Once upon a time, three hungry bloggers sat at Ton Ton, awaiting an 8pm reservation at Shinara to celebrate a fellow blogger's birthday. They were cold, they were hungry, and they were being lured by the smell of Japanese curry, ramen and chicken karaage. But they resisted, for everyone knows not to eat before an all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner. Little did they know that they would remain hungry and unsatisfied for another 4 hours...
Eager to fill their stomachs with meat, they arrived early at their reservation, and sat perusing the menu until they were joined by five more bloggers. Drinks were ordered, toasts to the birthday boy were made, and gifts were given. Formalities now aside, it was time to order the food.
And with a press of a button, a waitress was called, who attentively (or maybe not so attentively) wrote down their selections from the premium buffet menu ($39.50). "Ox tongue!", "Wagyu!", "Corn!", "Korean pancake!", "And the pork neck!", "Ooh let's get the beef rib!", "Oh... and the edamame as well please". It marked the start of their 60 minute time limit for ordering, and 90 minute time limit for eating. They were pleased with their choices, and now sat awaiting the arrival of their food.
(clockwise from left) edamame, takoyaki, korean chilli radish, kimchi
They sat, and sat, and sipped their drinks, and sat some more. Platters of food passed by, but alas none of it was for them. Until, hooray!, a plate of beef rib and other side dishes were set on the table. And the bloggers saw that it was good.
Marinated beef rib
Korean pancake (kimchi and plain)
They cooked their meat, ate their sides and were merry for some time. But where was the rest of their order? They assumed that it had been forgotten, so the button was pressed and the waitress was called, and orders were made again. "Could we get some ox tongue? And the wagyu? Oh, and some octopus, prawns, scallops, LA ribs, garlic, more takoyaki, sashimi, and a yukke? Oh, and a bowl of rice please." Surely the food will come now, they thought. But how wrong they were.
Food came and went, but none of it was theirs. Time passed, oh so slowly, as they sat there with nothing to cook and nothing to eat. Orders were chased up, and slowly they began to dribble onto the table.
The seafood was approached with some trepidation. A quick *poke poke* with the tongs revealed that the scallops, prawns and octopus were in a deep frozen state. Onto the grill they went, sizzling as the water steamed off them. In fear of food poisoning, the food was cooked through, and it made the bloggers sad to be eating rubbery, charcoaled seafood. It made them very sad indeed.
Baby octopus and prawns
A measly plate of sashimi was put onto the table. "Is it frozen?" they asked, and although the salmon was proclaimed to be "alright", the tuna was frozen solid.
The button was pressed, a waitress was called. "Could we have some ox tongue and wagyu sirloin? And some corn? Oh, and a yukke please. And a bowl of rice as well." The wagyu sirloin is limited to 1 serve per person, said the waitress. "But we haven't had it yet." Are you sure? she questioned. "YES."
The ox tongue was very chilly, but edible. But the yukke had the bloggers in shock - it was frozen inside with shards of ice crystals clearly visible. They placed it on the grill to defrost it, and were sharply reprimanded by the waitstaff. "But it was frozen!" they explained, which was met with a blunt "dangerous" by the waitstaff and the grill promptly switched off. (The bloggers were later informed by waitstaff that yukke is supposed to be served frozen, which left them dumbfounded and speechless.)
Defrosting the "supposed to be" frozen yukke
Having given up on the savoury dishes, they turned to dessert. Surely you can't go wrong with ice cream, they thought. A witty ninja joked that the ice cream would be the only thing not frozen when it is supposed to be, and while the bloggers laughed at that notion, it turned out to be frighteningly true. An order of one scoop of green tea and one scoop of vanilla per person arrived as a scoop of vanilla sitting in a pool of melted green goop.
Green tea and vanilla ice cream
After 60 minutes of waiting and frozen food at an all-you-can eat BBQ restaurant, the bloggers were hungry and despondent. A swift assault by the Ninja ensued, with the managerial staff having to be requested twice before any attempts to reconcile with unhappy customers were made. Every story has a happy ending, and this one ends at Mamak, where stomachs were filled and spirits were lifted by roti, fried chicken and teh tarik.
It was interesting to note that as we left the restaurant, there were tables with plenty of food strewn over them, with the customers looking happy and satisfied. It may have been that our table was mysteriously forgotten about, or that they were having a particularly bad night that night. This review is just my opinion, and is only based on one visit, so I can't make any conclusions about the consistency of the quality of food and service. One thing is for sure though, I won't be going back.
Shinara Grill and LoungeShop 1, 338 PItt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9262 9218
Open 7 days, 11am til late
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