Thursday, October 10

Food Review: Danro Japanese Hot Pot

Cuisine: Japanese
Price: $18+ per person
Location: #02-04/06, NEX, Serangoon

I feel like a bit of a miser writing this one, because in Googling for an accompanying photo (I didn't bother to take one myself), other bloggers seemed to enjoy the restaurant. Also I don't remember the food names which means this review isn't as informative as it could be. Not me. Danro is the worst Japanese restaurant I've eaten at and while I'm certainly not a connoisseur of Japanese food (or any food), I've eaten in Japan, and at several restaurants in Europe.

The reason you'll going to Danro is for the Japanese style steamboat/hot pot and buffet (with unlimited refills of soda!), there is no a la carte. For those unfamiliar with steamboat; essentially you have a boiling pot of soup in which you put in raw meat, seafood, veggies and other assorted goodies. You let them cook and then eat communally. When you sit down in Danro the first thing you'll notice is a large menu offering 8 types of soup, of which you choose 2. The second thing you'll notice is the loud, awful J-Pop. Thankfully my ears drowned out the horrible background noise, but I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to play this loud Japanese music.

I was with my work colleagues, and due to a Muslim in the group, we settled on the chicken broth and clear broth (i.e. no pork). As the soup warmed up we went to check out what food was on offer. In the back of the restaurant you'll find an area full of the ingredients for the hot pot. The selection of meats, various fish balls, seafood and vegetable was quite impressive. There is also a small selection of pre cooked food from the buffet.

From the buffet I choose fried chicken, crab stick sushi (the only sushi on offer), a mushroom soya/tofu blob and some sort of fried pastry (looked like a spring roll). The fried chicken was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The crab stick sushi was horribly sweet and creamy, due to the inclusion of mayonnaise. The tofu blob was tasteless. The spring roll seemed to be filled with crab paste, whatever it was made me want to spit it out due to its rancid fish taste. I ended up wasting most of the food on my plate, which I felt guilty about. After the dismal 'starter' came the main event, hot pot!

We primarily chose Japanese scallops, baby sweet corn and slices of beef and pork. Once the selection was cooked and I sampled the various meats, I found it entirely tasteless and bland. I think this was mainly due to the soup choice; chicken and clear soup. I'm not sure why Danro would include such rubbish soups, but oh well. I do recognise that the other 6 varieties of soup would most likely have made the steamboat experience better, with more flavour.

After the dull steamboat I went for a bowl of soup from the buffet which was apparently the equivalent to the Chinese yong tau fu. I really enjoy yong tau fu, so this Danro equivalent certainly wasn't anything like it. The soup base was fine but the added tofu was perplexing. There was some kind of material which looked like a mix of quorn and bean curd with layers of fat. It tasted like pork but I really have no idea what I ate. The soup also contained bean curd which was stuffed with some kind of horrible mix of vegetables sticks? Yet again I found myself wasting food.

The finale was the desert. There was a small choice of jellied shapes, ice cream and watermelon. The ice cream is pulled straight from a machine and tasted of sugared cold cream, the jelly was hard and extremely sweet. Only the watermelon was something I'd go back for seconds. Though lets be honest, sugared cold cream filled with additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients is actually delicious. 

Overall I felt like I was missing something. This was clearly a popular restaurant judging by the number of eaters. All of my colleagues enjoyed the meal. But I was just left flabbergasted that such awful Japanese food existed, the cheap and cheerful, nothing like the real native food variety. It was the equivalent of eating McDonalds if you wanted American food. In fact scratch that, McDonalds is infinitely better than Danro. Danro is easily the worst place I've eaten in Singapore.