Casual, convivial, and convenient, izakayas are great after-work hangouts when you’re craving easy-going Japanese food and drinks. Lucky for us there are tons of great izakayas here in Singapore from classic Tokyo-style joints to contemporary eateries, hole-in-the-wall spots and more. If you’re looking for a chill place where you can dig into yakitori skewers, sushi, and deep-fried eats along with some Asahis or sake, these are some of the best izakayas around town.
It may not be easy to find, but this not-so-secret watering hole is worth the effort for the sleek vibes, inspired cocktails, and tasty Japanese eats. To get here make your way to Uma Uma Ramen at the Forum Shopping Mall and behind a curtain you’ll find a door leading into this dimly lit den. Grab a seat by the colourful origami curtains and dig into dishes like the spicy tuna and avocado tartare with crispy gyoza skins washed down with a cold Nana Colada.
The Horse’s Mouth, 583 Orchard Road, Forum the Shopping Mall (enter through Uma Uma Ramen at #01-41), t. 8188 0900. Open Mon - Thurs: 6pm - 12am, Fri - Sat: 6pm - 1am
This hidden gem of a place takes up the whole back corridor of the second floor of Cuppage Plaza, and it offers up delicious food at great prices. They are best known for their Higawari Teishoku set meals and tasty meat dishes like yakitori skewers, tempura, beef teriyaki, and katsu curry rice. Wash it all down with free-flow green tea, a cup of hot or cold sake or bottle of Asahi.
Izakaya Nijumaru,5 Koek Road #02-10, Cuppage Plaza Singapore 228796. p. +65 6235 6693. Open Mon - Sat 12pm - 2:30pm, Mon - Sun 6pm - 10pm
When craving casual modern Japanese, Katanashi is a good bet. Hidden towards the end of Boat Quay next to the water, this down-to-earth eatery offers both indoor and outdoor seating and an enticing menu featuring tasty and affordable Japanese tapas like pork belly simmered in gravy, marinated octopus, and sashimi salad. Their lunch sets are also very popular and good value.
This sister restaurant to Katanashi at Boat Quay serves up intriguing Japanese tapas like grilled chicken with ultra-crispy skin and tangy lemon and yuzu pepper sauce, fried fish balls laced with edamame and topped with a slightly sweet ponzu sauce, and Unaretto simmered eel inside a fluffy omelette. Seafood lovers also won’t want to miss the kani tofu resting in a delicate homemade dashi broth and topped with succulent Hokkaido crab.
1 Boon Tat Street #01-01, Singapore 069611, p. +65 6221 5101, Open Mon - Sat 11:30am - 2:30 pm and 5:30pm - 10:30pm
Yakitori fans in the know head to this small Cuppage Plaza joint to indulge in delicious smokey skewers like bacon wrapped oysters, grilled foie gras, and Kurobuta pork belly with Enoki mushrooms. The best seat in the house is at the bar where you can watch the chefs in action, although they also have small private rooms in back. Reservations are highly recommended.
Kazu Sumiyaki, 5 Koek Road, #04-05 Cuppage Plaza, Singapore 228796. p. +65 6734 2492. Open Tues - Sat 6pm - 10pm
With industrial elements like concrete and dark wood, and a huge mural of headphone rocking pigeons by street artist ZERO, Neon Pigeon puts a modern edgy twist on the izakaya concept. Shared plates are the focus here with offerings like the Tsukune Sliders, Smoked Baby Back Ribs, and Roasted Bone Marrow, and the cocktails are Japanese inspired with ingredients like wasabi-infused honey, shiso leaves, and plum bitters.
Neon Pigeon, 1A Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089109. p. +65 9123 4567. Open Mon - Sat 6pm - 12am
The first thing you need to know about Nobuya is that they only allow reservations if everyone at your table is drinking. Now isn’t that music to your ears? This no-frills spot is nothing fancy with half the seats outside in the mall (some tables right next to the glass windows of shops) and the owner’s not overly friendly, but the food is always spot on with fresh ingredients flown in from Japan. Try the crunchy daikon salad and umami-packed miso braised mackerel.
Nobuya, 190 Middle Road, Fortune Centre #01-05, Singapore 188979. p. +65 6338 3450. Open Tues - Sun 6pm - 11pm
Orihara started as a specialty sake liquor shop offering over 130 sake labels from both large and little known breweries, and they later opened up a bar to showcase their goods. Try one of their sampler sets that are categorized by the tasting characteristics of dry, sweet, refreshing or rich. You can also get Japanese small plates like yakitori and oden to soak up all that sake.
Orihara, 11 Unity Street, #01-04 Robertson Walk, Singapore 237995. p. +65 6836 5710. Open Mon - Wed 7pm - 12am, Thurs - Sat 7pm - 1:30am
It may be a tiny 12-seater hole-in-the-wall tucked away in a corner of Orchard Plaza, but Otowa has some of the best yakitori you will find around town. The Japanese chef here is an expert at grilling up succulent smoky skewers like chicken and leek, grilled mushrooms, tender beef, quail’s eggs and crispy chicken skin. You also have the option to order your skewers seasoned with shio (salt) or tare (yakitori sauce).
Otowa Yakitori, 150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza #03-16, Singapore 238863. p. +65 6733 5989. Open Mon - Sat 7pm - 11pm
The Public Izakaya
The Public Izakaya is about as classic izakaya as you can get with lots of warm wood, door curtains featuring prints of Mount Fuji, and Japanese antiques throughout. The food is just as authentic with ingredients are flown in fresh from Japan and prepared by Japanese chefs. Start with a Suntory highball or cold Asahi and fuel up on small bites like seared strips of wagyu beef, braised pork belly, and grilled rice sticks glazed with miso.
The Public Izakaya, 100 Tras Street, Singapore 079027. p. +65 6604 9622. Open Mon - Fri 11:30am - 2pm, 5:30pm - 1am
A combination sake bar and yakitori joint, Shirokane Tori-Tama garners rave reviews for their delicious chicken skewers that include the usual morsels of chicken breast, thigh, and minced chicken balls, as well as more daring options like chicken liver, neck, cartilage, and heart. Besides chicken yakitori, they also offer grilled pork belly, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and ox tongue, as well as primo hot and chilled sake.
Shirokane Tori-Tama, 11 Unity Street, #01-02 Robertson Walk, Singapore 237995.p. +65 6836 5680. Open Mon - Sat 6pm - 11pm
Shukuu Izakaya & Sake Bar
Designed with hungry office workers in mind, Shukuu Izakaya is a relaxed space offering up seriously good Japanese snacks along with a fab selection of sakes curated by Mario, one of the owners and a certified sake sommelier. Sidle up to the bar or grab a seat at one of the wooden tables and let Mario help you pick the perfect poison to go with dishes like the wasabi-marinated octopus and parmesan chizu chips.
Shukuu Izakaya & Sake Bar, 8 Stanley Street, Singapore 068727. p. +65 6327 9240. Open Mon - Fri 11:30am - 2pm, 5:30pm - 10pm, Sat 6pm - 10:30pm
Fancy your Japanese bites with great views? Make your way to Shunjuu Izakaya in Robertson Quay for seats right by the river along with succulent sumiyaki and sake. The specialties are charcoal-grilled meat, veggie, and seafood skewers seasoned ever so slightly just to make the flavours pop. Favourites include the oysters wrapped in pork, foie gras, and chicken wings. If you’re feeling daring, wash it down with a shot of blowfish-infused sake.
Shunjuu Izakaya, 30 Robertson Quay #01-15, Singapore 238251. p. +65 6887 3577. Open daily 12pm - 2:30pm, Mon - Thurs 6pm - 11pm, Fri - Sat 6pm - 11:30pm, Sun 5:30pm - 10:30pm
To get to Tsukune Ichigo, head to River Valley Road and search for the unassuming building with huge medieval looking wooden doors. Once inside you'll be privy to some of the city’s best yakitori skewers including the namesake tsukune chicken balls. The Mixed Set allows you to try the tsukune with a range of delicious toppings like cheese, chopped shiso leaves, and creamy avocado.
Tsukune Ichigo, 399 River Valley Road, Singapore 248295. p. +65 6736 1340. Open Mon - Sat 6pm - 11:30pm