Thursday, 10 November 2011

Tasuke - Japanese - Canberra CBD

You would be forgiven to think that Canberra has very little to offer in the way of culinary adventures because you might right to think so. It seems that there is a law of emigration dynamics which states that once you have reached the country of destination you stop traveling. Case in show is New Your City with its Staten Island immigration facility which was used until the advent of widespread air-travel. It would seem as if the journey was so hard that as soon as immigrants crossed the border they lost the will to travel further and settled close to their entry point. NYC is a classic example.

In a similar vein San Francisco and other entry ports were settled in a similar manner. So was the case with Sydney. It would appear that once an immigrants foot touched Terra Australis the need to travel would end. This trend encouraged the growth of ethnic communities. With cultural diversity came culinary diversity which has created some standout cities such as NYC, London, San Francisco and Sydney which come to mind. Cities and locations that did not experience this level of emigration never evolved and while they might aspire to greater heights they will never achieve them, while any attempts made trying invariably end with mediocre results. Had Canberra had a vibrant Asian community of the likes of Cabramatta, Campsie or Haymarket then it's culinary standards would have been high. Fortunately we have cars, trains, buses and aeroplanes  that connect us with Sydney so that we can experience the culture Sydney has to offer. Having said all this, there are exceptions and there really are some quality eating establishments in and around Canberra. In fact I discovered a little Japanese restaurant right slap in the middle of Canberra located in the Sydney Building. Like all good discoveries they all invariably happen by accident.

Tasuke from the outside.
Using the "suck it and see" principle I enter a restaurant called "Tasuke" named after Isshin Tasuke who is a fictional Japanese person who has appeared in novels and plays, kodan, television and film jidaigeki and other media. Brimming with the Japanese values of giri and ninjo, the fishmonger Tasuke is the epitome of the Edokko, the son of Edo. A stock character in works set during the time of the third Tokugawa shogun Iemitsu (who ruled from 1623 to 1651), he collaborates with the veteran samurai Okubo Hikozaemon. Tasuke is so beloved that although fictional, he has a grave at a temple in Minato, Tokyo.

Though I know little about Japanese culture this place feels like the real deal.  It seems to have the right atmosphere. I'm starting to like this place. I study the menu and consider my options.

The establishment has a bench seating arrangement and Japanese menus on the wall. The menu looks good (see attached menu images below) and I'm a little confused as to exactly what I am going to order. A tipple of Japanese booze looks like the right way to start.

Alcoholic Chu-hi with Green Apple - $6.50
I opt for the Chu-hi which  is an alcoholic drink originating from Japan. The name is derived from "shochu highball". Traditional Chu-hi is made with shochu and carbonated water flavored with lemon. More recently available flavours have recently multiplied to including lime, grapefruit, apple, orange, pineapple, grape, kiwi, ume, yuzu, lychee, and peach. I decide on the "Green Apple variant. I was quite thirsty so to avoid gulping this down in one hit manner I asked for a bottle of plain table water so that I could savor the Chu-hi. This made an excellent appetizer for what I was about to order. Once the order was placed I settled into the pastime of people watching out through the window while my order was prepared.

item no. 06 - Seaweed Salad - $6.50
Shortly afterwards a"Seaweed Salad" arrives at my table. I've always disliked the word "Seaweed" because it insinuates the meaning of weed. We should more appropriately call it sea-vegetable simply out of courtesy considering how highly regarded as a nutritional food it is. I believe it to be Wakame. I've always been fond of this species of sea-vegetable as it tastes great and as a specific "squishy" bite to it that I enjoy. All in all an excellent dish.

item no. 101 - Sushi Shashimi Platter - Large - $34.00
Finally the Sushi-Shashimi platter arrives. It looks good. I've always been fond of raw fish. In other variants raw fish comes in the way of Herrings (from Baltic Sea countries) and Kippers (from Scotland). Occasionally I buy raw Salmon from Woolies or Coles and make my own Shashimi. Sometimes ad-hoc with my trusty Swiss Army knife. I simply love seafood and especially raw fish. I was concerned as I thought the Wasabi was omitted, but to my pleasure I found it hiding on the platter with the other arrangements. Without going into great detail I will say the seafood was very fresh and I enjoyed this platter immensely.

Towards the end of my visit I witnessed a group of the restaurant owners Japanese friends show up and observed the formalities of Japanese greetings. Lots of courteous bows of respect went in all directions as a sign of respect to each other. I was quite impressed with the display and it occurred to me that we have a real Japanese restaurant in Canberra run by real Japanese people. Don't procrastinate and get down here as soon a possible. I can highly recommend the place. My score AAA+++ Highly recommended.

Except right at the end I was surprised with a 3% surcharge for using a credit card. Such are the joys of running a business and trying to make a profit.

Menu - Click to Enlarge

Sydney Building
122 Alinga Street Map
Canberra CBD 2601 ACT
Tel: (02) 6257 9711

Tasuke on Urbanspoon

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