It was one of those Sundays where I would get all excited, since it’s the one day my family and I can head out for dinner without anyone of us feeling exhausted from work or babysitting. So after having a fulfilling brunch with my son at the mall and bringing him to the pool later on, my partner and I were ready to treat ourselves to a satisfying meal so as to have a great close to the weekend. Maybe I might even find a strong contender for best steak in Singapore?
So my family and I explored places where there would be delicious promotions (remember, I’m a fan of great value) to take advantage of, yet without being too constrained by them. After spotting a great credit card offer, we decided on Mikuni, the Japanese wonder of Fairmont hotel, in the heart of City Hall.
When we walked into the restaurant, we knew that no matter the promotion, it was going to be a rather hefty bill. But having committed to giving this establishment a shot, we decided to go ahead. After browsing the menu (and fighting the urge to not decide based on price) the four of us settled on a main course each, with one starter.
After noticing that it was going to be a hefty bill no matter the selection, I decided to go with the Lobster Uni Yaki with a side of Garlic Fried Rice for my main. The dish featured a grilled Boston lobster that’s been generously doused with sea urchin cream. Had to admit that when I placed my order, I was anticipating a thoroughly salty meal since that’s what I though sea urchin cream would be like. I was glad to have been wrong.
The lobster arrived in two halves and judging from the shell, it was grilled good. The flesh seemed fresh but not as plump and wholesome as I would have hoped. Strangely enough though, it came out in bits instead of a whole chunk like how all fresh lobster meat I’ve previously tried usually are. I believe the chef shelled it sometime during the preparation process, to create a ‘cleaner’ dining process. The sauce tasted a lot like a light version of honey mustard mixed with laver (or some form of seaweed). The lobster uni yaki was accompanied with a serving of what looked and tasted like seafood broth. It was light and almost flavourless, so it didn’t compete with the main components but still, I didn’t see much need for it. Maybe it was something only a finer palate could appreciate?
Another component on the plate was a bulb of garlic that’s been halved and roasted with light seasoning. So garlic lovers will find that as a nice surprise.
As for the garlic fried rice, it was flavourful stuff. The rice grains were plump and glossy, with just the right amount of seasoning. Not too much spring onion (huge plus there) and the taste of garlic was sufficient without being overpowering. I wouldn’t say the flavour matched the price ($12) but I was thankful to have added it to my really light-sized main course.
Once we were done ordering, each of us were greeted with what looked like a well-seasoned cracker. My guess is fried samosa skin, then sprinkled with a generous amount of chili flakes and chives. The little cracker did serve as a nice way to whet the appetite while awaiting the mains.
For the starter, we went ahead with Ika Kari Kari Age, which consists of fried squid, truffle miso mayo and lime. The squid was fresh, springy and snaps to the bite. The batter coating was crispy and lightly seasoned, making it real delight to the taste buds. The sauce tasted like honey mustard in my opinion, and while there were sprinkles of truffle, the fragrance and taste just wasn’t there. Luckily, the squid tasted great on its own.
The first of the non meat-centric mains was the Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Don, which my dining companion ordered. In my opinion, it was a real crowd-pleaser. Anyone who has read my blog will know that I’m a small fan of Wagyu beef, so it may be surprising as to why I didn’t order it this time. Well, as much as I love the stuff, I do wish to explore other varieties of meat which includes red and white as well as seafood. Moreover, what’s there to stop me from sampling my friend’s order? (Ho ho ho)
My dining companion knows about my meat-centric taste buds and so offered me a couple of pieces to try, without my asking (isn’t that too sweet?). I have to admit though, the meat was GOOD. Before the order arrived, I did check with the chef on the grade of the Wagyu and apparently, it’s A5! That’s the highest possible grade for Japanese Wagyu and it shows. Just by looking at the cubes of beef, you can see the ring of fat that was thoroughly marbled in its raw form. The meat was tender, flavoursome and contained the awesome balance of salty-beefy goodness. To diners who don’t like the “smell” of beef, give Wagyu a shot. The taste is more gentle and aromatic than the common “beefy” that most store-bought beef carries. My wife falls into the aforementioned category of diners and she thinks Wagyu is awesome. (Read my entry about trying the Australian Wagyu Ribeye, MS 9)
The rice is also brilliantly prepared. The grains are firm and seasoned with (I think) soy sauce, hence exploding with hints of flavour during each mouthful. Like I said…this dish was the crowd-pleaser.
Although I was looking to explore seafood, I really didn’t mind having red meat to sample. So when my other dining companion ordered the beef sukiyaki, I was more than glad with the outcome. Labelled as Sukiyaki Konabe, the dish also incorporated A5 Kagoshima Wagyu Beef but in thin slices, served in a bubbling metal plate of sukiyaki broth. What accompanied the beef were assorted vegetables, sweet soy sauce and an egg that was cooked within the broth.
The soup base or broth was delicious but it tasted a lot like sukiyaki you can find at any other Japanese food establishment. So no wow factor there. The beef, because it was served in the hot broth, was already on its way to being overcooked. Considering the quality of beef used, it is beyond me as to why the chef didn’t serve the beef on the side, allowing the diner to cook it to his/ her preference. A real pity there. Nevertheless, it was tender and tears easily with each bite. Since it went well with the sukiyaki base, each mouthful was warmly satisfying.
Now, the Tokyo Paitan Noodle was far from being my favourite. The combination of chicken, bean sprouts, egg noodle, chives and leek made for a really veggie-tasting broth. When I tried the soup, I could hardly taste anything beyond the bean sprouts. It’s definitely a healthy choice, but since I didn’t taste any other parts of it, I’ll just leave it at that.
Since I’m not a huge fan of fine dining, the dim ambience, spot lighted table and expensive cutlery made for a rather intimidating feel. It’s definitely a nice place, just not for me. Service wise, a lot remains to be desired. I was only impressed with the lady who tended the front counter, and a junior-looking waitress who remained entirely pleasant throughout the evening. The other two young gentleman didn’t seem too friendly and hardly nurtured our appetites.
The presentation for the food was brilliant though. Very neat and inviting.
Should You Try It?
Considering it from the food perspective, I wouldn’t place this on a bucket list. Parts of each dish are usually missing something, making all of them hardly worth the price. It’s true that the place is nice, but when you factor in service and food, I wouldn’t choose this for any occasion.
Mikuni (Fairmont Singapore)
80 Bras Basah Road
Mon – Sun: 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm (Lunch)
Mon – Sun: 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm (Dinner)
Tel: +65 6431 6156
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