When I first heard from a friend that the Japan Rail Cafe was going to open in Singapore at Tanjong Pagar Centre, I was a little skeptical about the concept. It seemed odd to me that a Japanese railway company (the “East Japan Railway Company”, aka JR East), would open a bistro in Singapore selling both food and Japanese rail passes.
Rail Pass Counter
Entering the cafe, I saw the rail pass counter with two friendly-looking ladies standing behind. Japan Rail Cafe sells rail passes from five Japan Railway companies — JR Hokkaido, JR West, JR East, JR Kyushu and JR Shikoku.
Japanese Food and Merchandise Section
I took a quick look at the food and merchandise section, which sells various Japanese food items, as well as products from the JR East retail stores. The store has an alluring minimalist beauty to it; I saw one delighted OL taking photos of the interior decor while excitedly exclaiming that it was “so pretty!”
Nice Ambience and Excellent Japanese-style Service!
After queuing for a very short while, I was led to my table by a petite Japanese waitress. She was extremely polite and patiently answered my queries about the menu items even though the cafe was crowded with other customers. It felt really good to experience such excellent Japanese-style service! I sat at a table by the floor-to-ceiling glass window, people-watching while having my meal. The bistro’s contemporary chic design exudes a casual and convivial vibe, making this a great place to dine with friends / colleagues.
Menu (click to enlarge)
Do note that Japan Rail Cafe changes its menu every month to showcase the culinary highlights of different regions in Japan. Therefore, make sure you visit soon to enjoy the dishes reviewed in this article!
Kaisen Avocado Don
I decided to order the Kaisen Avocado Don ($18), which is a refreshing rice bowl containing sumptuous toppings of salmon sashimi, fish roe, savoury scallops, fresh avocados and cucumbers.
First impressions count, and I was sold once I saw the dish. It had vibrant colors and looked really healthy and fresh. I quickly scooped one big spoonful into my mouth.
I loved it!
The scallops were succulent and savoury, combining with the refreshing avocado and tangy fish roe to produce a harmonious blend of flavours that had me hooked from the first mouthful.
After finishing about half the dish, I poured green tea (dashi) into my bowl to create a hearty bowl of soup filled with rice and the remaining savoury ingredients. This is known as the ochazuke dish. It tasted delicious! I may be slightly biased due to my Teochew heritage (we love eating rice with soup), but I’m pretty sure that this eating style will appeal to many people as well. Make sure you remember this step and do not finish everything first!
The Ultimate A.B.C Burger
I decided to try The Ultimate A.B.C Burger ($22) as it was dubbed the “King of Burger” on the menu. It sounded tantalizing enough with its “all-time favourite ingredients”: Avocado, Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, and the juicy wagyu beef patty.
When the dish arrived, I contemplated using utensils to eat it, but decided that that would be too sanctimonious and decided to use my hands instead. Japan Rail Cafe provided a mini paper bag for me to hold the burger, which made eating it very convenient.
And so I took my first bite.
This was truly a delightful indulgence! There’s nothing quite like enjoying a juicy patty sandwiched between soft buns – bread buns, that is. The beef patty was succulent and chewy with just the right amount of bite, complimented perfectly by the savoury bits of bacon. The melted cheddar cheese completed the experience with its lovely texture and piquant umami flavour.
I am now a fan of Japan Rail Cafe after visiting the bistro. Not only was the concept interesting, the food tasted great too! I highly recommend visiting this joint. Even though the price was slightly on the high side, it was definitely worth it due to the awesome food, excellent service and great ambience.
Japan Rail Cafe
Address: 5 Wallich Street, #01-20 Singapore (first floor of Tanjong Pagar Centre, directly above the MRT Station)
Opening Hours: Daily 11am to 8pm