Tamon Izakaya Singapore

Tamon Izakaya

It’s amusing to watch the rate at which restaurants in Singapore open and close, so it was partly out of curiosity that we decided to visit Tamon Izakaya (214 East Coast Road) which has survived the test of time and influx of competitors to stay in operation for 18 years.

This Japanese eatery sits no more than 30 people, but we liked that tables were spaced sufficiently far apart to allow privacy of conversation. The restaurant was fully packed on a Saturday evening despite the horrors of parking along East Coast road, but we hear that business is quiet during lunch.

We each got a complimentary dish of tamago. We weren’t expecting much from a dish that had been prepared beforehand, and it served its purpose of giving us something to nibble on while waiting for our orders.

But the wait didn’t take long anyway; our first dish of Salmon Mentai Maki ($15) came within minutes. We were delighted to see generous slivers of flame-torched salmon, still pink and raw on the underside that came topped with a dollop of tangy, creamy mentai. This itself was good enough for us to distract us from the under-seasoned rice.

Skewers supposedly take centre stage at Tamon. Among those we tried, we enjoyed the Shishito or Japanese green pepper which was bursting with juices despite being charred to a crisp. The Gyu Maki Cheese ($5) was also an ingenious creation with tender beef slices encasing a delicate filling of gooey, almost mochi-like cheese. The Beef Karubi ($5) and Chicken Thigh with leek ($3) were average, but what disappointed was the Chicken Liver ($2.80), which came across as dry and hard.

Pork Belly Stew

Our favourite dish turned out to be the Pork Belly Stew ($10). Contrary to what its name would have you believe, this was surprisingly light on the palate. We loved that it was was chock-full of sukiyaki-style pork slices, stewed onions, carrots and potatoes that had soaked up the intense flavours of the broth. This was comfort food at its best and we’d have been happy spooning this over mounds of rice.

Oyako Don

Instead, our carbohydrates came in the form of an oyako don ($15) which was really nothing more than a tummy-filler. A rather unfortunate way to end the meal as this was bland and unexciting.

As izakaya meals go, it’s easy to chalk up a hefty sum from ordering ala-carte. We can’t help but notice offerings at Tamon are much less refined that what we Singaporeans have been spoilt by. Though we weren’t won over by the food, we were thoroughly impressed with the service, which was prompt, personal and yet unintrusive. The service staff came by time to time to check on our needs and not once were our glasses of tea left empty. Perhaps therein lies the secret to surviving as a restaurant in Singapore for so many years.

Tamon Izakaya
214 East Coast Road
Tel: +65 6346 6667
Daily: 11.30 – 2pm, 6pm – 10pm

Words and photographs by Sarah Lim

For more recommendations, read our Guide to Japanese Restaurants in Singapore