When Tachinomiya first opened back in early 2017 in Hougang, it was the first Japanese-style izakaya to operate in a HDB (public housing) estate in Singapore, catering to office workers returning home late after work, and who just wanted to grab a quick bowl of ramen noodles or some pan-fried gyoza, and some cold beer before they trudge home.
Six years down the road, and Tachinomiya has become a regular neighbourhood spot for a quick bite. Standards are high here - as good as any in downtown Singapore, and indistinguishable from the originals under the elevated railway stations in Tokyo or Osaka, except that instead of the rumble of clunky Japan Rail carriages, it’s the whoosh of Singapore’s shiny MRT trains.
One thing nice about an izakaya - it’s hyper-casual, and your food arrives in no particular order. Our dinner consisted of the following:
Grilled Wagyu beef steak with soba buckwheat noodles.
Agedashi tofu - one of my fave appetisers at any Japanese family restaurant: soft tofu covered with potato starch and deep-fried. These soft-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside cubes are usually stacked up pyramidically, then bathed in a light savoury “tsuyu” sauce consisting of dashi, mirin and shoyu.
The dry garnishes were served in a separate bowl here: katsuobushi (shaved bonito fish flakes), and strips of nori (dried seaweed), to be sprinkled atop the tofu.
Inari sushi - one of my favourite snacks when seated at those “kaiten” conveyor belt sushi places: these are sweet, little soy-brushed tofu skin bags enveloping sushi rice and chopped vegetables. They tend to be moist, savoury-sweet, and an absolute carb-bomb - yet, I found them irresistible.
Sushi platter, consisting of (from left to right): Spicy Pork Belly Sushi, Chicken Nanban Sushi, Kamo Sushi (smoked duck with teriyaki sauce), and 3 pieces of Aburi Wagyu Beef Sushi.
Saba shioyaki - grilled mackerel, seasoned with salt. One of my earliest taste memories of Japanese food. Still loved this today.
Kushiyaki platter (left to right): Tsukune (minced chicken), buta bara (pork belly & leeks), and unagi. - I’d always preferred my kushiyaki skewers of meat to be generously coated with sticky, sweet marinade. This place doesn’t disappoint. I will be back here … just for these.
Left: 𝘠𝘢𝘬𝘪 𝘪𝘮𝘰 (baked sweet potato); right: 𝘚𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘰 (green peppers) and 𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦.
Udon-seaweed noodles with chicken katsu.
Japanese potato salad - another of my childhood favourites. Japanese potato salads tend to be creamy, yet with a slight tang from rice vinegar. The crunch from cucumber and carrots contrasted texturally with the partially-mashed potatoes. Japanese potato salad also tend to have hard-boiled eggs and sometimes bits of ham worked in, providing additional layers of flavor.
The version here was kept simple, and was very tasty.
Avocado salad with sesame dressing.
Dessert: Tachinomiya Lemon Tofu Cheesecake
Just about everything here tasted good - the service was friendly and efficient, with the confidence that can only grow out of 6 years of constant, busy service. They know what they are doing, and the kitchen crew certainly did - producing one great-tasting dish after another.
Tachinomiya Kovan Japanese Izakaya & Bar
211 Hougang St 21, #01-285, Singapore 530211
Tel: +65 8718 5388
Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm daily,
5.30pm-12 midnight Mon-Fri.