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:
Ishikari Nabe-Style Seafood Hotpot ($15.90 onwards)
Amazing Hokkaido’s new addition is four Ishikari nabe-style soup bases: Original Seafood Shio, Prawn Shio, Shrimp Miso Bisque and Spicy Miso Soup. Prices start from $15.90.
The hotpot follows the style of Hokkaido’s traditional Ishikari nabe, a miso-based stew that is prepared with salmon and even the miso is made in-house by its chefs.
The set includes salmon, yellowtail, squid, monkfish liver, assorted vegetables (leek, enoki mushroom, napa cabbage) and tofu. Diners can choose to top-up extra for other la carte ingredients, such as tsumire (Japanese fishballs), hanpen (pounded fishcake), crab meat, black cod, sliced rice cake, rice paper, butter, beef, pork and chicken.
Also, the hotpot comes with an individual portion (easier for safe-distancing).
For something richer, my personal favourite would be the Shrimp Miso Bisque which is made by extracting the flavours of grilled shrimps and shiro miso.
The shiro miso is stir-fried into a paste along with a medley of fruits, vegetables and seasoning, and hence contributes to the soup’s unique, savoury-sweet flavour which goes well with the sliced fish.
For meat lovers, you can do an add-on for pork ($4.90), chicken ($4.90), and beef ($4.90).
In conjunction with Amazing Hokkaido’s 1st Anniversary, customers who order the Traditional Ishikari Nabe-style Hotpot will get a complimentary dish.
They include Deep Fried Chicken Wings (5pcs), Tori Karaage (5pcs), Fried Potato, Hotate Croquette, Edamame or Negitoro Maki.
(Available from 10 Sep – 10 Oct, except Tues – restaurant is closed, Fri, Sat)
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.
Amazing Hokkaido’s ever popular Tsukune and Muroran Skewers are also going at 1-FOR-1. (Limited to 2 sets per table. Available from 10 Sep – 10 Oct, except Tues – restaurant is closed, Fri, Sat)
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.
Also available are five new types of skewers combining vegetables and meats: Pork & Lettuce Skewer, Pork Shiso Skewer, Basil Leaf & Bacon, Spinach & Bacon Skewer and Beef & Leek Skewer.
Hokkaido Wagyu Steak ($35)
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.
Long Seafood Sushi ($29.90)
If long is your kind of thing, then you may be quite amused with this long sushi topped with tuna, salmon, Hamachi, crab meat and salmon roe.
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.
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).
Hokkaido Potato Salad, Sponge Cake Style ($8.90 for slice, $49.90 for whole ‘cake’)
Izakaya dining can be about fun. If you have need a birthday ‘cake’ for a friend not into sweet things, then you are at the right place.
The creamy Hokkaido Potato Salad is presented like a slice fluffy cake. Though mix it all up and it would taste exactly like a potato salad. Sweet cherry tomatoes though.
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, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Amazing Hokkaido.