Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ma Maison @ Bugis Junction

My first visit to Ma Maison was in 2011, after slaying a really tough examination project with my Uni group mates. I remembered getting enchanted by the restaurant's design concept; despite hailing from Japan, Ma Maison serves up Western cuisine with a Japanese touch in an Italian concept. To some, it seems like a severe case of identity crisis. But fusion food isn't so much about the roots but how the chef combines the best of these cultures together to serve up a variety of gastronomically and visually fulfilling cuisine. Why toe the line when you can have the best of both sides?

Oven-baked fish

Anyway, I had a meet-up with The Boyfriend and a dear colleague for dinner at the restaurant's Bugis Junction outlet. By 7pm, the queue was already snaking out of the entrance, so we had to wait for about 20 minutes before they could free up a table for us.

The seabass was really, really fresh without additional condiments, the meat was really well done with no fishy smell, and the corners were charred to perfection. Those who are health-conscious will be delighted with the accompanying veggies, grilled fresh potato wedges the light Italian herb dressing. And yes, the restaurant very thoughtfully topped it off with a wedge of soft cheese to off-set any fishy smell and to add an additional punch to the dish. Though I would have preferred the fish resting on a bed of salad greens instead. 

Carbonara Ma Maison style 
Boyfriend usually sticks on the safe and familiar side whenever we eat out; when there's Carbonara, he would be adamant about ordering just that. Unlike the creamy version topped with a perfectly poached egg one could get at any decent Western restaurant, Ma Maison's version had mushrooms and eggs mixed into the spaghetti but no cream. Boyfriend still preferred the classic style.

The Friend chose Men Doria with chicken, mushrooms and rice. The unique part of this baked dish is that it's topped with a layer of shell pasta and cream sauce, not just cheese. It took quite a while to arrive, so we had to check with the waitress several times to ensure that the order had not been misplaced/forgotten/wrong. The portion is just enough for a hungry lady.

We couldn't resist the dessert spread, but I secretly chided myself about my calorie intake. Ah heck. The Berry berry tart was too difficult to resist, especially when it's topped full of raspberries strawberries and a decadent blueberry jam. My sister once brought home a slice of strawberry tart from Ma Maison, and the entire family was literally clamouring to get a morsel of it. Unlike tarts from Fruit Paradise which were loaded with a mountain of cream before topping them fruits, Ma Maison were frugal with their cream but generous with the fruits.

The service was impeccable. Of course, there's bound to be days on which the service will not be up to expectations, as with most service-centered industries. Furthermore, the restaurant is a magnet for Japanese businessmen who would spend hours eating, drinking and talking animatedly during the busy dinner slot. But given the ability of the friendly and enthusiastic Japanese manager and her team to hold up a strong dinner crowd and a long and angry queue, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't return to this place.

Ambience: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Price: $$-$$$ (we spent an average of $18 per person)
Service: Poor/ Fair/ Good/ Excellent

Eat where:
Bugis Junction #02-51, 200 Victoria Street, S(188021)
Tel: 6338 4819 (call to book, especially for dinner and weekend slots)

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