Japan is famed for many things and cuisine ranks near the top of the list. If you want to know about good Japanese restaurants in Singapore, read on for our reviews of some of the best! From sushi and other classics to modern and fusion variations, here are five restaurants that will satisfy your Japanese food cravings.
“If there’s an award for the Japanese restaurant with the best ambience, it’d probably go to Keyaki at Pan Pacific Singapore. Walking to the 140-seater is already an experience in itself; the entrance is located via a sheltered walkway, which features an immaculately manicured garden and a koi pond. The beautiful setting is inspired by the minka, or traditional Japanese house, and it made us feel like we’d been transported to the land of the rising sun! The main dining area is spacious and tastefully decorated, but for special celebrations, you can consider booking one of the private dining areas or the Garden Pavilion right next door.
Start with a seasonal sashimi platter ($70 for five varieties) to share. I’m not usually a fan of anything raw but I really enjoyed the incredibly fresh tuna sashimi. Then, if you’re out to splurge, go for the Ten Teppanyaki ($200), a 10-course prix fixe menu with premium options like teppanyaki-style wagyu beef sirloin and lobster, along with a choice of sashimi or assorted tempura, plus fried rice, miso soup and more. The Ran Sushi Moriawase ($110) is another great choice for its variety; you get eight nigiri sushi, one sushi roll, simmered vegetables, miso soup and steamed egg custard (one of the best I’ve had!).
If you’re here on a weekend afternoon (11.30am to 2.30pm), I’d recommend going for the seven-course, kaiseki-style weekend brunch, which is a steal at $75 per person (without drinks). Make it a boozy affair by topping up $60 for free-flow champagne, beers, wines and selected sakes!
Star dish: The wagyu from the Ten Teppanyaki set, which was perfectly seared to medium-rare goodness. Every bite exploded with flavour!”
– Anthia Chng
“The experience begins as soon as you enter through a long passageway with orange arches, reminiscent of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. You then arrive in the cocktail lounge, whose centrepiece is a dramatic 2.5-metre-tall bell adorned with 20 faces. Here, you can enjoy some of the bar’s fabulous cocktails ($22 each); we particularly loved the Sheares in Love, with Botanist gin, lychee and strawberry puree, and lemon juice, and the Bellini Kai with Tanqueray Gin, Yatagarasu peach and lemon juice. Or, move straight on to the dining room – a massive, high ceilinged, Insta-worthy space that you almost have to see to believe. There’s a vibrant Japanese footbridge over a reflecting pool, colourful lanterns and a dreamy, glass-windowed private room perched above the sprawling space. The vibe is lively and the music is great, making it a top spot for group gatherings but also date night.
Executive Chef Kunihiro Moroi wowed us with his modern interpretation of Japanese cuisine. The sharing-style menu has everything from sushi and sashimi to robotayaki, tempura and more. And, everything is as delicious as it looks. Some of our absolute favourites included the yellowtail ginger jalapeno ($24), the chirashi roll ($36) with hamachi, maguro, salmon, tai (white fish), scallion and chilli sesame (yum!), the spicy tofu hot pot ($25) and the wagyu beef tataki ($45). If you like lemon and chocolate, you’ll love the lemon yuzu ($16) dessert – a winning combination of tangy lemon mouse, yuzu jam and cacao crumble.
Star dish: We definitely did a happy dance while eating the D.I.Y. Spicy Tuna ($18) – crispy rice discs on which you can pile tuna tartare.”
– Amy Greenburg
“This Duxton baby only just turned one last September, but boy have we loved watching it grow. Last year saw big changes that have evolved this date-night spot into an even sexier, trendier version of itself. For one, new head chef and sommelier Hiroshi Watanabe has realigned the Rizu ethos to not only integrate his French-fusion style, but to reflect his farming studies in Hokkaido and advocate the growing Green Movement by introducing a plant-based menu that defies the stereotypes of Japanese cuisine.
The interior has followed suit; what was once a sushi counter is now a swish bar stocked with spirits and bold bottles from owner Hisamizu Takahashi’s specially curated sake and wine menu. Deep earthy hues and elegant stone finishes create an atmosphere that’s just as we recall: romantic and intimate. Guests can choose to sit inside the 30-seater space or catch the alfresco breeze along the cobblestone lane.
The sequence of stoneware and artistry that unravel in the plant-based seven-course menu is a spectacle in itself. Servings are modest, but each bite reveals incredible hidden textures and flavours, such as the reconstructed grilled corn filled with a corn and pine nut puree and garnished with coriander stems. Other highlights include the pumpkin with sake-kasu and ginger sauce, topped with shaved truffles, and the sweet finish of peaches and champagne ice topped with mountain mint. Guests can also choose to pair their menu with a wine or sake selection.
For bigger appetites or those partial to meat, Chef Watanabe’s omakase menu (from $158) received the nod of approval from my companions. Both were particularly absent from conversation when savouring the fragrant crab risotto and A4 wagyu beef with goya and haccho miso.
Star dish: The pumpkin with sake-kasu and ginger sauce, and the crab risotto.”
– Leanda Rathmell
Hokkaido Marche has been open on the Basement 2 level of Orchard Central for the past year and a half, but it remains something of a hidden gem. Tucked beside the legendary 24-hour discount Japanese store, Don Don Donki, it’s the only dedicated Japanese marketplace-style eatery in Singapore.
On our recent family visit, we (mum and dad!) grabbed a couple of refreshing Sapporo beers at the Dot Bar, before having a wander around the seven food stalls. We spied sashimi bowls, katsu curry, Hokkaido pork bowls, soba noodles, sushi and, of course, delicious ramen, in two varieties.
For a change, there were no arguments. The kids got to choose their beloved sushi (which was made fresh and delivered quickly, much to everyone’s relief!), while I had my favourite salmon and tuna sashimi bowl, and my husband slurped a steaming bowl of pork ramen with a side of gyoza.
Hokkaido is the second largest and most northern island of Japan. If you’re an avid skier, you’ll know its famous ski fields. If you’re bit more sedentary, it’s worth visiting to appreciate the stunning scenery, bountiful food and relaxing onsen – and the beer gardens in Sapporo are great, too.
Produce from Hokkaido benefits from the island’s rich soil, its altitude and the climate. Many of the restaurants at Hokkaido Marche have their origins on the island, and have carried those roots of fresh, bountiful Japanese food to Singapore. The food is a genuine reflection of the culture of this part of Japan; in fact, some of the market’s chefs hail from there.
Our whole family loved the experience at Hokkaido Marche. It was easy, affordable and quick. Getting restaurant-quality Japanese food without the long wait or hefty prices is right up our alley; we’ll definitely be back.
– Kel Flanders
Hokkaido Marche is open seven days from 11am to 10pm (Dot Bar is open until midnight). Visit the Facebook page for more information and for some great deals: facebook.com/HokkaidoMarcheSG.
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