People don’t usually have good things to say about Orchard Central. Admittedly, the mall’s layout is rather confusing, with lots of strange turns, and nooks and crannies. But I’ve actually grown quite fond of it of late. It is, after all, home to homegrown fashion labels such as Sabrinagoh, Reckless Erica and Blackmarket. But the other reason why it’s my go-to mall in town is because of the number of quality food outlets that are housed there.
Tanuki Raw, which serves up quality, value-for-money lunch sets (be sure not to miss the steak tartare don!).
Seventh Heaven, which will astonish you with its wide selection of decadent desserts and ice cream (I personally love their waffles with Salty Caramel ice cream, butter and maple syrup).
EWF, for its gorgeous Nutella Tart.
The mall adds yet another eatery to its stable with the opening of Japanese hotpot restaurant Shabu Sai (the restaurant’s second after its outlet at Causeway Point), and Material World was recently invited there for a tasting. Now, let me state that I’m not usually a fan of hotpot – I mean, isn’t the whole point of eating out NOT to have to cook your own food?! But I went with an open mind, and was not disappointed.
Offering a selection of seven soup bases, Shabu Sai also boasts of more than 60 items on its buffet. In addition to pork, chicken and beef, you’ll also find sushi and seafood items such as mussels and prawns.
You can choose up to two soup bases, and I opted for its most popular choices – Tonkotsu and Sukiyaki. The former is thick and rich, while the latter is lighter and “cleaner”, so they provide a good contrast to each other. The stock was flavourful, but the only gripe I had was that they were both too salty. The restaurant can definitely afford to cut back on its use of salt in its soups After all, when you throw in an assortment of ingredients that includes meat, seafood and vegetables, these will go a long way in sweetening the broth.
I did like that fact that the meats came thinly sliced – the beef remained tender and tasty even though I’d left it boiling in the soup for a little too long at one point.
The affordable prices will definitely be a huge draw as well. Weekday lunch prices are at just $16.99 (and goes up to $29.99 for weekend dinners), and the buffet variety is exactly the same as for dinner. Throw in another $1.99 and you’ll also get to enjoy a free flow of drinks and soft serve ice cream.
I enjoyed my dinner at Shabu Sai, and I daresay that it’s going to provide neighbouring Japanese buffet restaurant Kiseki a run for its money. But more importantly, I came away with it actually seeing the point of going for hotpot. It’s actually a fantastic option when you’re dining out with friends, because there’s plenty of time to engage in conversation with them as you wait for the food to be cooked. And isn’t the great conversation the whole point of dinner with friends, anyway?
Shabu Sai is at #08-09/10/11 Orchard Central. Call 6884 6760 for reservations.
Material World was invited for a tasting at Shabu Sai. All opinions expressed are the author’s own.
About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Lastly, she believes that everyone should make it a point to travel solo at least once in their lives. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets
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