Japanese ala carte buffet!

I love being invited out for lunch. Especially when it is a large group and you can taste a lot of different food. Today was no different. It was a buffet lunch at $48++ per person for adults from Mon to Thurs. For those who love unlimited beef and Japanese food including ice-cream for dessert, this is a good place to come. Definitely a value for money Japanese ala carte buffet place. The food was fresh and the variety was sufficiently large to feed many a hungry customer.

En Dining, 557 Bukit Timah Road, #01-14/16 Crown Centre, Singapore. Tel: 64685710

Daikon salad

Tuna, salmon and yellowtail sashimi.

Rice with meat topping.

Beef for cooking in shabu shabu

Fried rice with eel

Prawn tempura

Cooked wagyu beef

Vegetables in the soup

Normal salad


Down Under: Wow indeed!

After all the western food, we decided to try Korean food instead.

We ordered pork belly and beef bulgogi, seafood pancake and rice. There were enough condiments to go around in the beginning and they were good. The test of any Korean restaurant, I have always felt, is in their kimchi. And yes, that was good too. The pork belly was eaten with onion and garlic and wrapped with lettuce. I found the raw onion very strong but I guess it is meant to be eaten in that manner, along with the pork. The staff were attentive and eager to please.

The smoke from the hot plate set off the fire alarm at the restaurant and for a few minutes, they could not stop it from ringing until they changed the hot plate.

This place is certainly worth coming back to again.

Wow Bulgogi, 174 Anzac Pde, Kensington, NSW 2033. Tel: (02) 9697 9282.

Seafood pancake and condiments

Seafood pancake

Pork belly bulgogi, eaten with raw onion and garlic. it is wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in a sauce.

Down Under: A Pastry Affair

We came here for a quick bite. The coffee was great and the ginger brulee went really well with the coffee. I ordered a ham and cheese crossant which I regretted as there were so many other pastries that I could have and should have ordered instead to try. The croissant had a little too much butter in it and was too oily for me.

Of the things we ordered, the bacon quiche and the ginger brulee were the best. The flourless chocolate cake felt like we were eating chocolate itself as it was so rich. The coffee was good.

There was a steady stream of people at this little joint.

Bourke Street Bakery, 633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Tel: (02) 9699 1011.

Bacon quiche

Ginger brulee

Flourless chocolate cake

Beef pastry pie


Inside of the bacon quiche

Inside of the ginger brulee

Ham and cheese croissant

Down Under: Lovely

Like Pancake Parlour, Pancake on the Rocks is a must-visit Aussie restaurant. The restaurants are located at several locations all over Australia and their specialty is, you guessed it, pancakes! However, they do not just serve pancakes. They serve other food like salad, crepes and ribs. This is not a franchise and the quality of their food has been quite consistent across their restaurants.

Both restaurant chains are very similar, right down to the Lovely logo but they are run by different people, depending on the state that you are in. The restaurant is founded by two people who eventually opened two separate pancake restaurant chains though similarly themed.

Tonight’s visit was unfortunately on a Friday evening and near Christmas, hence there were long queues outside the restaurants. It would have been better to visit at a less busy time. Some of the Pancake Parlour restaurants open 24 hours. Pancake on the Rocks do not open 24 hours however.

Pancakes on the Rocks, 227 & 229-230 Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour. Tel: 02 9280 3791


Three Iced Coffees and one Baileys Coffee

Chicken and Mushroom savoury crepe

Beef Ribs which were really nice and tender.

Pancakes with bananas and ice-cream

Chocolate pancakes with walnuts

Down Under: Theatrical Teppanyaki

This is a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant where the chefs were very entertaining as well. They had come out with a teppanyaki routine where they would flip their food for their guests to catch. The Australians loved it.

We ordered a set where a variety of food was cooked before us. I decided on a Kobe beef set. The others ordered sets with seafood, chicken and beef. The set came with fried rice and dessert as well and it was very filling.

This was when I learnt about grades and marbling in beef. I thought my set was rather inexpensive for a Kobe beef set @ $28 per set. I had always thought that Kobe beef was very expensive. I found out that the way the fat is distributed in the meat and how evenly it was distributed determined the quality of the meat. It ranges from 1 to 12, where 12 is the melt-in-your-mouth kind.

The beef I had was more tender than the normal cuts but it did not melt in my mouth. There were also no bits that were difficult to chew. It probably ranked on the low end than on the high end of the scale.

The only other seafood I tried was the prawns which were really good and oh yes, I loved their roasted grains Japanese tea as well.

We came here for a birthday celebration so it was something out of the ordinary. The draw to this place is really the theatrics and this place makes for an entertaining dinner.

I chi ban Teppan-yaki, LG floor, 355 Sussex Street (corner Liverpool Street), Sydney Chinatown 2000. Tel: (02) 9283 4628.

Kobe beef teppanyaki

Kobe beef, ready to eat!

One of the theatrical chefs

At the end of our meal!

Down Under: Rice again!

(Now that we are in Sydney, I’ve renamed this to Down Under instead.)

I knew that it was very likely that I would be eating more Asian food in Sydney because of other rice-bellied folks whom I would be meeting here. True enough, our first dinner stop was at a very affordable Japanese self-service eating place.

One orders from the menu, picks up the food, pays for it and sits down for dinner. At the end of the meal, one takes the tray and returns it to the counter. This is something that is quite common in Japan and self-service does keep the costs down. I ordered minced tuna on rice and a small salad. The rice, however, was not calrose rice. It was long grain. But for the price they were charging for it, I was not complaining.

One of the favourite items here was the half-cooked egg, ontama, which could be added to any meal. Other orders were beef rice, tempura and udon noodles with ontama.

There has been many rave reviews about this place and the prices are very affordable indeed. The outlet in the city tends to be very packed, especially during lunch. The noodle and rice bars are also separated, unlike the one at Bondi Junction, which is smaller and hence, combined. It tends to be a place where one eats and goes — not hang around for deep and meaningful conversations unless the place is not crowded.

Mappen Japanese Noodle and Rice Bowl Bar, Shop 5, 183-193 Oxford St, Bondi Junction NSW 2022. Tel: 02-9388-0609. The entrance is on Spring St side.

Udon with ontama

Minced tuna with rice

Sweet potato tempura, fish cake tempura, chicken karaage

Restaurant interior

Part of the decor on the inside