Wagyu has almost become the extravagant default if you need some quality beef for a Japanese grill experience. How about Tokachi Beef? Never tried it? Then you won’t know what you are missing out.
I was at Tajimaya, a Japanese charcoal grill Yakiniku restaurant at Vivocity, and was hugely intrigued about their Hokkaido Tokachi Beef Platter. (Plus it is a very photogenic plate.) It is said that Tajimaya’s Tokachi beef is air-flown directly from the subprefecture in Hokkaido, hailed as a tastier and healthier rival to the more commonly known wagyu.
Really? Tajimaya Executive Chef Umehara Shigeo explained that Tokachi cows are fed a specially formulated, grass-based diet comprising sweet local meadow grass, straw and dent corns to produce meat of an extremely high quality, creating superb flavour and texture. The cows are said to be fed a blend of traditional herbs to increase their resistance and enhance the flavour of their meat!
All in the mood for authentic Japanese yakiniku barbeque, we ordered a Hokkaido Tokachi Beef Season Menu for 2 ($198++, usual price $268++). The portions are generous, and the three of us were able to share this set.
The special set comes with Kimuchi (Japanese kimchi starter), Kani Chawanmushi (which is really smooth) and Tajimaya Salad (cool and refreshing).
The highlight is really the Beef Platter. When served, we almost could not take our eyes (and cameras) away from the bright and cheery-red beef slices with some finely dispersed evenly distributed creamy white marbling of the fats.
Seeing is believing, but tasting makes it believable.
There were the different cuts of Jo Rosu (loin), Karubi (short ribs), Zabuton (chuck eye roll, portion just behind the neck) and Sankaku (chuck short rib, meat just outside the ribcage), all 90 grams each.
The good news is: everybody had their favourite part, though my preference went with the longest rectangular shaped Sankaku for its intense marbling and tenderness while the cushion-like Zabuton also had an amazingly rich and luscious ‘buttery’ taste.
Comparing the Tokachi with the other types of beef, the words ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ is really an understatement. Where I was most impressed was while it was already tender, the meats had a certain quality of bite and leanness you may not find in lower grade beefs.
I know some customers are always afraid of barbecue because of the possible smoke and greasiness. Surprisingly, I think I still walked out of the restaurant smelling good, due to the high performance exhaust system.
If you prefer Shabu Shabu, the restaurant next door Shabuya also offers the Hokkaido Tokachi Beef Season 7-course menu for 2 ($158++). American Express holders are also entitled to a $10 discount and a complimentary bottle of Sake with each set purchased.
The hands-on Japanese Yakiniku experience over charcoal grill is always fun while catching up with friends. Plus, Tajimaya has an amazing view of Sentosa and Resorts World Sentosa, especially magical looking under the mysterious night sky.
Tajimaya Japanese Charcoal Grill Yakiniku and Shabuya Shabu Shabu
Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk #01-102/103, Singapore 098585 (Harbourfront MRT), Tel: +65 6377 0070
Opening Hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm (Mon-Fri), 11:30am – 4:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm (Sat, Sun, PH)
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