Categories
Day Trips in the City Food Living in Singapore

Review: Hei Sushi @ Downtown East

Hei Sushi at Downtown East

After having a great time watching Clash of the Titans my wife and I walked down to the lower level of Downtown East to look around and decide on dinner.  We hadn’t eaten at Hei Sushi before and the conveyor belt full of sushi looked pretty appealing, so we got in line and waited to be seated.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hei Sushi but the entire experience was more than a little under-whelming.  There’s a restaurant by the pool and gym in Tampines (that I can’t remember the name of) that sells sushi off a conveyor belt and their selection is impressive.  The taste and quality is impressive as well.  I’d expected the same thing from Hei Sushi. We’d eaten a heavy lunch and we weren’t that hungry so the idea of just getting a few items from the conveyor belt is what roped us in.  The place also has an interesting method for ordering items: an interactive computer screen complete with an optical mouse on your table.  I was excited to play with it!

Computer Ordering Screen

The table we were seated at was near the front of one of the conveyor belts, so I was sure we’d get the best pick from the items coming out of the kitchen.  That would have been true, I’m sure, but no items were actually being added to the conveyor belt the entire 30 minutes we sat there.  Not that I could tell anyway.  Plates with the same, six or seven varieties, of sad looking pieces of sushi with wilted fish kept going round and round.

We initially took a few plates to try them, but after sitting for 30 minutes and realizing that they weren’t going to add anything new, we turned to the menu in disappointment.  After looking through the menu for a while we settled on an item we could both enjoy, the ika teriyaki (squid).  So, my wife took the mouse and tried to place the order.  She couldn’t get it to work, so I tried it.  The screen was frozen.  Left click, right click, it all resulted in no click.

Hei Sushi Sitting Area

At this point we were both disappointed with the place and decided to leave.  A meal is supposed to be a relaxing experience.  I shouldn’t have to face technical difficulties after already being disappointed by the small selection of choices on the conveyor belt, which, by the way, were barely a fraction of what their menu said was supposed to be available.  We were supposed to call for our bill by clicking a button on the computer screen, but that didn’t work so I had to flag down a waitress who seemed rather surprised that we were leaving after only eating 6 plates from the conveyor belt.

Speaking of those plates, they’re also overpriced.  That restaurant by the pool (wish I knew it’s name) had set the price at 1 dollar for two pieces of sushi on a plate.  Hei Sushi had the price set at 2.18 per plate, not including GST.

Now for my final complaint.  We were charged a 10% service fee.  10%!  And for what?  Being shown to a table?  Being presented with our bill?  We were never given any service to have to pay for it.  We picked up everything ourselves off of the conveyor belt.  I understand the concept behind a service fee, and I’m willing to pay it, but only when I’ve received service, and good service at that.  Hei Sushi’s service staff were pleasant, but they didn’t actually do anything for us to warrant a 10% service charge.

Hei Sushi isn’t a terrible place by any means, but we won’t be returning simply because there are better options where we can get better food at a better value.

Categories
Food Living in Singapore

Sakura, Delicious Buffet

Sakura is a sushi and grill buffet style restaurant.  Typically, when a person says a restaurant is not to be missed it’s really classy or has a great signature dish, but in this case Sakura is all around great food at a reasonable price.  You pay 25 SGD at the door, are shown to a table, and then you’re free to pick and choose from everything that’s on display.

There are rows of sushi, cooked shellfish, soups, grilled items, and desserts.  There’s enough to choose from that you couldn’t sample everything in one sitting, even if you were frugal with your servings.  I haven’t found anything there that I haven’t liked either.

One of the interesting things about Sakura is their grill system.  Your table has a little stand on it with numbered clips that correlate to what table you’re sitting at.  You take these clips with you to the grill and then clip them to posts next to example dishes.  Later, you food will be brought to your table when they’re ready.

I’ve been to both the Orchard location and the Pasir Ris location, which is where we went this time, and I have to say that the Pasir Ris location is more appealing to me.  The Orchard location has a darker ambiance and might be better for a date, where the Pasir Ris location is more brightly lit and seems more suitable for large groups of people, parties and groups of friends.  It also has a children’s area with toys and a TV playing cartoons.  I could see the TV from where we were sitting so I was able to enjoy some Tom & Jerry episodes with my dinner.

Like I said before, Sakura offers a great deal on the price for what you’re getting.  The food is all good quality.  Also, if you pick and choose right, you’ll likely end up eating more than your money’s worth.  That brings me to something funny that happened during our trip there.  My wife told me to enjoy the sashimi but to go light on the sushi, since it’s coupled with rice and rice will fill you up fast.  It’s good advice.  If you’re going to an all you can eat buffet, why fill up on a staple food when you can instead enjoy the better food that’s on offer?  While I was standing at the bar thinking about what to get another lady was reminding her son of the same thing: “Don’t get a bunch of rice!  We can eat that at home!”  Oddly enough, I did see a woman pile up two plates with nothing but fried rice.

Here are a few pictures of what’s on the menu.  Pardon the quality.  I forgot my camera.

A shot of some of the sushi to be had.

The roast duck with the sauce on it is great!  Also, that skewered thing in the back was one of my favorites. It’s fried squid (or octopus) legs.  I’m not sure how they get them so crunchy, but I could eat them all day.

Black pepper lamb from the grill.

Wagyu beef from the grill.

Skewered octopus leg.  It’s great when dipped in the sauce it comes with.  Also an item from the grill.

The shellfish in the back right is slipper lobster.  I’d seen them before on TV and in aquariums, but I’d never actually had one before trying it at Sakura.  It’s not bad at all.  I wish I’d had some coctail sauce for dipping it though.

I can’t recall the name of this veggie, but it’s delicious.  I think it’s fried in butter and garlic.  It must be pretty popular because when my wife went to order it from the grill there were a lot of clips on its post.

A small plate of dessert to finish off the meal.  By the time I started eating this I was so full I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish it.  The cheesecakes at Sakura are some of the best I’ve had in Singapore.  I suppose it’s because they’re so similar to what I’m used to in the US.  The mochi were great too!  If you’ve never had mochi, I don’t know how to explain the taste to you, but it’s well worth it to try them.  My favorite was the pinkish one.  It has a red bean paste inside.

Categories
Cats & Dogs

The “Kets” (Cats)

It was brought to my attention that it’s been quite some time since my furry little friends got to sit in the spotlight here on my blog, so this post is dedicated to them!

We moved recently, and any move affects not only the owners, but the pets as well. Singapore is an interesting place to live for a foreigner, where you constantly have to look for a place to rent out. Having cats adds to that challenge, as a lot of house owners are either afraid of cats, think cats will damage their property, or just don’t want the added hassle when there are plenty of potential tenants that don’t own pets. So, finding a place that was suitable for my wife and I, and that would allow pets, was something of a challenge.

Thankfully, we were able to find a decent place. The downside is that it’s not quite as cozy for our pets. Don’t get me wrong. The place is clean and they have plenty of spots to nap, but the room we’re renting is smaller, and the cats are confined to the bedroom. The owner doesn’t want them running around the whole house and on top of that, the windows and doors aren’t cat proof, so they would make their way out to the street and get dirty, sick, or hurt. We can’t have that! Vet bills are too expensive, and I don’t want to have to worry about them! So, they are confined to our small bedroom for at least the next 3 months. Then we could go about finding another place, if need be.

Getting them over here wasn’t much of a problem, but at first I think they were under the impression we were abandoning them. When I let them out of their cage, the first thing they tried to do was run for the door every time it was opened. Since then, they’ve settled in and are a lot more relaxed.

What’s kicking their butt is the heat. In the last place we lived, I kept the air conditioner going most of the day, so they got used to a cool environment. Here, that’s not an option, as our bill is all inclusive and we have to respect the owner’s desire to only have the air conditioner on at night.

Some photos of the cats, suffering in the heat:

(Sushi and Dapper passed out on the bed.)

(Thumper, draped over the scratch post.)

In the evenings when we turn on the air conditioner, they’re not used to it and they get cold, especially little Thumper. She likes to sleep by our butts when we’re in bed, and when we’re not she gets under the blanket herself:

Sushi

If you’re wondering who Sushi is, since I don’t think I’ve mentioned her before, she’s our new cat. One night about a month ago my wife and I were walking home from dinner at the hawker. We had seen her before and given her something to eat, so she remembered us. I suppose she was hungry, because when she saw us she came to us. Then she literally followed us all the way home, right into the elevator, and right into our house. So, she became part of our group. After she ate, she panicked at first when she realized there was no way for her to get back out, but now she likes living with us. She’s a bit funny though. As soon as the food bowl is empty she freaks out, stalking back and forth, meowing, and jumping up onto the furniture to peer out the window, as if she’s afraid there will never be food here again and she has to go out to hunt for more.

She’s definitely not going to be winning any beauty contests!

But she’s very sweet, and when we moved she made sure she was coming with us!

Sushi really knows how to relax!

Mr. Muggles

You may have noticed that there are no pictures of Mr. Muggles here. I guess I never really blogged about it because it was so sad. In fact, that’s probably why I haven’t blogged about cats in a while.

Mr. Muggles got sick shortly after our return from the Philippines. We got up one morning and he was very … still, I guess. Not his usual playful self. When we checked him out he seemed very cool to the touch. The previous day I had noticed him throw up twice, but I didn’t think much of it, because cats do that sometimes. I decided to take him in to the vet. That afternoon, when I got him to the vet, I was told that they would keep him overnight, and that he should be fine.

Well, he wasn’t fine. We never saw him alive again after the photos above. The next day the vet called us and told us he died. I can’t help but feel that those bastards didn’t keep him warm enough, didn’t make sure he ate, and didn’t give him enough attention. We took him to the vet because I thought they could give him better care than I could, and I still think I could’ve kept him alive if I’d put in the effort. Instead, he’s gone. For their “services” they charged us 100 bucks, and then they had the nerve to ask for another 250 for a special cat cremation where we would receive his ashes in a jar. I told them they’d done quite enough, and we went and collected him later that night and took him to the SPCA. It was a bit unceremonious, but we felt the SPCA would be a bit more gentle and respectful of his remains, since it’s an animal welfare organization, and it was much more gentle on our wallets.

I can’t say I’m all that impressed with vets here as a whole. Every time I take a cat to the vet, I get charged a lot of money with little to no results. I think I’ll just start doing things myself, unless it’s something that requires surgery.

Kets

If you’re wondering about the title of the post, it has to do with how the house owner’s son pronounces the word. When he first heard we were moving in, and that we have cats, he got very excited, and as we brought each load of stuff into the house, he would run up and ask us, “Where your kets!?”

The boy has developed a real liking for our cats, and on days when he doesn’t have school, he sometimes spends the afternoon up here in our bedroom playing with them, which is fine with me. The cats seem to enjoy the attention as much as he enjoys playing with them.

He says he wants “kets” of his own, but his mother won’t allow it. I can understand that. Cats can be ludicrously expensive when you have to add in vet bills on top of regular maintenance bills (litter, food, etc). So, taking on a cat is a big investment.

So, our “kets” have a new friend, a new place to live, and they seem to be getting along fine. ^_^