Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Maru Korean BBQ, Mohamed Sultan

Move over, Kingsford...here comes wagyu fat!

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.

The most chichi spread of kimchee I'd ever seenAnd 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.

8 comments:

The Imp said...

the mhd sultan rd stretch doesn't seem to be doing good for food or drinks now. it's almost deathly quiet. the vietnamese resturant at the corner is superbly quiet too. so quiet till i'm not even inclined to pop by. a few streets away at UE Square, Gyu Kaku is surprisingly crowded every other night.

Robertson Denizen said...

Yeah the Robertson Quay/Mhd Sultan stretch is deathly quiet for lunch at least, which is just as well since I live around here, but makes you wonder about the viability of these places. Was at Banoo and Queen's Tandoor recently and each time we were the only customers! Maru used to be quite empty too until a Men's Folio write-up.

The Japanese restaurants seem to do better though, with Ichiban-Tei and Hakata catering to the many Japanese house-wives.

Wonder if you've tried the Japanese places near Shunjuu: Sugisawa (an izakaya type place), Menya Shinchan (which sells authentic ramen, the Light Miso Tonkotsu is not bad), SanguoKushi (Japanese Taiwanese food?!) and Mondo Mio (Japanese Italian).

Here's a review site from a japanese blog on japanese food in singapore:

http://satokaz.seesaa.net/category/1369771-1.html

If you can't read japanese, at least you can see the number of stars awarded to each place!

Anonymous said...

A slightly belated response to your post on Timbre. Bar Stop (next to Sushi Yoshida on Devonshire Road) has some of the best bar / lounge food I've ever tried. I liked nearly everything I ordered, such as the calamari, sausages and fried wontons. The sushi comes from Sushi Yoshida as well.

m said...

hungryboy: just wondering how much was the kalbi? & if the side dishes were any good, or mostly the standard side dishes you tend to get here..? thanks!

so far i haven't seen the variety of side dishes in korean restaurants here, that we used to get in chicago / NYC kalbi places. like the green onion salad and stewed potatoes that i would have thought would be pretty popular here and easy to make (?). not too sure why that's the case tho.

Anonymous said...

I just came home from Sugisawa.
Sashimi was fresh, just about as good as Yoshida at a fraction of the price.

@m: Maru is not expensive. Can't remember the cost of the Kalbi, but a set lunch with bibimbap, do-it-yourself BBQ meat (choose between beef, pork and chicken) was $13.50, comes with free appetizers on the side too (Kimchi, a tofu and some cold vegetables). I briefly looked at the a la carte menu and most of everything is less than $20. tastewise- everything was unremarkable except for the BBQ meats. So if you are going to Maru, zoom straight in on the BBQ and don't waste your time on anything else :)

m said...

thanks! i'll go try it on a day i feel strictly carnivorous. :D~

Anonymous said...

Forget about this blog:

http://satokaz.seesaa.net/category/1369771-1.html

It's not attractive, like most other Japanese blogs- gata gata -messy.

Anonymous said...

Poem for Pleasures in eating:

You? Eater? Stop your sense, be sicken.
In search of eating, your intestines will ikqing.

Then death comes, still i enjoy eating. what do i love most to eat, ah ha! it is .....

so my pleasure changes me, into one food as i will be.