Mikuni: Fugu (Puffer Fish) Grand Tasting Menu

Walking past obscure doorways, one's eyes will take just over a few seconds to accustom to the ridiculously dim lighting in Mikuni, all in sharp contrast to the bright white lights that stream in from Raffles Shopping Center. For most, Mikuni is synonymous with the best sort of Japanese food in Singapore. Well, even if you arrived totally ignorant, the meal unfolds in such gustatory waves of pleasure that it convinces you of that fact persuasively. Such is the case of my recent meal at Mikuni where I was treated to an 8-course unique menu that delves deep into the perilous world of Globefish aka Fugu aka Puffer Fish.

Diners can be assured though, with the skillful and safe preparation of the Fugu by Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo and his team, coupled with the stict food handling laws that AVA has put into place; that this meal would be completely and utterly safe (not to mention heavenly!).  Available from now till the end of Jan 2016, Mikuni will be featuring a grand tasting menu flaunting the versatility and natural flavors of this delicacy; priced at $220 for 8 courses with the option to pair it with 4 varieties of premium sake for $330, this proves to be such a steal. Diners who just want to live on the edge a little without going full fledged into the degustation can opt for the Fugu a la carte items such as the Fugu Sashimi ($88), Fugu Tempura ($38) and Fugu Hot Pot ($48); each dish suitable for 2.


The grand tasting kicks off a with a gift box of delicate items, each resonating with clean, straightforward flavors - globefish skin jelly, a sushi ball topped with globefish sashimi, sliced globefish meat lightly marinated in mirin boshi (sweet sake) and topped with plum, chopped toro and caviar. GlobeFish Skin is boiled in dashi to extract its natural flavors as well as natural collagen and gelatine. The entire mixture is then frozen to separate the skum from the clear liquids which is then used to make the picturesque Globefish Skin Jelly, a subtle hint of miso highlighting the oceanic flavors. 

The next appetiser was the Globefish Shirako Egg Custard with Yuzu. Most would shirk from the thought of consuming Shirako or Fish Sperms, it's grotesque form resembling some kind of maze riddled brain in mini proportions; yet, here at Mikuni, Chef Moon demonstrates his strengths and talents by taking a more whimsical and modern approach to present the rare treat. Chawanmushi is subtly flavored with the milt of the Fugu before being steamed in a prized round turnip from Kyoto, finished with a citrus punch of yuzu to rid of any fishy hints. The end result is so majorly delicate and even-tempered; the chanwanmushi dissolving into smithereens of creamy richness leaving most diners squealing in delight and holding their empty egg shells to the light, desperately scraping away.



One of my least favourite from the menu is the tataki globefish. Here, Yamaguchi Tora Fugu is employed in this simple technique where fugu is served with crunchy strips of globefish skin, barley coated in moro miso, an exquisite leek flower that serves more visual purposes rather than flavor, even if that weren't its existing purposes. What I couldn't appreciate was the crisp bed of cabbage the it was served on. It's explosive juiciness taking away from the fragile constitution of the former.



We take a short respite from the onslaught of fugu with a delightful interruption of Seasonal Tokusen Sashimi,Toro and Yellowtail. The former melting with ease when interacting with the tongue - makes for an incredible earth shaking experience, one where you're consumed with nothing but genial and happy thoughts after. Following which, we get to taste the beast in its purest form; globefish sashimi is sliced paper-thin (a skill that I gathered is highly dependent on a Japanese Chef's dedication to sharpening his knife, especially after prodding at a chunk of puffer fish that had been exposed to air after a while. Hard as a rock, I tell you.) and fanned around bits and bobs of baby leek and globefish skin. Performing a bit of "Peking duck" treatment, proceed to wrap stacks of baby leek and fish skin within the strips and roll it up in one swift motion, a quick dip in the piquant ponzo sauce later and we're good to go. Be warned as diners with less adequate chopstick skills will be ridiculed at this juncture.



While there is no questioning the provenance and freshness of the fish, the real talents of Chef Moon and his team is exhibited in the next dish. The Miyazaki Wagyu Rib Eye, Seasonal Vegetables, Organic beetroot, Yam, chestnut, garlic and gingko nut ; a valiant attempt midway through the meal to prep the palate for more complex flavors. Just based on looks alone, the dish was an instant winner, the reference to autumn on a plate made complete with intricate additions such as leaves and organic beetroot, all painstakingly imported from Japan. The wagyu rib eye retains an edge of alluring smokiness in sharp contrast to its glorious fat content. Nibble your way through the forest floor and make sure to end off with a cube of rib eye for optimal gratification.



Twice fried, the back and cheek of the globefish is transformed into Globefish karaage. This rigorous exercise producing crispy morsels that aren't oily at all. Served alongside Japanese sweet green chilli, this piping hot treat is a perfect for those who live by the 'everything is better when deep-fried' mantra.



Something a little lighter just to cleanse the palate before the rice and dessert course is the expertly prepared 'Fugu Chiri Nabe' Globefish Hot pot. This clearly brings the globefish in session, the intrinsic sweetness of the broth derived from boiling puffer fish together with seasonal vegetables in pure kombu water. At this juncture of the feasting, you'll feel a jolt of serenity, cleansed of the guilt of the previous courses luxuries



The struggle begins with the Hokkaido Sea Urchin, Takana Onigiri which presents opportunities for the diner to either throw his or her diet out the window and revel in the luxuriant that is the yellow stained rice due to incorporation of sea urchin OR pack the nifty package as a take away. I chose the latter, the boyfriend gleaming in delight as his treasured loot that night. It was wiped out in 5 seconds. Says a lot.



Desserts continue in the same lane ways of success; the Hokkaido Organic Yogurt with a tumble of strawberries, blueberries and jiggly Orange wine jelly bringing the highly titillated palate to a gentle rest. It's amalgamation of creamy, sweet and sour flavors all too soothing that I couldn't resist digging into my neighbors bowl (who had to leave a tad earlier just before this course. Her loss...).

Note that this grand tasting menu is available at Mikuni from now till Jan 31 so do make sure to call ahead for reservations.

Level 3, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
t: 6431 6156

Operating Hours:
Lunch: 12pm - 2 30pm
Dinner: 6 30pm - 10 30pm

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