We were deciding between Ikoi, Irodori, Kiseki and Shin Minori for Jap buffet. As there weren't many online reviews on the latter, we chose Shin Minori so we could blog about it as well. At 12.30pm, there wasn't any other customer in sight except us. In fact, the whole of UE Square seemed pretty quiet. I had thought it would be bustling with a lunch crowd and was surprised to see an empty restaurant instead.
As we were seated, our drink order was taken. Its hot green tea was strongly brewed which I liked a lot. Best of all, they gave a pot instead of a glass so you could have as many glasses as you want. Veggie sticks with miso paste were also served. Very nice appetizer. The sticks were crunchy and the paste was flavourful but not overly salty.
With 146 items on the menu, we were simply spoilt for choice. I knew I wouldn't have the stomach space for every single dish so I had to study the menu thoroughly to make sure whatever seemed good to try wasn't missed out. Ordering was a bliss. Simply indicate on the menu list the items you'd like to have and hand it over to the service staff.
We downloaded a voucher from their website for a free Alaska Snow Crab Nabe for every 2 Ala-Carte lunch buffets. This was also advertised on one of their signages at the restaurant entrance. However, when we questioned one of the service staff on this promotion, apparently he knew nothing about this promotion and had to check with his manager. He didn't respond to us until I repeatedly asked about it. This staff really needed some serious training! He seemed quite handicapped in English too so we had a bit of difficulty in communication.
Ok, back to the food.
We ordered Sashimi Moriwase (assorted raw seafood), Spider Temaki (deep fried soft shell crab handroll), Shake Kawa Temaki (deep fried salmon skin handroll), Shake Wasabi Mayo Sushi (chopped salmon with wasabi mayo), Ebiko Sushi (prawn roe), Shake Sushi (salmon) and more salmon and tako sashimi. The moriwase was a little disappointing. The presentation was good and the portion looked promising but the sashimi (esp. swordfish) tasted frozen with a tiny bit of ice present in the flesh. I did like the octopus though it tasted frozen and thawed too but it was chewy and sweet. The salmon was normal. I didn't really bother with the other fish so the hubby ate them all. The handrolls had more rice than ingredients. Hubby enjoyed the sushi though as he's such a rice lover. I didn't try a single piece of sushi. Didn't want to risk filling myself up with only rice when there was so much else to try.
Next, we ordered Edamame (Japanese peas), Chawanmushi (steamed egg), Buta Kimchi Itame (Kimchi with pork), Yasai Itame (pan-fried mix vegetables), Kare Udon (curry noodles) and also had our snow crab nabe served (finally). The peas were sweet and made a really good accompaniment to the food we ordered as it helped to ease any greasy, oily and sickly taste in the mouth. The chawanmushi was served piping hot with the usual crab stick, chicken meat and gingko nut and was light and tasty. The kimchi pork was the best here. The meat was tender and the kimchi was flavourful. We finished the whole plate in no time. The veggies and curry noodles were normal. The nabe soup was not too bad but the snow crabs were tasteless, unfortunately.
Under the Yakimono section, we ordered Yaki Tori (chicken in skewer), Tsukune (chicken meat ball), Tebasaki (chicken wing), Sunagimo (chicken gizzard), Bonbochi (chicken tail i.e. backside), Buta To Garlic (grilled pork with garlic seasoning), Shishamo (pregnant capelin), Shiitake (mushrooms) and Uzura (quail eggs). The picture above showed Ika Karaage (deep fried baby cuttlefish) too. I loved how they came in small portions and sticks so we wouldn't overeat the same thing. The mushrooms, yakitori and garlic pork were my favourites. In fact, I did enjoy the grilled dishes more in the entire meal. The mushrooms were exceptionally sweet even without any seasoning or sauce. The pork was well marinated with garlic and tasted good. The chicken meat balls and chicken backsides were not too bad too. The wing was a bit too dry though. The quail eggs, shishamo and cuttlefish were normal.
Lastly, the deep fried dishes which consisted of Tempura Moriawase (assorted tempura prawns/fish/vegetables), Kani Tempura (one mouth crab), Ton Katsu (pork loin chop), Tori Katsu (chicken chop in bread crumbs), Tori Karaage (chicken pieces), Nankotsu Karaage (chicken cartilage) and Ebi Batafurai (breaded butterfly prawn). The tempura were good. Nicely deep fried and were crispy on the outside and warm on the inside. The ton katsu was a bit dry but the tori katsu was juicy. The cartilage was really crunchy. The crab was too salty. The rest were just normal. The fried dishes weren't too greasy as I thought, probably the chef had drained away the oil well or used some kitchen paper to soak the oil before serving.
At $29++ per adult, I would say this was a very worthwhile meal given we had ordered and ate so much. I liked it being ala carte so food was prepared upon order and served hot. The variety was good too but the restaurant lacked this authentic Japanese feel. Perhaps they should consider changing supplier for sashimi too.
Shin Minori Japanese Restaurant
81 Clemenceau Avenue
#03-15/16 UE Square
Tel: 6733 2272
Opens: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 10.30pm daily