Entering the restaurant and looking at the young people chatting away and enjoying the traditional and modern Japanese dishes, it reminded me of Japan. This restaurant was no different from any of a similar restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo or Shinjuku. But what got me thinking was that these days, there are many Japanese eateries all over Singapore, practically at least one in every shopping centre, and probably in every food court too. When I did an informal count in 1989, we could count some 40 Sushi restaurants.
In the old days, let's see, maybe in the 60s, Japanese restaurants were rare. I could always remember the picture of Mount Fuji outside this little Japanese Restaurant along New Bridge Road, somewhere near to Bukit Pasoh. Each time as I walked towards the inner Chinatown (the likes of Smith Street and Trengganu Street), I would pass this little restaurant. I was curious but never dared to go near. One could hardly see what was inside. But I vividly remember this restaurant as Sakura Restaurant. I wonder if the owners have moved their restaurant elsewhere in the 70s. Maybe some of the older folks might know a little more about this restaurant.
My first Sashimi - ah, Maguro as I learnt much later - was indeed in the Japanese Association Restaurant. It was in 1973 or thereabout, my first encounter working with a Japanese engineer, when he invited me and my colleague to a Japanese dinner. Wah, Sukiyaki and Maguro. It was an experience trying to down the raw tuna, and eating cooked beef with raw eggs. Ask my kids now, and they would go for them without a second thought. But of course, it was Papa's fault. (^^)
My only regret was not being able to know a little more about this little Japanese restaurant in Chinatown. Anyone knows?