If you are on the look-out for an after-work hangout at Robertson Quay, go to Amazing Hokkaido.
This Japanese-owned themed izakaya is almost like a food fair for its variety of offerings.
This is quite a hidden find, and you may feel yourself being transported right to the Land of the Rising Sun with its colourful décor, retro music and staff in Japanese costumes.
A way to ‘judge’ a Japanese restaurant is to have a quick look at its patrons. It is not difficult to find Japanese families, couples and business people dine here after work.
A charming 100-seater, it has a noren-lined entrance dotted with bright lights that scream “Ready to have fun?”
Inside, that typical informal Japanese restaurant flavour lingers, with Hokkaido posters all over. The caption on the side “Every day! Hokkaido Food Fair” summarizes what this place is all about.
Together with gourmet partners, Amazing Hokkaido flies in the best products exclusive from Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture.
Every day, companies like Kaneshime Takahashi takes care of the sashimi supply from Sapporo, Yamamura handles fresh seafood and the best of Hokkaido snow crabs, and Sasaki Farm provides organic greens.
Here are recommended Amazing Hokkaido dishes to represent that authentic Izakaya culture:
Bursting Salmon Roe Rice Bowl ($39)
Start off with this special, highly-instagrammable dish, Bursting Salmon Roe Rice Bowl.
The bowl come with a heaping layer of umami-laden ikura over freshly steamed rice. The brilliant orange pearls of salmon roe are first marinated in a combination of special soy sauce and vinegar to infuse them with more flavour.
The restaurant is also particular about the quality of the salmon roe, which makes all that difference as it is the key ingredient. All in all, a tasty bowl of generous portion, best enjoyed on its own when the pearls burst in your mouth.
Serving this bright orange dish is almost like a ceremony, complete with rhythmic beats from taiko drums and staff chanting “Yoisho! Yoisho!” as they scoop out these precious roe.
You can also upgrade this dish with additional uni (25g sea urchin) for $23.90 for the touch of richness and creaminess.
Muroran Yakitori ($3.90 for 1 skewer)
Fans of grilled food should not miss Muroran Yakitori, a famous Hokkaido dish born 80 years ago from Toriyoshi, a classic Hokkaido grill resto.
This is Amazing Hokkaido’s signature dish, and every diner is encouraged to order at least a stick.
While yakitori often refers to ‘grilled chicken skewer’, this one is melty skewered pork, with onion pieces in between grilled, glazed meat chunks.
Thanks to Mr. Mitsuyoshi Ogasawara, Toriyoshi’s head chef, we get to enjoy this classic Hokkaido skewered dish, punctuated with a biting mustard flavour. To be really cliché about it, the meat skewer is indeed melt-in-your-mouth.
Tsukune ($2.90 for 1 skewer)
Aside from producing high quality fresh seafood, Hokkaido is recognised as the birthplace of yakitori.
Expect to find more skewered items in the menu, such as different kinds of tsukune – Japanese chicken meatball cooked yakitori style with a sauce.
The chicken was soft and bouncy, and sweet-soy sauce finger-licking addictive.
If you are a big Tsukune fan or come in a group, then order the the Melty 7 Kinds of Tsukune ($28.90) dolloped with all sorts of flavourings and toppings like teriyaki sauce, seaweed with mayo, mentaiko mayo, wasabi, salt, and cheese. Best to go with sakes, shochus, or highballs.
If you like a particular variant, 1 skewer ranges from $2.90 to $5.90.
Hokkaido Wagyu Steak ($23.90)
Be ready to drool over this beauty, a slab of Wagyu beef sourced direct from Hokkaido.
Your server will bring this to your table, to be set ablaze and sizzling on a lava stone plate. All that smoke and heat creates a desirable smoky finish to the meat, plus a caramelisation that intensifies its umami taste.
Though tasty on its own, this steak could be matched with condiments like yuzu kosho (yuzu chili paste), sea salt, wasabi, and a classic steak sauce.
Hokke Chan Chan Yaki ($22.90)
Right up there among the Best 10 recommendations is Hokke Chan Chan Yaki, prepared with the king of grilled fish in izakaya.
Hokke, also known as Arabesque greenling, is actually Okhotsk atka mackerel.
This mild tasting fish is grilled chan chan yaki style on a Teppan plate and seasoned with butter and miso paste.
While this dish may not be that photogenic, its taste (especially with the miso sauce) would certainly leave a lasting impression.
Hokkaido Fried Potato with Seaweed & Mentaiko Mayonnaise ($10.90)
Using organic Hokkaido potatoes from Sasaki Farm, this appetiser will whet your appetite with its crisp fried spuds.
Complementing that addictive fried taste is a seasoned cod roe dip, enhanced with kombu seaweed for that pure umami taste.
Hotate, Scallop Cream Croquette ($5.90)
Another deep-fried gem of an appetiser is a croquette made from hotate – Japanese scallop.
One of the most prized shellfish in Japanese cuisine, the firm-textured hotate has a sweet, clean taste.
It is transformed into a rich paste, then coated with crispy panko. Absolutely creamy on the inside, and crunchy good on the outside.
I ordered this during another visit (found it towards the back of the menu) and was pleasantly surprised.
You may have tried Japanese style hamburg typically on hotplates before, but how about a deep-fried version?
Menchkatsu is a deep-fried hamburg served with sauce and a salad of assorted veggies.
This menchi-katsu is a Japanese patty made of ground meat with chopped onions, salt & pepper, then breaded and deep-fried.
One of the most popular yoshoku food, which is Westernised Japanese food, this cutlet remains juicy and soft inside despite its crunchy breadcrumb coating.
Hokkaido Shintoku Soba ($9.90)
This buckwheat noodle comes from Shintoku, a famous soba production area in Hokkaido.
Bite into these Japanese noodles, chewier and heartier than most noodles, and satisfy your craving away.
While the taste may not be extraordinary, this wins in terms of its presentation of ‘flying’ noodles.
Pair this with some toppings like ebi tempura, lamb shoulder and Japanese leek, corn and tempura (additional $3.90 or $4.90).
Matcha Pudding ($5.90)
Order this Hokkaido dessert and that diner on the next table might just turn green with envy.
This home-made matcha pudding is served is ready to be scooped out to conclude your meal with delicious smoothness.
The menu of Amazing Hokkaido is actually quite extensive, ranging from Yakitori, Robata Yaki, Sashimi, Grilled Meats, Tempura, Salads, Sushi Rolls to Rice Bowls.
During another visit, I had their Sugisawa Ramen ($13.90) which was a style of ramen I have yet to have before, akin to say a Japanese-style Lor Mee. So be ready to be surprised.
Chill over bracingly cold Japanese highball, traditional fare, heaps of fun, and cheerful friendly service.
30 Robertson Quay #01-16, Riverside View, Singapore 238251
Opening hours: 5:30pm – 11pm Last orders 10pm (Mon – Sun)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Amazing Hokkaido.