Photo: Bespoke Japanese Vegetarian Dining
Akari Japanese Dining & Bar
Hidden find in the Marina Bay financial district
A quiet and sophisticated spot in the bustle of the Marina Bay Financial district, Akari is conveniently located within the Marina Bay Link Mall. This Japanese restaurant great for power lunches and business meetings (their VIP room seats 12), and serves up fresh and innovative sushi, sashimi and hot dishes. Try their buta shiro kakuni (simmered black pork in stock, $18) or the gindara saikyo yaki (miso marinated cod, $26). When the weather permits, soak up some sun dining on their patio.
Book a table here | Address: 8A Marina Boulevard, #01-02 Marina Bay Link Mall | Opening hours: Mon-Sat, noon-3pm, 6-10pm
Ooi Japanese Dining
Hidden find off Orchard Road
Tucked away within the Holiday Inn in Orchard is a cosy eatery serving stellar Japanese eats. Ooi once used to be a izakaya in the bowels of Cuppage Place; it has now expanded its premises. The sashimi here is fresh, thick and top quality. The chef can prepare sashimi omakase platters ('up to the chef' platters, $60-$100) according to the customer's preference. Do opt for the honmaguro (bluefin tuna), white shell, kampachi (almaco jack), uni (sea urchin), otoro (tuna belly) and prawn. For more than sashimi, put yourself in the chef's capable hands for omakase sets at above $250 per person — they're worth saving up for.
Book a table here | Address: 11 Cavenagh Road #01-13/14 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-12am
O-An Japanese restaurant
Hidden find in the CBD
Navigate the corridoors of Hong Leong building's basement to come upon this Japanese eatery that has long been the CBD-lunchers' well-kept secret. O-An serves up Japanese fare at affordable prices without compromising on quality. Go in for one of sets, like the Hanami bento (one serving each of sashimi, tempura, grilled fish, a meat dish, edamame, a half-boiled egg, rice, soup and fruit; $28) or the Nikuyasai set (stir-fried vegetables with pork, rice, soup, fruit and pickles; $12). Their variety of Japanese tipples includes the sweet umeshu ($5), a Japanese plum wine favoured by ladies.
Book a table here | Address: Hong Leong Building, 16 Raffles Quay #B1-16 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, Mon-Sat 6-9pm
Hidden find in Holland Village
Looking for a place to dine at the eatery-packed Holland Village enclave? Give this cosy izakaya a try. At Ajinomori, expect an authentic Japanese experience with barefoot dining while seated on a wooden platform. They serve a wide varieties of shochu, choya and sake, all of which pair well with the food. Try the ochazuke (rice in dashi broth served with pickles, $7), the salmon maki roll with alfalfa sprouts ($10) or the decadent foie gras on tofu steak ($18). Order a bottle of sweet potato shochu to share ($75).
Book a table here | Address: 17D Lorong Liput | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6-11pm
Bespoke Japanese Vegetarian Dining
Hidden vegetarian find on Bencoolen street
Vegetarian diners are spoilt for choice in the Bencoolen street area, with the nearby Fortune Centre that is dotted with veggie-friendly eateries of all kinds. Joining the fray is Bespoke Japanese at Sunshine Plaza where the fare is hearty and healthy. Start with the creamy avocado maki ($12) and the pungent beancurd sheets with natto (fermented soybean, $6) before moving on to the green tea soba ($9). Their signature is their platter of 'mock' sashimi ($18) — the three varieties (mock salmon, tuna and hamachi) served on a bed of ice are quite like the real thing in both taste and texture.
Book a table here | Address: 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-50 Sunshine Plaza | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-3pm, 5.30-10pm