Friday, September 15, 2006
This humble little Japanese restaurant, Tamako, was opened a few years ago by a lady called Min-chan and continues to serve true, authentic, mouth watering and reasonably priced Japanese delicacies. It was first introduced to me by my friend, Richie, and has since been one of our occasional "escapades" during lunch hour. What makes this restaurant special to us is the freshness of its food, the politeness of Min-chan and her assistant, and the homely feeling of the place. It's as if you stepped out of the busy city life into a comfortable dining place where you can eat at your own pace without waiters or waitresses bothering you. Besides, the wooden furniture and interior decor adds to the atmosphere as well.
All right, I should stop complimenting the place and get down to describing the goodies. Items that can be found on the menu include the dons, bento sets, sashimi, sushi, ramen, udon and set lunches which are available on the weekdays. During my frequent visits with my gf (yes she loves the place too), we usually order teriyaki chicken don which is served with white rice and five big chunks of chicken thigh marinated in sweet teriyaki sauce. It is one of the best teriyaki don I have tried as compared to more classy restaurants and the serving is generous while costing only $5.80.
Today, however, I ordered the Okinawa set lunch ($7.80) which consisted of nine, fresh, thick slices of salmon sashimi, Japanese rice, eda-mame, a small portion of pork stew, miso soup and a huge slice of watermelon. First of all, the sashimi is extremely fresh and is really firm to the bite with the "sweet" salmon taste. The pork stew with potato, carrots and onions also tastes exceptionally good with the vegetables being sufficiently softened and complimented with a thick and rich stew. Lastly, the miso soup they serve is also authentic (not those packaged kind) and is very, very nice.
Other bento sets we had were Teishuko bento ($10.80) which came in the same setting but with two extra gyoza pieces and an ebi tempura. Oh, did I mention that you can also choose sanma, saba or salmon shio for the main choice of meat? Yeap, its quite a versatile selection of orders :)
The bento and set lunches may be fantastic, but what sets this place apart from others is the exceptional taste of one of Japan's finest cuisine, the sushi. I can still remember the first time I sank my tooth into the salmon sushi ($2.20). The sweetness of its rice simply blew me apart! I have never tasted such sweet tasting and well made Japanese rice in my life, ever. Its as if the rice was dry yet wet at the same time and the sweetness just made the dish excellent.
Chancing upon this visit, I ordered the inari sushi ($1.20) which is my favourite sushi because of the sweet beancurd and to seriously test the standard of their sushi, I had to try it. The inari sushi was filled with the sweet Japanese rice mixed with white and black sesame seeds.
Looks pretty normal but when I took a bite, it was almost like an explosion of senses took place in my mouth. It was an absolutely extraordinary sensation; I closed my eyes and kept chewing, slowly releasing the sweetness and moisture in both the beancurd and rice and the fragrance of the sesame seeds, and felt like I was taken to heaven. Then I looked at Richie and said, "Richie, the inari is really, really, really good." The sushi was so moist I swear that there must be a hidden reservoir of sauces inside it! The beancurd was very soft, sweet and smooth and doesn't have the dry crumpled feeling as the ones I have tried so far. The rice was good as usual and the sesame seeds really added something special to the dish, making it very flavourful and fragrant. It was so good that we ordered six pieces!
*I've removed the photo because I figured it isn't very polite posting it without the person's consent*
Okay okay, I think I should end this overly long post. If you happen to give Tamako a visit (which I think you should!), you can bypass the other dishes, but please please please please please order the inari!
128 Casuarina Road