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15 Best Izakayas in Singapore

15 Best Izakayas in Singapore

As izakayas continue to spring up all over Singapore, we’ve realized that this might just be one of the most fun forms of dining — if you’ve yet to try, you really should. These casual, lively Japanese watering holes are meant for groups of friends to wind down over bite-sized goodies and beers after work. You can keep going for hours, ordering small bites and more drinks as your worries slip away. We've sussed out the best izakayas — from crispy chicken tails in Orchard to rosti mentai in the CBD and buta kakuni in Tanjong Pagar — start saving these places to your Wishlist!
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This casual, unpretentious izakaya along Robertson Quay dishes out charcoal-grilled skewers, along with a wide selection of affordably-priced sake — no wonder it is a hit among working executives! On a cool night, opt to sit outdoors where you get to enjoy the breeze as you sip on a cup of warm sake (from $11). Start with the Pidan Tofu ($4) that is topped with ebiko. Smooth, savoury and rife with flavour, it might take all of your willpower to not order a second helping. Of the skewers, don't miss the Scallop Rolled with Pork ($13 for two) and the Ton Toro ($7 for two) — seasoned pork cheek grilled over charcoal for that charred crisp around the fatty portions. If you need your carbs, go for the Octopus and Seaweed Fried Rice ($13) and be sure to dip the complimentary cabbage in the accompanying miso dip. Reservations are not necessary, so there's room for spontaneity.
Avg price: $50 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Dex Neo

The refurbished Kazu Sumiyaki in Cuppage Plaza recently relinquished its old, homey ambience for a modernised vibe, but that's not stopping the regular crowd of Japanese salarymen from frequenting. Thankfully, the excellent menu remains the same. Come for the Foie Gras ($7) and the Tontoro Ringo ($4.50) skewers. The latter is fatty pork jaw skewered with apple chunks for an extra burst of sweetness. Thanks to the charcoal grill, all the skewers here are redolent with smokiness. Another skewer to try is the Hotate Kai ($6), three fresh, plump scallops lightly grilled. Don't leave without trying the Okonomiyaki ($3), their unique take marries Osaka's famed okonomiyaki and takoyaki. End on a sweet note with the Yaki Awayuki ($10) — chewy mochi wrapped around a ball of ice cream, which is then barbecued and topped with a cluster of spun sugar. Reservations are highly recommended.
Avg price: $55 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Justin Teo

It is hard to find a restaurant in town that makes you feel quite so relaxed and at home. On the first floor of Orchard Plaza is this humble restaurant with affordable, great food. Order the comforting Zou Sui ($5.80), a hearty Japanese chicken porridge that sees a big bowl of rice combined with chicken, egg and leek in a flavourful broth. This is good for two to share as a base. Then, order the impeccably grilled P-Toro ($5.80 for two), a pair of pork neck skewers slathered in an addictive sauce. This is a must-order here. The Sagari ($5.90), or beef harami, the super tender cut of meat near the diaphragm, is excellent, beautifully tender and pink in the middle. Don't leave without trying the Ren-kon ($4.90 for two), a fun pair of lotus root skewers that are lightly breaded and deep fried. If you're in the mood for fish, the Saury ($7), which comes whole and with grated radish on the side, will satisfy. Sake is affordably priced, as is the beer. We can imagine coming here for just about anything — casual weeknight dates, to have a comforting meal alone, or with a few friends.
Avg Price: $30 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Jayne Tan

Run by friendly Singaporeans who are passionate about creating an authentic izakaya experience, Shukuu is a homey, comfortable spot to wind down a big group of friends. Its unpretentious vibe puts you at ease instantly, as you sit back and nurse a cold beer. For a refreshing start to the meal, get the Maguro Yukke ($12) — fresh tuna chunks lightly marinated in sesame and la-yu chilli oil, made silky-smooth when the quail egg yolk is mixed in. If you love mentaiko, you must have the satisfying Rosti Mentai ($8), long strips of potato 'noodles' doused in irresistible mentaiko sauce, and the Kani Gratin ($7), a baked crab dish mixed with cheese and mentaiko. From the yakitori selection, go for the generous chicken thigh ($4) which is tender and juicy. Also treat yourself to some Sake no Sakamushi ($12 for three), oysters steamed with a splash of sake! Split a big bottle of house sake ($138 for 1.8L), it's very worth it.
Avg price: $60 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Russell Chua

Apart from a Japanese wooden signboard hanging above, no other signs indicate that this is a restaurant, let alone an izakaya. But beyond those large, sliding wooden doors lies a haven for both Japanese and locals to wind down with a cold beer after a long day. Located on the same stretch as Spize at River Valley, Tsukune Ichigo specialises in grilled chicken skewers. First timers should order the Tsukune Set ($14), meatball skewers done five different ways. We especially love the ones slathered in sweet and savoury tare sauce, followed by the moreish okonomiyaki sauce (it tastes like the real deal!) and the ponzu sauce. There is a minimum order of two skewers per flavour for individual skewers. You won't go wrong with the flavourful Negishio ($6 for two) — skewered chicken lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled then topped generously with a garnish of chopped leek, onions and sesame oil.
Avg price: $30 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Muriel A

By the guys behind The Flying Squirrel comes this cosy Japanese tapas bar cum omakase joint. Squirrelled away (haha) on a second floor shophouse in Telok Ayer (they're right above Park Bench Deli), the classy space serves up amazingly tasty moreish munchies that would go fabulously with their well-curated menu of sake (from $65 a carafe) and whisky (from $19 a glass). The intimate setting and soft lighting make it perfect for a romantic date too. We like that the tapas menu is compact and simple. Settle in by the bar and order the Parmesan Chicken ($10) — the bite-sized pieces of deep-fried karaage are topped generously with shaved parmesan, resulting in an umami bomb in every mouthful. The Soft Shell Crab ($15) and Japanese Calamari ($13) are simple, but hit the spot. For something more substantial, try the rice bowls — both the Bara Chirashi ($25) and Grilled Unagi Rice ($24) are very tasty and generous on the protein.
Avg price: $50 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Traveling Noodle

Hankering for a late night treat? Head to Dosukoi, a no frills izakaya that serves authentic yet affordable dishes all through the night. Like Keria Japanese Restaurant that is located just a few doors down, you won't find any Singaporeans here — only Japanese salarymen converging at the counter for a drink or two. The menu is predominantly in Japanese characters with a loose English translation, so it's best if you can come here with a Japanese friend in tow. Start with the Tako Wasabi ($6), an appetizer that is a Japanese favourite. For those unaccustomed to eating raw bite-sized pieces of octopus mixed with soy sauce and freshly grated wasabi, it's a must-try delicacy that goes well with cold beer. Look out for other yummy bites, like the Mentaiko Ika ($8), raw squid served with a generous portion of mentaiko and the Buta no Kakuni ($12) — braised pork belly that is so tender to the touch, served with an egg on the side.
Avg price: $40 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Akira Hirakawa

Located conveniently in 100AM at Tanjong Pagar, this is just the spot for comforting food after a long day. Sit outside if the weather is cool. Start by ordering a beer while you munch on the crispy, salty Bonjiri or chicken tail skewer ($4), then order the satisfying Gyoza Croquette ($9), where the meaty fillings of a gyoza are rolled into balls, breaded and deep fried. Then, dig into the sultry Buta Kakuni ($14) featuring sinfully tender Iberico pork belly slow-simmered in mirin, soy and sugar, complete with a wobbly egg on the side. This dish begs for a bowl of rice. Come by with a small group of friends or for a fuss-free date, this could fast become your no-brainer choice for week night dinners!
Avg Price: $40 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Jayne Tan

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This Keong Saik izakaya marries convention with the contemporary, as seen in the skilful juxtaposition of traditional Japanese porcelain tableware against a modern, industrial chic set-up. Food wise, expect a creative spin on regular izakaya plates. The Big Woks' Mushrooms (from $12) is simple but so umami-rich, while the Crispy Brussel Sprouts (from $15) get an upgrade with mirin-glazed bacon and a Japanese mustard dip. The Grilled Duck Breast (from $21) goes stunningly well with the accompanying pumpkin purée and red Japanese pickles. Also try the House Smoked Bacon Rice (from $18), a risotto-like rice dish with bacon chunks, scratchings and a sprinkling of spring onion, topped with an egg yolk. Don't miss out on the drinks. We are coming back for the Pureiboi ($18) — an uplifting blend of ginger-infused Captain Morgan spiced rum with spices, honey and bitters — but we are also excited about their new cocktail menu, set to launch soon! Pro tip: Plates come in two sizes. Get the small, so you get variety.
Avg price: $80 per person with a cocktail
Photo by Burppler Muriel A

Hidden in the basement of Cuppage Plaza is this izakaya that sees mostly Japanese salarymen — a sure sign that this is as authentic as it gets. The space is cosy, homely and small, so come with a party of no more than four. Start with the Nebaneba ($8.30) — a salad mix of natto and okra — a favourite amongst the Japanese. Then move on to the Mentaiko Cabbage ($10.60) — cabbage leaves stir-fried and redolent with so much wok hei that it puts zi char vegetables to shame. Recommended here are their value-for-money sets ($25). There are plenty options to choose from, including yakiniku, sashimi and omu rice. Each set comes with a side of super fresh sashimi, miso soup, rice and wafer. Reservations highly recommended.
Avg price: $40 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Hilary See

Located at Punggol Settlement with a gorgeous view overlooking the river, this izakaya is the perfect getaway. Come with a group of friends or family and wash down your worries with a bucket of Sapporo beer ($40 for five beers). Share the super tasty Mentai Cheese Fries ($13) before ordering some of their yummy skewers. Izakaya 95 uses binchotan charcoal, a high grade charcoal from oak trees, that makes the skewers more flavourful. The Chicken Set ($18 for five skewers), which consists of minced meat, skin, thigh, wings and loin, is great for sharing. Otherwise, the minced chicken meat, Tsukune Tare ($4) skewer and the chicken loin, Sasami Cheese ($4) skewer both come highly recommended. Still hungry? Dig into their luxurious Foie Gras Fried Rice ($15) or sneak a little more alcohol into your system with their Sake Fried Rice ($8). Reservations not necessary.
Avg price: $45 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Clive Tan

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Gather your friends for a laidback evening at this long-standing izakaya on the second floor of Cuppage Plaza. This no frills joint has been around for over 25 years and the same Japanese chef still remains, so you know your food is in good hands! They serve everything here, from light bites that pair well with ice cold beer to hearty meals like Japanese curry rice and bento boxes that are bound to fill you up. Start the night with some skewers like the crowd favourite grilled pork belly, Butabara Kushiyaki ($7.50 for four) and the value-for-money chicken skewers, Yakitori ($6 for four). Need something heavier? Order the Nijumaru Bento ($20) — it comes with a tasty slab of pork belly, fresh sashimi, crispy tempura, rice and miso soup. Reservations are recommended.
Avg price: $40 per person with drinks
Photo by Burppler Dixon Chan

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