Sushi, yakitori, kaiseki – we’ve taken to Japanese cuisine like fish to water over the last few decades; so it’s no surprise that some restaurateurs are breaking into the dining scene by pairing Japanese cooking techniques and ingredients with other culinary influences that we love. From French and Italian, to Chinese influences, this is our round-up of places that we think are doing interesting work in Singapore and we hope you’ll go out and try them!
Opened by Chef-Owner Nakahara Seita, the ex-Executive Chef of L’Operetta, you can be sure of the quality and meticulous thought behind the dishes at Terra. A native of Tokyo, Chef Seita is keen to differentiate Terra from other Japanese Italian restaurants with the concept of Tokyo-Italian dining. The menu is highly influenced by the four seasons of Japan and the culinary intricacies of the Kanto region; try the Spaghetti with Sea Urchin and home-cured Bottarga ($38++) and Tajima Wagyu Beef ($52++). For more value, we recommend opting for Chef Seita’s Omakase ($128++) or his 5-course degustation menu at $98++.
Terra is located at 54 Tras Street, Singapore 078993. Tel: +65 6339 3969
Nestled in the Alexandra neighbourhood, Ristorante Takada offers much needed respite away from the city. Chef Masahiro Takada helms this homely establishment, and brings along with him 8 years of rich culinary training accumulated from stints at numerous Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy. Besides offering monthly degustation menus ranging from $88++ to $128++, Chef Takada’s a la carte menu is crafted with premium ingredients such as white asparagus and white truffles from Europe, and seafood like Hokkaido scallops, Hokkaido sea urchin and blue fin tuna from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market.
Ristorante Takada is located at #01-07 Alexis, 356 Alexandra Road, Singapore 159949. Tel: +65 6221 5159
For a more wallet friendly option, there’s the newly opened Nigiro Cafe at Suntec City Mall’s Eat at Seven dining cluster. Headed by Chef Kensuke Sakai, who rose to fame as the youngest contender (at age 26) on reality cooking programme Iron Chef, prices at this casual eatery are more than reasonable. Weekday lunch sets are priced below $25; other popular a la carte items include their generously portioned Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad ($9.50 half size, $20 full size) and Short Pasta Melanzane ($19) served with three types of cheeses and perfectly cooked cuts of eggplant.
Nigiro Cafe Singapore is located at 3 Temasek Boulevard # 03-315 Suntec City Mall, Singapore 038983. Tel: +65 6238 1669
Melding traditional French cooking techniques and the finest Japanese ingredients, Lewin Terrace is a Japanese-French fusion restaurant that caters to the most discerning gourmands. Wine connoisseurs will be delighted to hear that the restaurant has curated an exceptional collection of fine wines and sakes for pairing. Sommeliers will also be on hand to assist with recommendations and pairing upon request. Housed in a colonial bungalow amidst the lush Fort Canning Park, Lewin Terrace is popular for wedding parties and is, naturally, a romantic setting for couples looking to celebrate special occasions. See our full review here.
Lewin Terrace is located at 21 Lewin Terrace Singapore, Singapore 179290. Tel: +65 6333 9905
Another restaurant marrying the finesse of French fair with Japanese techniques is Beni, an intimate 15-seater restaurant located at Mandarin Gallery. Run by Chef de Cuisine Kenji Yamanaka, who’s trained in French cuisine and worked in three-Michelin-starred establishments in France and Japan, Beni features degustation menus for lunch ($128++) and dinner ($298++). Diners can expect to items like Ozaki wagyu beef, blue lobster, and foie gras on the dinner menu.
Beni is located at #04-16B Mandarin Gallery, 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238897. Tel: +65 6235 2285
Shisen Hanten’s in Mandarin Orchard Hotel is the famed Japanese-Sichuan restaurant chain’s debut overseas venture. Brainchild of late Chen Kenmin, Japan’s ‘Father of Sichuan Cuisine’, the restaurant has since been led by his eldest son, Chef Kenichi (aka The Chinese Iron Chef) and his grandson, Chef Kentaro. Signature dishes are authentic and simple, with dishes like Chen’s Mapo Tofu ($22/portion) and Stir-fried Hokkaido Scallop with Sweet Japanese Eggplant in Pickled Chilli Pepper Sauce ($36/portion), all tastefully prepared with herbs and spices imported from Sichuan.
Shisen Hanten is located at 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867. Tel: +65 6831 6262
Crown Bakery & Café
Named after the commercial property it’s located in, Crown Bakery & Café offers an intriguing combination of Japanese-European-Singaporean pastries and sweet treats. Grab a loaf of savoury Hainanese Chicken Bread ($4.50), Shizuoka Matcha Brioche ($3.20), or otherwise we highly recommend their Turkish inspired Black Sesame Ekmek.
Crown Bakery & Café is located at #01-03 Crown Centre, 557 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 269694 Tel: +65 6463 3066
Making its mark in Japan with a specialisation in European-type hard breads since it opened in 1933, the chain expanded extensively within the country and opened up it’s first branch in Singapore this year. The flagship product is the Fruit Rye loaf, which is prepared with orange peels from France and flavourful rum soaked raisins. The bakery’s selection of classic brioches, croissants, and quiches are also excellent.
Asanoya is located at 15 Queen Street, #01-03, Singapore 188537. Tel: +65 6703 8703
Top Image: Hokkaido Set from Lewin Terrace, Singapore