A week ago, I visited Z’en Japanese Cuisine with my foodie friends to celebrate one of the member’s birthday. Z’en which is the sister outlet of En Japanese Dining Bar is located at River Valley Road, UE Square. This Japanese restaurant serves affordable Japanese buffet and reservations are recommended to avoid disappointment. The Japanese buffet is by ala cart where diners are given the menu to choose and order. Z’en is run by the executive chef, Masashi Yasui from Kyoto and thus, this perhaps explains the foods’ quality here are not bad as a whole.

Since we made a reservation, we were allocated to a corner table for 5 pax. As we go through the ala carte buffet menu, there are sashimi, sushi, grilled dishes , shabu shabu and fried items to order. Although the choices are limited for buffet style, we are quite pleased with the choices.
 Foods such as Sirloin Steak with ponzu sauce were our favourite. We ordered 3 rounds for it. The steak was grilled to tender texture with juicy taste and the fried garlic along the side goes very well.
 Saikoro Steak (4pcs) – Tenderloin beef cube steak serves with the fried garlic and mashed potatoes. We had 2 servings for this. It was juicy, savoury and tender. And there is tempura in the frame as well.

 Fresh Sashimi

 Aburi Cheese Maki (4pcs)-Maki topped with seared cheese and tobiko

 Pitan Tofu (2pcs) –Chilled Tofu with Century Egg sauce. I would prefer the century egg sauce to be on top of the tofu though.


 Grilled Asparagus with Blue Cheese Sauce -If you are a fan of blue cheese, give this a try. The asparagus were juicy and crunchy and the cheese was very thick.
 Kimchi Pork Belly- One of the member wanted to try this and surprisingly, it was a good pick. The combination of kimchi taste and the slices of pork belly was pretty good.
 Yaki Ika -Grilled Squid was Q and savoury.
 Beef Gratin- Minced beef with macaron and cheese. Superb cheesy and appertizing.

 Yaki Toumorokoshi – Grilled Sweetcorn
 Kaki Kobu Yaki (3pcs) Baked Oysters was quite a disappointing dish. Everyone had the first bite and that’s it. The baked oysters were too dry and the taste was weird for our tastebuds.
 Shabu Shabu- We had this last before desserts so that we are able to try the rest of the foods before we are full with the soup. There are three choices of meat which include gyu, tori and premium Spanish pork. And crabs are available as a food item for the hotpot too. We ordered the gyu beef and Spanish pork to enjoy.

“Birthday Cake” prepared by the restaurant

As for desserts, the choices were limited and we decided to order every desserts on the list. There are chocolate, vanilla and matcha ice-cream. Tofu cheesecake and crème brulee are available as well. I personally felt that the matcha (green tea) was too milky. So, if you are thinking which ice-cream flavours to go for, choose chocolate as the safe option.

Since we are dining in a restaurant with service charges applicable, we do expect that we as a diners to be well-treated. To be frank, I was not happy with some of the staffs that served us that night. An Indian lady and two Chinese ladies was showing black face or literally no expressions when they served us throughout the session. When the foods came, the Indian lady was like ‘forcing’ to place the plate on the table even though the table was filled with other food plates. And when she cleared the plates when we requested, she was not tactful and the plates nearly get in touch with my side face. But thankfully, one of the service lady which I think is a Japanese was nice enough to give a smile when she approached us for ordering. This made us feel better though. There was a guy who greeted us with a smile as well and I assume that he is the restaurant manager as he was not in uniform.

As a whole, there are hit and misses on the foods and services but more misses on the services. I hope the restaurant will take note on the service staff attitude and behaviour in serving frontline. It plays a part for a pleasant dining experience. I would be back for the foods but will think twice on the services though.

Total damage was S$282.48 inclusive of 10% service charge and 7% GST. We did not order any drinks as there are additional charges for that.

Buffet prices:
Weekday Lunch (S$38++)
Weekday and Eve of PH Dinner: S$52++
Weekend and PH Dinner: S$48++

Z’en Japanese Cuisine (CLOSED)
205 Rivery Valley Road
UE Square #01-75
Operating Hours:
Weekdays 12:00PM – 2:30PM | 6:00PM – 11:30PM
Weekends & PH 6:00PM – 11:30PM
Tel: +65 6732 3110
Website: http://www.endiningbars.com/zen/

Read about Yonpachi Gyojo that took over Zen Japanese Restaurant.

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