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Sakura International Buffet @ Yio Chu Kang

The last time I ever eaten at Sakura was probably 6-7 years ago when it had an outlet in Toa Payoh Central then. Now that Yio Chu Kang Stadium has one too, feasting on buffet is only a few foot steps away as this is located so near my parents’ home so when my mother had a sudden craving for buffet, I thought I would bring her here to check it out.

The restaurant was surprisingly popular with students, families and working crowd on a weekday afternoon. The above picture was taken after the lunch hour at around 2:30pm so it looked kind of empty but when I first stepped into the restaurant at 12:15pm, it was already half filled and in fact full house in less than half hour!

I wondered where the charm of this buffet restaurant was and concluded it should be the affordability part. Sakura was having this Snow Crab & Korean Food Fiesta buffet at $22+ (no service charge, only GST) per adult for lunch and $26+ per adult for dinner and I’m sure people got drawn here for snow crabs which is like a crustacean delicacy. The clips on each table were meant for ordering items from the teppanyaki section as they’d have to deliver to your table after cooking.
To begin, I had a plate of salmon sashimi, poached mussels, scallops, prawns and octopus. The salmon was fresh except that it was cut too thinly to my liking. I would have preferred thicker slices. The rest of the seafood were fresh but were quite bland for consumption on its own so you’d have to dip them in the sauces provided to give it more flavour.

There were also abalone slices, some cold appetizer dishes which I couldn’t remember what they were, honeydew salad and of course snow crabs. The abalone slices tasted like the imitation abalone that is commonly sold in supermarkets these days. I actually bought one of those imitation ones to try out. It was made of squid paste and flavoured in abalone sauce and the chewy texture was almost like the real thing. Funny thing was, I saw one guy scooping up all the abalone slices onto one plate and was beaming away. I almost wanted to ask him if he thought those were real abalones. Well, at least he enjoyed eating them, lol =)

The snow crabs were edible but seriously not great. They were over-soaked in brine and were quite salty. They weren’t as meaty as I thought even though the size seemed good and when I cracked open one of its legs, there was only a miserable bit of flesh in it but lots of brine in it! The crabs were just so full of salt water. Of this plate, I loved the honeydew salad best. Such a simple and subtle dish but so tasty and refreshing!

The fried food section consisted of fried salmon skin, ebi tempura (prawn), shishamo (pregnant smelt), enoki mushrooms, takoyaki, mussel baked with cheese and baked crab shell. Nothing on this greasy plate appealed to me at all. They were just plain oily with no kick.

The teppanyaki was surprisingly good though. The peppery sauce was very flavourful. The squids were tender and the lamb chop was quite tasty too (would be even better if the meat was more tender as I found it a bit hard to cut through the meat). Service was quite fast for the teppanyaki. Probably took 5-10 minutes for the selected food to arrive on our table.

The beef bulgogi was a definite winner! The meat was so tender and the marinate was very good! I probably could have a few plates of it but I was getting a little full by then already. I took a new serving of the snow crab legs when I saw the service staff replenishing with a brand new load of crabs in the hope these would not be soaked in salty brine like the earlier batch. I was still disappointed.

The chicken drumlet and otak were not bad. The chawanmushi (steamed egg) was piping hot and tasted just right and light. Under the Korean food section, there were Korean-style rice cake, fried tofu (is this considered a Korean dish?), Korean fried vermicelli and some saucy chicken dish. I saw Ginseng Chicken too but I didn’t take. The tofu was quite good; the rest were hopeless. The hainanese chicken was bland. The pizza and karaage chicken were not great either.

There were hot soups too like mushroom soup and sharks’ fins soup but I didn’t try as they didn’t look too appetizing.

For desserts, there were assorted mini cakes, mango pomelo, puddings, jellies, mochis, bubur pulut hitam, yam paste and ice cream. I liked the pulut hitam, yam paste and yam flavoured ice cream best. The rest – don’t waste your stomach space, really.

Overall, it was a fairly decent buffet for this price but I would rather pay a bit more for better quality food elsewhere.

Sakura International Buffet Restaurant
Yio Chu Kang Stadium
210 Ang Mo Kio Ave 9 #01-208
Tel: 6754 8197
Opens: 12.00pm to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 10.00pm daily

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