6 Eu Tong Sen Street #02-17 The Central, Singapore 059817
Tel: 6221 3177
No doubt the stark whiteness of its chic exterior and entrance looked very inviting, and the restaurant is spacious, serving very affordable buffet at just SGD$29.99 per head for dinner plus SGD$1.99 for free-flow drinks - I seldom compromise standards for price at Japanese restaurants.
Anyway, we were in, and were about to get started on this steamboat cum Japanese buffet dinner. We chose the 2-soup pot. For the soup base, we chose a Pork Bone (Tonkotsu) clear soup and then a robust Shoyu soup base.
While waiting for the soup to boil, I took the liberty of wandering the place to check out what was on the selection panel. First I passed by the Desserts section, where an array of cakes, brownies, Japanese mochi and fruits were on display.
Next to it was the Japanese Sushi and Sashimi counter - I spotted some favorites which I must try in a bit, after I made my rounds.
The following stall consisted of fried stuffs - Sweet Potato Wedges, a variety of Tempuras, some rice dish etc.
And there was the station with other Japanese items, cooked with miso base etc, amongst them some Octopus balls, Chawanmushi, eggplant and Oden etc.
In the middle nestled a long counter bearing items for our steamboat (Shabu-Shabu) - thin and fine pork and beef slices placed in lovely black cases as well as an assortment of vegetables, meatballs, eggs, beancurd etc.
We could choose our own soup base from this section, all poured into adorable little jugs - four types for this night.
Beside that, there were lots of condiments, sauces and dips for one to choose from, mix and match and concoct etc. We chose a few for the table as well.
*Celine and I came back with our loot just in time to see our pot simmering invitingly. It was time to start cooking!
Anyway, here is one of *Celine's plates - consisting of Chawanmushi, Chicken Katsu, Gyoza etc. The Chawanmushi was bland and nondescript, however it stood out because it contained an oyster!
I started with a platter of Prawn and Mushroom Tempuras, sweet potato wedge, some deep-fried sweet corn pastry, eggplant , Octopus ball and Katsu Chicken.
Our hotpot was boiling prettily with the ingredients we had tossed in - golden mushrooms, vegetables, shiitake mushrooms etc. While the Tonkotsu soup was tasty in a more gentle manner, the Shoyu soup was literally as its name implied - robust. The saltiness stunned us awake literally.
We changed soup base just to try the other two - now Prawn Paste base and Seafood. The staff did not help to change so we had to DIY with hot water and more bowls.
I also had a platter of Salmon Sashimi, Swordfish Sashimi, Squid and Sushi in Tofu Skin - the latter was rather nice but then the recipe was idiot-proof. The sashimi was disappointing - not fresh at all, and really hard.
Next, I had some watermelon, Cupcake, Brownie and Japanese Mochi - I rather liked the taste of the chocolatey brownie despite its hardness, as well as the White Mochi with peanut paste inside.
Our second pot of soup began sizzling in heat again, and it was time to dump the ingredients in. The Prawn Paste soup was scrumptious but very salty as well. We solved the issue by adding in a glass of hot water. The Seafood soup was delicious as well, with the right level of saltiness.
I made my own raw egg dip with a little chilli powder strewn in, for the Shabu Shabu.
The beef was nice - tender and sweet and finely sliced - the very slight fatty-meat trimming the side added a nice touch to the overall texture. It went well with all the soup base.
We were very full, but needed something sweet and cooling after a hot, flavorful meal - hence vanilla ice-cream it was! It was soft, and lovely, and I adorned mine with Maraschino cherries and raisins.
Overall, I thought Chiso Zanmai was rather average with limited variety, but I am not going to complain for that price.