The Fat Cow is the premier steakhouse of all things Japanese and wagyu. To be perfectly honest, I don't usually make the leap from 'steakhouse' to 'Japanese' because steakhouses are more commonly associated with America or Australia, but then I remembered that Japan gifted the world with wagyu and kobe, the most prized and luxurious of cows.
A little off the main thoroughfare of Orchard Road, and tucked away in a corner of the Camden Medical Center, the nondescript restaurant is an oasis of low-lit, pinewood-ed tranquility.
The food's a mix of Japanese sashimi and anything bovine-related, distinguished by a distinctive Japanese twist. Every dish was flawless, exquisite and perfectly executed, but it all comes at a price that's eye-poppingly expensive and in portions that were depressingly petite. Little wonder, then, their set lunches are a lot more well-received than their ala carte dinner.
Reservations aren't really required, because it's a little out of the way, and because its upscale prices tend to attract a well-heeled minority, or people celebrating special occasions. We heard 3 separate groups toasting someone's birthday while we were there for dinner. Heard, not saw, thanks to the generous spacing of the tables and semi-private partitioning, which allowed for intimate conversations. So many restaurants these days have tables so squished up, I inadvertently hear about people's affairs, prostate exams and what-have-you salaciousness...it's not to say I don't enjoy hearing about people's private lives, but you know...I have trouble keeping a straight face when I hear some over-compensating balding middle-ager whining about "that gold-digging trophy of an ex-wife who took him to the cleaners".
A must-try, the Tai No Kuro-Toryufu ($38) was a sparkling fresh sea bream carpaccio dressed in shoyu, kelp and black truffle.
The Kani Korokke To Tsukemono ($18), a duo of crispy golden crab cakes awash with Japanese mayo and served with kimchi, was moist and sweet. Excellent stuff.
The Wagyu No Yukke To Umeboshi-Miso ($34) was a well-seasoned beef tartare burnished with white miso, salted plum and sweet potato.
The Shabu-Shabu ($81) featured 100 grams of Grade A3 sirloin, alongside enoki, shimeiji, shitake, cabbage, beancurd, carrots and chili peppers, with sesame sauce and ponzu dips.
These were dunked in a copper hotpot of mushroom dashi that was delicate and refined.
There's a wagyu marbling to suit every fancy. If you're a die-hard wagyu fan, get the Kuroge Washu Ohmi Ribeye ($120 for half-cut 150 grm), a Grade A4 marbling, and so meltingly tender even dentured geriatrics will find a joy to indulge.
If you like wagyu moderately, then the 'entry-level' Kuroge Washu Saga Tenderloin ($89 for half-cut 110 grm), at Grade A3, may be preferred. It's still decadently sumptuous, but doesn't get cloyingly fatty halfway-through.
For the traditionalists, the US Brandt Ribeye ($77 for 220 grm), renowned for being antibiotic and hormone-free, a truly sustainable ranch that only uses corn and alfalfa feed, and grain-finished for 365 days, boasts a full-bodied flavour. I love the beautiful char burnished on the beef.
The Donabemeshi ($78) of charcoal-grilled wagyu, with claypot rice finished with onsen egg and drizzled with shoyu, is for people who need their rice with every meal. This upmarket version of our local claypot rice was absolutely scrumptious.We were scraping at the bottom bits to get at every last burnt grain.
The Fat Cow
1 Orchard Boulevard
#01-02 Camden Centre
Tel: 6735 8836
Open daily from 12noon to 3pm for lunches; 6pm to 11pm for dinners