Mikuni at Fairmont

What used to be called Inagiku many years ago changed its name, and perhaps concept, to Mikuni, which is located at level 3 of Fairmont hotel, accessible from a corner of Raffles City.

While it was still Inagiku, I visited it a couple of times, usually choosing to order their sashimi platters or shabu-shabu or sukiyaki sets. Food was good but pricey, and back then the decor of the restaurant was that of a typical Japanese restaurant of the old days, boasting homely colours of light ply wood (I think, something beigey-yellow) that just make me think of many of the eateries I have been to in Japan. When it underwent a renovation the interior got many shades darker, the walls became dark brown/black. I think it was meant to give the restaurant a more updated and modern vibe, or perhaps the change in name or management fuelled the need to overhaul its appearance, to give it a look that is more aligned with the pricing of the food.

I went there once after that and felt that the food quality dropped, or maybe it was just the ambience or somewhat that made the food taste a bit different. Anyhow, that was also where I went a couple of weeks ago for my birthday treat! This time round, I think the food was better, maybe the years in-between this and my prior visit gave them the chance to finetune and improve the culinary skills of the chefs, or maybe it was just how I felt on both occasions.

Their menu is pretty comprehensive but it makes the ordering difficult because if you would like to have a few items that includes sashimi, then you have to think about your budget too. Haha. My friend was able to get a discount off the food so it was well-worth it for us!

Complimentary appetiser. I cannot remember what this is but it’s thin and crispy and tasted like it contained prawn.

Instead of sashimi, we ordered the mixed sushi plate. I liked that the sushi is more fish than rice, and of course the ingredients were really fresh! But perhaps we had too much rice, because in addition to this platter we also had a maki plate.

But this was really good, avocado and I think yellow tail (one of my favourites). And with sushi/sashimi, the wasabi just makes it even better.

Being a big tempura fan, we also had a mixed tempura plate, which consists seafood (prawn and fish slices) and assoted vegetables.

There was an additional grilled or barbequed pork rib that we ordered, that we only had a bit of and were unable to finish because we were so full from all the rice stuff. So a tip for those who have small appetites, don’t take too much carbo, or maybe that’s not really a tip, we probably overestimated ourselves. :p

The pork rib was nicely done and not too oily but it had lots of fatty parts in it that I think most people would really enjoy; we packed that back home but I don’t know why I don’t have a photo of it here.

Since we were already bursting we decided to skip dessert but anyway there was a complimentary matcha mochi dessert, that also came with cubes of azuki sticky cake (rice cake maybe). This was good because it wasn’t sweet, the sweetness of the red bean was complemented well with the slight traces of bitterness from the matcha in perhaps its natural unsweetened form. Nice way to end the meal! And thanks for the treat, my friend!

hotel-hopping

Last weekend my friend and I went for a staycation at Fairmont Hotel. Another friend commented in amusement at how I spend a lot of my weekends staying in hotels overseas and that I continue to stay in a hotel in Singapore when I am home. Well thinking along that line, it felt a bit odd. But the feeling of staying in a hotel in Singapore and abroad is somewhat different. Being in Singapore and staying in a hotel gives you the hint of being on vacation yet while offering the sense of familiarity. I was perhaps a little too tired to really enjoy everything but at least that was one weekend I didn’t go about to run errands and do the usual weekend routine that I was so wont to follow when I’m in town. We went for tea, caught a movie and then proceeded to Savour 2012 at the F1 pit building. It was only past 2 in the morning that I went to sleep if I recalled, and the moment I closed my eyes I just dozed off almost instantaneously. It was also a rare morning on Sunday where I allowed myself the luxury to sleep in, until almost 10am.

I know that sounds really weird, because 10am on a weekend will still seem early to many. But frankly for me, I haven’t slept past 9am on a lot of weekends past. When I am overseas I try to maximise my weekend by waking up early either to head out to explore a bit of the city that I am in, or to go to the gym for some exercise before heading out. Weekdays are of course a given that I can’t sleep in since there is something called work. And when in Singapore, because of my frequent lament of the shortness of time I try to make up for it by sleeping less and waking up early. I sleep earlier now too, or I try to so I manage about 5-6 hours, which is really not enough because I wouldn’t be feeling so tired constantly otherwise. I know it’s a vicious cycle but I can’t help it.

Anyhow, back to Fairmont! It was our first time staying there since the last couple of visits we stayed at Swisshotel.

There wasn’t much of a view from the room where we were at because right in front of us was the office block. On the right, we could see a bit of Chijmes and beyond, and on the left it’s a portion of the CBD skyline and some of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. I much rather prefer the view from Swissotel because there we got rooms on higher levels that offered a fantastic view, day or night. Perhaps after this stay, we may not return to Fairmont because the rates were even higher than that of Swissotel’s! Oh but a trivia was that Big Bang’s GD&TOP stayed here last year when they were in town for the F1 concert. Haha. Cheap thrill, yes I know but that only matters for fangirls.

Anyhow, the rooms were slightly larger than Swissotel, according to my friend, but in terms of the state of maintenance I’d think they are rather on par. Both hotels have rooms that are already considerably and visibly old. They are not lousy for sure, but we have stayed at newer and better-maintained hotels over these years. Another trivia, both hotels provide complimentary tea & coffee-making facilities, but the difference is that Fairmont stocks Dilmah tea, whereas Swissotel offers TWG tea. TWG is made in Singapore yes, but it retails for way more than Dilmah.

We didn’t spend much time on the balcony since the view wasn’t great and it’s weird if we were standing on the balcony and there are people in the offices opposite. Nevertheless, we were out most of the time so it wasn’t like we had a lot of time to enjoy whatever the balcony could offer.

Despite all these shortcomings, I must say that Fairmont has amazingly comfortable beds.

It looks just like an ordinary hotel bed, prince size? But this is seriously one of the best beds that I have slept in, and I don’t think it is influenced too heavily by my extremely-fatigued state that day. The bed is so nice and soft but yet still firm enough to give your back adequate support, just like the pillows. I really hate it when pillows look nice and fluffy but the moment you lay your head on them they just flatten completely and I have to find ways to stack/fold the pillows to try to find a comfortable position yet still wake up with a sore neck. And there have been some hotels that I have visited recently that have beds that were either too hard or soft that old bones like mine just feel pain the next morning when I wake. It isn’t just me who felt that way about those hotels because my co-workers have had similar complains. Fairmont’s beds and pillows are great, based on both of our experiences so maybe that is their saving grace for me.