Grab your mates and say “kanpai” over countless glasses of sake at these Japanese bars and izakayas.
We can’t get enough of Japanese imports – from sushi and chirashi bowls to ramen and Japanese curry. But on the boozy side of Japanese culture, the Singapore drink scene’s got it covered too with plenty of sake bars. If you’re after a couple of cups, you’ll want to make a beeline to these eight splendid sake bars for your fix of the delightfully refreshing rice liquor.
Run by two passionate sake-lovers, ShuKuu Izakaya is an excellent spot for sake newcomers to get into the spirit with the help of the bar’s sake sommeliers. In fact, so passionate is the duo behind ShuKuu Izakaya, that they hold sake seminars and have even set up a sake blog that’ll give you an idea of what to expect from their comprehensive sake menu.
ShuKuu Izakaya, 8 Stanley Street, Singapore 068727. p. 6327 9240. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-11pm; Sat 6pm-10.30pm. Closed on Sun.
Dimly-lit and furnished with huge sake barrels from floor to ceiling, Boruto reminds us of Tokyo’s upper-class tachinomi (standing) bars, except there are seats here! Founded by Patrick Tan, owner of one of the best robatayaki restaurants in Singapore, Tamashii Robataya, this sake bar has already garnered a steady following of Japanese expats. Boruto has over 80 different sake brands, 50 of which are exclusively stocked here, including a woozy range of high-quality junmai daiginjo and daishiki. Splurge and order the priciest bottle on the menu, the Juyondai Soko ($2,280 per 1.8-litre).
Boruto, #01-01 Golden Castle Building, 80 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058710, p. 6532 0418.
Ishinomaki Grill & Sake
Serving up robatayaki and izakaya dishes, this grill and sake bar in Orchard is all about fresh seafood and seasonal produce. Ishinomaki also takes pride in its sake selection and houses premier sake grades like the Junmai Daiginjo and Junmai Ginjyo.
Ishinomaki Grill & Sake, #B1-02/02A/03 Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road, Singapore 238871, p. 6737 1065.
Planning a sake-fuelled night out at an izakaya joint isn’t an excuse to skimp on a good feed. JINzakaya, aims to elevate the izakaya experience from a salaryman haunt to a legitimate dining alternative. In addition to your regular meat skewers (and upscale ones like foie gras and wagyu beef), JINzakaya offers a sake menu featuring 25 labels from Japan.
JINzakaya, #01-08/10 Owen Link, 1 Farrer Park Station Road. p. 6443 1173.
Meaning “friend” in Japanese, Tomo is indeed an ideal waterhole to see the best (or embarrassing) sides of your mates when they’re hammered. With its extensive selection of reasonably priced sakes, it’s easy to see why this place is ideal for bonding and catch-ups. As for grub, expect izakaya fare like deep-fried king prawns, grilled squid and garlic fried rice.
Tomo Izakaya, #01-04 Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road, Singapore 179020, p. 6333 0100.
Helmed by the head honchos behind Ki-sho – from which it’s nestled just one floor above – Kakure’s traditional Meiji- and Taisho-era décor will leave you feeling hidden away from the doldrums of reality. What’s real, however, is Kakure’s attention to quality ingredients in its omakase menu (begins from $88). But for the full-on treat, you need to pair Kakure’s artisanal dishes with its extensive array of sakes to unlock a new palette of flavours. Just ask any of Kakure’s sake sommeliers – they include some of the first Singaporeans to be certified in Japan – and they’ll help you choose your tip-top tipple.
Kakure, 29 Scotts Road, Lvl 2 Chateau TCC, Singapore 228224, p. 6733 5251. Open Mon-Sat 6.30pm-1am.
The Ippudo franchise is famous for more than just ramen! Bar Ippudo’s concept store at Shaw Centre stocks a dizzying array of over 80 sakes. If you’re after a particular sake, browse online beforehand and browse through their sakes, conveniently labelled with flavour profiles like bold, light and smooth, and fruity.
Bar Ippudo, #04-23 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228208. p. 6235 2547.
Dosukoi Sake Bar
You know a sake bar is authentic when you call in and the barman answers the phone in Japanese. Dosukoi’s interior is done up in a slightly grungey, old time-y manner – you’ll probably feel like the protagonist of an old Japanese drama. The bar stocks an ever-changing variety of sakes – just pick ’em from the menu or point to a bottle behind the bar that strikes your fancy.
Dosukoi Sake Bar, #B1-24/2 Cuppage Plaza, 5 Koek Road. p. 6733 6847.