Casual, convivial, and convenient, izakayas are great after-work hangouts when you are craving easy-going Japanese food and drink. Here are our picks on the best ones:
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.
5 Koek Road, #02-10, Cuppage Plaza Singapore
Tel: +65 6235 6693
For a more modern take on the izakaya experience, head to Izy where Chef Kazumasa Yazawa (previously of Waku Ghin) dishes up shared plates from either the omakase or à la carte menu. The dishes here depart slightly from traditional Japanese fare with inspired creations like the Wagyu Bowl with Australia fresh kuro truffle and the Tori No Karaage with Balsamico Mayonnaise. Finish your meal off with a Shiso Sorbet.
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.
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.
5 Koek Road, #04-05 Cuppage Plaza
Tel: +65 6734 2492
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.
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.
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).
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza #03-16
Tel: +65 6733 5989
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.
11 Unity Street, #01-02 Robertson Walk
Tel: +65 6836 5680
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 will 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.