[Review] Mitsuba Japanese Buffet – When An Extra “Ingredient” Spoils The Broth

Every once in awhile, I know many have a serious craving for Japanese food – ranging from sashimi to agemono (deep fried dishes) and yakimono (grilled dishes), that craving needs to be satiated. In my quest to tackle one such craving, my partner and I decided to check out a restaurant called Mitsuba and their $36.90++ ala carte buffet.

Mitsuba has 3 buffet serving times at 11.30am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-8.00pm and 8.00pm to 10.00pm. They also have a normal ala carte menu during those hours for those who don’t feel like eating so much in one sitting. But after this review, you might never want to eat there… EVER.

Located on the 3rd floor of Clarke Quay Central, Mitsuba looks like a very well established restaurant. I booked a table for the 8pm buffet sitting, and once the clock struck ‘8’ the restaurant was full and the service and kitchen staff were in full motion for the next wave of diners.

How their ala carte buffet works is that they give you a menu and the customers write down on the order chit placed on the table and call the servers to give their order to the kitchen. The best part is you can write any quantity of the same dish that you want and they’ll serve it to you until last order.

At first, I was a bit skeptical about the quality of the food and the speed of which it’ll be served as their menu is very diverse, and with the amount of customers, I was pretty sure that it would take some time.

However, to my surprise, the food just kept coming and quality of it was surprisingly good. The sashimi was thick cut, the hand rolls were delicious and the fried food wasn’t dry or overcooked. At first the only disappointing thing about the restaurant I could find was that their menu had no desserts and if you wanted ice cream you’d have to pay an extra $5.

Just when I thought all was great… came the anti-climax. My partner decided to have one last serving of dobinmushi( A traditional Japanese seafood broth which is served in a teapot where you can slowly pour it into tiny bowls to drink). First off, the soup took forever to come, but its wasn’t too big a deal,restaurants have these kinds of hiccups every once in a while. I totally understand.

But as my partner poured her third bowl of broth something foreign came out of the teapot. Upon taking a closer look, she realized it was a the bane of all existence – a cockroach, floating in her broth! She immediately screamed (a natural reaction) which got the attention of one of the wait staff.

Instead of clearing the bowl though, the staff ran to the kitchen as my partner went straight to the toilet to gag, leaving me sitting at a table with a floating cockroach in a bowl of broth. Minutes later the staff returned, apologized and said he’d waive the bill. Which is the least to be expected, but service recovery was relatively quick.

However, at the end of it all, I can’t bring myself to give Mitsuba any sort of rating as while it did have some good food, hygiene is extremely important to me and it’s an immediate failure in my opinion.

I don’t know how long that cockroach has been marinating in that broth, which means every customer who has been eating the broth has essence of cockroach infused with it, we were just the unlucky ones who had it fished into our teapot.

The unexpected guest…

I also concluded it couldn’t have been inside of the teapot, as we were one of the last customers of the day and the pot had to be have been washed several times. Worst of all, cockroaches don’t live alone they usually come with all their brothers and sisters and god knows where they are crawling around in the restaurant!

I know I’ll be staying away from Mitsuba – no matter how good or affordable the food is, ’cause hygiene is way too important a factor to ignore. What a way to start the New Year.