It is going to be a long journey to the west (pun unintended) all the way at Joo Koon, the nostalgic MRT station that I frequent daily during my university days in Pulau NTU.
Joya Onsen Cafe has opened within The Arena Country Club Singapore (D’Arena), a 8 – 10 minutes’ walk from Joo Koon station, directly opposite SAF Military Institute (SAFTI).
This may remind some of Yunomori (This is a food website, so we would touch a little more on the food offerings.)
While Joya Onsen Cafe is opened to the public and not just the country club members, do bring along your NRIC or driving license for registration at the counter if you intend to use the bathhouse.
Joya Onsen Cafe consists of both the onsen (which means hot spring in Japanese) and the cafe, the latter is not restricted to just the onsen patrons and opened to all walk-in diners.
Before entering the premise, socks and shoes will have to be removed and placed on the shelves at the entrance.
If you are heading for the onsen experience, head towards “instagrammable” corridor at the back of the cafe that leads to the changing room.
Here, onsen patrons can get to choose the colours and pattern of the Yukata (a bathrobe worn in casual settings) or Jinbei (matching set of a top and trousers) during their stay within the premise.
Disposable underwear is also provided for those who are uncomfortable or shy going Commando-style.
The gender separated changing rooms are equipped with lockers where onsen users will have to stash away all their belongings including the clothings, Jinbei/ Yukata and bath towels, bringing only the small modesty towel into the public onsen room.
The 2 public onsen (1 Day Pass: Adult $38, Child/ Elderly $32) can accommodate 15 pax each and are separated by gender, with a showering area to wash up before entering the onsen pool.
Unlike most onsen in Japan which uses natural spring water containing sulphur or hydrogen sulphide that contributes to the distinctive smell, Joya Onsen Cafe infused green tea minerals in their water instead of using hot spring water.
Maintaining the temperate at 40 degree Celsius for both the public and private onsen, I personally felt that it was more like a warm swimming pool instead of a Japanese onsen.
There is also a sauna room within for a good detox, equipped with a glass wall though it is totally visible to everyone in the public area.
For a more private experience with your loved ones, there are a total of 2 private onsen rooms that can accommodate up to a maximum of 5 people regardless of gender.
Patrons prefer a more private space can choose the private onsen room (1 pax $80, 5 pax $200) will be limited to a 1.5 hours time slot and require advance booking, which also includes a one full day pass in the public onsen.
The private rooms are also well equipped with an onsen pool, a shower station, a sauna and a dressing table.
Onsen users can also top up an additional $7 for the refreshment set which include 4 pieces of sushi, a scoop of ice cream and a drink.
The sushi are supplied by Dorauku Sushi by Tunglok just few doors away from Joya Onsen Cafe within Arena Country Club, the former is more known for their Chinese cuisine instead.
With options such as Salmon Sushi, Maguro Sushi, Ebi Sushi, Maki rolls and California roll, the sushis were just decent and fuss-free for a quick meal before heading back to fully utilise the one-day pass in the public onsen.
The ice cream fared slightly better, with flavours such as Strawberry Condensed Milk, Hokkaido Honey Milk, Hokkaido Milk, Strawberry, Coconut and Yogurt.
For the cafe section that occupies the front area of Joya Onsen Cafe, there are a total of 4 tables occupying the central tatami area.
(Be careful while sitting cross-legged donning the Yukata as it might get a little too airy down there.)
Here at the cafe, one can expect Japanese food such as Udon/ Ramen ($10), Crispy Bites ($6/ $8), Sushi ($9 – $13.50), Sashimi ($22.20), Parfaits ($9.80 – $11.80), Mini Parfaits ($5.40 – $5.80), Drinks ($3 – $5.20), Snow in a Cup ($4.50 – $5.30) that comes with a dollop of whipped cream.
With 4 Parfaits on the menu, I ordered the Ichi Ni San ($11.80) but the service crew mixed up my order with Ichigo San ($9.80) since both have very similar names.
The Ichigo San ($9.80) comes with a single scoop of Hokkaido Milk ice cream, condensed milk, strawberries, blueberries and cornflakes.
There was a good balance of sweetness from the Hokkaido Milk ice cream with the citrus touch from the berries
It was a hearty dessert with a nice contrast in textures between the milky ice cream and the crunchy cornflakes.
Their drinks selection focuses on Hokkaido Milk, known for the rich and milky taste.
Available in cute jars, flavours include Hokkaido Milk ($4), Matcha Hokkaido Milk ($4.80), Hokkaido Milk Honey Green Tea ($5.20) and Chocolate Hokkaido Milk ($4.50).
Diners can also choose the sugar level from 0 – 100%, with add on toppings (+$0.70) such as Aloe Vera and White Pearls.
Unfortunately, the Matcha Hokkaido Milk ($4.80) was a tad too sweet even at 25% sugar without any taste of matcha.
The White Pearls toppings has a more Konjac jelly texture with brown sugar taste that caters more to the sweet tooth.
While it is not quite similar to the full onsen experience I had in Japan, Joya Onsen Cafe provides a quick getaway with a sneak peek of a Japanese onsen (ie. Yukata/ Jinbei, bathhouse, tatami cafe setting, Japanese food).
Joya Onsen Cafe
511 Upper Jurong Road, #01-06, Singapore 638366
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
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* Written by Nicholas Tan @stormscape who loves all things [NEW]. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.