Last Updated: November 6, 2017
Grilled meat on skewers isn’t exactly a novel form of cuisine — you probably know ’cos you’ve checked out our guide to the best satay in Singapore, and best Middle Eastern restaurants in Singapore for your kebab fix — but the Japanese have it down to an art. That’s why the appeal of yakitori and kushiyaki in Singapore continues to flourish, and chances are, you’re already a convert.
But which restaurants serve the most unique skewers? Where can you go if you wanna splurge or, on the flipside, don’t wanna bust the bank? Or where can you have skewers with sake or even chanko nabe? Stick to this guide, and you’ll have all the answers.
Say it out loud — yes, that’s exactly what you’re gonna get at this establishment conceptualised by the Sum Yi Tai folks. From Chicken Gizzard ($3) to Chicken Tail ($3), these yakitori sticks will appease any famished carnivore out there.
But where Chikin’s skewers really stand out is its omission of traditional Japanese tare sauce. Instead, Szechuan spices are used to season these skewers before being grilled, so you can expect some tongue-numbing heat with these sticks.
Chikin: 6 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089820 | Tel: +65 6221 3670 | Opening Hours: (Mon to Sat) 5pm – 1am, Closed on Sundays | Facebook
If you ever spot actor, Adam Chen, in this hideout, it’s not a cameo appearance. Birders is actually the brainchild of Chen and Chef Makoto Deguchi, from the one Michelin-starred Sola in Paris.
While the yakitori skewers here pack quite a punch — the Sasami ($4.50), or chicken breast, is topped with shiso leaves pesto and Japanese plum sauce — another must-try is its yam skewer, or Nagaimo Mentai ($8). Served generously with spicy pollock roe mayonnaise, this rare find is worth its price tag.
Birders (鳥人): 55 Tras Street, Singapore 078994 | Tel: +65 8748 4585 | Opening Hours: (Mon to Thurs) 6pm – 12am, (Fri & Sat) 6pm – 1am, Closed on Sundays | Facebook
Easties will know that Spize and Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok aren’t the only reasons why everyone flocks to Simpang Bedok; enter Bedok Marketplace. And one of its acclaimed tenants? The grilling geniuses behind Burning Oak.
Aside from the usual suspects like Negima ($2) and Tsukune ($2), you’ll also find premium skewers like Iberico Pork Cheek ($5) and slow-cooked Beef Short Ribs ($6); the former is even glazed with apple puree dressing.
The Burning Oak: Bedok Marketplace, 348 Bedok Road, #02-16, Singapore 469560 | Tel: +65 9873 6093 | Facebook
Mee pok stall by day, Japanese hipster-friendly joint by night; Bincho At Hua Bee is yet another spot to satiate your yakitori cravings. But instead of letting you order by sticks, Bincho rolls out its specialities in set menus instead.
For instance, in its Tori Zukushi Set ($90++), you get a Yakitori Shio Platter of Soft Bone, Gizzard and Tail, a Yakitori Tare Platter of Heart, Liver and Neck, and even a Yakitori Don to top things off. Too much yakitori? Nah.
The best izakayas are the ones that aren’t the easiest to find, and JINzakaya, nestled within Farrer Park, is a treasure that remains one of our favourites. Run by the Les Amis Group, this yakitori and sake bar is a swell post-work hangout for the hungry and parched.
Standout skewers include the unconventional Foie Gras ($12) and Gyu Kushi AKA Angus Beef ($10), perfect for indulgences when you have the urge to pamper yourself a little. And if ox tongue tickles your fancy, there’s also Gyu Tan ($8) here at JINzakaya.
CBD drones are generally sluggish after work, fortunately, they have this waterhole in the heart of the city at Stanley Street. But beer and sake aside, Shukuu Izakaya Singapore is also home to a bevy of kushiyaki skewers that will fire up your appetite.
Worth a special mention is the Tochigi Wagyu A4 Ribloin ($9.50++); when we gobbled this up, we found it to be generously marbled with lots of fat. The Chicken Wings ($4++) are also too tantalising to resist, as they’re drizzled with sake for a mix of sweet and charred flavours.
Yakitori connoisseurs should be more than familiar with the Hibiki brand; after all, it’s known for its famous miso barbecue sauce that Chef Bunji Hibiki exports all around the world. And as you’d expect, this is used in its very own Singaporean branch in Bukit Timah.
Simplistic yet authentic, Yakitori Lounge Hibiki serves classic staples that no fan of Japanese cuisine can deny. For big eaters or small groups, a Yakitori Platter of 10 sticks goes for just $40. How many sticks can you stomach?
Yakitori Lounge Hibiki: Royalville, 833 Bukit Timah Road, #01-06, Singapore 279887 | Tel: +65 6519 6894 | Facebook
You don’t know the meaning of “spoilt for choice” ’til you’ve eaten at Shin Kushiya. How so? There are over 50 varieties of skewers in this restaurant, so good luck trying to devour them all.
Thankfully, we’ve made several visits to this establishment, so we can recommend what’s good.
The Nikuzume Shiitake (Mushroom Stuffed With Minced Chicken) ($2.80) is absolutely juicy and packed with dense textures; the Ton Toro ($2.20) is a tender, delicately-seasoned pork neck topped with a tangy mustard; and the “Sashimi Grade” Sake Ponzu ($4.20) will appease any advocate of fresh salmon.
Shin Kushiya: VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, #02-120, Singapore 098585 | Tel: +65 6275 8766 | Opening Hours: (Mon to Thu) 11.30am – 10pm, (Fri & Sat) 11.30am – 11pm, (Sun) 11.30am – 10.30pm | Website | Facebook
Without a doubt, this yakitori joint in Far East Plaza is one of the more raved-about restaurants in Singapore; the legions of foodie fans don’t lie.
Authentic preparation and ambience is one thing, but Nanbantei also makes this list for having affordable yakitori courses.
The Yakitori Course costs just $39, and boasts a whopping 12 skewers such as Asparagus Maki, Shiitake, Negima, Tsukune, Liver, Uzura Tamago and more; and it all comes with rice, miso soup, pickles and desserts. Told you it was worth it.
Cloistered within the somewhat ‘seedy’ Orchard Plaza that lies on the fringes of Orchard, Chanko Nada is often patronised by groups of Japanese businessmen and women for their drunken nights out — authentic enough for us.
While Chanko Nada specialises in chanko nabe, a traditional hotpot that sumo wrestlers eat to buff up, it also serves izakaya-friendly cuisine such as karaage and skewers.
During our visit, we tried the Chicken Gizzard ($3) and Chicken Heart ($3); both of which were not excessively gamey, and had a chewy, springy texture without any leathery sensation. The Chicken Liver ($3) is another must-try with its rich creaminess.
Chanko Nada: Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Road, #03-25/27, Singapore 238841 | Tel: +65 6732 8719 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 6pm – 11pm | Facebook
So stuff yourselves with some chicken innards and wash it all down with a couple of Suntorys. We’re pretty sure you won’t just stop at one stick.