Friday, 24 February 2012

Momiji : A Japanese Buffet Restaurant

My husband and I have a common concept on dining out:  if a la carte meals cost more than $15 per dish then we’d rather spend $35 or more per person for a buffet meal.  With a restaurant serving only a la carte meals, we are restricted to just tasting a dish or two depending on how much we are willing to pay but for a buffet restaurant serving "all-you-can-eat-dishes", we get to choose anything and everything we like. We can gorge on as many variety of dishes as our tummy can accommodate and as many times we like at a fix price rate no matter how many plates and bowls we can devour.  A two decent a la cart dishes + a drink per person and pay maybe around $35++ OR unlimited entrees and drinks not to mention the appetizers and desserts  and pay $35++ per person?  Frederick and I would go for the latter.  That’s precisely why we love buffet meals and of course buffet restaurants, here in Singapore, in the Philippines, and anywhere abroad.

Momiji Japanese Buffet Restaurant.  As the name implies, Momiji is a Japanese bar and grill that offers “all-you’can-eat” meals and that specializes in sushi , sashimi and other Japanese cooked entrees.  It is run by the Suki Group, and we’d say it is one of the most affordable Japanese buffets around Singapore – with less than $27 per adult for dinner on a weekday and less than $35 per adult  on a weekend.  They charge lesser for lunch.
We go there often since we came to know about it last year.  In fact, some of the restaurant’s waitresses do recognize us.  We were just there last Valentine’s day to celebrate and feast on our favorite sushi and sashimi.   We usually don’t call in for reservations, we just go their (and we make sure of it) on their opening hours either on weekdays or weekends and usually we can get a table.  Good thing that I made the reservation before we went there last February 14, otherwise, we won’t be able to get a table since the restaurant was full booked that day.

Food:   Momiji is a Japanese restaurant so they serve our favorite raw foods – salmon sashimi which is favorite of ours and the baby octopus sashimi which  Frederick likes so much. 
There is a good spread of both raw and cooked Japanese food at momiji   In which, it was divided into a few sections : 
- The raw and cold food section where they serve sashimi and cold seafoods and soba noodles - salmon, tuna, baby octopus, shrimps, oysters, etc.; 
- Sushi section where a variety of colorful sushi fills the display stand 0 from uromaki to futomaki to california maki);
- the deep fried section where shrimp and veggie tempura, fried salmon skin, takoyaki, other fried squid, crab and fish nuggets are to be found;  
- the cooked food section where roasted chicken or pork or Japanese style beef and veggies and rice are served.;
- the barbecue section where they serve yakitori (chicken barbecue), skewered oysters, grilled corn and other veggies, etc;  
- the tepanyaki and order-to-cook section where we could choose from a selection of beef, chicken, pork, salmon, vegetables, and noodles, to be cooked and served on hot plate or any other plates/bowls;
- the steamboat section; we are not a fan though.  But you can try it if you want boiled food :-)
Each table has a designated clip and if we want to order tepanyaki, order-to-cook foods, or steamboat, just clip it on the stand and presto the food will be served to us after a few minutes. 
- Oh off course there’s  the dessert section comprising of ice cream, fruits, mini cakes, mini cupcakes, mini cheese cakes and the chocolate fondue.
- and the beverage section that offers both hot and cold drinks.  Sprite, F&N carbonated drinks, coke, diet coke (no coke zero :-(), flavored iced teas, tea, milk tea, coffees, espresso, hot chocolate, etc.
Like other restaurants, momiji has had their ups and downs when it comes to food and their service.   We like most of the food there, specially the salmon sashimi.  The raw food are great and fresh specially during the opening hours but as you near their closing hours, they are no longer replenished and like any other food exposed to air, the freshness is lost.  That’s understandable though.
The sushi are beautiful and very appetizing.  You can rarely see these kind of variety elsewhere, not even at sakura which is also owned by the sukigroup nor at sakae sushi.   The yakitori is very flavorful, Frederick  likes to chew it slowly for him to completely savor its flavor.  The tepan cooked beef is perfect to our liking, it’s always served medium rare.  I don’t personally like the salmon that is served floating in its sauce in an aluminum plate because I find the sauce too sweet and cloying.   

The icecream...  they have that too.  There’s a good variety to choose from for the ice cream and they tasted ok.  For the pastries, I’m not quite a fan of them.  The cheesecakes are tough and the cakes are crumbly and dry.  The chocolate fondue, well, for normal people who were not exposed to gourmet and couverture chocolates, they may find it great.  For me it was interesting to try the chocolate fondue, but for my husband, who has become a bit finicky specially when he gets to taste Belgian real chocolates, doesn’t buy it.  It was not chocolate for him.

Ambiance:  A lot of work could have been put on the ambiance just to get that Japanese restaurant look.  The decorations and the furniture are quite Japanese and so are the lighting.  But it does not display a traditional Japanese restaurant.  The chairs and table are high that customer get to seat the “normal” modern way as against to squatting which is the traditional Japanese style.  But it still look like a Japanese restaurant with all the lanterns hanging all over the restaurant, you get to feel like you're walking in one old Japanese street side.  

Momiji has a large sitting capacity allowing it to cater to large groups but then they don’t have a special partition or a private room to accommodate customers who are on a “party mode”.  That’s why when there is a group celebrating a special occasion, other patrons have to put up with the noise, unluckily.
Service:  The service was a bit rushed last Valentine’s day, but the waiters and waitresses were still pleasant and helpful.  The servers were still all smiles despite maybe their current toxic load.  T’was valentine’s day and the restaurant was really fully packed and a bit crowded as compared to those other days we went there.  In general, there is nothing we can complain when it comes to the service, the crews are polite, we are always ushered to our table after paying at the cashier.  They clean up used plates and utensils speedily.  They have people roaming around to check on the customers should anyone needs anything anytime.  There are Filipinos waiting tables there, and there are other nationalities too.  And all of them seem friendly and approachable.  They immediately oblige without  any complaints nor alibis every time we request for our pictures to be taken.  Oh and the cooks too are accommodating, they will explain to you, when asked of course, about the food you want them to cook for you.  Wonderful people.
Overall, the momiji experience is more than ordinary.  We always walk out of the restaurant satisfied and full to the brim.  Definitely  we will go back for more.  And we do recommend this place to couples and families who want an affordable yet non-mediocre Japanese buffet dinner :-)
Before I forgot, choosing between sakura and momiji, my husband and I will choose the latter :-) see our review on Sakura here

     Momiji Japanese Buffet
    City Square Mall
    180 Kitchener Rd. #05-05/06
    Singapore 208539
    Tel: +65 6509 1193
    Opens Daily: 12nn–3pm, 6pm–10pm


 © Fresha-licious (23February2012)

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