Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Maru Korean BBQ, Mohamed Sultan
Here's yet another sign of this street transforming itself from a former strip of watering holes to dining spots instead. Located on part of the former grounds of Madam Wong (27 Mohamed Sultan Road, 6235-9344), a bar that was practically a landmark on the street not that long ago, this Korean BBQ was surprisingly upscale in decor (one never would have thought that it was that grimey dive before). And perhaps more amusingly, they even had a Madam Wong set menu. We ordered a la carte though, specifically our usual unmarinated kalbi as well as the ox tongue, which they brought out promptly.
Now, one thing that strikes you before you start cooking is the lowering of a long cylinder from the ceiling...almost like a submarine's periscope or something out of Darth Vader's toilet. This was just an inhalation duct to keep the smoke off of you, but it was also a bit odd in that it hovered just four inches off the grill itself, thus making it feel a bit cramped when trying to cook meat underneath it. Still, it worked rather well; in addition to being very quiet, it presumably also created a draft with which to feed the charcoal underneath some oxygen.
Anyway, back to the food: I liked both the tongue and kalbi. While the quality wasn't perfect, it was good enough, and the kalbi had just the right amount of fat in it to give it a little bit of extra flavor. The portions were a bit small though, so we had to order a third plate, this time upgrading to the wagyu version. And here is where things really got interesting. The excessive fat from the wagyu, dripping right onto the hot coal underneath, fueled a flame so big that it would make Kingsford jealous. All this time it also instantly seared the meat, thus barely requiring any cooking time. The unmarinated nature of it meant that it helped to have a touch of that salt that they gave you (yay - they provided some dipping oil as well!), but yum...this melted in your mouth just as wagyu should.
And what about that huge gripe that I've had about most of the Korean places around here cooking the meat for you? I'm pleased to announce that none of that happens here...this is all DIY (and they don't pour your beer for you here either...yipee!). Now, there were a few things I wasn't a fan of: the kimchee, for one, was not only a bit of a bore, but also very stingy in quantity (they charged you for seconds too). Speaking of stingy, things like the lettuce, garlic, and bean paste for wrapping were also optional, as was soup and rice. This place also took on a bit more of a contemporary slant, with not a metal bowl in sight (check out the chichi kimchee layout here too). But these were all minor things on the side. At the end of the day, the meat was tasty, and they let me cook it myself, and that made this place favorable in my book. I just hope that they don't close down soon...there were hardly any customers in there tonight.
Digested at 9:23 PM
|This made me feel:|