Review: Kohaku Sabo — still serving the best tendon bowls around with fun new surprises

By Hui Hui Chong December 8, 2023
Review: Kohaku Sabo — still serving the best tendon bowls around with fun new surprises
Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

Kohaku Sabo review

The food scene in Singapore has no shortage of Japanese food options, but in recent months, there’s been a noticeable surge in the number of new Japanese brands popping up on our radar. 

One in particular — Kohaku Sabo, a new Japanese cafe concept from the creators of Kohaku Tendon, sparked my curiosity. I remember joining the snaking queues to try out its signature tendon bowls back when they opened their first branch in Suntec City seven years ago. 

Armed with fond memories and expectations, I was curious if the new Kohaku Sabo would have the same commitment to top-notch ingredients, especially with a name like ‘kohaku’, which alludes to the amber hue of freshly fried ingredients. Another part of me also wondered if this new concept came with any unique or surprising elements.

I must admit that the choice of Chinatown Point for this casual cafe concept initially struck me as unconventional, despite its convenient location to public transport and amenities. 

kohaku sabo chinatown point
Kohaku Sabo’s entrance walkway and screen featuring Mount Fuji. Photos: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

The cafe is tucked away on the second floor of the mall, giving it ample space for aesthetic embellishments like a fancy entrance walkway. The addition of little thoughtful details such as Japanese lanterns and shoji-style wooden panels immediately made me feel like I was in a Japanese tea house.

If you think that’s all, the cafe even has dynamic screens that change with the seasons. When we visited in November, we were greeted by enchanting winter scenes, featuring a majestic, snow-capped Mount Fuji in the background. 

Our verdict

With the introduction of this new cafe concept, complete with exciting, new dishes, Kohaku shows that it isn’t resting on its tendon laurels. 

Kohaku Sabo’s food presentation was on point, with meticulous attention to detail. Its portions here are notably generous and its pricing within our expectations for a mid-range Japanese dining experience — all of which are reason enough for us to return.

What it’s good for

If you’re missing the tendon bowls at Kohaku Tendon, the signature premium tendon (S$26.80) here at Kohaku Sabo, is served in its iconic porcelain bowl.

kohaku sabo chinatown point
The signature premium tendon. Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

The overflowing bowl comes with tempura ingredients such as fresh black tiger prawn, dory fish, chicken rice, crab stick, green beans, shiitake, young corn, and pumpkin — each one of them coated in delicate tempura batter and skillfully fried to achieve a light crispiness. The dons are accompanied by fluffy Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi white rice. 

As a huge Kohaku Tendon fan, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that Kohaku Sabo has upheld its consistency in delivering this dish, regardless of the location.

One of their new items on the list is ikura salmon cutlet with avocado on flavoured rice (S$24.80). Our server patiently briefed us on the elaborate process of enjoying this dish. 

You begin by mixing a soft-boiled egg with its tartar mayo sauce, creating a creamy, rich mixture. This is then poured over the salmon cutlet, served in a rare (not raw) state, akin to how a fried chicken nanban is presented. 

kohaku sabo chinatown point
Final touches to the dish — adding the ikura on. Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

The dish is complete only after topping it off with a generous serving of ikura (salmon roe). In an interesting twist, the cafe serves the salmon together with avocado and fresh garden greens on top of warm, fluffy rice — if you’re a fan of all things creamy and decadent, this bowl is a must-try. 

Even my meat-loving dining companion, who typically shies away from salads, enthusiastically devoured this delectable bowl without any complaints. Small eaters, take note: This is a sizeable portion that could probably be shared by two. 

kohaku sabo chinatown point
Mentaiko cream sauce udon ikura topping. Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

The mentaiko cream sauce udon ikura topping (S$23.80) also caught our eye, despite our initial concerns that it may be too jelak, or overly rich. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised by its clean and fresh flavours. The mix of mentaiko, uni, and ikura came together perfectly, resulting in a balanced and delightful experience of ocean flavors. This dish could easily be my new go-to if I’m in the mood for something less oily, without compromising on taste.

kohaku sabo chinatown point
Sweet potato cream brulee. Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

Onto desserts, we tried its sweet potato brulee (S$12.80) featuring a combination of gooey sweet potato, a crispy sugar crust and a scoop of ice cream. The crunch from the caramelised top was a nice contrast to the tenderness of the well-baked sweet potato. 

In fact, it’s so good that it comes close to Sen Sen Sushi’s version I tried earlier this year.

kohaku sabo chinatown point
Mochi mochi dango. Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

We have to admit that we couldn’t pass up on the prospect of being able to lightly toast your own dango (Japanese dumplings made from rice flour) when we saw the mochi mochi dango ‘Kyoto’ style (S$17.80) dish on its menu. 

Aside from getting mochi dango sticks,which you can warm up over a small grill, you also get sides of red bean, sweet soy sauce and sesame seed powder to add more flavour to your snack. 

The warm dango is a comforting delight and we enjoyed being able to mix and match toppings for a variety of flavours with each bite. Despite my initial scepticism about the gimmicky setup, the overall experience turned out to be a fun way to conclude the meal.

What it could improve on

Among the desserts we tried, the Kohaku matcha parfait (S$13.80) had quality ingredients put together nicely, resulting in a visually appealing dessert. But I would have personally preferred the combination of ingredients in a parfait glass with a wider base so I could properly savour the bottom layers. The strawberry sauce also felt a bit of an odd inclusion in a matcha-forward dessert.  

The cosy corner where we were seated was also too warm — dampening an otherwise fantastic experience. We note that it’s beyond the restaurant’s control though, but it could be worth requesting for a different, cooler spot if these details are important to you. 

kohaku sabo chinatown point
Matcha parfait. Photo: Chong Hui Hui/HungryGoWhere

Our quick takes  

Is it conducive to conversation? You may need to speak up as it can get busy and the tables are pretty close to one another

Is a reservation necessary? The restaurant accepts walk-ins only.

How to get there? Chinatown Point, where Kohaku Sabo is located, sits right above Chinatown MRT station on both the Downtown and North-East Lines. 


HungryGoWhere paid for its meal at this restaurant for this review. 

Still hungry? Check out our reviews of Petit Fangko and the new Casa Vostra pop-up, open till the end of December.

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.  

You can book a ride to Kohaku Sabo at Chinatown Point.

Kohaku Sabo

Chinatown Point, 02-34, 133 New Bridge Road
Nearest MRT station: Chinatown
Open: Monday to Sunday (11.30am to 10pm)

Chinatown Point, 02-34, 133 New Bridge Road
Nearest MRT station: Chinatown
Open: Monday to Sunday (11.30am to 10pm)

Hui Hui Chong-HungryGoWhere

Hui Hui Chong


My life mission is to eat my way around the world. From Barcelona to Fukuoka to New Orleans, whether it is street food or Michelin-starred restaurants, where there is good food, I'll be there.

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