Shin Yuu Japanese Restaurant II – Higher Expectations, Lower Standards

11 02 2012

The last time I visited Shin Yuu was 2 years back. In my view at that time, it was one of the best ala-carte Japanese Buffets around for its price range of about $50. I knew of some friends who loved it so much that they visited it on three consecutive weeks after discovering it. My lastest visit though, confirmed rumours that standards have since fallen.

However, I wouldn’t consider it a wasted trip since this was a SMU Gourmet Club event and I only paid $20 for the lunch buffet, the remainder being subsidized by school/club funds. The usual price for Lunch Buffet is $36.90++, while Dinner Buffet is priced at $49.90++. The buffet menu is essentially the same for lunch and dinner and the only difference would be the one-time only (premium) orders that are served at the start of the meal.

Personally, I’m not really the buffet sort. I hate having to sieve through mounds and mounds of dishes just to find a few semi-decent ones, not to mention most non ala-carte buffets have their dishes being left out for god knows how long, compromising on quality and freshness. Fortunately for us, such problems wasn’t faced at Shin Yuu since it’s an ala-carte buffet and dishes are freshly prepared upon order.

We first had a one-time only order of Seared Minced Tuna Belly Sushi and Smoked Duck (seen in background). The tuna sushi is pretty good and I would have ordered seconds if it wasn’t a premium item, but don’t go expecting to taste much of the tuna belly though as the savoury sauce more or less conceals its taste. The Shin Yuu Special Aburi Special (in foreground, multiple orders allowed) is in essence a seared salmon sushi coated with a layer of mentaiko sauce. This combination works and I had multiple orders. I have to say the minced tuna sushi and salmon aburi sushis are probably my Shin Yuu favourites.

Just a meme that I made to complement this post. We know this is too true.

The Sashimi Moriawase aka Mixed Sashimi Platter included slices of Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish, Kingfish and Octopus Sashimi. The sashimi tasted rather muted and barely thawed (especially the swordfish), but this is to be expected of buffet standards.

Tamago Nigiri Sushi

Had I not been so full already, I would have probably enjoyed the Shin Yuu Special Sakana Chiizu (“Dory Fish topped with Cheese”) a whole lot more. I had a few rich dishes and by the time I reached this dish, the excessive cheese coating came across as much too cloying. The dory is fried well though with a nice light crispy batter.

The Ika Sugatayaki (“Squid with Sweet Soy Sauce”) suffered a case of over-grilling, such that it became too tough to chew in some areas. You can probably skip this.

While friend C commented that the Buta Misoyaki (Pork Loin with Miso Sauce) had an overly porky taste, I thought it was fine as the thick miso sauce helped to mask the gamey scent she had mentioned. I’m a sucker for fatty pork dishes anyways.

One of the better dishes from Shin Yuu, I found the Hotate Mentaiyaki (Grilled Scallops with Cod Roe Sauce) pretty fresh, with the scallops having a nice springy texture.

The Saba Shioyaki (Mackerel with Salt) comes across as very average to me, probably not much different from what you can get at a nice Japanese food court stall. The one at Kaiho Sushi, ah that’s one to be remembered.

The Ebi Tempura is something worth ordering too. The prawns aren’t as sweet as I would have liked but it’s fried nicely, with the batter remaining crisp for a noticeably lengthy period when it was left on my table.

The Shin Yuu Special Ebi Miso Mayo Yaki (“Prawns with Miso and Mayonnaise Sauce”, left of picture) is one of my favourite items on the menu. It arrives looking like an orh lua (oyster omelette) with a slight outer crisp of fried cheesy mayo that is really yummy. On the other hand, the Tebasaki (“Grilled Chicken Wing”) is glazed in a sweet sauce and proves to be simple comfort food.

The most disappointing dish today was the Kuruma Ebi Teriyaki (“Tiger Prawn with Sweet Soy Sauce”). The prawns had a fishy odour, so much so that I left it untouched after a small nibble.

The Wafu Tenderloin Steak (left) is forgettable as well. The beef isn’t marbled, nor is the sauce remarkable enough to warrant an extra order. I liked the Spare Ribs Teriyaki (right) though, the pork is well marinated, tender and falls off the bone easily. As for the Grilled Salmon Head (background), you can just give it a miss as well.

I really love Kani Karaage (Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab) but the ones here lack flavour. The crabs lack its natural sweetness and I tasted more batter than crab.

The Shin Yuu Speicial Chawanmushi with Salmon Roe is competently done here, exceeding expectations. The egg is light and smooth, lacking any discernable air bubbles. The Shin Yuu Special Makimono (“Unagi with Avocado Sushi”) would have been better if they were more generous with the eel.

One of my grouses here was that the sushi tends to have less ingredients and more rice as lunch progresses on. All in all, compared to the time I last visited 2 years ago, I’m now finding it hard to think of a good reason to come back and at the lunch price of around $45, I’d rather settle for a simple lunch set at reputable Japanese restaurants elsewhere. For buffet lovers however, it might possibly be worthwhile to drop by Shin Yuu if you are around the area.

Bon Appetit!

Shin Yuu Japanese Restaurant

16 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park

Tel: +65 6763 4939

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