went to try out Azmaya (东屋), a new Japanese shabu shabu place at Robertson Quay on 30apr2013.
there was a huge crowd and many Japanese, which meant 1 or all of the followings-
(1) it should be good
(2) Singaporeans (& I guess Japanese living here) love a new eatery
(3) its a izakaya (居酒屋) drinking joint (so many Japanese) and there is still not enough casual （aka lower price) places serving Japanese wagyu.
Azmaya opened in late mar 2013, so was still offering 50% opening discount for 2 ala carte buffets – pork at S$24 and A5 wagyu beef+pork at $90 (website said till end may 2013). I guess at 50% off the pork shabu shabu ala carte buffet was a steal, but we came of course to try the A5 wagyu beef. In any case the 50% discount did not apply on public holiday (PH) or eves.
The A5 wagyu shabu shabu sets started with S$40. I think there was a S$50 and another S$70 sets probably for better cuts. We saw they had course sets at S$49 and S$59 (but it was in Japanese only on the website) so we thought we gave it a try and ordered 2xS$59 w/o knowing the content.
That proved to be a mistake! 1 plate of A5 wagyu came (in top photo) to be shared by both of us. We had asked specifically before ordering whether the course sets included the same A5 wagyu beef & quality in the S$40 set and was told it did (I guess a case of “lost in translation”). Though we still didn’t know what was the difference the S$49 and S$59 course sets, we decided to order the S$59 set anyway. So we asked the server was there another plate of wagyu on the way or we were expected to share the plate. He said that was all the wagyu in the course set & it was because we had other items like pork & adegashi tofu etc. Obviously we were not thrilled as we came specifically to try the A5 wagyu & in choosing a S$59 course set we ended up having 1/2 the wagyu c/w the S$40 set & the compensation was to have some pork & adegashi tofu (& probably something else). So we requested to change the order to the S$40 set.
Initially the server came back saying the order could not be changed or we would have to pay 50% penalty for cancelling the order (I guess you could try that but it would not work with Singapore diners la!). He went back to try again after we told him that there was no english course menu & we asked if it had the same A5 wagyu & quality as in the S$40 set & we had no clue what was included in the course set but was prepared to pay additional S$19 above the S$40 set for whatever additional items they provided. most importantly we came for the A5 wagyu & could not be paying more & getting less A5 wagyu. back the server went (all these took quite long because they were really busy but we were relaxed and not really in a hurry but would certainly refuse to take the S$59 course set). anyway we were allowed to change to the S$40 set so problem solved & no harm done. 🙂
One word about the service & attitude. I thought the service attitude was superb really! 🙂 especially because of the difficulty in communicating, the server was actually very professional, attentive, well-mannered, serious in giving his best to do a good job. that said, I am not sure if the service could be graded excellent if important information were not communicated whether due to language or otherwise. 🙂
now the A5 wagyu beef. It was good beef, tasty with the fragrant taste of marbling (“pang”). It was certainly better than the ala carte buffet beef served at En Japanese Dining & their sister restaurant Zen which were australian MBS4 wagyu, and at Himawari. 🙂 and the S$40 set price was not cheap but I guess quite ok. 🙂
but for our expectation of Japanese A5 wagyu, I thought it was quite far off. The kagoshima wagyu konabe at Mikuni would be far superior to this (& that was S$24 with Feed@Raffles discounts for 2pax). We also had very good wagyu sukiyaki set at Chinya at Asakusa in Tokyo for 3500yen & again far better than this, & they were all not the top grade A5 (I think the 3500yen beef at Chinya was just 国产牛 and not even kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛 so no A grading to talk about).
Still, comparisons aside, it was good beef and a very nice dinner. For S$40, its ok though I won’t do it often. I was thinking of going back while may2013 promotion was still on for the S$90 (S$45 after 50% discount) A5 wagyu beef & pork shabu shabu ala carte buffet. just to go back to the point on service, I guess if nothing needed to be communicated eg a straight forward order of the S$90 ala carte buffet, then service was indeed excellent! 🙂
the set also included the usual udon & vegetables.
P.S. (1)I subsequently went back with a group of friends on 18.6.2013 for pork shabu shabu 2hrs 放题 (all you can eat) which was S$12pax after 50% discount (promotion extended till end Jul2013). It was awesome! (2) See here for Restaurant Promotions update