sake list, such as the award-winning Ferrari Trento range of
Italian sparkling wines. Three or four-course lunch sets are also available ($26/$32).
A 50kg bluefin tuna is shipped in fresh every Monday and makes its appearance on the menu as both sushi and sashimi. Don’t miss their melt-in-your-mouth otoro sashimi ($32) and Premium Giant Chirashi Don ($54), generously topped with cubed sashimi and amaebi –good for sharing among two to three people.
#04-10 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street. Tel: 6238 1011
#01-22 Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade. Tel: 6235 1295
#B2-52 Changi Airport T3, 65 Airport Boulevard. Tel: 6214 2958
What is it?: First opened in 2010 at Bugis+, Ramen Champion offers an arena-style dining concept. Think Iron Chef but judged by the customers–you get to choose the fate of the stalls by voting whether they stay or leave.
First impressions: The decor is distinctively Japanese, with timber fittings, lanterns, and banners of the various competing stalls. The arena also functions like a food court, where seating is shared across all stalls.
Come here for: The consistently high-quality ramen, and the ability to vote for your favourite stalls. The voting system presumably keeps the participating stalls on their toes.
Highlights(available at all outlets)
Torimaru offers the less-common chicken paitan ramen ($16), which is made with chicken and vegetables, resulting in a creamy and savoury but light broth. The noodles are also topped with chicken breast cha shu, and no pork is used in the cooking process.
Created by the chef and producer of Ramen Champion, Ikkyu’s ramen goes all out;
unctuous tonkotsu broth and thin noodles topped with a generous serving of pork collar
cooked sous vide ($15.80).
Specialising in tonkotsu ramen, the broth here is lighter than usual, allowing diners to slurp up large amounts of it without feeling overwhelmed by its richness. Their signature God Ramen ($15) is topped with marinated pork belly slices and a poached egg.
Japan Food Town
Level 4 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road. Tel: 6694 6535
What is it?: Singapore is the first to debut this food hall concept; there are plans to open in other major cities. Opened in July by Japan Food Town Development, the food hall showcases authentic Japanese cuisines through 16 individual well-known brands that specialise in a particular aspect of Japanese cuisine.
First impressions: There’s ample space to move around this modern ’village’, with each shopfront enticingly decorated to give an idea of what it serves. The 20,075 sq ft space can sit up to 628 diners at once.
Come here for: The sheer variety of specialty dishes, with veritable names that are huge draws in Japan. Except for Hokkaido Izakaya, which opened its first branch in Tanjong Pagar and second branch here, the rest of the outlets are new to Singapore.
Teppanyaki offering premium Wagyu beef and Osaka-style okonomiyaki. Don’t forget to check out their silky Japanese Omelette with Pork Belly ($8). Tel: 6262 3271
The name is a homonym for the Japanese words for ’38’ (the number of seats in their Japan branch) and ’mackerel’, which they specialise in. Try their Toro-Saba- Zuke rice bowl ($18), which features soy marinade made with raw, fresh saba. Tel: 6262 3453
Rang Mang Shokudo
Serves up double-fried buttermilk chicken that has been marinated for six hours, with a few flavour variations. Pair off the crispy, umami fowls ($12.90) with their signature frozen lemon beer ($14). Tel: 6262 3504
The restaurant has 150 years of tradition serving handmade Inaniwa udon. The thin udon takes three days to make with specially selected salt, water and flour. Tel: 6262 3279
Tempura Tsukiji Tenka
Opened by the renowned Tokyo Sushi Academy, and operated by its graduates, the restaurant specialises in tempura and donburi. Check out their kaisen don ($24.80), topped generously with fresh seafood. Tel: 6262 3245
Shokutsu Ten,Jurong Point
#B1-77 Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2
What is it?: Set up by long-time Japanese food veterans RE&S, Shokutsu Ten was one of the pioneers of the Japanese dining cluster concept with its first outlet at Jurong Point in 2007. The 17,000 sq ft area is separated into two themes; old Edo and modern-day Osaka, and holds nine different dining concepts at all price ranges. First impress ions: The area is immediately reminiscent of a bustling Japanese street with its kabuki-inspired entrance facade, thanks to a $7 million makeover. Technicolor signs and colourful lanterns adorn the area, and it has a ceiling that transits from day to night.
Come here for: The Japanese festival experience. All the lights and sounds give the area a carnival-like atmosphere, and there are plenty of reasonably priced options for you to indulge in, including bona fide street food stalls.
Kabe No Ana – The Cafe
The renowned Japanese pasta restaurant rebranded as a cafe, where they serve all-day breakfast and specialty coffee in addition to their scrummy pasta selection. Be sure to check out their mentaiko carbonara spaghetti ($13.90), where the spicy, salty mentaiko acts as the perfect foil for the creaminess of
the sauce. Tel: 6397 0435
You’d think you were walking down a street in Osaka with over 10 rotating street food and retail stalls that feature everything from okonomiyaki to Hokkaido cheese tarts. Keep an eye out for the occasional cosplayer, as they host cosplay events here too.
Eat At Seven at Suntec City Sky Garden
Level 3 Suntec City North Wing Tower 1, 3 Temasek Boulevard
What is it?: Opened in 2015 with a partnership between Japanese airline ANA and Global Retailers to bring seven restaurants from Japan to Singapore. From tempura don to a maguro specialist, these are restaurants that one would have to queue extensively to enter in Japan.
First impressions: The exterior entrance lacks any overt display of Japanese motifs, save for Eat at Seven’s kanji logo. At 14,000 sq ft split among seven
restaurants, the area provides a more intimate dining space.
Come here for: Renowned brands from Japan; most of the restaurants at Eat at Seven are specialist stalls focusing on particular dishes. Coupled with their regular produce deliveries through ANA, you’re getting the best of Japanese cuisine.
This izakaya sets itself apart from other Japanese grills by offering warayaki; using straw in addition to charcoal to infuse the food with a smoky fragrance.
Tel: 6268 8043
Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining
One of the most renowned sashimi and maguro wholesalers in Japan, where they control almost every aspect of the process including catching the fish. Head straight for their Five Cuts Hon Maguro Sashimi ($49), which showcases different parts of the tuna. Tel: 6684 5054
The first ten-don in Singapore to offer a spicy sauce option ($15), the tempura here is fried in a mixture of sesame and cooking oils that is constantly filtered in the fryer so that it remains fresh. Tel: 6333 4386
Nihon Food Street at Millenia Walk
Level 2 Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard
With two ramen shops, sushi spots, a robatayaki and tonkatsu specialist Saboten, your Japanese cuisine cravings are sure to be satiated here. Chabuton’s Japanese outlet has a Michelin star, while Sushi Murasaki offers fresh seafood and an indulgent omakase menu. At Tomi Sushi, things are a little more casual, but no less sumptuous at this restaurant hailing from Niigata, a prefecture known for its quality rice. For smoky grilled treats and a tipple, check out Kurama Robatayaki and Yoi Sake Bar, and Uma Uma Restaurant & Bar.