A nap spanning 13 train stops later, I was ready for some serious kaiseki. I managed to avoid the rush hour and even arrived earlier than expected. As I alighted at the Chinatown station, I reached for my workbag's side pocket. The iPhone was gone.
Firstly, let me just say that I should have expected this day to come. I mean, losing the iPhone, not the 9-course, S$180++ per pax kaiseki dinner. Who in the right frame of mind carries his/her iPhone in those loosely netted pockets, all exposed, screaming take me, stranger, take me! the fool won't notice a bit! The truth was, I did that for the sake of convenience and health. Another theory suggested that the phone fell off my bag while I napped. Clever, but waking up with my bag positioned on my lap just the way it was before I fell asleep, there was no way that my bag be subjected to any form of motion causing my iPhone to drop from the pocket. Regardless, I take the blame for my loss. I was just thankful that it was not my wallet that had gone missing.
We almost cancelled the dinner at Goto. Immediately, I used XLB's BlackBerry to call up the service provider and got my line barred. After reporting the loss at both SMRT and SBS control stations at Dhoby Ghaut (I didn't realise that the North East line is managed by SBS, not SMRT), I got my SIM card replaced at Plaza Singapura...after a long wait. In front of me was this
deranged distressed woman complaining about her allegedly faulty TV box. She seemed keen on getting a replacement set (and some freebies), killing the service staff AND burning down the whole unit. Tough luck. All she got was a card of the department's manager. That much I understood. I was given a new SIM card within minutes and we had about 20 minutes left to go to Goto (cheap pun intended).
Goto was dim, contemporary zen. It calmed us down a bit. The very hospitable hostess and her staff, all in kimonos, put us at ease. It was disheartening each time the hostess described a mouth-watering course as I thought of my iPhone, now being violated by a stranger. That bastard had better be gentle with my iPhone. I wonder if he'd managed to break my lock code. *Sniggers*
The first course was visually stunning, almost confusing. I couldn't catch half of the ingredients but the highlights were definitely the gold-leavened sweetened black beans, shirako in ponzu shoyu, roast duck slice and fishball. Not any ordinary surimi fishball, of course. It was made of fugu.
The simple course of red snapper, skin scored and glazed sweet, was very much appealing to the senses. Cooked just right, the flesh was moist, pairing the sticky, slightly savoury glaze really well. If this was offered in an a la carte menu, I would have had this with some of the steamed chestnut rice - one of the dishes served towards the end.
When served with a covered regal yellow bowl, engraved with classic Chinese/Japanese motifs, I'd expected some exotic, expensive ingredients...like sea cucumber. Instead, the bowl was filled with steamed vegetables - yam, daikon, bamboo shoot and asparagus. I was slightly disappointed with the ingredients but they were nicely arranged though. The vegetables came with a creamy karashi. Instead of providing a sharp taste to the mustard sauce for contrast, it was surprisingly mild. And blended in finely with the vegetables. A subtle, interesting combination that even a spice fan like me appreciated.
Tempuras never excite me as much as KFC's Hot 'n Spicy. Goto's version didn't change my mind but I must say that the chef should be praised for his creative selection of ingredients. There was no use of panko - the prawn was coated with crispy rice balls instead. There was also a tiny fried sandwich of fishcake slices and sweet plum marmalade. For best effect, we wetted the pieces with a squeeze of lemon before dipping them into some refined salt. You can imagine that combustion of flavours in the mouth, I'm sure.
There were 2 desserts - one was a trio of ice cream, jelly and fruits, and the other was a warabimochi. Of all the desserts, the quartered orange jelly was the most intriguing with the jelly replacing the orange's flesh. It could fool anyone into believing that it was a normal cut of orange from afar.
As per tradition, we were presented with whisked, frothy warm matcha to end the kaiseki dinner. Secretly, I was hoping that they would prepare the matcha in front of us. Some sort of after-meal performance, like a mini tea ceremony, I thought. I can only dream.
I'd lived without an iPhone for the whole of January. It was a time for reflection, on the need for excessive social networking, Apps downloading and Youtubing. Yes, all the things that make life busier - but for what? That month, I'd read a couple of books, enjoyed more real conversations with friends and was not at all distracted by WIFI spots.
By chance, I got hold of an iPhone 4 by February. These days, I keep it in my pants' pocket, no matter how the waveforms will have (allegedly) detrimental effect on male fertility. And I'm still reading. But of course, when I have to choose between a politician's biography and StreetFighter IV (I got it for only US$0.99 from the AppsStore!), the choice is almosthadokenalwaysshoryukenobvious. Such is life.
14 Ang Siang Road
Tel: (+65) 6438 1553