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Best izakayas in Singapore

Where to find top-notch sake, cocktails and Japanese-inspired bar bites. 

By SG Staff | Feb 22, 2016

  • Best izakayas in Singapore
    Uma Uma, Izakaya Bar & Restaurant
  • Best izakayas in Singapore
    Jinzakaya
  • Best izakayas in Singapore
    Bar Ippudo
Satiate your thirst for sake, cocktails and craft beers at these eight specialty bars and restaurants. Here's where to say kanpai.

Bam! Tapas-Sake Bar

Sample the unusual pairing of sake and Spanish tapas at this gastro bar, which features a menu that changes fortnightly depending on what’s available in the market. Besides small plates, the restaurant also offers omakase and set lunches (from $38), with items such as cold capellini with tobiko and bamboo clam, quail with peanut, celery and apple, and Spanish pork with organic mushrooms and ginger rice.

Bar Ippudo

 
Located right across Ippudo Ramen, 12-seater sake gastrobar carries around 70 bottles of sake from over 20 sake breweries all over Japan, and the space doubles as a bottle shop, too. Pair each sake with otsumami, or bar bites like oden ($2 per ingredient), a yong tau foo-like dish comprising items like a boiled egg, daikon, fishcakes and konjac jelly; crispy corn ($6) and beef tataki ($6).

Izy

Adding a big dose of cool to this quieter bit of Club Street is swish joint Izy, helmed by chef Kazumasa Yazawa (formerly of Waku Ghin). As you’d expect, he takes the traditional bar menu to new heights with small plates like ocean trout carpaccio ($28). With snazzy interiors straight out of a cyberpunk movie, and a list of sakes, small batch single malts, craft beers and bespoke cocktails to work through, it’s no surprise that this place is always packed with cool cats.

Jinzakaya

This new, laid-back Japanese eatery by the Les Amis Group offers a varied menu of small plates, skewers, yakimono mains, salads, ramen and udon, on top of a respectable list of sakes, shochu and beers on tap. Food-wise, you'll find interesting selections such as the hiyashi chuka ramen ($12.80), with crab meat, salmon roe, shredded chicken and cold noodles; MBS 8 Wagyu namban ($15), spring onion wrapped with sliced Wagyu beef and kitsune natto ($3.50), fried tofu stuffed with fermented beans.

KOI Sushi + Izakaya

Another Club Street offering is KOI, a cozy bar which spills out onto the road on weekend nights. It’s a great spot to nurse an interesting concoction like the Cherry Blossom ($16)—Effen black cherry, Kirei umeshu, cherry, lime—and the Truffled Japanese Whiskey Sour ($16). The vibe here is pretty low key, with local artworks lining the walls and simple but satisfying bar bites like scallop sashimi.

Neon Pigeon

Taking up residence at co-working space The Working Capitol, this modern izakaya sports a hip, grunge-inspired facade with grafitti murals, a sexy crowd and a trendy menu. You'll find sharing plates like chilled cucumber with crush chili peanuts and goma ($8) and smoked baby back ribs in sake barbecue sauce ($18). The restaurant also offers a list of craft sakes, wines, whiskys and liqueurs, special mention goes to their cocktails, craft beer and special in-house junmai daiginjo sake ($28). There are also regular parties and events happening there, like the popular Knife Fight series (which pits chefs in Singapore against each other in a Hell's Kitchen-like showdown), and guest appearances such as a bartending pop-up by Michito Kaneko (Winner of 2015 World Class Bartender's Competition).

Sumiya 

This retro (think vintage enamel signs and copper crockery) grill and izakaya has been packing in crowds with its DIY-style meals. But if you’re here to drink—and you will, because this joint’s got the cheapest Asahi in town at a mere $5.80 a pop—you’ll want to go for all-you-can-grab edamame ($5.80) and deep-fried goodness (from $8.80). Oh, there are shochu, cocktails and sakes, too, if you can somehow resist their beer deal.

The Horse’s Mouth

Thanks to a big sign outside the shopping mall, this underground drinking den is no longer as hush-hush as it used to be, though parting the unmarked curtain in Uma Uma Ramen and heading down the dark steps still feels excitingly illicit. Although you’d expect too-cool-for-you barkeeps and impenetrable menus here, the mixologists are truly friendly, chatty and do their best to deliver a fun cocktail experience.

Uma Uma, Izakaya Bar & Restaurant

This ramen shop, yakitori joint and izakaya-in-one has a curated food menu with six different types of dry and soup ramen ($14-16), and a larger selection of yakitori, kushikatsu (breaded and fried skewers) and bar bites. Of course, no izakaya is complete without a decent drinks menu, and Uma Uma has an extensive variety ranging from spirits like rum, Bourbon and Scotch to sakes and signature and classic cocktails like Negroni ($18) and Aphrodisiac ($18).

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