The clock’s struck 6, it’s time to send out that last email and join the ranks of your fellow starch-collared, heel-clad colleagues and head out for a solid evening fuelled by revelry and the like. Fancy a frosty beer, sake or perhaps something stiffer? Imagine: Your chosen libation coupled with a plethora of tasty Japanese bar grub to match. That’s right, we’re transporting you to one of Tokyo’s back alleys where you can indulge in a bevvy of eclectic dishes such as sashimi, smoky Japanese skewers and more! Here are the top 10 izakaya joints in Singapore you have to hit up.
1. Igokochi Dining Bar
Far-flung at seemingly quiet confines of NeWest in the West Coast district of Singapore stands Igokochi Dining Bar. A homely, family-friendly Izakaya that sees throngs of rowdy regulars almost nightly. Meaning “comfortable home” in Japanese, Igokochi boasts two concepts in one. An izakaya replete with a dizzying array of drinks — nihonshu (sake), shochu, whiskies, cocktails, frosty beers and more — as well as an izakaya menu spanning more than 50 items for good measure — we recommend you go for their Lamb Rack, Wagyu Nabe and Hyogo Oysters topped with Kaki Ponzu. In another room adjacent to the main izakaya is a swankier, more refined space where diners can enjoy a proper sit-down omakase prepared by a veteran sushi master, Ivan.
1 West Coast Dr, #01-98/99, Singapore 128020
Modern fusion Japanese-inspired fare and an extensive menu of sakes (naturally), wines, cocktails and spirits galore is what Bōruto offers but it's the izakaya’s gorgeous industrial chic and its double-storey, dual concept space that’s what’s most inviting. Meaning “vault” in Japanese, Bōruto pays homage to the former bank that once operated in the same location with the actual vault still functional on-site on the second floor, now housing high-end bottles of sake as opposed to money. Here, experienced sake drinkers can bask in the novelty of walking into the vault, perusing a range of over thirty rare sakes and enjoying the exclusiveness of the upper deck. On the first floor, hungry patrons can enjoy a casual dining experience, replete with sharable fusion plates such as their Italian-Japanese Chicken Roulade Katsu and Hotate & Kanpachi Carpaccio and not forgetting a plethora of drinks available!
80 South Bridge Road #01-01 Golden Castle Building Singapore, Singapore 058710
3. The Public Izakaya
Open since 2013, The Public Izakaya takes its cue from sizeable watering holes in Japan which often offers a wider range of food and drink options. As authentic as it gets, here is where Singapore’s working-class go to imbibe, unwind and appease their need for spot-hitting Japanese food. We recommend beginning with an ice-cold highball mug and working your way up to something stronger. On the food front, you can’t go wrong with their chicken karaage, their offal yakitori if you’re ballsy enough and their oh-so-comforting oden.
100AM, 100 Tras St, #01 - 09, Singapore 079027
4. Ju95 Modern Izakaya
Set along idyllic Boat Quay riverfront just a stone’s throw away from Singapore’s Central Business District, Ju95 is an intimate izakaya that aims to provide guests with an escape from the mundane normality of day-to-day life. Harnessing the best that East and West has to offer, the izakaya puts out a bevvy of exciting dishes such as their signature Parfait Ju (Chicken Liver, Fermented Mushrooms, Koji Sable Cookies) and their Grilled Octopus, served with Japanese Sweet Potato and a home-made Papaya Katsu Sauce — both surefire ways to wake your palate up. Drinks-wise, Ju95 zeros in on quality sakes but offer a wide array of cheeky signature bespoke cocktails as well. Spirited, playful and sometimes a little naughty, we can never say no to their The Dirty Threeway — a stiff libation crafted using bourbon, Japanese whisky, cognac and bitters.
41 Boat Quay, Singapore 049830
5. Yujin Izakaya
A warm, convivial space where tasty nosh, expertly crafted cocktails and top-drawer sake collide, Yujin Izakaya, located along the Zion Road stretch, is where it’s truly at for a solid night out. The izakaya’s industrial-chic space provides a modernist feel that translates into the cocktails they put out but when it comes to their food, they keep it fresh, honest and simple with minimal intervention from over-the-top sauces. Their menu boasts a good variety of cold and hot appetisers as well as beautifully singed grilled items from lip-smacking skewers to charred vegetables and meat. Dishes you absolutely have to order include their Truffle Chawanmushi, Buta Kakuni Don and the divinely tender, Gyu Kalbi (Beef Short Rib).
56 Zion Rd, Singapore 247781
6. Neon Pigeon
Taking up residence along buzzy Carpenter Street right next to natural wine bar WINE RVLT, Neon Pigeon is a modern-esque izakaya armed with an eclectic vibe and immersive grit. For lack of a better expression, It’s a Japanese Izakaya like you’ve never seen before—tinged with equal parts edgy street hoodlum and good ol’ Tokyo soul. A restaurant? A bar? A club? Nobody can say for sure. Their raw bar and kitchen offer contemporary twists on Japanese staples accented by punchy cocktails; set against a backdrop of Japanese street tunes and hip hop. Dishes to try include their Mediterranean-inspired, umami-dense Tokyo Hummus, Smoked Baby Back Ribs and Togarashi Monkfish.
6 Carpenter Street, #01-01, Singapore 059915
7. Shunjuu Izakaya
Izakaya joints are a dime in a dozen in Singapore but perhaps what makes Shunjuu Izakaya differ from the competition is its heavy emphasis on Sumiyaki or charcoal-grilled dishes. Situated along idyllic Robertson Quay, the restaurant boasts 70 signature charcoal-grilled options to choose from spanning smoky vegetables to charred meats and offal, we urge you not to skimp on the ordering. Designed in small plate formats, each dish is best shared. And to help wash it all down, why not a refreshing spritz of ice-cold sake or shochu?
30 Robertson Quay #01-15 Riverside View, Singapore 238251
8. Ishinomaki Grill & Sake
If you have a penchant for sashimi, then Ishinomaki Grill & Sake is where you come to live out your wildest, most luxurious raw seafood desires. Probably the most premium izakaya on our list, what we absolutely adore about the place is their premium quality ingredients which are air-flown fresh from Japan almost daily, replete with countless labels of top-drawer sake and shochu rarities. On the food front, Ishinomaki’s menu revolves around authentic Robatayaki and traditional izakaya-type dishes. There is also the “Black Box” menu which features a selection of seasonal seafood for customers who love to indulge and be surprised.
Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Rd, #B1-02/02A/03, Singapore 238871
9. Izakaya Hikari
Fairly affordable without compromising on quality and taste, Izakaya Hikari is where to go if you’re on a budget. Begin with a steamy hot bowl of lightly salted Edamame and an ice-cold beer and work your way up toward their various sashimi, donburi and grilled options. Can’t decide which skewers to get? Opt for the Yakimono Set which conveniently combines the restaurant's signature skewers into one mouthwatering platter. A heavy hitter that we insist you order is their Surume Ika. Lightly grilled, the squid is tender with a toothsome bite, giving off a smoky, deliciously charred flavour—goes brilliantly with cold or warm sake.
190 Middle Road, Fortune Centre #03-01, Singapore 188979
10. Taki Izakaya Bar
A glitzy izakaya situated in the heart of Singapore’s bustling Central Business District, Taki Izakaya Bar is THE go-to after-work spot for drinks — just ask Singapore’s working class. Offering a myriad of Japanese nosh crafted using quality ingredients and an extensive beverage list to choose from, it really checks all the boxes. Dishes to tell your friends about comprise their grilled Hamachi Collar, Hotate Mentai Aburi and Tori Karaage. Sushi lovers, don’t miss out on the Spicy Maguro. This baby packs a punch but it's well worth the sting. A great snack to pair with drinks is their Tako Karaage, with crisp octopus tendrils. Their Kushiyaki Platter of eight skewers has it all: Buta bara, buta enoki, tomato bekon, shiitake, okura and uzura no tamago.
Chevron House, 16 Collyer Quay, 01-05A B, Singapore 049318
(Photos from Alvin Tan; @yucothong for The Public Izakaya)
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