PUBLISHED June 21st, 2018 06:00 am | UPDATED July 2nd, 2018 01:00 am
Armed with smooth sakes, Japanese craft beers, and bite-size dishes full of vibrant umami goodness, izakayas are one of the most fun ways to dine out with a group of friends. These lively casual watering holes are aplenty in sunny Singapore, and while it’s unlikely that you’ll find the best sushi or ramen in these joints, there’s nowhere better to soak in the rowdy vibes as you knock back a drink, or five.
JiBiru Craft Beer Bar
JiBiru, as its name suggests, features an impressive selection of unique and specially imported Japanese craft beers, including Hitachino Nest‘s Craft Lager, Yo-Ho Brewing Company‘s Yona Yona Pale Ale, and Sankt Gallen Brewery‘s Brown Porter. Combine that with delectable kushiyaki (grilled meats) from the kitchen and you get a haven of sorts for the hungry workers in town. Expect the likes of high-quality Japanese pork and sakura chicken accompanied by izakaya dishes such as tempura, gyoza, and Japanese curries.
Kamoshita is Tanjong Pagar’s hidden gem and one of the local Japanese community’s favourite haunts. Its genuine atmosphere and food – Chef Koki dishes out a mean Oden and great Kaarage – make this spot excellent to while away the night, and its rare sake list (think Hato Masamune ‘Crystal of Snow’ Tokubetsu Junmai and Denshu ‘Nama Dog Label’ Junmai Ginjo) is unrivalled.
Kamoshita is located at 5 Neil Rd, Singapore 088806, p. +65 6221 3950. Open Sun-Fri 6pm – 12am. Closed Sat.
When the award-winning Les Amis Group launches a new restaurant, you know it’s sure to impress. This boisterous space at Shaw Centre is all about charcoal-grilled items, or sumiyaki. Ordering the smoky sticks of Nodoguro (black throat sea perch), Miyazaki-style Chicken Neck, and King Crab Legs from Hokkaido is a must, made even better when eaten with sakes curated specially to match your food. In doubt? Just leave it to the chefs.
Jinjo is located at Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Rd, #02-19/20, Singapore 228208, p. +65 6732 2165. Open Tue-Sat 12pm – 2pm, 6.30pm – 10pm.
IZY Dining & Bar
A sensual dining experience awaits you at IZY Dining & Bar, which embraces quality and perfection above all else. The ingredients used here are premium and effortlessly superb, from the Buta no Shougayaki (pork belly ginger stick deglazed with soy sauce) and Superior Gyudon (charcoal-grilled wagyu served with foie gras, caviar, and onsen egg) down to the multitude of sushi rolls and sashimi on menu. Pull aside the curtain at the back of the izakaya to reveal a spacious bar stocked full of sake, umeshu, Japanese whiskies – an excellent chance for a boisterous post-dinner drink.
IZY Dining & Bar is located at 27 Club St, Singapore 069413, p. +65 9678 0027. Open Mon-Fri 12pm – 2pm, 6pm – 10.30pm, Sat 6pm – 11.30pm. Closed Sun.
This Boat Quay izakaya looks like it could very well be in Ginza – the home of Tokyo’s best bars – what with its classy interior, dim lighting, and exceptional collection of sake barrels (over 80 brands, in fact) stacked floor-to-ceiling. Styled as a modern day izakaya, Boruto presents an unparalleled Japanese drinking experience paired with a plethora of savoury small plates – Saga Gyu Tempura ($35.80), Tori Senbei Moriawase ($10.80), and Teba Gyoza ($15.80). Feeling rich? Splurge on the priciest bottle here, the Juyondai Soko Junmai Daiginjo at over $2000 a pop. Read our review here.
Boruto is located at #01-01 Golden Castle Building, 80 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058710, p. +65 6532 0418. Open Mon-Sat 4.30pm – 12am. Closed Sun.
One of the oldest Japanese eateries in Singapore, Izakaya Nijumaru in Cuppage Plaza has been providing generations of hungry folk with classic Japanese dishes for over three decades. Make an order for the signature Chargrilled Eggplant ($8) slathered with an intense housemade barbecue sauce, meaty Shogayaki Set ($14), or juicy Gyozas ($7). The drink list is small, but for what it’s worth, the house sake will satisfy your boozy cravings.
Izakaya Nijumaru is located at #02-10/12, Cuppage Plaza, 5 Koek Rd, Singapore 228796, p. +65 6235 6693. Open Mon-Sat 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10pm, Sun 6pm – 10pm.
Shunjuu Izakaya has a staggering selection of over 70 skewered items to go with some of the top nihonshu from various prefectures of Japan, including a rare fuguzake, or blowfish-infused sake. Salt and seasoning are skilfully thrown signature grilled items like the Foie Gras, Kaki Buta Maki (oysters rolled with pork), and the humble Tebasaki (chicken wing), and well, they taste fabulous. Prefer your dishes off the grill? The Spicy Cod Intestine with Cheese and Fermented Soybean Rice Spring Roll have you covered.
Shunjuu Izakaya is located at 30 Robertson Quay, #01-15 Riverside View Singapore 238251, p. +65 6887 3577. Open Mon-Thu 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 11.30pm, Sun 12pm – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm.
Big Sake Bar
With its trademark “大”, which means “big” in Kanji, Big Sake Bar is a humble locally-owned izakaya that boasts over 28 labels of sake at any given time. Served with fresh Sashimi, crunchy Soft Shell Crab Rolls, and immaculately-grilled kushiyaki, this is the place to have dinner at before drinks, and then more. Indulge in a 150ml pour sake of the month (at the moment it’s the Osakaya Chobei Junmai Daiginjyo) for just $18. Read our review here.
Big Sake Bar is located at 302 Beach Rd #01-02, Singapore 199600, p. +65 6291 2700. Open Mon-Sat 5pm – 12am.
You don’t need to travel all the way to town to find a good drinking spot. Dubbed ‘your local izakaya’, IZA joins hands with kushiyaki maetros The Skewers Bar along Siglap to serve up affordable skewers and Japanese-style small plates – think Four-ton Chawanmushi ($4.50) and Otah Tamago ($6.90) – tailored to the Singaporean palette. Seal the deal with premium Suntory whiskies, Yamagata sakes, and a craft beer list that sees the likes of Brewdog‘s Elvis Juice and Coedo Shiro, a German-style wheat beer brewed in Japan.
IZA is located at 695 East Coast Rd, Singapore 459059, p. +65 6385 2883. Open daily 6pm – 1am.
Top Image: Izy Dining & Bar