The 118 Taste of Tastu is the kind of buffet I like. It’s very civilised – there’s no queue to fight for the last piece of fish – as your orders are freshly prepared and served to your table. Available for lunch and dinner on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, the ‘eat all you can’ menu features 118 dishes. And with classics such as teppanyaki, tempura, sukiyaki, yakitori, sashimi, sushi and handrolls, you get a range good enough to give you a crash course on Japanese cuisine.
The primer: The design of the restaurant is unmistakably Japanese, but the wood accents are dominated by dark timber to give the setting a more contemporary look. Service was casual but warm and attentive, and our waiter, the friendly Zabidah, knew the Japanese names of the dishes by heart. Several of her recommendations were spot on, particularly the beautifully smooth Tamaro Hikari Junmai Ginjyo sake from Kyoto, which had a soft peach scent and a delicate dry finish.
And now, the most important aspect of the ‘buffet’ – the food. Dishes are small and tapas-like, which is good because you can then pace yourself to try out more dishes. And it really doesn’t matter because you can order as many as you like. The litmus test of any Japanese restaurant, the sashimi and sushi are sizeable and fresh. One complaint though: The texture of the tuna seemed to suggest that it was previously frozen and had not been properly thawed out. However, it would be unwise to judge Tatsu by this alone because for a buffet, chances are you can’t expect choice cuts.
But aside from that minor gripe, and the rather bland teriyaki scallop and cod, overall the food was good. The dishes weren’t inventive but they were very well executed. And what’s immediately apparent is the clean cooking that respects the ingredients’ natural flavours. The grilled cod (with teriyaki sauce) broke apart with just a nudge of the chopstick, and the flesh was sweet and silky. The smoked wild duck appetiser, drizzled with a light soy and sesame dressing, had a surprisingly hamlike texture. Served in a teapot, the chicken, cod and mushroom clear broth was light and flavourful.
Other standout dishes include the enoki mushroom, which was grilled in a clear fish stock; the impossibly light and wobbly chawanmushi, which wasn’t too eggy; and the deep-fried eggplant topped with caramelised bean paste, which was sweet, salty and aromatic all at once. We suggest you order the mixed pickles as well – the sharpness of the preserved cucumber and radishes will help cleanse your palate and open up your appetite for more.
The three desserts that we ordered were outstanding, even though Tatsu can’t really take credit for the luxuriously creamy green tea ice cream (it’s from Häagen-Dazs). We highly recommend the warm red bean soup and the trio of mochi. The lightness of the soup (unlike the thick, murky kind we are used to) and the jelly-like consistency of the mochi (instead of the usual sticky, chewy variety) mean you can have more without straining your already full stomach. Plus, we love the refreshing yuzu jelly filling in the mochi.
Honestly, the dinner was a steal. My dining companion and I ate 35 dishes, which at RM118 per person (pre-tax) means each dish came up to only RM6.75. That’s comparable if not cheaper than the conveyor belt sushi (and some Spanish tapas) restaurants in town. What’s more, you get hotel-quality food with fresh fish that’s flown in from Japan twice a week. And if you have a bigger appetite than us… Well, you do the maths.
Tatsu was shortlisted in the Best Japanese Restaurant category of the Time Out KL Food Awards 2011. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance is rewarded.
InterContinental Kuala Lumpur
165 Jalan Ampang
|Opening hours:||Daily, 12noon-2.30pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm|