The first and only time I ate at Tatsuya was on a corporate expense account, and I had one of the best Japanese meals ever, although admittedly I had no idea what I was eating half the time. With their a la carte omakase-style lunches going for as much as $150 a head, the only time we can afford to eat at Tatsuya is to have their bento lunch sets, which at between $25 and $30 are very reasonable in comparison. The best part is that their bento lunch sets are available daily from 12 to 2 pm, including weekends.
We made a booking on Friday night for Sunday lunch, and they were quite full by then (maybe Mothers’ Day had something to do with it as well) so they told us they only had the sushi counter available. Apart from being a bit squeezy, this was great because we got to see the chefs preparing all the food, including our lunches. Seeing the care and skill that went into making even our basic bento lunches is enough to convince me that the bentos are very good value for money.
There are a total of about 8 different bento sets, so there’s quite a wide variety. In addition to the Sushi Bento and Barachirashi Bento that we ordered, there’s a sashimi one, tempura, grilled fish, teriyaki chicken, grilled unagi and a Ladies’ Lunch. Each set comes with miso soup, fruit for dessert, and a chawanmushi that’s refreshingly uplifted with some orange zest. For the very first time, A actually finished a bowl of chawanmushi.
The Sushi Bento included about 6 pieces of sushi – salmon, 2 pieces of maguro, a swordfish, prawn and one more that I couldn't identify. There were an additional 6 small pieces of rolled maki, and 2 pieces of a California roll. I also had some tempura – 2 prawns, 2 pieces of lady’s finger or okra, and 1 piece of eggplant. The sushi was great – the slices of fish are pretty generous, and they give you very little rice in relation to the fish, allowing the flavour of the fish to really come through. Watching them make it, they add a few touches to it that are probably absent in more commonplace sushi chains, like adding some citrus zest and brushing a mysterious sauce on top of the sushi. These additional flourishes gave the sushi quite a bit of flavour, thereby almost negating the need to douse it in soy sauce.
Inspired by the barachirashi that we had at Akashi, A went for the Barachirashi Bento (he actually wanted mine but was put off by the tempura). They were very generous with the fish, which was good quality and very fresh. In terms of portion size it’s not huge though, so if you’re hungry you may want to go for some of the larger sets.
Generally the portions are enough to just fill you, so if you’re starving you may not be totally satisfied. All in all, we’ll definitely be back whenever we crave a fix of good quality sushi.
Very good. A bit stressful sitting right in front of sushi chefs though. Must remember not to mix wasabi in soy sause and cannot dip sushi in it.
Maybe one day, we’ll be able to afford the chef’s menu.
Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant
270 Orchard Road
Park Hotel Orchard (formerly Crown Prince)
Open daily: 12 to 3 pm, 6 to 10.30 pm