Chiso Zanmai Hot
At this Osaka-originated all-you-can-eat, 100 varieties of kaiseki-sized dishes are crammed into 8,000 sq ft of space, spanning from sashimi and sushi to shabu-shabu. Specialities include a salmon hotpot with miso soup and okonomiyaki (savoury pancake). Cost: adults $14.90-$29.90; children (below 1m) $9.90-$14.90; seniors (above 60) $12.90-$27.90.
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For the price, you really can't expect much, and I didn't.
While the sashimi and other seafood options didn't seem fresh, they were available in multitudes, and I suppose my buffet philosophy has always been quantity over quality, since you are going to be stuffing your face anyway. The staff was rather slow in restocking the food options, but I will credit them for not having run out of food by the end of the night, given how packed the place was with people.
I suppose I can't fault them for anything given the low price, really, I've always been a sucker for cheap buffets, and with Sakae Sushi having raised its price and all other options around being too unaffordable (I do love my shopping and my other recreational activities too, and therefore am always reluctant to spend too much on food), I suppose this is an option really worth considering, at least.
Huge Disappointment :(
I have to say that Chiso Zanmai was a MAJOR disappointment. :( I was really hyped up and excited about going to the restaurant because it seemed pretty good when I searched it online - it had a pretty good location too (Central, Clarke Quay), so I had assumed that it would be of quality. When I first stepped into the restaurant, it was super huge and had a magnificent view of the surroundings - even though I did not see beside the windows, the view was still pretty nice.
Little did I know I was in for a HUGE disappointment - the salmon sashimi was not fresh and tasted kind of weird, the food was just not fresh and slightly cold too. There was even a LARGE group of tourists when I went there so the whole place was pretty much dominated by them - I had to queue for super long just to get some food. Mind, you, the place was HUGE yet not large enough to accommodate everyone.
In sum, the food was a disappointment - it didn't even come close to mediocre standard and was not fresh. Don't go there.
Average or slightly below average (Disappointed)
I had high hopes for this buffet as I have heard many good reviews about it and read that they have over 100 different kinds of Japanese food available. With that in mind, I went there with my family to check out how is it different from the others.
Finding the place can be a little hassle but luckily there was signs to guide us there. There was a lot of people as it was lunch time but we had booked before hand and soon find our self a place to sit. Now the food, I was utterly disappointed with what they had. The advertised over 100 dishes is a hoax and there are barely even 30-40 dishes there, the variety was so little that I find myself eating the same thing again after the second plate. The hotpot was also limited to a few vegetables, 2 different noodles, 1 meat and some others only. The desserts were also limited but was good (I like the lemon cheese cake).
I did not really find myself experiencing Japanese food there which is what the buffet should be about although they have sushi there (there are no tempura and miso soup too, a Japanese buffet without tempura is unacceptable to me). The quality of the food was also below average because the sushi are unevenly cut and some falls apart easily. The replenishing speed was not too bad as I was able to get the sashimi, haha. The taste was just average and at times I find myself feeling Sakura International buffet is better than Chiso Zanmai.
Overall, I would say the value is good for lunch only but other than that, you might want to look at other alternatives like sakura or seoul garden.
Look Out for Monthly Special
Wanting to try buffet and could not afford the high-end price? Going to Chiso Zanmai would be the right choice. The lunch cost around $14.90++ while additional charges are applicable to drinks ($2). This price lured me over to their restaurant many times when my cash are tight yet I’m craving for a Japanese buffet. Chiso Zanmai was first introduced by my best friend for its affordable and cozy surrounding. We patronized here lots of time over the recent years. (Lesser crowds during the weekdays)
Every single time I come, I tend to look out for the new menu board with special for the month. Never going to give that a miss. Standard foods that I would take are the ebi prawn, takoyaki, chawanmushi, sushi, sashimi, octopus and many more! Thinking of all this food makes me hungry. Though the choices of the food are limited (5-6 per category), I still felt that it is worthwhile. Could not expect more since their food display area are limited too. OH! There is a mini steamboat in a stone bowl for you to get your soup and have it warm while savoring other side dishes. So thoughtful. Really liked to come here once in a while and relax. (Best to come earlier and choose a seat that could face the Singapore River).
"Paying for the ambiance"
I've been to Chiso Zanmai four times now, although I can't say the food was what brought me back.
Chiso Zanmai is clever in trying to get customers to return. It offers relatively low prices for a seemingly 'posh' buffet restaurant and a reasonably large buffet spread for its price. There are, of course, quite a few catches.
While the buffet spread is admittedly impressive in terms of quantity, the quality of the food isn't great. Simple dishes like their pork cutlets and chawanmushi fail to impress, while other dishes such the pork belly were fantastic. The cold food section was pretty sub-standard, with dishes like tofu and cold soba noodles. They did however, have sashimi! That came as quite the surprise as you wouldn't normally expect sashimi for such low prices. One other condition that they 'forgot' to mention was that free-flow drinks were an extra $2 per head. Seriously?
Now, one of the main reasons why I kept going back to Chiso Zanmai was the fact that the ambiance there was simply amazing, especially for it's price. The decor is mainly white in colour and the restaurant has huge glass windows, which keeps the place extremely well-lit during the daytime. It does, however, make the place a little warm. The food is laid out and plated nicely, and the dessert section was well-organised, with the toppings arranged neatly. The desserts themselves were also quite tasty! To top it all off, there was also a ramen counter, which was really just a table with a guy pouring soup into bowls, but impressive nonetheless.
All in all, Chiso Zanmai offers a good buffet spread at affordable prices, and plain food masquerading as up-market fare with help from the restaurant's fantastic ambiance.
Cheap but not that good
Chiso Zanmai is priced rather affordably especially so for a Japanese buffet.
The spread - I would say that this is pretty average. Except that most of the dishes look unappetising and unappealing and I didn't really consider helping myself to a serving of it.
The taste - For those that I tried, the food just tastes cook? Like a piece of meat that is cooked and edible and you can just eat it, similar to how I would describe my own cooking, just edible for sustenance. Except that this is a business and a restaurant and the food is supposed to taste good! The sashimi is just alright, not very fresh. But hey it's sashimi and look at the price you are paying for a seemingly endless supply of sashimi (which is generally expensive in Japanese restaurants)
I would highly recommend this for those with an enormous appetite because it will definitely be worth your money. And for those of us who are more concerned with quality than quatity, this is not the place to be.
Cheap and good
I was there on a National Day public holiday with some friends for dinner. We intended to go for a buffet on that day and decided on this as the price was attractive.
We paid a total of around 112 bucks nett for 3 after ++, which we thought was okay considering it was a jap dinner buffet during a public holiday at that. Though the variety wasn't magnificent, the quality more than made for it in my opinion. Rather than quantity, this place had the quality for most of the food items. The desserts like the cakes and puddings fared better than a holiday buffet which had 3 tiers and all I went to previously. The brownies stood out exceptionally.
Their matcha items were hell good too, the green tea taste really standing out.
All in all, I would really go back because of the price and overall the food.
Cheap Japanese Buffet
I had a gathering with my colleagues here because it was a cheaper Japanese buffet and also because of the central location. The first time I was there, we were given seats facing the famous bak kut teh shop.
You needed to pay an additional cost if you wanted to have drink with your buffet. They have quite a selection of drinks and the drinks are free flow. Take the sjora drink, that drink cost a lot when you buy from food court and those came with a lot of ice. Here, you can have it without ice and as many glasses as your bladder can take.
The food quality was not that good and the variety was also not that much. But given the price, it should still be considered as value for money. I had a lot of the squids in the small bowl, it tasted nice and it was not too filling so I could take many bowls.
not the good cheap!
The best thing about this place is the ambiance. It overlooks the busy main street and gigantic ERP sign. The decor stands out as sparkling new and the place is spacious. I just wish the food was better. Because we went during dinner, it wasn't exactly cheap either.
They have two entrances, one through the swanky G.O.D shop. But there was no one standing there attending to people walking in and there wasn't any signage either. So it was confusing especially since they require you to pay first.
The variety is actually alright for what you pay for but food quality wise it was the worse Japanese buffet we have been to. Sushi selection was terrible, ramen was bad, raw sea food felt like the frozen boxes kind. Dessert was definitely below average for a buffet. My partner was actually really mad I took her here and gave up eating halfway in anger. She now jokes that she's going to take me there for my birthday. Was hoping to discover a good and affordable Japanese buffet. Oh well!
I guess if you have to come here, make sure its during lunch. The price alone would make it very worthwhile but don't eat dinner here.
you get what you pay for
I was extremely put off by the long queue when I first stepped into the restaurant. I was told that I had to wait a whooping one hour before I could get a seat. Nevertheless, we decided to wait because there is nothing much left to eat in Clake Quay.
When we finally got a seat, we decided to dive right to the sashimi and tempura and chawanmushi . There was quite alot of variety for a buffet for $15. After afew rounds of food, we were really full despite seemingly eating quite little and we decided to go for dessert. The mini cakes were rather yummy and ice cream was awesome as it always is.
Though the food is not exceptionally nice, the thing that will keep me going back is the price. One can hardly find buffets for $15 anymore. Do remember to make a reservation beforehand first though.