Dinner today was at the Sakura Restaurant, particular the one at Clementi woods. Its a restaurant located right at the top of the hill within the park itself which stood there for quite a long time already. Previously it was a Chinese restaurant which now converted to the Sakura international buffet restaurant it is today.
Though enshrouded by the quietness and emptiness of the surroundings park, the hilltop restaurant is rather crowded when I visited it today. You can reach it by Westcoast highway making your way through the park or the main entrance from the Japanese School facing the NUS engineering faculty.
You can catch the sea and port views of the Pasir Panjang terminal in the distance from the restaurant carpark and hear an occasional ship’s horn as it departs from the port.
The restaurant only serves buffet and is rather popular among the residents and university dormitory students living nearby with an asking prices of $20++ for lunch and $24++ dinner for adults.
The buffet is spread over 2 floors, with a larger seating area at the 1st serving Chinese al-larte, western, seafood, together with the teppanyaki, laska, tim-sum together with The top floor is home to the Sushi, western BBQ, Italian Pizzas, Japanese salads and fruits/desserts area. The drinks and ice-cream sections are available on both floors. If quantity and variety is the selling factor for you, you are in, the Chinese selection of foods is already more than enough to tempt anybody and when you though you are done you are not only half way there.
The quality of the food is a mixed bunch. Commendable were the self help areas were the Chinese section, so was the Western, Tim-sum and the Pizza sections. The BBQ and Tepanyaki food quality were good as was the speed they were able to get the foods cooked and delivered to your table. The ice-cream and drink selection was descent and if you are creative enough will go make a green tea ice-cream float while you are at it.
However, on my visit, the seafood, Sushi and fruits section was in a very pathetic state- you get white-out muscles and watery calms, rotten Sushi as well as fruits which are all soft and water-soaked in the chillers you are supposed to help yourself from, it’s quite a turn off as a whole. So it’s a mix of relatively good and the exceptional bad which kinda muddles the whole experience.
Whether this experience is an isolated one, I have my mind open on that as I am not a regular there to comment on that. If seafood is your craving, I will recommend you to go for the cooked ones in cheese served by the table chefs, they are the ones you should go for, (unless you see it as a way to cover up for the unfresh seafood, I leave it to you). Most of the Tepanyaki was quite heaty as a whole, though if something quite expected of fried foods, not to mention the fried western food offered tucked in a corner. It’s something I will recommend eating in moderation or risk a sore throat which I am getting now. Thankfully there was free flow of drinks, particular green tea.
One of my biggest hassles was transition to the top floor for more varieties of food- there are 2 ways up one through the central spiral stairwell which will be quite a pain to enter and exit through the heavy glassdoors with your hands full of plates. The restaurant should know that we patrons won’t like to make so many trips up and down for food, (and we will mostly probably be loaded with plates if we do) only to be greeted to a door which only opens in one way and so heavy you have to slump yourself in to push it open, (unless theres a patron or staff there to open it for you). They should have at least have automatic doors or leave the door open with entrance air blowers to contain the air-conditioning The other alternative stairway have the glass doors opened all the time, only that you will have to pass near the toilets and garbage refuse areas before coming to your table, and will your food won’t feel so tasty thereafter.
– Large variety of foods and drinks
– Lots of parking space
– Short Tepanyaki waiting time
– Fast and good waiter service
– Excellent price
– Nice surroundings and ambiance
– The counter chief do not only English!
– Not very fresh salads and seafood
– Soft and watery fruits/desserts
– You need 2 pairs of hands for the staircases
– Dirty toilets
It is the $24++ price of the buffet which made the trip a more tolerable experience as a whole.In all, it won’t be fair to put this joint under the ranks of the Vienna restaurant I last graded as a whole, but if you are looking for a budget Seoul garden alternative without the hassles of cooking the food yourself at the same remarkable price point and don’t mind an occasional quirk or two to spoil your overall experience coupled with excellent service staff, the Sakura restaurant is a place I will recommend you and your friends to spend a night out.