Shop 1, 2898 Logan Road, Underwood
I have quite a history with Antarctic Circle. My family and I started going there ages back, near when it first opened up. We are quite the bunch of carnivores (myself included) and everyone got really excited about this new-fangled 'wagyu' meat. Now, every 2nd cafe/restaurant/bistro on the block does something with wagyu which goes to show how long ago I mean.
At the time, the oily aroma of sizzling wagyu brought a tear to our eyes. We hadn't seen steak THAT thick and THAT fatty before. The steaks come out raw on the stone and you could literally trace the white marbling throughout. Sounds slightly gross but it smells and tastes like caveman heaven.
On the many occasions that I've eaten at Antarctic Circle, I've tried different grades of wagyu, I've tried the hot pot and also the new pork meat they have. Nothing really stacked up to the meat itself which IMO is what makes the restaurant unique. You could argue that other restaurants have wagyu steaks too but really, the best way to bring out the qualities of a top grade wagyu steak is to eat it au naturale. Minimal embellishments - let the meat speak for itself. Antarctic Circle did just that.
When my uncle's family came, this was another restaurant that dad wanted to show them because we've had such good experiences in the past. Most of us ordered the steak but mum and I were getting dizzy from all the feasting so we opted for the fish fillet hot pots.
We ordered a couple of jugs of sour plum juice to drink. If you're not sure what that's like, it's sort of sour, salty, sweet and 'dry' all in liquid form. Sounds odd but when chilled, is REALLY refreshing. I think it's a nice compliment to 'heavy' food like steak.
There are a few different cuts of steak to chose from. Each comes with appetizers: a thick slice of garlic bread, salad and a bowl of puff pastry soup.
If you order the hot pot, you get an individual pot to use. From the many soup bases to chose from, I picked the 'sour' base and mum picked the 'herbal' one. We ended up getting them mixed up so I got the herbal one. It had strong Chinese medicine flavors which might be 'eargh' for some but I quite liked it. There is a huge platter of veggies plus various fish balls, meat balls etc. We also got a big plate of fish. You can use the egg as dip or chuck it in the hot pot. There's even a bowl of rice.
I think the hot pot is a really nice idea for Winter because it's steamy and bubbling. Though there's a lot of food included with each individual serve, it's quite healthy and oil-free.
As I mentioned before, the steaks come on a big, super-heated stone slab. They're raw to begin with and they are effectively cooked at the table on the stone. You have to cut and turn the pieces yourself though the staff are good at explaining and showing how it's done.
The steaks also come with a side of chips or spaghetti, veggies and some sauce (mushroom or pepper).
The main comment coming from my folks was that the steaks weren't as 'fatty' and fragrant as they used to be. From memory, they are cheaper too and so my dad theorized that maybe Antarctic circle decided there is less of a market for the really marbled wagyu meat, because everyone is more health-conscious, and so they changed their tactics. Who knows. The steaks were still tasty but not so much of a standout and more similar to steaks you get from anywhere else.
We ordered dessert for afters - everyone got a deep fried ice-cream. Regular readers know I'm fanatic about deep fried ice-cream. So long as it's the type I like (crunchy sponge cake outer layer, not the coconut outer layer), it's always going to be awesome to me. And yes, these ones were awesome.
The general consensus from my party of 10 was that the steaks aren't as outstanding as they were in the past. That might be considered a good thing to healthy folk who don't want to see a steak that is 70% white when brought out. I'd probably recommend steaks elsewhere because if you're not going to get a 'special' steak, why waste effort cooking it yourself? The restaurant gets really smokey (poor ventilation) so you might as well spare the hassle. On the other hand, the individual hot pots are good value for money so I might head back for that.