I am loving Japanese food lately so decided to try another place. Upon the suggestion of ElegantGourmand from Tummy Rumbles, I decided to try out Shoya. I rang up to book a table on Friday not really expecting to be able to get a table. I rang for Shira Nui on a Tuesday and they said they were full. As it turns out, I was able to get a table at Shoya.
So come Saturday, Kin, Jo and I headed off to Market Lane in the city nice and early as we were anticipating how good Shoya would be. Their online menu sounded fantastic. We entered the restaurant which is right next to Flower Drum and opposite Hofbrauhaus in the lane. There was dim lighting as we entered the small first floor. The place was beautifully decorated, with the Sake on display on a stylish multilayer shelf. We were lead up the stairs, and then up some more, to the third level where we were seated at a table opposite the sushi bar.
Upon sitting, the beautiful, but slightly aloof feeling Japanese waitress asked what we wanted to drink. We had no idea what drinks there were so asked for a drinks menu. I don't know why restaurants don't offer you a drinks menu first before asking for your drink order. After bringing us drinks menu, we asked another waitress for her suggestion in regards to sake. This waitress was a lot warmer and suggested the Hokkiazan I think. The sake was really good, but also rather expensive at $42 for 240ml. And this was one of the cheaper sakes on the menu. It was at this stage that we knew this wasn't going to be a cheap meal. Anyway, we said to each other, "what the heck, it's Chinese New Year, let's splurge this week and not go out for a month".
With drinks out of the way, we started to peruse the menu. It was at this stage that the routine of the night started. The cold but beautiful waitress came over and suggested that we have sashimi to start. We definitely wanted sashimi but hadn't really had time to look at the menu. She kept insisting that we try the Omakase Platter. The menu didn't have a clear description of how many pieces and the price. Maybe they are used to Japanese businessman who don't care about the price and just keep ordering, but we're just junior engineers who don't make that much. We wanted to know how much food we were getting so we could plan what else to eat. In the end, she couldn't really tell us, but we ordered it anyway.
The Sashimi Platter was fantastic. The various types of fish tasted so great and yet all so different. Each had their own texture. I wished I had asked what was what before I gulped it all down. But there were oily fish, smooth fish, stronger flavoured fish, scallops, squid, lobster etc. There is definitely no argument that the sashimi is great. But it is fairly expensive at $85 for this platter.
As soon as we were finished, a waitress rushed up to us and asked "do you want to order more food". Easy on. We were browsing throgh the menu already. That was the main problem we had all night. Either they were too eager to please or they were pushy and trying to upsell to us at every stage. It lacked that comfortable feeling. Whilst the service at Koko in Crown Casino was equally professional, it did not feel pushy at any stage. It was much slicker and more comfortable. Here, whenever we looked anywhere, someone would ask us if we wanted to order more food or drinks.
We ordered the Roast Duck with miso sauce. I liked the miso sauce that went with the duck in this dish. The spicy noodles was good too.
The Shoya signature dish of Quail Egg wrapped in "softy surround" scallop with mushroom was a fizzer. It tasted like a quail egg fried in some batter. Also, they really should get in someone to write their menu better. It was really hard to follow. I don't mind simple English, but when I can't understand it, that's where I draw the line.
The Beef Tataki looked like they may have used Wagyu, I'm not sure. But the beef definitely had a lot of oil through it. Unfortunately, it didn't have much in the way of flavour and tasted worse than my own Beef Tataki concotion at home. The best part of the dish was the salad dressing. I still haven't found a Beef Tataki better than the amazing one at Horoki.
The Pork Loin turned out to be Tonkatsu. From the menu description, I was imagining that it was a slow stewed casserole piece of juicy pork with miso sauce and worchester sauce. Instead, just a tonkatsu slapped on a plate with salad, at a very high price. It tasted good, but didn't taste any different from much cheaper ones I've had before.
From reading the dessert menu, I was ultra excited. I love love love desserts so wanted to try everything. Unfortunately, not one dessert was good. The Sea Urchin Cheesecake sounded interesting on paper, but that's where it should remain. The sea urchin does not go with the cheesecake at all.
The Dessert Platter again sounded great but not one thing was even half decent. The Black Sesame Panna Cotta looked bad and tasted it too. It tasted really strange. The Chocolate Pudding with Sake was really weird too. There were some peppercorns at the top and I bit into them and it was awful. I spat the whole mouthful out. Lastly, the Jelly type thing with red bean was tasteless. My mum makes way better red bean jelly, for one twentieth of the price.
To sum up, I think that I won't be returning here again. The sashimi was fantastic, some of the best I've ever tasted. But that alone will not bring me back. I think that the prices are just too expensive (about $110 each with drinks included in that). The Tonkatsu is so way overpriced. The signature dish of quail egg didn't taste like much. The desserts were really bad. The food simply does not match the prices. While for $100 we felt like we had had a dining experience at Koko with so much variety and totally delicious dishes, here, we spent more yet felt like we had a cheap dirty meal of little substance.
The atmosphere in there was rather quiet for a Saturday. The tables weren't filled until right at the end when we left, a few other tables were filled. The bar seats only saw a three customers whilst we were there. I'm not sure whether it was Chinese New Year that meant it was so quiet. I would have thought they would be overflowing with customers on Chinese New Year.
The service felt way too cold and slightly pushy for my liking. You can have professional service that is stil warm, even slightly warm would have been ok. We felt like we were being upsold on a lot of things, and we didn't like it. The constant insistence to try the sashimi platter and more sake and more dishes was just a bit too much. The floor manager was trying to sell the degustation to the next table and kept insisting, you should order this, we can change this for you etc etc.
Overall Rating: 12/20, The sashimi is amazingly good, but way too many other faults for me to return there again.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.