For a limited period only (I think the promotion is on till end January 2009), En Japanese Dining Bar at Crown Centre is having a shabu-shabu a la carte buffet for S$42++. This is very good value, considering that in addition to unlimited servings of the beef shabu-shabu, you can also order unlimited helpings from quite a diverse list of the restaurant’s offerings. These include the garlic fried rice, wafu spaghetti, beef carpaccio (all of which are our favourites here), as well as sashimi, sushi, tempura and a number of grilled items.
They also don’t shortchange you just because it’s a buffet, unlike some places which serve tiny or scaled-down versions of their dishes. Each order is the full size that it would be if you had ordered a la carte. Because of this, I’d recommend going with at least 4 people so that you get to try as many dishes as possible without wasting food. We went with A’s parents on Sunday night to celebrate A's birthday.
The quality was really good, and because we’ve ordered some of the dishes a la carte on previous occasions, we know they didn't cut any corners for the buffet. The beef carpaccio was excellent, and a new dish we tried – the Wafu Steak with garlic slices – was amazing as well.
The beef for the shabu-shabu was really good quality – check out the deep red colour and the marbling. It was sliced paper thin, and a couple of swishes in the hot broth was all it took to cook it to a perfect pinkness. The meat was so sweet and tender that it barely needed any sauce at all, but for the record it comes with a sesame sauce for the meat, and a ponzu sauce for the vegetables. You also get unlimited servings of enoki and shitake mushrooms, wong bok (chinese/napa cabbage), leek and that nasty steamboat vegetable, tang-oh.
Service is also excellent. Again, some buffet places have horrendous service, deliberately taking ages to take your order or bring your food so that you just give up before eating your fill. Not here. They’re extremely attentive, didn't miss out a single item in our considerable order, and were perfectly happy to oblige with refills of the shabu beef.
Since the promo is on till end January, I’m definitely pushing to come here for CNY reunion dinner with A’s folks. Steamboat is quite traditional at CNY, and it sure beats ending up at the lacklustre teppanyaki buffet at River View Hotel, which seems to be our CNY default but has deteriorated somewhat in recent years.
Forget everything else and just go for all the beef dishes. BEEEEF!!! RAWK!!!
En Japanese Dining Bar
557 Bukit Timah Road
#01-14/16 Crown Centre
Open 6 pm to midnight; and for lunch on weekends