Theme cafes and zen tea rooms in Singapore to make you feel like you are in Japan, Lifestyle News
For those of us who loved the jet set in Japan every year, fending off the urge to travel has been a losing battle. With Singapore now opening up vaccinated routes to Germany, there is still a long way to go before most of us can travel freely again.
To get a taste of Japan in the meantime, we’ve put together an itinerary of themed coffee shops and tea rooms in Singapore. From tranquil Zen gardens to bustling Wonderland, these places will transport you to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Suzuki Gourmet Café
Tucked away in an industrial area of Boon Lay is a teahouse that looks straight out of old Kyoto. Opened by Singapore’s oldest coffee roaster, Suzuki Gourmet Coffee is a Zen sanctuary with its shoji-style doors and light wood furnishings.
Bonsai trees and the gentle gurgling sound of a shishi-odoshi – a bamboo fountain common in Japanese gardens – set the stage for a leisurely sipping experience. Their filter coffee is excellent and made with freshly roasted beans, but it was the milk teas made from Hokkaido milk that won our hearts. Sip creamy beers like Kyoto Uji Matcha Hokkaido Latte ($ 8 ++) and Hojicha Hokkaido Latte ($ 8), served on traditional wooden platters.
Suzuki Gourmet Coffee is located at 10 Chin Bee Avenue, Singapore 619934, p. +65 6266 3933. Open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Sat-Sun 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Mon.
Get your fix of kawaii at the cute Kumoya themed cafe. Their two branches in Bugis and Orchard Central host a slew of rotating pop-ups, centered around the Japanese comic book and cartoon characters we know and love – Rilakkuma, Little Twin Stars, and more.
Dressed in sleek white, the Bugis branch is currently home to manga character Crayon Shinchan and his cheeky antics – with seafood curry rice and wobbly puddings showing off his famous shaking butt.
Meanwhile, the Orchard Central outlet has been taken over by the cuddly characters of Sumikko Gurashi, with animal-shaped kibble and a sales area full of plush toys.
Kumoya has branches at 8 Jln Klapa, Singapore 199320, and 181 Orchard Rd, # 04-08 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896.
Japan Railroad Cafe
Managed by the East Japan Railway Company, this café takes us on a journey through the prefectures of Japan to savor the seasonal flavors of each region. Bite your teeth into Toyoma’s famous ebi shiro with their current seasonal creation, the Ebi Kakiage Burger ($ 18) filled with sweet white shrimp.
Then drizzle it with kinako lattes and Japanese drinks like Ponshu-Gria, a sake riff on sangria infused with Japanese dried fruit. Once you’ve refueled, head to the retail area to browse Japanese train tickets, tourist information, and handcrafted souvenirs.
Japan Rail Café is located at 5 Wallich St, # 01-20 Guoco Tower, Singapore 078883, p. +65 6385 5422. Open Monday to Thursday 11 am to 9 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am to 9:30 pm, Sun 11 am to 8 pm.
Hvala’s modern tearoom has four outlets across Singapore, each an oasis of serene hues of white and wood dotted with rustic benches. But our favorite has to be Branch 111 Somerset, with its unique stone steps lined with cushions of ground and cobbled pathways.
Complete with an ornamental shishi-odoshi and floods of natural light, it feels like sipping tea in a Zen garden. Hvala’s infusions are as authentic as it gets, with leaves supplied by a traditional tea wholesaler in Japan. While you will find your usual ice cream blends and lattes here, you can also enjoy ceremonial matcha and rarer infusions like iribancha – a roasted Kyoto tea with heavy smoke.
Hvala has branches at CHIJMES, 111 Somerset, Craig Road and Keong Saik. For more information on the location, see here.
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Another immersive concept from the East Japan Railway Company, this Jewel destination brings together a restaurant, cafe and retail store in one trip for our taste buds. Suju Masayaki’s restaurant offers menus tailored around Japan’s four seasons, not to mention the breathtaking views of the rain vortex.
Foodies will want to head to the cafe for treats like matcha mont blanc, sakura gelato, and amazake – a traditional sweet drink fermented from rice. No trip to Japan is complete without a bag of tasty souvenirs, so stock up on seasonal goodies around the corner, too: Tokyo banana kitkats, sakura-infused buckwheat soba, and more.
JW360 ° is located at 78 Airport Blvd, # 01-223 / 224/225 Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore 819666, p. +65 6243 2466. Open Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to 9:00 pm, Friday to Sunday 11:30 am to 10:00 pm.
If you like to watch anime frenzy on the popular ANIPLUS platform, they also have an offline anime wonderland for you. Managed on a collaborative concept, ANIPLUS Café is an otaku paradise with a rotating range of interior themes, food and merchandise.
Currently they are teaming up with the beloved rhythm game BanG Dream! Girls Band Party !, so you can count on the images of all-female groups adorning the space from the tables to the walls. Savor hearty main courses and colorful lattes to represent each group, then grab yourself the exclusive BanG Dream! goods and souvenirs imported from Japan.
ANIPLUS Café is located at 8 Raffles Ave, The Esplanade Mall, # 01-13C Singapore 039802, p. +65 6815 0011. Open daily from 12 noon to 8 p.m.
No need to fly to Japan to catch sakura season – you can feast on cherry blossoms year-round at Brown Butter. Earlier this year, this Orchard cafe underwent a cute pink makeover to emerge with lush sakura trees, pastel walls, and even a very Instagrammable swing.
Their sprawling menu covers everything from pasta to pancakes, with unique Japanese touches such as unagi tamago toast and panko avocado fries. Get a slice of their cheese-shaped cheesecakes to leave a free love lock on the sakura trees.
Brown Butter is located at 583 Orchard Rd, Forum The Shopping Mall # 01-18 / 19, Singapore 238884, p. +65 6219 3018. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 8:30 pm, Friday to Saturday 11 am to 9 pm.
Newly launched this year in Bukit Timah, MoMiJi Cafe is an ode to Kyoto’s scenic natural beauties. Climb a staircase framed by “torii gates” and settle into themed banquettes, dressed in landscaped prints inspired by the four seasons.
The spring stand wraps you in cherry blossoms while you dine, while the fall stand is lush with maple leaf foliage.
Plus, this cafe doesn’t look everything either – not when run by Teppei Yamashita, the chef behind concepts like Man Man Unagi and Teppei Japanese Restaurant. Authentic dishes are the order of the day, from Kyoto-style sandos to MoMiJi Yaki curry ($ 11.80 ++) made with spices from a Kyoto maker.
MoMiJi Cafe is located at 9 King Albert Park, KAP Mall, # 01-37, Singapore 598292, p. +65 8883 9884. Open every day from 10 am to 7 pm.
Third wave coffee culture has hit many cities, but it takes the Land of the Rising Sun to turn poured coffee into a slow, meditative art. Kurasu, a Kyoto-based coffeeshop that brews beans from specialty roasters across Japan, brings us a whiff of Japanese hospitality.
Tucked away in The Company co-working space, Kurasu exudes Japanese minimalism with its soft glow, palette of neutrals and clean-lined wooden furniture. Take a seat at the stylish bar and watch handcrafted blends like Haru Kochi carefully prepared before your eyes.
Kurasu Singapore is located at 261 Waterloo St, # 01-24, Singapore 180261. Open daily 8:30 am to 6:30 pm.
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This article first appeared in Nomads of the city.