It has been almost 5 years since my last visit to Shin Minori (click on the link to read my past review). When I saw that it was a participating merchant on The Entertainer App, I just had to ask J to join me for a 1-for-1 lunch buffet (U.P. S$34++ per pax) that worked out to be about S$20 per person. That was quite a good deal for a Japanese ala-carte buffet.
I made an online reservation for lunch at 11.30am which was their stated opening time and arrived there just on time with J but we were rejected at the door even though the entrance was like wide open and ready to welcome customers. We were told that they would start service at only 12.00pm and were requested to wait outside the restaurant where a row of chairs weren’t even put out properly for waiting customers to sit. It seemed like their standard of customer service hadn’t changed much from before. What a shame.
Everything looked the same in the restaurant except that they had now installed a tablet on every table for ordering of food which was a really good idea. I remembered how on the previous occasion, we would need to catch the attention of the service staff and have him write down our orders and often there was miscommunication because the guy just didn’t have a strong grasp of the English language so this system really saved a lot of hassle. I laughed when J said his neck ached as he tried to make selections through the long menu because the tablet was stuck in a fixed position on the side.
Let’s take a look at what we had on the day…
Previously, their sashimi wasn’t thawed properly so we could still taste the icy parts when we bit into it. This time, they were well thawed and consistently sliced and they tasted fresh and sweet too. My favourites were the swordfish, octopus and cuttlefish. I enjoyed the crispy salmon skin that gave a good crunch to the salad and the assorted seafood salad that had a refreshing dressing. The pumpkin chawanmushi was a little weak in flavour but the clam soup was quite robust in flavour without being overly salty.
Sushi is normally the last thing I’d eat at a Japanese buffet because they fill me up very quickly but I couldn’t resist ordering the Rainbow, Dragonfly, Harvest and Crunchy Maki Rolls that weren’t on the menu previously. I was glad I tried them because all four were pretty good.
While most of the food were served by quantity (for example, 1 piece sushi or 1 yakitori skewer per person), the dishes under the Itame Mono (stir fry) and Teppanyaki (hot griddle) sections came in really huge portions which I felt were just too much for two persons. Nonetheless, there wasn’t a dish that I didn’t like. The Tori Teppan were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside and the accompanying fried garlic slices were just delicious. The beef was tender and the sauce was really flavoursome too. So was the salmon that was swimming in an equally tasty sauce. The teriyaki chicken was juicy but the sauce was just a tad too sweet for my liking so it became quite cloying after a while.
Their yakimono (grilled dishes) were highly recommended. All of them had that distinct smoky flavour that made them taste so yum. We had seconds and thirds of the asparagus rolls, chicken skins, quail eggs and pork!
I liked their fried dishes in a sense that they didn’t ooze oil when I bit into them and they didn’t have those reused/rancid oil smell too so everything was served hot, fresh and crispy. I wasn’t a big fan of those mini crabs though cos’ it was a bit tricky to eat them as they had really sharp, pointy legs.
The Tako Yaki was one of the better ones I had so far. I liked that the inside wasn’t stodgy and the outside was a perfect golden brown crust. The fried chicken was also moist and yum – there must be something in the marinate that made a difference.
Since there wasn’t any dessert in the menu for the buffet, the closest sweet stuff we could get was the fried sweet potato roll that was crispy on the outside, naturally sweet and luscious on the inside.
Before you request for the bill, you can just click on the bill tab on the tablet and check that everything is correct. We had to pay additional $0.30 each for ice water and warm water that was free flow.
Food wise, I thought the quality of the dishes had improved a lot as compared to what I had on my last visit. The sashimi for instance, was so much better than before. In terms of service, I had my reservations though. If we didn’t encounter a service staff with a cocky attitude and another who kept sending the wrong orders to our table, our dining experience would have been a more impressionable one.