Joya Onsen Cafe Review: New Japanese-Style Bathhouse In SG With Zen Garden & Hokkaido Milk Parfaits

Joya Onsen Cafe Review: New Japanese-Style Bathhouse In SG With Zen Garden & Hokkaido Milk Parfaits

Lifestyle Wellness Activities & Events
By Rachel on 16 Aug 2021
Senior Digital Editor

The running jokes about Jurong being part of Malaysia never seem to dwindle, but with Kyoto-style coffeehouse Suzuki Coffee, a new Don Don Donki outlet, Yakiniku-GO, and the Japanese Garden, this region in the West of Singapore seems to be morphing into a little Japan instead. Now, there’s also Joya Onsen Cafe, Singapore's newest Japanese-style bathhouse with a tatami dining area serving Hokkaido milk desserts.

While our previous article on Joya Onsen Cafe featured artist impressions with just a brief overview of the facilities, we've since headed down to check them out in person. Here's a first look of its premises and our review, ahead of its grand opening on 22 August 2021

Read on for our review on Joya Onsen Cafe in Singapore!

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Joya Onsen Cafe isn't a place you'd randomly stumble upon if you weren't actively looking for it. Located within Arena Country Club, aka D’Arena - which is surrounded by industrial buildings, the SAFTI Military Institute, and forestry - it's pretty cut off from the rest of civilisation. Luckily, it's an easy walk from Joo Koon MRT station that'll take you less than 10 minutes.

You should be able to spot the onsen as you approach the main entrance of the country club where the drop-off point is. Once you’re in, turn right, and there you’ll be at the onsen’s wooden doors. Shoes must be removed, but you will be given slippers to walk around in.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Joya Onsen Cafe operates just like the bathhouses in Japan, so you should be familiar with the process if you’ve been to one before. Fret not if you’re clueless, for there are detailed instructions plastered on the walls for you to follow. The onsen’s staff will also be present to guide you along.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Don’t pass up on the chance to don one of their elegant yukatas for a more authentic experience and better photos! At no extra cost, choose your preferred colour and pattern from the many available, and match it to an obi of your choice - or opt for a jinbei set with a loose-fitting top and long pants if you’d prefer more freedom of movement.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Disposable underwear will be provided for you to wear underneath the traditional Japanese togs, along with multicoloured hair ties for those with long tresses.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

- Public baths and saunas -

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

The public baths are, of course, gender-separated. Step through the noren curtain and you’ll first reach the locker room, where you’ll have to drop every inch of clothing and stash away all your belongings, including your mobile phone. The only thing you should be bringing into the onsen is yourself.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Before diving in, have a quick rinse-down at the shower station, where bath gel and shampoo are provided. This is for hygiene purposes. If you don’t wish to wash your hair, that’s fine, but either way, your hair shouldn’t touch the water. In fact, submerging your head underwater is not allowed as well.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

The main hot pool is spacious and there’s even a little wooden table with log stools in the middle, for those who fancy a casual chat with their buddies while in the nude. If the heat gets a bit too much, take a dip in the small adjacent ice bath, or hydrate yourself with a cool drink from the water dispenser.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

There’s also a sauna where you can sweat it out for a good detox. Be warned, this isn’t for the faint-hearted, as the doors are made of clear glass - which may or may not make you feel like you’re a naked exhibit in a showcase. But trust us, with everyone else also in their birthday suits - and for the most part, minding their own business - any awkwardness will dissipate in no time. Just focus on relaxing and you’ll be fine.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

One thing I found lacking here was that familiar scent of hinoki wood, which is used by most onsens in Japan and a handful in Singapore for its calming, restorative properties that soothe skin, relieve muscles, and help improve overall wellness. Without any spring water or special wood here, one can say this is akin to a jazzed up swimming pool with heated water.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

However, that one small drawback is easily overridden by the stellar ambience, which involves traditional toro lanterns, dangling foliage and bamboo tree decor, and rows of bulb lights overhead. Overall, the experience is pretty close to the real deal, and it had me reminiscing fondly about my past trips to the land of the rising sun.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

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Once you’re done, primp yourself at the vanity stations where hair dryers and body lotion are available.

- Private onsen - 

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

If you’re shy or wish to have some quiet time with your partner, there are also private onsens up for booking. These come with their own sauna, shower station, and dressing table for 100% privacy. 

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Though each private onsen is said to be able to accommodate a maximum of 6 people, we find that it’s gonna be a bit of a squeeze. We would instead recommend just going with your significant other, or as a trio of buddies if you don’t wish to be packed shoulder to shoulder with each other while in the buff. 

- Dining area -

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Matching the traditional theme of the rest of the bathhouse is Joya Onsen Cafe’s tatami dining area. Those who purchase an onsen + refreshments package will be served their choice of sushi, dessert, and a hot or cold beverage. Otherwise, you can always order a la carte.

Sushi and sashimi start from $9 for Aburi Salmon Sushi & Sake Sushi and a set of Unagi, Ebi, Kanikama, Tamago Sushi & Inarizushi. Other options include Aburi Salmon & Futo Maki ($13.50) and Fresh Salmon Sashimi ($22.20 for 10 pieces). For a more filling meal, go for their ramen or udon ($10 per bowl) with broths like Spicy Miso, Hearty Tomato and Cheese, and Mushroom and Kelp Dashi.

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

I’ll be honest - the variety and quality of sushi here is similar to that of a supermarket or casual sushi kiosk, i.e., decent enough if you’re hungry, but nothing to shout about. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my Hokkaido Honey Milk Ice Cream ($3.40), which had just the right balance of milkiness and sweetness.

The Hokkaido Milk ($4) was also a refreshing treat after the steamy onsen session. Try the Matcha Hokkaido Milk ($4.80) or Chocolate Hokkaido Milk ($4.50) for an added kick of flavour! Also of note are their milkshakes in flavours such as Coconut ($4.50), Yogurt ($4.90), and Matcha ($5.30). Sugar levels are customisable and you can add on toppings of aloe vera or white pearls ($0.70 per serving).

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

If that sounds too rich for you, there are also lighter selections like Green Tea ($3), Honey Green Tea ($3.50), and Honey Lemon ($3.70). Other cool treats here include Hokkaido milk parfaits (from $9.80), with various fruity toppings like strawberry, banana, peach, and blueberry. Mini options are available from $5.40 for small eaters. Check out Joya Onsen Cafe’s full menu here.

- Zen garden with photo spots - 

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

Don’t leave without snapping some photos at the zen garden! This indoor strip of tranquility with sprigs of sakura flowers and a ceiling painted to look like a sky full of fluffy white clouds is where the best photo opportunities lie. One prime spot is the opening of the bamboo grove, where you can peek out demurely from behind the leaves - total Kyoto vibes! A “reaching out to caress the plants” pose is also a foolproof one to try, made more graceful with a yukata!

Joya Onsen Cafe Singapore ReviewPhoto from GirlStyle SG

A sitting shot on the bench would look equally sweet! Tip: Use a wide-angle mode or have your photographer/Instagram boyfriend stand further away, in order to capture part of the shoji screen and green bamboo on either side of you for a more rustic look.

- Prices at Joya Onsen Cafe -

A 1-day pass for an unlimited time in the public onsen costs $38 for adults, or $45 with a set of onsen refreshments worth well more than the mere $7 top-up. 1.5-hour private onsen sessions start from $40 per person (depending on number of people) and also grant you full-day access to the public baths. 

There are also bulk package options which allow you a certain number of admissions at a discounted price over 2 to 6 months, and can be shared with your friends and family. Check out Joya Onsen Cafe’s full price list here.

Joya Onsen Cafe
Address: 511 Upper Jurong Road, #01-06 Arena Country Club, Singapore 638366
Opening hours: 11am - 11pm daily, from 22 August 2021 onwards
Telephone: 8847 2081
Website

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Text by: GirlStyle SG

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