The hunt for good affordable Japanese buffets continues. Since my past expeditions to Shin Minori and Kuishin Bo, which failed to tickle my fussy palates, I’m now here to conquer Kiseki which I heard is very popular among students and families. In fact, I was quite impressed with the prices for a Japanese restaurant located in town hence I had to find out if it was indeed value for money.
Japanese lanterns at Kiseki’s entrance
Lunch/dinner pricing right at the door
We opted for lunch buffet on a weekday afternoon. Lunch hour is between 11.30am to 3.00pm (last order at 2.30pm). When we arrived, there was a long queue for walk-ins which wasn’t surprising as it was school holiday week. Luckily, I made a reservation the night before so we could quickly pay (yes, you’d have to pay before you get in) and then ushered to our table. After taxes, it was approx. $23.30 per adult for the lunch buffet. Very reasonable price.
I loved the restaurant’s spaciousness and large table seating. Exactly what a buffet restaurant should be. Even though it was rather crowded, it wasn’t overly noisy like a market or some busy buffet restaurants that could be quite annoying. In fact, we couldn’t hear what the neighbours were talking about and I assumed no one heard us gossiping and cracking jokes as well! Buffet is all about eating in peace and bliss! =)
Market place concept
A Marche-similar market place concept where different foods were found at different stalls. It was so spacious, you need not worry knocking onto someone else while carrying plates of food on both hands!
Nabemono, omelette, robatayaki & teppanyaki sections
Array of sashimi
Galore of seafood & appetisers
To start off with much anticipation, I filled up a wooden stool-like plate full of tako (octopus), salmon and hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi. I loved the salmon the most! They were cut thick (just the way I like) and were so sweet and fresh. The tako were very sweet too and surprisingly tender and easy to eat. The hamachi was normal. The only thing I didn’t like was the shoyu that was extremely salty and wasabi that tasted bland. Perhaps the shoyu covered the taste of the wasabi but the concoction just failed me. Luckily the sashimi was very fresh so sauce wasn’t really required.
I enjoyed the little plates of cold appetisers as well – chuka chinmi (seasoned scallops), chuka lidako (seasoned baby octopus) and cold tofu. They were all very well marinated and very flavourful especially the cold tofu that had a very nice miso paste which really made it tasty.
The tiger prawns were a little disappointing as they weren’t as sweet as I expected them to be. Decent size with crunch though. The mussel was so-so. The Sri Lankan blue swimmer crabs were surprisingly sweet and meaty! Mine had roe in it as well! Yummy!
Next, we had the teppanyaki. You’d have to bring your numbered pegs on your table to the teppanyaki section. Choose your choice of meat (pork, chicken or fish) and pass to the chef to prepare. The vegetables had to be placed on a separate plate for cooking as the chef would not combine meat and veggies together. For aesthetic reasons (for photo-taking), I placed the meat on top of the veggies. The chicken and pork were thick cubes but were very tender and juicy. They had a light peppery taste and were really delicious.
The robatayaki section was one of the most sought after stalls. I could see students just walking there, grabbing sticks of yakitori and ate as they walked around the buffet line. The grilled prawns were certainly much better than its cold counterparts. The chicken, pork and cocktail sausage skewers were nicely done as well with a nice slightly charred surface. I thought the shitake mushrooms tasted a bit dry and odd though. Probably would have been better if more sauce was brushed on them.
Usually I don’t fancy much of the fried stuffs at buffeta because they tend to be just greasy without much flavour. The fried items here consisted of seafood roll, calamari, fish fingers and mushroom pizza. The calamari tasted the best among the lot. I might have left this plate out for too long as I was busy eating the other items and taking pictures, so the crunchiness wasn’t quite there. The mushroom pizza had a very thin crust. I suppose if served really hot, it might be quite crispy.
There was one section that served Japanese omelette with free flow bonito flakes and chawanmushi. Looking at the plate above, anyone could guess the bonito flakes were the lead compared to the omelette. The omelette was very bland but the bonito flakes were great! The chawanmushi was smooth but there was too much MSG in it that made it overly sweet. The butter yaki asari (clams) were too small and just tasted of melted butter.
I was a bit hesitant to take the salmon head at first because it looked kind of hideous to me but it was full of meat on the cheek which was the most tasty part and also on the underside. The negi miso tori (chicken with miso) and ginger pork belly weren’t great though. The batter on the ebi tempura was too thick and the prawns inside were actually quite skinny in size but I loved the lotus roots that were crunchy both inside and outside.
I just had to help myself to another serving of salmon and tako sashimi as they were too good to resist =) Look at how thick the salmon slices were!
Also, another serving of the blue swimmer crabs! My friend purposely used her chopsticks to grab the crab meat for a close up shot. Yes, they were that meaty! Yummy!
Desserts time! To be honest, I thought most desserts served at buffets were quite crappy, usually just a bunch of different cakes and puddings. I wasn’t disappointed at all here. Kiseki offered freshly made waffles and pancakes that had 3 types of fillings – red bean, sweet corn and peanut. There were also ice cream that were lighter in milk and sugar content compared to some ice cream brands so you wouldn’t get sickly from eating too much. There were a number of flavours but I took only the chocolate and cookies & cream one for my waffle. Plenty of condiments to choose from too. There were crushed peanuts, chocolate chips, raisins, maple syrup and rainbow sprinkles. The pomelo ice cream or sorbet tasted a bit weird though. Didn’t have any pomelo taste in them plus the consistency was like raw snow. What I loved best from the desserts section was the chocolate fondue. I had to admit this was the best chocolate fondue I had ever tried and was even better than some of the famous buffets in 5* hotels here. That’s what I call QUALITY chocolate! You could use the satay sticks provided to poke your favourite fruits (honeydew, watermelon, grapes, pineapple) and marshmallows, soak them in the chocolate sauce and then dip into the bowl of ice water. The result – the ultimate chocolatey sugar rush! Oh, and the chestnuts were very sweet and lovely too!
Free flow of drinks was included in the buffet. You can choose from a selection of hot beverages (a good assortment of teas & coffee) to cold beverages like coke, sprite, 100-plus, fanta grape, pineapple juice, ice lemon tea, ice peach tea and ice blackcurrant tea.
This little fellow was found beside the salad stall
And needless to say, we spent a good 3 hours enjoying the buffet which was indeed value for money given its variety and quality. Don’t worry, we didn’t leave the restaurant looking like the sumo wrestler above :p This was definitely a Japanese buffet which we’d come back for.
Update (July 2013): Kiseki has now moved to Orchard Central. Below is their new address.
Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant
181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central, #08-01/02/03
Tel: 6736 1216
Opens: 11.30am to 3.00pm, 6.00pm to 10.30pm daily