Photo: Kuishin Bo
We know sometimes a moriawase (Japanese for "combination platter") just won't do – a full-fledged sashimi buffet counter is what you need; sushi rolls, mochi cakes and ramen bowls are all so much better when they are free flow. Steaming hot bowls of udon, freshly fried tempura, refreshingly cold soba noodles – take your pick and pile those plates with as much as you can stomach, or carry.
We pick four places where you can gorge on all things Japanese, and then gorge some more.
For the most affordable weekday lunch Japanese buffet in town
Prices at Chiso Zanmai start at $14.99 (weekday lunch) for an all-you-can-eat spread of appetisers, sushi, teppanyaki dishes, ramen, tempura and desserts. Come dinnertime, the prices do go up ($24.99-$29.99) but so do the options – more portions of salmon, tuna and octopus sashimi are added, as are prawn tempura and chicken wings. Their ramen bowls do pack a flavour punch, the spicy shoyu ramen in particular (the options are regularly rotated but there will always be two choices). From the appetiser counter, the agedashi tofu and chawanmushi are dependable bites that run out fast, as is the matcha (green tea) tofu. Top up an additional $1.99 for free-flow drinks like coffee, tea and juice. Prices for senior citizens are $2 lower than the regular buffet rate.
Book a table here | Address: #02-17, The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street | Buffet hours: Daily noon-3pm, 6-10pm | Prices: (Lunch) Mon-Fri $14.99 per person; Sat-Sun $19.99 per person (Dinner) Sun-Thu $24.99; Fri-Sun $29.99
For excellent quality buffet
This is as good as it gets when it comes to Japanese food done buffet-style: there are more than 80 dishes to pick from – thick-cut sashimi, handrolls with fillings ready to burst out of their seaweed wraps, natto (fermented soybeans) with tuna or squid, generous portions of grilled meat, and – hold your breath – grilled salmon heads, to name a few. Though the food won't win any innovative awards, it sets a good standard for the rest in our list. It's worth splurging a little to opt for the premium buffet to get one-time orders of uni (sea urchin), otoro (tuna belly), oysters and other premium morsels. Its best-known outlet is the one at Alexandra Road.
Book a table here | Address: 991B Alexandra Rd #01-08/09 l Buffet hours: Daily 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm | Prices:(Lunch) Mon-Fri $41.80 per person; Sat-Sun $44 per person. (Dinner) Mon-Fri $43.90 per person; Sat-Sun $48.90 per person. (Premium buffet) Daily $102.96 per person.
Photo: Irodori Japanese Restaurant
For buffet by the river
Reservations are recommended at this mid-sized restaurant. But of course, the a la carte buffet menu entices with some 108 dishes covering everything from sashimi and sushi to tempura, tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet), yakitori (grilled skewered meat), ramen, rice (curry rice included) and agemono (deep-fried dishes). The star dishes are the makis, and our favourite is the Irodori maki: a California roll-inspired maki stuffed with lobster salad. We also recommend the crisp nasu miso itame (thin eggplant strips lightly pan-fried and coated with a miso sauce) and the more-Korean-than-Japanese kimchi pork belly, both on the teppanyaki menu. Larger groups would do well to book one of the three private dining rooms, the largest of which overlooks the Singapore River along Robertson Quay, so you can feel like you're on top of the world while stuffing your face (and nobody will judge you).
Book a table here | Address: 382 Havelock Road, Riverview Hotel #03-01| Tel: 67372002 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm | Prices: $43.31 per person
For excellent shabu shabu
With a buffet spread like Kome’s, you might find yourself too distracted (or focused) to enjoy the restaurant's spacious and green surroundings at The Keppel Club. So arrive early with the children (it's $12++ per child, for both lunch and dinner), and settle in to make your picks off the a la carte buffet menu of more than 100 dishes. If you must prioritise, have your fill of the fresh, thick-cut sashimi and all-you-can-eat shabu shabu, made up of flavourful broth and teems with long cabbage, golden mushrooms, tofu, tang oh vegetable (garland chrysanthemum) and sliced beef, pork and chicken. If you still have room, there is more from which to choose – assorted tempura, grilled salmon head, shisamo (pregnant fish), yakiniku (grilled meat), and agemono. For dessert, have some mango and strawberry mochi (glutinous rice cake) to top it all off.
Book a table here | Address: 10 Bukit Chermin Road l Buffet hours: Daily noon-3pm, 6.30pm-10pm | Prices: (Lunch) $44.46 per adult, $14 per child. (Dinner) $57.33 per adult, $14 per child.
For the roasts and grills
Kuishin Bo’s buffets are so popular, the restaurant chain has spawned two other outlets (Jurong Point and Great World City) since it first opened at Suntec City in 2001. The buffet spread features fresh seafood, sushi and sashimi, salads, appetisers, tempura and desserts. Those in the know go there for the ultra-fresh and sweet Zuwaikani snow crabs, which are either served au naturel or marinated in sweet vinegar. Try the tobanyaki (roast on a ceramic plate) – take your pick of salmon, beef, chicken or gindara (cod fish) and they will be roasted a la minute. Great, too, is the charcoal grill that serves up a perfectly smoked rack of lamb.
Book a table here | Address: #02-41A/42 Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm | Prices: (Lunch) Mon-Fri $38.50 per adult, $22.10 per child; Sat-Sun $40.80 per adult, $22.10 per child. (Dinner) Mon-Thu $53.07 per adult, $22.10 per child; Fri-Sun $58.40 per adult, $22.10 per child.