Sunday, 19 January 2014

Shabu Sai

The 2nd branch of Shabu Sai is located on the 8th floor of Orchard Central with Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant, Ootoya Japanese Restaurant and Nolboo Hangari Galbi. Visited on a weekday for dinner and upon reaching the authentic Japanese restaurant that serves all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu (derived from the sound produced when ingredients are swirled in the hotpot) and sukiyaki buffet, I realised there were a 70 and 90 minutes time limit imposed for lunch and dinner respectively. Upon choosing two from six kinds of soup bases and deciding whether to top up for free flow of drinks and soft serve ice-cream, customers pay at the counter by the entrance before being brought to their tables with a kettle of water on each. So if the soups got too salty as the meal progressed, they could be diluted. And we did that a couple of times though the table beside us, on the contrary, requested for refills of soups. I like that the place is clean, spacious and simply furnished with lots of wood.

Had the safer options of tonkotsu and sukiyaki soups  the former was creamy sweet pork bone broth and the latter a savoury one perfect with beef. Spread of raw ingredients (sadly, there were no prawns) with constant release of mist, sauces and cooked food such as sushi and mini-chirashi dons were nicely displayed with wooden labels. We started with a few pieces of sushi including a specialty of Osaka, Kansai. Oshizushi or pressed sushi, also known as hako-zushi or box sushi, where toppings were lined at the bottom of oshibako, a block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold. These were then covered with sushi rice and the lid pressed down to create a compact rectilinear block before being cut into bite-sized pieces upon removal from the mold. Could not taste the vinegar in the rice, which was dry and too much considering how little ingredients there were. Also ate fishballs and mussels as well as bamboo shoots and different varieties of mushrooms and vegetables.

However, the highlight was the thinly-sliced meats served in black square trays upon order. They were fresh and tender with a natural sweetness, including the surprisingly good chicken (always the worst of the lot from my past experiences). Possibly due to the way the thigh meat was cut so the tendons were broken and every slice consisted of both muscles and fats. Dipping the cooked meats into freshly beaten raw egg not only cooled the meat, but also gave it a smooth texture. Liked the additional aroma of egg and how well taste of egg was accentuated by the sukiyaki broth. Between my dining companion and me, we had six orders each of beef and pork as well as three chicken ones. No complaints about the fresh food and would recommend this place for meat lovers but not slow eaters who want variety. Ended our meal with soft-boiled eggs achieved by boiling the raw eggs for six minutes before cooling them in ice water, otherwise the heat would continue to cook the yolks.

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