If you take a few extra steps down the lineup of famous food places along Casuarina, you will come to a Japanese Restaurant with a cloth door curtain. Formerly run by a highly skilled and dedicated grandmother from Hokkaido in 1994, Tamako Meal has since been passed through two generations of the family, delivering its 18th year of real Hokkaido Japanese food.
We were warmly greeted in Japanese by a restaurant owner who ushered us to a seat outdoor as we had requested so. Foreign to the names of the dishes in their menu, the restaurant owner then patiently introduced and described some of their better selling food to us.
We started off with a popular choice of entree among their customers, the Potato Salad ($3.20), which combines chunky cubed potatoes meshed with egg, diced carrots and peas in mayonnaise sauce. Served chilled, I found the salad perfect for an afternoon.
The warm and delicate Agedashi Dofu ($3.20), or deep fried tofu, makes a wonderful entree as well. Light, fresh and doused in japanese soy sauce, it is easy to understand why the delicacy is an acquired taste. We also had the Chawan Mushi ($3.80) rich in egg mixture, creating a creamy taste. In it were tender chicken bits that blended well with the smooth texture of the savory steamed egg dish.
In contrast to the velvety textures of their entrees, we had Ten Don (Available on Thu Only $8.80), or Tempura Don, which consisted of battered and deep fried prawns, crabmeat and root vegetables on a bed of rice. Clean and crisp to taste, the dish was simply pleasurable.
Taking a bite out of the traditional Hokkaido style Katsu Don ($7.80) from their Gohan Mono selection was also a joy. The deep fried pork cutlet absorbs the pleasantly salty and sweet flavours of their homemade donburi sauce, which is made of onions, mushroom and bamboo in soy sauce. Topped with not one but two eggs and sprinkled with shredded seaweed that gets redistributed evenly into the rice below, this dish could not be more simple yet delicious.
Following which, we had their Salmon Sashimi (S $9 / M $14 / L $26) which came in fresh, fleshy slices. Dipped in wasabi sauce that added a little spice intense enough to taste, we found the sashimi very delectable.
We also had their Futomaki ($1.60) and Ebiko Special ($2.00), or “inverted sushi”, from their Sushi Rei selection. The typical large roll of Futomaki was bright and tasteful. It delivered a sweet taste and interesting texture from its combination of soft scrambled egg, japanese pink sugar, gourd and crunchy cucumber ingredients. The Ebiko Special on the other hand was regular, nicely filled and bite-sized to our preference.
Finally, we ended our meal with a cheerful cup of Yakult Sundae ($3.80). Covered with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream in between and capped with whipped cream, the drink will most certainly be enjoyed by the young ones. The restaurant owner then carried on to share with us how his mother still takes time to check on the quality of food they serve, ensuring that the traditional Hokkaido taste is never compromised and always affordable for all to enjoy.
Overall, the experience at Tamako Meal was an enlightening one as I was swooned by the heartwarming dedication and passion the restaurant owners have for their food that they deliver. If you have never once stepped beyond the first stall along Casuarina, this is one reason you should do so soon.
Tamako Meal (Upper Thomson)
128 Casuarina Road
T: 6553 4128
Opening hours: 11.30am – 3pm (Lunch)
6pm – 10pm (Dinner)