I was invited for a food tasting session which took me to this restaurant in the HDB heartlands…
Shinkei Japanese Restaurant 「しんけい」 opened for business on 10th Oct 2013 in Toa Payoh, offering a Japanese ala carte buffet. On weekdays, they also have a set lunch menu with 6 different choices of bentos.
A selection of 145 dishes are available on the ala carte buffet menu and customers will be spoilt for choice! Crowd favourites are the sashimi, tempura and yakitori dishes.
Before we talk more about the food, here’s a look at the interior of the restaurant…
If you are planning a large family gathering, or dining with friends or colleagues, the restaurant has some private rooms available at no extra charge. You can request for a private room for your party when you make your reservation, but do note that there is a minimum headcount of 10 persons to get a private room.
This particular room can host up to 35 people but if the groups are not that big, then the space can actually be divided into two rooms by moving the folding partition across the middle of the room.
These were some of the dishes which we had tried…
Goma Tofu (Sesame Tofu) – This complimentary appetizer (changes daily) was a cold tofu, with a creamy sesame dressing which was very fragrant.
Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard) – The egg was smooth and had a piece of chicken, shimeji mushroom and gingko nut in it.
Shabu Salada (Pork Salad) – Quite a nice salad which had a fragrant sesame dressing and the pork slices were cooked just right.
Jagimo Salada (Potato Salad) – The potato in this salad was quite firm and had vegetable bits in it. I managed to pick up one serving intact with my chopsticks! Tastewise it was not bad but I think this dish may be a bit heavy and not leave much room in your stomach to try out the other dishes. ^_^
Shake Miso Jiru (Miso soup with salmon) – I didn’t really like this miso soup as I found the salmon to be a bit fishy. My preference is for salmon to be grilled or baked, rather than cooked in soups as I don’t think this fish tastes good in soups!
Seafood Somen Salad – This was one of the Chef’s specials which changes daily. The cold noodles come with a prawn, shreds of crab meat and is seasoned with a salad dressing which made this dish quite refreshing.
SASHIMI / SUSHI
Ebi Tempura Maki (Tempura Prawn Sushi Roll) – This sushi roll is stuffed with a fried prawn and avocado. It was okay.
California Temaki (California Handroll) – I didn’t eat this as there were more dishes to come and I had to leave room in my stomach! It looked pretty though…
Spider Temaki (Soft Shell Crab Handroll) – The soft shell crab was nice and crisp but the seaweed was a little limp and soggy. I’m not sure whether that was due to us spending too much time photographing it and thus it was left sitting for some time! LOL…
There’s quite a variety of sashimi options and they are very fresh! Spotted a typo error on the menu as #5 should have been spelled as “Shake Aburi Sashimi” and that partially roasted salmon was nice.
Sashimi Moriawase (Assorted Sashimi Platter) – For starters, you can order this sashimi platter (the portion shown here serves 4-5 persons but 2 of us shared this and almost finished the whole plate!), then re-order just the ones that you like best. I thought the presentation looked good with the salmon rose and the wasabi shaped like leaves.
SHIN Sushi Set (Sushi – Tuna/Salmon/Swordfish) – This looked pretty and the sushi rice was pressed quite compactly but it lacked the taste of vinegar. The raw fish was fresh but the rice didn’t have that authentic Japanese flavour so I was a little disappointed.
KEI Sushi Set (Sushi – Shrimp/Crabstick/Sweet Egg Omelette) – Only tried the egg one as I love tamagoyaki but I think I can cook a better version of it! The taste of the dashi stock and mirin in the egg was quite light and I prefer if it had a stronger flavour. Being a seasoned traveller to Japan, one of the dishes that I tend to judge restaurants by is their tamagoyaki. Anyway, those who can’t tell the difference may like the one here.
YAKIMONO (Grilled Dish)
The restaurant takes pride in the fact that this made in-house. As a result, it is rather labour intensive but they want customers to enjoy their grilled dishes rather than getting those from a supplier which may not have the same quality.
The grill used for cooking these dishes can be seen in the far right of the next picture but I was too busy enjoying my food and didn’t go take a picture of the chefs in action! :p
Yaki Tori (Chicken in skewer) – The succulent chicken pieces were juicy and well marinated. I think this was my favourite dish in the entire buffet!
Tsukune (Chicken Meat Ball) – This ranked second on my favourite list at this buffet. The minced chicken meat was well marinated and there were some crunchy bits in it which felt like cartilage and gave the meatball a different texture, but overall it was a flavour bomb!
Satsuma Age (Home-made Japanese fish cake) – Quite a nice fish cake which was pleasing to the palate.
Asuparagasu Be-Kon (Asparagus Wrapped with Bacon) – The bacon wasn’t that salty (which I like) but I thought the asparagus was a bit dry as the sticks were rather thin and probably grilling had removed all the moisture in it.
Shitake (Japanese mushrooms) – this was my least favourite of the grilled dishes as the mushrooms were dry and chewy.
AGEMONO (Tempura and Deep Fried)
Age Gyoza (Deep Fried Dumpling) – I’m not really a gyoza fan but I must say that this fried version was tasty and was still crispy even when we didn’t eat it immediately after it was served! I would definitely order this again the next time I’m there!
Tempura Moriawase (Assorted Tempura) – This assortment comes with prawns, kisu (fish), eggplant, etc.. I was quite disappointed with the batter as it didn’t taste like authentic tempura batter and was more like a local chinese-style deep fried dish!
Agedashi Tofu (Fried Tofu) – Those who love beancurd will like this as it was quite nicely done and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The outer fried layer doesn’t break away from the tofu when you pick it up, unlike at some other restaurants.
Tako Yaki (Octopus Ball) – This is a deep fried version of the octopus ball and its outer skin was quite crispy unlike those that you can find in Japan which is cooked on a grill. I’ve eaten the famous takoyaki in Osaka so this pales in comparison, but still it has a nice flavour and bite.
Satsuma Imo Roll (Sweet Potato Roll) – This was one of the last fried dishes that was served to us and by then it was towards closing time for lunch and the oil wasn’t fresh anymore, thus you can taste it in the batter. In addition, I felt the batter was a little too thick and didn’t like the texture of it but the sweet potato tasted fine. I am a hugh fan of sweet potatoes but unfortunately this dish didn’t really impress me.
Teppanyaki, Pizza, Rice
Yaki Gyuniku (Stir-fried beef) – Tastewise it was good but I felt that the beef strips were a little chewy and not as tender as I would have liked them to be.
Hamubekon Pizza (Ham Bacon Pizza) – This was quite a nice pizza and I enjoyed it.
Ninniku Yaki Meshi (Garlic Fried Rice) – I didn’t try this as I was already quite stuffed at the end of the meal (plus I don’t like garlic), but others who did eat it said that it was very fragrant!
Verdict: Must try dishes are the sashimi, grilled dishes and age gyoza. I liked that this eat-all-you-can buffet has a wide variety of dishes to choose from.
Shinkei Japanese Restaurant 「しんけい」
600@Toa Payoh, Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #01-06/07/09/10
Phone: +65 6255 5598
Price & Opening Hours:
LUNCH: 11.00am -2.30pm (Last Order: 2.15pm)
Child: $22++ (Below 10 years old)
DINNER: 6pm – 10.30pm (Last Order: 9.45pm)
Adult: $35++ (Sun to Thurs)
Child: $24++ (Below 10 years old)
Adult:$38++ (Fri, Sat, Eve of PH)
Child: $26++ (Below 10 years old)
By MRT: Toa Payoh station, take Exit C and walk for about 5 min.
By Bus: 88, 157, 163, 535
If you are coming from the direction of Toa Payoh Library, the restaurant is located at the same building which houses McDonald’s and BBQ Chicken.
Walk through the glass doors and you should be able to find the restaurant.
Alternatively, if you are travelling along Toa Payoh Lorong 4, you should be able to easily spot the restaurant.