Japanese buffets are a dime a dozen these days and the glutton in me is hardly complaining because a competitive F&B scene is music to anyone’s ears. Word of mouth and scrolling through Facebook daily led me to Mitsuba Japanese Restaurant, located on the third floor of The Central shopping mall at Clarke Quay.
Its ala-carte buffet promotion promises variety and value for money without compromising on quality. There are over 120 items on the menu plus a killer view of Clarke Quay to boot if you’re lucky enough to snag a seat by the window.
Lunch starts at 11.30am and the last order has to be placed by 2.30pm. Diners are also required to leave by 3pm. Dinner is even more confusing, having two separate seatings at 6pm and 8pm. You’re essentially given 80 minutes till your last order and an additional 30 minutes to finish up.
That didn’t pose much of a problem to my friends and I when we dined there but this might be a hassle for big groups looking to catch up after a long week at work or a couple wanting to take their time to sample everything on the menu. Don’t forget that everything is made to order as it is an ala-carte buffet.
However, drinks and desserts aren’t included in the buffet, so do take note! If you’re having a headache simply deciding what to order due to the sheer size of the menu, there are several items that you must not miss out on, either to make your money’s worth or just because they’re that good.
First up would be Mitsuba’s selection of sashimi. That is a no-brainer to most diners and it’s the first page that you would see when you’re browsing through the menu. If you’re fan of thickly-sliced sashimi, then you’re in luck. I was also oddly enamored by the ika sashimi, tossed with ikura roe. It stood out, especially against the usual choices of salmon, tuna and swordfish.
Mitsuba’s handrolls did not disappoint too and the flavoured (and possibly grilled) nori wrap sealed the deal. The salmon and California handrolls received repeated orders from my friends and I, probably till the point where the kitchen got mad at my table, even.
The cooked items are no slouch either. Kids and adults alike will love the crabsticks and cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon plus the similarly styled beef/pork enoki maki. If you’re in the mood to knock back a few beers, the tori karaage, ebi tempura and ika geso serve as good accoutrements.
There’s also the added bonus that they are fried on the spot, so forget your usual image of fried food sitting under the heater lamp for hours on end. Save some space for a serving or two of mentaiko spaghetti. I usually avoid donburi, ramen and other large servings of carbohydrates during a buffet but I made an exception in this case.
As expected from a buffet with such a large menu, there are several items that did not make the mark. The chicken floss handroll was a comical attempt at fusion cuisine and something you shouldn’t waste your calories on. The ebi tempura makimono looked appetising but the deep-fried prawn that was supposed to be the highlight of the dish ruined it instead, having a cold and limp texture even though I expected it to be fried on the spot.
However, these dishes are far and few in between and a return visit is not out of the question, although I’ll be taking up the restaurant’s cheaper and lengthier lunch buffet offer this time round instead. Being able to squeeze in some time to talk compared to madly alternating between filling up an order chit and wolfing down my food is something I’ll gladly wake up earlier for.
Written by ET