Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Taan @ Liang Siah Street: Kushiyaki buffet with a characteristic charm

  As a new eatery some four months old at the point of this writing, Taan can be described as an unpretentious and quirky venture. The kushiyaki restaurant bills itself as being probably the first in Singapore to offer Chinese, Japanese and Local skewers; and does indeed serve quite a variety of meaty skewered treats originating from the aforementioned regions. Whilst variety is always a plus point when it comes to buffets, especially at such bargain prices as the below $30s offered by Taan, taste also ever important. So how does Taan fair in taste? Read on to find out...

  Taan presents itself as a small and somewhat outlandish shop-house along Liang Siah Street. Right upon entry, you are greeted by the likes of Godzilla and Ultraman in the form of simple toys and movie posters nostalgic of 60s Japan. 

The decors feel like a true fan's homage to the pop culture of the period and place. These are paired with the stores own adorable dinosaur like mascot characters painted onto the walls and a bit of local styled decorations here and there, including a mini fountain for fend shui. In a way, just as their the menu tries to blend a mix of different cultures together, so does the stores layout and decorations. On top of that, the staff provided an excellence service experience, offering what I could only detect as their earnest recommendations to our orders and displayed attentive and friendly attitudes. Together, they create a welcoming and charming atmosphere that gives the restaurant a uniquely memorable character.   

Quality & Taste:
  True to its respectful homage of Japanese culture, the store uses a charcoal grill designed specifically for kushiyaki grilling, giving most of their dishes an evenly spread, bare-smokey flavor, complete with a light char. This makes for a great dining experience especially with some beer which, kudos to Taan, is charged at reasonable prices of 6 dollars for a half pint and 50% off the second beer during happy hours.

The Chef hard at work

  Unfortunately, many of the meats were likely prepared naked-that is to say plain and in its natural flavor-without much seasoning, spices nor sauces; lacked a good oil brushing during grilling. Whilst serving food in such a way does indeed prove testament to the freshness of ones ingredients and provide a richly purist experience in some cases-such as in a steakhouse where the meat is preferably served medium rare to rare with a pinch of salt to bring out all the natural goodness of the beef cuts-the charcoal grilled style of cooking used in kushiyaki doesn't exactly pair well which such a practice as it tends to heat out a good chunk of the food's natural moisture and oils, causing some of the items to end up tasting too dry, almost like a drought in ones mouth. 

A slight char makes it all the more yummy

Beef, having lower concentration of natural oils came out especially dry
  Although the over-dryness does deal quite a blow to the taste of some dishes, it can easily be remedied with a light oil brushing or even simply providing some wedges of lemon to pair with their skewers. Considering that the store is relatively new at the point of this writing, I am confident that they will make gradual improvements over time as I am honestly quite impressed with their attention to customer satisfaction and providing quality services. Not to mention that despite the over-dryness, most of the meats were of good quality and freshness. Whilst some of the meat skewers now can only be described as mediocre, many of them could just as easily be described as great with but a few simple improvements here and there.

  Beyond that, there were some surprising highlights amongst the items we ordered. These included the Mouth-Watering Chicken, a Sichuan appetizer that whets the appetite and leaves you drooling for more-hence its name; Taan quite competently captured the fragrant spiciness of the dish and its balance between hot and cold as a spicy dish served chilled.

It even looks mouth-watering!

  Another must order would be the enoki mushrooms. Wrapped in foil and grilled with oyster sauce and some minced meat, the light saltiness sinks deliciously into the natural moisture of the enoki mushrooms and makes for quite a delightful flavor.

One of the best dishes here looking sweet and juicy

  Some other dishes we tried include their selection of satay and seafood items which were decent though not wowing. The two deserts though were quite the treat. Both their cheesecake and creme brulee had a decent balance and just enough sweetness to satisfy ones sugary cravings after a filling meal. 

The Cheesecake wasn't too rich, but it was smooth and silky in texture
  Priced at no more than 30 dollars per pax, Taan is great value for money when considering the dishes they offer for the buffet, which include slightly more costly items like beef tendon and saba fish, which many other buffets within the price range choose not to include. Not to mention the huge variety of both skewered and non skewered items on the buffet, including a range of starters and deserts. They do normally charge for water which may be a slight turn-off for some but their green tea is a good alternative with free-refills and does help in quenching one's thirst after too many skewers of barbecued food.

  Taan is a great addition to the buffet scene around the bugis area and holds its own with a unique character against the other established steamboat and grill buffets around the area. Although, it has room for improvement like many other stores, it seems to hold quite a bit of potential and I will definitely be visiting again sometime soon. The place is quirky and comfortable to dine in with a commendable selection of buffet items, most of which fall in the slightly above average to above average range of taste. Paired with a reasonable price tag, I can definitely recommend Taan to anyone looking to satisfy their Kushiyaki cravings or just trying it out for the first time.

Quality & Taste(75%)
A little shy of great but good stuff nonetheless
Value (15%)
8Very reasonable pricing for the quality offered
Ambience & others (10%)
8A charming place with a character of its own and great service nets Taan much deserved praise
A good buffet with lots of potential to be a great one

Taan is good for: 
  • After work colleague gatherings over beer
  • Gathering for friends or introducing Kushiyaki to friends
  • Anyone craving Kushiyaki and wanting to make the most of their money 

30 Liang Seah Street
6837 0085
Opening Hours:
4:00pm - 2:00am

~$30 per pax
Godzilla seems to have eaten too much good meats and cant stand up on its two legs anymore...
Good o'l satay

marinated wings: one of the juicier options on the menu

chicken with leek: a kushiyaki classic done just right
creme brulee with coconut

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