Hashida Garo, a new Japanese restaurant in Mandarin Gallery, is quite unlike any other Japanese eatery in Singapore. The description of the new restaurant on its website, “a place where desserts meet art” was intriguing. We could see that this was no ordinary dessert restaurant when we checked out Hashida Garo.
A part of the premises had not been completed while the partitioned-off dining area opened for business. Here, diners eat at one large communal U-shaped table in the sparsely decorated dining hall. There is a tatami mat area in the middle, which is where the Japanese tea ceremony would be carried out.
This unusual layout of Hashida Garo made us think of another place which resembled this scene. The Subordinate Courts! The person at the high platform looked like the presiding judge and those at the table below looked like the lawyers and staff. Those of you who have been caught speeding more than 30 km/h above the limit will know what I mean.
“I hereby sentence you to no sushi for the next three months”.
” Yes, Hashida-san”
We were there in the late morning and there was only one item available – unagi ippon – a unagi with rice bento ($19.80).
The unagi bento was beautifully presented. The dish tasted as good as it looked. The eel had very good flavours and texture which were enhanced by the rich sauce. The only negative thing was that the eel had some rather large bones – still soft enough to be eaten but big enough to be a nuisance.
The regular food menu looks quite interesting. You get to choose between “high standard” food and the $90 Extravagant Lunch! The cheeky and humourous names for the dishes did not go unnoticed. As the restaurant is still very new, it might be a good idea to call ahead to see what the items on the menu are available.
Not all the dessert items on the menu were available when we were there. The items that were ready were displayed in a box on the tatami area. They certainly looked inviting. If time permits, the desserts would be perfectly accompanied by the matcha tea which according to the menu would be prepared by a Tea Master.
The yuzu macaroon ($3.40) was a delightful little dessert. The texture was nice and chewy. The yuzu taste was delicate and citrusy. The only regret was that it was so small and can be downed in one bite!
The chocolate yokan ($5) was the best dessert of the day. It is the must-try item here as it is unlike any other kind of dessert. Its texture is like half-cake, half-jelly and the rich chocolate taste was exquisite. Be warned though that although each order comes in three pieces, each one is microscopic in size.
By comparison, the Hokkaido chocolate cake ($3) which was a very good chocolate cake in its own right, did not feel so special after the yokan.
The Hokkaido cheese cake ($3) was also very good and has a creamy texture. Both the cakes were larger that the first two items but still very small. It is no wonder that we don’t see over-weight Japanese people even though their desserts are so enticing.
One other thing. Do be gentle when tearing open the paper stickers holding the chopsticks together. There are fortune-cookie like messages printed on the back.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience at Hashida Garo. The delicious desserts, the seriousness of the tatami mat to the kitsch of the fortune cookie messages combined to offer a unique dining experience. We are always glad to see new restaurants that stand out from the crowd and Hashida Garo is certainly one such restaurant.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
#04-16 Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6235 2283
Open daily 10.00am – 10.00pm