Another Tras Street gem opened recently — GyuTan-Tan. GyuTan-Tan joins my extremely short list of must-try restaurants in Singapore, particularly along Tras where there’s no shortage of notable spots. Baristart, Cafe and Bar Gavroche, Nesuto, 51 Tras… 10 numbers further, we meet GyuTan-Tan at 41 Tras Street, whose immediate charm beckons you with its Studio Ghibli-inspired art pieces plastered all over its interiors.
There’s little to dislike in this authentic destination. Customers are mostly Japanese and you can tell that they need no introduction to GyuTan-Tan’s simplistic menu. To those who don’t eat beef, chicken and pork tonteki choices abound. But beef lovers, don’t shy away from Sumiyaki set meals. In particular, the Sumiyaki Combo set ($25). You certainly can’t make up your mind between thin or thick cut slice, and I encourage you not to think. Just order the combo to taste the best of both worlds, and decide for a next visit which you would prefer.
Guaranteed, you’ll certainly come back for its thin cuts, the sukiyaki-like thinness punctuated by the rubbery and juicyness you can only achieve with gyutan. Some parts unevenly charcoal-grilled, I admit, but it pales into insignificance with the thick cut: the Atsugiri. This beef tongue is an acquired texture, not so fatty, not so lean, clearly packed with protein, and sometimes, melt in your mouth.
There is no need for sauce, though Gyutan-Tan lets you choose from a bevy of choices: original soy, Ponzu Oroshi (raddish), Korean Spicy, Shio Pepper Lemon. But I dare you to try the traditional mashed Yamato yam. The consistency is sticky. I take it as one of those you acquire with taste, its elemental strength experienced only once you dip a strip of gyutan or two, never in one taste test. I call it a dance of preferences. Add another spoon of sauce and you get different layers in a single spoon. Often, putting it on my mugi-meshi (barley-blended) rice made the meal more exciting and transports me to Japan in a bite. Mugi-meshi rice was fluffy — this bowl’s perfect for diabetics as its made of fiber and calcium. The meal is even more guilt free with some side salad tossed in vinaigrette oil, pickles. It can’t get any more traditional than GyuTan-Tan.
The prices are slightly lower than average (~$25 per person), surprisingly for a restaurant located along Tras Street. Gyutan-Tan calls itself the first ever specialty beef tongue Japanese restaurant in Singapore, though I have doubts as gyutan is available in others like Sandaime Bunji in Millenia Walk. But if you’re visiting Singapore and happen to be around the area of Tanjong Pagar, Gyutan-Tan is at the top of my recommendations for you.