Friday, 7 March 2014


Friends have been sharing drooling pictures of mookata and one has even embarked on a quest to find the best in Singapore. So what is mookata? It is Thai barbeque-cum-steamboat using pork lard to keep the aluminium dome-shaped centre "non-stick", with the oil from it and other barbequed items trickling into the surrounding shallow ring of water to form a sinfully flavourful broth for the steamboat. Exact opposite to what we might be more familiar with, barbequing on the hotplate (with a hole in the centre for a bowl of soup) around a hotpot in the centre. Have yet to try until it was featured in a recent The Sunday Times article, from which I shortlisted a few. Read rave reviews about MooJaa, along Keong Saik Road where Taratata Bistrot is also located, and called to reserve for two last Friday. When I tried to postpone my reservation because my dining companion could not reach in time, was told it was full. But it was not, based on our observations throughout dinner.

Anyway, I reached at the original and earlier timing. Red chairs with backrest stood out against black walls in the barely-furnished and almost empty place. The table, also black, was sunken in the centre with a metal plate at the bottom and what I thought were miserably small ventilation holes at the sides. There was a choice of sets for two or three, and à la carte buffet with additional top-up for free flow of drinks. We decided on the latter, which comes with choice of a plate of Kurobuta Pork or U.S. Angus Beef per diner. Of course, we had one each to share. While we did not order any food, a bowl each of Chicken Cheese Balls and Fried Salmon Skin was "plonked" onto our table. This was shortly followed by plates of raw ingredients. Nevertheless, we started eating the cooked items as staff prepared what was supposedly white Binchotan charcoal  traditional Japanese charcoal that is chemical-free, almost smoke-free and burns hotter without black soot so food does not turn acidic.

After the special cooking apparatus was set and balanced atop the charcoal, soup was poured into the trough with pork lard placed at the highest point of the dome and ingredients on the slopes. With a small and curved surface, we could only grill a little food at a time without it slipping into the broth. Since charcoal constantly emits heat, there is no need to keep adjusting temperature of the hotpot. Not that we could do so if we wanted to and that is the problem here. Food was left on the grill for very long without any signs of being cooked and our request for staff to check the charcoal and/or change the cooking apparatus was turned down. Because they had neither extra ones to change nor manpower to wash the one we were using even if we were willing to wait, which we offered to. Stopped short of suggesting to do the washing ourselves. In addition, smoke filled the air as if the haze had shifted indoors (smell included). Bad experience and poor service, need I say more?

Update: The restaurant has closed.

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