Quality Japanese food at hawker prices
Payday need not be the only time to pamper yourself with your favourite sashimi, with hefty price tags at atas restaurants. Every day can be treat yo self day – with quality Japanese food stalls springing up in hawker centres. Here are 9 humble hawker stalls selling top-notch Japanese food for cheap:
1. Buta Kin
Skip the bak chor mee for once – Buta Kin serves ramen noodles in rich broth, thickened with flavour from 6 to 7 hours of simmering chicken bones, pork bones and chicken feet.
Although the ramen itself may not live up to the standards you’ll find in the Land of the Rising Sun, it’s easily overlook their half-ramen, half-ban mian type of noodles – especially when prices start from just $5.
The most expensive item on the menu, the Special Tonkotsu Ramen ($6.90) serves to impress with generous ingredients. We’re talking about 3 thick slices of char siew sealed with impeccable fat-to-meat ratio, a dollop of black fungus, seaweed, and a whole hanjuku egg.
Read our full review of Buta Kin here.
Address: 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road #04-28 Beauty World Centre Singapore 588177 (Reopening on 20 May)
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun: 11AM-9PM
Telephone: 8661 6028
2. Unkai Japanese Cuisine
This unassuming hawker stall looks like just another poser serving cheap Japanese eats, but Unkai Japanese Cuisine boasts fresh sashimi, oysters and even scallops – creating a buzz at Old Airport Road Food Centre.
The Hotate Tobiko Yaki ($15/half dozen) are succulent scallops drizzled with mentaiko sauce, and freshly torched upon order till nicely brown. Braving the 15-20 minute wait for a taste of this will be worth it!
Imported straight from Down Under, the Premium Fresh Oysters ($18, half a dozen) are bursting with briny flavours. Add a squirt of lemon and a dash of tabasco sauce for added kick to the firm oyster flesh!
Address: #01-89, 51 Old Airport Road, Old Airport Road Food Centre, Singapore 390051
Opening Hours: 10AM-10PM
3. Kazan Japanese Cuisine
Beating the prices at all Japanese restaurants in Singapore, Kazan Japanese Cuisine brings to the table quality Japanese food – without tearing a hole in your wallet.
Simple in appearance yet well-crafted, their Unagi Set ($8) features a silky piece of eel dripping with caramelised unagi sauce on a bed of iceberg lettuce.
Boasting a crispy layer of skin atop the tender unagi meat, the unagi pairs well with the serving of short grain Japanese sticky rice garnished with bits of sesame seeds.
A zhng-ed version of our modest kopitiam teriyaki chicken affair is Kazan Japanese Cuisine‘s Katsuo Boshi Chicken Set ($5.50). A light, crispy batter wraps the juicy chicken chunks, with mayonnaise and crunchy cabbage. It’s a little reminiscent of McChicken, but with a slight umami touch from the feathery bonito flakes.
Read here for our full review of Kazan Japanese Cuisine.
Address: 335 Smith Street #02-003 Chinatown Food Complex Market & Food Centre Singapore 081006
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 12-8.30PM, Sun: 12-6.30PM
Telephone: 8455 5229
4. Konomi Zen
Because anything fried magically tastes much more appetising, the Tendon (tempura donburi) ($5) is one of the more popular picks at Konomi Zen. If you’re put off by the 1-hour queue at Tendon Ginza Itsuki, a 5-minute wait here will give you the same kind of delight.
Expect juicy prawn, tilapia fillet, a carrot slice, and shiitake mushrooms – all enveloped in crunchy, batter and drizzled with sauce.
If you’re craving for rice, go for their Oyako Don ($3.50), which features succulent diced chicken thighs topped with egg and garnished with a splash of sweet sauce.
Check out our full review of Konomi Zen here
Address: 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, #01-59, Ang Mo Kio 628 Market & Food Centre, Singapore 560628
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 11AM-8PM
Telephone: 9734 8875
5. The Burning Oak
Simpang Bedok might be the destination for your run-off-the-mill supper prata run, but The Burning Oak can complete your list of must-try food haunts in the day.
Seared on the surface, slices of marbled wagyu beef in the Wagyu Rump Cap ($14) are cooked medium rare, resulting in a rosy pink, moist centre glistening with fat.
Their answer to yakitori? 72-Hour Slow-Cooked Angus Beef Short Ribs Skewers ($6). Marinated in Guinness stout for a whopping 72 hours, every tendon in the juicy beef cubes is infused with flavour.
Address: 348 Bedok Road #02-16 The Bedok Marketplace Singapore 469560
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun: 12-1.30PM, 6-9.30PM
Kiam siap is not in Don.档’s dictionary, offering generous generous strips of salmon in their signature Mentaiko Salmon Don ($9.90). Don miss out on it!
The blanket of torched mentaiko offers a briny, creamy touch to the soft pink salmon flakes. The whole ensemble is topped with a jiggly onsen egg and a refreshing side of pickles.
Address: 30 Foch Road #01-02 Singapore 209276
Opening Hours:11AM-3PM, 6PM-9.30PM, Closed on Wednesday
7. Japanese Curry Express
With its dilapidated exterior, Fortune Centre doesn’t look anything like a place for your Japanese food fix. But even without a showy hipster decor, Japanese Curry Express within the complex has got brisk business – testimony of its good food. Don’t worry, there’s air-con.
This no-frills eatery serves up Pork Katsu Curry Rice at the pocket-friendly price of $7. Slathered with thick curry, their fluffy white rice comes with a generous serving of breaded pork cutlet. Their mildly spicy curry emerges as a winner – even for those with a low spice tolerance.
Find out more about our experience here.
Address: 190 Middle Road, #03-04, Fortune Centre, Singapore 188979
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 11.30AM-3PM, 4.30-8.30PM
Telephone: 9689 6314
8. Pasta and Donburi by Kenny
Pasta and Donburi by Kenny’s use of fresh ingredients and no MSG might be the reason why they attract a beeline of customers.
Their claim to fame is the Chicken Donburi ($6.50) – rice with a thick swathe of eggs, laced with onions and golden panko-crusted chicken. Doused with sauce made with kombu seaweed, bonito flakes, shoyu and mirin, the rice has a perfect level of moistness.
Address: 20 Ghim Moh Road #01-53 Ghim Moh Market & Food Centre Singapore 270020
Opening Hours: Mon: 11AM-2.30PM, Tues-Wed & Fri-Sun: 11AM-2.30PM, 5-8PM
Kitchen@Work defies the conventional stereotype of slurpy udon noodles in soup with their Pork Belly Fried Udon ($6 with Miso Soup). The chewy dry-style noodles are sealed with wok-hei flavours, without showing any sign of grease.
You’ll be pleased to know that they’ve high cleanliness standards despite being housed in a hawker centre. A self-payment kiosk makes it super convenient for customers to foot the bill too – letting the hawkers have 100% focus on whipping up a feast.
Address: #01-35, Ci Yuan Hawker Centre, 51 Hougang Avenue 9, Singapore 538776
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 11AM-9.30PM
10. Plum & Rice
Injecting local flavours into Japanese fare, Plum & Rice presents set meals (from $4) with cai fan-like dishes, such as braised meat and sous vide fish, with free-flow soup and Japanese umeboshi porridge or rice.
Imported from Japan, the umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) adds tangy, floral notes to a plain bed of Japanese sticky rice. Responsible for its pink hues, the umeboshi is prized for its anti-aging properties and is even said to cure hangovers.
A spin-off of the Japanese furikake, their mixture of cereal, curry leaves, dry shrimp and seaweed is added to the umeboshi rice for a light crunch.
Address: #01-45, Blk 216 Bedok North Street 1, Singapore 460216
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun: 8AM-2PM
Telephone: 9130 1200
Hawker stalls in Singapore with Japanese food
Counting down to the next big holiday for a Japanese restaurant feast can be a thing of the past when we can rely on our trusty kopitiam for our dose of sashimi and bentos. You might be compromising on the ambience, but for a taste of decent – and even high quality – Japanese food at super affordable prices, it’s a pretty worth sacrifice!