Cool Japan - Inspiring . Fascinating . Delightful | Clozette


Pronto, a popular Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant chain with 330 outlets in Japan, is one of my go-tos for a quick bite or a perk-me-up coffee on my regular trips to the country. It has now landed on the shores of Singapore, making its debut at GOCHI, a multi-brand Japanese food hall concept located at a rather hard-to-find conservation shophouse in Capital Square, along with three other new-to-market Japanese brands: conveyor-belt sushi chain Chojiro, unagi speciality restaurant Unaemon, and frozen fruit bar Paletas.


Left: Chojiro Ball-Shaped Sushi Set; Right: Paletas Frozen Fruit Selections


These four eateries are joined by Morozoff, a premium Japanese confectionery and chocolatier with three other outlets in Singapore that seduces with its range of fine chocolates, cookies and cream cheesecakes; and Hokkaido’s No. 1 soup curry chain, Suage, which has restaurants located at Jewel Changi Airport and Capitol Piazza.


Left: Unagi at Unaemi; Right: The storefront of Morozoff


Unaemon — co-founded in Japan by the owner of Taga, a 147-year-old Unagi speciality restaurant —impresses. The eels are kept alive in circulated filtered-water and slaughtered just before being grilled over hot charcoal. The fresh and sweet meat, lightly marinated with sake and a secret sauce was served over fluffy grains of "Nanatsuboshi" rice from Hokkaido.


Left: Pronto Singapore's interior; Right: A pasta dish from Pronto


But I’m betting that Pronto would be the most popular among these eateries. It is easy to love with its well-executed fusion pastas (think classic carbonara with prosciutto and rocket, and aglio olio with scallop), and palatable breakfast sets of grilled sandwiches and croissants along with good coffees. To cater to the after-office crowd in the advertising industry enclave, it’s equipped with a well-stocked bar, too.


Suage's Chicken Leg Honetsuki


If you need something to spice up your meal, look no further than Suage. I first came across the omnipresent soup curry on a recent trip to Hokkaido. This soul food of the northern prefecture didn’t sound terribly exciting and ranked low on my to-eat list, and ended being my last meal for the trip, eaten at the airport just before my flight home. I was pleasantly surprised by its tastiness, flavoured with spices reminiscent of a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Indian curries that exude a good balance of sweetness, spiciness and milkiness; the star ingredient being the delicious vegetables. The Suage version, which includes a choice of meat or seafood (a chicken leg in my case), was as good and as spicy as what I remembered the Hokkaido soup curry to be, leaving a sheen of sweat on my brows after I demolished the reasonably sized bowl. Suage operates as an express counter at GOCHI to cater to the busy central business district (CBD) lunch crowds — a smart move.

Sprawled over a 5,000-square-feet space, GOCHI allows diners to graze from one food brand to the next within the convivial food hall that is comfortably decked out with wooden furnishings and warm lighting for a cosy ambience. Such Japanese-style food halls are popping up not just in Singapore but across the region as well — a competitive scene, but GOCHI seems to have hit the right formula with a good mix of culinary brands that delivers a pleasant and enjoyable dining experience.

GOCHI is located at Capital Square, 23 Church Street, #01-02/08, Singapore 049481, and open Mondays to Sundays, 11:30AM to 9PM.

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