Papa’s birthday at Kuishinbo

3 02 2009

It was my dad’s birthday yesterday, so we decided to go out for dinner. At first we planned to book a table at the excellent Himawari, but at the last minute my mum decided that we would dine at well-known buffet chain Kuishinbo instead. We picked the Jurong Point outlet for its proximity. 

The Good: I must say that the restaurant has a rather pleasant atmosphere and tasteful decor.  I particularly liked the use of fake bamboo plants as screens to give diners a sense of privacy. The textured walls also provided an interesting photo opportunity. 

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Foodwise, there was a pretty wide selection of desserts (though this renders their plug of “over 100 varieties” rather lame. The bulk of said -varieties- lies in the desserts -.- Then again, the desserts were quite delightful, and portioned such that one could sample many of them without getting full too fast. I was too stuffed to eat much of the desserts, but the mango cheese cake was not too bad. 

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Lone mango cheesecake, flanked by cut fruit to demonstrate scale.

My mum liked their snow crab and lobsters, and spent half the meal happily cracking crab legs and eating them. 

One of the most interesting and unique points of the restaurant, as pointed out by many reviewers before me, is the system of handing out “limited specialties” every half an hour or so. What happens is that some bell rings, and immediately as a result of Pavlovian conditioning, a mad rush takes place as people scramble to grab whatever “limited specialty” is being given out. Hmm come to think of it….this scene does remind me of something more sinister…

 

The Bad: The sashimi was markedly less-than-fresh, and the maguro quite obviously fake*. What got my goat was the near-complete lack of authencity of the food. Melon and mango makizushi?! There were also some other decidedly non-Japanese things..such as ginseng porridge and stir-fried egg tofu. 

My sushi craving was also hardly satisfied by the paltry 4 or 5 varieties of sushi and 3 types of sashimi. My poor dad was forced to bear with fake maguro and salmon instead of the usual at-least-5 that is commonly found in a standard sashimi platter here in Singapore. 

Some of the food just looked plain scary. Take this luminous green daifuku for example.  This image does not do the green any justice. Think +50 saturation and you’ll get the picture. 

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Sorry for the poor focussing..

The soft-serve icecream was a tad too sweet for my liking, and cannot be compared to the awesome matcha ice cream that can be found in (for the lack of a better word) superior Japanese restaurants in Singapore.  

The Verdict: While my family will probably not return for a 2nd visit, I suppose that we tend to be relatively harsher on Japanese restaurants in Singapore, having being spoiled by numerous trips to Japan and opportunities to consume nice Japanese food. The freshness of the sashimi and sushi at a buffet restaurant is also understandably subpar due to the food having been left out on the buffet table since god-knows-when. 

Still, I can’t help but feel cheated; afterall so many people have recommended this restaurant to us. Thus, I conclude that Kuishinbo food is probably tweaked to suit Singaporean tastebuds and the enthusiasm for fusion food melon sushi here. Personally I’d go along with Himawari’s hand-made, made-to-order sushi any day, which is nicely authentic and has a dollop of wasabi between the fish and rice. Not only does it taste better, the fragrance of wasabi remaining unadulterated by the soy sauce, it’s purportedly safer as well, due to the wasabi’s anti-bacterial properties acting on the fish…. Whatever. 

One last thing I feel obliged to mention is what is touted as okonomiyaki in Kuishinbo is actually the Hiroshima variant, main characteristics of which being layered, not mixed ingredients, and the use of noodles in the dish. Actually it resembles modanyaki with huge prawns in it. My own preference is for the Osaka version, which is more common in Japan and which I have tried on a few occasions. *recalls happy times in Japan eating okonomiyaki*

*As anyone who’s been to a sushi restaurant in Japan will know, まぐろ and 本まぐろ are priced differently, for the simple reason that the latter is the REAL MCCOY and the former is only some other cheap fish masquerading as the real stuff. It has usually been treated with carbon monoxide to enhance its pink colour so as to make it more appetising. 

I baked my dad a coffee sponge cake for his birthday. It was so delicious and moist. 

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The cake is a lie.

Oh and, WHY WASN’T I ONLINE TO EXPERIENCE GOOGLE’S ERROR?

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