Mon - Sat: 18:00 - 23:30
Sun & PH: 16:00 - 22:30
Tamaya Dining offers both classic and contemporary Japanese cuisines, as well as charcoal grilled dishes and western fare. There is also a wide selection of drinks from beer and wine, to shochu and sake.
One of the biggest motivating factor to visit Tamaya is the authentic Japanese dining experience where the patrons get to dine at the low tables in traditional Japanese horigotatsu style with screens between each table for some privacy. Sitting seiza style is not required since there is a sink-in area underneath the table for some leg space. Getting the attention of the attentive service staff is surprisingly easy, in spite of being on the more secluded second floor.
As for the food, the variety is pretty impressive, ranging from the staples of sashimi and sushi to those items not regularly found in other Japanese restaurants. One of my favourites is the Otsumami Chashu, roast pork that is like no others. Served cold, this roast pork, made up of swirls of fat and meat, is soft to the bite and is packed with the sweet flavour of slightly charred meat. I am very impressed with how the fat, which is creamy instead of gelatinous, renders the overall texture of the meat to be smooth. I will usually pick off the fat from my dishes, but I gladly make an exception for this dish.
Another one that is good is the Iron pot Rice with Chicken and Burdock Root. The presentation of the rice topped with meat and vegetable served in a dainty iron pot encased in wooden box had already made me excited about getting a bite of it. I was not disappointed. The fragrance of the quality rice, imbued with the aroma of fresh chicken and burdock root, is concentrated into that little pot to yield incredibly flavourful rice.
The Yasai Itame, stir-fried vegetables, is good as it retains a bit of the crunch of fresh vegetables and is not too salty. Though it is not really outstanding in any particular aspect. Another pretty good dish is Tonpei Yaki, egg omelette with pork and shredded cabbage. The fresh ingredients and the combination of runny egg mixture drizzled over cabbage and pork result in a wholesome and healthy appetizer. I suggest to add some soya sauce to this because the unseasoned raw cabbage may taste to be a tab plain.
The lowlight of the repertoire of dishes ordered is the yakitori moriawase. The sticks of grilled food are dry and tasteless. To make things worse, most of the items included in the moriawase are not the specialities of this restaurant ... at least that is my impression since specialities should not be epic fail in terms of both texture and taste, consisting of strange items in the likes of green chilies, chicken skin and chicken gizzards that is rubbery hard. Only the chicken meat is decent, in fact, it is pretty tasty. The better idea is to order individual kushiyaki items instead of the moriawase or go to Kazu for kushiyaki feast.
Tamaya does offer an authentic and a relatively unique dining experience that sets it apart from the competitors and gives me the incentive to visit it once in a while.
This review (with pictures) can be found on my blog: http://morsels-of-delice.blogspot.sg/2015/07/tamaya-dining-authentic-japanese-dining.html
The two-story Tamaya Dining is tucked away discreetly in a long row of restaurants and bars in Cuppage Terrace. The whole place was filled with native Japanese, all laughing loudly and downing what seemed to be copious amounts of sake.
We promptly asked our friendly server for some recommendations and thankfully, she made good suggestions. Two amuse bouches (otoshi) then came quickly and we gobbled them up. A note though: These are chargeable, so tell the staff way in advance if you don’t want it. Although we didnt see why we had to pay, at least they tasted good.
In typical izakaya style, we decided to order a whole bunch of sides to share--the ebi cream croquettes ($12), tonpei-yaki (egg omelet with pork and cabbage, $9), tskune (chicken meatballs, $8) and the pirikara (spicy Kurobuta pork simmered in wrapped paper, $18).
The food arrived fast and furious, and boy everything was yummy. The croquettes were crispy and tasty; the egg omelet was an enormous mountain of yumminess; the tskune were sweet and juicy; and the Kurobuta pork, which arrived with an egg, was the bomb--with soft layers of fat and lean meat and loads of droolsome gravy. It was one of the most fun dining experiences we’ve had, and you bet well be back.
I was in the Cuppage Area and decided to try out some Japanese food - hence chanced upon Tamaya Dining and off we go. Seeing Japanese clientele, I felt even more comfortable entering the premises.
I started with the 5 Kind Sashimi ($49.80), which had slices of salmon, tuna, red snapper and two varietals of yellow-tail. The fish were very fresh and served at room to slightly chilled temperature, although I would not exactly call this "five kinds", more like four maybe.
From the grilled menu I then had the Tebasaki ($6), consisting of two lightly grilled tasty chicken wings as well as the Chicken Liver ($5), which was slightly grilled so it still had the slight mushy bite to it.
I also tried the Saba Yaki ($11.80), which turned out as expected.
My favourite dish for the night though had to be the Mentaiko Pasta ($18.70). The cod roe sauce was well mixed into the boiled spaghetti and topped with salmon roe - really addictive.
Overall, food was above average and prices were reasonable. The only gripe I had is that the entire second floor was manned by just one service staff - and it did not help that she was rather inexperienced and could not answer questions about the menu. Thus, even calling for assistance or even the bill was a chore as I had to leave my seat several times to figure out where to get help.
This place was recommended by a Japanese friend of mine when I asked her to recommend a nice Japanese "izakaya" (Japanese pub, basically) for a first date (with someone else).
You get to choose to sit outside, by the sushi bar or upstairs. We chose upstairs, which was quite quiet.
We ordered the angelfish liver appetizer, which was quite appalling: there was an incredibly strong fishy smell, which in my mind just triggers a screaming midget running around shrieking "UNFRESH, UNFRESH! STALE STALE!" It tasted like foie gras that was left to age in a fishmonger's trash bin. (Can you tell that we didn't like it?)
But the other dishes that came redeemed the place somewhat. The 3-type sashimi set was fresh, and had very good texture, especially the salmon. We also had the tamago and cold tofu appetizers, which were very good if bland. The nigori sake was superb: slightly sweet, served chilled, and was a good conversational lubricant. Like some other places, Tamaya allows you to choose the sake cup, which comes in various pretty shades and colours.
Overall I'd say this was a pretty decent experience, but nothing too mind-blowing.
Which is perhaps just as well for a first date, as the focus shouldn't be on the food anyway.