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The minimalist setting and calming ambiance subliminally enhance the dining experience without imposing on it and allows guests to focus on delights of unhampered Epicureanism. Lots of blond wood and plate glass create a mood that is timeless and as much as ever, a haven from the hustle and bustle of Jalan Ampang.
Edamame always serve as a handy way to test a restaurant’s efficiency, as well as staving off hunger. Tatsu succeeds on both counts, providing the edamame in a fast and courteous manner, and also by not over salting the soya beans.
The more exciting offerings come after this on the menu, which is in itself a masterwork of clarity. The offerings are fairly traditional, with the occasional touch of innovation and the inevitable Wagyu beef.
A truly worthwhile signature dish is the special soft-shell crab maki, filled with a more than generous serving of crab, in a wrapper that strikes just the right balance between crispness and chewiness. Even more prodigal is the quantity of creamy dressing, which transforms mainstream Japanese into an almost Gallic realm of richness.
Seafood is taken seriously, and is mostly served in the more conventional forms that rely on freshness rather than full-on taste assaults. The seafood is flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, assuring its excellence.
Where Tatsu pulls off more surprises is the simpler Japanese treats, such as dobin mushi. The version here is as pure and wholesome as you’re likely to find anywhere, brimming with all the delicate intricacies of flavour that make this the perfect refresher course. Similarly, something as basic as garlic rice gets back to the basics of Japanese cuisine, albeit in a more full-bodied manner.
The emphasis is very much on Japanese alcoholic accompaniments, rather than grape varietals. The saké selection is adequate and the enthusiasm of the staff gratifying.
Agreeable but unobtrusive service is part of the ideal Japanese dining package, which Tatsu delivers with an extra garnish of charm. Their approach is about more than superficial niceties and mechanical greetings. There is real commitment, coordinated admirably by the restaurant manager. Any occasional miscommunications are ironed out in an effortlessly agreeable manner. It’s a well-oiled machine that has plenty of human energy thrown in.
Japanese food is rarely cheap, unless it’s a lunchtime bento extravaganza. Tatsu takes a more serious approach, with prices to match. The simple dishes that this restaurant does so well are easily the cheapest way to dine, but it would be a shame to waste the opportunity for some really fresh seafood.