With a less than stellar experience at Chung Hae Izakaya a year and a half ago, I was not too surprised to see that it had closed down. Having been to the other Ren stores, including their original store, their sushi store and their express store, I was pretty excited to see they decided to open a yakiniku at Sunnybank. Being quite curious, we headed there as soon as we could to try it out.
The fit outs were quite similar to Chung Hae, with hardly any adjustments compared to when I was there last time. The place was half full when we got there, and we got a table very quickly.
Compared to our attendance last time, the most noticeable difference was of course the large BBQs in the middle of each table. Other than the barbecue, each table was also stocked with cups, small bowls, serviettes, cutlery and sauce, so everything was DIY from the offset.
Even ordering was DIY. They had two options for buffet, a standard level and a more premium level which had extra wagyu and sashimi options. They also had an a la carte option. Not being prepared for the buffet (as we had afternoon tea earlier), we settled for the a la carte option.
We started off with a spicy beef stew. Having enjoyed the one at Mapo, we were keen to try. It didn't come with as much large chunks of beef. The soup itself was quite hearty and warm. It didn't taste too spicy in my mouth, but it definitely burned all the way down the throat.
For the bbq, we ordered three dishes of meat, the wagyu rib, pork belly and karubi. The wagyu dish wasn't marinated, but the other two were slightly seasoned. Whilst appearing quite marbled, the beef was actually quite chewy and not tender at all. Nor did it really melt in our mouths. Taste wise was also a bit lacking, despite the salt and bbq sauce on the table, we felt they could have been better seasoned. The pork was also somewhat underwhelming as it didnt grill to much of a crisp but also retained its chewyness.
Rather than having rice that evening, my companions and I settled for noodles to warm us up, they had a ramen whilst I had an udon. Whilst the noodles were quite basic, they were executed well with light subtle flavours and tender noodles. The only complaint we would have had was the egg in the ramen being very much more well done than we would have liked.
Still feeling slightly peckish, we rounded off the meal with a serve of Beef Yukke, which is a Korean style of beef tartare, with seasoned raw beef topped with an egg. Having recently enjoyed tartare from Madame Rouge, I was keen to try again. Unfortunately this time, although it looked the part, the raw beef was very disappointing. Mixing it through and taking a bite, I could taste the shards of ice from the frozen beef in my mouth. Nor was the seasoning strong enough at all to hide the strong taste of raw flesh. Additionally, as it started to thaw, a small pool of blood formed on my plate, making for quite an unappealing dish. In the end I couldn't finish it and had to leave it (I couldn't even stick it on the grill as the pieces were too small and would have fallen into the gap).