If you ask me whether Tatsuya at Goodwood Park Hotel is one of my favorite Japanese restaurant in Singapore and my answer is no, it means I'm blatantly lying (for whatever reason).
How can it not be? It is a place where I had one of the Best Beef Bowls in Singapore, and visits are usually, more often than not, concluded with a satisfied tummy.
Even with the newly-minted Michelin-star Japanese restaurants stealing some thunder from this grand dame of fine Japanese cuisine, Tatsuya still holds its charm, especially for its regulars.
Advance reservations are recommended if you want to score a table in the cozy dining area or a place at the 24-seater, pinewood sushi bar, but there are also occasions where I made last minute calls and still managed to get seats too.
Compared to the boisterous atmosphere at the sushi bar area, the private dining room is an oasis of tranquility. Perfect for that quiet business luncheon or intimate dinner.
There is also an alfresco area too for people who don't mind the passionate local weather.
Most of us would have heard of Tatsuya's owner-chef Ronnie Chia at some point or another. Though he is a Chinese-Singapore, it is commonly acknowledged that the sushi he crafted are just as good as those best Japanese chefs.
Together with his team, they present a menu using mainly imported produce from Japan.
Surprisingly, prices are more affordable than what we always thought.
During lunch, Sushi Bento or Sashimi Bento is available at $45. I do see quite a number of diners tucking into the $42 Bara Chirashi as well.
A platter of assorted Sashimi starts at $60 (1 pax) and $120 (2 pax), and goes up to $240 (4pax).
When in the mood to indulge, there is the Kaiseki course at $280 and Omakase course.
Perhaps the most popular and best-known item at Tatsuya would be the Aburi Sushi ($65 to $85 per set depending on ingredients).
One prominent local blogger even proclaimed it as the "best thing he ever ate".
While I enjoyed each piece of sear-flamed sushi, my friend wasn't that impressed. Then again, she is not a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, but wanted to tick Tatsuya's signature aburi sushi off her bucket list.
That's when the need for more ala-carte order comes in, with Sea Urchin Sushi ($30 for 2 pieces) being my choice. Sushi rolls such as Shrimp Tempura Roll ($22) and Rainbow Roll ($24) also makes satisfying bites.
There are also the Pitan Tofu - Beancurd with Century Egg Sauce ($12), as well as Buta Kakuni - Simmered Japanese Black Pork ($25) to further supplement the meal.
My favorite dish from Tatsuya has to be the Saga Beef Don (S-$80 / M-$120 / L-$200) which is not stated on the regular menu but available upon request.
You'd see that almost every step (except for the rice) is prepared using the blowtorch, lightly cooking the ingredients to an ideal texture.
I asked for the smallest portion which came in a bowl which is sized no bigger than a Chinese rice bowl. I went "huh, so tiny?" in disbelief.
But the moment I put a slice of that amazingly tender, melt-in-the-mouth aburi-ed Japanese Wagyu beef into my mouth, I went "hmm" in gastronomic bliss.
The rice was superb too! Spiked with tobiko which gave a popping, crunchy texture, it matched beautifully with the sticky grains and thin layer of omelette.
Every component including the savory sauce were perfect, except for the portion and price. So costly for even the smallest bowl! But is it worth it? Definitely!
Perhaps the only time I was disappointed at Tatsuya was when I ordered the Tempura Donburi ($30).
It's hard to go wrong with a simple rice bowl topped with deep-fried prawns, but when it came in a covered bento box with smoke wafting out the moment the lid is lifted, my fears are confirmed. The vapor has caused the supposedly crunchy batter to turn a tad soft.
Usually I will skip ordering desserts, but it was a day when I need Homemade Plum Wine Jelly ($8) to put a smile on my face again.
Food aside, here's a noteworthy mention of the friendly chefs and kimono-clad waitress who always puts me at ease and make me feel truly welcome.
Tatsuya is one of those places which is great for an indulgent meal with friends, and equally suitable for a quick lunch alone.
Address: 22 Scotts Road, Goodwood Park Hotel, Singapore 228221
Contact: +65 6737 7411
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm-3pm & 6.30pm-11pm
Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST (3) Correct at point of published date.