First Omakase Meal in Years!

I love food, and used to not bat an eyelid when paying for food I like, or food that’s good. I thought nothing of spending a hundred bucks or more even on a normal workday lunch.

I’ve since changed. While I’d bet my last dollar that my love for food is eternal, I’ve made a personal commitment to live more simply, and to do my bit in not contributing to over-consumerism. Small can be beautiful, simplicity can be liberating, and moments of joy need not be expensive.

These days, I’d actually feel guilty if I go OTT on my purchases and if i waste things, especially food. I really really wanna reduce my footprint on earth.

Haven’t had an omakase experience in a long time coz these tend to be fairly pricey. Omakase actually means ‘I’ll leave it to you’ in Japanese, and it’s a term used in Japanese restaurants when you let the chefs decide what you’ll have for your meal. I remember having omakase meals at Tatsuya helmed by rather overwhelming Chef Ronnie Chia and also at the now-defunct Kuriya Penthouse.

An omakase opportunity presented itself just a few days ago! A very dear and old friend of mine will be celebrating his birthday soon, so we decided to eat at TAMASHII ROBATAYA.

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Tamashii means ‘soul’. But what is Robataya?

The word Robataya translates literally into ‘fireside cooking’. In Japanese cuisine, robataya, often shortened to robata, refers to a method of cooking that originated from the fishermen in Hokkaido, in which food items are slow-grilled over hot charcoal.

The restaurant’s decor is not distracting, I like! There’re tables too, but I’d recommend sitting at the counter since that’s the whole point of going to a robataya, right?

Wasn’t planning to blog, so I didn’t take any pics of the place at all. Lifted a pic of the counter from IS.

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credit: is.asia-city.com

There are four chefs at the counter, and I’ve read that there’re two more inside the kitchen. I should mention that none of them are Japanese, but hey, that doesn’t mean they ain’t any good, k? In fact, one of the owners Patrick Tan has chalked up over a decade of experience at places like Tatsuya and M Hotel. Click HERE to read more about the origin and concept.

And in case it’s your first time sitting at a counter or if it’s your first time having omakase, and you’re worried about the place being intimidating, don’t. It ain’t. In fact, I actually think it helps that they’re locals, hee!

First things first… it’s Friday night, who doesn’t need a drink? The waitress said this was the best beer on the menu wor.

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Now, the food. When the chef asked if we wanted salad, P said ‘yes’ before I could stop him. Well, suffice to say there ain’t many types of greens that I like…

But the moment I took my first bite of the salad, I was soooooo glad P had OK’ed the salad! Hand to heart, that’s the most yummylicious salad I’d ever eaten (but hor, I never really ate a lot of salads lah!) The ingredients so fresh and the dressing was sooooo incredible!

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Next up… my all-time fave, sashimi..!!

Can’t name a fave, everything was beyond fabulous! And that single bite-sized abalone’s by far the tastiest I’d ever tasted!

If like me, you ain’t sure about where to begin when faced with a serving of sashimi, just remember to always try to start with the one with the lightest or most declicately-flavoured ones, and move on to the ones with stronger taste. If all else fails, just start with the lightest coloured one and work your way to the fattier and darkest coloured ones.

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Did you notice the small serving of golden paste thingy served wtih the sashimi? That’s soy sauce in foam form!! *screams in amazement*

And did you know many of us Sinagporeans are doing it wrong when we eat sashimi and sushi? Many have the tendency to mix wasabi and soya sauce into a gooey mixture and then dip.

Wrong wor… You’re supposed to add wasabi on the fish and dip the fish into the sauce, and not the rice part. You can also just add wasabi and no sauce. Or, you can just eat it without adding anything.

The more expensive your sashimi or sushi is, the more you wanna follow these rules. Coz if it’s expensive, it probably means it’s super fresh and are the best parts of the fish, so we shouldn’t and needn’t be overpowering the sweet freshness with sauce and all.

Imagine if you’re the chef and you’ve woken up in the most ungodly hours for the fish, and painstakingly prepare it for the guest… only to have the guest smear and dip in soya sauce. So wrong, ya? You can read more HERE.

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And here comes the highlight of eating at a robataya… ZZANG… Grilled sea perch!

Of course, this is not done yet lah!

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The fun part is when the chef ‘sends’ you the perfectly grilled dish with a long wooden paddle!

Actually I’d been craving for grilled fish for a couple of weeks already, but hadn’t had a chance to satisfy that craving. So the sea perch came at a wonderful timing!

The fish’s fabulously salted and yummyliciously grilled. It was so good I actually had to hold myself back from digging for scraps when almost all’s gone!

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I was surprised that I was starting to feel quite full by then. And know what? I already had the fantabulous salad, the super-fine sashimi and the oh-so-tasty grilled fish, and didn’t imagine what else could top it all off.

Ahhhh… I didn’t do my research! One of the signature dishes at Tamashii Robataya is the Saga Gyu Donburi!

It’s top-grade Saga beef grilled to perfection, with luxurious black summer truffle shavings and runny onsen egg atop fluffy japanese rice. At $45 a pop, it’s not cheap, but so so so worth it!

And oh, if you don’t take beef, they actually have a pork cheek version (cheaper than quite a bit too!)

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If you’re wondering about prices, there are actually omakase sets at different price points. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay $120-250 per head. But but but… I heard the set lunches here at great value for money, going for under $30. (Me gonna go back and try it one day soooooon!)

It was a wonderful meal and we managed to catch up on each other’s lives too. Too full for dessert, we decided to just a coffee before we went somewhere else for a drink.

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I’m quite the terrible friend. Hardly ever bother to initate contact or make effort to keep in touch. And being the painfully introverted and socially awkward person that I am, I don’t make friends very easily too. Anyway, I’m happy being on my own.

P is the complete opposite of what I’m like. To describe us as being on polar opposites of each other is an understatement! But for some reason, we get along. Maybe it’s also coz of how long we’ve known each other, and the stuff that we’d gone through together.

Anyway, am glad despite everything, we’re still in touch. And even if we haven’t met for sometime, it’s hardly ever awkward when we do try and catch up.

With his birthday coming up, I wanna wish that only good news, good people and good things go his way. Happy birthday, P!

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You can read more reviews and check photos of Tamashii Robataya (yea, I know, mine sucked…) from MISS TAMCHIAK’s BLOG, PISCINE AND RESTLESS, and also SG FOOD ON FOOT. And oh, don’t miss REVIEW BY GNINETHREE too, so humourously penned!

TAMASHII ROBATAYA
Hours: Lunch 12nn – 2:30pm Dinner 5:30pm – 10:30pm
(Closed on Sundays)
Tel: +65 6222 0316
12 North Canal Road, #02-01, Singapore 048825