Japanese cuisine is a big deal for Singaporean diners, simply because it’s known for its creativity and flavour and the sheer effort that goes into the preparation. If you’re hankering for authentic Japanese cuisine but can’t yet make it to the Land of the Rising Sun, fret not, because you can find plenty in Singapore to satisfy. Simply head to these Japanese cafés in Singapore to sate your appetite with freshly baked milk bread and pastries, juicy sandwiches, fluffy pancakes and other inventive desserts.
Originating from Hokkaido, this Tras Street spot (they also have another outlet in Sentosa) employs the Japanese island’s sweet, creamy milk in its luscious coffees, dishes and desserts. We recommend sampling the carbonara pasta, which is made with rich Hokkaido milk and comes with an onsen tamago (traditional soft-boiled egg), and the famous cream puff, where a crispy shell encases a thick custard cream.
2. Belle-Ville Pancake Café
Hailing from Osaka, customers flock to this whimsical café for multi-layered Japanese pancakes made from fresh milk. Firm on the outside but soft, fluffy and light on the inside, you can’t really go wrong with this. We recommend the Matcha Pancake – multiple fluffy pancakes are stacked on top of one another and topped with chewy shiratama (sweet rice flour) mochi and sweet, azuki beans.
3. Boulangerie Asanoya
When Boulangerie Asanoya – which has operated in Japan since 1933 – opened its Singapore outpost on Queen Street in 2015, the outlet had the honour of being the storied brand’s first overseas venture. Freshly baked treats are the lure here, among them a curry doughnut, its signature Swirl shokupan (milk) bread, cakes and other seasonal goodies. The bakery is also known for its rustic Japanese-style bread that is baked in a traditional stone oven.
4. Daizu Cafe
Set in unassuming Rangoon Road, this Japanese-Western fusion outpost is big on sustainability and nutritious living. The menu has plenty to spoil hungry diners – choose from brunch bites such as the chilli soft shell crab with brioche, pasta, rice bowls and fresh cut bowls, as well as an assortment of tea. Daizu Cafe also offers cold silky soy puddings that are just the thing you need to cool down in the blazing heat.
This popular Japanese dessert café – which has locations at Plaza Singapura and 100 AM in Singapore – is known for its picture-perfect offerings, namely the gravity-defying soft serves made from premium Japanese milk. Fun fact: you can hold your cone upside down and it will still stay in place (cue the Instagram Boomerangs).
6. Henri Charpentier
Henri Charpentier specialises in creating French-style Japanese cakes for every type of occasion, packed in beautiful gift boxes. Try the patisserie’s ten-layered Mille Feuille crepe cake decorated with berry sauce and fruit, or its best-selling Double Cheese Cake that has a baked bottom layer of cream cheese, an upper layer of non-baked mascarpone cheese with fresh cream topped with crunchy sablé crumbs.
This cosy and minimalist café’s Somerset branch features an unconventional seating area built to look like a series of steps, allowing customers to view the rest of the space from higher ground. Design aside, Hvala (it has another four outlets islandwide) is known for its specially curated selection of teas from various regions in Japan. Sip on its signature tea latte, which comes in several flavours – matcha, hojicha or a blend of both, genmaicha and goma. There are also plenty of sweet treats to choose from – we suggest going for the goma mont noir gateau; the tart has a nutty, robust flavour and is made with vegan cream, toasted genmai, sesame, chestnut paste and a fragrant almond frangipane.
7. Maccha House
A green tea lover’s haven, Maccha House, which originated in Kyoto, serves an extensive menu of drinks and desserts infused with the beloved green tea variant. Signatures include the Maccha Parfait, Maccha Latte and Maccha Lava Cake. If you aren’t a fan of green tea, you can still swing by to tuck into a comforting hot meal – on the menu are donburi bowls, juicy steaks and ramen.
8. MoMiJi Cafe
Tucked away inside KAP Mall, this Japanese cafe is Kyoto-themed and has several booths decked out with wallpaper of the different seasons. While there’s plenty on the menu to satisfy, diners flock here for the sandos (sandwiches), which feature a wide array of ingredients such as crab salad, smoked salmon and pork katsu.
9. Okada Coffee and Sweets
Hailing from Kumamoto, Japan, this café specialises in freshly roasted, hand-dripped coffee. The interiors are simple and laidback, but the coffee is smooth and has excellent flavour – pair your java with one of their decadent desserts too! Do try the sweet potato latte, which isn’t overly sweet, and the signature coffee jelly with ice cream. The jelly is soft and melts easily in your mouth, and the ice cream offers a sweet counter to the slightly bitter coffee.
10. Pipes by Hattendo
This Japanese cafe sits within Dorsett Residences and is where you want to go if you’re craving a hearty sando (Japanese sandwich) made with quality ingredients. There are various flavours to choose from, and although the prices are a little steep, it’s well worth it. Must-try options include the Hokkaido scallop cream croquette sando, which envelopes sweet scallops and crunchy potato croquettes with Karashi mayo, sriracha aioli and browned cheese; the Hokkaido wagyu sando that has a juicy patty slathered with Hamburg sauce and mayo; and the Nitamago potato salad sando, where ajitsuke nitamago (ramen eggs) is paired with decadent potato salad and fragrant truffle oil. Each sando is made with the cafe’s popular buttered shokupan (Japanese milk bread). To end your meal on a sweet note, be sure to pick up the café’s signature cream buns.