ramen keisuke tori king, 100am

black spicy

green spicy

satisfying post-work fare. we started a rather pleasant friendship with ramen during our trip to Japan last year – the sort in which you talk whenever you want and there’s no expectation of further commitment – and have come back to Singapore only to be consistently disappointed (most recently, by sanpoutei, which serves up a too-doughy noodle and rather middling charsiu).

but the husband recalled a good meal at this joint – and we joined the queue, scoring a table in barely 20 minutes on a Friday night. the dude manning the queue is alternately perfunctory and impatient – but I did manage to figure out that the noodles here come in a few permutations (soba or ramen, wet or dry, rich or clear soup, black pepper or wasabi for spice), with the only constant being the tender chicken leg that peeps out the top of the bowl.

tender, seasoned beansprouts (so addictive) and hard-boiled eggs are available table-side – and they complement the al-dente noodles that sit in a (slightly too starchy) flavourful bowl of soup. 

p.s. bamboo shoots aren’t included in the bowl but are available with supplement – they come in thick, tender strips and are quite good.

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yamazaki japanese restaurant, one fullerton

no.. that’s not a glass of yamazaki. the eponymous whisky made no appearance at my meal, though a slew of rather (surprisingly) delicious dishes made it onto our table, and very quickly into our stomachs.

this place looks pretty much like a tourist/ yuppie trap, with its location at one fullerton and its disarming views across our beautiful marina bay area. but the food is prepared by bona fide japanese, and there are plenty of japanese clientele to provide credibility to the kitchen (or perhaps the well-stocked bar). slightly pricey, but no more than you’d expect for the location and the slight fine-diningesque feel about the place.



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nakajima suisan grilled fish, takashimaya

nothing fancy, but an oh-so-satisfying food store at the back of the takashimaya food hall – queues build up long and quick here during mealtimes, so choose to eat at an awkward time, or get ready for a bit of a wait.

this isn’t a place to linger – even if you were to ignore the death stares dealt to you by the horde of people queueing to take you place, the food is meant to be quick and cheap – and satisfies by fulfilling both those expectations and topping it with tasty, satisfying fare.

you have plenty of time in the queue to decide what you want to eat – and the menu is standard enough that you don’t exactly need to look at the menu, if you see what I mean: it’s a standard bento format with your choice of fish (cod, horse mackerel, eel and etc.)

when you do reach the head of the queue, you get to an efficient, japanese-sounding man who takes your order and payment, before waving you quickly to your seat.

I started with a chawanmushi, which was a great start to the meal – soft, smooth, custardy steamed egg, that was: (1) surprisingly unsalty, which is a common gripe; and (2) really surprisingly chockful of chicken, fishcake and gingko (my favorite part!). seriously cheap and good (even the fiance, who doesn’t usually like chawanmushi, shared this!)


and the bentos that arrived quickly after were just as satisfying. first of all, they don’t skimp on the rice quality here – it’s good, sticky-enough japanese rice, cooked well enough to maintain grain integrity. secondly, the fish comes in a generous portion (I’ve certainly gotten much smaller for much higher prices elsewhere), sauced adequately and tender.

the grilled cod had fatty skin that was blistered and charred enough to bring texture and interest. if you really want to fault it (but what for?), you could gripe that the cod fillet comes with bones (be careful!) and the unagi certainly isn’t fatty enough to be melt-in-the-mouth, but I would call you a grouch (which is rich, coming from me).

anyway – it’s about one step up from food court in ambiance but more than a few steps up for quality, and it’s certainly a nice meal to round off a long day.

Nakajima Suisan
#B2 (Takashimaya Food Hall)
Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238872
$.5: less than twenty

takumi, marina at keppel bay

unspectacular, averagely japanese at this restaurant by keppel bay – it’s actually a little disappointing, given the distance to which you literally have to travel to, and the expectation you build up while sitting in this quite gorgeous restaurant.

but it’s fairer to say the food isn’t all that bad – it’s merely a case of unfulfilled expectations.

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torikin, bukit timah

surprisingly delicious collagen chicken hotpot (or is it chicken collagen hotpot?), also known as hakata mizutaki, at this little place along bukit timah. I admit to ALOT a healthy amount of skepticism before coming to this place – I don’t like thick soups, the texture or excessive flavor of fat, and the whole idea of collagen as a age-defying beautificant (literary license) is a pretty strange notion (like, do you just grow so fat you don’t get wrinkles?

and, well, it tastes (and is) a fantastically long-brewed chicken broth, although definitely a little too unctuous and viscous for me. but the chicken that comes out the pot is beautifully tender and flavorful, as are the vegetables that cook in the same.

but they don’t just do a collagen hotpot – you get things like okonomiyaki and oden, the latter possibly my favorite dish ever.

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henri charpentier singapore, dempsey road

it’s nearly the weekend!

a (well, no longer) recent addition to our shores from tokyo, charpentier serves up fancy, expensive desserts in this french-styled japanese-feeling cafe in dempsey. a small space filled with curtains for partitioning, booth and sofa seats, it’s the sort of place you expect a japanese housewife to sit with friends for tea.

it’s rather unique in a time where most places are styled casual or hipster (or both), with a fully suited up japanese man serving as maître d’ to the noisy boisterous group of us here for a part 2 after brunch. but the desserts are lovely, theatrical in a very impressionable sort of way, and tasty for all the fanfare.

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tonkatsu & sake bar tonzaemon by ma maison, chijmes

there once was a pork,
battered and golden-fried

doused in sauce,
an oyster alongside

oh such a pork.

(easy, good, tonkatsu at this simple cafe-restaurant in the newly-renovated chijmes. I go heavy on the sauce, which goes fantastically with the clean, non-greasy cutlet and the quality japanese rice. so good, and a decent price at lunch. that oyster is pretty damn good too, with plenty of lemon, even though I don’t usually like those mollusks.)

Tonkatsu & Sake Bar TONZAEMON by Ma Maison
#01-09 Chijmes
30 Victoria Street
Singapore 187996
tel +65 6337 7810

boteyju san, star vista

one-up-from-fast-food japanese at the star vista. this place sits price-wise and feel-wise somewhat with ichiban boshi, with sub-twenty prices and a space that feels better than a food court (but perhaps only slight better).

it’s a decent place for a quick lunch, which is really why we were here – my dad likes the fried rice for a simple meal if he’s in the area.

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yumeya, mohammad sultan road

sorry for the hiatus, but it’s been a mad, mad world. this place is a cozy little eatery down along mohammed sultan road, where there are actually plenty of japanese and korean places to choose from, just like this one: narrow, tiny, and earnest.

the food was surprisingly enjoyable, with a large (for this place) menu to choose from and dishes that hovered above the average mark.

and, as a reason for coming back, generous with the tobiko.

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ikyu, tiong bahru

quite pricey, but also rather homely japanese dining in hipster tiong bahru – those two characteristics seem incongrous, but the restaurant manages to feel both a little exclusive and quite familial.

as with most upscale japanese restaurants, the lunch set makes for the most value – and unlike most upscale japanese restaurants, this place extends that offer even on the weekends. how good is that?

and because I was there for lunch – admittedly much less expensive than their regular à la carte menu – I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to say that the food is pretty much just about okay. it’s not particularly overwhelming or special, but the atmosphere makes it a good place for a meal to catch up with friends.

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