In Japanese, “Moga” refers to “Modern Girls” – a term from the 1920s (Prohibition era) describing young, urban women who embraced Western fashion, lifestyle, and values. The Moga phenomenon represented a departure from the more conservative ideals of the past and marked a shift towards a more liberated and cosmopolitan lifestyle. “Moga” women were seen as emblematic of the changing roles and aspirations of Japanese women in a rapidly modernizing society.
In the context of MOGĀ at Pullman Singapore Hill Street, located behind the ground floor hotel lobby, the use of the term “Moga” is a nod to the spirit (“pun intended”) of these Modern Girls, reflecting a contemporary and dynamic approach to Japanese cuisine and hospitality. The modern Japanese Izakaya restaurant and cocktail bar draws inspiration from the forward-thinking and progressive attitudes embodied by the Moga of the early 20th century, and is a perfect venue for the adventurous for both food and drinks.
Go behind the nondescript
Behind a wood-clad sliding door, MOGA exudes speakeasy vibes that transports patrons to the secret alleyways of Tokyo. MOGA’s bar takes centrestage with a curated selection of wines, sakes, and spirits available by the glass or bottle. True to its Japan identity, the drink menu largely features Japanese whiskies and sakes with explorations ranging from the well-known producers to small batch distilleries.
What truly impressed me was the Japanese-inspired signature cocktails (Each at SGD$24++) designed by their mixologist. MOGĀ is helmed by Head Mixologist Marcus Liow and some of the popular drinks include Natsu Roni, which delivers a taste of summer paradise for those that love a Manhattan with MOGA’s interpretation that blends a full-bodied Vermouth Mancino Vermouth di Torino Rosso Amaranto, coconut-washed Michter’s bourbon and Campari, and Wasabi Smash, an Asian herbal-based cocktail that has a dash of wasabi added to Bulldog gin, mixed with other subtle flavours of green shiso, basil, lemongrass and citrus,
Other recommended must-try cocktails ( include Lost in Translation, a blend of Nikka Coffee Malt Whisky and Monkey Shoulder’s Smokey Monkey, kinako (roasted soy bean), miso, honey and fresh ginger; and Pearls of Spring – which combines lychee flavours with Genmaicha-infused sake together with Tanqueray No. Ten before being topped with raspberry foam. This drink is a nice twist to the classic Lychee Martini, and the subtle flavours of the sake should be slowly savoured while you enjoy some of the sharing plates from MOGA’s kitchen.
Foodies will love MOGA’s open kitchen counter where their skilled chefs prepare fresh sashimis and other sharing platters for diners. There are counter seats available if you want to watch the chefs close up in action.
My favourite go-to-snack (Yes! I’ve been returning back so I can taste the various signature cocktails at Moga) is the Chicken Tsukene (Japanese chicken meatball skewers glazed in sweet yakitori sauce) that was paired with a Sous Vide egg and spicy teriyaki as the dipping sauce)! It wasn’t all just Japanese dishes and there was also chargrilled pimentos (peppers) which was a twist to the traditional “Padron Peppers” that one would find at a Spanish tapas restaurant as it comes with a smoked goat cheese dip.
From the Robatayaki section, go for the Miso Grilled Cod which uses wild-caught Japanese black cod and is marinated in their house special miso for days before its grilled.
Moga has a lunch set menu , available from Mon to Sat, 12pm to 3pm (last order at 2.15pm) that comes with 2 serving options (The Superior Set at $48++ , and the “Wagyu Striploin” Premium Set at $68++. The meal serving is rather large, so when I tried the Set Lunch, I had to skip the Premium Set because it was already quite a filling meal, even without the additional Striploin!
MOGĀ’s ambience is a heady mix of the traditional and contemporary, juxtaposing lush mahogany leathers against modern, dazzling LED graphics and larger-than-life artwork.
Accor Plus members can enjoy huge savings as cocktails are 15% off and if you’re dining as a pair, it’s 50% off the food menu if you order more than two items. So I confess, while I came for the cocktails, I stayed for the food.
Photo credit for cocktails: Pullman Singapore Hill Street