The freshest Japanese food in Singapore
Deep inside the rapidly-expanding downtown shopping mall of Marina Square lies its newest addition, Emporium Shokuhin. It’s a bit hard to say what Emporium Shokuhin is in just one mouthful, because there’s a lot of brand-new stuff to see and do here. We’ll just say, then, that it’s the newest Japanese food paradise in Singapore, with a bustling live seafood market, a premium beef aging facility, a well-stocked gourmet grocer, and 8 new-to-market dining concepts. Phew!
Marina Square is well-connected, with pedestrian links to Suntec City, Millenia Walk, the Ritz-Carlton, the Esplanade, and walking distance from Promenade, Esplanade and City Hall stations (Esplanade Station is the nearest). Follow the bright signboards and look out for Emporium Shokuhin.
If you’re travelling by bus, the nearest bus-stop is on Raffles Avenue, in front of Esplanade – Theatres By The Bay (bus stop code 02061).
The new wing is located nearest the junction of Raffles Link and Raffles Avenue, opposite the Esplanade. If you find yourself at burger joint Carl’s Jr, you have a bit of walking to do. It’s on the other corner entirely.
Once inside, you’ll see this handy map to the Emporium. We decided to first check out the live seafood market.
With fresh oysters, scallops, sea urchins, and several varieties of crusty crustaceans, housed in large tanks where you can peer into a watery world, this is truly a seafood lover’s paradise. The prices here are a cut above what you’ll find at neighbourhood supermarkets, but that’s the price you pay for a premium source of fresh seafood. It opens daily at 8:30 a.m.
The market is home to truly premium seafoods – just 100g of Alaskan King Crab will set you back $12.80. Feeling crabby lately?
Flown in from faraway France, these oysters cost $28 for half a dozen. You can eat them right there at the market or have them shucked for takeaway.
Norwegian scallops are $6 apiece.
Beef Dry-Aging Facility
The first customised facility that ages beef for sale in Singapore, this room is kept at a fixed temperature and humidity to allow beef to dry and age. Aging improves the flavour and texture of raw meat, and the longer the beef is aged, the more tender and flavourful it’s said to be. This isn’t something you see every day.
The Emporium imports very tender, very juicy, and VERY buttery Japanese A5 Miyazaki beef ribeye ($298/kilo), USDA Prime graded beef ($69/kilo), as well as honey-baked hams, grass-fed beef and pre-marinated meats from popular sources like Australia and U.S.A.
A live seafood market and an impressive selection of meats – surf and turf, anyone?
Japanese Gourmet Grocer
One unique thing the Emporium Shokuhin Gourmet Grocer can boast: it’s got the first Ehime prefecture-endorsed satellite store outside Japan. This section showcases the best of Ehime prefecture’s fresh produce, such as its sweet mandarin oranges, marmalades and salad dressings.
Be prepared to pay a bit more for these – these products are flown eight hours from Japan to our shores. One box of mandarin oranges like these can set you back about $10.
One bottle of Ehime orange juice sells for about $5.
Also on display in the grocer are a vibrantly colourful array of Japanese foods, fruits, confectionery, and drinks. Moving through the rainbow-esque aisles was like walking on sunshine – and don’t it feel good.
The Lucky Eight
Next, it was on to the Japanese restaurants and cafes – there are exactly 8 of them, including Ready-To-Eat, a takeaway section in the grocer. Eight is considered a lucky number in Japanese culture, as the character, 八, broadens gradually, and is thus said to represent prosperous growth.
1. Burosu Honten
I’m mad about ramen, so given a choice between these Japanese restaurants, my first choice was the ramen restaurant – Burosu Honten.
Having just opened, they seemed understaffed, as I saw a long queue forming despite some empty spaces in the restaurant. The ramen wasn’t fantastic, but not too bad either – just okay-okay. My advice – stay away from the ultimate broth that has all the ramen flavours mixed, and stick with the tonkotsu ramen, which is decent if a tad safe. Prices were reasonable – about $14-$17 for a bowl of ramen.
Pronounced ‘Gyuu-Plus’, this meat grill offers a decent selection of prime beef cuts, some of which are aged at the glass room right beside the restaurant. You can scroll through the beef cuts on a tablet outside the restaurant if you’d just like a look. One plate of freshly grilled meat can cost anywhere from $10-$25.
3. Umi + Vino
A European/Japanese seafood wine bar, this high-end restaurant sells sea treasures, like crab, lobster, and oysters, that are also sold at the live seafood market. But here, you’ve got premium wines to accompany it. A hearty meal here can cost about $20-$40.
From the several bottles of wine neatly arrayed in the polished glass wine cabinets, you should be able to guess that this is not some run-of-the-mill restaurant. Takujo allows customers to pick out their seafood from a live seafood trolley and promises some of the highest-quality and freshest seafood from Japan and around the world.
Such quality doesn’t come cheap, so have a look at the prices first before buying. An omakase meal can start at about $138.
5. Senmi Sushi
A cosy sushi bar that we predict Singaporeans will love, Senmi Sushi serves fresh sushi and sashimi, some of which are also sold at the live seafood market. Some of their specialties include giant Chirashi (sashimi slices scattered over fragrant Japanese pearl rice) and Super California-style Maki (sushi rolls). Expect to spend about $20-$40 for a meal.
A shabu-shabu, or Japanese hot-pot, restaurant, the place was empty when we visited. One interesting thing we noticed, however, is there were individual-sized bowls so you don’t have to use the same soup base as all your friends and family. Here, you can get Japanese and Asian soup bases like tom yum or bak kut teh.
A full platter with a soup base can cost around $30-$40. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Miyazaki beef platter, featuring some of Japan’s finest meats, will be $72.
7. Kohi Koji
It’s exactly the kind of Japanese cafe you see in manga and anime, where romances first begin and storylines are developed. Kohi Koji serves pastries, sandwiches, and various blends of Japanese coffee. The seating area is also smack in the middle of the whole Emporium Shokuhin – it’s an open concept that I found aesthetically very pleasing. Go and take a look for yourself!
Drinks and sandwiches come at around $2-$6.
Not technically a restaurant, this shelf, located in the Gourmet Grocer, sells Japanese foods that are, well, ready to eat. Sashimi, bento boxes, and sushi assortments were all on display here. While we can’t eat on long train rides, unlike in Japan, we can still ap a quick meal of sushi for when we’re in a rush. One box of sushi will set you back about $6-$10.
Is it worth the hype?
Touring the Emporium Shokuhin was a special experience. The live seafood and colourful shelves of Japanese produce really made me feel like I was in a real Japanese market.
We predict that many local cooks will soon try mixing Japanese seafood and meats with local dishes. Office workers in the CBD will also want to consider the Emporium as an attractive lunchtime destination, with its range of foods making it possible to visit the Emporium every day for a week and not get bored.
To sum up, make it a point to pop by if you’re in the downtown area – you may well end up spending an entire afternoon there.
Live Seafood Market: 8:30am – 9pm
Kohi Koji: 8:30am – 8:30pm
Ready-To-Eat, Gourmet Grocer: 11:30am – 9pm
Burosu Honten, Senmi Sushi, Umi + Vino: 11:30am – 10pm
Gyuu+, Tsukeru, Takujo: 11:30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard #01-18 Marina Square Singapore 039594