pretty decent japanese food at the goodwood park hotel. tatsuya is famed as one of the best japanese restaurants in singapore – and almost all the blogs I’ve come across have a post on it. it’s also known for being rather expensive when ordering à la carte, and so most people storm for its supposedly more value-for-money lunch sets. and so, of course, I had to go see what all the furor was about.
first off, this is a tiny restaurant. dwarfed by the length of its sushi bar, where (not-really-japanese-at-all) chefs dish up before you, it’s essentially a long corridor with a few standalone tables at the end. reservations are almost imperative, and even though I booked nearly a week in advance, we only managed a sushi bar seat – not that I really minded, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re going to be a party of more than two.
the lunch menu is essentially a large range of bentos (compartmentalized japanese trays of food), with a permutation of the typical salads, sashimi, chawanmushi and various mains. there also is the à la carte menu – but really if I wanted to pay that much there are a whole lot more restaurants I could patronise – as well as some specials.
on this visit we got two bentos, and a special (which I cannot remember the name of) of an egg dish with crabmeat, served in a clear dashi. this was tasty, but very pricey for what it was. I left the small serving spoon in for reference as to the size of the dish, and while it was very tasty, it wasn’t mindblowing or anything like that. very typical japanese flavours, with the simple sort of cooking you expect, at a level you’d expect here. I don’t really want to quibble about price because of the sort of restaurant this is, but if you’re planning on sticking to a budget, then you’re better just going with the lunch sets.
our bentos came prettily displayed, and in reasonable portions. they also gave us a range of dishes with which to judge the kitchen: unagi, tempura, sashimi, sushi, some grilled teriyaki chicken and the requisite chawanmushi (steamed egg). they were all pretty decent; the sashimi in particular came in thick-ish slabs and was vibrantly colorful. but they were decent and nothing more.
I wouldn’t judge tatsuya based on my experience with their lunch sets – after all, I did come here with the intention of only testing out the hype so many bloggers have perpetuated (which I think is a genuine issue with singapore bloggers, but that’s for another time), and of seeing just how well a purportedly great kitchen charging relatively high prices could streamline it for their lunch menus. I left satisfied if not overwhelmed, and the next day I received a text from the restaurant thanking me for my patronage – which is a nice touch, and a very human one, even if it was sent in order to endear.
so really, the food is good and a great option if you book in time and want a quiet place to chat with a friend. but I don’t think I’ll return – not for lunch at least, since I think even sushi tei gives me far greater choice at a lower price, and at standards not really far from this. if you’re thinking about this place for dinner, I think akashi at the orchard hotel might give it a run for its money (and probably for a little less money too), though let me know how this place fares too! next up on my list is aoki – which is also famed for fantastic lunch sets, so we’ll see if it lives up to its hype.