Hospitals are not the sort of place that we usually look forward to visiting. In Singapore, however, there is an exception: The Camden Medical Center. It houses The Fat Cow, which is one of the city’s most provocative and unusual restaurants.
From the moment you walk into the Fat Cow, you enter a different world. This funky, relatively small place is not only one of the city’s more hidden restaurants, but also one of the most exclusive ones. Here, you eat among a group of people that differs from the standard clientele of high-end restaurants in that it is younger, edgier, and less conventional.
The first impression is one of an extremely slick, very well designed restaurant. Given that you sit around a counter, it feels like a sexed-up version of Joel Robuchon’s Ateliers, which have become predictable over the years. The design and clientele might make you think that this is a restaurant, which does not take food all that seriously.
That, however, would not do it justice, as the Fat Cow’s funky interior is only one of the reasons that make this an unusual restaurant: The food is delicious in its own right. Mainly focused on Japanese-inspired beef dishes, people come here for steaks. The Fat Cow prides itself with sourcing these from some of the most renowned suppliers, amongst which Snake River Farms in the United States and David Blackmore from Australia stand out. The latter is the only farmer outside of Japan, certified by the government to have 100% pure breed Wagyu beef. For those who want to have the real deal, Saga prefecture beef is also available.
The beef from Saga is used for a claypot rice dish, which is topped with the seared meat and an Onsen egg. The runny egg seasons both the meltingly tender meat and sticky, richly flavoured rice. What is a very simple dish, turned into something special because of the meat’s phenomenal quality.
Even simpler and no less tasty is a grilled strip loin of Snake River Farms beef with a Whisky sauce. This is the beef that is used by Thomas Keller at the French Laundry and Per Se amongst others, and given its quality it doesn’t really need much of a garnish. Perfectly cooked with a complex, full flavour, and an almost minerally sauce, this is the most impressive “hospital food” we have eaten so far.
The Fat Cow is not just about beef though. Other dishes are equally carefully prepared and tasty. A carpaccio of Tai (red seabream) is served with black truffles and kelp. The marine, mineral and earthy components of this dish, combinated with the freshness of the fish make for a perfect start of what can otherwise be a relatively heavy meal. For those with a healthy appetite, the Kurobuta pork belly is outright addictive. Japan’s answer to pata negra pigs, this is some of the best pork in the world. If you can stomach it as a starter, it will be one of the dishes you will not regret trying.
Whilst the idea of eating in a hospital might take some getting used to, the food at the Fat Cow is impressive. This is carefully prepared, expertly sourced meat, paired with clever and sensible sauces and sides. Add the cool atmosphere and interior, and you have Singapore’s most unusual restaurant.