[SG] Robata Robata | an average buffet meal that failed to impress

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Japanese cuisine, robatayaki which literally translates to 'fireside-cooking', a cooking technique, similar to barbecue, whereby food are slow-grilled over hot charcoal on skewers. Robatayaki originates from a centuries-old country style of cooking by northern Japanese fishermen around a communal hearth. that serves both as a cooking area and a source of heat, found in Hokkaido.

We were visiting Westgate, the new shopping mall at Jurong East and while all the other restaurants had long queues, we stumbled upon Robata Robata and decided to give it a shot since it was about the only restaurant without a queue on a Friday evening. I was highly conspicuous that the quality of the buffet food might not live up to standard and having requested a walk-around to see the buffet spread, we decided to settle for filling meal.

Payment was taken prior to being shown to your table and the weekend dinner (Fri - Sun) was priced at S$44.90/++ per person, which came to about S$53/- per person inclusive of GST and service charge.

Having been shown to our table, our hungry stomachs decided to get the better of us and we started our buffet rounds!

The middle section of the restaurant is the Robata Grill area where customers are able to see the chefs in action. 

This is the section where the restaurant displays the Robata items but there was a mix of deep-fried food such as onion rings, chicken etc. 

The salad, sashimi and seafood corner

Pizza corner - freshly baked thin-crust pizzas which we felt were the best food in the entire buffet spread.

As part of the festive celebrations, there was a corner which offered pasta and some seafood dishes. We felt that they were not the most appetising-looking though.

Free-flow drinks corner

While I was taking quick snaps of the environment around the restaurant, I was abruptly stopped by the owner (I presumed him to be, or at least the manager) and even after explaining that the photos were for my own personal usage (i.e. for my food blog), he insisted that such promotional efforts should go through the company's marketing department. I did not quite understand the correlation but decided to let it go and enjoy our food. Admittedly, the episode was rather dampening on my mood since he did not quite approach us with the nicest tone.

Both the soba and udon were pedestrian tasting to say the least.

We also ordered a dish of teppanyaki, whereby one would have the choice of the types of vegetables and sauces to complement. There were also a range of protein choices such as fish and chicken to add to the dish. Do take note your table number as it would be served to your table when the dish is ready.

One could also choose to have freshly cooked pasta in addition to the teppanyaki. Quite frankly, I felt that both the pasta and pizza were the highlights of the restaurant.

On the sashimi, we felt that the quality was mediocre. Do not expect it to be 'melt-in-your-mouth' type of quality for the seafood and for the crustaceans, each diner was limited to three pieces of oysters per round of serving. Usually a fan of fresh oysters, I did not even finish my first serving. In fact, I stopped short of trying the second piece for the flesh looked limp and lacked the 'puff' look. Taste-wise, I certainly had much better quality oysters elsewhere.

Ordering of the Robatayaki dishes had to be done through giving of these pins, with limited issue of one pin per person. Essentially, you exchange one of these pins for your choice of Robatayaki dish of ribeye steak, lamb chop and tiger prawn with mentaiko sauce and at one serving per person.

Robatayaki - Ribeye Steak 

I opted for the ribeye steak and the lady who took my order (or rather pin) did not even ask how I wanted my steak prepared. I informed her that I wanted my beef served medium rare and unfortunately, as the cut above revealed, it was closer to well-done than anything else. The steak was actually a decent piece of protein but certainly mishandled and should have been cooked better.

Verdict: 5.5/10

Tiger prawn with mentaiko sauce

While I did not order the lamb chop, we felt that the tiger prawn with mentaiko sauce was the better robatayaki among the two tried. The savoury sauce had a balanced level of sweetness which complemented the natural freshness of the tiger prawn. The only shame was that we were only limited to one prawn per person, at the expense of trying the ribeye steak and the lamb chop.

Verdict: 8.5/10

While the chocolate fountain and the freshly made waffles were the highlight at the desserts corner, it failed to tantalize our taste buds. I even witnessed one of the servers tending the waffle machine (not the two shown in the picture) using his bare hands to arrange the cooked waffles on the plate. Seriously, you do NOT handle food with bare hands and certainly not in front of your customers at a buffet.

The petit fours and brownies were all of mediocre standards and not really worth a shout-out. Ice cream too were passable and nothing impressive.

Overall, while the service was okay, more often than not, they tried to clear our plates before we even finished the food. What I did not enjoy was the 'noisiness' of the restaurant which made it not quite the romantic place to go with your other half. It would probably suit group gatherings or family outings a lot more than a cosy meal. The quality of the food was largely average with the pizzas, pasta and grilled tiger prawn with mentaiko sauce being the most memorable. Despite calling themselves 'Robata Robata', the range of robatayaki was highly limited to just the three mains (ribeye steak, tiger prawn and lamb chop) and a handful of other mains such as the grilled fish out on the buffet deck.

At slightly above S$50 per head, I might look elsewhere if I am in the area again. It was surely not the best buffet I have had but in all fairness, if you are after a filling meal, this would fit the bill neatly.

Overall Verdict: 6.5/10

Robata Robata
Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive
#03-10/11 Singapore 608532
Tel: (+65) 6465 9668

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  1. Low quality food at premium prices. Every dish a disappointment.

  2. Seriously the worst and the most overpriced japanese buffet i ever had! I went for lunch but there's teppanyaki for dinner. I think it wont be much better tho.

    1. hey shian ying, we had the dinner which had the teppanyaki but you were quite right in saying that it was nothing impressive. in fact, I was more concerned about the limited robatayaki dishes considering they pride and name themselves robata. no intentions to revisit unless it undergoes some major improvements.