It’s no secret that we Singaporeans enjoy Japanese food. From Japanese curry, to sashimi, to yakitori skewers, we gobble up Japanese cuisine in all its forms. I’ve noticed that izakaya bars have become more popular in Singapore recently, with new and exciting dining spots popping up.
Back in Japan, there are actually two types of izakaya bars: casual ones that offer a wider range of food choices catering to larger groups of younger people. And specialised izakaya bars that tend to be more upscale, attracting a more affluent crowd instead.
The izakaya bars here in Singapore are a little different from those in Japan. Most Singaporean izakaya bars have a narrower focus, with specialisations on skewers and rice bowls.
I headed over to OmoteNashi Dining Gosso on Boat Quay for a taste of izakaya in Singapore. Unassuming on its exterior, this izakaya bar focuses on amazing skewers, rice bowls and bar bites.
It’s easy to feel intimidated when walking into an izakaya bar for the first time, especially in a cosy spot like Gosso. So, what exactly should we do for a good time at an izakaya bar?
1. Sit At The Bar Counter
One of the best parts of dining at an izakaya bar is watching the chef at work. Sitting at the bar in Gosso lets me watch Chef Ikeda Kenichi as he expertly grilled and served up delicious dishes.
I was right in front of all that flaming-hot culinary action, yet the glass partition meant that the smoke from the grill didn’t waft into my face. You’ll want to watch carefully because years of experience have honed Chef Ikeda’s skills down to a work of art.
Besides, watching the master at work grilling up those skewers is bound to open your appetite!
2. Order Dishes To Share
At an izakaya bar, dishes are typically ordered for sharing. OmoteNashi Dining Gosso serves rice bowls, which doesn’t immediately seem like food for sharing. But trust me, with the amount of good food that’s on the menu, you’ll want to save some stomach space.
I tried the Gosso Don ($15), a highly recommended rice bowl from their lunch menu. When the bowl arrived, I could immediately see why it’s a crowd favourite. There were three different skewers and a portion of chicken nanban.
The fried chicken was generously slathered with mayonnaise, resulting in an enticing fragrance that made my mouth water. If you’re there alone, this is the rice bowl you have to try.
But if you’re there with a few friends, order the Curry & Nanban Don ($15). Crispy fried chicken chunks were drenched in fragrant Japanese curry. Each spoonful delivered a blend of savoury flavours on top of the sticky rice. I really liked this rice bowl, mainly because Japanese curry is always my go-to comfort food.
And these are only the rice bowls, so you’ll definitely need that stomach space for the skewers.
3. Get The Chef’s Speciality
Don’t miss out on Chef Ikeda’s special skewers! Served with a timer, you’ll want to gobble up these little morsels of heaven.
The Gosso Dama ($7 for two sticks) is best eaten within 40 seconds. The chicken liver wrapped in a fatty sheet of pork was so creamy and practically melted on my tongue.
The crisped pork layer on the outside added a delicious meaty flavour to the gamey liver skewer.
For those who prefer a less gamey flavour, opt for the Negima ($6 for two sticks), which came with leeks. The sharper flavour of the leeks helped to break up and lift the tender and juicy chicken chunks.
Always try the chef’s speciality, because it’s going to be a wild culinary experience. After all with their years of experience and skill, these dishes are sure to blow your mind.
4. Pair Your Food With Beer
The meal is not complete without a cold drink. And what better beverage to enjoy in an izakaya bar, than Japanese beer? I ordered Kirin Draft Beer ($5.80 for half-pint, $9.80 for one pint) to quench my thirst.
The beer fizzed beautifully upon pouring, and flavour-wise, this pale beer was mild and crisp on the palate. Perfect for pairing with the meaty flavour of the skewers!
I particularly enjoyed the crisp and refreshing taste of the Kirin Draft Beer, it’s easy to drink, which means I could pair it with the flavourful skewers, or just drink Kirin on its own. Talk about a versatile beer!
5. Soak In The Atmosphere
Finally, to fully enjoy your izakaya bar experience, you’ll want to breathe in the vibes of this dining spot. Gosso tantalised not just my tastebuds with amazing food, but also my sight with its quaint and charming interior.
Little knick-knacks, such as a daruma doll and even the black walls decorated with sake labels and old picture helped to make Gosso feel like a comfortable dining place to kick back with a few beers and skewers after work.
If you happen to look up, you’ll realise the usual red lanterns of izakaya bars are replaced with yellow Kirin lanterns at Gosso. I liked how the yellow lanterns helped to brighten the atmosphere, and put me in a cheery mood for the meal.
If you want an authentic izakaya bar experience in Singapore, don’t forget these five things. And if you’re a first-timer looking for an izakaya meal, why not head over to OmoteNashi Dining Gosso on Boat Quay?
It’s never too late to have a taste of the izakaya experience, but don’t forget the Kirin beer and Gosso Dama for a truly amazing time!
Expected Damage: $20 – $50 per pax
OmoteNashi Dining Gosso: 64 Boat Quay, Singapore 049852 | Tel: +65 6533 5152 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm (Lunch, Mon – Fri), 5.30pm – 1am daily | Facebook | Website
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Kirin Ichiban