Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Restaurant: Z'en Japanese Cuisine

By Thursday, November 15, 2012 , , , , ,

We all know that the Clarke Quay, River Valley and Robertson areas are big on Japanese food. But little did i know i've been missing out on the biggest in-plain-sight gem, Z'en Japanese Cuisine, for so long. I've walked past (and even through) this restaurant at UE Square too many times and i can't believe i never considered going in. 

To my defense, i only visit Robertson with restaurants already in mind like Gyu Kaku or Chikuwatei or Foodbar DaDa or coffee at Toby's... In short, there are just too many things to eat/check out. Well. Z'en finally popped up on my radar when i did some searching around for Shabu Shabu to satisfy my craving (and also the boy's).

Dinner reservation was made for 7 to celebrate the Nov babies' birthdays (J and S). We were given the intimate tatami space on the mezzanine level which could accommodate 15-20 people, perfect for dinner gatherings. 
Z’en (a sister outlet of En Japanese Dining Bar) is run by executive chef, Masashi Yasui from Kyoto. You'll be dizzy with choices just looking at the a la carte buffet menu (64 items in total) and there are a lot more in the main one. I would highly recommend the buffet for the quality items and reasonable price. Buffet prices are listed at the end of the post and it's cheaper to go on weekends (i don't know why but i'm not complaining). 

I was looking forward to lots of Shabu shabu after a recent authentic meal. Z'en serves both the beef and chicken shabu shabu. Needless to say, we went for the Australian Wagyu beef (200g for $39). The meat isn't sliced very thin and that took a while to cook on the portable stove but it was quite delicious with the ponzu sauce. Remember to ask for the peanut one too! We had at least 10 plates of this. Very nice and not too bad marbling.
Other than shabu shabu, other items include some sushi and salmon sashimi. The pieces of sashimi are very small (1/4 the regular size). It's easier to order a few more sets at a go. I wasn't expecting very high quality sashimi anyway so it met my expectations. The Aburi salmon sushi was nice too with small amounts of rice and the salmon was nicely torched. We gave the rest of the sushi a miss to save our stomach space. Of course the rice and noodles section was left unordered. If you must, try the Zuwai Chahan with gravy (Crab Fried Rice, mui fan style, S$23).
From the Grilled Dishes, you mustn't miss the Sirloin Steak with ponzu sauce (200g for S$32). This was perfectly grilled to a tender pink and when it was served, we simply ignored the shabu shabu. This is THE DISH to eat. The fried garlic at the side were irresistible and went well with the meat. For moo moo lovers, do order the Stir Fried Tenderloin Beef cubes with mashed potatoes as well (we forgot about it)
The boys loved the Grilled Squid (S$13) and Baked Oysters as well. Not too rubbery, nicely grilled and rather fresh. There are some skewers and grilled fish on the menu but we gave that a miss.

From the fried section, i adored the Cream Crab Croquette (4pcs for S$10), Ebi Tempura (3pcs for S$13) and Age Gyoza (5pcs for S$10).

A mix of texture is perfect for breaking the monotony of a meat buffet, but go easy on these, if not you'll feel really full after a while. 
The Agedashi Tofu (S$10) wasn't too bad either as it cleanses the palette with its light broth.
Desserts weren't that fantastic but i ate some anyway. You need a sweet end to every meal. Skip the chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The green tea one is a little too milky as well. The Tofu cheesecake and Creme Brulee were adequate in taste and texture. 

Thankfully, the smart me got cupcakes from Swirls which IMO is way better than what Z'en served us for desserts. Yay me. 

There were many dishes that we didn't try but we were very happy with most of the items which we had. The boys were quite happy with my restaurant choice, even the picky W. I will probably be back when my Shabu craving kicks in again. 

Service was a little slow and they have the tendency to forget your orders so place more in advance. Wastage is charged though so don't over-order!

Now for the buffet prices: 
Weekday Lunch (S$38++)
Weekday and Eve of PH Dinner: S$52++
Weekend and PH Dinner: S$48++

Make a reservation! It's very popular. Have an overeating weekend! Cheers!

Zen Japanese Cuisine
205 River Valley Road
UE Square #01-75
Tel: +65 6732-3110
Weekdays: 12 - 2.30 pm; 6 -11.30pm
Weekends & PH: 6 - 11.30pm

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