Tamashii Robataya, Singapore (Omakase)

i previously posted about the great value-for-money set lunch that tamashii robataya offers (read about it here), and this time my family returned to try the omakase menu for my sister’s birthday! at a hundred and fifty eight per person (it was actually 128 but we requested for the beef & truffle rice bowl which they charged an additional 30 for), we were served 8 delicious courses (including dessert), and it was a very good night.

for the uninitiated, omakase is a bit like the japanese version of a degustation menu, except without a fixed menu. what the chef serves his customers is entirely up to him, and it normally consists of multiple courses starting from the lightest to the heaviest ones, usually using seasonal ingredients. omakase is actually a japanese phrase that means “i’ll leave it to you”; so you’re basically leaving everything in the hands of the chef and hoping for the best ๐Ÿ˜‰

at tamashii, they have omakase menus going for $88, $128 and $168 but according to my dad, you can just state your budget (if its in between their fixed prices eg $140) and they’ll serve you something according to what you’re willing to pay.

our meal started with a platter of raw vegetables – corn, tomatoes and eggplant.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit was a very nice and light start to the meal that cleansed our palettes for the rest of the dishes to come! the vegetables were extremely fresh and both the corn and the tomato were wonderfully sweet and juicy. despite being raw, none of them had any hint of bitterness or tartness or anything negative associated with eating raw veggies; they all had a nice crunch to them and definitely did not make us feel like grazing cows hahaha.

our next dish was a sashimi platter:
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every single piece of sashimi on the platter was to die for – of a really high quality and so amazingly fresh! there was salmon belly, tuna, swordfish, abalone and roe (that looked like a candied orange at first glance hahaha). the slices were thick, well-chilled, and extremely smooth. my favourites were the roe and the tuna:
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i think it was my first time having roe in a sashimi platter. i loved the texture of it – it had a nice bite with the little eggs popping in your mouth, and was so fresh without any fishy taste that people sometimes complain of when eating fish roe at all!
the tuna was AMAZING. best sashimi ever. just look at that:
20130815_201920tuna in all its amazing melt-in-your-mouth glory.ย I SALIVATE and this picture has made me crave more of it omg. it was not fibrous or fishy at all, like some people complain of when having tuna that isn’t of such a great quality.

our third dish was clams cooked in broth:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
this dish was enjoyable, but i didn’t think it was anything exceptional or outstanding. the clams were fresh and the meat was sweet and juicy, while the broth was light, garlicky and tasty (i finished every drop of it). they were also cleaned well ie did not have any random grains of sand in them which is what you sometimes get when having shellfish like that – hate it when that happens! it was a bit like a japanese version of vongole – my dad’s cup of tea!

after the clams, we had this amazing grilled pork cheek:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
i know it looks super nondescript, ordinary and plain but it was one of the BEST porks i have ever eaten. pork is my favourite meat (along with duck) and here it was done so simply yet tasted so good. the meat was so tender, juicy and naturally sweet. it was lightly grilled (to perfection) and was slightly crispy on the outside while remaining moist on the inside. the cut of pork they used was really good and had just the right amount of fat in it to give it the perfect texture when bitten into.20130815_203402

next, we had a whole grilled fish (sorry i can’t remember the exact type of fish this was!):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
it was only slightly seasoned with a little salt but still tasted very good because fish that is fresh doesn’t require much seasoning at all anyway. crispy on the outside but nice and fleshy inside, it was a nice and light course that followed the pork.
beware of the bones when having the fish though:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
halfway through the fish, i started lamenting the fact that i was being made to work too hard to enjoy my food (there were loads of bones to avoid and pick out) but i think it was worth it in the end ๐Ÿ˜‰ hahaha.

we then had some tempura (but not the regular prawn/vegetable tempura) – shishamo and zucchini flower with cheese:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the batter was light and fresh, and the ingredients were coated in just the right amount of it. i liked how the ingredients they chose for the tempura were quite novel and the addition of cheese to some of the pieces surprisingly did not taste odd at all! the cheese added a nice twist to the tempura and made each piece have a very interesting mix of textures – crispy batter, sweet juicy zucchini and soft melty cheese.
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i also really enjoyed the shishamo. it was big and bursting with roe:20130815_210855
so yummy!!!

last but DEFINITELY not least, we had the saga beef donburi! this wasn’t part of the omakase menu actually, and costs $55 per bowl if you order it from the a-la-carte menu, but because we added it on to the omakase, we were charged $30 per bowl.
tender and perfectly grilled saga beef sits atop a bowl of rice that is mixed with truffle, and finished off with a perfectly cooked onsen egg:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
break the egg yolk (i did this very very reluctantly – i am a total sucker for runny eggs and having wet yolks whole so that they can explode in your mouth) and mix everything together in the bowl; you will promptly realise that heaven is a place on earth ๐Ÿ˜‰OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the beef was tender, juicy, sweet and so marbled that it made it seem like it was melting in my mouth. the truffle was also generously added and everything came together to make a bowl of really good stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰ at $55 i do think its a bit pricey especially since the serving isn’t big and they only give about 5 pieces of beef. but if you’re willing to spend a little more, then i think its worth the slight splurge.

and then there was dessert! matcha cheesecake, mochi and grape sorbet:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
iย loved the matcha cheesecake and mochi that was coated in soy bean powder, but wasn’t a fan of the grape sorbet. the matcha cheesecake was light and fragrant with the quintessential biscuit base while the mochi was very yummy and nailed what the texture of japanese mochi should be like. as for the grape sorbet, i think tamashii definitely has better ice cream to offer (see my previous post where we had the yuzu sorbet and black sesame ice cream on our last visit – they were both very good). my parents and sister didn’t mind it, but i thought it was rather sweet and made the grape flavour quite artificial.

once again, tamashii did not disappoint! apparently it rarely ever does, given that my dad is now their loyal customer who goes for lunch at least once a week; he is seriously addicted to their truffle chawanmushi. they’re getting very popular though, so be sure to make a reservation especially at lunchtime on weekdays!

it was a great meal overall fit for a great sister who was turning 22 whooooo! -cue taylor swift’s “22”-
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ps. i just have to say – i adore cedele’s black sesame cake. i am a huge fan of black sesame and if you are too, its definitely worth trying!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
sesame tahini cake from Cedele

Tamashii Robataya

12 North Canal Road #02-01
Singapore 048825

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Tamashii Robataya, Singapore

my dad whatsapped me very excitedly during his lunch hour last friday, telling me that he just had the most amazing truffle chawanmushi and (in my apparently standard words to describe anything i love) it was “sooooo gooood”. when he returned home that night, he was still enthusing about it over dinner and so it was decided that our family would go check the place out the very next day (yes, this means that my father went to the same restaurant to eat the exact same thing on 2 consecutive days; he likes it that much.).

so it was on a saturday afternoon that my family visited this relatively recently-opened japanese restaurant (it is about 3 months old) which is a stone’s throw away from my dad’s office, along north canal road. since its in the cbd, its really quiet on weekends and is actually a nice escape from the crowds at orchard road! we were 1 of just 2 groups of diners that day, but my dad says that its packed on weekdays so best to make a reservation if you’re planning on going down on a weekday.

Tamashii Robataya is on the 2nd floor of a rather nondescript building that houses a few other funky-looking joints, and is a traditional robatayaki (often shortened to robata) restaurant. for the uninitiated, robata is another kind of japanese dining (like shabu shabu, teppanyaki etc) where customers sit at a counter with a range of fresh produce displayed (eg mushrooms, corn, seafood, meats) and they pick what they want the chefs to skewer and grill over charcoal. when the food is ready, the freshly-grilled food is then served to you over the counter on a wooden oar, apparently to pay homage to the fishermen of Japan who served their fresh catch on wooden oars in the past.

20130727_132046ย the counter at Tamashii Robataya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsome of the food that can be selected for grilling

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freshly-grilled food served to you on wooden oars

my dad really enjoyed the set lunch that he had the day before, and so we decided to go with the set lunch menu which is also available on saturdays. (next time we are definitely going back to try the omakase/a-la-carte menu though!) they have a decent range of affordable set lunches available, and all are very value-for-money given that they come with a salad, 3 slices of salmon sashimi, rice, miso soup, dessert & coffee/tea. here is the set lunch menu:20130727_132342

all set lunches start with a typical japanese salad as appetiser – the greens were fresh and served with a delicious dressing that was light and refreshing. i would have preferred the salad to be a little more well-chilled though.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
salad that comes with the set lunch

we were all really impressed with the salmon sashimi. expecting the typical run-of-the-mill salmon sashimi that you can get anywhere (and hence not expecting very much), the sashimi far exceeded my expectations and we were all very pleased. the pieces were sliced quite thick (i prefer sashimi that way as it gives the fish some bite) and they were fatty, which i feel is what set it apart from the regular salmon sashimi that you can get in any chain restaurant or even supermarket. i might be wrong but they seemed to have a light yuzu-type seasoning on the top which was a very nice touch, and made it a very enjoyable start to the meal.ย OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
salmon sashimi

for the mains, we went with 3 orders of gyuniki teriyaki (beef) and 1 order of gindara teriyaki (cod). the beef was a clear winner – it was a generous serving that was grilled to perfection. the meat was extremely tender and juicy, and the sauce was simply put, finger lickin’ good ๐Ÿ˜‰ i soon realised that my initial disappointment at the very simple (and some might even say unimpressive) presentation was completely unfounded once i sunk my teeth into the first piece of meat.

(sorry my pictures of the beef are really rather unflaterring ๐Ÿ˜ฆ but trust me, it was absolutely delicious!)
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gyuniku teriyaki that was cooked to perfection
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAย gyuniki teriyaki with rice

the cod paled in comparison. my sister was sorely disappointed once it was served. the serving was much smaller than the beef and although it was extremely smooth and fresh and the sauce was as yummy as the beef’s, it was lacking the juiciness and natural sweetness that the beef had. i think its very safe to say that my sister will be ordering the beef the next time she returns for the set lunch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgindara teriyaki

the japanese rice that accompanied the grills was well-cooked, no sign of any clumpy or hard bits at all. as for the miso soup, we all really enjoyed it. it was full of ingredients unlike the msg-laden bowls of soup with a few pathetic pieces of seaweed (and tofu, if you’re lucky) that you often get with set meals. this miso soup had generous amounts of mushrooms and what i think was beancurd skin/tau pok, and it was a warm, tasty and satisfying accompaniment to the rice and grills.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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miso soup

besides the set lunch, we ordered a truffle chawanmushi each. how could we leave without having the one dish that my dad had enthused non-stop about the night before? each serving costs $8++ with any set lunch order. it was definitely money well spent in my opinion. the chawanmushi was one of the smoothest chawanmushis i have ever tasted!!! it was light, very very extremely smooth, and topped with not just truffle oil, but bits of truffle! the smell is amazing once you lift the cover of the chawanmushi pot ๐Ÿ™‚ definitely one of the best chawanmushis i have ever had.20130727_134032
truffle chawanmushi

the set lunch also comes with dessert to end off the meal. i love how they have a range of desserts for you to choose from unlike some sets that come with a standard dessert of fruit/fixed flavour of ice cream. here at tamashii, you can choose from green tea, black sesame, yuzu or grape ice cream, matcha cheesecake, mochi and japanese jelly. gotta love that wide selection!!! i had my eye on matcha cheesecake from the start of lunch but unfortunately, they didn’t have it the day we were there. major sad face ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . so I went with black sesame ice cream instead, while my parents and sister went for the yuzu.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
black sesame & yuzu ice cream

we were really impressed when we learnt that all the ice cream is made in-house. the yuzu was a very refreshing sorbet-like palate cleanser, and had actual bits of orange peel inside which made it rather special. as for the black sesame ice cream, i forgot all about my disappointment with the lack of matcha cheesecake. it was delicious – smooth, creamy and extremely fragrant. i remember feeling very sad when i had the last bite of it; the one thing that could have made dessert better was… another scoop of ice cream? ๐Ÿ˜›

all in all, we were all extremely satisfied with our meal at Tamashii Robataya. in fact, my dad just went back a third time yesterday (he very happily informed me that the lady at the restaurant now recognises him); i think he needed to satisfy his constant craving for the truffle chawanmushi. the set lunches are indeed very good value for money. we’re thinking of trying their omakase menu one of these days! will definitely update this space when we do so ๐Ÿ™‚

[UPDATE: omakase has been tried! read about it here]

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Tamashii Robataya

12 North Canal Road #02-01
Singapore 048825