Thursday, October 22, 2009
Ohsumi is one of the first shabu-shabu specialist restaurants in Singapore. This little place on the third floor of Cuppage Plaza has been drawing Japanese expats and locals in the know. The decor looks like it hasn't changed since they set up nine years ago. It's a bit dingy and run-down but this hasn't deterred people from coming here for the food.
They offer various shabu-shabu sets (most come standard with appetiser, vegetables and udon/ramen/rice). The broth is basically boiling water with a piece of kelp. You can add chopped garlic and chillies for more flavour. Three kinds of dipping sauces are available - ponzu, gomadare (sesame seed) and the special house blend (what seems to be a ginger-peanut ponzu).
If you prefer, you can go for the kimchi steamboat, sukinabe or sukiyaki instead.
Ohsumi's specialty is pork. In particular, Kurobuta pork (the famed Black Berkshire breed). This is from the Kurobuta Moriawase (S$45++) mixed platter course, comprising belly, loin and shoulder. Sliced paper-thin, these barely need a few seconds to cook in boiling water. Smooth, silky and fatty they were. Pleasant but not mindblowingly so.
This is from the Australian wagyu set (S$75++). Nicely marbled beef, but the few slices leave you very much wanting! Like the kurobuta, these cook in an instant, and are beautifully tender. However, again, there are no major taste epiphanies to be found. They also offer Japanese wagyu (S$120++).
We sprung for an additional plate of regular beef (S$24++), just to compare. You can immediately see the difference. It also takes slightly longer to cook, and is not as tender or delicate in taste. But it's beefier in flavour, and generally good enough. The regular beef set is S$30++ for lunch and $42++ for dinner.
Vegetables, tofu, bean vermicelli and mochi (sticky rice cake) provide badly needed bulk for the hotpot. I tossed in the udon at the end, hoping for a good broth. But it was still bland, unlike the Mo-Mo-Paradise shabu shabu we had in Tokyo. Hubby had the rice option, which came with various pickles. A scoop of rich green tea ice cream closed the meal.
Service here can be spotty, although the Filipina waitress was fairly OK. However, I hope they have other options for their restaurant music - the melancholy instrumental themes made it quite depressing.
Overall, a decent meal, but I'm still not a fan of shabu-shabu. For the price we paid (final bill S$198), I would much prefer to have wagyu and kurobuta on a BBQ grill instead (hello Aburiya and Gyu-kaku!).
If I do come back, it'll be to try the regular pork which I hear is pretty good. For big eaters, they have a buffet (regular pork only - shoulder, loin and belly, S$46++ per person) and a "all-you-can-eat-and-drink" course (S$69++ the pork plus beer, sake, shochu and oolong tea).
5 Koek Road
#03-24/28 Cuppage Plaza
Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm
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