Wherever you may be flying, your Japanese dining options at Changi just improved. SORA (from the Japanese word for sky) the flashy food hall just opened by ANA, is located right above check in aisle 7 in Terminal 2. The space has seats for 300 but feels cozier, and is meant to offer the feel and some of the amenities of their business class lounges, with a variety of seating areas, a kids corner with interactive games, and charging stations at most tables. Upon entering you’ll get a token that allows you to order from any of the six different dining options and bar stations and just pay one bill at the end.
The first of the food options is unsurprisingly ramen: Menya Takeichi claims the title of top chicken ramen brand in Tokyo and already has one outlet open at Suntec City. We got to sample their Special Shoyu Ramen ($17.20), which is made with their rich broth, and rich it is. The noodles are well cooked and there are pretty generous servings of chicken and chicken meatballs. The broth is the show stealer, it’s thick and laced with collagen and chicken fat goodness. If you want a dish to knock you out before a long flight this one is a contender, if not you can cut it as needed with some of their clear broth.
Next up is Japoli, a brand new restaurant concept offering Japanese-Italian fusion, primarily in the form of fresh, housemade pizza and pastas. We tried the Mentaiko pizza, which at $15, may alone be worth a trip to the airport. It’s a Neapolitan style pizza base, just the right mix of chewiness and crunch, topped with prawn, squid, obviously mentaiko sauce, and some nori. Great balance of flavors and really excellent value for the size and quality.
Kuro Maguro, which has another branch in Tanjong Pagar, and a sister restaurant in Suntec is operated by a major Japanese fish wholesaling group. They pride themselves on their fish and sashimi dishes and rice bowls, and we were lucky to get to try the Toro Butsu Meshi ($29.80). It’s a decent portion of otoro (tuna belly) on a bowl of nicely vinegared sushi rice, which is made by a $10,000 machine. It’s a nice light option to have before a flight and they have a wide menu selection with sashimi bowls starting at $18.
Another healthier option is Tokyo Sundubu, which is the newest branch of Japan’s largest sundubu jigae (Korean kimchi stew) specialists. They offer a variety of options with various fillings from $15, we had the Health & Beauty Sundubu ($19.30) which comes with rice and a large glob of collagen on the side, which you mix into the stew, and is meant to do wonders for your skin. You also get to choose your spice level on a scale of 1-4, which will separate the bold travelers from the meek for sure.
The final two offerings are the already well known Tendon Kohaku, which, if you are like me and have an aversion to queuing ages for a bowl of tempura, might be exciting, and newcomer to Singapore Tsuruhashi Fugetsu, which is famous for Osaka style Okonomiyaki (fried noodle and pancake) dishes.
The Kohaku Tendon we got ($17.70) is definitely good value, the rice bowl is overflowing with tempura prawns, chicken, and vegetables and topped with their signature sauce. The tempura stayed crunchy throughout our meal and everything tasted very fresh, it’s also a good sharing option as it was easy to divide up evenly.
The okonomiyaki offerings were also extremely hearty, we tried the Mixed Yakisoba ($19) with thick chewy noodles and slices of extremely tender pork along with seafood, cabbage, and the works. The Mixed Modan ($21) is essentially the yakisoba in pancake form, an Osaka specialty, this version is served on the business class menu on long haul ANA flights. Both dishes were filling and tasty but very much on the sweet side, so be forewarned.
If you’re the type to arrive extra early for a flight and don’t have lounge access, SORA could be a delicious way to kill some time. If you live near Changi you can access the food court without going through security, and those with a longer layover who don’t want to leave the airport, will have go out through immigration and customs but it might be worth it…