I felt a little turned off to write this blog post because it wasn’t a fully enjoyable dining experience for me and my family. Normally I don’t even start off my food review with such a comment. Read on to find out more.
Craving for steamboat, I decided to bring the family to Danro Japanese Hot Pot by Ministry of Food for a tummy warming nabemono meal after hearing about it from fellow food bloggers.
We arrived pretty early at the restaurant and were ushered to a table almost right away. That probably marked a good start to a supposed good meal. Once we got seated, we were then left alone even though the restaurant wasn’t even crowded yet. No one came forward to take order of the broths we would like for our hotpot. I assumed it was still early as they just opened doors and probably needed more time to prep so we patiently waited for about 5-8 minutes and then saw some service staff scurrying around. When we gestured and caught the attention of one of the staff, the lady actually looked away and walked to another table to take order for another family who arrived later than we did. I didn’t know we were that invisible that day O_o
We managed to take our order with another service staff (who looked like she was in a big rush). It would be helpful if the staff could run through the various broths available or probably give a quick introduction on how the dining system works so we would know where to start as first timers here. There wasn’t a list or menu provided on the table that we could refer to.
Apparently, there were nine soup bases to choose from, each representing a different prefecture in Japan. We could select two for our double soup pot and we decided on Nara (chicken and milk broth) and Akita (wafu/miso broth) which were their most popular picks.
Besides the standard ingredients of assorted vegetables, seafood, meats and yong tau foo you’d get at most hot pot buffets, Danro also serves a small selection of sushi, cooked food like bak kut teh, chilled onsen egg, oden (Japanese style yong tau foo), soba and an assortment of fried items too. Shabu Shabu Pork and Beef were also available in individual portions, stacked in bento-style boxes.
The bak kut teh was surprisingly good. Nice fragrant broth with tender soft-bone pork and sweet chunks of white radish. The onsen egg was well executed too. The fried food were overly greasy like most fried food in buffets anyway but the crispy salmon was quite a treat.
While the parents preferred the lighter Akita broth which was miso-flavoured, my husband and I liked Nara better because of its milky appearance and richer flavour. The Nara broth went very well with chicken and seafood whereas the Akita broth was good for yong tau foo items. If you’re a big fan of rich flavours like cheese, cream and the like, then you will enjoy the Nara broth too. The parents got a little sickly of it after a while but I thought the soup was extremely flavourful, the more you cooked things in.
We wanted a refill of the Nara broth when it almost ran out but the service staff said it would be chargeable at a couple of dollars more. Well, no one highlighted this surcharge to us at the start so it was quite unexpected that we needed to pay to get a refill of this ‘premium’ broth. We opted for some complimentary standard broth that we could help ourselves to. No loss at all as the ingredients soaking in the remaining broth in our pot had already added lots more flavour to the soup. We cracked an egg in and enjoyed the soup as it was.
If you’re a fan of kiritanpo (grilled rice on skewers), you can purchase each stick at $1. This is supposed to be Danro’s speciality. We weren’t aware about it as the service staff who took our order didn’t mention it so we didn’t get to try. Oh well.
My husband and I had a bit of fun at the sauce section trying to concoct our own special dipping sauces. I thought the sambal chilli tasted best.
We ended the meal with some fruits, cakes and soft serve ice cream. Nothing impressive to really rave about.
At $23.90++ per person for weekend lunch inclusive of free flow drinks, it’s probably considered a value-for-money buffet for most people. Though the signature broths are worth a try, the array of food fails to impress. Service standard is definitely not up to our expectations.
It is very unlikely we will return again.
Danro Japanese Hot Pot
23 Serangoon Central
Tel: 6634 4608
Opens: 11.30am to 3.30pm, 5.30pm to 10.00pm daily
(closing time on Fri & Sat is till 10.30pm)