If you’ve ever been to Robertson Quay or Robertson Walk you have probably noticed the plethora of Japanese restaurants. To be honest, I’ve lived in this area for over four years now, and I’m only just now appreciating the large Japanese community and the brilliant Japanese food that can be found in one easily accessible area.
You may have read the Singapore Foodie Beginners Guide to Japanese Restaurants
, which gives a very brief summary of some of the main themes of Japanese food. This article is focussed on the different types of Japanese restaurants in the Robertson Quay area. It’s worth noting that breaking into the Japanese food world is somewhat of a challenge. If there are any Japanese people reading I’d love to learn more about your interesting food culture!
Chikuwa Tei for Most Understated All Rounder
Discretely settled along Mohamed Sultan Road this gem of a Japanese restaurant has lurked right under my nose for years and I’ve only just discovered what a great find it is. For good value, casual, unpretentious and good quality Japanese food, Chikuwa Tei is a definite go to.
It gets busy so best to reserve a seat. There is plenty of room between tables (a nice change) and the acoustics are such that it’s not too noisy either. There’s a sushi counter if you like to watch your food being prepared, or tables and chairs if you prefer to focus on your dinner companions.
The menu is a little confusing, with two versions, both being similar but with slight price variations that I never really got to the bottom of.
On our visit my friend enjoyed the set meal of cod that was served with rice, miso and watermelon. Priced at $24++ this was excellent value and a good choice if you’re not into raw fish. The cod was tender and the teriyaki sauce was flavourful.
I went for a chirashi bowl ($25++), with sushi rice and a generous helping of sliced, raw fish. There was a selection that included salmon, tuna and swordfish. The fish was all very fresh, no fishy smells at all. I found the tuna a little disappointing, both this tuna and the tuna on my nigiri sushi ($7++) was a little soft for my liking. I’m not sure if this means it’s low grade tuna, maybe they got a bad batch on the night I was there. I’d be interested to see if it’s the same for the tuna belly. Mine just didn’t have the firm ‘steak’ like texture of a good raw tuna. Still, I will definitely head back here for a healthy evening meal that doesn’t involve forking out a load of money.
Chikuwa Tei (reservations recommended)
9 Mohamed Sultan, Singapore (also at 18 Purvis Street)
phone +65 6734 4436
Note that the website recommends a dress code for gentleman of no shorts, sleeveless tops or flip flops. It’s honestly not pretentious, just very conservative.
Ikoi Japanese Restaurant at Miramar Hotel for Best Buffet
I love it when Singapore hands out a surprise that has actually been sitting there all along. It reminds me how much we all get led like sheep into restaurants based on ‘what’s hot right now’ or ‘just opened’ or ‘top 10 tables’. Moi? Guilty as charged.
Thanks to my friends M and C who recently moved into my ‘hood and therefore alerted me to the fact that just on my doorstep was a great value Japanese restaurant that I previously didn’t even know existed.
Hotel Miramar, for those of you who don’t know, is located along Havelock Road, near a bunch of other nondescript and rather business like hotels. Walking into the lobby it has that 90’s vibe of seedy bars with businessmen sitting around watching girls singing at a piano. Which is kind of what it is, but also it looks a little more fun. That is all slightly irrelevant as you pass through the lobby, duck under the Japanese style curtains at Ikoi and enter an entirely ‘nippon’ world.
The staff are mostly Japanese, friendly and welcoming. The restaurant is set around two food stations, one where sushi and sashimi are prepared, and one where other dishes are plated. In typical Japanese style, the expert chefs are serious but also very good at explaining things if you need them to. The very best news is that dinner here is only $38++ for whatever you want to eat. It’s not a standard buffet though, you simply order what you like from the menu and your food will be prepared on the spot. They also will charge you a la carte prices if you order a dish and don’t eat it (I suspect this is slightly flexible but it’s designed to prevent over ordering and wastage, which I fully support).
The menu is broken up into sections of sashimi, sushi and maki, grilled dishes, tempura, sides, noodles and rice. We ordered a selection and on the whole the sashimi and maki were definitely the highlights. The fish is really excellent quality, the appetiser in particular, salmon with a special sauce that was a little gingery, sesame, Japanes-ey, was just gorgeous.
I’d love to come with more people and order some of the noodle dishes and rice dishes like katsu curry rice. It’s also worth noting that they only charge $20 corkage if you’d like to bring your own bottle of wine.
Ikoi Japanese Restaurant
Miramar Hotel, 401 Havelock Road, #01-01, Singapore
phone +65 6887 3788 for reservations
or email Charlie firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, date, time, pax & hand phone number for reservations
Open Monday to Sunday for lunch 11.30am to 2pm and for dinner 6pm to 11pm. The buffet is available for lunch and dinner daily.
Yazawa for Best BBQ
Another discreet Japanese restaurant, sliding in around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Robertson Walk in Merbau Street, Yazawa offers an approachable and reasonably priced barbecue menu. There are different cuts of meat that you can choose according to your budget, and all those I’ve tried have been super tasty. You can read a full review here
phone +65 6235 2941 (reservations recommended)
Open Monday to Sunday 6pm to 11pm
Ippudo for Ramen
I think it’s the only ramen nearby so I couldn’t say ‘best’ 😉 I can say that Ippudo ramen is definite comfort food and a perfect week night stop off for a quick and tasty dinner. Ippudo is a chain from Japan, although the staff at the Mohamed Sultan outlet were mostly local. They were still attentive and helpful though, and there were a few Japanese shouts of “Irasshaimase” (welcome) throughout my visit to liven up the atmosphere.
The kitchen sits at the front of the restaurant, between the outside seating and the air conditioned inside seating. I chose to sit outside, on Mohamed Sultan where there are a dozen or so tables and after a day of air conditioning I was ready for some warm air. I ordered the simple cucumber salad, Goma Q, ($6++) to start, and a bowl of Shiromaru ramen ($15++), with an egg ($3++) added of course
The cucumber was fresh, light and crunchy, with a nice amount of dressing. The ramen was tasty and fresh, my egg was disappointing, not nearly as good as the egg I’d had a few days earlier at Kanshoku
it tasted ok but the yolk was pale and a little overcooked. If you’re in the neighbourhood and your craving is ramen this is a good place to stop.Ippudo Ramen
207 River Valley Road, #01-55 (along Mohamed Sultan Road), Singapore
phone +65 6887 5315
Open Monday to Saturday for lunch 11.30am to 3pm, dinner 5.30pm to midnight (2am on Friday and Saturday. Open Sundays and public holidays from 11.30am to 11pm
Across the River in Tiong Bahru
Across the river from Robertson Quay is Tiong Bahru. As it’s so close (not quite walking distance though) I thought it worth mentioning a couple of worthwhile Japanese choices ‘on the other side’.
Bincho at Hua Bee
This incognito Japanese restaurant in Tiong Bahru makes use of what is a small hawker type noodle stall during the day by flipping some signs and dimming the lights to create a fun and unique restaurant at night. The food is served omakase style, there are three different menu choices priced between $120++ and $180++ or you can choose from an la carte menue. You can read a full review here.
Bincho at Hua Bee
78 Moh Guan Terrace, Singapore
phone +65 6438 4567 (reservations recommended)
Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch 12pm to 3pm and dinner 6pm to late
Ikyu is a nice cross between a traditional Japanese restaurant and something a little more fresh and modern. The stylish interior is modern Japanese and it’s a more formal setting than Bincho. The food is very good quality and they also do a really good value set lunch. You can read more here.
5 Yong Siak Street, Singapore
phone +65 6223 9003 (reservations recommended)
Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner 6pm to 10.30pm
I have tried a couple of other Japanese restaurants in the area, but they didn’t justify a write up (and I think have possibly closed down). If you have any more you’d like to share, please do in the comments below