What brought the four of us to One Fullerton yesterday was a simple Groupon voucher, promising $80 worth of food by paying only $40 (excluding GST and Service Charge). For me, personally, I don't take very well to these high-class establishments, especially with Japanese food, because I get very critical and get exceedingly high standards of freshness. And of course, far too many "Japanese" restaurants in Singapore have left me disappointed with their mediocre renditions of what is supposedly, the most artistic and meticulous form of Asian cuisine in the world. I hoped that yesterday's experience would change that, especially when I was paint more than what I would be usually comfortable with paying.
Buta Niku Onigiri ($9) Grilled Rice Ball wrapped in Pork Belly
Personally, I felt that the pork was grilled to a crisp crunchiness, but tended a little on the dry side. The smoky charcoal flavor of the grill was apparent, and the rice was well, relatively moist because of the pork belly holding the moisture in. Good texture, flavorful and the pork fat pretty much melded in well enough with the rice ball in general.
Ebi Mango Maki ($18) Prawn & Mango Roll
I loved the sweet overtones of the mango, which wasn't like too artificially sweet, with the lovely cod roe crunch complementing the sushi. In terms of the freshness of the prawn though, it was still acceptable, but not too outstanding. The prawn itself was supple. The body of the prawn in this sushi was quite lost on the other flavors intended to complement the star of the dish. The sauce was tangy too though.
Described from L to R: Kurobuta Rarubi (x2), Chicken Heart, Liver, Thigh. Not pictured: Sasami No Chiizu (Chicken Fillet with Cheese Topping)
Kurobuta Rarubi ($6), Black Pork Belly (Sumiyaki)
Probably the best piece of Sumiyaki for the night, the smoky flavor rubbed off exceedingly well on the luscious amount of tender fat with the salty, flavorful meat. I loved this. With nice twist of lemon juice, the flavor was just perfect.
Hatsu ($3) Chicken Heart (Sumiyaki)
Hmm. Tough, smoky with an oak-ish wood smell to it, it was umm, a little culinary revelation that wasn't taken too well by me. Mainly because of the tough texture and it was only the saucy oils that made the meat palatable. But barely. An acquired taste.
Reba/Chigimo ($4) Chicken Liver (Sumiyaki)
Think Te Kwa (Pork Liver) with teriyaki sauce, and the smoky flavor of bitochan. Nice or not, it's up to you, for not everyone likes their the kwa in their ba chor mee.
Kashiwa ($3) Chicken Thigh. (Sumiyaki)
Didn't taste this one, Xinli/Wei Xiang had it.
Sasami No Chiizu ($4) Chicken Fillet with Cheese Topping. (Sumiyaki)
Think of this as err, umm. Very nice chao ta piece of slightly dry chicken with cheese on top. For 4 bucks a stick. Naise.
Hiyashi Tori Ramen ($18) Cold Chicken & Vegetable Ramen
The exceedingly bouncy, smooth and slippery texture of the ramen was indeed a pretty good one. In fact, in terms of flavor, it can be described as a premium, refreshing chicken maggi mee, in which the stock tasted very similar to the seasoning + hot water of the popular instant noodle. Its an $18 chicken maggi, but cold and refreshing.
Special Chicken Rice, aka the Tokusei Tori Don ($15 for Reg size)
The minced chicken was sweet and nice! I had better hot spring eggs so, this sort of reminded me of the half boiled egg you get at Ya Kun on a good day. The chicken meatballs were a little dry on the insides, and the pathetic piece of vegetable there is actually kailan. A bitter accent to the sweet meat. The rice turned a little dry at the bottom, was a little overcooked. But still, very special indeed.
Then again, you are paying $15 for chicken rice, so it'd better be special….
Teppan Wagyu Steak ($30) Wagyu Steak with Mushroom and Burdock on a Hotplate.
When the measly portion of meat arrived, I didn't stop to hide my disappointment. This is definitely not something you can share with two people.
The wagyu was merely slightly above average. In which I had better take my money and add $9.90 to enjoy a more substantial sized steak with 2 sides to boot at Astons. The marbling of the fat, perhaps having sizzled itself away into the black obscurities of the hotplate, was non-existent. I just have had better beef elsewhere and certainly not worth the $30 we paid for this dish.
The mushrooms and burdocks were perhaps the best part of the dish to me. There was a nice creamy butter flavour to it and the texture was crunchy yet supple. Lovely.
Tokusei Oyaku Don ($13 for Reg)
This was probably, in my opinion, the most value for money in terms of the quality of the food and the price at the same time. While in terms of a donburi it is not the most substantially portioned, but it'll probably be more than enough for an anorexic or two.
The egg was mixed into the rice, making it very moist and the flavors of the chicken and egg and mushrooms were exceedingly well matched and integrated into a flavorful sensation. The mushrooms were creamy and just like the ones I enjoyed on the Wagyu hotplate earlier. The rice was fluffy, but after a while, i had a comment that it was a bit too dry inside because of the way donburi is prepared, sucking the moisture out of the innards of the rice. The chicken was tender and soft, and just appropriately salty. It was a good dish I enjoyed, with homely flavors.
Service was attentive and pretty friendly, with our glasses and cups of green tea being filled continuously. In fact, one of my dining companions left his wallet there while we left, and the restaurant actually called us to inform us. Kudos to that. The ambience was laid back and restrained, decor was modern and well-furnished. It was a pleasant dining experience but if not for the Groupon offer we purchased, I personally don't think I'll be back here again as it is pretty out of budget for a poor student like me. But if you would like a authentic Sumiyaki experience outside of Japan, this comes pretty close, and pretty decently done.