Nonbei Izakaya @ South Bridge Road, Chinatown – Japanese-Style Sister Bar of George Town Tze Char & Craft Beer (Media)

George Town Tze Char & Craft Beer has expanded into Japanese cuisine with the opening of its sister bar, Nonbei Izakaya on South Bridge Road. Inspired by Tokyo’s Drunkards Alley, this part-indoor, part-alfresco bar features tantalising bar bites with an assortment of Japanese sake and beer in a cozy setting.

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Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine @ Tampines GreenWeave, Tampines – Affordable Mentai Bowls in the Heartlands

Mentaiko is one of those guaranteed crowd-pleasers in Japanese cooking. After all, who doesn’t love a blanket of creamy, umami goodness layered generously on their rice bowls? 

With five branches scattered across Singapore, Mentai-Ya Japanese Cuisine is serving up this thicc Japanese-style cod roe sauce for customers in heartland areas like Tampines and  Bukit Panjang. 

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When in Kyoto: Matcha Republic 抹茶共和国 宇治本店 @ Uji, Kyoto – Traditional Matcha With a Modern Twist in Perfume Bottles

We visited this place in November 2019, prior to Covid-19. Do check for pandemic-related updates and precautions before making your visit.

What do you get when you combine a nearly thousand years old drink with a hip, modern setting and the allure of social media pictures? You get Matcha Republic!

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Wandering somewhat aimlessly around Uji, Kyoto and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of shops touting variations of matcha in the hometown of this marvellous, historic drink, Matcha Republic’s minimalist white storefront called out to me from the myriad traditional stores brimming with packets upon packets of matcha powder.

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Gyosen @ Fortune Centre, Middle Road – Hole-In-The-Wall Japanese Donburi and Omakase

While Fortune Centre has established itself as a foodie haven for vegetarians and vegans, that has not stopped a handful of Japanese and Korean eateries from setting up shop in this unassuming mall. Gyosen has quietly made a name for itself with its affordable Japanese rice bowls and omaksase which are housed in two adjacent units on the third level. 

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Waga Waga Den @ South Beach Tower, City Hall – Monochromatic-Themed Kiosk Selling Japanese-Style Snacks

With several Japanese-style or Japanese-inspired cafes popping up across Singapore, it’s interesting to see what each and every joint has to offer. One such business that has recently opened its doors at South Beach Tower is Waga Waga Den. A takeaway concept by Black Carvery Group, the same group behind Japanese fine-dining brands Black Cow and Shatoburian. 

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Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore @ Cineleisure Orchard, Somerset – Faithful Replication of the Iconic Kyoto Fire Ramen?

If you’ve always been curious about Kyoto’s iconic Menbaka Fire Ramen but never got to try it (for obvious reasons), they have opened their first and only international outlet in Cineleisure Orchard

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While I’m personally skeptical about how well overseas food concepts, particularly Japanese, translate to local palates, curiosity got the better of me when I saw it was relatively empty one late weekend afternoon. 

So, how does Singapore’s take on Menbaka Fire Ramen compare to the OG outlet in Kyoto

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Shinsora @ Odeon Towers, City Hall – Intimate Omakase Featuring Edomae Sushi by World Sushi Cup Champion

Shinsora has much to be proud of. Not only did it survive the worst of Covid-19 when it opened, but also its two chefs, Chef Sky Tai and Chef Leon Yap, are also World Sushi Cup Champions. Quite a mean feat considering both were born and raised outside Japan. 

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Today, the 10-seater omaksase restaurant continues to operate out of its Odeon Towers-based premises, with no more than a SafeEntry code hinting at its presence within Standing Sushi Bar. One might even mistake it for a private dining room with front-row seats to the sushi-making action. 

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