Review~ Buffet at Himawari OCC

In celebration of Dad's and Brother's birthday, I decided to give them a lunch treat at a Japanese ala-carte buffet restaurant nearby our house (and also try the restaurant's food at the same time). The normal price for our Sunday lunch is about $45 per person after adding in the ++, but because I'd purchased a deal two months earlier, each of us only paid $34.

Himawari has 2 branches, one at Orchid Country Club (OCC) while the other is at Alexandra Road. The original branch at Alexandra Road also offers teppanyaki as well, on top of the shabu shabu and ala-carte buffet.

When we arrived, there was obviously a mistake made on the staff's part as they could not find my reservation which I had made 5 days in advance. Luckily, they still proceeded to give us a table, even though it seemed every table in the restaurant that wasn't filled was reserved. The restaurant was obviously understaffed though with only about 4 staff serving an entirely packed restaurant. We had to wait quite a while for our orders to be taken- an experience that would repeat itself throughout the entire meal.

Sashimi platter

 To its credit, the Sashimi platter that came made up for what we suffered in the service aspect. The portions were generous, as can be seen from here, all thickly sliced and succulent. The fish was fresh and at the ice-cold temperature I like my sashimi to be. They could afford to be lighter-handed on the wasabi though, don't think anyone can finish that mountain with a platter.

Pumpkin Croquette
Another item that I thought was done executed well is the pumpkin croquette. It came piping hot, and the pumpkin filling inside was deliciously soft with a crunchy batter exterior.

Mixed Tempura
The mixed tempura was not bad in my opinion. Not the best, but decent enough for a buffet. The batter could be lighter and crispier of course.

Grilled Beef Fillet
The grilled beef fillet that came fell flat on expectations. It was thin, cold and had a texture that was almost like chicken meat. Uninspiring. Perhaps it was left sitting out too long before it was served to us.

Saba Shioyaki
This came boneless and piping hot, so really it is worth ordering as it is pretty good.

Negitoro Handroll
Firstly, I really liked the stand the handroll was served on. The handroll itself however, aside from the fact that it is bluefin tuna sashimi, did not blow me away. There was barely taste from the little morsels of bluefin tuna sashimi encased within the mound of rice and it was simply, too much carbohydrates to be eating at a buffet.

Tonkatsu - Fried Pork Cutlet
A pretty average item, it has nothing on the Tonkatsu at Tampopo of course, but it is acceptable if you want to eat Tonkatsu.

Shabu Shabu
Shabu Beef Slices
As many tables around us ordered it, we couldn't help but jump onto the bandwagon too. It was really worth ordering this, despite our limited stomach space. The shabu Beef slices that came in particular had a nice buttery flavor to it, and you can clearly see the quality of the meat speaks for itself from the marbling. 

Overall, the food at this ala-carte buffet is decent overall, with a few items that are above average. The ice cream came in small pre-packed cups in 4 or 5 flavors (green tea, vanilla, taro etc) but towards the end of the buffet, they were only left with vanilla and green tea. varieties for us to choose from It is good value for money considering the variety and quality. What was really frustrating though, was the service. All the other patrons experienced the same long waiting time when they wanted to place their orders and there were a lot of requests that we had to repeat before it came. For example, the shabu beef slices came a whole 40 minutes after our shabu shabu came, because the service crew forgot it and only took it to us upon our 3rd reminder to them. If there is anything Himawari needs to work on for its OCC branch, it isn't the food but the service rendered that is a greater cause for concern. 

Himawari (OCC)
#02-02 Driving Range Unit, 1 Orchid Club Road