Dojo | Circular Road, Raffles Place

Welcome, to the dojo.

Who you were, who you’ll be, what you’ve done, what you’ll do…it’s immaterial. In this dojo, who you are and what you do are the only things that will matter. In this dojo, you will be engaged in mortal combat, a fight to the death, where only the fittest shall reign supreme, and win.

Let’s meet the opponents, shall we?

The first challenger is Elvisu, Elvis Presley’s Asian cousin who “pick rike ris”, and relatives exemplify similar traits. While Elvis enjoyed a simple peanut butter and jam sandwich – I suppose it was part of his charm, enjoying the things that we do even at the height of his fame and fortune – Elvisu must add “pork pratty”.

Next, we have Hadoken. Just like Haduoken (Street Fighter Ken’s signature attack), this looks like a fireball. Nevertheless, just like the arcade game, Hadoken is predictable. Instead of a real punch, the Hadoken uses a Tex-Mex chili con carne.

Little Dragon (transliteration of Bruce Lee’s Chinese name) promises a pork steak, and a generally more balanced meal.

Kaiju makes a mess wherever kaiju goes, be it Godzilla, Rodan, Gamera or Ghidorah. They are evil, they are warriors, they are neutral, but you can always count on them to save the day against scarier, more evil forces. You’ll never go wrong with this Burger King Mushroom Swiss lookalike.

I believe I’ve proven myself worthy, having taken down the likes of Carl’s Jr., Omakase and Fatboy’s, so I advance to the boss fight: the Sumo.

So, it begins. The Sumo looks like a tough fight, with a delicious, rich and juicy pork patty, so I go for the low-blow. Ooooh, it takes a big hit with the roasted sesame sauce – where has it gone? It was supposed to be there, but it really isn’t. But, the Sumo isn’t done yet. No, it refuses to give up. With a loud roar, it pulls something from under its belly. What is that? Is it what I think it is? Yes, it’s a greasy, disgusting bill of crispy pork belly… Is it too much for me, I ponder. Should I give up? What should I do? If the Sumo unleashes this, I’d be confined in the gym for months on end trying to work it out… I’m in deep thought, and then I spot something – the Sumo doesn’t really have the chops for it. I could do this, I could swallow the crispy pork belly, and I do, I did it… It’s a bluff! The crispy pork belly isn’t crispy, I munch, and crack on until the last bite.

And the crowd goes wild… I’ve defeated the boss.

A dojo? More like a children’s playroom, actually.

Now, for my closing statement. Dojo has the potential – it has the spirit, the drive and the passion. What’s left is the need to refine the recipe. Ninja Joe might be a big fish in a small pond in Malaysia, but in Singapore, it is a small fish in a vast, limitless ocean. You’re in the umami capital of the world. The Sumo I had was generally dry  – the roasted sesame sauce appeared to be a myth, or non-existent. The pork patty while good on its own, didn’t seem self aware of the Sumo, and generally didn’t work well with the rest of the items. The crispy pork belly was unfortunately, not crispy. The textures were all over the place, and by the time I finished it, the burger was entirely forgettable, which is a pity, cos’ I really wanted this concept to work.

The market is far more competitive, the palates here are more refined. We are, afterall, a nation of well-heeled travelers, and we judge you not for “A for effort”, but whether you’re as good as the best. Retreat to the hills, meditate, train and come back, enlightened and stronger.

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