Way of Watami
It has a mission to collect the most number of "arigatos" in the world. Authentic Japanese eating place Ishokuya Watami looks set to achieve that with its latest foray into Southeast Asia - its debut outlet opens in Singapore's retail landmark ION Orchar
Issue: Jul 2009
The signature Watami Salad is a rainbow oeuvre of 10 different vegetables, topped off with tuna mayonnaise
Japanese cuisine has seen itself through a long and colourful past, to emerge as an immensely popular and unique modern-day choice. Here in Singapore, you'll find many an individual mouthing off 'tempura' and 'teriyaki' in the same breath as char kway teow and chicken rice.
So what is it about the grub that makes it so desirable?
Beyond the health benefits of clean, lean Japanese food, the mere thought of a sashimi slice excites the gut like no other edible can. Simply put: Japanese food just tastes really, really incredibly awesome.
New King on the Block
With Japanese eating holes springing up on our shores faster than you can say 'oishii!!!', it's little wonder we have a palate-picky populace eagerly waiting to pass judgement on just about every entrant into the arena.
And for seasoned dining magnate Watami's debut outlet, there couldn't be a better stage than our shopping district's jewel in the crown, ION Orchard. Local foodies and the hungry hoi polloi alike can look forward to Ishokuya Watami's tantalising array of authentic Nippon fare - it's 100 percent the real McCoy, but yet more than capable of satisfying the varied Singaporean appetite.
Beat the midday blues with the Sukiyaki Teishoku lunch set; tender beef slices doused in flavourful soup will make this an office crowd favourite.
An absolute must-try is the Hotate Butter Yaki - lauded worldwide by customers - this seafood special of hotplate scallops will seal your Watami membership once and for all.
Senior product development manager, Yuko Hoshi, also suggests the Katsutoji's salivating combination of soft pork fillet and raw egg. Yet another top dog is the value-for-money Sukiyaki Teishoku lunch set, with its tender beef slices doused in flavourful soup - now the office crowd has its ears perked.
But that's not all: also on offer is an intriguing blend of Japanese-style Western dining fit for the twenty-first century legion of urbane gourmands. Try your hand at the cream croquette creations or Watami's original salad dish, composed of ten different vegetables and ingeniously dressed with tuna mayonnaise.
Get a mouthful of velvety crab meat and scallop oozing beneath the crispy golden skin of Watami's Kani & Hotate Cream Croquette
Finally, what better way to cap an exhilarating escapade, than with a glass of happy juice for some boisterous clinking with? Possibly the very centrepiece of the menu, Watami's mouth-watering cocktail line-up consists of regular favourites next to a shochu-infused range - throw in monikers like Green Tea Hi!, and you're assured of a spirited time.
The uninitiated (and under-aged) need not feel left out: choose from a diverse and inventive spread of Watami's highly sought-after mocktails made with fruit and Yakult - hardly intoxicating, but no less irresistible than the harder stuff.
Watami is geared up to collect more "arigatos" with its ION Orchard Singapore outlet which will open in July.
A modern yet Zen welcome greets diners when they go to Ishokuya Watami for authentic Japanese fare.
The Watami Group was born at a time of high demand for alcohol - but only for drowning one's sorrows in. It was 1984, and the bubble had burst on Japan's economy: despondent workers filled the eateries with their gloom - and the appeal of dining-out was lost along with their jobs.
In such circumstances, Miki Watanabe, the founder of Watami Group, conceived the concept of the 'casual restaurant': a lively, pleasant tavern offering an extensive menu and comfortable space. Ten years on, the 'ishokuya' concept of a dining-oriented bar was born. 'Casual restaurant', or 'kajuaru resutoran', is currently registered as a trademark of the Watami corporation.
Today, Watami's mission 'to collect the most "arigato (thank you)" on the planet' is coming to fruition with its expansion throughout Asia and the rest of the world. Ishokuya Watami restaurants currently operate in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shenzhen, Shanghai and now, Singapore - where there are high hopes to start a chain, as well as progress into the Southeast Asian market.
What with our local market saturated by overpriced and oft-generic Japanese restaurants, the refreshing and innovative experience promised by Ishokuya Watami will most certainly jolt our tastebuds like a dollop of strong wasabi. Time to loosen those belt buckles in preparation.
- Irodori Sushi Grandeur (Scallop, eel & seafood salmon) US$7 (S$10.80)
- Sukiyaki Teishoku (Sliced beef hot pot lunch set) US$9 (S$12.80)
- Mentai Cheese Tamago Yaki (Omelette with cod roe & cheese) US$4 (S$5.80)
- Tori Karaage & Negi Pirikara Sauce-gake (Crispy fried chicken with spicy sauce) US$5 (S$7.80)
- Kani & Hotate Cream Croquette (Crab meat & scallop cream croquette) US$4 (S$5.80)
- Watami Salad (Original creation with special tuna mayonnaise) US$5 (S$7.80)
- Watami Shochu (Bottle) US$33 (S$48)
- Watami Sake US$12 (S$18)
#B3-23, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore
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The soft silhouette of a Great White lurks in the hazy blue waters, on the lookout for its prey. Seaweeds dance lazily, as fishes hurry by. A giant sea turtle peeks out from the seabed.
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Living in Electric Dreams
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It's About Time
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It is said that Time is a dressmaker specialising in alteration. And it is certainly time for a change in the Asian experience of acquiring luxury timepieces.