Kaiseki Dinner @ Beppu Seikai 別府 潮騒の宿 晴海 on 27Jan2015

sakizuke先附

sakizuke先附

after visiting beppu’s hell umi-jogoku海地獄, we collected our bags at beppu ski & took a taxi to our ryokan beppu saikei 別府 潮騒の宿 晴海.

after a good rest we went to the onsen before going for dinner kaiseki.

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

seikai is a bit modern type, with high rise hotel rooms & english menu.

sake

sake

we ordered sake (chargeable).

poor porridge starter

poor porridge starter

the porridge started was a spoiler, quite tasteless & unnecessary, added nothing to the experience & made us worry about the quality of the kaiseki.

pressed tamago

pressed tamago

ikura+radish etc

ikura+radish etc

the sakezuki (先附) was ok – pressed tamago (egg), some side dishes. i would say quite average.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

the sashimi moriawase looked ok but was actually very poor. i couldn’t decide if this sashimi was worse than the 1st night at Gettoan on 25.1.2015. everything was very tough. was it bad cut or the chef did not know how to cut? i am clueless.

aji sashimi 5000yen+8%

aji sashimi 5000yen+8%

aji sashimi 5000yen+8%

aji sashimi 5000yen+8%

we ordered an additional aji sashimi at 5000yen+8%.

i could not understand why the aji was also very tough. it was a live fish, something must really be wrong either with the fish here in kyushu (but we had excellent sashimi from the supermarket at fukuoka later) or with the way it was cut. aji should be very sweet (it was ok sweet not too bad) & not tough. for me, taka’s supermarket aji at 1/3 the price or less, is better than this.

deep-fried aji fish head

deep-fried aji fish head

the deep-fried aji fish head was not nice too.

asari chawanmushi

asari chawanmushi

asari chawanmushi

asari chawanmushi

they had asari (littleneck clams or la la) chawanmushi. it was pretty ok. 🙂

asari chawanmushi

asari chawanmushi

some radish i think in the chawanmushi.

mayo prawn side dish

mayo prawn side dish

there was a mayo prawn dish, nothing much there.

sushi with ginger flower

sushi with ginger flower

a sushi with pickled ginger flower (which i like).

yuba side dish

yuba side dish

a yuba side dish. this was quite good.^^

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛 with soy bean shabu

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛 with soy bean shabu

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

there was an interesting soya bean shabu shabu with the local bungo wagyu 丰后和牛. this was very good. but by comparison the 2nd night kaiseki at Gettoan on 26.1.2015, with lots more beef & other shabu items, was much better.

gohan set with pickles

gohan set with pickles

gohan set with pickles

gohan set with pickles

the usual gohan (rice) with pickles.

noodles in clear broth

noodles in clear broth

this time there was cold noodles in a clear soup. pretty ok.

strawberries + pineapples

strawberries + pineapples

& there was fruits & jelly for dessert.

i guess this kaiseki would be above average, but nothing special & kind of below expectation for the ryokan price. for me, for both Gettoan & Seikai, for the ryokan price they were charging, every kaiseki dinner should be at a standard equivalent to Gettoan’s second night kaiseki! 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 2 The Good Ending – A Marvellous Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 26Jan2015

excellent uni

excellent uni

after the excellent ryokan breakfast this morning, we now had cause to anticipate a nice kaiseki dinner on 26.1.2015.

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

this time we were not disappointed.

hence i had termed these 2 dinners on 25.1.2015 & 26.1.2015 “a tale of 2 dinners”

what a difference a menu change made.

see the sub-par dinner on 25.1.2015

with a good kaiseki dinner & breafast, Gettoan 月灯庵 did fully meet our expectations of a good ryokan.

umeshu梅酒

umeshu梅酒

for this evening, dinner started with umeshu梅酒.

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

the chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) was outstanding. there was bits of minced ginger on top. the texture & flavours were exquisite. maybe i will try this at home.

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

the braised wagyu & tendons was just superb. texture was almost like gelatinous, had bite yet dissolving in the mouth, and nice mellow beefy flavours, mildly sweet. this was par excellence! ^^

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

grating own wasabi

grating own wasabi

ika

ika

fish sashimi

fish sashimi

we grated our own wasabi roots!

sashimi moriawase was nothing like last evening’s which was below those at sun with moon, or for that matter any supermarket basement sashimi picks in japan!

this time we had good serving each of uni, very sweet! ika was pretty good & the fish slices were very good too. the same lady server initially said it was swordfish, but when i mentioned it did not look remotely like kajiki, she corrected herself but we did not understand what fish it was actually. whatever, what counted was it’s good!

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

& we had an excellent tempura!

the 2 large pieces each of anago (sea or conger eel) was a large helping. the tempura batter was just great & the whole experience wonderful.^^

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

& we had a wonderful bungo wagyu 丰后和牛 shabu shabu. there were 10 large thick slices of wagyu for 2 pax, beef was well marbled and flavourful, very good indeed!

shabu shabu

shabu shabu

noodles, mushrooms, veg

noodles, mushrooms, veg

we had the usual noodles, mushrooms, vegetables.

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

i can have this again! 🙂

if we were to make a comparison with mikuni’s excellent kagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe, certainly what we have at Gettoan was much more marbled & better beef quality. in terms of satisfaction, mikuni’s was almost as good & a good approximation to this.

pickles

pickles

we had pickles with the gohan (rice).

cake dessert

cake dessert

dessert was ok. we did not have much interest for the butter cake. it maybe that gettoan indeed is trying to be fusion, with the foie gras tofu last evening (tonight’s chawanmushi would beat tat hands down), and these cake stuff, which some restaurants in Singapore like kuriya etc does too.

anyway, we were immensely satisfied with the kaiseki dinner this second night. ^^

c.h.e.f andy

A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 1 – Disappointing Totally Below Par Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 25Jan2015

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

we were booked for 2 nights at Gettoan ryokan 月灯庵 at yufuin 汤布院. Gettoan ryokan & its kaiseki dinners had very good reviews, and we were expecting a very good dinner on the first evening we checked into the ryokan on 25.1.2015.

it turned out to be really disappointing. i would say this dinner was below just about every ryokan dinner i had in tohoku (we visited just before the tsunami, sadly cannot go back now), and way below (say) mikuni or hachi or kuriya in singapore.

i need to add here though that the japanese breakfast the next day was excellent (& the day after too) & the shabu shabu kaiseki on our second night 26.1.2015 was just exquisite, par excellence, so i term this a tale of 2 dinners. ^^

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/a-tale-of-2-dinners-part-2-the-good-ending-a-marvellous-kaiseki-dinner-gettoan-on-26jan2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/wonderful-breakfast-a-redemption-gettoan-ryokan-yufuin-kyushu-on-26-1-2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/another-wonderful-breakfast-to-savour-gettoan-ryokan-月灯庵-yufuin汤布院-kyushu-九州-on-27jan2015/

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

sensai

sensai

sensai-seaweed wrapped mentaiko

sensai-seaweed wrapped minced salmon?

sensai - fish roes

sensai – fish roes

the sensai was ok, but really unexciting for this class of ryokan (i.e. very expensive ryokan). the mini kaiseki lunch at kuriya had far better sensai (前菜). and the omakase lunch at GOTO had just as good sakizuke(先附).

tofu dish with foie gras

tofu dish with foie gras

the foie gras flavoured tofu dish was a nice dish, but really average by japanese kaiseki standards, non descript really.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

the sashimi moriawase (kampachi, tai maybe?? & hirame) was an immense let down, completely substandard. for me, even sun with moon sashimi is much better standard than this! sashimi was not sweet & was tough – a really low grade cut!

yuba pot

yuba pot

there was a egg, yuba pot with veg. i would give same assessment as the foie gras tofu…underwhelming, just like the entire dinner.

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

the clear soup came with a nice tasty piece of fish, maybe snapper? anyway for this dish alone, maybe one could say “normal service resumes??” but this was a non-substantial by-the-way dish in a kaiseki.

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

of course the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧 was just excellent. like my wife said, ishiyaki is self service & they did gave a very good beef cut. in a good or at least par-for-the-course kaiseki, one expects to taste good cooking, some creativity & great matching of taste. those were non existent in this dinner!

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

other than the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧, the ochazuke (お茶漬け) was the only other dish throughout the dinner that we consider of good standards. the kampachi cut was good & could be taken as sashimi or slightly poached with the rice. the yuzu miso paste was great & the dashi 上汤was just excellent! a very good dish.

deseert

deseert

the dessert was just as bad. any dessert in sun with moon would be better!

one comment on the service. the overall service of the ryokan was top notch as expected of any ryokans of this standard. we were assigned a server who spoke very good english & we were kind of expecting top level service.

but the service was really superficial! the server tried to get us to order red wine instead of sake claiming that the dishes suited wine better. i would say none of the dishes qualified at all as western or fusion & why would one take red or white wine instead of sake for a japanese dinner, they were just not very good japanese food! & it was quite blatant way to get us to spend more money. this the first & only time we encountered that in japan. even in Singapore these days, server will advise you NOT to order things you don’t need/want!

and worse, after the beef before ochazuke she asked us whether we wanted tea. we asked for ocha & was later billed 950yen! of course it was not about the money. she did not tell us it was chargeable, and the way she asked it was evident that she did not intend to reveal it was chargeable. immediately after the ochazuke, we were served another ocha, this one free. does that make any sense??

for me it was a lowly tactic suited for yesteryears, like london chinatown in the 1970s, not a top class ryokan in Japan, or for that matter any ordinary restaurants in Singapore.

fortunately for us, the ryokan redeemed itself the next few meals. we were asked again the next dinner if we wanted tea by the same server, again w/o telling us it was chargeable! some bad habits just do not go away!

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

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

Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto 17-21May2013

super-value Japanese beef (国产牛) teishoku (set) at 900yen

super-value beef teishoku (set) at 900yen

not every meal has to be kuroge wagyu, teppanyaki course or expensive sashimi. there are lots of great value meals to be had in Kyoto, Tokyo or anywhere in Japan. 🙂

DSCN5101 DSCN5102

on the first night of our arrival on 17.5.2013 we chanced upon a very interesting eat at Teramachi/Kawaramachi corner just opposite Takashimaya called 百练 (it is at level 2 of a small building). It  was kind of a family-style izakaya 居酒屋- we were the only non-Japanese around. we visited again at dinner on 21.5.2013, and we were still the only non-Japanese around..haha. 🙂

I ordered this super-value beef teishoku (set). I asked for medium rare & it was nicely done & tasty. It came with the gohan aka rice set including pickles & miso soup.  the beef was served with some pasta (which were ok but irrelevant) – all these for just 900yen. 🙂

DSCN4916

pork shabu shabu for 1500yen

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my sis ordered a pork shabu shabu for 1500yen. It was NOT kurobuta but it was really good, very sweet & tasty. 🙂

thick-cut bacon with asparagus for 500yen

thick-cut bacon with asparagus for 500yen

I saw that our neighbour, a Japanese couple, ordered what looked like ham & asparagus dish, so when we went back 2 nights later, I managed(despite the lack of communications) to get the chef to do up this dish – which was a thick-cut bacon & asparagus for 500yen – it was very good! 🙂

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on arriving on 17.5.2013, we visited Tofukuji then Uji. 🙂 on the way back to Uji JR station about 3+pm, we decided to share a set as a late & light lunch, & was lucky to pick out this rather nice 1580yen set at a 中华料理. the tempura was good, and so was the sashimi & the 2 side dishes – one was just egg, the other was rather more elaborate, and nice too! 🙂

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690yen set @ Yayoiken-kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato croquette, tofu, egg & vege etc

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690yen set @ Yayoiken-kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato croquette, tofu, egg & vege etc

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on 20.5.2013, before setting off for our hike from Kurama (鞍马) to Kibune (贵船), we were looking for a place for early lunch and found this joint Yayoiken @ Kawaramachi. 🙂

the meal was just 690yen, and was quite good too, with kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato korokke (croquette), tofu, egg & vege etc 🙂 maybe Singapore should consider this meal ticket machine system common in Japan. it’s very labour efficient & staff have no need to manage cash too. 🙂

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mini chirasi don set with 5 delightful side dishes for 1190yen

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returning from the hike, we took the train to Keihan Shijo & walked across Kamogawa (鸭川) to Kawaramachi (河源町) side. we found this restaurant on the 7flr of OIOI building along Kawaramachi across the road from Takashimaya.

this fabulous mini chirasi don set with 5 delightful side dishes was just 1190yen & they provide a very tasty soup which you later add to the rice like ochazuke. the mini chirasi don came with amaebi, crabmeat, ikura, 2 pieces hotate, maguro, tamago. the 5 delightful side dishes were ikan bilis, braised beef, tamago & tofu PLUS a  red bean/jelly dessert. 🙂

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we had another set which was somewhat less good (by comparison) also for 1190yen. it was a salmon tekkadon(鉄火丼) – this was quite good – with 4 side dishes.

so good food were aplenty in Kyoto & at very affordable prices too 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Kuroge Wagyu Shabu Shabu & Sukiyaki @ 花心 河原町店 Kashin Kawaramachi Kyoto on 18May2013

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

after a very pleasant afternoon & surprisingly shaded walk at Fushimi Inari, we took the Keihan line from Fushimi Inari station to Sanjo station, and walked back along Kawaramachi towards Shijo.

we wanted to have some good shabu shabu & saw that 花心 Kashin was offering 2980 yen Japanese beef + pork & 3980 yen kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat).

we had some problems (the usual lost in translation) at the 9flr restaurant when we showed the waitress the brochure we picked up at ground floor which said it was kuroge wagyu (all you can eat) whereas the restaurant menu showed kuroge wagyu + pork (all you can eat). we were just there for the kuroge & did not want to have pork to fill up our stomach..haha. 🙂 anyway we settled in for what they had on the menu rather than spend time miscommunicating. 🙂

1/2 shabu shabu (chicken broth) & 1/2 sukiyaki

1/2 shabu shabu (chicken broth) & 1/2 sukiyaki

there was another hiccup. we were asked to choose 2 from 4 different soup base, and we chose chicken broth & sukiyaki. this was a departure from the usual shabu shabu which was just kunbu water no soup base to talk about..anyway we did not get the usual shabu shabu sauce (sesame & shoyu) and the waiter informed us that the soup base we selected did not include any sauce. he brought the 2 sauces with a sign showing 100yen. We said we were not told otherwise we would have picked the kunbu with the sauce..anyway this time their turn to give in & they let us have the sauce free (or in Japan they say “service”)..as it turned out the restaurant was right & we did not really need the sauces. 🙂

tofu appetizer

tofu appetizer

dinner started (again) with a tofu starter with wasabi & sauce. it was nice so no complaints. 🙂

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there was a tube of minced pork with the vegetable basket. it was good! we did not put any additional orders for this or the vegetables as we just wanted to eat kuroge wagyu!

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛放题 (all you can eat) shabu shabu & sukiyaki

& the long awaited kuroge (top photo & above) – they were good! not as good as the thick-cut kagoshima wagyu konabe at Mikuni, but it was a sweet, flavourful beef. 🙂

it was a double-decker box & we soon asked for a second. this was however replaced by pork. the pork was not too bad too, but it really spoiled my appetite. fortunately our third & fourth orders of the double-decker box were all kuroge wagyu. satisfaction! 🙂 I thought I might get tired of the beef but in fact I enjoyed the last box the most, perhaps it was better cut than the first box & in any case I had gotten over the disappointment of the “interfering” pork. 🙂

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the photos above were the shabu-ed (it means 涮 which I think by definition means 7 or 8 swipes in boiling water) beef – sukiyaki with raw egg & shabu shabu. the sukiyaki beef was best taken together with a small spoonful of sukiyaki sauce. the shabu-ed beef was good on its own & by-the-way the chicken broth was very tasty.

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the set actually included selection of dessert. we picked a mochi ice cream (vanilla inside mochi skin – quite good), and an almond tofu (杏仁豆腐). I absolutely enjoyed the dinner- though I should avoid having buffets.

view of Kawaramachi Kyoto from 花心 Kaisin on 9Flr

view of Kawaramachi Kyoto from 花心 Kaisin on 9Flr

& the view of Kawaramachi from 花心 Kaisin was good too!

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