The wonderful thing about the Japanese dining scene in Singapore is that there are places for all occasions.
For your everyday sushi fix, budget joints are a dime a dozen; for the splurge-worthy moments, you can count on a star-studded cast of restaurants to treat you right.
This list is definitely dedicated to the latter – if you’re up to be pampered with omakase menus and premium produce , here’s where to go for pure umami indulgence.
Mikuni translates to “three kingdoms” in Japanese – a fitting name for a sprawling 150-seat Japanese restaurant that doesn’t stop at just amazing sushi.
The sizeable menu is separated into three categories, headed by a a trio of veteran chefs determined to redefine traditional Japanese flavours with global experiences.
The Sushi & Sashimi station sees Chef de Cuisine Masa Nakao showcasing the beautiful freshness of his Jou Sashimi (a selection of four seasonal sashimi) while seasoned chef Eric Yong sizzles up seasonal seafood from the Teppanyaki counter with riveting showmanship.
From the Robatayaki section, how does some smoky Kurobuta Pork Belly, King Prawn, or Kabocha Pumpkin fresh from the charcoal grill sound?
For maximum indulgence, there’s currently the Mikuni Summer Menu ($230++), which sees seven delectable courses of sashimi and grilled meats.
Mikuni is located at Level 3, Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189560, p. +65 6431 6156. Open Mon-Tues & Thurs-Sat 12pm–2.30pm and 6pm–10.30pm. Closed Wed & Sun.
Sleekly dressed in marble tiles and elm accents, dining at Takayama is a treat for all the senses. Gorgeous interiors aside, there are also mesmerising sights, sounds, and aromas from the skillful work of Executive Chef Taro Takayama and his team right before you.
Drawing on his long experience as Master Chef at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Singapore and various three-star Michelin restaurants, Chef Takayama curates Osaka-inspired lunch and dinner omakase menus ($130++) with fresh ingredients that promise epicurean bliss.
Expect downright decadent creations such as the Foie Gras Monaka – a crisp wafer shell filled with foie gras ice-cream – and Steamed Japanese Abalone served with truffle.
Takayama is located at 6A Shenton Way, #01-09/10 OUE Downtown Gallery, Singapore 068815, p. +65 6224 0864. Open Mon 6.30pm–10pm, Tues-Sat 12pm–2.30pm and 6.30pm–10pm. Closed Sun.
Awash in ethereal light and pale wood tones, Esora is our idea of dining zen. The first Japanese concept by The Lo & Behold Group, this kappo-style 26-seater serves up seasonal menus centred around Chef Shigeru Koizumi’s love for nature ($218++ for dinner).
The lineup is ever-changing, but you can be sure plenty of whimsy will be involved – sashimi presented against a backdrop of autumn foliage, Hokkaido scallops encased in filo pastry, and more.
While you might expect sake pairings, Esora raises the bar with a unique flight of hand-blended teas to complement each dish. Check out our review here .
Esora is located at 15 Mohamed Sultan Rd, Singapore 238964, p. +65 6365 1266. Open Wed-Sun 6pm–10.30pm. Closed Mon & Tues.
4. Shinji by Kanesaka
Sushi is calligraphy for Michelin-starred chef Shinji Kanesaka – an act requiring a deft hand and exquisite balance. The offshoot of his first restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district, Shinji by Kanesaka sees Edomae sushi and age-old Japanese dishes elegantly executed by a native Japanese team.
Their Setsugetsuka Sushi Course Sets ($75++) range from 9 - to 15-pieces of melt-in-the-mouth happiness – the otoro in particular is a buttery delight. The highlight, though, is undoubtedly the Chef’s Omakase Special ($300++) – all you need do is let the soothing, minimalist ambience and skillful chefs work their magic.
Shinji by Kanesaka has two branches in Carlton Hotel, 76 Bras Basah Rd, Singapore 189558, p. +65 6338 6131, and The St. Regis, 29 Tanglin Rd, Singapore 247911, p. +65 6884 8239. Open Mon-Sat 12pm–3pm and 6pm–10.30pm. Closed Sun.
A hidden gem in the basement of Forum The Shopping Mall, YOSHI is helmed by award-winning Chef Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, who spent seven years as personal chef to Japanese ambassadors in San Francisco and Singapore.
Here you’ll find the Kyoto fine dining experience transplanted to our shores, along with the season’s choicest produce from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market.
Enjoy an umami explosion with the Sakura Ebi Don ($58), or be pampered with one of three themed menus: Maguro ($158), Uni ($188), and Beef ($178). Check out our review here .
YOSHI is located at #B1-39, Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238884, p. +65 8188 0900. Open daily 12pm–2pm and 7pm–10pm.
6. Sushi Mitsuya
Behind the hinoki wood counter of his intimate restaurant, Head Chef Ryosuke Harada lavishes meticulous effort on his omakase offerings, from creamy dollops of uni to time-intensive cooked bites like stewed tuna tendon and fish liver pate.
Omakase is the only way to go here, with three selections ranging from Umi ($130) to Shoju ($300) which showcases Mitsuya’s signature creations. There’s a well-curated list of small-batch sakes to pair, including their very own Mitsuya Sake.
Sushi Mitsuya is located at 60 Tras St, Singapore 078999, p. +65 6438 2608. Open Mon-Sat 12pm–3pm and 6pm–11pm. Closed Sun.
7. Fat Cow
The meat-heads around Singapore will already know Fat Cow well. Importing its beef from some of Japan’s finest farms, this upscale Japanese steakhouse is where you can be sure of snagging a well-marbled cut.
Whether you like your wagyu char-grilled sumibiyaki-style, cooked the shabu-shabu way ($98++), or as sukiyaki ($98++), there’s lots to satiate your inner carnivore.
Their donburis, of course, are as luxurious as it gets – think Miyazaki A4 Wagyu ($128) or 21 Days Dry-Aged Nagasaki A5 Wagyu ($148) alongside the triple indulgence of uni, caviar, and foie gras. Check out our review here .
Fat Cow is located at Camden Medical Centre #01-01/02, 1 Orchard Boulevard, Singapore 248649, +65 6735 0308. Open daily 11.30am–3pm and 5.30pm–10.30pm.
Far removed from the madness of Orchard Road, you’ll find Ki-Sho in one of those old colonial black-and-white mansions along Scotts Road.
But it’s not just its looks that’re impressive: the interior is fully equipped with a stylish sake room, two upper deck dining rooms, and a kappo-style sushi bar.
Dining here is quite the grand affair as Chef Hamamoto – formerly from such illustrious kitchens as Kyoto’s Kichisen and Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands – shows off the season’s best in several omakase menus (from $150). Expect exquisite creations such as abalone topped with its own liver, and five-day-aged iwashi maki.
Ki-Sho is located at 29 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228224, p. +65 6733 5251. Open Mon-Fri 12pm–2.30pm and 6pm–10.30pm, Sat 6pm–10.30pm. Closed Sun.
A veteran heavyweight in our Japanese fine dining scene, Shiraishi at The Ritz-Carlton is all about Edomae sushi done right. The catch here is flown in from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market each week, plopping fresh and juicy onto their fluffy rice beds.
Their Edomae Special lunch set starts from a wallet-friendly $50 for eight kinds of sushi, and goes up to S$130 for a Full Sushi Course with seasonal dishes, special tuna soup, and mixed sashimi. If you’re in the mood for a fried fix, the Tempura Set ($40) is a surprisingly satisfying option too.
Shiraishi is located at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, 7 Raffles Avenue, #03-01/02, Singapore 039799, p. +65 6338 3788. Open daily 12pm–2.30pm and 6pm–10.30pm.
10. KYUU by Shunsui
At the heart of KYUU by Shunsui lies a sleek robatayaki grill, from which delicious smells ceaselessly waft – smoky king crab, Omi wagyu, deep-fried eggplant.
The sister restaurant of Kappo Shunsui, KYUU is best known for its char-grilled meats and seafood, which arrive slathered in their own homemade sauces.
For the best of both sashimi and robatayaki, dive right into their Omakase Course ($129++) – with rice carpeted in salmon roe and homemade ice-cream to boot, you won’t leave hungry.
After 9pm, there’s an a la carte menu of grilled bites which go perfectly with their sake list. Check out our review here .
KYUU by Shunsui is located at 29 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089136, p. +65 6221 7098. Open Tues-Sun 6pm–11pm. Closed Mon.
11. Sushi Jin
Swoon-worthy Japanese nosh at wallet-friendly prices – Sushi Jin is one of the rare breed of restaurants aiming to achieve both.
An Omakase Lunch menu at this Les Amis Group restaurant starts from just S$80, and involves sushi, sashimi, and cooked dishes crafted around produce fresh-flown from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market.
The crowd-favourite Wagyu Don is packed with juicy slices of pan-seared wagyu beef and an onsen egg – a steal for $40++. Check out our review here .
Sushi Jin is located at 1 Farrer Park Station Rd, #01-11/12 Owen Link, Singapore 217562, +65 6443 3378. Open daily 12pm–2.30pm and 6.30pm–10.30pm.
This article was first published in City Nomads.