Amidst the craze over rainbow-hued grub and honey crater cakes, and the recent resurgence of cheese tarts in Singapore, there was one other food trend that also gained traction this year — yakitori. The past six months saw this subset of Japanese cuisine come to the forefront, with Shirotane Tori-Tama scoring a spot on the Michelin Guide Singapore’s Bib Gourmand list, and at least two brand new yakitori eateries sprouting up in the scene.
Defined as charcoal-grilled chicken skewers, yakitori comes under a larger category called kushiyaki, which essentially encompasses all types of grilled skewers. Popular types of yakitori range from chicken hearts to thigh and gizzards, and many restaurants serving these staples often offer other types of skewered meats such as beef, lamb and pork too. It’s also common to see sticks of seafood like prawn and octopus parked under the yakitori section on the menus at some of these eateries. A handful of these venues even dole out luxurious options such as foie gras, wagyu beef and kurobuta pork.
Here are 6 of the best yakitori restaurants in Singapore. All of them serve classics such as chicken balls and wings, but keep things interesting with their unconventional concepts, or by putting a twist on their renditions of yakitori. Examples include Chikin — which offers Sichuan-inflected skewers — and Provisions, a cocktail bar dedicated to yakitori and claypot rice.
(Featured photo: Studio Kel/Kelly Fan; Main photo: Provisions)
Launched in August, Chikin is a relatively new eatery specialising in Sichuan-inspired yakitori and cocktails. In line with its name, its food repertoire is a chicken-centric one that serves up 13 parts of the bird on skewers — these include cartilage, skin, heart, gizzard and tail. What’s unusual about these yakitori offerings is that they’re brushed with a Sichuan peppercorn sauce instead of the traditional Japanese tare sauce, before being cooked over binchotan flames. Also on the menu are izakaya-style dishes such as ikura garlic fried rice, sea snails, and salmon cartilage. More details in our review here.
Chikin, 6 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089820, +65 6910 2742
(Photo: Studiokel/ Kelly Fan)
Yakitori and claypot rice are the main highlights at the five-month-old Provisions, a cocktail bar located on Dempsey Hill. Expect to tuck into skewered meats such as chicken thigh, mutton and beef sirloin, as well as seafood like salted egg squid, and octopus with Sichuan pepper. For a more substantial meal, do try the eatery’s decadent oyster and uni claypot rice — which is laced with silky smooth bits of sea urchin — and tasty side dishes such as fried pig’s ears.
Provisions, 7 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249671, +65 6250 7090
Run by the Les Amis Group, Jinzakaya operates as a casual spot doling out lunch sets and bento boxes in the day, and transforms into a bustling izakaya serving up yakitori and sake when the sun goes down. Colourful Japanese posters hanging on its walls create a retro vibe that’s perfect for a laid-back night out with friends. Choose from staples such as chicken thigh, quail eggs, asparagus and pork belly, as well as more premium options like foie gras. Round these off with sakes from the restaurant’s extensive drink list.
Jinzakaya, 1 Farrer Park Station Road (off Rangoon Road), #01-08/10, Singapore 217562, +65 6443 1173
Sumire first opened in Yutenji, Tokyo in 2009, and has since spawned over 70 outlets across Japan. It made its way to Singapore’s Bugis Junction in 2013, where it serves up its signature yakitori such as beef striploin, chicken shoulder, bacon, foie gras and aged beef tongue. If you’re feeling particularly ravenous, go for the 12-stick skewer platter, which features classic items such as pork belly and chicken thigh.
Sumire Yakitori House, 80 Middle Road, #01-88/89, Singapore 188966, +65 6338 9963
This yakitori joint made waves earlier this year, when it was awarded the Michelin Guide Singapore’s Bib Gourmand accolade — which recognises eateries that offer food at an affordable maximum price of S$45. More than 20 chicken parts are presented on skewers, with highlights such as chicken balls, liver and breast, alongside — for the more adventurous — cockscomb, spleen and windpipe. Other options like pork neck, shiitake mushrooms and cherry tomatoes are also available.
Shirokane Tori-Tama, 11 Unity St, Singapore 237995
(Photo: Gourmet Japan)
Founded in 1983, Nanbantei at Far East Plaza is one of Singapore’s oldest yakitori joints. The restaurant is a cosy venue decked out in beige walls and wood furnishings, with a sleek wooden counter where diners can watch the chefs in action. Must-try skewers include pork with shiso leaf, asparagus wrapped in pork slices, chicken wings, and wagyu beef. The meats are simply seasoned with sea salt before being seared over Japan-imported charcoal for a charred, smokey exterior. The restaurant also operates a second outlet at Chinatown Point.
Nanbantei Japanese Restaurant, Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, #05-132, Singapore 228213, +65 6733 5666/ +65 6738 7470