I bought a TastyGo voucher for Base Eat + Drink a long time ago, but didn't get a chance to visit until last night. I didn't expect the place to look like a night club — a setting that prompted doubts about the food. I was already concerned about whether Korean fusion cuisine would work out, and the bar/lounge ambiance certainly didn't help. The only promising sign was that the owner and waitress were speaking in fluent Korean.
I was hoping there would be hot stone bowl rice on the menu, or at least some version of it with a Western twist. Unfortunately there was no such thing and the menu consisted mainly of fried dishes and appetizers that would go well with alcohol, as well as Western dishes that I dared not try. I looked over at the only other occupied table in the restaurant and asked the waitress what they were having. It smelled wonderful, so I figured it would be a safe choice. She told me it was the most popular item: chicken karaage (large: $18.95). I was a bit surprised as I had always thought that chicken karaage was served dry, but these chicken chunks were doused in a thick and tangy sauce. The meat was dark meat, and the texture was quite soft and tender. And the sauce was sweet, sour, spicy, savoury, intense and delicious! The spiciness really helped with alleviating the heaviness of the meat.
Apart from fried rice and risotto (seriously... risotto in a Korean restaurant?), the only rice dish available was the base rice balls ($5.95). They were similar to Japanese onigiri except there was no seaweed. And of course the presentation was a lot less attractive and the marinated beef filling was not tucked neatly inside the rice ball. But the beef was tasty and the rice had a delightfully charred flavour.
I was really impressed by the previous dishes, but the sweet potato tonkatsu ($13.95) came as a bit of a disappointment. After eating this, I had a lot more appreciation for Saboten. The pork cutlet was not tender at all, and the sweet potato inside just seemed out of place. In fact, I found the meat a bit dry and bland. There was so very little rice to go with the tonkatsu, and the salad's not even worth mentioning. I certainly didn't enjoy this dish, but it didn't taste as bad as I made it sound. We still managed to finish most of it.
Despite my initial doubts, the food here turned out to be pretty good. I guess I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But I don't think I'll be eating here very often because of the number of fried/grilled dishes on the menu. The place seems more like an izakaya than a normal restaurant.