Almost two years living with the pandemic, this cafe in Tokyo may be the quick fix to the homesickness that some Singaporeans are feeling while living abroad.
Opened by a young couple, Mark Namiki and Melissa Yap, in December 2020, this Tokyo cafe called the 'Little Merlion' specialises in Singaporean favourites such as laksa, nasi lemak, nasi goreng, and carrot cake (both black and white).
Namiki is a Japanese/Malaysian while Yap is a Singaporean, both of them are in their late 30s.
Start afresh after losing job due to Covid-19
In an interview with AkadotTV, Namiki worked in the hospitality industry and arrived in Japan 3.5 years ago. After he lost his job due to Covid-19, he and his wife decided to stay in Japan "to build something new".
According to Namiki, Singaporean families, students, and working adults who patronise them, sometimes travelling far from "Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Tachikawa," to try their dishes made with Yap's family recipes.
Little Merlion faces the same challenges as an F&B establishment in Covid-19 whereby people dine-in less, resulting in a "big drop in customers", he added.
In a reply to a Google review, Little Merlion confirmed that they will be setting up a food truck to bring their dishes to downtown Tokyo in November to reach more customers who find it inconvenient to travel to the cafe.
Positive reviews left by Singaporean and Japanese customers on both Google and their Facebook page attest to the authentic food, cosy atmosphere and good service of the cafe.
Little Merlion offers three variations of laksa — Vegetable Laksa (¥1,000/S$11.77), Prawn Laksa (¥1,280/S$15.07) and Premium Seafood Laksa (¥1,700/S$20.02).
Priced at ¥1,000 (S$11.77), the SG Curry comes with a side of fried mantou, coconut rice, or prata.
Another classic Singaporean dish is the Nasi Lemak that costs ¥1,200 (S$14.13).
Hawker favourite fried carrot cake (¥550/S$6.48) is available as a side in black and white.
The classic Singaporean finger food, curry puff, is also available at ¥300 (S$3.53).
Singaporeans may be familiar with Milo Dinosaur but what about Milo Monkey?
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It's Little Merlion's twist on the local classic drink and is essentially a Milo and banana smoothie.
If you prefer to stick to the OG Milo Dinosaur, they also serve it with or without whipped cream.
They also serve protein shakes, cafe drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
Click here to access the full menu.
For Singaporeans in Tokyo or those who may wish to visit Little Merlion when leisure travel resumes between Japan and Singapore, here are the details of the shop.
Address: 2-8-3 Sakaecho Nishiarai, Adachi-ku, Tokyo (a short walk from Nishiarai Station along the Tobu Isesaki Line)
- Thursday and Friday: 11am to 3pm (last order 2:30pm), 5pm to 11pm (State of Emergency 5pm to 9pm)
- Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 11pm (State of Emergency 11am to 9pm)
- Closed from Monday to Wednesday.
Top images by @littlemerlion_tokyo on Instagram and Little Merlion Cafe and Bar via Google Maps.
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