One word: FEAST!
Ready...set...stuff your face!!
Fill up 'till the food reaches your nose! Stuff 'till you sweat meat broth!!
Okay, enough with the corny hyperbole. Earlier today, my friend had this brilliant idea that we should skip breakfast, lunch, and in my case, afternoon tea... (Gotta have afternoon tea. Can't help it. Habit from upbringing. My mom is one of those interesting creatures that religiously have to have afternoon tea every day when the old Junghans longcase clock strikes three. She's practically the frickin' Duchess of Bedford for all we know. And when she's having tea, she drags us, her children, with her. Afternoon tea is compulsory in my house. That's why, I'm pretty sure that among all the households in my area, mine is the most well-stocked with Lapsang Souchong, Pickwick Blueberry tea from Holland, Earl Grey, etc along with selections of Harrods all-butter shortbreads, M&S Jam-and-cream biscuits, Dutch almond fingers, Speculaas, Fortnum & Mason's Chocolossus Biscuits, and many more artery-clogging diabetes-inducing treats. Even instant Teh Tarik mix! Funnily enough, my mom always STRICTLY forbids me to eat anything sweet because my family from my dad's side has a long history of diabetes!!)
...and go STRAIGHT to dinner at Suminoya! I was excited, I mean I actually vowed to singlehandedly bankrupt the place by inhaling as much food as possible in one night!
Suminoya is part of the I'S holdings, a group that owns several popular Japanese restaurants across the country including Menya, Rengaya, and Koh-Ya. These restaurants serve good quality, authentic Japanese food, and therefore one of my favorite Japanese restaurant group along with the likes of Masuya group (which owns Masuya, Musashi, Makoto, etc)
The good thing about Suminoya is that they use charcoal hibachi. In fact, charcoal is a very prominent theme in the restaurant (heck, the place is called "Suminoya" - lit. "house of charcoal"). There's even a very busy (and sweaty) ojisan constantly preparing charcoal in a huge brazier. Very nice - kind of puts you in a good mood.
The place is very scarcely decorated - but still tasteful. The thing is, decoration doesn't matter in Suminoya - I bet a hundred bucks people won't even bother to look around the place, they're too busy eating! Atmosphere meant almost nothing in this place - as long as it's air-conditioned, bright enough, and have nice seats, everything else is kind of moot. Food is the main focus - and what a focus it is. Hordes after hordes of mortals seem to be hypnotized by those red, juicy, bloody fresh cuts of beef, and before you know it, you've probably eaten a whole cow by yourself.
Service was excellent - prompt, friendly (thank the LORD for the Japanese - bless their hearts, they do know a thing or two about hospitality), and unlike other order-type all-you-can-eat establishments, Suminoya is quite generous and does not resort to cheap tricks and gimmicks to make customers eat as little as possible. Food comes very quickly and promptly, doesn't matter if you order 10 plates of beef and 10 plates of sashimi at a time. Iced water constantly re-filled. We were very delighted. Also, as you will see on the reviews below, they serve quality food, too. All in all, it's hard to look for faults in this restaurant.
-> Ooh, blissful. Note that there are two different all-you-can-eat packages, the cheaper one (basic items only) and the more expensive one (basic+sashimi, etc). The cheaper package only allows one order of beef tongue per person, but the more expensive package allows unlimited order. I would highly recommend the more expensive package (it's only 8 bucks difference), in order to have unlimited beef tongue!
-> Oh, joyful. Succulent tiger prawns marinated in butter and garlic sauce, slowly grilled on the hibachi. Very fragrant, highly addictive.
-> Must-order. Juicy and plump. The good thing about this cut is that you can really really cook it to your desired level of done-ness.
-> I had doubts at first, but their sashimi is good and fresh. Very good value for your money. Tip: to save time and energy, when ordering sashimi at Suminoya, order like, 5 plates at a time, as one plate only consists of 3 slices of sashimi.
-> They've got a sauce to marinate the squid which is different from the rest of the menu items. It's tender and juicy - best eaten with a splash of lemon.
-> The Japanese simply pronounce it as "yukke". A very popular Korean dish in Japan - this one from Suminoya is just delightful. The original Korean version is somewhat stronger in the spice department, but this one is somewhat milder and therefore you can eat LOTS of 'em. LOL
-> Actually, it's prawn plus salmon salad. It's very nice. They've got lots of different types of salad at Suminoya, but being a kiasu Asian (wikipedize the term ye who are not in the know), we tend to choose items that are worth the most money. LOL
-> Don't look at me. I didn't order this one. Rule number one in an all-you-can-eat restaurant: Avoid your carbs (rices, potatoes, pastas, breads, etc). No, no, not because everyone should be in a low-carb diet, it's because carbs are fulfilling but CHEAP - you don't want to fill up your tummy with cheap stuff!
Anyway, apparently, one of my friend is so dependent on rice, it wouldn't feel like a meal without having some rice. Oh well.
(I tried just a teeeeeny tiiiiiny piece of rice plus a speck of the salmon. Definitely want to make the most room for the good stuff, a.k.a. beef and sashimi)
-> One of my favorite yakiniku cuts. Fragrant, good fat-to-meat ratio, slightly chewy in the middle. Excellent.
-> Surprisingly good. Also, it's definitely not as fatty as a Korean Samgyeopsal. It's lightly seasoned with salt, and combined with the dipping sauce, it's just heavenly. The pork is so tender and sweet.
-> Plumpy scallops that burst in flavor and juice as you sink your teeth in them. I love to grill them until they're just half-cooked, to preserve the juice inside. Add a dash of lemon juice and you're good to go!
-> You have to grill them yourself, of course. It's heavenly. And considering that unagi is rather expensive when you order them ala carte, it's a good chance to stuff your face with as much unagi as possible, at least until you're sick of them that you don't crave for them for at least two months! LOL
(extra 0.5 points because it's freshly grilled above a charcoal hibachi. Heavenly!)
-> Apparently, lots of people like it. I, for one, thought that it's quite appalling at first. However, when I tried it, I get the idea why some people like it so much. It's not about the flavor (it's a gristle. It's like, soft bone - it's tasteless), but it's about the texture.
Still, it's somewhat a weird part of chicken for me. (but who am I to talk - I do love more disgusting parts of chicken like the feet and tail)
(just because I don't particularly like gristle)
-> Another surprising delight. At first, I didn't expect much on the dessert department, but this maccha ice is probably one of the best among all the all-you-can-eat restaurants. Nice, thick, and clearly homemade.
-> The 'holy' chalice is a bit, er, dodgy (why can't they use normal glasses???) but the jelly is delightful!! Nice, strong coffee aroma.
-> Only available on the more expensive dinner package. And for a reason, too. Very nice sorbet, just the way I like it (not too sour). Will make you crave for more and more (tip: order 2 per person!)
It's been a hell of a 'battle'. We ate so much, beads of beef broth practically ran down our necks. LOL. But still, my friend L.Y.C. the economist, calculated that the restaurant still makes a profit of $60 even after having a greedy, kiasu customer like ourselves. LOL