Dashi Master Marusaya at Robertson Quay is opened by the eponymous Japanese katsuobushi wholesaler. You probably have eaten katsuobushi, or thin shavings of fermented skipjack tuna, but you don’t know the name. It’s the paper-like topping for tako balls you find at basements of shopping malls. Yes, katsuobushi is also commonly known as bonito flakes.
Dashi is a broth that forms the basis of many Japanese dishes, much like chicken stock in Chinese dishes, or four mother sauces in French cuisine. Umami-rich dashi is simply a broth or fish stock boiled with seaweed and katsuobushi. At Marusaya, they use Rishiri kelp and Satsuma 2 year-old hongare-honbushi for their dashi with no MSG or chemicals.
I appreciate the things they do to import premium ingredients: organic, sustainable, air-flown X-times a week from exotic countries I can’t pronounce, line-caught seafood by a lone fisherman, 20-week calves who listen to Beethoven, etc etc etc. Premium ingredients ensure the food is of a certain standard.
But at the end of the day, when an customer who walks in a restaurant, not knowing the origins of the ingredients, taste is of paramount importance. Sure, when good cooking meets premium ingredients, that’s the most ideal scenario. But look at what the black Americans have done to fried chicken or Singapore hawkers. They turn inexpensive ingredients into delicious repasts.
Here, at Dashi Master Marusaya, the premium ingredients have gone to waste. The dressing for the Iberico shabu-shabu salad ($16) is drizzled nonchalantly on the autumn-dry leaves, without any tossing. Both the tempura platter ($28) and chicken kaarage ($16) are colder and stiffer than Kristen Stewart in Twilight.
If there is any saving grace, it is the sukiyaki udon ($15/$18). It is savory, with an intense saltiness that is pleasing. A slight sweet aftertaste that lifts the noodles. But my lips were moisturized with grease after a few mouthfuls.
Things at Dashi Master Marusaya are done on automatic, half-heartedly, or even quarter-heartedly. Given that it costs almost twice as much as but is only a slight improvement over any udon place, I think I’d rather go to cheaper udon restaurants. We paid $156 for three persons.
86 Robertson Quay #01-01 Robertson Blue Singapore, Singapore 238245
T: +65 6732 0383
M-F 11.30am-2.30pm, 5pm-12am; Sat 11.30am-3pm, 5pm-12am; Sun 11.30am-11pm
Overall Rating: 3/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.