Pork Shabu Shabu Dinner at Azmaya & Coffee Chocolates at Laurent on 18Jun2013

had a wonderful evening out with a few great friends. 🙂

we were going to do Indian but the restaurant we decided to try, Balle Balle Cafe, was closed on Tuesday! (odd!), so we picked Azmaya. It was a great choice!

I had the A5 Japanese wagyu shabu shabu at Azmaya previously so I did not take photos this time. 🙂  we took the pork shabu shabu 2hrs 放题 (all you can eat) which was S$12pax after 50% discount (promotion extended till end Jun2013).  the same for A5 Japanese wagyu + pork which was S$45pax after 50%, till end Jun2013. 🙂 there is 1 catch – you have to order 1 drink, which starts at $5. that was fine really, our dinner came to $173nett for 7pax inclusive of 9 drinks (2 beers, 1 red wine + 6 non alcoholic drinks), and ice water was free. 🙂

the pork came in 2 very thin machine cuts (we could see the machine slicing away on the countertop near the kitchen) – a belly cut & a (I am guessing) collar cut. they were very good really. we had 2 refills of meat as well as vegetable basket which included leek, golden mushrooms, Jap glass noodles, chinese cabbage, bean sprouts etc. there was no room left for udon which was also included but we did not order. 🙂

after dinner, one of us introduce the group to Laurent (pronounced lor-hon) Cafe & Chocolate Bar. they had a tiny aircon area that just about squeezed in 4 small tables, 3 of which were occupied; but there was a persistent one amongst us & we managed to pounce on it the moment a second table was vacated & put the tables together to sit the 7 of us. 🙂 we didn’t want to breathe the 108PSI air at the alfresco area. 🙂

we ordered the favourites – a pure chocolate which was “heavenly sinful”, a chocolate tart which had an excellent texture combination, & 2 others. they went very well with coffee though some of us had hot chocolate & ice creams etc. the bill came to S$90nett for 7pax.

& we had wonderful conversation hahaha.. 🙂 from Loire Valley misty chateaus to Cinque Terre to San Sabastian to Amalfi Coast (the last a friend’s very selective 3 bucket list items-all completed), capital & inheritance tax considerations when buying foreign properties & living in Kowloon or Discovery Bay, walking the trail from Wan Chai to mid-levels, dental surgeon (NOT one of us) & probiotics, being educated by our all-round sportsman on the difference between complete & finish (not to be repeated!). all in all, an evening to remember & savour. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

A5 Wagyu Shabu Shabu @ Azmaya (东屋) on 30Apr2013

A5 wagyu shabu shabu beef

A5 wagyu shabu shabu beef

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. 🙂

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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).

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big tub of udon for 2pax shabu shabu set

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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

c.h.e.f andy