In the mood for love and sashimi

Japanese for a first date is always a good idea—there’s the natural elegance in the preparation of the cuisine, but also the casual ease in sharing a plate of sashimi. And if things get awkward, omakase saves the day, every time (just look super engrossed in what the chef is doing). Here are some of the island’s best Japanese restaurants for a honeyed but tasty night out; good luck on that date.
 

999.99


If your date is a city-slicking urbanite with refined tastes and a penchant for nightlife, this Keong Saik restaurant ticks all the boxes. First, there is the location—right in the heart of Saturday night action, with plenty of cocktail bars for a pre- or post-meal drink. Then there is the industrial-chic interiors of this refurbished shophouse—think wall-to-wall exposed brick, exposed pipes and a long bar along the open kitchen, where you can get close. The food doesn’t disappoint either, with Japanese-European fusion dishes like the Amberjack carpaccio with caviar, and the black cod meuniere with morel, daikon radish with jus de mer.
 

Boruto


There aren’t too many Spanish-inspired Japanese restaurants in Singapore, and when you couple that with Boruto’s high-ceilinged, warmly lit interiors, you have a classic date night with an industrial edge on your hands. For food, think intriguing options like beef tataki, made with A3 wagyu from Saga, foie gras a la plancha with shiitake jam; and black truffle somen with sakura ebi and caviar.
 

Fat Cow


For a carnivorous date, look no further than this Japanese “meat atelier”. If it’s your first date, grab a spot at the 16-seater U-shaped counter, where you can make (non-awkward) conversation while watching the chefs in action. For a more intimate date, grab one of their utterly charming “private rooms”— pale wooden tables separated by screens and shoji doors. The star of the menu is the imported A5 wagyu, but don’t miss delicate appetizers like the zucchini blossom tempura too.
 

Forlino


Sweep your date off their feet with sweeping views of the city skyline. The wraparound windows at One Fullerton’s Italian restaurant Forlino affords panoramas of Marina Bay and the CBD, setting the perfect mood for a weeknight date. Japanese chef Yohhei Sasaki sprinkles his dishes with plenty of delicate Japanese touches. Try the linguini aglio olio, which here gets not only bottarga from Sardinia, but also generous pieces of Hokkaido sea urchin and a squeeze of yuzu.
 

IKYU


Easily one of the most atmospheric places on this list, this long, narrow and elegantly lit Tiong Bahru stalwart is great both for sushi (best enjoyed at the bar) and casual but stylish Japanese and Japanese-fusion dining. There’s also a great seven-course omakase ($138) if you’re feeling indulgent.
 

Izy


If you fancy yourself a rock star couple that eschews traditional romance, check out what’s in store for club-like Japanese-American izakaya Izy. Cozy up knee-to-knee at the dimly lit bar, and snap a few selfies with the colorful mural behind you. Food-wise, there’s a $230 menu for two, which includes poke bowls, sashimi in Japanese tofu skin and rice bowls topped with uni, ikura and negitoro. For an extra $30 per person, you can pair your meal with three cocktails each—courtesy of secret bar Cache in the back.
 

Kinki


For budding romancers, keep things fun and casual; throw in a pretty waterfront view, and Japanese fusion bar and restaurant Kinki is a great choice. Also famous for its regular DJ gigs, Kinki attracts a healthy crowd of businessfolk and creatives looking to dine on funky dishes like tofu steak with teriyaki sauce, foie gras and scallop sushi, and Asian-inspired cocktails.
 

Le Binchotan


One of 2016’s most talked-about openings, this tunnel-like, industrial-chic French-Japanese is located on Gemmill Lane and feels like dining inside a bunker—a very well-decorated bunker, that is. The specialty here, as the name might suggest, is charcoal-grilled food, though there’re plenty of other dishes, like the foie gras shavings with oden-style daikon, and Japanese red bream atop cold-smoked eggplant with a dash of shoyu.
 

Lewin Terrace


Fort Canning Hill’s ultra-pretty colonial white bungalow is the perfect choice for some good, old fashioned romance—so much so that it’s actually a popular spot for weddings and receptions, too! Chef Hiroyuki Shinkai brings a delicate French-Japanese sensibility to the luxurious menu. Dishes like the Kagoshima wagyu steak and the amadai fish, or the Nippon Rossini—a timeless combination of beef, truffle and foie gras—are sure to make a memorable evening.
 

Sen of Japan


If the relationship is too young for sweeping skyline views and multi-course fine dining, Sen of Japan is a great choice for a low-stakes but memorable date. It's very pretty, with a ground-level view of the bay, and has a contemporary Japanese menu designed by Nakano Hiromi who used to head Las Vegas' legendary NOBU. If you feel a romantic mood is lacking, signatures like the A5 Tochigi wagyu steak and the black cod soy should make up for it nicely.
 

Trattoria 33


If you like your date night right in the heart of the bustling action, head on over to Cuppage Terrace, where chef Nick Goh whips up Italian comfort food with little touches of Japanese thrills. Try the smoked salmon capellini, with house-made fresh pasta and salmon that has been smoked with sakura wood; all topped with nori seaweed and fresh and zesty ikura. Grab a quiet table inside, among the riotously colorful paintings, or get one on the patio and watch the world go by.
 

Wakanui Grill


Wakanui (now located at the beautiful Marina One) is one place you can count on for a carnivorous date. The cozy but modern restaurant serves hearty mains including 21 day-aged New Zealand Ocean beef ribeye and New Zealand spring lamb chop, both cooked over a binchotan grill. Save room for the signature Anna Pavlova, and after that, take a romantic stroll on the grounds of Marina One for the perfect closure.
 

Wharf Oyster Bar & Grill


Not all dates have to be over-the-top—sometimes all you want is to get together with your sweetheart after a long day at work, enjoy the river breeze and chow on some comfort food with a bottle of hoppy IPA. That’s where Wharf Oyster Bar & Grill comes in. The Robertson Quay restaurant is all about hearty fare like grilled meats, burgers and lamb racks. Grab a cozy booth table, and order a half dozen fresh oysters to kickstart the date.