(Edit: Apparently Shinara is under new management now. I’m not curious enough for a return visit just yet)
The night started happily enough with green tea froyo ($7) from Azuma. It was a tasty and smooth confection but sitting less than 5m away from Tonton and the crazy awesome scent of karaage was torture. We reasoned that to partake in deep fried chicken less than 2 hours before an all you can eat bbq buffet was an unwise decision. How wrong we were.
We arrive at Shinara (Shop 1, 338 Pitt Street) with four more bloggers and the birthday boy is presented with his coffee. Don’t drink it all in one go Yas!
At the push of a button a waitress materialises and we order a round of drinks along with the beef rib, pork belly, wagyu sirloin and well, pretty much every meat available on the Premium menu ($39.50). We waited. And waited. Some sides appeared- the edamame, octopus takoyaki balls, kimchi and shallot pancake. And then.. Nothing.
This the only plate of beef ribs we received all night. It was very sad. The great Australian dream (hah! bloody george!) of the all you can eat bbq buffet is expecting mountains of meats but instead what we got was the mount everest of fail.
It was like our table was the bermuda triangle. Cursed. Unwanted. Waiters whooshed past us with platters laden with food without even a glance in our direction. Was it us? We hadn’t waltzed in with cameras blazing in fact of the 3 of us with cameras we only started taking pics when we got a failsauce size of sashimi. Look at it! 4 slices! And that was the theme of the night- the food that did arrive was strangely miniaturized. I mean sure they might be trying to minimise the amount of wastage but when we ordered a second plate later on it was 3 times the size!
A bowl of yukke arrived missing the egg that the picture menu claimed to have and it was completely frozen! So frozen that no amount of stabbing could separate a single piece. ‘It’s meant to be frozen’ the waitress says. What?! Yukke is to be eaten like steak tartare so the meat needs to be fresh if you’re eating it raw.
But I guess everything was meant to be frozen at Shinara. From the strangely uniform square slices of tuna that resembled the texture of watermelon to the rock hard prawns and the ox tongue that had ice crystals so large it was like they had attempted to turn into shaved meat ice..
Finally we gave up and ordered bowls of green tea and vanilla ice cream. We reasoned that since everything was frozen the ice cream wouldn’t be a problem. Of course luck seemed to be against us that night and our green tea ice cream arrived in a melty puddle under the vanilla ice cream which was also flecked with ice crystals.
It’s not like the restaurant was completely jam packed full and the tables around us had received their food immediately. the majority of the waitresses were polite and apologetic but completely at a loss to our plaintive cries of ‘where’s the food!’. But one waiter was so inept that the ninja seethes with anger and sets his sights on the pleb and asks to see the manager. The waiter shakes his head and nods at the same time saying the manager was coming and runs away. 15mins later we are all fidgeting and ask another waitress for the manager who says the manager is ‘busy’ and not yet at the restaurant. Steam starts coming outta the ninjas ears and he tells the waitress to call her manager and some of us start putting on our jackets and the waitress arrives saying the manager is on the way and stands there almost as if standing guard to make sure we don’t do a runner and miraculously the manager appears. Unfortunately the manager does not have the power to deal with us and has to disappear to make another phone call- to her boss. It was like a bad video game where defeating one end of level boss means you just have to fight another end of level boss. Eventually we settle on paying half the bill.
We leave and head to Mamak where some of the night is restored in food that arrives hot, tasty and uber fast. Maybe Shinara was having a bad day. Maybe all the people in the kitchen took a sickie. Maybe yukke is meant to be frozen. Who knows?