Izakayas date back to the Edo era in Japan. The original concept was to offer sake, beers, highballs and casual bites to patrons to relax from the day’s toil.

The humble izakaya idea has spread internationally, and we can also find some of the Japanese restaurants in Singapore should you miss traveling to Japan.

Shukuu Izakaya
8 Stanley Street, Singapore 068727
Opening Hours: 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sun)

Japanese Bites and Creative Plates at Stanley Street
Shukuu Izakaya is an open-secret among CBD workers, known for its chic vibes, reasonably-priced sake, and Japanese fare especially its seafood dishes.

The place to let your hair down after work.

The popular seafood dishes include the Kani Gratin ($8) made of crab gratin with mentaiko; Aburi Shimesba ($14) – torched vinegared mackerel; and Maguro Yukke ($13) which is bluefin tuna sashimi tossed in sesame oil served with a quail egg.

For something more substantial, go for their Mini Donburi ($10 – $12), which consists of sushi rice topped with sliced beef, spicy salmon cubs, whitebait and raw quail egg, minced tuna belly, or premium salmon roe.

The highlight is the Hokkaido Scallops with Mentaiko and Cheese ($18) – seared juicy Hokkaido scallops at the bottom, contrasted with creamy mix of mentaiko and cheese topped with ikura.

Ingredients are sourced from leading Japanese suppliers and air-flown in fresh from Japan.

The Public Izakaya
Icon Village, Enggor Street, #01-14 to 16
Tel: +65 6333 9622
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2pm, 5.30pm – 1am (Mon – Fri), 5:30pm – 12am (Sat), Closed Sun

Izakaya With Lively Vibes At Tanjong Pagar
The highly popular and lively The Public Izakaya 2 is positioned as a friendly traditional izakaya for the masses, serving traditional izakaya cuisine for the everyday salary man.

With an extensive menu that bring customers right to the heart of Shimbashi & Yurakucho in Tokyo, where the highest concentration of izakayas exist, The Public Izakaya 2 can provide an authentic izakaya experience you can experience out of Japan.

Must-taste signature dishes include the Buta Kakuni ($15), a slow-cooked premium Iberico pork belly served with onsen tamago, a softly cooked egg in a flavourful soy broth. The long hours of simmering renders the fat and break up the pork meat effortlessly.

The Yakitori Omakase ($28), a set of 7 pieces of assorted yakitori skewers, is the good sampler dish that’s meant for sharing.

Other dishes you should try include the Jaga Mentaiko ($10), a dish made with strips of shredded potatoes topped with mentaiko, a spicy Pollock roe, and baked au gratin or until the mentaiko is torched; and Maguro Avocado Cream Cheese ($15), combining marinated raw tuna with avocado & cream cheese.

Kakurega (The Lair)
12 Smith Street, Singapore 058926
Tel: +65 6223 0102
Opening Hours: 6pm – 12am (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Reservation: https://book.chope.co/booking?rid=kakurega2011sg
Unguided Sake Experience Voucher

Japanese Yakitori & Sake Bar With Bearbrick Theme At Chinatown
Contemporary meets classic at Kakurega (The Lair), a dining hideaway in the vibrant Chinatown.

Among bottles of sake, traditional art pieces, and Japanese fans, you can find on display a variety of colourful Bearbrick – some limited edition.

Enter the lair and commence your dining experience with an expansive menu featuring a repertoire of refreshing Zensai (starters), Kushi-Yaki (skewer), Sumi-Yaki (charcoal-grilled) items, Age-Mono (deep-fried) creations and Itame (sauté) dishes.

Grilled just right, the Hotate Mentai ($9.80) scallops were succulent with a light buttery taste. The torching on top further gave them a nice golden-brown colour without overcooking them.

The house-made mentaiko sauce, typically consisting of cod roe marinated in spices, elevated the flavours by adding a creamy somewhat spicy element to the dish.

One of the restaurants most popular’s item to go with sake, the Gyu Tataki ($19.80) Meltique beef (230g) is seared along the edges, marinated in soy sauce and mirin, and cut into thin slices.

Shunjuu Izakaya
30 Robertson Quay #01-15 Riverside View, Singapore 238251
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm (Mon – Sun),
6pm – 11pm (Mon – Thurs), 6pm – 11:30pm (Fri – Sat), 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Sun)

Waterfront Dining at Robertson Quay
Shunjuu Izakaya is an excellent venue to relax since diners can choose between seats indoors and the bar or head to the open area. The restaurant touts itself as one of Singapore’s best sake bars, run by passionate sake lovers.

The menu offers over 70 selections of sukiyaki items – I love the variety here, many not commonly available at other Izakayas in Singapore.

Some of the food items that are good to go with drinks include Gyoza Potstickers ($11), Oyster Omelette ($18), Pork and Cabbage Omeltte ($17), Beef and Kimchee Hotpot ($21), to Stir-Fried Mushrooms with Anchovy ($10).

Skewers seem to be the chef’s speciality, so order them if you are heading for sakana (food to go with sake).

Diners love the Tsukune Meatballs ($6 for two sticks) and the Fresh Oysters rolled with Pork ($13). any describe their meat cuts as fresh and succulent.

The Plain Doufu with Century Egg ($4), which sounds like a simple dish, is one of their most popular sakana dishes. There is also the sashimi menu which changes with the season.

Book a table instead of trying to walk in because there is usually a long line of office workers outside by 630pm.

Amazing Hokkaido
30 Robertson Quay #01-16, Riverside View, Singapore 238251
Opening hours: 5:30pm – 11pm Last orders 10pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues

Salmon Ikura Rice Bowl And Yakitori By The Singapore River
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.

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.

Start off with this special, highly-instagrammable dish, Bursting Salmon Roe Rice Bowl ($39).

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.

Fans of grilled food should not miss Muroran Yakitori ($3.90), a famous Hokkaido dish born 80 years ago from Toriyoshi, a classic Hokkaido grill restaurant.

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.

Izakaya Hikari
190 Middle Road Fortune Centre #03-01, Singapore 188979
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Fri), 5pm – 10:30pm (Sat), Closed Sun

Well-Loved Izakaya Spot at Fortune Centre
Izakaya Hakari is ten minutes away from Bugis MRT, so it is convenient for those who have had one too many cups of sake.

Its location at level 3 of Fortune Centre amidst the familiar scene lined with vegetarian eateries and mom-and-pop shops gives it an extremely casual vibe.

You can sit at tables outside the shop itself or head inside its open bar with shelves of sakes.

While their sakana menu is not extensive, the Yakimono Set has a lot of variety. At $20.90, you can choose seven different skewers from green chilli pepper, chicken meatballs, and black mushrooms, to name a few.

Reviewers also recommend their fried food menu, with sleeper hits of Crispy Karage Chicken ($5.90) and Hikari Cracker ($3.90).

The Salmon Mentaiko Donburi($16.90) comes with high praise if you want mains. The mentaiko sauce is draped over layers of torched salmon slices, so each mouthful tastes smooth and buttery.

A humble-looking establishment part of 2020 Discover Sake in Singapore, you can find good food at affordable pricing. Seat by the open concept kitchen to talk to the chefs and see what others are ordering.

Izakaya 95
3 Punggol Point #02-05 The Punggol Settlement Singapore 828694
Tel: +65 6384 1132
Opening Hours: 5pm – 11:30am (Mon – Thurs), 5pm – 12:30am (Fri), 3pm – 12:30am (Sat), 2pm – 11:30pm (Sun)

Japanese Small Plates & Yakitori at Punggol Settlement
The 2nd storey of Punggol Settlement is quite the enclave with loads of good food. Izakaya 95 is a hidden find, selling yakitori and Japanese food with a view.

While Izakaya 95 may be locally owned, the variety of Japanese small plates is extensive with some signature items.

Best to go down with some sake, shochu or Japanese beer, light bar snacks such as Tatai Iwashi Grilled Dry Baby Sardine and Kawa Ebi Deep Fried Prawns are available.

The strength of Izakaya 95 is in its grill items, with seafood, meats and vegetables such as Tori Negi, Kagoshima Buta, Hotate Scallops and Engiri King Mushroom prepared over charcoal.

The sticks generally range from $3 to $5.

My favourite items the Bacon Asparagus, Hotate Scallop, and Tsukune Tare Homemade Minced Chicken Meat Skewer with Tare Sauce. Fresh, juicy, evenly grilled with a minimal layer of char.

The recommended chicken items – Tori Negi Chicken Leek, Tebasaki Chicken Wing, Tori Momo Chicken Meat were the typical quality. In fact, I thought that the pork skewers such as the Kagoshima Buta Pork Belly were generally better than the chicken ones which inclined to be dry.

Or you can get a Meat Set ($17) with Bacon Enoki, Asparagus, Smoked Duck, Tori Niniku and Tori Negi in one plate.

Other than the grilled items, I liked the Niniku Garlic Fried Rice ($7) tasty and full or garlic aroma (don’t burp!), quite a steal for its price.

Shinjuku Restaurant
5 Koek Rd, #01-01/02 Cuppage Plaza, Singapore 228796
Opening Hours: 11:45am – 2:30pm, 5:45pm – 11pm (Mon – Sun)

Authentic-Izakaya at Cuppage Plaza, Orchard Road
Shinjuku Japanese Restaurant is at a quiet, tucked away spot at Cuppage Plaza. Almost blink, and you miss it.

But one look at the extensive menu, and you can be hooked because they have a vast selection of dishes.

Whether you are heading in for sake, sakana or prefer mains, you can find it here. They have lunch and dinner menu.

The stir-fried beef Yakiniku Set ($20.50) with rice, soup and fruit is worth trying. If you feel like splurging, go for the Wagyu Steak ($69) from Kagoshima (Kyushu Island).

You can go for gyoza, which is always a sake favourite. At $8.70 for six pieces, you get chunky pork wrapped in thin, pan-fried skin. The beancurd with onion is also interesting – pair sliced onions with your sake for a spicy sting.

Many Japanese diners choose to head to this small izakaya for food and sake, which we think is a sure sign that the food is authentic. If you miss visiting the country, perhaps a visit here might make you feel you are in Japan again.

Tomo Izakaya
Clarke Quay Blk A #01-04, 3A River Valley Road, Singapore 179020
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm (Tues – Thrs, Sun), 5pm – 12am (Fri – Sat), Closed Mon

Affordable Lunch Bentos and View Of The Singapore River
If you are looking for a place to unwind, Tomo Izakaya is ideal as an intimate and relaxing venue to meet up with friends and colleagues.

The concept is inspired by the Japanese izakaya; and like a tapas bar, you can order a variety of small plates of bar chow for sharing.

Do try their signature dish Sushi Moriwase (from $28), a collection of 5 assorted sushi beautifully presented on a ladder plate – Akami, Salmon, Mekajiki, ikura, and Kanpachi.

Or get Temaki (from $6.50), a variety of hand-rolled sushi including Spicy Tekka Avo, Unagi, Salmon Cheese, Salmon Spicy, Aburi Salmon Cheese, and Salmon and Salmon Skin. All these are wrapped in dried seaweed cones.

If you love oysters, their freshly shucked oysters ($2 each) can be irresistible.

Share a platter of assorted kushiyaki skewers with the Kushi Mori ($24), which includes 5 sticks. Enjoy them grilled a la minute over live charcoals, including Negima (chicken with leek), Tsukune (chicken meat ball with sweet soya sauce), Aspara Maki (pork belly-wrapped asparagus), Nankotsu (chicken breast soft bone), and Enoki Bacon (golden mushroom wrapped with bacon).

Set Lunch is available (priced from $14.50 – $16.50) and you have 12 varieties of Bento Sets to choose from.

Neon Pigeon
36 Carpenter St, #01-01, Singapore 059915
Opening Hours: 5:30pm – 11:30pm (Mon – Sun), 11:30am – 2:30pm (Sat – Sun)

Reopening of Neon Pigeon at Carpenter Street
You may know Neon Pigeon from its Keong Saik outlet. This izakaya has found new lodgings at Carpenter Street. Compared to the rest of this list, this has more modern decor and vibes.

Unlike the usual laid-back furnishing of a traditional izakaya, Neon Pigeon has a dimly lit, spotlighted selection of sakes atop an exposed concrete kitchen top. Each table has fancy ceramic plates and ambient lighting.

One might come to Neon Pigeon for a chill date or a small group gathering.

Neon Pigeon menu is also quite interesting. They serve Japanese fusion food, so expect to find items like The Breakfast Bao ($22), a set of teriyaki ham, eggs, mizuna, and furikake fries on its brunch menu.

Highlights include the Tokyo Hummus ($10), with blended edamame and curry chips.

To elevate your experience, go for the Kumamoto oysters ($16 for two), topped with smoked dashi gelee to balance its salinity. Diners also like the horse mackerel Crudo ($24) served with bits of tempura nori to help lend texture and crunch.

Seafood favourites include the grilled octopus ($24, $26), with a spicy sauce that takes its cues from Korean army stew, and the New Zealand cod katsu priced at $20 and $38. It’s a seasonal menu, so you can look for new items as the restaurant updates.

Many also go there for its cocktails, so try their gin-based cocktails that come served in bird-shaped glassware.

The restaurant also hired the street artist Zeroed to give its walls a graffiti treatment, hence the colourful birds.

Other Related Entries
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* Compiled by Daniel Ang @DanielFoodDiary and Juliet Huang.

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