Tatemukai Jakarta: No Ordinary Japanese
Published 06 January 2011
Text by Erza S.T.
Photos by Ramadhan
The latest culinary jewel in Jakarta that opened at the beginning of October inside the East Mall part of Grand Indonesia is Tatemukai; easily one of the best restaurants that I have ever found in the city. The restaurant is small and dominated by an open kitchen / sushi bar plus one private room. So what is so special about Tatemukai? Well, let me share with you why this restaurant has immediately become part of my top three list in Jakarta.
First, Tatemukai is lead by the renowned chef Tate-san, who has built his fine reputation for over a decade through his previous restaurant, Kinokawa. Among Tate-san’s die hard followers he is known as a chef who makes each piece of sushi into an art form. Though sushi is essentially a visual food and much of its art is in the placement, colour, proportion, and spacing, taste and texture are always of uppermost importance. And all of this you’ll find in a piece of Tatemuki sushi. Forget the fancy sushi names for this is not Californian Japanese. Tatemukai is only for the serious gastronome as it gives you an authentic experience in appreciating and enjoying the finest Japanese cuisine. You will, however, pay for the experience. It’s not cheap. But let me assure you that at the end of your culinary journey here, you will find that it is worth every cent.
Hidden in the restaurant jungle of floor 3A of the mall, Tatemukai is not made for walk-in guests. From outside, this restaurant looks just like a beautiful wooden wall with Japanese symbolic carvings. The carvings resemble traditional Japanese emblems, which represent and identify Japanese families or clans.
Somewhere between these wooden carvings is the hidden door to enter Tatemukai. The atmosphere inside is warm with wood tones created by Methaphor Interior Architecture, who were behind the Tatemukai concept and design – a well-known firm that also created Hacienda, Oyster and Zhuma.
The Tatemukai interior design is inspired by traditional Japanese culture and the beauty of the intrinsic Shinto shrine architecture. The space and domination of wood also reflects Chef Tate-san’s character, aside from the fact that it is also a common and major material used in Japanese building. Everything here is done with the air of simplicity. When you enter Tatemukai, you won’t be bombarded with shouts of greeting either.
Sushi and sashimi at Tatemukai take the spotlight here. The dinner menu is short and focuses on the array of these selections that you can either get through a la carte or a set menu. I found that the most economical way to enjoy a decent selection of Chef Tate-san’s creations was by choosing the omakase chef’s choice package that starts at IDR 1,500,000++. By choosing the omakase package, you don’t need to order anything and instead let the chef serve you with various creations and types of dishes from seafood to meat, from raw to grilled till you decide to stop.
The quality of the fish and meat that is used in this restaurant is very fresh and 100% imported directly from Tsukiji markets in Tokyo. The variety of product used is also amazing from their specialty toro (fatty tuna) to ika (squid), uni (sea urchin), wagyu grade 9+ beef and even kujira (whale meat). The most awesome thing of course, is that every single piece looks like a work of art. There’s something meditative, even religious, about the way the sequence of flavours works its magic. I, for one, was transported. The operative word in Tatemukai is refinement. This means a light, delicate, but very thorough spicing technique, combined with the superior ingredients.
On a good day, Tatemukai can offer you specialies such as horsemeat and the infamous, yet much sought after fugu, also known as blowfish. Tate-san could be the only Japanese Chef in town who can actually serve fugu without letting the lethal effects of the fish’s poisons affect the enjoyment of the diner.
I was already overwhelmed at this stage by Chef Tate-san omakase set and decided to stop. The complimentary desert arrived and it is far from ordinary – slices of momo (Japanese peach), plum jelly and excellent red bean paste filled mochi of which I couldn’t get enough.
As a city, Jakarta might not be the ideal place to live but thanks to Chef Tate-san, now I have one more reason to enjoy it. Though it has just been open for a few weeks, Chef Tate-san followers have found their way back to his cooking; this includes among others the famous batik lady Obin and marketing guru Hermawan Kartajaya.
No dish is second-rate at Tatemukai. The prices are justified. And, like me, you’ll be kept in purple prose for the rest of the year.
East Mall 3A
Jl. M.H. Thamrin no. 1