Sushi Kikuzawa, Orchard Road
I wasn't very hungry tonight (considering that I had just eaten some leftover pizza at 4 PM), so I figured that I'd go for a really light meal. I had passed by this place a couple times in the past (360 Orchard Road #02-13, 6738-3833) and had always been intrigued but had never come in. Tonight I wanted to change that.
It's set up like a couple of the little cult-following sushi joints back home, where the venue is a very thin sliver of a restaurant, featuring only a long sushi bar, and that's it. (And indeed, I found the place populated with a few Silicon Valley folks inside yakking away! Wow - I had forgotten how much Californians loved sushi.) I hesitated a second when I noticed that they featured an all-you-can-eat buffet, but nonetheless I still went in just to be sure.
The food proved to be all right. The fish wasn't as fresh as I have had in Japan, but it was probably one of the better sushi meals that I've had in Singapore. They started with some sashimi and plenty of other little starters by default, after which you picked your sushi. The tataki toro had a nice fatty taste (although a bit too much garlic), while the bonito fared well with the good pinch of ginger on top. To my surprise, the chef also pulled out something I hadn't seen since Japan: a blowtorch, which he used to heat the unagi. Nice.
The highlight of the meal for me was the deadly fugu, or poisonous blowfish, which I was surprised to see on the menu, especially since everything that I had heard about fugu was that it had to be served by licensed chefs (in dedicated fugu shops) who knew how to handle the deadly toxins (to which there is no antidote, BTW, and it literally kills people who eat it every year). This being just one item in a buffet of all things outside of Japan, I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive. But I had never tried it before (and had always wanted to), and eventually cooler heads prevailed when I realized that my chances of getting hit by a bus out on Orchard were probably greater than my chances of getting poisoned at this shop that I know has been here for quite a while. So I went ahead and ordered it. A friend of mine who had tried fugu in Japan once had told me that it was actually pretty tasteless, and indeed, he was right. This fish was seriously so bland that even the rice supporting it underneath had more flavor. Even though I knew that, it was still a bit of buzzkill (and no, there wasn't any tingling feeling either). Hmph - if it weren't for all the hype surrounding this delicacy, I probably wouldn't even eat it. There is seriously no flavor at all.
Anyway, all in all, I don't regret coming to this place. While not a knockout for me, it was still one of the better sushi experiences I've had in Singapore. The head chef was very friendly and fun to watch as he prepared sushi behind the counter. And at least now I can say that I've eaten fugu.