Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tenji Japanese buffet

It was our daughter's 19th birthday dinner. Being an ardent enthusiast of all things Japanese, she opted for a Japanese buffet at Tenji. This buffet restaurant is located at the Soho KL shopping complex at Jalan Solaris, Mont Kiara, KL. We checked their website for a contact to make a reservation. They had an unique SMS reservation system and we were supposed to make our reservation 3 days in advance. What utter 3-days-advance nonsense! Regardless, I texted them (per a set format in their website) the night before our dinner and still received a confirmation of our reservation.

I had no idea where Soho KL was. Never been to the place. Armed with my brand new Garmin, we soon reached a big impressive shopping complex that I didn't even know existed. Up a flight of escalator, and we were at the entrance of Tenji.

The entrance was indeed impressive. A guy at the counter checked our reservation. He then collected the money from us before we were allowed into the dining hall. It was not cheap - RM88++ per pax. Fortunately I had a Public Bank credit card. For that we were entitled to a 30% discount.

We walked through a passage leading to the dinning hall. It was another impressive sight. The decor and lighting were very pleasant. The passage overlooked down a busy highway. There were food stalls along the way.

Entering the dining hall, we were a little awe stricken. The place was really big and it was crowded. There were food counters all over the place. We couldn't locate our table and a waiter showed us to a nice cosy corner away from the crowd.

Settling down, we proceeded to explore the food counters. There were many of them, serving not just Japanese but Chinese, western and local foods. Below are visuals of the various stalls and the food they offered. The quality of some pictures were not very good. I took them without the use of flash to avoid inconveniencing other diners and food servers.

The displays were splendid. But our hype and enthusiasm soon faded when we got down to the actual eating.

The fresh oysters were the natural first choice. I love them. But I was uncertain on their freshness. I could not say that they were unfresh, yet I did not really taste the same freshness as some raw oysters I had before. In any case, it had been awhile since I last slurped fresh raw oysters and I enjoyed them regardless.

This was followed by sashimi. The fish were not top grade. The maguro (tuna) were not too bad, but the salmon was a bit mushy. I did not think very highly of the raw fish here.

More oysters and some scallops. Overdose of oysters? Hey, there were 3 of us and we were entitled to our share!

The baby octopus was OK.

We had some soups - Chinese herbal chicken, tofu and corn.

The soba, especially the sauce, was kinda odd.

These were big clams cooked in a soup and some vege. I did not find it good at all.

I found these scallops with fish roes rather dry and a little chewy.

The western fares were slightly better. I enjoyed the beef and the lamb.

I really don't know what this was. It was some meat of fish cooked Chinese style with some vege and mushrooms.

These Japanese fried stuffs were pretty hard and tasteless.

The blanched kai lan (芥蘭) was rather ordinary.

My wife ordered 2 pieces of steam fish. They turn out to be disasters. The cod was not entirely fresh and tasted bad when steamed. The grouper was even worse. Not only was it not fresh, it was also hard and tough. I took a bite of it and spitted it out.

At this point of our meal, at around 9.00pm, there were repeated irritating announcements over the PA advising diners that the dinner session would be over at 9.30pm and that patrons were expected to leave. We had arrived at the place at 8.15pm and after only 45 minutes, we were being shooed away. I was quite upset. Apparently they have 3 buffet sessions - lunch between 11am to 4pm, dinner between 6pm and 9.30pm and supper between 9.30pm and 12.30am. But we didn't know about that. They didn't advise us at the entrance.

I approached a guy dressed in a jacket - presumably the honcho of the waiters. I told him we were not leaving. We had not finished our meal and we were not going to be chased away after paying so much for it. After some hesitation, he told us we could stay as long as we liked.

After this little incident and also in view of the poor quality of food, we were in no mood to eat further. We then proceeded with desserts. The sweets we ate are best described in these pictures. Like the food that we had earlier eaten, they were not great. I only liked a small selection of the desserts we took.

There is one word that best describes our experience in Tenji - failed.  The place did appear impressive, even a little awe inspiring at one point. But the quality and freshness of the food were sadly lacking and did not commensurate with the aura of the place.

Even after the Public Bank credit card discount, we paid quite a substantial amount for the dinner for 3 of us. With that kind of money, we would had had a much better meal, rather than the bits and pieces that I have imaged above. The meal we ate was certainly not worth the money.

We also did not have the luxury of dining at our own time and leisure and certainly minded very much at being shooed away in the midst of our meal.

Good bye Tenji.

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