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Dining: Value-for-money Buffet with Variety at Ikoi Japanese Restaurant

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Looking for a good Japanese buffet meal in town?  The one place to go is Ikoi Japanese Restaurant at Hotel Miramar Singapore.  Ikoi serves a la carte buffet that you order from the menu.  There is no restriction on the number of dishes you order and it is free-flow eating.

Ikoi has been around for quite some time.  In fact, it will turn 11 in March next year.  With so many new Japanese restaurants mushrooming up in Singapore, one would have thought that business at older establishments such as Ikoi will suffer.  This was not the case.  Ikoi is still a popular restaurant and you definitely need to make a reservation especially during the weekends.

The décor of Ikoi is like any typical Japanese restaurant, with the chefs preparing the sashimi and sushi in the centre.  Seating was quite crammed with wooden tables and chairs occupying every conceivable space.

Its menu is divided into categories such as Sashimi (raw fish) assorted, Sushi and maki mono, Tempura and Agemono (deep fried dishes), Sonoto (side dishes) and Desserts.

Before we could order, we were served with some small complimentary dishes just like the pickles or peanuts given at Chinese restaurants.  One of them was a small piece of salmon seared in teriyaki sauce ‒ a good gesture to start our meal.

For sashimi, we had sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), hamachi (yellow tail), mekajiki (swordfish) and tai (snapper) except ika (cuttlefish) and tako (octopus).  The sashimi tasted fresh and the piece of each type of fish served was sliced thick enough for us to savour the taste.

Under the sushi and maki mono section, we opted for the sake sushi, maguro sushi, hamachi sushi, mekajiki sushi and saba sushi (mackerel).  They tasted good but we had to discard some of the rice in the sushi so as not to fill ourselves up to make room for the other dishes.

We also ordered the California temaki (handroll), salmon skin temaki, yakimono (broil dishes) and the cocktail bacon maki (cocktail roll).  The ingredients in the handroll were done to perfection.  We particularly liked the cocktail bacon maki.  The bacon was slightly salty and added flavour to the maki.

The yakitori (skewered chicken) was a bigger version of our local satay.  The chicken meat was well marinated and soft.

We tried the mixed tempura (assorted) and also the tonkatsu (pork cutlet).  The tempura had a mixture of vegetables and prawns.  They were skilfully prepared and not coated with oil.  The crust of the tonkatsu was a little hard on the outside.  We would have preferred some sauce to go with the pork cutlet.

During our meal, the restaurant also served another complimentary ‘steamboat’ dish.  Each table is entitled to one ‘steamboat’.  It is like a little pot on a stove.  The ingredients in the pot were mostly vegetables.  It was a surprise especially when we had so much to eat.

For the side dishes (or sonota), we chose chawanmushi (custard egg), agedashi tofu (deepfried tofu) and ramen (char siew noodles soup).  The chawanmushi was passable as we had tasted better ones at other top-end Japanese restaurants.  The outside covering of the agedashi tofu was crispy and yet, the dish was soft and silky inside.

Out of curiosity, we tried the ramen, which was char siew noodles soup.  The stock of the soup was thick and robust.  There were slices of char siew in the noodles soup.

The price of the buffet does not include desserts, and offerings under the desserts section mostly comprise different types of ice cream.  The serving staff told us that their ice creams are air-flown from Japan.

We chose the matcha (green tea) ice cream (S$5/-) and the goma (black sesame) ice cream (S$6/-).  If you want some red beans in your ice cream, it will cost an additional S$1/-.  Both types of ice cream did not disappoint.  The flavours of the green tea and black sesame were strong in both desserts.  For the black-sesame ice cream, we added some red beans, which were well cooked and soft and they complemented perfectly with the ice cream.

Despite the packed crowd on Sunday, the dishes came promptly.  The a la carte buffet is value for money as there is variety and the sashimi is fresh. The seating capacity at the restaurant is 108 persons including the private rooms upstairs.  Also, the minimum number to book the private room is 12 diners.

Adult: S$35++ (same price for lunch and dinner, desserts not included)

Address: 401 Havelock Road

Lobby Level, Main Wing

#01-01 Hotel Miramar Singapore

Singapore 169631

Opens Daily: Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Dinner:  6 pm – 11 pm

Tel: +65-6887-3788

Note: Unless otherwise stated, Biz Daily pays for all the meals reviewed in Dining.