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Say Japanese cuisine and most people think: sushi, sashimi or ramen. But there is more to Japanese food than these iconic eats. If you are hungry for a wider spread of Japanese delights but do not want to put a strain on your wallet, you will like this guide to affordable Japanese restaurants in Singapore.
This is a one-pot dish of cooked ingredients – fishballs, fishcakes, eggs, daikon or winter radish - in a flavourful soy and dashi (fish stock) broth. Oden has many cousins throughout Asia. It is very similar to the local yong tau foo, Malaysia’s lok lok, Korea’s eomuk guk, and Hong Kong’s curry fishball.
Source: Chubby Botak Koala
While oden can be readily found in izakayas (Japanese bars) and convenience stores in Japan, you will have to look a little harder to satisfy your oden craving in Singapore. The Public Izakaya by Hachi has Oden Omakase on its menu. They come in a $30 set of 10 items or an $18 set of six items. Since it is the omakase (I’ll leave it to you) option, the chef picks the items for you.
Given the restaurant’s commitment to recreating authentic Japanese fare and their stable of Japanese chefs, you can be assured that the selections, whatever they are, will be delicious. Their usual items include daikon;atsuage (deep fried tofu) which is imported from Japan; yude tamado (egg hard-boiled in dashi stock), deep fried fishcake from Satsuma in Kagoshima called Satsuma age,yaki chikuwa (tubular grilled fishcake on a bamboo skewer), ika tonbi (skewered squid mouth), ganmodoki (deep fried balls of mashed tofu and vegetables), iwashi tsumire (minced sardine balls), and tori dango (chicken balls).
KAMOSHITA is another restaurant where you can indulge in oden. They have 20 varieties all priced at a few dollars per portion. But what is outstanding is the soup the items are soaked in. The stock is made with kombu, bonito and mackerel sans soy sauce or miso. The result is a deep, flavourful broth that has a natural sweetness. While oden is a winter dish best enjoyed hot, they also offer a cold version which is eaten with mustard.
Source: Daniel's Food Diary
Donburi or Japanese rice bowls are a mainstay of most Japanese hawker stalls. The ubiquitous katsudon is a fan favourite. But there is more to donburi than pork cutlet in an eggy onion sauce over rice. Thankfully, there are quite a few places to go to for a satisfying Japanese rice bowl with a difference that will not break the bank.
Gyu Nami is one such place. Their Wagyu Roast Beef Don will only set you back by $10. Topped with generous slices of tender beef, this is restaurant-quality food at wallet-friendly prices. For $9.90, you can customise your own salmon donburi at Salmon Samurai. There is a choice of salmon raw, seared, cooked in garlic shoyu and even in Japanese curry.
Source: Travel 141
Yakiniku is barbecue Japanese-style. Fans of Japanese grilled meats can cheer because the famous fast food barbecue joint Yakiniku Like recently opened its first outlet in Singapore. For $7.80, you can get a set with meat, rice, soup and kimchi (pickled cabbage) or salad. For a dollar more, the Karubi Set which comes with 100 grams of beef is yours. Their smokeless grills and sets for individual diners are further pluses.
Yakiniku-Oh Goen uses a teppan grill that is more commonly found in Hokkaido. The centre of the grill, where you place the meat, is raised. This allows the juices from the meat to flow to the vegetables set around the edges as they cook, giving them extra flavour. The platters range in price from $14.80 for squid and pork to $24.80 for seafood. What is really worth it is the Teppanyaki Yakiniku Buffet for $29.80. The unlimited medley of meats, vegetables and cooked dishes is guaranteed to fill.
Okonomiyaki is a pancake of batter and eggs topped with vegetables and a choice of meats or seafood. Originating in Kansai and Hiroshima, the dish is often dubbed “Japanese pizza” because, like the Italian staple, it is a round, doughy platter of goodness.
At Ajiya Okonomiyaki Restaurant, you get to cook your okonomiyaki on a heated table top the way they do in Japan. This lets you decide how crisp you want your pancake to be, how much sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes you want on top of your okonomiyaki. Based on the flavour you choose – seafood, meat, vegetable or combo – you get to pick the ingredients that go into your okonomiyaki. The prices range from $13 to $16 which is very decent.
Seiwaa Okonomiyaki & Teppanyaki Restaurant has okonomiyaki priced between $10 and $25. If you like fusion food, then you will appreciate their menu which features sambal okonomiyaki, tomyum okonomiyaki and chilli crab okonomiyaki.
The Japanese are particularly good at deep-frying which is why tonkatsu or breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet is so sought after. Served usually with a mountain of shredded cabbage, rice and Worcestershire sauce, it is comfort food at its best.
Tampopo has been around for 15 years and was even named Best Japanese Restaurant in Singapore by AsiaOne People’s Choice Awards in 2016. They are known for their kurobuta (Berkshire pig) dishes, especially their kurobuta tonkatsu. Kurobuta is one of the most tender and flavourful of pork and Tampopo’s rendition is delightful. Crisp, juicy and surprisingly sweet, it goes perfectly with the warm fluffy rice and crunchy cabbage.
Source: Rubbish Eat, Rubbish Grow
Tonkatsu Anzu, which hails from Kyushu, distinguish themselves by offering a dizzying array of tonkatsu items, each featuring a succulent slab of pork that is both juicy and tender. Their sets are mostly under $30 and come with free flow of rice and salad, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) and soup, which make them quite a feast.
If tonkatsu is too meaty for your taste, then you might prefer tempura which is vegetables or seafood that is battered and then deep-fried. In fact, its name draws from the Latin phrase quatuor anni tempora which refers to days during which no meat is eaten.
Source: Daniel's Food Diary
At Tendon Ginza Itsuki, the Special Tendon set at $13.90 is a four-piece affair that includes prawn, chicken and vegetable tempura as well as rice, a perfectly hard-boiled egg and soup. The all-vegetable set is a dollar less. Considering that this is part of the famed Ramen Keisuke’s slew of concept restaurants, this is a steal.
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Shitamachi Tendon Akimit is an award-winning restaurant from Asakusa, Tokyo. Founder and chef Tanihara Akimitsu is a fifth-generation successor of Dote No Iseya, a tendon and tempura restaurant which traces its roots to 1889. Little wonder that their recipe dates back to the Samurai Period. Yet, their prices are highly affordable - $12.90 to $18.90, depending on whether you choose vegetables, white fish or ebi tempuras.
Source: Daniel Food Diary
This freshwater eel grilled with a tare sauce (sweet-savoury sauce) is a fixture in Japanese cuisine. Yamato Man Man Unagi’s version won it the Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2017 and well it should because they use only the best and freshest eels imported from Japan which are then char-grilled so they have crisp bits on the outside but remain fork-tender.
There are several ways you can eat your unagi. Their signature Hitsumabushi set for $29.50 (medium size) lets you enjoy it mixed with spring onions, eaten seaweed and grated wasabi as well as doused in dashi stock.
Source: Daniel Food Diary
Unagi Ichinoji also lets you have your unagi in a variety of styles: Hitsumabushi or chopped and served over rice (S$26.80), Seiro Mushi or steamed (S$19.80) and Mamushi Donburi (S$19.80) where you can break the onsen egg over the rice.