Finally I made it to Tatsuya. And I'm glad I did. It seemed a little intimidating at first, as I was alone and walked in without reservations. But the manager after some hesitation managed to get me a seat at the counter, sandwiched between two Japanese salarymen and a Japanese family.
I loved the cosy counter atmosphere (sorry I didn't take pictures other than of food, too embarrassed to do so). The display cases were filled abundantly with fresh-looking fish unlike at other places. It was wonderful watching the chefs in deft action - slicing, moulding, dicing and arranging the various items ordered. There was never a still moment. Once in a while, a huge blowtorch roared onto the scene, searing pieces of sushi into even greater perfection.
A couple of jovial tai-tais seem to be regulars. One quipped to Chef Sasaki, "you weren't here yesterday!" in Mandarin and I was surprised the chef understood and even replied her, "yesterday off-day" in halting English. Did not see Ronnie Chia there but he sure has a big team of chefs and apprentices (4-5 at counter).
OK, foodwise...the sushi was truly not bad. I had the sushi bento (S$26.80 or S$31.20 after +++) which came with assorted sushi, tempura, chawan mushi, miso soup and fruit.
The chef assiduously grates yuzu zest and sprinkles them lightly onto the pieces of sushi (I even had some in my chawan mushi). They lent a sweet citrusy fragrance to whatever they landed on. The fish was impeccably fresh and sweet. The rice too, was well-seasoned and in small portions, so you can pop the whole piece into your mouth easily. Ironically the sushi that tasted most interesting was the mini-maki (upper left). A savoury mix of fish, scallions, sesame seeds and some seasoning. Oh yums!
The tempura was not particularly special. The two smallish prawns were slightly hard but the okra was nice and light. The chawan mushi was a rich colour of custard. But where colour was intense the taste was beautifully subtle and texture incredibly smooth. It was just egg and good stock, no other ingredient necessary.
I have to admit that I wasn't completely full from the meal - it sorta fills you up to just 70% satiation. I left wanting more. This makes a light lunch, great for office workers, especially women. There are other lunch bento combinations that offer more rice, which should satisfy bigger appetites.
270 Orchard Road
Park Hotel Orchard (former Crown Prince Hotel)
Level 1, Lobby #01-05