December 1, 2016
When we think of Japanese cuisine, our minds are automatically tune to sushi-takeaways, casual eateries, fine dining and Omakase. But do you know Izakaya is flooding the food scene with their outreach to diners of various ages, plus the lure of Japanese alcoholic drinks like sake and beer?
Izakaya 居酒屋, is derived from the words ‘I’ (to stay) and ‘sakaya’ (sake shop). The idea behind this drinking concept is that diners sit in to have some Japanese bites and snacks with some drinks to go along with.
Such Izakaya bars are usually affordable to mid range, depending on the quality of the food and establishments. Izakaya bars are also particularly popular among the office workers who go for after-work drinks or friends who gather for a night of pocket-friendly Japanese bar grubs with some alcohol to go along.
Here are the top Izakayas bars in Singapore (in no particular order) to make your night worthwhile as you eat and sip on sake.
Tomo Izakaya is a cosy eatery located in Clarke Quay offering comfort dishes such as the Onsen Tamago ($3), teppanyaki, sushi rolls and udon.
Choose from a selection of dark beers, lager or ales, or simply go for sake where there is a variety of Junmai Ginjo, Junmai and so on that will leave you craving for more.
Tomo Izakaya: 3A River Valley Rd, 01-14 Clarke Quay, Singapore 179020 | Opening Hours: Daily 12PM-3PM, Mon to Thu, Sun 6PM-1AM, Fri and Sat 6PM-3Am | Website
With beers and bar snacks going at five dollars, Five Izakaya Bar offers really crazy affordable prices for food and drinks. With another Izakaya Bar at Changi City Point, both prove to be a hit among many white-collar workers from nearby offices.
The place is always packed full with people, which makes getting seats difficult. So do head down early to snag a seat!
Five Izakaya Bar: 16 Collyer Quay, #01-05B, Singapre 049318 | Opening hours: Mon to Fri 12PM-12AM, Sat 6PM-12AM, Closed on Sun | Tel: 9826 1049| Website
First-timer would have found it hard to locate The Horse’s Mouth, which is a rather hidden spot in Forum Shopping Centre, located right below Uma Uma Ramen and beside Kaiseki Yoshiyuki. It is a dimly lit bar serving both bespoke and craft cocktails ($25) alongside some Japanese dishes such as your hearty ramen and don.
The Spicy Salmon and Tuna Tartare with Crispy Gyoza Skin ($22) is not your usual combination which surprisingly goes well together. The use of gyoza skin adds some crunch to the spicy raw fish, layering the dish with different texture.
Recommended is the Mazesoba Chasiu ($12) with slices of chasiu very tasty in their sweet sauce and literally melt on your tongue. We also enjoy the Mecabbage ($8), which is simply fried brussel sprouts that are so addictive, one bowl is not enough.
The Horse’s Mouth: 583 Orchard Road, #B1-39 Forum The Shopping Mall, Singapore 238884 | Opening Hours: Mon to Thu 6PM-12AM, Fri and Sat 6PM-1AM, Closed on Sun | Tel: 6235 1088 | Website
Opened in 2013 by the Hachi Group along Tras Street, The Public Izakaya has been a hit among many office workers for after-work drinks and food. Many of my foodie friends praised it for the affordability and quality, even Japanese patronised it as well.
There is a list of beers and alcoholic drinks to choose like the Suntory Premium Malt Black Draught ($9.80). Do try the Nama Kaki in ponzu sauce. Comes at two prices, $6 for small and $8 for a large one, I would recommend going for the large oyster which features a plump, fresh meat that will leave you very satisfied.
On the menu are also some skewers and Japanese light bites. If you love mentaiko, there is a list of mentaiko-centric dishes such as the Kani Gratin ($7) which is a baked crab stuffed with crabmeat, fish, miso and mentaiko.
The Public Izakaya: 56 Tanglin Rd, Tanglin Post Office (Opposite Tanglin Mall) #B1-01, Singapore 247 964 | Tel: 6463 8080 | Opening Hours: Mon to Wed, Sun 11AM-11PM, The to Sat 11AM-1AM | Website
Opened in April 2016 by award-winning chef Martin Woo, Mo’mor Izakaya has been serving a variety of tapas, mains and seafood dishes on their menu, with Izakaya dishes being one of their main focus.
There is a full list on the menu covering a range of small plates including sashimi, cured fishes, light bites such as the Onsen Tamago ($5).
The Raw and Cured Platter ($36) is definitely a steal, consisting of a variety of fresh, juicy assortment of fish that are thinly sliced.
Mo’mor Izakaya: 56 Tanglin Rd, Tanglin Post Office (Opposite Tanglin Mall) #B1-01, Singapore 247 964 | Tel: 6463 8080 | Opening Hours: Mon to Wed, Sun 11AM-11PM, The to Sat 11AM-1AM | Website
My recent visit to Izy Dining & Bar sees a revamped in their menu where dishes are now more affordable and catered to the larger crowd. There is a whole section on sushi rolls, where we get to try the signature Izy Roll ($16) topped with spicy crab mayo and avocado.
Another not-to-be-missed dish is the photogenic and delicious Japanese Nokke Roll ($32). It is generously topped with Sea Urchin, Negitoro, Crab meat and Ikura on a bed of sushi rolls. Each bite is has an umami taste, which I would willingly pay to have this again and again.
For something unique, the Gyu-Katsu ($30) is a rare beef cutlet that comes in three kinds of sauces. Pair your meal with drinks such as highball, sake and umeshu.
If you have not heard of this yet, there is also a Japanese bar called CACHÉ tucked away at the back of Izy Dining & Bar. There is more varieties of drinks featuring classic Japanese cocktails and you can even have your meal alongside as well.
Izy Dining & Bar : 27 Club Street, Singapore 069413 | Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 12PM-2PM, Mon to Sat 6PM-10:30PM, Closed on Sun | Mon Off | Tel: 9678 0027 | Website
At Neon Pigeon, fly along with their motto: Eat and Drink. On the menu is a list of small plates great for sharing.
Ranging from simple dishes like the addictive Chilled Cucumber ($8) to something sinful like the Braised Mussels and Clams ($18 for small) and Roasted Bone Marrow ($19), you will be spoilt for choice.
The setting resembles an underground vibe, with a dark and rustic touch. It is a nice chic place to chill with your friends while sipping on a tipple or two.
Neon Pigeon: 100 Tras Street, #01-09 100AM, Singapore 079027 | Opening hours: Mon to Sat 6PM-12AM| Tel: 6222 3623 | Website
If you are seeking something affordable and cosy, JINzakya is a good choice. Located just beside Sushi Jin, JINzakaya is a spin-off from the fine dining Sushi Jin, both are under the Les Amis Group and serve delicious Japanese cuisine.
With JINzakaya being more of a casual eatery, it serves a variety of sashimi, yakimono like ox tongue ($9.50) and interesting ramen creation such as the Kimchi Ramen ($12.80) with chargrilled chicken thigh.
Choose from a range of sake, shochu or beer on tap which is the Kirin or Suntory Beer to will the night away.
JINzakaya: 1 Farrer Park Station Rd, Owen Link, #01-08/10, Singapore 217562 | Mon to Sat 12PM-3PM, 5PM-11PM, Closed on Sundays | Tel: 6443 1173 | Website
Offering french-inspired Japanese cuisine, Le Binchotan definitely wins hands down to its stylish interior resembling a train cabin. The amazing part is that at first glance, you would have expected a long bar but on second look, it’s actually an illusion created by a mirror at the back.
Don’t belittle the relatively small bar counter, the cocktails here are creatively concocted and the bartender could also personalise drinks of your choice. Something cutesy and sweet, The Gin, The Flower, The Bowtie ($23) is the one for you.
The food is tasty as well with the tender Wagyu Striploin ($12), a must-order when you are down at Le Binchotan. The flavourful skewers due to the infusion of Ume and Port Wine will leave you craving for more.
Le Binchotan :115 Amoy Street #01-04 Singapore 069935 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm & drinks 10.30pm – 12am, closed on Sundays | Tel:6221 6065 | Website
Introducing Otsumami, this might bring your Izakaya experience to a whole new level where light Japanese bar food is savoured with specially curated sake. There is a huge range of sake to cater to each diner’s choice too.
Check out their Facebook page for events such as sake tasting that occur every now and then. Bar Ippudo is a great platform to exchange of the knowledge and insights about sake.
Bar Ippudo : #04-23 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Rd, 228208 | Opening Hours: Sun to Thu 11:30AM-10PM, Fri and Sat 11:30PM-11PM| Tel: 6235 2547 | Website
Can’t decide which food item to order? Let the chef personalise the meal for you by opting for the Omakase ($128 and $188) with an additional $90 for sake pairing.
For light bites, go for the classic Jamon Iberico de Bellota ($29) and Padron Peppers ($12), or the popular Cold Capellini with Sakura Ebi and Uni ($42).
Restaurant Bam prides itself in the quality and freshness of the ingredients used. As for the drinks list, it is largely sake-driven.
Restaurant Bam: 38 Tras Street, Singapore 078977 | Opening Hours: Tue to Fri 12PM-2PM, Mon to Thu 6PM-10:30PM, Fri to Sat 6PM-11:30PM, Closed on Sun | Tel: 6226 0550 | Website
Hidden in the basement of Palais Renaissance is Ishinomaki Grill & Sake, opened by Table Concepts, which offers premium robatayaki and izakaya dishes.
Diners can savour robata grills consisting of Tsukune ($3), Yakitori ($3), and Hotate Kai Yaki ($22). Munch on sushi rolls such as the Spicy Spider Roll ($23) and Negitoro Uni Roll ($28), or opt for set courses which revolves around Yakitori, Sushi or Seiro.
There is also a lunch and dinner omakase for those looking for surprises in their meals.
Ishinomaki Grill & Sake Bar: 390 Orchard Road, #B1-02/02A/03, Palais Renaissance, Singapore 238871 | Opening Hours: Daily 11AM-3PM, 6PM-10PM | Tel: 6737 1065 | Website
Hiroshima Oyster ($10)
Besides having over 44 tapas dishes to choose from, there are more than 100 brands of sake, Japanese whisky and other alcoholic bottles, especially with offerings of certain premium bottles exclusive to Boruto only.
Helmed by Chef-owner Patrick Tan, the dishes are creative while retaining the Japanese style of cooking. Some items worth a shout-out is the Truffle Hiyashi Somen ($15.80) tossed in confit egg yolk and shio konbu, the highly raved Saga Gyu Steak ($28.80) and the flavourful Tori-Take Roll ($15.80).
Of course, what is a meal without some sake to bring out the flavours of the food? If you are unsure, feel free to ask for some sake recommendation and you will realise how well the food and drinks marries together at Boruto.
Exclusively on Saturday, there is also a separate menu offering 10 dishes at $10, one of which is the fresh and plum Hiroshima Oyster ($10) topped with caviar. What are you waiting for!
Boruto: 80 South Bridge Road #01-01 Golden Castle Building, Singapore | Opening Hours: Tue to Fri 4:30PM-12AM, Closed on Sun | Tel: 6532 0148 | Website
The Sushi Bar serves a range of whole fish sashimi such as the Sanma Sashimi, sushi, grilled items, appetisers and alcoholic beverages.
It can get quite packed during dinner time, so either go down early or make a reservation before hand. The seats by the bar at Takashimaya is good as well, allowing diners some quiet respite and a view of the chefs in action.
The Sushi Bar: 391B Orchard Road, #05-34/35, Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238874 | Opening Hours: Daily 11:30AM-9PM | Website
Enbu, synonym with Dance of Flame, is part of the Eat at 7 concept in Suntec City Mall. Known for their Warayaki Charcoal Grilled Izakaya, which is essentially charcoal grilled with straw, producing a smoky taste and juicier meats.
The crowd-favourite would be the Chicken Warayaki with Special Spring Onion Sauce ($14), Jilase Tsukune ($13), and Oyster and Spinach Teppanyaki in Uni Sauce ($16). Dishes are rather interesting at Enbu with much variation in the execution of the dishes as well.
Enbu: 3 Temasek Boulevard # 03-307 Suntec City Mall Singapore 038983 | Opening Hours: Daily 11:30AM-3PM, 5:30PM-11PM | Tel: 6268 8043 | Website
North-Easters can enjoy a meal at Izakaya outlet situated at the Punggol Settlement. Overlooking the sea, Izakaya 95 is a affordable small plate dining area with a cosy environment. It is the place for some light Japanese bar grubs and drinks while one chill the night away under the stars.
With all night long happy hour at $9.50, wait no longer!
Izakaya 95: 3 Punggol Point Road, The Punggol Settlement #02-05, Singapore 828694 | Opening Hours: Mon to Thu 5PM-12AM, Fri 5PM-1AM, Sat 1PM-1AM, Sun 12AM-11AM | Tel: 63841132 | Website
With an existing outlet at Tanjong Pagar, Hokkaido Izayaka opened its second outlet at Japan Food Town, level 5 of Wisma Atria.
You can expect the freshest ingredients from Hokkaido being used. You get really good beef quality and sashimi, including food items from an additional seasonal menu.
The Grilled Onion with Dengaku ($8), Grilled Fish Collar ($15), and Sea Urchin Wrapped in Wagyu Beef ($35) is worth trying, especially the latter which consists of giant slices of tender wagyu beef stuffed with a huge portion of shredded onions and sea urchin that will surely make your money worth.
Hokkaido Izakaya: Japan Food Town at Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road #04-51 Singapore 238877 | Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 11:30AM-3PM, 5PM-10:30PM, Sat and Sun 11AM-3PM, 5PM-10:30PM | Tel: 6262 3461 | Website
Enjoy Asahi Draft Beer at $5.80 per mug when you dine at Sumiya. Of course, what is beer without having the signature charcoal-grilled skewers.
The Grilled Eel Skewer ($7.80) and Japanese Sweet Potato Skewer ($4.80) are not your commonly seen food items in the form of skewers but once you start, you can’t stop.
Another interesting dish is the Japanese Oyster Can Can Mushi ($28) which is literally six oysters cooked in your desired broth in a can. If you are game for something spicy, pair the oysters with the Tom Yam broth that will leave you even more thirsty for ‘beer’.
Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya: 181 Orchard Road, #12-02 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896 | Opening Hours: Daily 12PM-3PM, 6PM-10:30PM | Tel: 6509 9618 | Website
For really good yakitori in Singapore, Otowa is highly recommended for their chicken-centric grills, skewers and other food items that you probably can’t find anywhere else. With a small seater space for 12 pax, reservations comes highly recommended.
The Tori Yukke ($15) is actually chicken sashimi and at Otowa, it is one of the must-try and daring dishes.
Otowa Yakitori: 150 Orchard Road, #03-16 Lucky Plaza, Singapore 238863 | Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 7PM-11PM, Closed on Sun | Tel: 6733 5989
If you are feeling adventurous, Shirokane Tori-Tama offers more than 20 types of chicken parts such as the neck, skin, lower back and tail all charcoal grilled. There are also vegetable sticks like the Skin Tofu with Cheese ($5) and Japanese Leek ($6.50).
Having been listed in the Singapore Michelin Guide in 2016, Shirokane Tori-Tama is another skewer restaurant similar to Otowa at Lucky Plaza for their massive use of chicken in their menu.
Shirokane Tori-Tama: Robertson Walk, #01-02, 11 Unity Street, SIngapore 6836 5860 | Opening Hours: Mon to Sun 6PM-11PM | Tel: 6836 5680
This is probably one of the only Izakaya bar in Singapore that requires diners to order alcohol when they dine in. Following the idea of Izakaya, Toku Izakaya Bar lets its patrons savour from their collection of more than 35 sake and shochu while nibbling on some light bites.
The Toku Izakaya Bar is especially convenient since it is located in town for a after-work leisure.
Toku Izakaya Bar: 220 Orchard Road, #B1-06, Midpoint Orchard, Singapore 238852 | Opening Hours: Tue to Fri 4PM-11Pm, Closed Mon | Tel: 6734 2015 | Website
Opened by the Neo Group, Issho Izakaya is conveniently located near the Kallang MRT. Here you can expect Japanese food of quality and a range of alcoholic drinks like Junmai Ginjyo, Whisky, Shochu and wine. Look out for a themed night happening every day.
On Monday, ladies get 50% off ala carte food while on Wednesday, the men get to enjoy $1 for the first mug of Sapporo Beer.
Even better, head down on a Thursday night to get 40% off Otoro dishes such as Otoro Sashimi, Otoro Don and Negitoro Don.
Issho Izakaya: 1 Stadium Place, #01-13/K5, Kallang Wave @ Sports Hub, Singapore 397628 | Tel: 6702 4708 | Website
Stepping into ShuKuu Izakaya is like entering a Japanese back alley well adorned with Japanese ornaments and designs. Carrying over 45 sake labels, ShuKuu Izakaya also aims to introduce Sake that are not yet known to the public instead of the usual suspects.
With a drink at bay, pair it along with some charcoal skewers, like the soft and juicy Tsukune (Chicken Meatballs) ($4.50) with added cartilage for varying textures. Other popular dishes include the Parmesan Chizu Chips ($10), Torched Vinegared Mackerel ($13), premium grilled beef tongue ($14) and mini gyu-don ($10).
ShuKuu Izakaya: 8 Stanley St, Singapore 068727 | Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-11PM, Sat 6PM-10:30PM | Tel:+65 6327 9240 | Website
Located at Robertson Quay, Shunjuu Izakaya has over 70 skewers items on their menu. Diners can eat to their heart’s content from among the wide range of grilled items. Some comfort food include the Tofu with Century Egg ($4) and Mochi Buta Maki ($7), which is uniquely delicious.
With a focus on Sumiyaki as well, Shunjuu specialises in charcoal grilled meats best savoured from a myriad of sakes available.
Shunjuu Izakaya: 30 Robertson Quay, #01-15 Riverside View, Singapore 238251 | Opening hours: Daily 12PM-2:30PM, Mon to Thu 6PM-11PM, Fri 6PM-11:30PM, Sat and Sun 5:30PM-10:30PM | Tel: 6887 3577 | Website
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