Mikuni (formerly Inagiku)
80 Bras Basah Road
The Fairmont, Level 3
6431 6156 | www.mikuniatfairmont.com.sg
I have a childhood memory of my barehanded Dad catching a hapless octopus on the rocks off Clansthal beach, south of my hometown Durban. After turning its head inside out – oh, how my sister and I squealed! – he repeatedly dashed the poor thing against the barnacled rocks, the time-honoured way of tenderising its tough flesh.
It was still a bit tough, as I recall. And until last night, the best octopus I’d had was the Greek island version, dried in wind and sun for a couple of days before being singed over charcoal, sprinkled with coarse salt and topped with a squeeze of lemon.
Last night, an almost impossibly succulent octopus tempura was one of eight courses on the omakase set menu ($250 a head) at Mikuni’s robatayaki bar. They’d cooked it sous vide before chucking it in the oil, explained the new Executive Chef, Korean Moon Kyung Soo.
We’d started with an excellent foie gras in egg custard (chawanmushi), topped with a lacy squid ink chip and a minute, crisp-fried whole riverine crab. I tried not to look at its tiny brothers and sisters waving feeble claws from a bowl on the ice-bedded display in front of me. Food can be too fresh, I sometimes think.
The Mikuni siphon soup is literally spectacular, the stock heated over a flame so that it percolates upwards into another chamber to be infused with bonita flakes before being poured over the shrimp and enoki mushrooms in your bowl.
New style sashimi featured yellowtail tiradito topped with micro-cress; Roy thought the truffle oil dressing rather overwhelmed the subtle flavour of the fish. But the sushi – toro (tuna), botan ebi (creamy prawn) and saba (tasty mackerel) – was a delight.
Then Chef Yamamoto sprang into action from behind the counter, producing first a robotayaki-style kinki fish for us to share, and then Kagoshima Wagyu beef with garlic teriyaki sauce.
After kicking off with a couple of spicy wasabi-shochu cocktails, we’d opted for sake pairing rather than wine (add $90); all four were all differently delicious, and knowledgeable input from the sake sommelier added to the fun. A super-smooth Japanese grappa sealed the deal.
High-end Japanese is on the pricey side, so in our books Mikuni would be a splurge. But it’s also a cosy, cheerful place with a relaxed ambience and delightful service – a real treat.