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A Feast from the Oceans at Kushi Dining Bar

#1 User is offline   Kingfisher 

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  Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:57 PM

It had been like ages since I last visited Kushi Dining Bar after hearing of the rave reviews by the DJs of YES 93.3FM. The feedback from that last trip weren’t too good considering it was the most expensive Japanese buffet we ever had and that record still stands today. Three years down the road, while deciding on a place to treat a colleague, we decided to give the place another go. The restaurant is located in Hotel Windsor in Macpherson away from the downtown’s hustle and bustle.

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The restaurant is facing the road on the outer perimeter of the hotel. As it had limited sitting capacity, make sure you call in advance for reservation before going down as it was full house when we were there on a Saturday afternoon.

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Kushi Dining Bar
401 Macpherson Road
01-11 Hotel Windsor
Singapore 368125

The place seems to be going by a few difference names - Kushi Yakitori Dining Bar, Kushi Japanese Dining Bar or a shorter form like Kushi Dining Bar depending on where you are looking.

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Winner of the Singapore Excellence Award 2013

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This post has been edited by Kingfisher: 10 April 2014 - 11:43 AM

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#2 User is offline   Kingfisher 

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:10 PM

Walking into the restaurant, you will discovered that it’s a very small dimly lit place with a row of tables and chairs on one side and tatami style seating on the opposite. If you opt for the Table and Chairs option, it can sit 10-12 persons depending on how cozy you want to squeeze together.

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Us, we were allocated the Tatami Seats which had a well below the table for our legs. Do remember to take off your shoes and leave them on the rack before you climbed in.

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Further in were the Counter Seats and chef working area, where you can catch the chef do all the slicing and dicing. I can almost visualize white collar executives tucking into the foods and sipping saké after office hours. Personally, I would avoid this section if you want to take decent looking photographs of the foods as the lighting is just too dim.

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Small Clay Dolls on display at one corner of the room.

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#3 User is offline   Kingfisher 

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:23 PM

They offered three buffet price tiers – Classic, Premium and Gourmet Buffets. The differences are mainly the numbers of Seasonal Items you get or not get plus the availability of some premium dishes at the higher price tiers. Free flow soft drinks and green tea is included in the buffet prices. As you can see, we have picked the Premium Buffet which we think offered a good value.

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While you are deciding on your orders, just pay attention to the 10 Things You Must Know…

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The Premium Buffet entitled us to one serving of Seasonal Item. I shall not spoil the surprise by revealing the dish now but do continue to read on. For your info, we were served fresh Abalone sashimi the last time for which I found it to be rather crunchy, yet on the tough to chew side. I still have the three abalone’s shells with me.

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:36 PM

Shabu Shabu, Appetisers and Starters Menu - You can have hot pot with either one of the two soup base - Clear or Kimuchi but my suggestion is to only order this if you have 4 or more people at the table.

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Sashimi, Sushi and Makimono Menu - Many will just spam repeated orders from this menu which boasted quite a variety of sashimi. This was the main reason most diners were there for, I am sure of it.

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This Salad, Hand Rolls, Yakimono and Agemono Menu had some nice dishes and also many more which I have yet to try. Oh well, there is always a next time.

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Tempura, Kushiyaki and Cooked Food Menu - Some of the foods from the Kushiyaki section weren’t to my liking. I will tell you later on.

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 06:49 AM

On the table for each diner were a small plate, condiment saucer plus a pair of disposable chopstick and serviette (that will be the Paper Napkin for the US readers). Soy sauce was provided but the Wasabi only comes accompanied with the sashimi later.

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Let’s begin from the Starters and Appetizers and work our way down the menu. Itadakimasu, let the feasting begin.

First up was this Chuka Hotate - The lips of the scallops were not wasted; here it’s marinated in sweetish sauce with sesames. They seem to taste the same regardless of where I ate them from, whether from cheap sushi joints to mid-range Japanese buffets.

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Remembered my colleague who has the knack of ordering those cheap and very filling dishes? This Hiyayako (chilled tofu with toppings) was his idea; however, it’s just too bland for us to finish it. Maybe adding some soy sauce might help but I am not going to try that out.

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 06:23 PM

On the other hand, this small piece of Century Egg Tofu was excellent. Kudos to the chef for marrying the century egg, so called the “most disgusting food” to the plain tofu, giving the concoction the needed edge to stand out from the rest of the tofu dishes in the menu.

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My colleagues liked these US Fresh Oysters, with one saying it not too salty. If the Evil Bunny was there, she would have decimated a large population of the oysters or maybe the chef will raise the white flag first.


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Posted 04 May 2013 - 06:06 PM

Oishi - sou! This gorgeous plate of mouthwatering Mixed Sashimi consisted of Amaebi, Salmon, Maguro, Hamachi, Mekajiki, Shiro Maguro and Hotate. As you can see from the photographs, the chef was not stingy on the cuts which were sliced rather thickly. I normally do not eat much sashimi at one go but these were just too good, not to mention fresh to pass up. One thing worth mentioning was that the Amaebi was big in size and oh, just so sweet.

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:55 AM

Now for the Seasonal Item and Otoro (both items are one serving only). I asked the waitress what the black fish was and she mumbled a word that sound like “Koroso” for which we went scratching our heads trying to find any info from the internet. Finally my colleague looked up from his phone and said that the mystery fish might be a Black Sea Bass, which does resembled our fish. Maybe I do not know how to appreciate the fish; I found the taste nothing out of the ordinary.

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I can still remember three years ago our Otoro came frozen; the fish was “crunchy” with the ice crystals inside the flesh. Fast forward to today, we are limited to two slices of Otoro each. I have read about the Tuna Belly’s buttery texture that literally melts in your mouth. Me think rich and creamy flavour, Yes, but melt in your mouth texture is like exaggerating the fact a bit too much.

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 06:36 PM

Okawari wo kudasai. Mixed Sashimi round two consisting of Tako, Ika and more Amaebi. Grab hold of the tail and the other hand on the head, gently gives the shrimp a tug and the flesh should separate cleanly from the head. Tilt your head up and suck these sweet little things into your mouth. Oishikatta!

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A lot of times, the Ika I have encountered at buffets were kind of slimy and sticky on the surface, not to mention they aren’t too fresh. But not here, the thinly sliced squid had none of that yucky taste and texture.

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The Tako’s texture, hmmm… how should I go on to explain? It’s very meaty and fibrous in texture much akin to eating pork or beef that had not been tenderized though still acceptable to me. Maybe I am not the right person to describe it as the octopus I usually consumed were those small red marinated ones and inside the takoyaki. :P/>

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 09:35 PM

My colleague clearly enjoyed the US Oysters so he got himself another five pieces. Me, I just avoided these raw mollusks at all cost as I just cannot bear to swallow them down my throat.

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The Spider Temaki was stuffed with cucumber sticks, lettuce and of course soft shell crab. Hey, the claw was dangling outside as if the crab was trying to crawl its way out of the hand roll.

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:18 PM

Ebiko and Ikura Sushi – Just look at those sparkling orangey red balls of salmon roes, beckoning one to quickly gobble them down. Chotto matte kudasai, let me capture the photo first to share with you all. Prior to this trip, the ikura was plain salty that eating them might just cause my blood pressure to shoot up but luckily, no more overly salty roes this time round to hinder my appetite.

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Pop the Ikura Sushi into the mouth and gently use the teeth to break the roes and savour the guilty pleasure of the lightly salty liquid eggs bursting inside your mouth knowing that you are also exterminating those offspring of the salmons. Pure pleasure at its best! I don’t know how to describe the pleasant feeling but it’s just like when you are popping those bubble wraps with your fingers, it just make you feel good. :thumb2:

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Ebiko – The minute roes of the flying fish offered a crunchy texture. While not as exciting as popping the ikura, it’s still a perfectly good eat by itself.

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Tamago and Ikura Sushi – This Egg Omelet Sushi was simply no match with the one from Sushi Kanazawa. It was dry, hard and not sweet enough to make the cut. I’ll just stick to my Ikura Sushi which was filled to the rim with the roes and no cucumber slices to interfere with my indulgent.

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 07:40 PM

The Karubi or Beef Short Ribs had a more intense beefy flavor with a chewy texture to give those jaws a good workout.

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The Wagyu Beef wasn’t as marbled (fatty) as I had hoped for but still, I would choose it over the chewier and fatless Karubi. The grilling was unevenly done as some parts were more charred than the others though.

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The Ultra King Prawn Tempura, each about the size of 20cm in length came piping hot from the wok. The batter was not overly thick and was crispy on the outside; dip it into the accompanied tempura sauce for that satisfying bite. With our hearts set on this, its other smaller cousin was totally ignored.

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 09:49 PM

They have gotten the sauce right this time for the Unagi, it had that sweet fragrant taste instead of the salty overtone the last time. The river eel was lightly blackened from the caramelized sugar while the inside was moist and soft, umai!

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Why was it called Chicken Little, that I have no idea? But the portion consisting of a piece of chicken cutlet and six maki was quite a substantial amount, definitely not little by any standard. The deep fried chicken cutlet was pretty decent with the drizzled mayonnaise; I would rate it much higher than many of western stalls outside. Do note that the Maki comes in a set of 6s, unless you have got more people in your group, try not to order too at one go.

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:16 PM

The Surume Ika (Japanese Common Squid/Pacific Flying Squid) was grilled just right which lend to its aromatically charred flavor while maintaining the slight chewy texture of the flesh. The dish came served with a dollop of mayonnaise plus some seasoning salt sprinkled on it.

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Lobster Soup – If my memory served me well, they previously used spiny lobster and not Boston lobster. The soup was miso base but with too much added onion and light on the lobster taste, moreover the lobster was totally tasteless. The lackluster soup did not tickle our fancy; suggest you skip this.

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 11:25 PM

A man with this group of diners at the table behind me was telling the waitress they wanted this “pregnant fish”. It’s Shishamo by the way and the burnt parts gave this pregnant chapelin (a small fish in the smelt family) a bitter aftertaste.

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Soft Shell Crab was practically just shells and no flesh inside. Were the crabs starved before they molted?

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Well, by now you should have guessed who requested for this Corn Croquette. The waitress said it comes in a set of 6s so I had to specially instruct her to just serve one piece for him as we are not going to help him eat the rest. :ninja:/>

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 07:51 PM

Grilled Hotate and Tebasaki - The grills lose out on the appearance department, coming out dry and unappetizing. The three skewers of deboned chicken mid wings doesn’t look juicy to you right? I half expected the scallops to be like those whole ones on half shell found in international buffets minus the shells but it was not to be. The sweet sauce can only do so much for the otherwise bland scallops compared to those whole scallops (think Hokkaido) which were much sweeter.

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Assorted Grilled Items – The one on the left was Ton Toro but it’s just so dry that removing the meat from the skewer took some effort. The lousiest pork belly I have ever eaten anywhere! The next two items in the middle were Bacon & Enoki Rolls and Bacon & Asparagus Rolls which fared better though not juicy enough plus it could do without the sweet sauce. In contrast, the bacon rolls from The Ramen Stall were much superior with just some added black pepper and no sauce, yet it’s plump and juicy. The last item was the Unagi which tasted the same as the one from the Yakimono menu just that this one was on skewer and the other came in one big piece.

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:27 PM

Beef and Enoki Rolls came smothered in the same sweet sauce albeit, better tasting as a whole. By the time this was served, everyone was fully fed so it’s time to call for the bill but not before having some freshly cut fruits.

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Nothing beats a plate of Fresh Fruits to clear our palates and to wash away the greasiness.

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The total Bill worked out to S$229.15 for three or S$76.40 per person.

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We were the first to reach and almost the last group to leave. Although there was only one waitress taking orders and doing the serving, it was pretty well managed since the restaurant was a small establishment. When she was occupied, the chef behind the counter will come out to serve us himself. We did not have any issue with missing orders either and the dishes were served reasonably fast.

With three price tiers to choose from, you can select the one you deem to be the best in value. The ingredients were generally fresh with premium items thrown in at the two higher price tiers. Even the Classic Buffet looks good if you can forgo some of the premium items though you also do not get the Seasonal Item and the Toro.

They have improved slightly since our last trip although some of the grilled items I will rate them as average for the taste and the grilling. Bar the out of the way location, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. I would very likely return again to try out the other dishes I have missed but first, let me feed my piggy bank; it’s running on empty stomach now. :D/>

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 11:45 AM

Do note that Kushi had shifted to:

36 Newton Road,
#03-01
Hotel Royal
Singapore 307964

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