Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Spotlight on the beauty of Tataki

Usually to the masses, when one thinks of Japanese cuisine, words like sashimi, sushi, ramen, udon and tempura are familiarly popular. But there are other lesser known varieties of this wonderful culture of food, and today I will be sharing something that a few foodie buddies and I had the wonderful opportunity of enjoying recently at a rather popular Japanese restaurant nestled in the heart of River Valley Road in Singapore just before our monthly club retreat/therapy session (more details on this venue later).

Out of the four dishes we had, this was the best of the lot, and it outshone even the bad part of our dining experience when we had to return one dish because it was not even cooked properly. And with that I humbly present to you....

Beef Tataki Salad

The definition of Tataki (təˈtaki) according to the Oxford dictionary is: (in Japanese cookery) a dish consisting of meat or fish steak, served either raw or lightly seared.

Visually, what you will first notice is the contrast between the fresh and vibrant green of the kaiware sprouts (think of it as a Japanese version of the "western" alfalfa sprouts) against the dark red and brown of succulent and tender slices of beef.

Once you look past the surface, you'll start to notice that the slices of meat sit atop a mini hill of daikon (aka Japanese white radish) doused in a vinaigrette. It has been prepared two ways - sliced thinly and diced to little bits - to give a play of different textures to this otherwise unassumingly simple vegetable. 

Adding to the finishing touches is a very light dust of orangy red chili powder surrounding the salad itself.

The kaiware sprouts have a slight bitter tang that is rather unpleasant if you don't like bitter tasting foods. But when you take it with the savoury, tender melt-in-your-mouth beef and crunchy, mildly sour daikon, the combination is a great mix of flavours and textures that reminds me of the musical harmony from one of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet pieces. If you're a meat lover, then for $10.80, this is definitely worth every darn penny!

And while the common understanding is that red meats go with red wines, this isn't quite so in the particular case in point. Maybe because this is a salad (and a Japanese one at that), but personally I feel the best way to compliment this wonderful dish, is to have it with an icy cold glass of Sapporo beer. Trust me, you will not go wrong with this winning combination.

If you're keen to try this out, you can head down to Tampopo at Liang Court and give it a go. This was a divine dish that definitely made it worth our 10 minute wait with mostly local Singaporeans and Japanese residents (and tourists) on a bustling Friday night.


  1. I love a good tataki. Hard to find these days. Am impressed by your writing and the photography is pretty decent under the circumstances. Keep it up! :)

    1. Thanks, cuz! It means a lot coming from a professional photog/foodie like you! :) And yes, the photo was taken with my ordinary iphone4 so I'm just glad there was good lighting. :))