Tatsu Jin

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

The former premise of Kong Bee Lee (广美利) in Kampung Jawa has been converted to a Japanese restaurant. Under the name Tatsu Jin Japanese Restaurant (達人日本料理), the proprietor of Kong Bee Lee is also behind this new business venture.
"Tatsu Jin" means "expert" in Japanese language. Therefore I am carrying high hopes during my visit to this restaurant.

The exterior of this corner-lot unit looks reasonably attractive. Japanese lanterns and potted plants give a colorful appeal from the outside.
Unfortunately, the interior decoration leaves much room to be desired. The atmosphere feels gloomy and dull as a result of dark colors of walls. To make matters worse, the walls are left bare without any ornaments whatsoever, such as a Japanese artwork.
The visible air-conditioner ducts are an eyesore (ironically the dining area is warm and stuffy during noon); this could have been easily remedied with proper use of furniture, ornaments or drapes to diffuse the sharp corners. I strongly recommend that the proprietor take a crash course on interior design, or at least commission someone with such knowledge.

On the other hand, the printed menu is finely done. It is evident that lots of food preparation and photography effort are put into this. I always appreciate the idea of indicating recommended dishes on the menu itself. This makes it much easier for customers to make a choice.

Do you have any idea how much time is spent waiting for customers to choose something if there were no recommendations on the menu? The unfortunate truth is that many restaurant proprietors do not realize this fact.
I started with the Assorted Roast Sushi (炙り寿司の盛り合わせ, RM18.00) which is served on a nice bamboo tray. This serving features six different types of aburi sushi (炙り寿司), which translates to "roasted sushi".
While the commonly served nigiri sushi (握り寿司) have raw ingredients (particularly raw fish) as toppings, aburi style refers to toppings that are briefly heated using a blowtorch. Therefore, the toppings in aburi sushi are partially or fully cooked when served. Personally I prefer the wild flavor of raw fish while enjoying sushi, but it is also nice to try something different once in a while.
There are two pieces of maguro (鮪) sushi. One has some mustard on top the tuna slice, while the other is made from the belly section of tuna. The tuna cuts are pretty thick, therefore the overall slice is still reasonably raw although the top surface is lightly charred.
The ebi (海老) sushi has a cooked shrimp which is sliced in the middle and opened up to cover the rice. A small piece of cheese and mayonnaise are then added on top to give some flavor.
Next, the sake (鮭) sushi is covered with a succulent slice of fatty salmon. The reddish color of the flesh alone is quite appealing. Very fortunately, the salmon is not overcooked; otherwise the devilish fatty texture is gone for good.
As one of the main highlights of this sushi assortment, the kamo (鴨) sushi uses a thick slice of roasted duck as topping. The fat and lean meat layers of the duck are prominently visible, bound to the rice only with a thin strip of nori (海苔) or seaweed. The taste of kamo is exquisite in my opinion.
Last but not least, the unagi (鰻, freshwater eel) on the unagi sushi is also held in place using a strip of nori. As usual, the unagi is grilled with sweet sauce to give a savory, rich flavor. This makes unagi as one of the more tasty fish in Japanese menus.
The sushi pieces are flanked by a cube of wasabi (山葵), and a floral arrangement of gari (ガリ, pickled ginger). I find the latter very creative. I'm sure that someone has done this before, but this is the first time I have seen one by myself.
The overall verdict on the Assorted Roast Sushi is that the ingredients are reasonably fresh and well prepared. However in terms of pricing, I fail to appreciate how the sushi pieces stand out compared to the likes of Sakae Tei in order to command such price.

As a handful of sushi pieces are insufficient for my lunch, I ordered a serving of Shake Chahan (鮭チャーハン, RM8.00) or Salmon Fried Rice. The fried rice is the standard type prepared using dried shrimp, eggs, scallion and garlic. In addition, small chunks of salmon are included to make this a delectable dish. The fried rice is quite fragrant and tasty, but I feel that more garlic should be used for better flavor.
My drink is a hot cup of Green Tea (お茶, RM1.00). The waiting staff are very attentive and make frequent rounds, so refills are not cumbersome at all.
I find that Tatsu Jin has some merits in terms of food quality and sushi presentation. However I still question whether the price structure is appropriate considering its location and less-than-satisfactory ambience. For the same food and price, there are several competing Japanese restaurants in the nearby Queensbay Mall.

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