THE BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANTS TO BOOK IN SINGAPORE
COVER Scallop, uni, and ikura signature at Mikuni
From top-grade sushi and sashimi to exquisitely prepared omakases, here are some of the best restaurants to visit for a taste of Japan right here in Singapore
Singaporeans’ love for everything Japanese will never be satiated. It’s no surprise that the Land of the Rising Sun is a choice destination for many of us who want to escape Singapore—even for a few weeks—so we could revel in Japan’s beautiful weather, majestic scenery, and, of course, sublime food.
If you have yet to book a flight, you can tide yourself over with the plethora of restaurants here offering hearty Japanese fare. From omakase menus to authentic kappou cuisine, here are the best restaurants on the island which will take you on a gastronomic journey to Japan.
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Chinatown
ABOVE Ultimate Crispy Yaki Steak at Kagayaki
Teppanyaki is elevated at Kagayaki by Ishigaki Yoshida, helmed by chef Junichi Yoshida whose restaurant in Tokyo was the first-ever teppanyaki restaurant to earn a Michelin star. What you won’t be able to find beyond Kagayaki’s elegant interiors is the Masuda Kagayaki beef—a specific female cattle raised in Gunma prefecture and fed for 6 months with double-steamed boiled press barley. The result makes for more delicate and translucent cuts, best seen in the restaurant’s unique crispy yaki steak, which is cooked slowly on the teppan, then grilled over ubame oak Tosa binchōtan for a splendid char and flavour.
Address: 27 Keong Saik Road, S(089134)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Marina Bay
ABOVE Marinated Botan shrimp with uni and caviar at Waku Ghin (Photo: Instagram / @wakughin)
Waku Ghin by acclaimed chef Tetsuya Wakuda boasts two Michelin stars—and for good reason. With soft, zen interiors designed by Yohei Akao, even a casual night out at the bar dining area is elevated, alongside expertly prepared bar dishes including a range of nigiri sushi and sashimi, charcoal-grilled Ohmi Wagyu steak, and the restaurant’s signature dish, marinated Botan shrimp with uni and caviar. For more discerning gourmands looking for an unparalleled culinary experience, however, opt for its degustation experience in the exclusive 10-seater Chef’s Table, where you will be treated to pristine seasonal delights with all the meticulousness of Japanese precision.
Address: 2 Bayfront Avenue, L2-03, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, S(018956)
$ $ $ $ | Marina Bay
ABOVE Yuba with uni and caviar at Wakuda
The sister restaurant of Waku Ghin, Wakuda offers a more modern approach to Japanese cuisine that both respects tradition and turns it on its head. Take the yuba, an appetiser of Japanese bean curd skin upgraded with Hokkaido uni and mountain caviar, or the lobster sushi, dressed with lobster jus and tarragon oil. The same spirit of exploration carries on in its 18-course omakase menu in its Omakase Room, where you will be treated to exquisite creations with premium ingredients, like Ōra King salmon, Tasmanian ocean trout, and mozuku (seaweed) from Okinawa, which is exclusive to Wakuda.
Address: Lobby, Hotel, Bayfront Ave, Tower 2, S(018972)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Robertson Quay/ River Valley
If the art of ikebana can be used as an analogy, Esora’s dining experience—with its keen emphasis on picturesque plating and astute homage to seasonal produce—encapsulates this verve that newly minted head chef Takeshi Araki brings to the kitchen. It’s the only fine dining Japanese kappo-style restaurant under the famed The Lo & Behold Group. Esora delivers on all fronts: from the warm and meticulous service led by general manager Lawrence Fu; to the precise cooking of the Japanese duo, Araki and chef de cuisine Noboru Shimohigashi. The best seats have to be by the kitchen counter below the washi paper-clad airwell of the heritage shophouse. The dining tables are equally charming for larger groups.
Address: 15 Mohamed Sultan Road, S(238964)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Tanjong Pagar
Hamamoto presents an exceptional omakase experience that will never fail to delight aficionados of fine Japanese cuisine. In a beautifully designed setting, this 12-seater haven from Singapore’s hustle and bustle trots out excellent dish after excellent dish, imagined by chef-owner Kazu Hamamoto and executed with precision and an admirable understanding of quality ingredients. The spiny lobster course is a triumph of taste and texture, while the chargrilled eel isn’t far behind. For uni lovers this is a must-visit restaurant. The uni here comes in many forms and varieties (all top notch and assiduously sourced), and is always generously portioned. The sake pairing menu is well thought out and augments the overall experience, while service is nigh on perfect (if a little serious at times). This contrasts with the chef himself who’s as engaging and playful as some of the exquisite dishes he creates.
Address: 58 Tras Street, S(078997)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Chinatown
Hashida Singapore is well loved not just for its creative and refined Edomae-style sushi, but also the man behind it. Chef Kenjiro ‘Hatch’ Hashida’s artistically composed and well-adorned dishes have since earned him a loyal following. Highlights include grilled seasonal seafood such as Japanese slipper lobster and Japanese pen shell, which looks and tastes like a huge scallop. Don’t leave without trying their signature uni and grilled belt fish handroll, as well as a “dripping” otoro sushi. Watch your sushi chef artfully shave fatty slivers off a slab of supremely marbled tuna belly before piling it on top of a small mound of rice—best devoured in a single mouthful. Wine and sake lovers have plenty to savour at this Krug Ambassade-appointed outlet, since the chef himself enjoys pairing the food. Kudos to the staff for being knowledgeable, perceptive and ready to assist at every instance.
Address: 77 Amoy St, 01-01, S(069896)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Clarke Quay/ Boat Quay
ABOVE Ichigo Ichie
This 10-counter seat restaurant helmed by chef Akane Eno has been offering Japanese kappo-style cuisine since 2020. While gourmands can savour an exquisite menu prepared around seasonal items, make sure you also try signature dishes such as Miwa somen, which is cooked in a light prawn broth. Refreshing and delicate, the dish also serves as a palate cleanser before moving to hot dishes. Exclusive to the restaurant is the Iga beef from the Mie Prefecture: sweet and succulent, the beef is seasoned with salt and pepper, and simply grilled over binchotan charcoal to enhance its beefy taste and beautiful marbling. Apart from the beef, Eno’s donabe is another signature favourite. She uses water from Hokkaido to prepare the rice from Nagano and tops it with seasonal ingredients. It’s hard not to ask for a second bowl. The sumptuous menu is complemented by the team’s warm hospitality and excellent service.
Ichigo Ichie Singapore
Address: 1 Nanson Rd, #02-07A located within Intercontinental, Robertson Quay, S(238909)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Harbourfront and Sentosa
ABOVE Restaurant Imamura
Expect an evening of Japanese precision and hospitality at Restaurant Imamura. Attention to detail is very much in this restaurant’s DNA, and the ambience is unhurried, warm and sophisticated. All seats face an open kitchen, so guests can watch the kitchen brigade in action. There is no exact menu here, as everything depends on what the season brings. And, unlike other restaurants which do a general presentation of the ingredients that will be used throughout the meal, the staff presents the ingredients of each dish on a tray, for diners to read and appreciate the experience even more. Afterwards, chef-owner Hirofumi Imamura transforms these into delectable dishes that showcase his mastery of Japanese culinary techniques. Each course in his contemporary omakase menu is created with the goal of letting the pristine flavours of the ingredients shine through.
Address: 14 Gunner Lane, Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, S(099566)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Orchard
Ki-Sho translates into “aristocratic craftmanship”. So, it isn’t surprising to find every course at this restaurant prepared with great finesse and made with produce from the best provenance. From the in-season sekogani (female crab) from Hyogo to the utterly tender otoro from Nagasaki, resident chef Nakatake Shinichi brings to Singapore a style of kappou that’s refreshingly different from the competition—due, no doubt, in part to his culinary experience that has taken him from London to the late Joël Robuchon’s Japanese restaurant in Monaco. Whether it’s the eight-hour simmered tonkotsu sauce that accompanies the popular nodoguro or the charcoal panko-crusted A5 Miyazaki katsu, chef Shin as he is known, shows a masterful grasp of textures and flavours that culminates in a heavenly claypot of syokuji, best paired with a bottle of Zaku Naguwashi. With a stunning black and white bungalow as the backdrop and an efficient staff led by the ever-hospitable director of operations, Gabriele Rizzardi, a meal here is just sublime.
Address: 29 Scotts Road, S(228224)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Chinatown
ABOVE Nishikane Singapore
This restaurant offers modern and sublime Japanese cuisine without losing the personality and warmth of the traditional kappo-style restaurant, where the customer sits facing the chef who serves him. The ‘Pure’ appetiser course is a theatrical tableau of five appetisers featuring smoked salmon, anago, grouper and mushroom roll, raw shrimp and cheese salad, and whelk with wild yam. Every item is in a specially picked crockery, and festooned with seasonal leaves and flowers. Impressing in a different way, the unforgettably tender A4 Miyazaki Wagyu with tonkatsu crust and Kyoto green pepper is served on a stunning 240-year-old Imari plate. Equally memorable, the shrimp, baby corn, poached abalone from Chiba with abalone liver sauce is a perfect marriage of ocean freshness and comforting umami. The luscious uni atop perfectly grilled barracuda with butter sautéed mushroom and sweet miso paste is another memory that delights and lingers long after the meal.
Address: 10 Stanley Street, #01-01, S(068729)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | City Hall/ Bras Basah
ABOVE Sushi Masaaki
Sushi, prepared theatrically by experienced chefs, includes aji (horse mackerel) with its appealing hint of brininess, and sweet hokkigai or surf clam, which releases thoughts of beach vacations. Vinegared-rice complements kinmedai (golden eye snapper) draped elegantly over the grains. Ankimo hand-roll highlights creamy monkfish liver ensconced in seaweed. Sashimi, showcasing the cutting prowess of chefs, includes plump prawns and sliced halibut. Amadai chawanmushi is a treasure-trove of flavours, crowned with the captivating aroma and spicy taste of prized matsutake mushrooms. Sea urchin cake with ikura and wasabi rice-bowl is delightfully rich. Hokkaido milk ice-cream draws set meals to a close. The peaceful aura focuses on a wooden sushi-counter seating approximately 12 diners, enhanced by flora used for plating some items, using specially commissioned glassware. The wine list features Japanese beverages alongside Old and New World grape wines. The sake list is seasonal. Quietly graceful service provides pro-active attention to detail.
Address: 26 Beach Road, South Beach, B1-17, S(189768)
Permanently closed | Clarke Quay/ Boat Quay
ABOVE Sushi Ichizuke
Sushi Ichizuke is not your typical Japanese omakase experience. Coined “vibe dining omakase” by executive chef Daisuke Suzuki, eating here means sitting, surrounded by the dark, sleek interiors of the restaurant, listening to a lively playlist, and feeling the pulsating beats from Clarke Quay’s nightclubs. Diners in the main dining room are seated around the counter with a full view of the chefs at work as they skillfully prepare signature dishes like steamed abalone with liver sauce—tender abalone is served with a rich, umami abalone liver sauce and a light abalone broth on the side. Afterwards, the chef doles out small balls of rice to go with more of the luscious liver sauce. Fresh seafood is a staple here, but it truly shines when paired with Suzuki’s subtly sweet and tangy shari. His version of the vinegared sushi rice goes best with the house-cured fish like swordfish marinated in shoyu.
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Raffles Place
With the choicest seafood delicacies flown four times a week from Toyosu Fish Market, Shokouwa has established itself as sushi-ya par excellence in Singapore. The restaurant is under the skillful hands of head chef Kazumine Nishida. The two menus available may be among the highest in town, but the restaurant delivers on all fronts to justify the hefty price tag. With 20 years of experience, Nishida weaves his culinary magic as he massages the shari and seasonal fish into a delicate morsel that burst with flavours. Manager and sommelier Desmond Wong offers what must be the largest repertoire of sake by the carafe for diners to pair the meal with. That said, this sushi-ya is definitely one of the few places in town that gives an impressive dining adventure.
Address: 1 Fullerton Road, #02-02A One Fullerton, S(049213)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Orchard
ABOVE Shinji by Kanesaka
Japanese chef Shinji Kanesaka’s sushi-ya outpost at The St Regis Singapore remains a well-loved establishment for ocean-fresh sushi, prepared in the classic Edo style. Every meal here is a delicious surprise with its omakase menus that change based on Japan’s seasons. Visit during lunchtime and choose the Tsuki menu that offers nine pieces of sushi, or the Yui, which has 15 and is more filling. The seafood items flown in from Toyosu Fish Market are extremely fresh. The sea bream has a meaty texture that doesn’t immediately yield to the bite, and its delicate flavour is boosted by a punch of wasabi. The vibrantly red otoro is deliciously fatty and impossibly tender, while the briny taste of the horse mackerel is balanced by the chopped spring onions and shiso leaf. A wide range of sakes is available to enhance the meal—some of which are displayed on the sake wall behind the counter, adding accents to the restaurant’s minimalist décor.
Shinji by Kanesaka (The St. Regis Singapore)
Address: 29 Tanglin Road, The St. Regis Singapore, S(247911)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | Marina District
This eponymous restaurant of Osaka native chef Taro Takayama embraces the spirit of omotenashi—wholehearted Japanese hospitality—through a refined menu that follows the ebb and flow of the seasons. The kappo-style culinary theatre strictly serves an omakase style menu, with ingredients that change as often as weekly. The Spring iteration includes Japanese sea bream (tai), amberjack (kanpachi), baby sweetfish (chi-ayu), surf clam (hokkigai) and Japanese cockle (tori-gai), alongside spring greens such as white asparagus, corn and sansho peppers. Letting the ingredients speak for themselves is core at Takayama. This is best observed through the Hokkaido abalone served with a briny and rich liver sauce and the signature monaka, a charcoal toasted rice cracker precisely filled with velvety foie gras emulsion and cut with tart fermented melon. Takayama’s curated beverage tasting flight is a must-order for sake aficionados, which includes specially picked glasses from the restaurant’s extensive list.
Address: 6A Shenton Way, 01-09/10 OUE Downtown Gallery, S(068815)
Japanese | $ $ $ $ | City Hall/ Bras Basah
ABOVE Signature Hokkaido seafood at Mikuni
Executive chef Keisuke Uno is no stranger to the theatrical, and at Mikuni, you’ll be wowed not only by his food, but by the dramatic presentations that accompany them. A signature teppan-grilled abalone, for instance, is flambéed tableside and presented with its own liver sauce; the abalone is impossibly tender, without the chewy spring you might expect. The same may be said of the 24-hour slow-cooked Miyazaki Kannonike pork belly, which falls apart at the suggestion of a fork. With live teppanyaki and sushi stations, witness culinary experts prepare your food as you indulge in specialties from the à la carte menu or the artfully curated lunch and dinner sets.
Address: 80 Bras Basah Road, Level 3 Fairmont Singapore, S(189560)