Clarke Quay’s Kushikatsu Tanaka (串カツ田中) is actually part of a popular Japanese chain of restaurants. It’s most famous for its Osaka-style kushikatsu deep fried cutlet skewers and signature special dipping sauce.
What makes Kushikatsu Tanaka stand out is the secret family recipe — a unique blend of oil with beef fats is used to fry their kushikatsu coated in finely ground panko (Japanese style bread crumbs). The panko flour, batter and sauces are sourced from Japan, which means you’re getting the original Kushikatsu Tanaka experience — complete with Japanese lingo and Japanese expats in the Clarke Quay outlet.
The chain is currently highlighting it’s new Mega Cheese Festival promo, introducing new cheese-filled skewers, mains and bentos. It’s an exclusive Singapore-only promo you won’t find in any of the other 221 Kushikatsu Tanaka outlets worldwide.
But before I sink my teeth into the cheesy offerings, I had to try their Jim Beam highball. Popular in Japan, the highball is basically a spirit and carbonated mixer, served in a highball glass filled with ice. There’s more than 15 different types of highballs (starting from $6.80) but I went with an original highball, accepting the “Chinchirorin Challenge”.
In this challenge, all you have to do is roll 2 dice to win additional perks. I rolled even numbers, which gave me a 1/2 price Jim Beam highball. Rolling odds gets you the chance to buy the mega-sized Jim Beam highball at $13.60 and doubles gets you another glass on the house.
The star of this promo is the Mega Cheese Chikuwa Kushikatsu ($6). At 15cm in length, this gigantic Kushikatsu is essentially Japanese fish cake filled with loads of melted mozzarella cheese. What’s more, there’s a limited quantity of these made everyday so make sure to put in a special request for this when you make a reservation. Ask the waiters to help cut it up into smaller pieces if you’re intending to share a couple skewers with the rest of your party.
Don’t forget to dip the Mega Cheese Chikuwa into one of the 3 new dipping sauces. The locally inspired Chilli Crab dipping sauce (far left) actually complements many of the Kushikatsu available, but you won’t go wrong if you prefer the Nacho Cheese (middle) or Japanese Curry sauces. These go for $2 a pot, or $4 for a set of all 3.
I also tried some of the other new kushikatsu on the menu. The Hanpen Kushikatsu ($1.50, middle) is fish cake made with white fish that after the deep fry that tastes great with the Chilli Crab sauce. My personal favourite Unagi Kushikatsu ($2.50, far right) is your traditional sweet soy sauce grilled eel dredged in Kushikatsu’s signature batter for a crispy outside, tender unagi inside. The Mini Taiyaki Kushikatsu ($2) is Kushikatsu Tanaka’s version of the fish shaped, sweet dessert with red bean filling, now covered in panko and deep fried.
The restaurant also serves its own take on classic bar food. I liked the Beef & Chips ($9), deep fried beef skewers with especially tasty French fries on the side. Also on the menu are Fish & Chips ($9) and the Black Pepper Chicken Tebasaki ($9) wings, both I am eager to try in the future.
Ever watched Takoyaki cooks in action and wonder if you can do better? Now you can show off your skills with Kushikatsu Tanaka’s DIY Takoyaki set. Choose either the Tako ($10), prawns ($10) or Unagi ($11) fillings and try your hand in making the perfect Takoyaki. Trust me, it’s really not as easy as it seems. You can also add mozzarella cheese ($3) to the mix to create your very own cheese Takoyaki concoction.
Eating too much Kushikatsu in one sitting can be quite cloying, so I was happy to savour the Chiritori Cheese Nabe ($18). Served in a hot square pan, pick between marinated beef, chicken or pork, grated mozzarella cheese and special stock. As the fire starts, watch the cheese melt into the meat of your choice, and stir them all together until every piece is coated in cheese sauce. So so good.
For sides, the Cheese Peiyaki ($8) looks like your typical tamago but I was surprised by how well the cheese and egg go together. It’s topped with spring onions and sweet sauce mayonnaise. It kinda tastes like okonomoyaki.
But if there was one thing I will order every time I visit, it’s the Salmon Yukke ($12) that I couldn’t stop stuffing myself with. Mix well the quail’s egg and mildly spiced miso sauce for a uniquely savoury sashimi taste. A must-try dish for sashimi fans.
The new Mega Cheese offerings are available for dinner on weekdays and weekends during lunch (except for the Chitori Cheese Nabe). Don’t forget — no double dipping, and don’t dip any extra utensils into the sauce. Use the provided cabbage as a dip or to scoop up more sauce if you need it.
Kushikatsu Tanaka Singapore
3A River Valley Road
Merchants’ Court Clarke Quay
Block A, #01-01B
Monday - Thursday - 12pm - 2:30pm, 5pm - 12am
Fridays and Public Holiday eve - 12pm - 2:30pm, 5pm - 2am