Manpuku Japanese Gourmet Town

Tampines 1 boasts a multitude of Japanese stores like a sake shop, a Japanese department, the‑much‑talked‑about Uniqlo and Manpuku—a mega food hall that brings together 10 of Japan’s established names in food. The restaurant was teeming with people waiting to get in when we dropped by one Sunday evening for dinner. Nervous‑looking staff were giving out queue number cards to the throngs of hungry folk. We took one and waited for our turn, which thankfully came after 10 long minutes. The whole place is tastefully done up to resemble the street food stalls in Tokyo and is reminiscent of spring time in Japan with sakura blooms hanging overhead. The concept of the restaurant is much like Marche’s or Shokudo, where you are given a card upon entry for your meal purchases. We weren’t really able to try all the stalls here, but we got a good selection for our meal. We had the sashimi moriwase from Kai, which consisted of three types of buttery fresh sashimi, with a couple of salmon belly pieces thrown in courtesy of the chef. Next, we tried the omu rice with chicken cutlet from Hokkyokusei, which claims to be the inventor of the dish. However, the rice tasted much like what we’ve tasted from many Japanese joints prior. The prawn tempura udon from Toku Toku is recommended for its springy noodles and wholesome stock. The prawn tempura was masterfully fried to perfection too. We wanted to order more prawns but the long queue was a turn off. The matcha parfait from Kyoto Sabo ended our meal on a high note and took our minds off the maudlin experience we had here. Yes, you get to eat ramen, sushi, okonomiyaki, omu rice and more under one roof; but you can do pretty much that in any Japanese restaurant, and pay around the same price too—without having to endure endless queues, or hunt high and low for one particular dish (chawanmushi, in our case).