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

Dinner with Brother & Sister @ Chao Yue Xuan on 28Oct2013

braised abalone, fish maw & brocoli

braised abalone, fish maw & brocoli

another quick update – went back for the S$38pax groupon 7-course set @ chao yue xuan wth my brother & sister on 28.10.2013. food was pretty much the same as the memorable lunch i had with 4 friends on 21.8.2013. most dishes were still good, especially the soup, abalone & kurobuta. this time however, the lobster was much below par. 🙂

chicken salad with goma sauce

chicken salad with goma sauce

star garoupa fillet in beer soup

star garoupa fillet in beer soup

steamed 1/2lobster in superior sauce

steamed 1/2lobster in superior sauce

pan-fried kurobuta pork

pan-fried kurobuta pork

tau kee & spinach

tau kee & spinach

yeefu noodles

yeefu noodles

the chicken salad looked pretty, was quite good though kind of heavy & sesame sauce a bit overpowering.

the soup was good, though not better than a good lie tong.

the abalone was excellent, good in taste & bite accompanied by the defining brown braising sauce. 🙂

the kurobuta was tasty & my brother liked it especially.

the 1/2 lobster though was a tremendous let down. the meat was not bouncy – seemed not live & overcooked (something that don’t happen much these days with all the controlled kitchen environment). this really took away the shine from this set – look at the corresponding photo of the lobster when i had it here on 21.8.2013.

the vege & noodles were run of the mill & i didn’t take the green bean dessert of the day included in the set. overall, the set was poorer in quality c/w what i had here previously though menu items were same.  i guess it was still very good value at S$38nett (chao yue xuan & ah yat though charged S$2.40pax for tea & peanuts whether or not you take them, & the tea was quite ok).

but price aside, the poorer quality overall made it less “wow”and just another good value above average set. so i would choose to go back to tunglok signature for the lobster & seafood set with palate 50% weekend discounts even though that cost a bit more.

c.h.e.f andy

Value Lobster Set @ Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) on 1Mar2013

Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) S$35nett 7-course set

Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) S$35nett 8-course set

see also the new S$38 8-course lobster & abalone set (21.8.2013).

bought 2xS$35nett 8-course Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) groupon vouchers, so duly visited the restaurant. 🙂

This is the same Ah Yat branch & location at UE Square along Mohamed Sultan Road, only they have changed the name to mean a “pleasing teochew pavilion”..at S$35nett the meal did turn out pleasing enough though nothing teochew 🙂

decor & ambience wise though the place is a bit dowdy, and in fact though this branch is located at UE Sqaure, Turf City has better ambience! there were 3 tables of Chinese tourists this evening – I guess F&B is really competitive here & people do need to survive. 🙂

salmon sashimi

salmon sashimi

the salmon sashimi was actually quite good but not really the belly or fatty type which now even some buffet serve, but it was good, not poor.

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the double-boiled fishmaw(花膠)soup was very good really – sweet, smooth, tasty.

garlic steamed (蒜茸蒸) razor (bamboo) clam with tanhoon

garlic steamed (蒜茸蒸) razor (bamboo) clam with tanhoon (glass noddles)

the garlic steamed razor (bamboo) clam with tanhoon (glass noodles) was good (every restaurant should really be able to do this well) though Ah Yat at Turf City was better & Long Beach @ Dempsey was better than both, and we didn’t think that serving it without the shell instead of on the shell was a great idea. btw, i also did a good steamed razor clam in garlic oil myself.

deep-fried fish chop with strawberry sauce

deep-fried fish chop with strawberry sauce

I cannot really fault this fish chop (2 pieces – very large serving) . The deep-fry was done right crispy & not soggy, but the meal was really filling & we were not into this sweet strawberry sauce thingy & this asian fusion? dish did not match well with the other menu items. I took 1 piece. My wife did not touch it.

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the lobster in pumpkin sauce was very nice. It was a mid-size maine lobster, about 450g (& larger than the one we took subsequently at Xin Cuisine). pumpkin sauce is a favourite cooking style with Ah Yat & goes well with crab, I think more so than lobsters. Comparing this with the very light cheese gratin lobster at Xin Cuisine I would think this is better (& of course larger) – though my wife would disagree – but I guess this was more robust in taste & presentation c/w Xin Cuisine’s which can be said to be more fine.

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poached nai bai (奶白) with abalone sauce

This nai bai vege was very good! 🙂

baked prawns with noodles in superior sauce

baked prawns with noodles in superior sauce

I didn’t get this dish though – the prawn was large & fresh (live right..) & in superior sauce how to go wrong? but it was soggy, not “QQ” (al dente)..& with the fish chop, would be the weakest links in this set.

The red bean dessert does not really deserve mention or a photo..haha.:-)

anyway, it was difficult to fault this S$35nett 8-course set – the ingredients like lobster & razor (bamboo) clam were good quality, the salmon & prawn were fresh, soup & vege were good; quality of cooking was not quite there but still above average.

I may not do this too often but I have bought another 2 vouchers, so I am planning to go back before voucher expires. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy