When I was about 7 years old, my dad told us about a very expensive tepanyaki restaurant at Goodwood Park Hotel which he went to with some business associates. He said the chefs would make a big show of throwing meancing-looking knives and pepper shakers inches from your face whilst cooking the food on the hot plates by your table.
We never went to Shima (even though dad did on occassion suggested going there) because mom would protest that it is too expensive or that she hated cold slimy raw fish (she would grimace whenever she describes sashimi). Never mind that teppanyaki is not sashimi, we could never convince her to go.
For a long time, I would replay the restaurant scene in my head - the restaurant would have a rosy glow, with smoke from the hot plates, crowded with handsome men in black rimmed glasses, suits & skinny ties and gorgeous women with big bouffants & little cheong sums. The chef would perform to oohs and ahhs of the audience and everyone would eat drink & be merry.
So it was with great anticipation when my friend suggested we go to Shima to celebrate our birthdays together tonight.
When I walked into Shima, I was surprised how old & tired the restaurant looked. I couldn't help but wonder if it has not changed since my dad went there years ago. The restaurant was empty except for another table of 2 tourists.
The young chef from Penang assured us (to my disappointment) that there would be no knife throwing tonight and that there has not been any for many years.
The food (lobster, scallops, rib eye, prawn) was all cooked to perfection despite my initial fear that there would be severe over-cooking given that everything was cut to bite-size morsels. I particularlly enjoyed the juicy tiger prawns with nicely browned garlic, after the flesh was served, the head (de-shelled gracefully by the chef) was flattened and let to char slowly on the hot plate till the end of the meal when it was served deliciously crispy. I kept looking at it from the corner of my eye as I ate all the other yummy stuff the chef out on our plates.
I am glad that I finally went to this once iconic restaurant (possibly one of the earliest Japanese restaurants in Singapore 30 years ago) but at the same time I also wished that I had left my romanticised childhood memory of it untainted.