Last Updated: October 31, 2016
Short of stuffing my face with sushi every now and then, Japan is always top of my list when I think about where to holiday. The culture, the people, THE FOOD… I mean it’s pretty obvious how much we Singaporeans love Japanese cuisine.
Your next chance for a trip to Japan might be far off, but from now till 6th November, Orchard Central is giving us the next best thing – a celebration of all things Japanese!
Besides housing a massive UNIQLO Global Flagship Store (#01-01, #02-01 AND #03-01) and quirky Japanese household store TOKYU HANDS (#B1-07), Orchard Central boasts a really impressive list of Japanese dining options.
We’ve narrowed down five Japanese restaurants in Orchard Central that you have to visit these next few weeks to feel like you never left Japan:
Hello Kitty isn’t the only Sanrio character on the block getting Japanese fans excited. The first ever POMPOMPURIN Cafe in Southeast Asia opened in April this year at Orchard Central and will transport you to a whole other themed world.
We’re talking POMPOMPURIN everything – from the menu, to the cutlery and of course the cute merchandise sold on site.
Order signature dishes like POMPOMPURIN’s Coconut Milk Chicken Curry ($17.99) and prepare to squeal when presented with such colourful and unique plating. The details are incredible all the way down to even a mini edible set of fork and spoon, carefully cut out from capsicums.
Even the desserts are next level cuteness like the POMPOMPURIN’s Banana & Caramel Pancake ($16.99). Layers of POMPOMPURIN shaped pancakes are sandwiched with bananas and drizzled with caramel sauce to create a dessert that looks AND tastes just as good.
POMPOMPURIN Cafe at Orchard Central captures the essence of kawaii and will take you right back to the cute cafes in Japan that you didn’t realise you were missing.
POMPOMPURIN Cafe: #04-08 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road , Singapore 238896 | Tel: +65 6509 8672 | Website
Tapas is all the rage in Singapore at the moment and I can’t think of anything better than a Japanese version. Newly opened En Sakaba at Orchard Central features small plates of fresh Japanese dishes alongside heavier rice bowl options.
The En Kaisen Chirashi Don ($28) is a sight to behold with 15 different varieties of raw seafood goodness, perfect for anyone with a sashimi craving (basically everyone). This bowl is truly a celebration of all things Japanese, with flavour combinations that truly highlight the freshness of the ingredients.
Another must-try is the Foie Gras Yakiniku Onsen Tamago Don ($22), with tender pieces of marbled meat that almost melt in your mouth. I’m a sucker for onsen eggs and the gooey yolky goodness elevates this dish to a whole other level.
The whole idea of tapas is to share and En Sakaba’s signature grilled hotate allows customers to try different and unique flavours that are paired with juicy scallops. Besides toppings like foie gras and uni, try the Jumbo Hotate Yaki with Mentaiko Cheese ($11) for a seamless combination of tangy roe and cheese.
En Sakaba is as much a bar as it is a restaurant, and they take their sake very seriously. Look no further than Orchard Central for a comprehensive sake list (30 brands of award winning sake!) that will leave you spoilt for choice and question whether you’re still in Singapore.
En Sakaba: #01-16 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896 | Tel: +65 6634 1018 | Website
Miss fluffy, light Japanese-French desserts? Famous Japanese Patisserie Henri Charpentier recently opened its second Singapore branch at Orchard Central, and this time with a bigger focus on takeaway options.
Try the popular Les Financier ($3.10), which is imported all the way from Japan. Only the finest Hokkaido butter is used to make this light snack which is slightly crispy on the outside, and moist and fluffy on the inside. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely eat five of these at least.
Better yet, the Hanjuku Fromage ($2.50) is only exclusively available at the Orchard Central outlet and is exactly what a souffle-style baked cheesecake should be. Fluffy, moist and smooth and yet super light when you bite into it.
Get a box of the special Hanjuku Fromage X ITOEN Matcha ($3) and bring a slice of Japan home with you to share with your loved ones. It’s only the right Japanese thing to do.
Henri Charpentier: #01-18 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238896 | Tel: +65 6479 5518 | Website
A good ramen goes a longggg way and Chef Ichiro Furuya of Nantsuttei knows all about working tirelessly to achieve the perfect ramen broth. The Japanese ramen shop has truly made a name for itself, nestled in Orchard Central and humbly serving up bowl after bowl of quality controlled ramen hailing all the way from Hadano.
The secret is in the perfect balance and harmony between the creamy pork broth, aromatic black roasted garlic oil, homemade char siu and of course, fresh ramen noodles. If you’re a Nantsuttei ramen novice, go for the basic “Kumamoto” flavour of Nantsuttei Ramen (Regular $10.80++, Large $12.00++).
Do it like they do in Japan and grab yourself a corner in this restaurant for some alone time with this flavourful bowl of awesomeness.
Nantsuttei: #07-12/13 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896 | Tel: +65 6337 7166 | Website
You can’t get any closer to Japanese cuisine than this. Ootoya at Orchard Central prides itself on serving authentic homecooked Japanese fare in a setting that will make you feel like you’re in someone’s Japanese home. The love that’s put into the food here starts from the very preparation of the ingredients.
Dishes are cooked from scratch upon order, guaranteeing the quality and freshness of each dish.
With such a diverse menu, Ootoya still manages to deliver portions that are teeming with flavour. Go for the signature dish of Beef Steak & Belly Shio Kouji ($21), which features juicy grilled steak and silky pork belly marinated in a mixture of malted rice (koji), salt (shio) and water.
Opt for the set ($26) and it will come with rice, miso soup and an appetiser which are the perfect complements. Japanese cooking is all about showcasing the natural flavours of the ingredients and Ootoya does just that and more.
Ootoya: #08-12 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896 | Tel: +65 6884 8901 | Website
If you’ve stuffed yourself silly with Japanese fare and want to continue the celebrations, check out the Supermama pop up store at Orchard Central. Supermama is a gallery shop based here which sells unique gifts that combine Singapore culture and traditional Japanese craft.
You know where to go if you’re searching for the perfect present for that one friend we all have who’s crazy for all things Japanese.
I haven’t even gotten to the best part of these Japanese celebrations yet; the freebies! Just look at these super cute bento boxes.
Spend $100 (T&Cs apply) at Orchard Central from now till the 6th of Nov and take home a HAKOYA bento box worth $28. A new design is revealed every week and is limited to the first 250 shoppers per week so act quickly! Additionally, with a minimum spend of $100, download the ShopFarEast mobile app and sign up as a member to receive 500 bonus points! (T&Cs apply, for new sign-ups only)’
I don’t think there will ever come a day when I tire of anything Japanese and Orchard Central is making sure we junkies can get our fix anytime we like. So until you get to walk the streets of Tokyo again, take comfort in knowing you can walk the floors of Orchard Central first.
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Orchard Central