Good Wagyu Yakiniku Dinner at Azmaya & Coffee+Cakes at Laurent on 23jan2015

A5 kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛

A5 kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛-S$60 (i estimatr 120g/150g)

had 4pax dinner with friends at azmaya omakaseya at robertson walk, followed by coffee & cakes at lauraent bernard chocolatier on 23.1.22015. 🙂

i was just at azmaya omakaseya a week ago on 15.1.2015, so this is a quick update. i used 2 qoo10 coupons the last time but was told by the restaurant that i could also get 50% discounts on alacarte orders.

belly pork & beef harami (with leeks) yakiniku

belly pork & beef harami (with leeks) yakiniku

we had the same A5 kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛 sirloin S$60 (2 orders) & karubi $29 (2 orders) + 1 order of pork belly S$14 & 1 order of harami (with leeks) S$13, plus 2 drinks. total came to about S$42pax nett after 50% discounts on food. excluding drinks it would have been S$34.

somehow the wagyu sirloin & karubi did not appear to be of the same quality as what i last had, if one were to compare the photos here. so 50% discounts but same quality???

pork belly had not much taste as before, but was ok with leek sauce.

i had the harami (with leek) for the first time. it was quite good. of course it was a tougher meat but taste was ok.

bibimbab ishiyaki

bibimbab ishiyaki

bibimbab ishiyaki

bibimbab ishiyaki – S$16

the stone pot bibimbab S$16 was good. i guess not the best but very competent, and with lots of beef, & at 50% discounts I would say it was very good for the price.

spicy galbi soup

spicy galbi soup – S$10

likewise the spicy galbi soup S$10 was also competent, & again very good for the price.

at S$34pax nett w/o drinks i think it was a very good dinner. i would certainly do this again. 🙂

soufle + lava cake at laurent

soufle + lava cake at laurent

soufle at laurent

soufle at laurent

lava cake at laurent

lava cake at laurent

lava cake at laurent

lava cake at laurent

after dinner we went over to laurent bernard chocolatier for coffee & cakes. they were famous for their chocolate soufle & also lava cake.

both were very good. i liked the soufle a bit better. the lava cake was very good too.

i am not sure taste wise it was actually better than my own chocolate lava cake (however i have not made lava cake for a while & the more recent couple times did not come out that well in terms of producing the lava texture…i must really try again this…)…maybe i will try the chocolate soufle too…i tried the grand marnier soufle once..it was ok but maybe a chocolate flavoured one maybe more the taste for my wife & i.

the flat white was ok, but didn’t feel any better than that at asseemly coffee or at wheedler’s yard. and i still feel that the flat white at chye seng huat & at dutch colony at pasarbella were better.

c.h.e.f andy

Excellent Yakiniku @ Omakaseya Azmaya on 15Jan2015

wagyu karubi

wagyu karubi

See also update on 23.1.2015.

bought some S$10 for S$20 qoo10 coupons, so went with wife to omakaseya azmaya yakiniku for dinner on 15.1.2015. 🙂 restaurant is tucked away in one corner on level 2 of robertson walk, 11 unity street. restaurant was crowded. service was disorganised & totally ineffective (i basically had to walk in & out of the room to get our orders delivered after waiting for 30mins after ordering with nothing happening). the japanese guy did make some effort to deliver “jap-level” service though the gap was enormous.

omakaseya azmaya yakiniku

omakaseya azmaya yakiniku

yakiniku grill

yakiniku grill

they used a drip grill exactly same as what i had at home. i had not used that lately as we did more of teppanyaki with the hot plate. this was inferior to the recessed smokeless charcoal grill at aburiya. also w/o the powerful ventilation suction, we came out after dinner smelling of bbq all over.

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

wagyu sirloin

fortunately the kagoshima wagyu sirloin was excellent. it was priced at S$65++ for a steak that looked >120g (maybe 150g), so at 50% off, it was really very good c/w (say) kagoshima wagyu sirloin i had recently at mikuni, my favourite restaurant.

wagyu karubi

wagyu karubi

wagyu karubi

wagyu karubi

& the wagyu karubi (beef ribs) was also excellent. the wagyu sirloin thankfully came last so w/o direct comparison, the wagyu karubi was really very good, very marbled & flavourful. just look at the top photo makes one salivate. ^^ if the wagyu sirloin was heavenly then this was 1/2way to heaven. ^^

wagyu karubi + belly pork

wagyu karubi + belly pork

belly pork

belly pork

belly pork

belly pork

belly pork

belly pork

leek

leek

the pork belly was surprising poor & tasteless. this is really odd as the sister restaurant down the road, azmaya (shabu shabu) serves an excellent tasting pork belly. fortunately the leek was an excellent dip & condiment & the pork (S$16) tasted pretty ok with the dip. there wasn’t much on the menu that we liked other than the few meats. we love the complete meal experience at aburiya because it has the kimchi chigae & the bibimen that we like very much. here the meat was superior for the price but no kimchi chigae & my wife was not keen on bibimbab (they did not serve bibimen).

omakaseya azmaya yakiniku

omakaseya azmaya yakiniku

omakaseya azmaya yakiniku

omakaseya azmaya yakiniku

after dinner we learned that we could actually get 50% discounts for all food items at our next visit. while for a complete meal experience i would go back to aburiya, this is a good alternative venue & an excellent place for very good wagyu yakiniku (of comparable standards to the average yakiniku in japan). i should be going back shortly with some friends. c.h.e.f andy

Very Good Pork Shabu Shabu 3pax Dinner @ Azmaya on 10Nov2014

pork shabus shabu set (S$6pax qoo10 coupon + service & GST)

pork shabus shabu set (S$6pax qoo10 coupon + service & GST)

went with sis & b-i-l to azmaya for dinner this evening on 10.11.2014. 🙂

i bought S$6pax pork shabu shabu voucher from qoo10. for 3pax its S$18, and we had to pay GST + service to the merchant i.e. azmaya. i had dinner at azmaya a few times before, and food & service were very good. i also read the customers’ review on qoo10 & they were mostly good.

pork shabus shabu set (S$6pax qoo10 coupon + service & GST)z

pork shabus shabu set (S$6pax qoo10 coupon + service & GST)

the single serving of shabu shabu pork had about 10 to 12 slices. i estimated about 100g maybe?

vege for pork shabus shabu set

vege for pork shabus shabu set

there was the usual vege to accompany the meat shabu shabu.

chicken stock for pork shabus shabu set

chicken stock for pork shabus shabu set

there was a choice of konbu (昆布) seaweed soup or chicken soup. i picked chicken soup. 🙂

pork shabus shabu set (S$6pax qoo10 coupon + service & GST)

pork shabus shabu set (S$6pax qoo10 coupon + service & GST)

the quality of pork here was really good, don’t know if it’s kurobuta but it was very flavourful. 🙂 the leek, mushrooms, japanese flat rice noodles (like tanhoon) etc were all good, & there was also udon (we picked udon but there was also a choice of rice).

the service was very good, very polite, and they would serve you when you asked, even though using a cheap voucher.

i think the pricing does not make any sense, but of course i am not complaining. there are fixed costs & there are perishables, so perhaps it’s better to packed it with customers. i am just pleasantly surprised that the restaurant maintained their service attitude so well, and so professional –  you actually get what was advertised & sold to you w/o any fuss.

can’t eat this all the time, but if there is promotion again later will surely come again.

c.h.e.f andy

Quality + Great Value Alacarte Buffet @ Zen on 21Jul2014

salmon sashimi

salmon sashimi

bought 2xS$33.80 groupons & went with sis to zen at ue square for ala carte lunch buffet on 21.7.2014. 🙂

normal lunch buffet is priced at S$42++pax. i had also taken their lunch sets starting from S$16++pax (but some years back) & they were pretty good. quality of food & cooking had always been good here.

for the ala carte buffet, the main event was the wagyu shabu shabu. there was also pork & whole array of jap dishes. only set back was the lack of good sashimi other than salmon for the buffet. you could order them as additional ala carte orders & they were at good discounted prices too e.g. what looked liked a very good 10 piece sushi set was going for like S$18. i wouldn’t order that while i was having a alacarte buffet lunch though.

aburi salmon sushi & maguro susghi

aburi salmon sushi & maguro susghi

aburi salmon sushi

aburi salmon sushi

the salmon sashimi was good, probably about chikuwatei & momoya standard. anyway these days many places served good salmon sashimi. the aburi salmon sushi & maguro sushi were both good but the rice was so huge you could not order more w/o leaving the rice. anyway i set aside the rice for later dishes like the kimchi buta & ebi ika basil dish. 🙂

kaki hoba yaki

kaki hoba yaki

breaded oyster

breaded oyster

both the broiled oysters & the breaded oysters were good. we did not order additional as could not finish so much food!

also ordered 2 pieces ebi tempura (forgot to take pictures). good too. flour a bit much. we did not add orders.

steak

steak

steak

steak

unlike the sister restaurant en japanese dining bar, they did not serve beef carpaccio, but the wafu steak was really very good, very tender & sweet.

thai style basil prawns & squid

thai style basil prawns & squid

kimchi buta

kimchi buta

the 2 thai & korean dishes showed the quality of cooking here. kimchi buta was just ok but with lots of pork & belly pork. the basil prawns & squid was very good, the standerd of a good thai restaurant. i kept my rice for these dishes. 🙂

zen at UE square

zen at UE square

shabu shabu

shabu shabu

wagyu for shabu shabu

wagyu for shabu shabu

wagyu for shabu shabu

wagyu for shabu shabu

wagyu for shabu shabu

wagyu for shabu shabu

kutobuta pork belly for shabu shabu

kutobuta pork belly for shabu shabu

kutobuta pork belly for shabu shabu

kutobuta pork belly for shabu shabu

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vege set for shabu shabu

for the main event wagyu shabu shabu, the beef was excellent. perhaps azmaya was better. hard to tell, but this was very good anyway. 🙂

it came in 1/2 & full portion (200g). we had the full portion for 2pax but could not add more. we also ordered 1/2 portion belly pork. it was just 6 slices & it was very good. we just could not add more.

unagi chahan

unagi chahan

unagi chahan

unagi chahan

decided to take 1/2 portion of unagi chahan to share. it was still very large portion & we took about 70%. it was very flavourful with unagi pieces but no better than a good fried rice at imperial treasure or crystal jade lamian xiaolongbao.

tofu cheese cake

tofu cheese cake

creme brûlée

creme brûlée

also shared a tofu cheese cake & a creme brûlée. both were good. creme brûlée a bit sweeter & we did not finish it.

the normal weekday lunch buffet price is S$42++pax & dinner S$52++pax. still ok i guess if you take a lot of beef. the S$33.80nett groupon deal was of course superb value. 🙂

just to add that the service was overall good. not always the most attentive, but very polite friendly when they served you. ice water was free unlike other places (tajimaya does not serve tap water & charges S$5.90 for 1 litre bottled water), so the S$33.80 groupon was all we paid.

c.h.e.f andy

Great Kurobuta Kimchi Nabe Dinner @ Shirokiya on 11Jun2014

kurobuta kimchi nabe

kurobuta kimchi nabe

bought a groupon voucher for a japanese hotpot at shirokiya cuppage terrace branch (S$22.80 voucher for a S$38.80++ nabe) & went with my sis for a 2pax dinner on 11.6.2014. 🙂

there were 3 choices of nabe for the S$38.80 price option, 2 were chicken.  we picked the kurobuta kimchi nabe.

kurobuta kimchi nabe

kurobuta kimchi nabe

there were about 10 large slices of kurobuta belly pork (the restaurant said 160g for 2 servings), and you could add another serving (80g) for S$9++.

kurobuta was quite excellent. nabe also came with 4 mussels (ok la..), tofu, lots of vegetables & kimchi. it was a good tasty & satisfying nabe.

broiled kurobuta

broiled kurobuta

broiled kurobuta

broiled kurobuta

broiled kurobuta

broiled kurobuta

the other menu items though did not attract me. sashimi salad at S$20.80++, sushi & sashimi were quite ex, assorted sushi maki was S$25.80++. i would rather take these at mikuni or sun with moon at wheelock.

there was a (limited order) S$17.80 grilled salmon belly that looked great but was too large for 2 of us. we considered a S$13.80++ ishiyaki kurobuta don but decided we didn’t need the carb & selected the S$10.80 broiled kurobuta. this was really good! 🙂 a very tasty, flavourful, generous helping.

both items were very good. dinner came to S$35.50 nett (S$22.80+S$12.70). i bought 2 more shirokiya vouchers when i got home. 🙂

not sure i would do this at the usual price of S$38.80++, but at 1/2 price S$22.80, it was very good value. the very good kimchi chigae at aburiya cost S$13.80 for <1/2 portion & <20% pork (& not kurobuta) by comparison. azmaya used to offer 50% discount for pork shabu shabu ala carte buffer at S$12++. currently there is only a S$17.50 pork shabu shabu set, which comes to S$35 for 2pax c/w S$22.80. so shirokiya’s groupon offer great value. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Esquina Degustation Did Not Happen/Other Restaurant Promotions

6 of us had planned to go to esquina to try out the dinner tasting menu. the menu items (including beef tartar, beetroot salad, kingfish sashimi, scallop ceviche etc) & gallery photos from esquina website had looked awfully exciting & most alluring. 🙂

esquina is a tapas bar, sister of Pollen at Marina Bay by Jason Atherton who had worked with Gordon Ramsay in his restaurants including Maze in London for 10 years & received 1 michelin star within 6months of starting out Pollen Street Social at Mayfair London.

i called & emailed esquina to make a reservation for 6pax on a friday. there was no reply to the email (does not look like i will get a reply). when i called to reserve a table for 6pax, the person who answered said they do not take reservations as theirs is a walk-in tapas bar with counter seats.  i told him it was kind of difficult for me to arrange for 6pax to come and try out a S$95 tasting menu if we could not get a confirmed reservation & we have to eat at the counter trying to have conversation among the 6 of us. i asked for the manager and he replied that he was the manager, and the name was Ashburn when i asked for his name. he said perhaps we could be seated outside, so i asked if i could make a reservation for the outside table if there was one. he replied that he would check with the chef & revert to me. he never did – perhaps he was too busy or had misplaced my handphone number haha. 🙂

i decided to google hungrygowhere & tripadvisor (i had earlier saw 1 or 2 good reviews of esquina by bloggers before deciding to try out esquina with my friends). i must say that the majority of the reviews & comments were actually favourable. there was one that stood out rather ominously for us=Waited 1.5 hours for a table and food. Walked out. Scary! 

  • The biggest inconsistency I’ve found with Esquina is the service. I’ve visited 3 times and on the first occasion the service was horrendous. Rude and unaccommodating…. I guess it was stress from the busy Friday night

a second review helped me drop the idea altogether.  A great buzz and original tapas was actually an overall favourable review & i guess quite balanced as it included the not so good parts as well. the only reason i extracted the above was not to highlight the bad part but just that it was immediately relevant to our specific needs as we were going on a friday evening. 🙂

many things are a matter of matching expectations. the restaurant is probably right. if they are positioned as a walk-in tapas bar, and if that is well received by patrons, then they probably got it right. having introduced a 9-course tasting menu (& from the gallery photos a rather exciting array of dishes) perhaps to please its regular supporters & to introduce new patrons to its tapas dishes, whether they should extend the service to include a proper table degustation with full service experience is of course something for the restaurant to decide. 🙂

so it would be that the venue & setting are just NOT matching the needs for our dinner get-together – in the end, food is not everything & we cannot trust every food photo…if service & ambience are not right then the experience is not quite there..(will have to try esquina another time)..

i found though a few other restaurant promotions so giving an update here-

  1. sichuandouhua at Parkroyal has a second anniversary celebration Suckling Pig Feast set at S$288 for 6pax (& S$48.80pax) until 31.7.2013, with added 20% discount for UOB cards.
  2. Oso has a amex 5-course set dinner at S$78 (usual S$98) until 31.12.2013.
  3. Xin Cusine has continued the very good set i reviewed here=S$118 1 for 1 Lobster & Abalaone Set until 18.8.2013.
  4. Azmaya is still offering its 50% discount for wagyu/pork shabu shabu & now sukiyaki (S$45pax & S$50 respectively after discount) all-you-can-eat shabu shabu for the month of sep2013 (updated on 14.9.2013)

well, for this friday, we will be going to sichuandouhua. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

 

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. 🙂

DSCN4590 DSCN4588

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).

DSCN4593

big tub of udon for 2pax shabu shabu set

DSCN4591 DSCN4594

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