FORT by Maison Ikkoku: 12-course omakase and a bevy of cocktails. What diet?

It's been awhile friends since I last penned down my biased thoughts and discrimination. Here's one to roll off the short week...

Maison Ikkoku, as I've touted before, is an institution. And even more so now that it has occupied the grounds at the Singapore Pinacotheque De Paris; a luscious sprawling minimalistic cocktail den splayed in cool colors of violet and blues to lure the passive drinkers. Here at FORT, Executive Chef and Senior Master Mixologist, Ethan Leslie Leong applies his cocktail (perceptibly expensive as I've noted in 2013 : read here) techniques with a balanced selection of food, delicate soups, salads, maki and other signature dishes made from scratch within the same fundamental grounds. A pretty impressive feat if you've take a look at the make-shift bar counter doubling up as a fully functional kitchen.

For just $68++, one can sink your teeth into a progressive 12-course omakase with no obligations of cocktails at all, though one must admit, the lures are evident, especially when only bar-seats are available. And if you should choose to, trust that you'll be in safe hands with resident mixologist Matteo Cadeddu working his magic behind the bar -  his dabble in alcoholic libations fuelled by memories and inspirations from his homestead; Italy. Take for example the Bloody Memory he fixed me, fortified with bottarga -  a salted. cured fish roe, shaved over the fiery concoction. Eccentric but oh, so good!

After a round of the kitchen (easily done with the gorgeous steel casted bar anchoring the space); followed by a round (or two!) of bespoke cocktails, the kitchen started pushing out dishes at a steady pace to fuel the alcohol frenzy. First up, Miso Seaweed followed by a Crazy Sprouts Salad with Tomato and Radish. Both light, and characteristic of the artful food direction adopted by FORT, it's light disposition well appreciated seeing that there are 12 courses in all to delve into.

As the cocktails continue to meander their way into our bloodstreams (note, Matteo does some smashing renditions of Negronis with his massive collection of infused gins), so did the dishes... Live Irish Oyster with Bloody Mary Sauce whets our appetites for a hearty meal ahead, the burst of fresh Ikura overhead providing salinity to the meaty oysters. Also commendable are the Sous-vide BBQ Pork Belly on skewers, the Japanese influences are uncanny as a light ponzu dressing cuts through the fattiness of char-grilled protein.

Not looking particularly exciting, the velvety creaminess stemming from the goma dressing in our Cold Ramen in Sesame and Cucumber is gratifying and helps to fill the tummy a little. Pick up the Green Californian Rolls with nimble fingers and fill up on these before the high-strung influences of alcohol start to kick in.

The Onsen Egg with Parmagiano Reggiano Cheese is met with mixed feeling, We cried foul at the over-cooked eggs, the inability to spot racy flowy innards casting doubts in our minds. That being said, the dish had its potential, the simple soft poached egg, a perfect foil for the rich, creamy parmagiano reggiano to shine.

As diner wraps up, you're faced with an aching belly (from over-indulgence) and a subsequent milder temperament from having all our alcoholic requests so well pandered to. The playful banter between mixologist and diner, a pleasant departure from the usual prim and proper atmosphere you get at most formal-dining restaurants. If I hadn't already made my case earlier, FORT by Maison Ikkoku is the perfect venue for the obscure lovers who have a knack of knocking conversations with strangers out of the ballpark.

If there was one particular dish on the omakase trip that I would highlight, the Seared Tuna Carpaccio in Asian Touch would be it. Seared tuna resting in a bed of Asian dressing highlighted by ginger, fish sauce, coriander and lime; is one dish that would egg even the most unflappable non-drinker into embarking into their crazy cocktail flight.

A list of other less inspiring dishes complete the picture, bringing up the total tally to 12. Lobster Bisque with tom yum, Uni Ikura Don, Wagyu Beef Burger and the mandatory Dessert of the day - these do not leave as deep an impression as the cocktails that were to ensue. Imaginative Butterfly Pea Flower dyed cocktails that conjure up a kaleidoscope of colors upon exposure to lemon juice and a deadly last word parade the table in military fashion, swigs and time-honoured backward and forward motions observed with smiles and nods of approvals accompanying its rapid movement. Yes, FORT by Maison Ikkoku does live up to its reputation as a cocktail bar that churns out innovative drinks, grounded by classic rules. Blue Stilton infused gin? - yes, the crew do get a bit wacky sometimes. 

All in all, if you're looking for somewhere a little more interesting to bring the loved one this week; look no further than Fort by Maison Ikkoku set in the romantic Fort Canning Arts Centre. Work up an appetite with the spirited walk uphill and digest the bevy of cocktails and Omakase dishes that will plague the system after.

FORT by Maison Ikkoku
5 Cox Terrace
t: 6336 0507

Operating Hours:
Mondays - Sundays: 4pm - late

No comments: