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In a country where eating while you walk is frowned upon, Japan certainly has plenty of street food. We pick eight of the yummiest Japanese street eats and tell you where you can get them in Singapore. Your tummy will feel like it has been to Japan by the time we are through.
These balls of batter with a crispy crust filled with octopus, pickled ginger and green onions, and served with a savoury sauce and Japanese mayonnaise hail from 1930s Osaka. These days, though, takoyaki stands can be found throughout Japan.
In Singapore, takoyaki is among the easiest Japanese street foods to find. Even pop-up stalls at pasar malams (night markets) proffer these bite-sized delights. Apart from octopus, local takoyaki comes in a multitude of varieties.
Source: Wandering Fel
At Nishiki Tako, fusion creations abound. Apart from the traditional octopus filling and some Japanese-inspired ones like prawns, corn and egg salad, there are also takoyaki filled with bacon, Deutsch sausages and squid ink, and kimchi (fermented vegetables). Since this is Singapore, sweet chilli sauce is offered as a condiment on top of the usual sauce and Japanese mayonnaise.
In China, they are called jiaozi; in America, pot-stickers; and in Japan, gyoza. Though these pan-fried dumplings filled with minced pork and vegetables were invented in 1st-century China, the Japanese have adopted them and made them their own.
Source: Hungry Go Where
Gyoza-Ya is a concept by the Akashi Group. Their handmade gyoza come with various fillings – pork, vegetables and king crab – and can be savoured boiled or pan-fried and seasoned shichimi-style. Shichimi refers to a Japanese spice mix that is made of seven ingredients – chilli pepper, Japanese pepper, roasted orange peel, white sesame seed, hemp seed, ground ginger, seaweed and poppy seed. For dessert, you can gyoza stuffed with sweet azuki beans. They taste like very much like Chinese red bean pancakes. For authenticity, all the ingredients from the filling to the dumpling skin are imported from Japan.
Source: Hungry Go Where
There is just something about skewered meat grilled over hot charcoal. Many cultures have them. In Southeast Asia, they are called satay. In the Middle East, they are known as kebab. In Japan, they are sold as yakitori.
The Japanese permutation of this dish started appearing during the middle of the Meiji Era, starting with skewers of chicken meat. Brushed with a salty-sweet sauce, the chicken sticks were soon joined by other meats like pork, beef, boar and even offal. By the 1950s, street stalls selling yakitori became mainstays at train stations, feeding tired salarymen after a hard day’s work.
Yakitori Yatagarasu is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that may look unassuming but looks are deceiving. What they lack in appearance they more than make up for with their extensive menu. Their chicken yakitori alone features several varieties – thigh, liver, skin, gizzard, heart, wing, fillet, soft bone, tail, and minced and stuff in a dumpling.
Then, there is the pork belly variation where the slices of meat are wrapped around an assortment of vegetables including mushroom, asparagus, tomato, garlic and lettuce. Under this section, there are curry rice and fried noodle options. These are quite ingenious, actually. The former is a ball of fried noodles wrapped with pork belly, much like a noodle pop. The latter is a ball of rice given the same treatment and served in a generous pool of curry gravy.
Source: The Food Chapter
These Japanese potato croquettes are the cousins of the French croquette. Made by mixing mashed potatoes with meat, seafood or vegetables and white sauce that are then shaped into patties, breaded and then deep fried to a crispy brown, korokke can be eaten on their own, made into a sandwich or atop a steaming bowl of rice.
At Irodori Japanese Restaurant, one of their signature dishes is korokke. Their potato patties have vegetables and meat, and are generous patties of crispy yumminess. Ma Masion’s Crispy Kani Cream Croquette uses a crab sauce that adds a creamy richness to the smooth mashed potatoes.
Source: Why Waste Annual Leave
Perhaps the earliest introduction Singapore got to taiyaki was when department store Yaohan open its doors in 1974. Since its closure more than two decades later, getting hold of these fish-shaped pancakes filled with red beans have become a little harder.
Thankfully, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, the go-to destination for all things Japanese, has a stall at their basement food hall where you can get your fill of taiyaki. Mr Obanyaki offers taiyaki filled with your choice of azuki beans, custard, cream cheese, green tea azuki beans, and mochi.
Source: 8 Days
If that is not impressive enough, Soe Tam Jiak at 313@Somerset offers taiyaki with even more imaginative fillings – chocolate banana, coconut gula melaka (palm sugar), sugared cinnamon and sweet potato. Just in case that does not whet your appetite, they have a savoury section as well with fillings such as garlic butter, teriyaki chicken, mushroom, egg mayo with chicken ham and mashed potato.
Source: Little Day Out
Yakimo is Japanese sweet potatoes. They may not sound particularly spectacular but anyone who has tasted these roasted starchy root vegetables will tell you that the Japanese variety of sweet potatoes in quite unlike any other. Sweeter and smoother, their intense flavour is enhanced by a nutty taste not unlike that of chestnuts.
Source: The Finder
Don Don Donki is where you go to get your taste of this Kyushu delicacy. Sold by weight, these sweet snacks are not exactly cheap. Yet, they are often snapped up the moment they are ready for sale. If you cannot get your sweet potato fix at Don Don Donki, try KURIYA Japanese Market which also sells these delicious treats.
Source: Seth Lui
Contrary to what its name suggests, there are no melons in melon pan. Instead, this sweet bun which has a roughly scored, crispy top layer is so named because it looks like a rock melon. Asanoya Boulangerie offers not just the regular melon pan but also a matcha version shaped like a turtle that is almost too cute to eat.
Source: Little Day Out
Dango is akin to mochi except they are served on a stick. Made with rice flour, they usually feature three balls. Depending on the season and region, they can be coated in a soy sauce-based syrup; coloured white, pink and green to resemble cherry blossom trees; slathered with azuki paste; coated with soybean powder; and even covered with sesame seeds. Don Don Donki stocks mitarashi dango – three sticks of glutinous rice balls in a sweet-savoury soy sauce syrup. It is sticky sweetness at its best.