Katanashi Japanese Tapas Bar: Fun and Delicious!

Japanese Izakaya, Katanashi, on Boat Quay serves up delicious affordable Bento rice bowls on weekdays lunch. I have blogged about it before. Every visit, my friends and I naturally have to queue. At night, however, it serves up Japanese Tapas. Last Friday, I finally got the opportunity to check it out. A friend from Hong Kong was in town and I wanted to bring her somewhere totally unique. Katanashi fit the bill. Japanese Tapas is not common in Singapore (and I pray in Hong Kong too) and Katanashi has these little charming details such as a hand-written and drawn menu that I hoped will delight my girl friend. Plus their earnestness to serve up simple delicious little Japanese treats is simply heart-warming.

Katanashi’s menu may be small but boosts many signature dishes. At the same time, they have a separate special menu serving up specially-crafted-for-the-day dishes. Check out their Facebook page. On our visit, my friends safely left the ordering to me. I came to the restaurant fully prepared. Days of stalking Instagram (#katanashi) led me to order a wide variety of dishes. Each were as yummy as the next! We were more than satisfied with our dinner at Katanashi.

Katanashi is well-known for its cute illustrations. Their menus and wet tissue packets are hand drawn. It is hard not to smile at the cute drawings. But their personalized reservation cards definitely takes the cake!  

 

First to arrive on our table was the extremely popular Raw Tuna with a Breaded Crumb on a bed of tar tar sauce. Almost every table had this plate and for good reasons. The pink smooth texture of the tuna and freshness contrasting beautifully with the sourish sauce had us wanting more.

The Japanese ‘Okonomiyaki’-style Omelette may sound boring but it was filled with lovely big pieces of pork, grated yam, dried shrimp topped with bonito flakes and a thick sweet brown sauce. The game-changer was the slightly underdone middle that was just gooey – delightful! In short, a perfectly executed omelette.

Katanashi Fried Chicken or KFC is another popular dish. Deep-fried to perfection with unmistakable juiciness when we first bit into it. The thick crispy milky-crust was a palate pleaser!

This Hapen Cheese is supposed to be one of Katanashi’s best dishes too. Deep-fried Fish Cake filled with cheese, I was not convinced of its popularity.

That’s because my quarter did not contain any cheese… It was filled with air. BUT BUT BUT Katanashi’s other deep-fried and filled dishes did not disappoint and deserves as much credit.

Why this Curry Menchu Katsu does not get as much recognition beats me. Maybe because the description “minced pork meat cutlet and onion, cabbage with curry powder and cheese” does not sound appetizing. But I assure you this dish is delicious. The minced pork cutlet was crisp on the outside but perfectly juicy and tender within. Plus with the generous cheese oozing out when placed on our table, we were happy campers!  

Another must-order is this Potato Croquette filled with a thick wedge of camembert cheese. That’s it! From here on now, I am only going to eat Potato Croquette if it contains a satisfying brick of camembert cheese. I ain’t settling for anything less amazing.

From their specials menu, this Spring Rolls filled with a Korean Rice Cake each topped with Mentaiko was an interesting dish. Usually not a fan of the textureless rice cake, I liked the contrast of the crispy springroll skin. 

Our only main course for the evening was this disappointing Mentaiko Kimchi Udon. The anaemic-looking dish with the diluted kimchi sauce did not look or tasted appetizing. Honestly, I thought a wasteful stomach-filler. Should have gone for those Volcano rice bowls that every other table seemed to be savouring. Being different didn’t help me here.

 

Katanashi serves up another type of Fried Chicken: Katanashi Style fried Tabasaki!!! (Pardon the exclamation marks but this was such on the menu) Deep fried chicken wing dipped in special sauce, I ordered this hoping it will be like the Korean style fried chicken but no. It was dry and where’s the sauce?! Leave it to the Koreans to master saucy fried chicken.

Last but not least, from the special menu, this Fried Rice Ball filled with Unagi in a Dashi Broth. How unusual is this dish?! Sure, it was just one ball and difficult to split among four but it was a fine dish. The broth was light and fragrant, the unagi cubes tender.

 

Katanashi was so much fun. Every dish was surprising with its exciting contrast of textures and flavours. Sure, not every combination was a success but those that were, were first-bite magic. Plus they serve a great selection of Japanese beer. I foresee returning with different group of friends after a long week at work.