Finally, there’s a place where, if you want to manhandle a giant Alaskan King Crab before settling down to dinner, you can.
I have yet to meet a Singaporean who isn’t in some way an admirer of Japanese culture. Most people I know are fans of the Japanese’s Nazi-esque obsession with hygiene (already a proud Singaporean trait as well), her lively Otaku scene (manga and anime fanboys, anyone?) and of course, Tokyo’s booming culinary landscape.
Which is why this post is important. Just when you thought there is no real motivation to ever head down to the Marina Square/Suntec City area and get lost again, Japanophiles have found a legit reason.
Emporium Shokuhin is the new-ish, Tsukiji-inspired integrated destination at Marina Square. The operative word here is “integrated”. Because it seems like everything Japanese – except Daiso, Hello Kitty and kinky maids – can be found here.
Like the integrated resorts, it offers a mixed retail space – dining options, a supermarket, specialist butchery, and a live seafood market.
It appears that Singapore may be going the way of Japan, where dining experiences are shaping out to be integrated and high-tech fun for the whole family? Touch screen menus and vending machines are part of many mainstream restaurants in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Projector screens that hover above tables to showcase dishes while diners mull over the menu are also common. In fact, there are Burger King outlets in Tokyo that let diners plug their phones’ music into the restaurant’s sound booths. But that’s the geek in me digressing.
So as always, fascinated by the idea of having shabu-shabu (Japanese-style steamboat) I walked into one of the many dining concepts within Emporium Shokuhin, Tsukeru Shabu-Shabu one evening for dinner.
Get Tapping With The iPads
What I enjoy about this place; With admirably high ceilings, adequate spacing between tables (no eavesdropping queens!) and warm lighting for Shabu Shabu, it’s a pretty and comfortable place to dine in.
Everything looked helluva organised, like, it was as though every table and chair was arranged at right angles, with attentive staff who are just waiting to refresh your drinks.
Top marks for sanitation, because it feels like you’re eating in a library. How Japanese!
Then came a small miracle: I was able to place orders using nifty iPads parked under the tables.
All the food items were presented with clear, swipeable photos (eat your heart out, Tinder). Easy visuals, prices and verticals on the menu made the process idiot-proof.
And because we were ordering for a group of hangry and over-enthusiastic folks, cancellations were made on the iPad easily.
Finally, I tapped my requests for the Asus Wagyu beef platter set, fresh oysters, sashimi platter, a selection of vegetables, and the Boston half-lobster, all in a matter of two minutes.
The iPad cooed, “Confirm order?”
Of course, human interaction wasn’t missing from the dining experience. The wait staff was attentive, and able to help readily with all the nitty-gritty requirements of the meal (such as the requests for certain sauces, drinks or hand towels).
The broths arrived first. These are the highlights of any self-respecting Shabu Shabu experience. And these are available in a variety of flavours, some more unusual than others – Ginseng Chicken, Tonkotsu Miso, Tsukeru Konbu Seaweed, Thai Tom Yum, and our favourite, the Tan Tan Sesame, which packs a savoury, hearty punch.
If you love your dinners communal, with excellent service and an after-program – i.e the supermarket offers Japanese desserts, takeaway snacks and a live seafood petting zoo – drop by to check it out with your nieces and nephews in tow. Well it’s not actually a zoo but I don’t see anyone stopping you from fiddling with the sleepy oysters in the cold pools.
Emporium Shokuhin: The Other Dining Concepts
Make sure you visit with a hearty and unassuming appetite. With no less than eight dining concepts in one place, the options are overwhelming for a first-timer. Here’s a quick glimpse.
Burosu Honten has plenty to offer ramen lovers; Umi + Vino is a seafood restaurant and wine bar in a contemporary European setting; Tsukeru Shabu-Shabu (aforementioned) is a Japanese steamboat heaven with uniquely Asian broths; and Takujo is an Omakase style fine-dining restaurant.
There’s also Gyuu, a Yakiniku grill with exclusively imported meats from Japan, U.S.A and Australia; and Kohi Koji, a Japanese-inspired confectionary. Ready-To-Eat is a takeaway counter for fresh sashimi, sushi and bento boxes; and finally, an open concept sushi bar called Senmi Sushi.
Emporium Shokuhin Live Seafood, Grocer & Dining
01-18 Marina Square, from 8.30am to 9pm daily.
Tel: +65 6224 3433 www.emporiumshokuhin.com.sg
For more brain-droppings, follow the author @TommyWee on Instagram/Twitter and Facebook/ThatTommyWee