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

Pan-fried Kurobuta Steak

pan-fried kurobuta steak

pan-fried kurobuta steak

just realised that i did not put up the recipe for pan-fried kurobuta steak.

i was looking for a main course item to add to Nobu Miso Cod to cook for my wife for the Mother’s Day 6-course Homegourmet Dinner. 🙂

the technique is largely what I use for pan-fried angus or wagyu steak in tagliata di manzo – a good dry steak at room temperature seasoned with sea salt & coarse black pepper, and a very hot pan, & voila! the only difference being that for a beef steak, i mostly do it medium rare whereas for kurobuta (i use either iberico or yorkshire black pig bought from mmmm) i do it well done.

pan-fried kurobuta steak

pan-fried kurobuta steak

my understanding of pan-fried steak (or say scallops) is basically one of temperature. once you get the temperature right not much can go wrong & you just have to get the doneness right. So the pan has to be very hot (& well greased with olive oil & butter), and the meat has to be dry (air dry in fridge or pat dry with kitchen towels) and at room temperature, so that the steak can be seared quickly to seal in the juices, and to achieve maillard reaction. if the meat is wet, the pan temperature drop sharply & you will be poaching instead of searing.  the only other thing to remember is to let the steak rest for 5-10mins to redistribute the juices, before you cut it. 🙂

DSCN5276 DSCN5277

we find the kurobuta from mmmm to be excellent in some way equal or better than angus striploin, but of course not comparable with the wagyu MBS 4/5 striploin. of course these things are very much a matter of personal taste preference. 🙂

it seems to me that anyone can cook an excellent steak at home with a good piece of meat. so i don’t do steaks out often these days unless it is at a very good restaurant. it is surprising though that many restaurants sometimes deliver a mediocre or poor steak when they get the temperature wrong, which is something they should never do!

c.h.e.f andy

Directions:

  1. remove kurobuta (1/2in to 3/4in think cuts) from fridge & leave at room temperature for 1/2hr.  pat dry & season with sea salt & coarse black pepper on both sides.
  2. heat a non-stick skillet. add 1 tablespoon olive oil & add 10g butter. when the pan is very hot & just begins to smoke. add the steak (say 2 pieces) w/o crowding the pan. making sure the places where the steaks are sitting are well greased. turn heat to medium after 1 min. when the steak is cooked 1/2 way up on the side, turn heat to high & flip over and turn down to medium after 1 min.
  3. remove meat from pan to cutting board & rest for 5mins before serving.

Tagliata di Manzo (Italian Sliced Beef) – Gordon Ramsay’s Pan Grill Method

tagliata di manzo

tagliata di manzo (added on 7.11.2014)

I rarely order steak when I dine out these days (unless it is at some famous grill restaurant or fine dining) as I can buy very good meats at a meat grocer (eg mmmm) & cook them at home easily myself! It seems like steak is the easiest thing to cook when you have a good piece of meat & I sometimes wonder how many restaurants can do it so bad – mostly because done at the wrong temperature!

There seems to be very many approaches to cooking steak. For now, I find the GR (Gordon Ramsay) method of a chargrilled steak suits me fine (Heston Blumenthal use a very different method of flipping the meat every 15 seconds! ).

tagliata di manzo (USA grain fed ribeye & australian wagyu MBS 4/5)

tagliata di manzo (USA grain fed ribeye & australian wagyu MBS 4/5)

pan-fried wagyu marbling score 6/7

pan-fried wagyu marbling score 6/7

Basically you need to have the meat at room temperature (means you take it out of the fridge for at least 1/2hr), lightly season with sea salt & coarse black pepper, grease a very hot skillet (I use the fat cut from the striploin or ribeye to grease the pan), and place the steaks on the the skillet w/o crowding, turn once, lightly touch the meat to feel for done-ness, add a small blob of butter to give it a nut brown finish, base the sauce over & let the steak soak in the flavour. You then turn off the fire & lift the steak off the pan to rest on a serving board & rest for 5minutes or longer to let the meat relax & redistribute the juices (please do see Heston Blumenthal’s very entertaining video here on the human press..lol.,to understand why). 🙂

panfried ribeye using GR (Gordon Ramsay) method

panfried ribeye using GR (Gordon Ramsay) method

The ribeye in the top picture (& in the plated tagliata di manzo below) has been aged in the fridge for 48hrs. Aging is supposed to intensify the flavour & also tenderise the steak. There is a lot of literature on this. For now I do not find significant difference whether the meat is aged for 48hrs or not, and I am happy just having the steak w/o aging. My views may change later though if I know more!

tagliata di manzo

tagliata di manzo (added on 7.11.2014)

tagliata di manzo

tagliata di manzo (added on 7.11.2014)

For the tagliata (Italian sliced beef), we just need to plate it nicely with rockets & 1/2 cherry tomatoes lightly tossed with sea salt, extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar on a serving board, like so below.

c.h.e.f andy