Good news for foodies: Emporium Shokuhin, Singapore’s first integrated Japanese mega retail store is now open at Marina Square’s new wing! By Li Yuling
With a floor area of 3,158 square metres, Emporium Shokuhin comprises a gourmet grocer, live seafood market, beef dry-aging facility, and eight different dining concepts.
It’s located at the new wing of Marina Square (if you’re at the Central Atrium on level 2 of the mall, walk towards Marina Link, and turn left when you see sign directing you to Emporium Shokuhin. There will be escalators at the end leading you down.)
No matter where you enter the Emporium, your first thought will very likely be “oh wow”. Let’s start at the street-front entrances along Raffles Boulevard.
On one end there is the Live Seafood Market, where you are greeted with the sight of 22 specially designed sea water tanks containing fresh catch from all around the world – and the gurgle of bubbling water.
The entrance at the other end of Emporium Shokuhin is flanked by two of eight dining concepts: Umi + Vino, a seafood wine bar, on the left; and Takujo, a fine dining restaurant, on the right. Step right in, and Kohi Kohji the cafe and bakery beckons with the wafting scent of freshly brewed coffee and pastries.
If you descend into the heart of Emporium Shokuhin from level two of the mall, you might be slightly taken aback by the sight of hanging hunks of meat in the glass enclosure situated near the foot of the escalator. That’s their beef dry-aging room where beef carcasses are hung to dry and age. Dry-aging enhances the flavour and texture of meat, and the process can take between 14 and 40 days. The room’s temperature and humidity are carefully controlled to yield the best results.
Behind the counter is the dry-aging room. And behind that, two escalators.
At the recent media preview, I got a guided tour around the mega store, and sampled various goodies (to be exact, two fresh oysters, two slivers of salmon sashimi, a Alaskan king crab leg, two slices of wagyu beef, a piece of Japan crown musk melon, a fish cracker, a bit of bread dipped in marmalade, and a shot of Ehime citrus drink).
Here are some things I like – and think you will too – about Emporium Shokuhin.
1. Seafood doesn’t get any fresher than this
Most of the fish, crustaceans and shellfish available at Emporium Shokuhin are imported live, and kept in clean (really clean), well-oxygenated sea water tanks. The catch are also regularly fed to ensure they remain meaty (Yes I asked because I’ve learnt that crabs use up their reserves when kept in water.) The Alaskan king crabs and snow crabs are sold per crab by weight, so gather your makan kakis to share. The crabs are so fresh they don’t need much preparation to taste good. Have them lightly steamed to savour their delicately sweet meat – with a squeeze of lemon juice, if you please.
2. They’ll even shuck your oysters for you
At least 10 varieties of live oysters from France, USA and Canada are available at the fresh seafood market. You can eat them on the spot or request for them to be shucked before packing for takeaway. Or you can have a nice sit-down meal at Umi + Vino, and wash down the fresh oysters with a glass of Pinot Grigio.
3. The meat deli
Okay, so the dry-aging facility is pretty cool, but for the busy home chef, the fact that the meats are pre-portioned into ready-to-cook cuts like shabu-shabu, karubi (boneless short rib) and steaks makes the deal sweeter. Pre-marinated meats are available, plus if you like a good wagyu steak, they have the award-winning Japanese A5 Miyazaki beef. (I haven’t done a price comparison but the folks at Shokuhin say their prices are competitive.)
Perfectly marbled beef from Emporium Shokuhin’s Meat Deli.
4. Fresh produce from Japan
I love shopping at Japanese supermarkets, particularly the fresh produce aisle, because everything looks so perfect and delectable. For those willing to fork out 20 plus bucks on a bunch of juicy grapes, you’ve just found another spot in town to splurge on fruit. By the way, I was told that because the store has just opened, shoppers enjoy promotional prices. Just so you know.
The Japan crown musk melon is super sweet and juicy (here it’s packed in a pretty green box for gifting).
5. Exclusive specialties from Ehime Prefecture
Lesser known than Hokkaido and Honshu (where capital Tokyo is), Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. And Ehime is one of four prefectures in Shikoku. If you love citrus fruit, be sure to try Ehime’s mikans or mandarin oranges – we received two of the fresh fruit and a pack of dried peels in the press kit, and they were so fragrant. Many of the prefecture’s specialties at Emporium Shokuhin feature citrus fruit. Think ponzu dressing, marmalades and vinegar. Another local delicacy from Ehime is tai or seabream, available in convenient packages at the store.
6. The convenience
Besides the Japanese goodies, Emporium Shokuin also stocks household staples, like Chew’s eggs and Meiji milk, so you won’t have to make a separate grocery run. The one-stop shop concept is pretty smart. If you’re planning a cookout after work, it’s possible to get everything you need at Emporium Shokuhin during lunchtime. Plus, you can even grab a midday bite at any of the eight eateries before shopping.
7. Plenty of choices
With eight dining concepts, it’s quite hard to beat. Those short on time can grab a takeaway beno from their Ready to Eat Section – or a latte and pastry from Kohi Kohji. Eating with friends? Share a Giant Chirashi at Senmi Sushi or chilled seafood platter at Umi + Vino.
Umi + Vino Premium Seafood Platter
Those in the mood for something soupy can choose between ramen from Buroso Honten or Japanese hotpot at Tsukeru Shabu-Shabu. And for carnivores: Gyuu Yakiniku Grill feature meat you can find from the deli and seafood market. And if you want something fancy, Takujo seems like a nice spot. We snuck a peek during our tour.
PS. The afore-mentioned media tour did not include a tasting at the dining concepts, so the above recommendations are based on information I picked up from the press release. However, Team Shape and I recently went for a (paid) lunch at Burosu Honten, and we quite enjoyed our ramen! The Ultimate Ramen broth is made from pork and seafood, which gives it a distinctive meaty umami flavour. Share the Wagyu Beef Gyoza if you’ve calories to spare. It’s really yum.
The Special Ultimate Blend Ramen at Burosu Ramen is super umami.
Don’t say we never share the good stuff.
Emporium Shokuhin is located at 6 Raffles Boulevard #01-18 Marina Square Singapore 039594.
Live Seafood Market/Aged Beef & Deli: 8.30am – 9pm
Gourmet Grocer: 11.30am – 9pm
Takujo Fine Dining: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Gyuu+ Yakiniku Grill: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Tsukeru Shabu-Shabu: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Umi+Vino Seafood Wine Bar: 11.30am – 10pm
Senmi Sushi Sushi Bar: 11.30am – 10pm
Burosu Honten Gyoza & Ramen: 11.30am – 10pm
Kohi-Koji Cafe & Bakery: 8.30am – 8.30pm
Ready-To-Eat Section: 11.30am – 9pm