A new concept by the Spa Esprit Group, Noka is billed as the sister restaurant to Dempsey’s Open Farm Community, in line with its focus on sustainable and farm-to-table dining. Its name means “farmhouse” in Japanese, and although the 72-seater resides in the newly renovated concrete jungle of Funan, its crops on the mall’s rooftop urban farm are ripe for its pickings.
The greens are grown in collaboration with Edible Garden City, in a 5,000 sq ft space that flourishes with more than 50 varieties of fruits, flowers, herbs, and veggies that are all pesticide-free. These fresh crops are paired with local produce and Japanese ingredients in a menu created by head chef Seki Takuma. Coming to the kitchen with more than two decades’ worth of experience in restaurants around the world, including Marina Bay Sands’ Hide Yamamoto, his menu is styled after modern Japanese cuisine, with a spotlight on the popular koshihikari rice and sake from his native country.
Using traditional Japanese cooking techniques, ingredients like pink oyster mushrooms, sweet potato, marigold, red leaf hibiscus, and other tropical crops shine in the three-course set lunch ($45/person), with options like ginger salad, sushi moriawase (five types of sushi), and black sesame crème brûlée; and omakase menu ($150/person), an ever-revolving line-up of snacks, sashimi, charcoal-grilled fish and meat, sushi, soup, and dessert.
If you’re ordering off the à la carte menu, start with snacks like cauliflower wings ($10) in a miso tamarind glaze, Quan Fa organic asparagus tempura in Japanese seven spice ($15), or cod popcorn ($18) slathered in sweet chilli and herbs from the rooftop. Next, fill up a little on appetizers such as golden mushrooms and kale from the garden tossed with goji berries in a wasabi salad ($18) or greens and tomatoes from Genting, Malaysia, drizzled with ginger dressing ($15).
As for the mains, you can expect to splurge quite a bit on dishes such as black cod saikyo-yaki ($38), with the fish marinated in miso, served with ikura, pulut hitam furikake, and Mexican tarragon from the farm; steamed barramundi ($38) with Asari clams and herbs from the rooftop; or charcoal-grilled snow-aged Niigata wagyu sirloin A4 with Okinawan spinach and yuzu ponzu ($89). Finally, end off with sweets like wafu parfait ($15) of green tea gelato and fruits or yuzu cheesecake ($15) with yuzu sorbet.
Besides the main dining room, the restaurant also hosts 12 seats at the sushi bar counter and another 12 at the private dining room, where the minimum spend is $400 for lunch and double that for dinner.
Noka is at #07-38/39 Funan, 109 North Bridge Rd.
6877-4878. Daily 11:30am-2:30pm & 6pm-10pm.
MRT: City Hall
This article, Noka: Modern Japanese joint with a sustainable focus on greens from its rooftop urban farm in Funan, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!