30 Mar 2010 • 6 reviews • 1 follower
Takumi Tokyo is nestled in the gorgeous Keppel Bay, offering Japanese fine dining for those willing to fork out staggering amounts (~$180) for it. As such, lunching here at a mere $25 per person - thanks once again to the geniuses behind restaurantweek - was an opportunity I pounced on. I must say that if this meal was a true indication of this restaurant’s standards, the adage “a fool and his money are soon parted” could not ring more true.
We received a warm, friendly reception when we arrived early to an empty restaurant, lunch was not ready and we had to wait. The chef struck up a conversation with us, explaining his background and expressing delight at my friend residing near his hometown in Japan while she was living there.
Alas, the first faux pas was just ahead: no menu! (I have improvised dish names in this review.) Suddenly, all the food arrived in ominous covered black bento boxes and while I’m as fond of surprises as the next guy, this was not a good move; even if the food had been amazing. Lunch - in my opinion – should be an enjoyable, relaxed affair, not something out of a Tom Clancy thriller.
I went for the Vegetable Tempura first, hoping to eat this crispy Japanese signature while at its piping hot prime. To my horror, the vegetable fritter was stone cold! While still crispy, it seemed like my portion had been made hours ago instead of the fifteen minutes we had just waited for it to be prepared. To be fair, the vegetables themselves were good variety of sugary sweet potatoes and savoury patties fried just right if a little on oily side.
After that disappointment, I turned to the beautifully garnished Unagi Don to salvage the meal. In Japanese cuisine, this staple can make or break the meal with Japanese chef-apprentices spending months attempting to perfect it. I will make a final lamentation about the temperature; my entire bento had been rendered frigid by this point due to the air-conditioning. Perhaps serving all the courses together could be a design flaw as cold sushi or soba is good while cold don or tempura is not. However - and a big however at that – the rice was probably the one consolation of the entire meal. The fluffy, fragrant grains were delicately flavoured with the subtle nuances of piquant ginger pickles balancing the rich, caramelly unagi that had been boned and chopped; a smart move as this ensured no pesky bones interrupted the pillow-soft mouthfeel.
My confidence bolstered, I tried the deceptively beautiful Steamed Root Vegetables next but was disappointed once again. A bite of powdery, overcooked pumpkin was followed by a mouthful of tasteless sweet potato and finally utterly flavourless eggplant. I seriously had to suppress a slight gag reflex at the last one as the starchiness of the eggplant coupled with the total lack of flavour whatsoever is nothing short of shudder-inducing.
I moved on to the Stewed Pork Belly with much trepidation and was rewarded somewhat. The asparagus was tender and perhaps the coldness worked in its favour here? The pork had a generous layer of fat but was somewhat on the tough side though perhaps I am used to such cuts being braised to melt-in-your-mouth softness?
All that remained was the Grilled Horse Mackerel which I left to last for this fish is not the easiest to handle as its often overpowering fishiness often renders it inedible to a person with a nose as sensitive as my own. Ambivalence would be the operative word for while it had a good balance of crisp skin and meaty flesh going, it was pretty far on the oily side with the extremely sour pickle garnish serving to keep me from feeling sick.
The meal was brought to a quiet close with Matcha Ice Cream topped with Azuki. I could not help but chuckle at the fact that a meal of unpleasantly cold food was being topped off with ice cream. The ice cream itself was pleasant if nothing to shout about and the orthodox Azuki complement was a cliché that I grew tired of a long time ago. I mean I’m here for Japanese fine dining, show me what you’ve got! If you’re not going to be creative at least throw some Yuzu or Nama chocolate at me?
For photos of the food (my DSLR pics exceed the 2MB HGW cap) do visit http://fatlittleboy.blogspot.com/.