SINGAPORE (April 16): Make the most of your after-or between-work hours at these restaurants and bars, where you will find the best of bar bites, booze, or both.

Taste of Osaka

Kushiage, otherwise known as kushikatsu, is perhaps the equivalent of satay in Singapore and a popular local dish originating from Osaka in the Kansai region of Japan. These skewered morsels of meat, seafood or vegetables are seasoned and coated with panko (breadcrumbs) before they are fried until golden brown, and are a choice accompaniment to alcoholic beverages as part of Japanese drinking culture.

Ginza Rokukakutei — a 50-seater establishment located at Odeon Towers that specialises in kushiage (pictured, main image) — has elevated this aspect of casual dining culture. It is presenting the iconic street snack in omakase style, much like its Michelin-starred flagship outlet based in Osaka. Premium seasonal ingredients, most of which are imported from Japan, are selected by the chef to be made into kushiage and served alongside homemade sauces as well as myriad small dishes, artisanal breads and a free flow of both fresh and pickled vegetables from Japan. These are further complemented by wine, sake and shochu pairings by the restaurant’s in-house sommelier. Those seated at either of the establishment’s two open-kitchen counters, which can each accommodate 12, will enjoy a chef’s table view.

Dinner omakase menus are priced from $98++ to $134++ with the option of wine pairings from $46, or an alternative selection of Kenzo Estate wines from $95. Get even more bang for your buck from the newly launched weekday lunch set menus, priced from as low as $19.90++, which offer an omakase lineup in six to eight kushiage courses as well as pork or beef katsu sets.

Ginza Rokukakutei
331 North Bridge Road
#01-04, Odeon Towers
Tel: 6266 1077

Opening hours
Monday to Friday: Noon to 2.30pm
(lunch), 6pm to 11pm (dinner and bar)
Saturday: 5pm to 11pm
Closed on Sunday

Potent potions


The Pearl from the Marina Bay district

Housed in the recently rejuvenated Tower Wing of Shangri-La Hotel is a gem of a hideaway called Origin Bar. Decorated with deep teal, wood and art deco accents within a dimly lit subterranean atmosphere, the watering hole exists separately from Origin Grill, and offers its guests curtained private booths. After running the show at speakeasies such as The Library and Nutmeg & Clove, Slovakian bar manager Adam Bursik has brought Origin Bar’s allure to new heights with a cocktail menu inspired by the five key districts of Singapore, each with its own flavourful back- story and visually compelling aesthetics.

The star of the show is The Pearl ($26++), which has already become the talk of the town — as it is presented in an iridescent clamshell and has strings of sea grapes hanging from the mouth of a pearl-shaped cup. Among the most prominent creations by Bursik, this experimental drink from the Marina Bay district is fashioned out of silken tofu puree mixed with almond and elderflower, barley shochu and Black Forest gin. While Bursik focuses on the types of liquors and spirits used in the cocktails rather than their brands or countries of origin, he explains that Black Forest is the only gin of its kind that he found to work in The Pearl’s recipe.

The bar’s namesake cocktail, Origin ($22++), is comparatively modest in terms of appearance, but remains a must-try for its rich and refreshing flavours and crowd-pleasing appeal. It is almost difficult to refrain from gulping the gin-based concoction from the Orchard district, given its fruity overtones of charred pineapple and lime husk wine, which are balanced out with sugar cane and honey, and made slightly spicy with the addition of nutmeg and pepper. Those with a preference for slightly less sweet beverages are encouraged to go for Sanic ($22++) from Boat Quay, whose name is a word play on its main ingredients “sake” and “tonic”.It has the added zest of yuzu and kumquat for a citrusy, sparkling finish.

Origin Bar
22 Orange Grove, Shangri-La Hotel
Singapore, Lobby Level, Tower Wing
Tel: 6213 4595

Opening hours
Sunday to Wednesday: 5pm to 1am
Friday to Saturday: 5pm to 2am

For meat’s sake

Grill up premium wagyu beef and have more than 40 types of Japanese sakes to go with them at The Gyu Bar, a yakiniku establishment that is among the latest to open at the Novotel and Mercure hotel cluster on Stevens Road. To ensure diners get to enjoy the best, the restaurant purchases its livestock whole before flying the cuts into Singapore from the Kumamoto prefecture of Japan. Best of all, the first cup of sake is always on the house: Choose any cup you fancy from The Gyu Bar’s collection on display, and it will be filled up at no charge as a gesture of welcome.

More information available at
www.thegyubar.com.sg

High ballers

Cocktails get a creative East-meets-West twist from Plum & Toro’s resident bartender Shinya Koba, who pays homage to Japanese cocktail culture with spirits from Suntory and Nikka, among other brand favourites. Aside from highballs and the bar’s signature originals, classics such as the Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned and Boulevardier are recreated with the taste of Japan using imported and often unconventional ingredients such as wasabi and sakura. Plum & Toro is a Kappo-style Japanese dining establishment that recently opened its doors at the new InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay. It is the brainchild of chef Hideki Ii, the man behind Tokyo-based eatery Shirosaka.

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This article appeared in Issue 826 (Apr 16) of The Edge Singapore.

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