Dinner at Kuishinbo

So we finally tried this Japanese buffet place (that has an outlet at Suntec apparently, but also one at Jurong Point) – it was something like $43++ per adult so we paid $100 in total. Why the price? They’ve got Alaskan King crabs and snow crabs on the seafood bar, as well as plenty of nigiri sushi and the occasional lobster. Plus, it’s a buffet! We certainly had our fill of crab that night!

THE SEAFOOD STATION

Here are the crab legs on ice


And these ginormous ones I deshelled. Advice? Go for the king crab legs instead of the snow crab legs. The king crab legs are replenished much more infrequently than the snow crab legs, but they are pretty tasty. Not as great as the extremely fresh king crab we had at Kingsley’s Steak and Crab House in Sydney, but still good.


Prawns and mussels on ice.


We were pretty good about giving everything a fair trial. The prawns were fresh, the mussels not really worth eating, but the crab was the clear winner here. Just a squeeze of lemon will do, they are awfully briny (in a good way). They also provide these awesome japanese scissors that allow you to cut right through the crab shell like it was made of paper or something.

THE HOKKAIDO STATION
We had some chasoba

The soba dipping sauce was pretty nice, and you can dress it with all the scallions and seaweed you want. We had two helpings of this!
They also had this interesting/weird potato mochi thing –

It is small but extremely filling – tasty too, particularly the charred bits, but you can’t eat too much of it.


There was a teppanyaki bar that fries up chicken, beef, vegetables, etc. for you so liangze got these beef cubes. They are super tender and marbled all the way through. It didn’t really seem to get much business though – I guess most people were there for the fresh seafood!

We didn’t get to try these:

The takopachi


Some battered vegetable fritter


Can’t remember if these were fish or chilis in a spring roll pastry.

THE SOUP STATION

The miso soup was pretty ordinary, but you get to add your own taupok and tofu and scallions. At the soup station they also had some ginseng congee that we didn’t get to try. Unlimited soup/congee garnishes, like ginger, picked ginger, deep fried shallots, etc.

THE BREAD STATION
True to form, nobody touched the bread bar, even though the breads and butter/jam looked pretty appealing.

They even had some cranberry scone like bread:

Perhaps it was because the cheese section was so pathetic. Really. Look at this:

It was like this for the entire night, no one refilled it or even bothered to make it look palatable, although a few pieces of brie did disappear.

THE SUSHI STATION

Only my favorite sushi ever since I don’t take raw fish :P The egg had split apart into strands though, which was kind of strange – usually it’s a solid block that’s lightly sweetened.


Some pork sushi – never seen before!


Rice-on-the-outside sushi – evidently I don’t know the actual names for any of these, nor the point of this. It’s so difficult to eat! You can’t bite it in half neatly because of the seaweed in the middle, so the whole thing kinda falls apart at your first bite. The shichimi on top looks really pretty though.


Next to the sushi was the salad bar, with lots of surimi crab salad, potato salad (I tried this, it’s pretty good, but then I like potato salad), tuna salad, etc.


Of course there is the sashimi – tuna and salmon. Perhaps some white fish, although I didn’t notice. Don’t expect anything fancy though.


The most interesting thing on the sushi bar for me was this humongous soy sauce dispenser – like it was dispensing punch or something. The soy sauce there is pretty good – sushi grade.

THE FRUIT BAR
Mainly tropical fruits, not a whole lot of selection, unlike Ellenborough Market Cafe, and certainly no durian (although I would have loved that – not sure what the Japanese’s take on durian is)

Serrated papaya.


Little wodges of watermelon


Cubes of dragonfruit, which would have gone well with lobster salad, had they had it.

These are all extremely cheap in Singapore.

THE DESSERT STATION
The best part of the dessert station was undeniably the Hokkaido lavender soft-serve ice cream.

We had three cups of this. Best naked, without any toppings. They also had some rather good panna cotta, but everything else was completely underwhelming and not worth the caloric content.


Little itty bitty cheese cakes


Mango mousse cakes


Chocolate bark with almonds


Matcha mousses


Chocolate swiss rolls


Mini eclairs – you see what I mean? They buy boxes and boxes of frozen desserts and just thaw them to serve on the spot. We get these eclairs from the horrible inhouse caterers at my company!


Konnyaku jelly – I guess you can’t really screw these up.


The chocolate fountain. This was mainly made of poor quality chocolate and what seems to be shortening. The chocolate hardened upon impact (think Magic Shell), there was nothing fondue-like about it. There are various things for you to dip into the fountain – marshmallows, crackers, grapes and strawberries. You can put anything you want in it really, no one polices this.

One good thing about Kuishinbo is the fact that they limit the number of diners to the restaurant, so everyone gets a fair shot at the seafood. They don’t attempt to overbook the place, and if you have reserved a table there, you have it for the night, which explains why it’s so pricey I guess – they don’t have two sittings unlike other places like Cajun Kings where we routinely spend >$100 on crab.

One bad thing about Kuishinbo is the bell-ringing fiasco – now this is a unique feature to the restaurant – I have not heard of any other buffet joint “training” their customers quite so Pavlovianly. Randomly through the night, (only happened twice while we were there), someone in a corner rings a bell (literally), and all the diners jump up and rush toward the bell to queue for whatever special is being dished out at the source of the bell ringing. Think of cowherd rounding up his cows. Or a seal tamer dishing out little fish at the zoo. You get the picture. I had read about this practice online but wasn’t quite prepared for the spectacle that followed – literally everyone jumped out of their seat and ran, ran towards the bell (it was ringing right next to us) like they were escaping a burning building and formed a long queue. The first dish they were giving out was black pepper lobster. The second “special” was little containers of fruit jelly. It was quite amazing. I felt like I was in a human zoo. We didn’t queue for anything, although the black pepper lobster looked pretty good. It just seemed so regressive and devolutionary. So you see why so many of our politicians do politics with a carrot and stick – it’s just easy. And Singaporeans are a very pragmatic people with very unusual ideas about dignity.

Would I go back? Probably not. But one never knows when another crab craving will hit. I know I will one day regret posting all these crab pictures here, particularly if I leave for my PhD next year :S

Note: The dinner buffet is cheaper at Jurong Point than at Suntec City, for obvious accessibility reasons. If you live in the West it’s probably more worth it to go to the Jurong Point one.

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