We love that Singapore is home to a vast array of Japanese restaurants offering everything from sushi and skewers, to noodles and curry. In fact, when it comes to Japanese food, the only problem is deciding where to go. To make the choice a little bit easier, we’ve rounded up our top picks for great Japanese spots serving ramen, yakitori, Japanese BBQ, omakase, and more. Can you say “oishii”!?
For those who have never tried it before, robatayaki is Japanese BBQ, and Akanoya offers the most authentic robatayaki you’ll find anywhere in the city. Your experience starts when you are confronted with a huge array of fresh veggies, meats and seafood straight from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Point to what you want, and the chefs will grill up your selections to smoky perfection and then serve it to you on a wooden paddle. Selections could include flavourful Wagyu beef, tender marinated lamb, and grilled crab.
Akanoya, 1 Tanglin Road, #01-01 Orchard Parade Hotel, 247905, t. 6732 1866, open daily: 6pm – 2am
It may be a no frills, low bills type of place, but Itacho serves up some seriously fresh sushi with fast and efficient service to boot. The selection here is also great with rolls like the Fried Shrimp Roll, Salmon Lobster Roll, and Fatty Salmon Sashimi, plus Japanese faves like edamame, miso soup and gyoza. It should be noted though that this place gets absolutely packed around peak lunch and dinner times, so you may want to get in there early to ensure you get a table.
Coveted for its consistency, Akashi ticks all the right boxes with superb service, speedy delivery and great sushi at affordable prices. Their lunch and dinner sets are particularly good value for the money and you can choose from sushi or sashimi, tempura with soba noodles and sukiyaki served with rice, salad, soup and fresh fruit. You can’t go wrong with the URA Maki (Reverse Cali Roll) and the melt-in-your-mouth Salmon Belly Aburi Sushi.
Akashi Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, B1-01/02, 238859, t. 6735 8887, open daily 11.30 am – 10 pm, t. 6735 8887
Although quite a bit pricier than your average sushi joint, Tatsuya is worth every penny for Chef Ronnie Chia’s divine creations made with fresh ingredients sourced from different regions of Japan. To get the best of the best, try the ‘omakase’ style meal, which means you put yourself in the capable hands of Chef Ronnie and his Japanese chefs and let them surprise you with delectable bites like sweet Hokkaido scallops, savory sashimi of Arctic char from the Miyagi prefecture, purple sprouts from Fukuoka and their special Aburi (seared) sushi. We love all of the seared sushi—the quick blast of heat adds a lovely texture and flavor to the fresh fish. Just ask for seared sushi and the chefs will serve you up an outstanding omakase style meal.
Tatsuya, 22 Scotts Road, Goodwood Park Hotel, 228221, t. 6887 4598, open daily: 12pm – 3pm, 6:30pm – 11pm
This friendly little watering hole is a great place to get an education in the seductive world of sake. Grab a seat at the bar, let the bartender know what your tastes are, and he’ll hook you up with one of the 130 different kinds of sake from their collection. They also have icy cold Japanese beers and small plates like teriyaki chicken and steaming bowls of oden. Even better, if you find a sake you like you can grab a bottle to go from their liquor shop.
Intimate Nagomi only has seating for 25 people, which adds to the exclusivity of this omakase spot that does daily menues based on whatever fresh seasonal ingredients are flown in from the Tsukji market in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. The Japanese owner also offers to hold shochu in individual servers for its regulars, which enhances teh aromas and mellows the flavours.
Nagomi, 5 Koek Road, #02-22 Cuppage Plaza, 228796, t. 6732 4300, open Mon – Sat 6 pm – 12am
Fresh fish is the focus at Kanda Wadatsumi, a reincarnation of the popular restaurant of the same name in Tokyo’s Kanda district. The restaurant has connections to the Japan Fisheries Association, so Chef Hara Shinji has plenty to play with for his inspired omakase meals, set lunches and dinners, an a la carte creations.
Located in Cuppage Plaza, this small yakitori spot is a true hidden gem. Foodies in the know snag a seat at the counter in front of the grill to get first dibs on the foie gras skewers, bacon wrapped oysters, and Kurobuta pork belly. The place gets packed quickly, which makes for a good vibe, but you might want to make reservations to ensure a spot.
Kazu Sumiyaki, 5 Koek Road, #04-05 Cuppage Plaza, t. 6734 2492
If DIY grilling is your kind of bag, then Aburiya is a good bet. This Robertson Quay spot serves up beautifully marbled and thinly sliced strips of Wagyu beef, ample portions of Kurobuta pork belly, and seafood like plump scallops and prawns, all to be grilled at your own tabletop grill. They have tons of a la carte options, as well as good value sets like the Signature Beef Set, Seafood Set and Premium Wagyu Set.
Aburiya, #01-03 The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay, t. 6735 4862, open daily: 6pm – 11pm
When you’re craving an awesome bowl of ramen, Ippudo should be your go-to spot. We highly recommend the Ippudo Original Ramen, Tao Aka with Chashu, which includes a heady mix of savoury Tonkotsu soup blended with Ippudo’s miso paste, springy ramen noodles, thick slices of Chashu (pork belly) and a sprinkling of spring onions, all accented with fragrant garlic oil. And if that doesn’t fill you up, add a side of Pork Buns or Pan-Fried Gyoza to round off your meal.
We’re not really sure what makes this place so romantic, except maybe the love affair you’ll begin when you try their authentic Japanese curry. Go for the crispy fried Pork Tonkatsu on rice and drench it in their rich, golden curry sauce for a hearty meal that tastes as good as it looks and smells. Their Beef Curry Rice also gets rave reviews.
Romantic Kobe, Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road #B1-50, t. 6333 0630, open daily: 10am – 9pm
Move over poke bowls, OTT milkshakes and salted egg yolk burgers because there’s a new food trend in town that’s already gaining momentum, and that is unagi from Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant. Part of Chef Teppei Yamashita’s restaurant empire that includes Teppei at Orchid Hotel, Hanare Cafe, Teppei Daidokoro and Teppei Syokudo, Man Man specialises in Japanese-style barbecued eel, and the lineups have been out the door.
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, 1 Keong Saik Road #01-01, 089109, t. 6222 0678, open Mon – Sat: 11:30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10:30pm
Authentic Japanese Home-style
Chef Suju Masayuki started out with a small restaurant in Karuizawa, Nagano in 2005 that focused on traditional Japanese cuisine using staples like brown rice, fresh fish and miso. His first restaurant saw such wild success that he has since gone on to open six restaurants and shops in Japan and one here in Singapore at Mandarin Gallery. The ingredients in his simple yet elegant dishes come straight from the local market in Nagano, the Tsukiji Fish Market, or local farms in Singapore, and his attention to detail ensures that every dish is both artful and delightful.
Suju Japanese Restaurant, #04-05 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road, 238897, t. 6737 7764, open Mon – Sun: 11:30am – 10:30pm
For those who have a desire to learn more about all the subtle nuances of sake, Kakure is your spot. Tucked away on the second floor of a black and white bungalow atop Japanese restaurant Ki-Sho, this intimate drinking den offers one of the biggest sake lists in Singapore with rare handcrafted sakes that are carefully curated by Chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto and sake sommeliers John and Makoto. Let the experts walk you through a tasting session, or go for the omakase set menu where delicate Japanese bar bites are paired with exquisite sips.