My quest for mid-market Singapore options led me to follow a recommendation from my friend Claire to give Matsuya, a sushi place near Raffles Hotel, a look.
Kaiseki – the Japanese tasting menu dinner style from which many western cooking styles draw inspiration – is scarcely an accepted (or acceptable) definition of mid-market but Matsuya’s lunchtime mini Kaiseki selection for a very reasonable S$48 looked a pretty good offer so I had it in mind to give that a go.
I arrived to a fairly sparsely populated place and took up station at their bar where I was able to get an insight into the sushi chef at work.
I did indeed go for the kaiseki menu which today had a couple of swap outs from the regular list with giant halibut unavailable and swapped for a similarly meaty white fish, and their premium tuna in bonito broth swapped for clams.
Things opened with an outstanding dish of sea urchin, salmon roe and tofu skin. Sea urchin has a very distinctive creamy taste – you’re eating the beastie’s gonads – and this was splendidly fresh stuff. The fish roe popped in my mouth for beautiful bursts of flavour and the tofu skin was excellent. It was the standout dish of the day, but what followed was all very good, too.
Next was a gloriously fresh platter of sashimi with amberjack, tuna, swordfish, bream and a scallop. The latter was outstanding.
We followed with a piece of salt roasted white fish which was very simple but flavour-packed.
The main dish was braised beef on a bed of rice with piquant pickles and onsen tamago, a slow cooked runny-yolked egg. It was hearty and delicious.
This was accompanied with a bonito broth with clams. This was not unlike the excellent soup I had at Yamato quite recently and waa every bit as pleasing.
Things were rounded out with a tub of strawberries and cream Haagen-Dazs. This seemed an odd idea but I ate it nevertheless.
So overall, I was mightily impressed with Matsuya. It served me some excellently fresh dishes with the sea urchin dish one I’ll recall fondly. If you’re looking for a little lunchtime treat in this part of town, this is a place worth knowing about.
Blythe scores Matsuya
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 16.5/20
I ate: sea urchin, salmon roe with beancurd skin; sashimi; salt grilled white fish; braised beef with soft boiled egg; clams in bonito broth; ice cream
I drank: water
I wore: black shorts
Total bill: S$56.50
Address: 15 Beach Rd, #01-01 Beach Centre, Singapore 189677