Fat Cow A4 Miyazaki Wagyu Donburi with fish roe in a black bow

10 words you should know to order like a Japanese food pro

Oishii foods to ogle and order
Beef and pork:Sandaime Bunji‘s GyutanAburi-En‘s HohoFat Cow‘s Wagyu
Fish: • Yoshi and The Horse’s Mouth‘s AnagoSENS Sushi & Grill‘s HamachiMarukyu‘s MaguruTamashii‘s Fugu
Noodles: • Ramen Champion‘s Tsukemen
Sake: • Kurara‘s Junmai Daiginjo and Nigori

Wagyu, don, unagi, tamago: These are all common words known to Japanese foodies. But how about gyutan, anago and junmai daiginjo? (Answer: beef tongue, seawater eel, a type of premium sake). If you aspire to sound like a Japanese food pro, these would be a few to add to the gourmet vocabulary.

Despite its overwhelming popularity, Japanese food is still largely unexplored. While conveyer belt sushi and ramen counters have become staples and comfort food in Singapore, many exciting ingredients and dishes are left undiscovered.

The good news is, you don’t have to jet to Japan to savour them. They’re all available for islandwide delivery in Singapore! We filter the delicious options and give you a list of 10 food and drink items to try when you next have Japanese food cravings.

#1. Hoho

Iberico Hoho Don features the delicious pork jowl from Aburi-En, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
Aburi-En’s Iberico Hoho Don ($19.20) will leave you speechless with its tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork cheek

Hoho is an under-utilised cut from the lower cheeks of pigs. Also kown as pork jowl, it bears some semblance to back bacon, but has a higher meat-to-fat ratio. Because pigs rarely use this muscle, it is tender and sweeter, and literally melts in your mouth when grilled.

“What makes hoho different from pork belly is that the meat and fat are so well blended that the tenderness is something you would not usually expect from pork.”

Yoshiyuki Kuroshima, head of product development, Aburi-En

Try: Aburi-En‘s Iberico Hoho Don ($19.20), grilled Iberico pork jowl

#2 Gyutan

Sandaime Bunji’s Negishio Gyutan Don ($19.90) is a heartwarming bowl of beef tongue goodness

“Gyu” means cow, and “tan” comes from the English word tongue. A local delicacy in Sendai, Japan, beef tongue is said to originate from a yakitori restaurant in 1948. This exotic organ has a rich beefy flavour and is typically thickly sliced and braised till tender, or thinly sliced, seasoned and grilled over a charcoal flame.

Try: Sandaime Bunjis Negishio Gyutan Don ($19.90), lightly seasoned beef tongue with leek on rice

#3 Wagyu

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Wagyu, in the Japanese food vocabulary, needs no introduction. This perfectly marbled, umami-rich beef come from four top breeds of Japanese black or red cattle raised in stress-free, zen-like environments. The different types of wagyu, however, can be mind-boggling. Like wine, it differs between regions, with top restaurants sometimes offering a variety of cool options.

Miyazaki wagyu from the Miyachiku co-op belongs in the top tier, having won the last three consecutive awards at Japan’s “Olympics of Wagyu Beef”. This cherry red meat with snowflake-liked fat was served at the 90th Academy Awards party. Saga wagyu and Nagasaki wagyu come from the Saga Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture respectively. Both regions are known for their mild climate, clean water, and superb wagyu breeding and rearing techniques.

“Saga wagyu cattle are fed natural feed such as straw and corn, and are characterised by impeccable marbling with superb lean meat-to-fat ratio for a creamy and buttery texture in the mouth.”

Head Chef Shigeru Kasajima, Fat Cow

Try: Fat Cow‘s Miyazaki A4 Wagyu Premium Donburi ($128), 21 days Dry-aged Nagasaki Wagyu A5 Premium Donburi ($138), and Saga A5 Wagyu ($158)

#4 Anago

Ni Anago Don, Japanese seawater or conger eel served over rice at Yoshi and The Horse’s Mouth, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
Sustainable anago is used in the Ni Anago Don ($32) from Yoshi and The Horse’s Mouth

Seawater eel anago stands apart from its more popular cousin unagi (freshwater eel), which has been over-consumed to the extent that it has been deemed endangered by Seafood Watch, an international advisory on sustainable seafood practices. As a more sustainable option native to Tokyo Bay, anago is less fatty, and has a cleaner, softer, sweeter and more delicate flavour.

Try: Yoshi and The Horse’s Mouth’s Ni Anago Don ($32), simmered sea eel served on red vinegar sushi rice

#5 Hamachi

Hamachi Kama Shio, yellow tail cheek grilled with salt from SENS Sushi & Grill, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle.

The young yellow tail or amberjack has a rich and delicate citrus aftertaste. It is typically farmed and airflown from Kyoto, and can be enjoyed as sashimi or grilled with salt.

Try: SENS Sushi & Grill’s Hamachi Kama Shio ($19.30), yellow tail cheek with salt

#6 Maguro

Otoro sashimi, the fattiest and most premium cut of bluefin tuna from Marukyu, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
For the most marbled tuna cut, order the Otoro ($60) at Marukyu

The bluefin tuna, one of Japan’s most prized sashimi fish, often fetches millions in Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market’s first auction of the New Year. Each part of this giant fish tastes different and comes with a different price tag.  

Otoro comes from the inside of the fish belly and is the fattiest cut. Chutoro is moderately fatty and gives you more bite. Akami is the leanest cut from the fish’s body. In most Singapore restaurants, akami is simply referred to as maguro.  

Try: Marukyus Otoro Sashimi ($60), Chutoro Sashimi ($40), and Maguro Sashimi ($15)

#7 Fugu

Fugu Mirin Boshi, grilled marinated puffer fish served with mayonnaise from Tamashii, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
Tamashii restaurant is one of the few places in Singapore to try puffer fish. Try its Fugu Mirin Boshi ($18)

The poisonous puffer fish is a luxury ingredient in Japan that only specially licensed chefs may safely prepare. Besides sashimi, it is also cut into strips and grilled. In Japan, this is a very popular otsumami (snack) enjoyed with alcohol.

Try: Tamashiis Fugu Mirin Boshi ($18) grilled marinated puffer fish served with mayonnaise

#8 Tsukemen

Taishoken Champion Tsukemen, thick noodles with dipping broth from Ramen Champion, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
Slurp up every last drop of Ramen Champion’s Taishoken Champion Tsukemen ($19.30)

A refreshing alternative to ramen, these thick noodles are cooked, cooled to improve their texture and firmness, and served with a thick, rich dipping broth. After you are done with your noodles, add some dashi stock to dilute the delicious broth and slurp up every last drop.

Try: Ramen Champion’s Taishoken Champion Tsukemen ($19.30)

#9 Junmai Daiginjo

Junmai Daiginjo is the highest grade of sake, from Kurara, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
Celebrate a special occasion with the best: Get the Hanabusa Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo sake ($294.80) from Kurara.

Picking a celebratory sake? “Junmai” refers to sake brewed with pure rice and no additives. “Daiginjo” is a super premium sake made with rice milled to 50 per cent or less of its original size. Light, complex and aromatic, junmai daiginjo is the highest grade of sake worthy of a grand splurge.

Try: Kurara’s Hanabusa Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo ($294.80 for 720ml)

#10 Nigori

Nigori sake is cloudy, milky and pairs perfectly with spicy food, from Kurara, delivered islandwide in Singapore powered by Oddle
The Fusozuru Junmai Nigori sake ($74.80) from Kurara restaurant pairs well with spicy food

Thirsting for a more rustic touch? “Nigori” literally means “cloudy”, and refers to coarsely filtered sake with rice particles. Chill this milky opaque sake, gently shake the bottle, and enjoy it paired with spicy Japanese food for a lovely contrast.

Try: Kurara’s Fusozuru Junmai Nigori ($74.80 for 720ml)