This suburban outfit of the En Dining Group at Bukit Timah was launched in the fall of 2013 with little pomp. It'd opened so discreetly that although we've traversed the long stretch of Bukit Timah Road countless times when we were still at our Sixth Ave rental, we've never noticed it.
Until our friends told us about their value-for-money Queen Crab & Seafood Shabu Shabu Hotpot Buffet ($68++ per pax). Considering the quality of ingredients and extensive menu, we thought that the buffet was one of the better ones we've had in a while. While the raw stuff weren't quite up to Tatsuya's par, the cooked foodstuff were pretty commendable. Suffice to say, I'd return, in a group setting, of course. Buffets are always more enjoyable with a whole bunch of peeps.
The highlight of the buffet was the Crab Hotpot, with thick fleshy legs of the red crab lending sweetness to a clear broth loaded with shitake, enoki, cabbage and garland chrysanthemum.
Slivers of Beef, beautifully marbled, and wonderfully robust.
Strips of Pork Belly, decadently fatty, for dunking into the soup.
Udon noodles, fat and chewy, to soak in the broth made flavourful from all the greens and meats.
For appetizers, we had the Sashimi Salad, with hunks of raw fish and roe tossed with a tangy wafu dressing.
One of the 2 must-try appetizers, the Salmon Wafu Carpaccio dressed in Japanese mustard and topped with lashings of fried garlic, was refreshing and tasty.
The other must-try appetizer was the Beef Carpaccio drenched in a ponzu sauce. Excellent stuff.
Though mostly decent, I wasn't as impressed with the Sushi; the Aburi Salmon Sushi and California Rolls were a tad clunky.
Bottom row from left to right: Squid, Flying Fish Roe Maki, Prawn, Swordfish; Top row from left to right: Red Snapper, Yellowtail, Tuna, Salmon. These were fresh but not sparkling.
Ditto for the Sashimi Platter with salmon, tuna, swordfish, red snapper, yellowtail. Nice but pedestrian.
They've a selection of Yakitori, with some hits and misses. From left to right: Enoki Bacon (ok), Chicken wing (dry), Chicken Balls (nice), Pork (dry), Chicken (not bad), Shitake Mushrooms (alright).
The Quail's Eggs were highly anticipated, but fell flat because they were overcooked, tough and rubbery.
Onto the cooked foods, the Ebi Tempura, was fried perfectly, crisp wispy batter, fresh succulent prawns.
A surprising hit was the Stir-Fried Bittergourd with luncheon meat, tofu and egg scramble. This was the first time I'd eaten bittergourd, and it turned out very well. It was soft and its bitter undertones were balanced out by the saltiness of the luncheon meat.
The highly addictive steamed Edamame, plump and well-salted.
The Grilled Scallops with spicy wafu sauce were a smidge overdone, but the sauce, a blend of the tangy and creamy and umami accents, was really quite lovely.
Another surprise hit was the Crab Fried Rice, choc-a-bloc with shredded kani sticks, and slathered in a luscious eggy gravy that made it so scrumptious.
En Japanese Dining Bar
383 Bukit Timah Road
#01-01 Alocassia Apartments
Tel: 6235 0080
Open for lunch on weekends only from 12pm to 3pm
Dinners everyday from 6pm to 11pm