Japanese restaurants and hawker stalls can be found in every corner of our country. While you can’t possibly go wrong with a good ol’ bowl of gyu don, it’s not always what you’re looking for when you’re missing the taste of Japan.
“Japanese food” is a pretty large umbrella term as the styles and variations of the same dish are endless; different prefectures have their own specialities, but they’re all still inherently Japanese. Here are 10 places to visit so you can eat your way around Japan right here in Singapore.
Chuka Soba, also known as Takayama Ramen, is one of the dishes that the Chubu region is known for. This version of ramen comes with a savoury, clear soup which warms people up from the inside.
One place you can get this regional speciality here in Singapore is at Ippudo. Although Ippudo is well known for its Tonkotsu based ramens, their rendition of the Chuka Soba is also worth trying.
The chewy noodles are submerged in a mildly sweet soup base made with both pork and chicken. Like the Chuka Soba you’ll get in Japan, this bowl of noodles is topped with pork chashu and bamboo shoots.
Expected Damage: S$15 – S$20 per pax
This bustling region of Japan houses major cities such as Osaka and Kyoto. It’s also where food like Kushiage, and Uji Matcha are immensely popular.
Kushiage is a type of cuisine where skewers are coated, fried, then dipped once into a communal sauce pot.
Kushikatsu Tanaka is the place to visit if you want to get the full Kushiage experience. From the decor to the way the food is served, it adheres pretty closely to what the real deal in Osaka would feel like.
Expected Damage: S$20 – S$30 per pax
Kushikatsu Tanaka: 3A River Valley Road, #01-01B Merchants’ Court Clarke Quay Block A, Singapore 179020 | Opening Hours: 5pm – 12midnight (Mon – Fri), 11am – 12midnight (Sat & Sun) | Tel: +65 6258 3789 | Facebook
With matcha‘s recent popularity, I’m sure most people know what it tastes like. Uji matcha is regarded as matcha of higher quality, as Uji was one of the first places in Japan to start cultivating matcha.
While matcha desserts can be found almost islandwide, Tsujiri gives you the most authentic flavours when it comes to Uji matcha. This brand was in fact, founded in Kyoto and then brought over to our sunny shores in recent years.
Expected Damage: S$5 – S$10 per pax
This region lies to the west of Kansai, and is home to the fruit parfait, and Hiroshima Okonomiyaki.
Okayama is a state that has the perfect conditions for fruit farming, so fruits are almost always synonymous with Okayama. And what better way to eat fruit than in a fruit parfait?
4. Lumine Cafe
Lumine Cafe in Singapore specialises in just that, with a menu consisting of solely sweet treats made with fruits. It is a brand that hails from Japan, so you know that there’s definitely a touch of authenticity in their offerings.
Expected Damage: S$8 – S$15 per pax
5. Tsuruhashi Fugetsu
The Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki differs from the regular Okonomiyaki as its ingredients are layered on, instead of mixed in. They also include a layer of Yakisoba in the pancake, to make it even heartier.
This may be a little bit of a cheat, as authentic Hiroshima Okonomiyaki is hard to come by in Singapore, but Tsuruhashi Fugetsu’s Modanyaki comes pretty close. Their Modanyaki is made with the same okonomiyaki base; a batter mixed with chopped cabbage, then topped with yakisoba noodles.
Expected Damage: S$15 – S$25 per pax
Tsuruhashi Fugetsu: 3 Temasek Boulevard, #03-316 Suntec City North Wing, Singapore 038983 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 3pm & 5.30pm – 10.30pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6560 0290 | Facebook
The smallest of Japan’s islands also has its own unique specialities, in the form of Sanuki Udon. Sanuki Udon is actually the most common form of Udon found in Japan and overseas nowadays. This type of Udon has a square shape, which is something we’re all familiar with.
Similar to the Uji Matcha, Sanuki Udon can be found easily in Singapore. Tamoya is a noodle store founded in Kanagwa itself. They sell udon in a myriad of different forms, such as sukiyaki udon and pesto udon, so udon lovers can really go crazy at this place.
Expected Damage: S$10 – S$15 per pax
Tamoya: 177 River Valley Road, Liang Court, #01-32, Singapore 179030 | Tel: +65 6337 0301 | Website
Okinawa is known for its scenic views, but it’s also known for dishes like Taco Rice, and Sata Andagi which are seldom seen in the rest of the country.
7. Nirai Kanai Okinawan Diner
Both dishes and other Okinawan specialities can be found at Nirai Kanai Okinawan Diner, in Liang Court. In addition to those, they also sell some Japanese classics. So if you’re not up for the unique Okinawan cuisine, there’s still something for you.
The Tacos Rice is a rice dish topped with spicy minced beef, shredded lettuce, and tomato salsa. The spices used in this dish are Mexican, but the overall taste is inherently Japanese.
Sata Andagi is a fried dough dish, kind of like a doughnut. The ones at Nirai Kanai are huge, which make them a pretty good buy. This dessert has a deliciously crunchy sweet exterior and a soft, cakey interior. That wasn’t what I expected, but I honestly like it a whole lot more than doughnuts.
Expected Damage: S$15 – S$25 per pax
Okinawan Diner Nirai Kanai: 177 River Valley Road, #B1-01, Liang Court, Singapore 179030 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 3pm & 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Fri), 11.30 am – 3.30pm & 5.30pm – 11pm (Sat, Sun) | Tel: +65 6339 4811 | Facebook
Cities such as Fukuoka and Nagasaki belong in Kyushu, a region in the Southwest of Japan. Here, horse meat and other unique dishes are consumed. But when it comes to specialities that suit our local tastebuds, Chicken Nanban and Tonkatsu fit the bill.
8. Cafe&Meal MUJI (Raffles City)
Chicken Nanban is a fairly familiar concept to us, as it’s basically fried chicken with sweet and sour Nanban sauce. Of course, there’ll be variations which stray from this traditional “recipe”.
One place you can get Chicken Nanban at a convenience is the Café&Meal at Muji at Raffles City. The Chicken Nanban comes topped with sweet and sour tartar sauce, on top of a bed of multigrain rice. Not the most traditional, but it’ll do.
Expected Damage: S$15 per pax
Cafe&Meal MUJI (Raffles City): 252 North Bridge Road, #02-020/22, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103 | Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6264 4189 | Website
9. Anzu (Wisma Japan Food Town)
Tonkatsu is probably my favourite thing in this whole list. Lucky for us, we’ve got a restaurant which originates from Kyushu, bringing us the best of black pork tonkatsu.
Anzu, in the Wisma Japan Food Town sells juicy fried pork cutlets at pretty reasonable prices. An added bonus is that you’ll get to experience the Japanese tonkatsu experience, uncommon in Singapore.
Anzu: 435 Orchard Road, 4F Wisma Atria, Singapore 238877 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.45pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6262 3408 | Website
We definitely can’t miss out Hokkaido, the northernmost part of Japan. Seafood is one of Hokkaido’s specialities, as is ramen. Both are easily sourced in Singapore, but to get affordable authentic Hokkaido food, you got to go to Hokkaido Marche.
10. Sapporo Ramen Shirakaba Sansou
Sapporo Ramen Shirakaba Sansou sells Sapporo Miso Ramen, which comes with chewy ramen noodles as well as a few cubes of pork, and topped with bean sprouts.
Other types of ramen you can get at this stall include Shio Ramen popular in Hakodate and Shoyu Ramen popular in Asahikawa.
11. Kaisen Natsume
Kaisen Natsume is a stall in the Hokkaido Marche which sells affordable Kaisen Don. Every bowl of Don comes with the freshest seafood you can find.
Their Daily Special Kaisen Don is what you should try if you want a variety of seafood items.
Expected Damage: S$8 – S$20 per pax
There’ll be days when you want to revisit your holiday destinations. Why not embark on an adventure, and eat your way around Japan right here in Singapore?