Category Archives: Japanese

Panko Restaurant & Bar, Arab Street


Have you ever tried Kushikatsu? Basically, Kushikatsu is skewers of meat or vegetables coated in breaded batter and deep fried. The first time I ate Kushikatsu was in Osaka. I was famished from all the shopping, so I popped by the next available food store, not knowing what I was going to eat. Turns out I would be introduced to an entirely new way of eating skewers. 

I was mind blown. Deep fried food never tasted so refined. I could eat that all day long! No kidding. Fast forward back to Singapore, I tried to find restaurants that specialise in Kushikatsu, but strange, it’s actually really rare in Singapore. 

Then I found Panko, a Kushikatsu bar along Arab Street.

It looks a little daunting to step in, but once you’re inside, it’s a different story.

It’s cosy, warm, and comfortable. 

The table is set up with a tray on which they’ll lay your Kushikatsu skewers. You have a choice of 4 dippings – ponzu, lemon juice, salt and a special salty sauce which tastes like tonkatsu sauce. Once seated, you would be given a cold, wet towel. My partner immediately asked if the meal was going to be expensive. Haha.

The Kushikatsus are fried upon order and sered once they’re ready. Panko goes a step further and advises you on which sauce pairing is the best. In cases where dipping is not needed because the items have their own toppings, the staff would advise you accordingly. Once you’re done, drop your sticks into the little cup provided.

Unagi with Kinome, $5.

Pork Belly with Whole Grain Mustard, $3 and Asparagus with Garlic Mayo, $6.

Wagyu with Oroshi Ponzu Ichimi, $6.

Salmon with Ikura, $6.

Hokkaido Scallop with Nori Dashi Foam, $6.

Shiitake with Chicken Truffle Miso, $8.

Look at the big juicy mushroom!

I like how they split a single skewer to resemble a fork. Keeps the Kushikatsu stable.

The best dish out of all that I tried was the Shiitake with Chicken Truffle Miso. The sweet miso with the truffle shavings paired with each other wonderfully. The weakest dish was the Wagyu with Oroshi Ponzu Ichimi. Unfortunately the wagyu wasn’t as tender as I had expected. I thought it would be those melt in your mouth kind you know?

My experience at Panko was great. The items were fried to perfection – well drained, crunchy,  and fresh. Panko has taken Kushikatsu to the next level with their premium skewers, while still keeping their prices affordable. 

33 Arab Street, S(189197)
+65 6291 3323
Closed Mondays
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 1130am to 12midnight
Sundays: 6pm to 12midnight

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Koki Tamagoyaki, Raffles City Shopping Centre


Koki Tamagoyaki is a specialty snack shop located in Raffles City Shopping Centre. They specialise in Japanese rolled omelette topped with savoury items such as unagi and teriyaki chicken.

While the bento sets look very alluring, Koki Tamagoyaki doesn’t have its own seating area so be sure to find a spot at the fountain before purchasing a bento. Otherwise, it’s going to be quite silly to be walking around eating from such a big box of food.

Flame grilled unagi, $10.50.

I tried the tamagoyaki topped with unagi and a generous helping of seaweed strips. The egg roll was fluffy and the unagi was well grilled. Definitely kept my tummy warm and fuzzy after a long day of shopping.

Koki Tamagoyaki also offers huge choux puffs which I have yet to try, because I don’t like the idea of trying something else from a shop other than its specialty. It’s like eating laksa from a shop famous for satay bee hoon.

I’ll be back to try out the other flavours, but I thought they could focus on creating a bigger variety of toppings rather than coming up with bento sets or choux cream puffs.

252 North Bridge Road, #B1-54, Raffles City Shopping Centre, S(179103)

Daily 10am to 10pm

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Website here (but currently under construction)

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Kuro Maguro, Tanjong Pagar Centre


Kuro Maguro sits within the newly renovated Tanjong Pagar Centre (just above Tanjong Pagar MRT) For lunch, the fresh sashimi bowls come with affordable prices which makes it a good value.

For a small space, the high ceiling works to give a comfortable feeling. I was told that the Japanese chef changes his hair colour and style every now and then so it’s definitely something to look out for.

Salmon Ikura, $20.80++.

Barachirashi, $18.80++.

One of the things I look out for in gauging the authencity of a Japanese restaurant is not only the nationality of the chef, but also little details like the quality of wasabi and origin of the rice. Kuro Maguro didn’t disappoint. The wasabi is freshly grated, complimenting the soft and fluffy Japanese rice. My only qualm for the above two bowls is that the amount of ikura could be more generous. Come on, have you tried those in Japan?

Kuro Maguro offers other rice bowls such as those done aburi style or with tuna as the main fish (sorry, I’m a super big fan of salmon and ikura, hence you can see the similarity in the two bowls above), which I would definitely want to try some day.

They offer much more for dinner in terms of side dishes to share, but If you’re headed here for lunch, do go early as seats are really limited. 

Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street #01-04 S(078884) 

+65 6386 8561

Daily 1130am to 2pm, 530pm to 10pm 

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Sō Ramen, Nex


Try finding RamenPlay at Nex and you’ll end up at this other ramen place called Sō. 

The whole restaurant felt a lot like RamenPlay for a couple of reasons:

1. Its signature ramen bowl is the same as RamenPlay – Tonkotsu broth with Toroniku (braised pork cheek), Cha Shu and Buta Kakuni (braised pork belly in special sauce). Of course, not forgetting the special black onion sauce.

2. The pricing is similar to RamenPlay – affordable. The ramen mentioned above costs only $12.90++.

3. The physical bowls are the same as RamenPlay – I kid you not. 

Intrigued, I did a quick check on RamenPlay’s website to see if Sō was another restaurant under their wing (or possibly them saying they had rebranded). Nope, not a word about it. Also, interestingly, RamenPlay’s outlets at Breadtalk IHQ and Velocity @ Novena Square are now taken over by Sō.

Tonkotsu Toroniku with Ajitama, $9.90++.

The pork cheek was really tender and flavourful! Melts in your mouth and gone before you know it. Definitely not satisfying to only have 2 pieces. Do top it up for a small fee! 

Sō is one place that does their eggs right. The gooey ooey flow of the egg yolk was perfect! The seasoning was also not to overpowering, allowing it to be a nice complement to the ramen.

The tonkotsu soup on the other hand, was a little disappointing. The flavour wasn’t as intense as I had hoped. It’s still nice, but not the kind that I would want to drink till the very last drop. 

Uobushi Tonkotsu Toroniku, $9.90++.

Bonito flavoured tonkotsu soup! As compared to  Sō’s tonkotsu soup, the uobushi tonkotsu is much more flavourful and more palatable even towards the last few drops. I personally liked it a lot, but my partner didn’t. Take this only if you are a fan of those dancing flakes on your takoyaki balls. 

Sō offers five types of soup bases, including spicy miso which is a blend of 7 different types of miso. The pricing for these ramen bowls can go as low as $7.90++ for a basic bowl, which makes Sō a very affordable comfort food anytime. 

Nex, 23 Serangoon Central, #B2-58, S(556083)

+65 6634 4089 

Mondays to Fridays – 11.30am to 10pm

Saturdays and Sundays – 11am to 10pm

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Kogane Yama, Bugis Junction


Slowly but surely, tempura bowls are taking over Singapore. I remember the first tempura bowl I ate was Tendon Ginza Itsuki at Tanjong Pagar and it has since become my Singapore benchmark for all tempura bowls in Singapore.

I’ve read reviews on Kogane Yama and many of them focused on the customisation of the tempura bowl. It got me excited because many of the tempura bowls around only have about three or four variations of the bowl – seafood, non-seafood, vegetables. I thought that I could finally pick my favourite ingredients! (or rather, just not pick the bell peppers).

But… chey. Customisation here refers to choosing which type bowl you want, choosing your carb (which honestly is also offered in some tendon shops), and choosing your spiciness level. Erm okay. 

Here at Kogane Yama, you’ll have to pay for chawanmushi and miso soup. To have either udon or soba, it’s a dollar more. And they don’t serve water as well so… you get it. Top up, top up, top up. Urgh.

Prawn bowl. They serve it with the prawn heads.

Vegetable bowl.

Putting my annoyance aside, the food is delicious! The tempura batter is light, fluffy, crispy, and well seasoned. It can definitely fight with Tendon Ginza Itsuki tastewise. I tried spicy level 1 and really loved the extra kick. I did think that it was already quite spicy for a level 1, so for those who would be trying for the first time, start with level 1.

What disappointed me was the variety for the vegetable bowl. They didn’t even have eggplant! Heyyyy, I’ve been to a lot of Tendon shops, and even in those family Japanese restaurants that don’t specialise in Tendons, the eggplant is a must-have vegetable for all vegetable tempura. Where’s the pumpkin? The oyster mushroom? The lotus root? 

The rice was also barely enough. My partner isn’t a big eater, but halfway through the bowl he had already finished his rice, so I had to give him part of mine. I then had to ration my portion very carefully. The reason why I brought this up is because I feel that Tendons are slightly saltier because of the sauce, so having sufficient rice is a must. Again, we are not big eaters and we never had troubles with other Tendon shops so this really jumped at us.

All in all, I really liked the taste of Kogane Yama but my experience wasn’t the best so I might drop by only if I’m at Bugis and craving for Tendon bowls.

200 Victoria Street, #02-50, S(188021)

Mondays to Thursdays 11am to 10pm

Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 11pm

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Himawari, Alexandra Road

Worth a try.

Himawari is one of the better quality ala carte Japanese buffets in Singapore. Its menu variety is extensive, but there are little pockets here and there which I thought could have been done better.

Sashimi platter. Large chunks of fish.

Natto Maguro. Remember to season it with lots of soy sauce!

Agedashi Toufu. Very light batter, but the sauce could be more flavourful.

Teriyaki Salmon. This was good! I think they added something to their teriyaki sauce. It’s not the commercial teriyaki that you can find outside.

Chicken Katsu Toji. This was good too.

Mixed Tempura. Lightly battered which made it really crunchy and not jelat at all.

Beef fillet. Skip this. It was too beefy and cold when served.

Amaebi. All time favourite.

California Roll.

Crab Patty.

Sukiyaki. The sweetness was not too overwhelming, which kept us asking for more beef.

Sukiyaki beef. Yums!

They offer sushi as well and I know what you’re thinking. Why eat sushi at a buffet right? I forgot to take a picture but their sushi is done Japanese style, meaning, toppings are more than the rice. I get super frustrated with Singapore sushi because the rice is always more than the topping so I was quite pleased with Himawari’s sushi.

Himawari at Alexandra also serves Shabu-Shabu and Teppanyaki but we were too full to try their Shabu-Shabu. As for the Teppanyaki, you have to proceed to an outdoor seating area and dine there. Visiting for lunch, it was scorching hot and not a single soul went outside for the Teppanyaki. Time for Himawari to rethink their Teppanyaki?

For the lunch time price of $57 after taxes and service charge, I felt that Himawari lacked that premium feel to its buffet. Though the variety was arguably excellent, the whole buffet felt very basic. The sashimi variety was very limited, no ikura (salmon roe), no cha soba, no fancy sushi rolls, limited grilled dishes, budget ice cream, and more.

What irked me really was how they would impose a tonne of additional charges on you if you chose different options. For example, if you wanted to change your Shabu-Shabu soup to a better flavoured one – additional 5++. Fresh wasabi – additional 1.50++. Free flow soft drinks and one scoop of premium ice cream – additional 8++. Even wanting a cup of coffee would set you back by another 4++. Any desire to visit Himawari a second time has been killed by this.

991B Alexandra Road, #01-08/09, S(119970)

+65 6272 1110

Daily 1130pm to 230pm, 6pm to 10pm

Website here. You can download their buffet menu from there.

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Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen, Liang Court

Worth a try.

What’s this volcano thingy? It’s Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen! Kazan (火山) means volcano in Japanese. What happens here is that your noodles are served to you in an extremely hot stone bowl. The waiter then pours the tonkotsu soup from the flask into the stone bowl before quickly capping the volcano lid. The end result is lots of steam gushing through the tiny opening, creating a volcano effect minus the eruption of tonkotsu soup and ramen. Be careful. 🔥

Pretty interesting experience. After a minute or so, the waiter removes the volcano lid and viola! Your noodles are ready to be eaten.

I chose the spicy miso ($15.80). I loved it! The soup was  flavourful and the ingredients were all crunchy and fresh. The char siew was quite forgettable though.

Enjoy your ramen! The meal comes with a bowl of rice which you can add into the soup after finishing your noodles. Two ways of enjoyment. 

Won’t you be too full? Yes and no. Firstly, all ramen comes in two sizes. The smaller portion suffices for most people. Secondly, it looks like a lot of carbs, but actually the noodles are being propped up by a generous handful of bean sprouts and vegetables. This prevents the noodles from getting burnt by the hot stone bowl. That said, this ramen is certainly not for you if you happen to dislike bean sprouts. 

177 River Valley Road, #01-09/10 Liang Court, S(179030)

Daily 11am to 1030pm

Fridays and Saturdays till 3am

+65 63976636

Website here

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