Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shabu Sushi @ NEX (Update)

Update: Shabu Sushi Restaurant has officially closed as of 1st October 2014

You know what's better than Shabu-shabu cuisine? Shabu-shabu cuisine AND sushi. Yes, it is definitely possible thanks to Shabu Sushi. Shabu Sushi is a buffet restaurant located at NEX, a neighbourhood mall located in the heart of Serangoon. They serve a wide variety of Japanese food which obviously includes Shabu-shabu and sushi. If you don't know what Shabu-shabu is, it's basically a Japanese cuisine whereby there will be thinly sliced pieces of meat along with vegetables boiled in hot broth and served with a variety of dipping sauces. It's somewhat similar to steamboat. I don't think I have to explain what sushi is because that's pretty self-explanatory. Do read on further about my dining experience at this great buffet restaurant.

The Price List

Like any typical buffet restaurant, there will always be a price list since buffet restaurants are typically an All You Can Eat establishment. Basically, you pay a fee and you can eat whatever you want provided that you follow the time limit and that you have an empty stomach. The rates are quite expensive if you were to go for Dinner especially if you go for Dinner on a weekend or public holiday. It's much less expensive if you were to go for lunch instead. If you're a student, chances are, you get to have a student discount but you must present your Student Pass. If you want to pay lower fees, go for Lunch instead because it will be cheaper and quieter. However, the caveat is that, there is a time limit. So, plan first before you actually dine at the buffet restaurant because you will never know you get charged a hefty amount of money. Do note that there will be an additional service charge charged to your bill and that the prices listed in the photo above are applicable in September 2012. The prices now may or may not have changed so it's best to check it out at the restaurant first.They have a price list on the outside.

The Sushi Counter

Unlike typical Japanese restaurants, the sushi served here are not served on a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is reserved for the Shabu-shabu which I will touch on a little bit later. I like how the sushi have been presented here at Shabu Sushi. You have these cool transparent plates on top of some decorations that look a little bit like ice and there's some blue light seen underneath the plates. I also liked how the sushi was positioned in a slightly slanted manner. I took myself a plate and grabbed some of the sushi for myself to enjoy.

California Roll (Middle), Unknown Sushi (Left), Unknown Sushi (Right)

Scrumptious Sushi

After grabbing my plate of sushi, here's all the sushi that I have taken from the sushi counter. Okay, maybe it isn't that much but I got some pretty interesting sushi. I can't fully remember their names but I do know that the one in the middle is called a California Roll. The California Roll was okay. The rice was a little bit on the sour side and I like that cute little white sauce on the top of it. I have a strong feeling that it is mayonnaise but I may be wrong. The ingredients were also quite okay. The sushi on the left of the California Roll was a bit on the plain side because it is basically a piece of egg wrapped in a small rectangular piece of seaweed on top of a block of sour rice. The one on the right of the California Roll isn't really that nice to be honest because it was a bit difficult to chew as the ingredients wrapped in it were hard. I would skip that if I were you and get more California Rolls and other sushi instead since they have a wide variety of them.

The Small Snacks Counter

At this counter adjacent to the Sushi Counter, is what I like to call, The Small Snacks Counter. I call it that because they have a wide variety of small snacks served and ready for you to pick it up with some tongs. They have some Fried Chicken Wings, Deep Fried Tempura Prawns and so much more. Since it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, I suggest to get as much small snacks as possible because they can make great appetizers. However, do leave some space for desserts and the Shabu-shabu.

Tempura Shrimp (Middle Two), Deep Fried Wantons (Left and Right)

Delicious Fried Snacks

Here is my plate of small snacks that I took from the Small Snacks Counter. I got myself a couple of Tempura Shrimp and some deep fried Wantons. Sure, they may not look like a lot but I did get some more of them after finishing these four. The two in the middle as you can see are the deep fried Tempura Prawns. The prawns were delicious. Personally, I am not a big fan of prawns but I do like it deep fried and battered or breaded. The ones served at Shabu Sushi were delicious but the prawns were quite small but it's okay because you can get more of them. On the other hand, the Deep Fried Wantons don't really seem to be so special because they look and taste like frozen, store-bought Wantons.

Nice Ambience and Nice Entertainment

Shabu Sushi has a very nice ambience and the restaurant itself was just peaceful. I also like the restaurant's interior design. The restaurant's interior design does not make Shabu Sushi the most beautiful restaurant in the world but it is certainly enough for customers to make them feel comfortable. Unlike other restaurants, Shabu Sushi has a big screen television that shows various music videos of various pop songs. It is a nice touch but it can be a bit too loud at times. The pop music videos were also appropriate because at the time of my visit, majority of the customers were teenagers and young adults. The restaurant isn't really packed with lots of people most of the time but it was still enough to keep the business going.

Preparing for the Shabu-shabu

When you first take your seats, the waitress will ask you which soup base you prefer. You have only two options if I'm not wrong. You can choose either Chicken Soup Base or Tom Yam Soup Base. I'm not really that spicy kind of guy so I got myself the Chicken Soup Base. After the waitress poured the soup base into the hot pot or steamboat or whatever you call that, I adjusted the temperature using this cool-looking controller. Just click Power and use the arrow keys to adjust the temperature levels.

Getting The Ingredients Ready

Shabu-shabu isn't complete without the soup base and the ingredients. Just like at a typical Japanese restaurant, there is a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt at Shabu Sushi serves ingredients for the Shabu-shabu that you're going to have. Some of the ingredients are pretty random. At the time of my visit, there were interesting ones like Angry Birds fishcake, fishballs, sausages, vegetables and some raw meat. If you're lucky, you may even find some noodles. Once you have grabbed all these plates of Shabu-shabu ingredients, you can throw them all in into the Shabu-shabu hotpot to cook them. There is also a drinks and desserts counter which you can visit to get yourself, obviously, drinks and desserts. Both hot and cold drinks are available and for the dessert, you get a limited selection which includes bars of ice cream and some dessert soups which I will talk on a little bit later on.

Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Delicious Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Apart from the Deep Fried Wantons and Tempura Prawns that I got from the Small Snacks Counter, I also got myself some Deep Fried Chicken Wings. I like these chicken wings simply because they are small and easy to eat. It was a little bit on the oily side and there was little breading but it was simply good enough and it's enough to satisfy those fried chicken cravings if you have them. If you want big fried chicken that's juicy and crispy, these aren't for you. However, if you're the type who likes small chicken wings that has some breading to it, then this one's for you.

Soba Noodles

Cold Noodles AKA Soba Noodles

Beside the Sushi Counter, there was Soba noodles. Basically, these noodles are green in colour and unlike regular noodles, they are cold. If you don't mind cold food, then you should get this. There was also this kind of small spice thing found at the top of the Soba noodles and some spring onions sprinkled all over the top of the noodles. I honestly don't know what the spice was at the top but it was definitely spicy and it was meant to be mixed with the cold noodles which I didn't do so as it was my first time trying this out. Still, if you're into cold noodles, you're missing something if you don't try these Soba noodles.

Cooking the Shabu-shabu

As you can see from the picture above, I was in the process of cooking my ingredients in the hotpot. I dined with a friend at that time and if you see the bright orange soup base, that's my friend's soup base. He got lucky because he found noodles for his Tom Yam soup base. Compared to his hotpot, mine was filled with Chicken Soup Base and I only put a few ingredients into the hotpot like sausages and some fish balls. It was my first time dining at a buffet restaurant and it was also my first time dining at a buffet restaurant that lets me cook the ingredients myself. Since I was still a newbie and wasn't so familiar, I only managed to add a few things into my hotpot. The soup base was a little bit on the salty side because I think they added quite a lot of salt and chicken stock but overall, the experience of cooking the ingredients myself was certainly a fun one.

Yam Ice Cream Bar

Time for Ice Cream

Like what I have mentioned earlier on, there was a counter serving drinks and desserts. I got myself a drink and got myself this, an ice cream bar. This ice cream bar reminds me of the traditional Potong ice cream and they even taste almost like a Potong ice cream. I got the Yam flavour because that was the only flavour available at the time of my visit, unfortunately. It was okay and it was too milky for my liking. If only there was ice cream that allows me to scoop it up and add some quirky toppings onto it like Koko Krunch or crushed nuts but hey, this is a Japanese buffet restaurant not some fancy ice cream parlour. Anyway, if you have a sweet tooth but don't prefer ice cream bars, you'll be glad to know that they also serve some dessert soups which I will talk more on right now.

Sweet Corn Soup

Delicious Dessert Soup

Other than the aforementioned ice cream bars, there was also a dessert soup available. I can't fully remember if there were more varieties but what I do know is that I got myself some Sweet Corn Soup. There wasn't any tag that says that it was Sweet Corn Soup so I was curious to check out what soup was inside the soup serving area. After bringing it back to my table and taking a sip, it was actually Sweet Corn Soup. That isn't the official name for it but I call it that because there was no tag that identified what dessert was inside the soup container. Anyway, the soup was okay. It was warm and has some of that corn inside the soup itself. It was very sweet and it almost tasted like hot and melted Sweet Corn ice cream. You know, the ones that you get from the ice cream uncles that can be found at places like Orchard Road. It isn't really that special but it was good enough for anyone who has a sweet tooth.

Final Conclusions

Overall, my dining experience at Shabu Sushi was not perfect but it was okay. The food's delicious but not extremely tasty or mouth-watering, the service was sub-par and the price was too damn high. If only they can lower the dining rates then it makes more sense after seeing the food served here. However, that does not mean that the food at Shabu Sushi was horrible, the food was of an okay quality. Not bad for my first visit to a buffet restaurant. Seoul Garden recently opened at NEX and it's just a walking distance away. Seoul Garden can also give Shabu Sushi a run for its money so Shabu Sushi have to step up their game to remain competitive. Do note that both restaurants offer different types of cuisines so it's worth checking out which ones you like best. On the other hand, I'll definitely come back to Shabu Sushi again to fill my hotpot with more ingredients and to fill my plate with more small snacks and sushi. Come during lunch instead if it's possible for you as the dinner rates can be a bit too pricey. It's also a great place for gatherings because there's a little bit of interactivity involved.

Getting Here

Bus services available: 45, 58, 101, 103, 107, 107M, 147, 153, 317, 853, 853C, NR6 (Bus stop along Upper Serangoon Road Outside Serangoon Station)

Nearest MRT Station: NE12/CC13 Serangoon MRT Station (North East Line/Circle Line)

Website: Not Available

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