Because Japanese cuisine is more than just sushi and ramen.

1) Izakaya

Izakayas are casual Japanese joints (analogous to Spanish tapas bars and American gastropubs) for unwinding after a hard day’s work. Typically, beer and sake are downed along with small plates of edamame and kushiyaki (skewers).

UNIQUE: Kuro Izakaya

If you are around Suntec City and wish to grab a beer with some quick bites, check out Kuro Izakaya. Their menu ranges from small appetisers to kushiyaki platters. We especially love the onsen tamago ($8), a silky soft-boiled egg with calorie-free shirataki noodles in a refreshing yuzu miso broth. The kakiyaki does not disappoint—a grilled oyster topped generously with mentaiko cheese that melts in your mouth. End your meal with the gorgeous matcha tiramisu ($10).

#01-604/605, Suntec City Tower 3, 3 Temasek Boulevard. Tel: 6235 1066

AFFORDABLE: Five Izakaya Bar

Nestled in the East is Five Izakaya Bar, which serves value-for-money set lunches by day and transforms into an after-work hangout in the evening. They offer a wide selection of small plates such as unagi fried rice ($7), chicken karaage ($6) and sautéed mushrooms ($6). Can’t decide which skewers to choose? Get the kushiyaki platter ($24) which includes chicken thigh, chicken with leek, chicken meatballs and sliced pork belly with shiitake mushrooms. Perfect with a pint of beer (or three).

#01-66/67 Changi City Point, 5 Changi Business Park Central 1. Tel: 6604 8255

BiTES FAVOURITE: Hararu Izakaya

Hararu Izakaya is the first Halal-certified izakaya in Singapore. We love the familyfriendly setting and charcoal-grilled items such as their signature surume ika ($16), a springy whole squid with a delicious smoky flavour. Another must-try is the gyu nitsuke ($14), which is bathed in a sweet and savoury sauce. For an unusual drink, order the matcha egg, a saccharine combination of matcha soy with egg whites and simple syrup.

16 Bussorah Street. Tel: 6291 5373

2) Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a crowd-pleasing street food that originates from Osaka. To make the savoury pancake, a yam and dashi batter mixed with ingredients such as scallions, squid and pork belly is pan-fried then topped with mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes.

UNIQUE: Osaka Kitchen

Located at Japan Food Town in Wisma Atria, Osaka Kitchen is famed for their teppanyaki and okonomiyaki which use ingredients that are mostly sourced from Japan. Watch as the chef cooks up a storm right before your eyes. There are five variations of okonomiyaki, ranging from a basic pork okonomiyaki ($11) to the Osaka Kitchen special okonomiyaki ($22), filled with beef tendon, squid and prawns. A nine-course omakase set ($90) is also available.

Japan Food Town, Level 4 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road. Tel: 6262 3271

AFFORDABLE: Seiwaa

At this okonomiyaki and teppanyaki restaurant, you can mix the batter and cook the okonomiyaki yourself or request help from the staff. Best of all, the pork okonomiyaki costs only $10—what a steal! If budget is not an issue, though, go for the Seiwaa premium okonomiyaki ($20), a recently launched item that comes with large fresh prawns along with shredded cabbage and grated yam in the batter, making up a filling and satisfying portion. In terms of sides, the Nagoya chicken wings ($10) are not to be missed.

72 Dunlop Street. Tel: 6291 6084

BiTES FAVOURITE: Ajiya Okonomiyaki

Ajiya Okonomiyaki is a cosy restaurant with a familyfriendly ambience and Japanese decorations like red lanterns and bamboo blinds. Choose your batter— seafood, meat, veggie or combo ($12-15)—and cook your own okonomiyaki on a hot plate. Other highlights include century egg kani tofu ($7), crabmeat flooded in a creamy, complex sauce and topped with tobiko; and potato cheese mentai ($10), a fantastic side of potato slices slathered generously with mentaiko cheese.

104 Jalan Jurong Kechil. Tel: 6463 3461

3) Donburi

Donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, consists of steamed white rice topped with various ingredients such as fish, meat and vegetables—a great opportunity for home cooks to use up leftovers. Popular variations include gyudon (beef), unadon (eel), tendon (tempura), oyakodon (chicken and egg) and kaisendon (seafood).

UNIQUE: The Burning Oak

You may not expect to find Wagyu don at a hawker centre, but The Burning Oak at The Bedok Marketplace offers just that. Their foie gras and beef don ($20) presents Wagyu rump cap cooked to medium rare with melt-in-your-mouth fat, while the pork cheek don ($12) boasts thin, juicy slices of pork along with pickled ginger and radish.

#02-16 The Bedok Marketplace, 348 Bedok Road. Tel: 9873 6093

AFFORDABLE: Don Meijin

Don Meijin is a fairly new donburi concept by Ramen Champion. Here you can find a wide range of rice bowls that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. The jumbo chicken katsudon ($13.80) boasts generous portions that are sure to fill you up, but we’re particularly in love with the mille feuille katsudon ($12.80) and its succulent cutlet composed of 14 thin slices of pork loin, served atop a silky omelette.

#04-10 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street. Tel: 6238 1011

BiTES FAVOURITE: Flaming Don

Flaming Don serves a whopping selection of 15 rice bowls with signature homemade sauces as well as charcoal-grilled meats, all at reasonable prices. Their signature flaming beef don ($17.90) features perfectly cooked diced Australian tenderloin with a honey black pepper sauce and onsen egg. Our favourite, however, has to be the miso butayaki don ($9.90), where the smoky sliced pork belly is rich in umami.

#05-02/03 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street. Tel: 6835 7019

4) Omakase

Omakase (literally ‘I’ll leave it up to you’) originally applied to high-end sushi restaurants where the chef presents a succession of dishes based on seasonality and his knowledge of the customer’s preferences. Nowadays, it is used to refer to any multi-course house special set that saves you the trouble of ordering a la carte.

UNIQUE: Bistro du le Pin

At this hidden gem along Orchard Road, take your seat among the 14 diners (reservations recommended) and watch the chef up close as he crafts and serves your food. The $60 omakase set comprises eight courses, along with a potato salad to start and yuzu sorbet at the end. A la carte options are also available.

#02-25 Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Road. Tel: 6734 5530

AFFORDABLE: Teppei Japanese Restaurant

Known for its affordable omakase, Teppei Japanese Restaurant offers quality food and excellent customer service that makes you feel right at home. From Mon to Wed, Teppei serves a $60 omakase set that comes with at least 20 dishes within a time frame of two hours; from Thu to Sat, they offer a $80 set with premium beef and sashimi. By reservation only.

#01-18 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link. Tel: 6222 7363

BiTES FAVOURITE: Fukusen Restaurant

Fukusen Restaurant serves top-notch food with ingredients flown in from Japan. Their off-the-menu omakase comes in three options: five-course ($80), seven-course ($120) and eight-course ($160). The seasonal selections feature fresh catch such as uni and anago (saltwater eel), and produce such as mizuna (mustard greens) and Japanese persimmons.

#01-02, 33 Jalan Sultan. Tel: 6291 4818

5) Dessert

Traditional Japanese sweets (wagashi) are typically made of mochi, anko (red bean paste) and kinako (roasted soy flour). You may be familiar with taiyaki and daifuku, but have you tried mochi ice cream or hakuto jelly (made from white peaches)?

UNIQUE: Henri Charpentier

Looking for a time-out at a fancy café? Head to Henri Charpentier for their amazing strawberry shortcake ($10.20), classy décor, and service that will make you feel like royalty. The most dramatic presentation accompanies Dome ($22), whereby a chocolate sphere encasing strawberries and almond biscuit is doused in liquor and torched, engulfing it in a tall blue flame. Afterwards, a strawberry sauce is poured on.

9A Dempsey Road. Tel: 6479 5518

AFFORDABLE: Doutor Coffee

Doutor Coffee prides themselves on crafting high quality coffee and desserts while providing a comfy and cosy setting. The fluffy-as-a-cloud Hokkaido soufflé cheese cake ($6) is our favourite, but we also love the waffle ($5.80) which comes with a choice of three ice cream flavours: Hokkaido vanilla, Japanese matcha and premium chocolate. This café offers great variety and good value.

#01-05 Marina Bay Link Mall, 12 Marine Boulevard. Tel: 6604 6082

BiTES FAVOURITE: Maccha House

Love all things matcha? Dessert specialist Maccha House offers matcha tiramisu ($7.99), a surefire crowd-pleaser with layers of cream, vanilla chiffon and matcha sponge cake (made with premium Morihan matcha powder). Alternatively, try the matcha mille crepes ($10.99), which is topped with red bean paste and served with raspberry sauce and matcha soft serve. Look out also for the monthly dessert special.

#B1-39 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road. Tel: 6636 5830