Japan Foods Garden is a mini Japanese food precinct within Food Republic Shaw House. Newly opened in September, it is the latest and probably the first Japanese food cluster in a foodcourt style. That said, the authenticity of what are being offered here, which has 5 different concepts, easily surpasses your typical Japanese restaurant that sets in a mall.
Akasaka Yukun - Steamed Unagi Specialist
If you have been to the Kyushu region, you might have come across this heritage restaurant well-known for their steamed eel dishes. Founded in Kurume, Kyushu in 1952, Akasaka Yukun has 8 outlets across Japan only. This opening in Singapore is actually its first ever overseas branch!
Steamed Eel with Rice and Shredded Egg 4.5/5
Needless to say, what is a must-try here is their Unagi Seiro Mushi 1 Layer ($28.80). The conventional way of treating eel is grilling. However, Yukun steams theirs to keep the meat soft and moist. After tasting it, I can understand why they chose to use the preparation technique. The eel was tender and evenly flavoured with their special sauce - a secret recipe which is now at its third generation. The rice underneath is also well seasoned and tasty on its own. I was told their Unagi Iron Pot is just as popular. Akin to a Bibimbap, I could only imagine the tasty fried bits of the seasoned rice against the hot pot. Something to come back for!
Freshly-made Soba, Tempura and Donburi
A bowl of freshly-made soba seems good for any time of the day. The soba is made on the spot using a machine specially imported all the way from Japan. It compresses the homemade dough and strands of noodles will passes out from the machine that go straight into a pot of boiling water.
Freshly-made Buckwheat Soba with Assorted Tempura 3.8/5
The lightness of the noodles is something that no other commercial soba can offer. Boiled for a framed timing and rinsed in cold water, their Zuru soba ($5.50) is detectable on its own with just the dipping sauce. What's best to go with these slurping goodness is none other than their tempura. Among those that we had tried, Tempura Ebi ($3), Tempura Chicken ($2) and Tempura Sweet Potato ($1), my favourite is their Ebi. The prawn is really huge and succulent. What's notable is also their fluffy batter which leaves my mouth no trace of oil. A look around, we noticed a number of tables ordered their Ten-don. It is hard to miss those gigantic tempura prawns, squid and vegetables piling up high from the rice bowl.
Banzaiya - Kyoto Small Sides Concept
Obanzai is a home-style dining originated in Kyoto, where Japanese families will serve a large variety of small, traditional homecooked dishes to relatives and friends on special occasions. Expect different selections each time you visit Banzaiya, priced from $1.50 to $5.00 each.
Small Dishes 3.8/5
We chose 3 items out of the entire selection. Their Chawanmushi ($2.50) has a silkiness that is beyond my expectations. The portion is also quite generous which probably can feed 2 ladies. Their Fried Tofu ($2.50) is just as outstanding. The sticky glaze on the light batter elevates the humble dish to a whole new level. What doesn't delight me as much is perhaps their Temari Sushi ($4 for 3pcs) which is relatively plain.
Gyu Tetsu Teppanyaki - Japanese Iron Plate Bar
One of the trendy teppanyaki restaurants in Japan, Gyu Tetsu Teppanyaki is here to bring to us their signature US Angus Beef Lemon Steak ($18.80).
US Angus Beef Lemon Steak 4.2/5
After tasting it, I thought the idea of cooking slices of beef with citrus sauce is ingenious. The citrus note brightens up the dish, lifting the taste of the premium beef. Do eat it right away when the meat is still pink and tender. Don't waste the sauce! Dress your rice with the robust sauce that has the essence of the meat and caramelised onions.
Bears Curry Cafe & Bar - Japanese Curry rice, coffee, and Alchoholic Beverages
If you have children with you, you may want to get the adorable Non-spicy Japanese Curry with 'Bear' Rice ($9.80) from Bears Curry Café & Bar.
Non-Spicy Japanese Curry Rice 3/5 and Katsu Black Curry 2.5/5
For once, your kids will be excited about their curry more than anything else. Surprisingly, though non-spicy, the curry was still quite robust and not overly sweet. I didn't quite enjoy Katsu Black Curry ($14.80) which is a spicier curry. I felt that the flavour lacked depth and there was an unpleasant powdery texture due to the usage of charcoal powder.
Although it is a food court setting, the precinct is enclosed and conducive for dining. Considering the fact that a couple of the brands have their first overseas branch right in Singapore, that is already noteworthy offering something unique from the ever so competitive food scene in Singapore, especially with the number of Japanese restaurants and eateries in Singapore.
Written and photography by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food. Note: This is an invited tasting.
Japan Foods Garden
Food Republic Shaw House
350 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 64937300
Nearest MRT: Orchard (NS Line)
Daily: 11am - 10pm
1) Alight at Orchard MRT station. Take Exit A. Take the underpass and walk to Shaw House. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]