Sake⁺:New and Affordable Japanese Sake Spot in Orchard Road

When I found out that I was to interview Mr Junji Iwashita, CEO of the Fish Mart Sakuraya supermarket-dining chain providing a wide array of Japanese produce including Japanese sake and fresh fish to Singapore customers, I was pretty excited, to say the least.

After all, I had known Fish Mart Sakuraya for years, having dined in at their West Coast Plaza casual dining outlet previously. The brand has outlets in locations such as West Coast Plaza, Parkway Parade, The Seletar Mall, and Anchorpoint.

Apart from serving delicious Japanese dishes with exquisite sake options, Fish Mart Sakuraya is a well-stocked Japanese grocer in Singapore’s supermarket scene for over 20 years. Each outlet has a welcoming casual dining area as well as a grocery section decked with sake produce and seafood ingredients flown in from Japan.

As I had arrived early for my meeting with Mr Iwashita at the Anchorpoint outlet, I was pleasantly greeted by the familiar assortment of Japanese food-related items in their mart, including fresh sashimi and a well-stocked sake collection. As I headed further into the store, I sat down at a table at the cozy dining area, with Mr Iwashita joining me not too long after.


Without further ado, Mr Iwashita pulled no punches and told that he had already been a Singapore resident for around seven years and had assumed the leadership of the business from his uncle, who set up a Japanese food distributor business in Singapore decades ago.

In the 1980s, Fish Mart Sakuraya first began as a distributor of Japanese produce and ingredients to Japanese restaurants and supermarkets under the then Managing Director, Teruyoshi Abe.

Subsequently, the business opened its first retail store in Buona Vista in 1998. In 2003, Fish Mart Sakuraya made its debut in the restaurant business scene with its first branch at West Coast Plaza.

If you step into any Fish Mart Sakuraya outlet, the grocery section where you can grab ingredients you need for your Japanese dishes, snacks and Japanese sake will first catch your eye.
True enough, the mini mart at their Anchorpoint branch is well-equipped with key Japanese ingredients like soy sauce, Japanese rice, and hon dashi. Also, kids can rub their hands in glee at the sight of their favorite Japanese drinks, treats, and snacks such as wafer ice cream.
Prior to becoming CEO of Fish Mart Sakuraya, Mr Iwashita was a salaried employee at his previous job (which he did not elaborate about) in cities like Hanoi and Bangkok.

“I’ve been away from Japan for so long,” he mused, before telling me that he had always approached business with an adventurous spirit, drawing from his experiences living outside of Japan.

“With my current position as CEO, I like to be hands-on in my business pursuits, always doing my rounds in the various Fish Mart Sakuraya outlets.”

The Sakuraya CEO then disclosed that he had plans to launch a new sake bar, known as Sake⁺, at the Somerset 313 shopping mall right in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore’s trendy shopping district.


A new sake venue in the middle of Orchard?

Piqued, I pressed Mr Iwashita for more details about his brainchild, as the Somerset area is already home to several booze spots and Japanese restaurants.

Undaunted by the tinge of skepticism I showed him, the animated business owner calmly stated that he wanted to introduce Japanese sake, or “nihonshu” as it’s known locally in Japan, to both sake neophytes and connoisseurs in Singapore.

“As a Japanese person who lives overseas, I hope to spread and promote the Japanese culture of sake drinking to non-Japanese with my new sake bar,” Mr Iwashita declared.



Produced by fermenting polished Japanese rice, sake is an alcoholic beverage that is steeped in history. You can sip the beverage when it is chilled, at room temperature, or when it is warm. Traditionally, sake is served in small cups called choko. Sake is light to drink, with hardly any astringency on the nose. The beverage has the usual ABV Western wines would have, from 9 to 16 percent.

As Sake⁺ imports sake from boutique sake breweries in Japan, expect to discover a wide selection of unique sake varieties, as well as umeshu (Japanese plum liquor). Rest assured that many sake labels at Sake⁺ will not be run-on-the-mill. To ball hard, check out the highly sought-after Junmai Daiginjo, (from $16 onwards) a premium sake varietal brewed with rice milled down to 50% of the original size.

Seasoned imbibers would know that an authentic appreciation of sake cannot exclude otsumami (small plates designed to pair with drinks). The adage, “nihonshu wa ryori wo erabanai” (meaning “sake doesn’t get into fights with food”) certainly holds true as sake is a great match with Japanese cuisine. Those varieties with a smooth and light flavor go particularly well with food that is light on the palate, including fresh sashimi and Japanese “oden” (fish cake stew).

Mr Iwashita also revealed that he will introduce Japanese sides like sashimi (including tuna (“maguro”), yellowtail “hamachi” and great amberjack “kanpachi”). He also plans to include fusion plates in the menu, including chips and Italian pasta.

With mouth-watering bar bites and fun sharing plates to jazz up your experience at Sake⁺, discover and sample new sake labels, food pairings, and flavor profiles at Sake⁺. Savor the eclectic combination of cuisines that are powered by colors, flavors and textures to match Sake⁺’sdrink offerings. That being said, with Sake⁺’s comprehensive selection of sake, it’s evident what the venue’s pièce de résistance is. You may even lose track of time when looking at Sake⁺’s amazing snack menu and its sake assemblage.

With the guidance of an in-house team of sake sommeliers at Sake⁺ (from various backgrounds, including Japanese and Italian), you will be in good hands for sake recommendations and à la carte flights. Sake amateurs out there, don’t be shy. Get up close to these sake experts and learn more about your palate preferences, while knocking back some sweet or dry sake. If you bump into Mr Iwashita at Sake⁺, the knowledgeable man might simply introduce some rare labels for you to order by the glass, carafe, or bottle.



Although Sake⁺ may remind you of Tokyo’s elegant “tachinomi” (standing) bars, the good news is that there are seats at Sake⁺ for you to imbibe your favorite sake. Don’t be fooled by the sleek and classy exterior of the bar though. Just like the affordable sake supermarket prices at Fish Mart Sakuraya sans corkage fees (at the West Coast Fish Mart Sakuraya outlet, you can get sake at an affordable price, sohaving your sake fix at Sake⁺ will not cost you an arm and a leg.

“I hope that customers can enjoy premium Japanese sake at affordable prices,” Mr Iwashita thoughtfully posited. “Sake⁺ is open to all, including families with children.”

When I raised my eyebrows at the notion of underage kids imbibing alcoholic beverages, Mr Iwashita was quick to assure me that Sake⁺ would feature a kids’ menu with ice cream and soft drinks

In wake of Mr Iwashita’s philosophy to promote a family-friendly atmosphere in his restaurant outlets at Fish Mart Sakuraya and Sake⁺, soak up the stylish atmosphere while enjoying quality time with family and loved ones with the well-stocked sake fridge and Japanese tapas there. Alternatively, you can even order some fuss-free sake takeaways to take the Japanese experience back home. Having said that, Mr Iwashita encourages customers to explore Sake⁺ vast offerings in person.

When I inquired on whether he thinks Sake⁺ would be an eventual success, Mr Iwashita responded, saying:

“No pain, no gain. If I don’t try this Sake⁺ business venture out, I won't know if it will be successful.”

Indeed, Mr Iwashita is a venturesome businessman.

“The menu at Sake⁺ will be flexible, depending on customer tastes and preferences. I like to explore and experiment new things in my food and beverage businesses,” he added.

With diverse kinds of high-caliber sake available for dine-in and a constantly growing list of novel sake labels, Sake⁺ should be your next bar to call port. Gear up for the ultimate sake experience without breaking your bank at Sake⁺. Who knew that ordering sake could be such a breeze?


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