Shinara Grill and Lounge, Sydney

Usually on this blog, I try to remain positive. No eatery is perfect, so I try and focus on the many positives rather than lingering on the bad aspects of the meal. Unfortunately, this becomes quite impossible to do when the bad outweighs the good. And so begins the story of Shinara…

Once upon a time, three hungry bloggers sat at Ton Ton, awaiting an 8pm reservation at Shinara to celebrate a fellow blogger’s birthday. They were cold, they were hungry, and they were being lured by the smell of Japanese curry, ramen and chicken karaage. But they resisted, for everyone knows not to eat before an all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner. Little did they know that they would remain hungry and unsatisfied for another 4 hours…

Eager to fill their stomachs with meat, they arrived early at their reservation, and sat perusing the menu until they were joined by five more bloggers. Drinks were ordered, toasts to the birthday boy were made, and gifts were given. Formalities now aside, it was time to order the food.

And with a press of a button, a waitress was called, who attentively (or maybe not so attentively) wrote down their selections from the premium buffet menu ($39.50). “Ox tongue!”, “Wagyu!”, “Corn!”, “Korean pancake!”, “And the pork neck!”, “Ooh let’s get the beef rib!”, “Oh… and the edamame as well please”. It marked the start of their 60 minute time limit for ordering, and 90 minute time limit for eating. They were pleased with their choices, and now sat awaiting the arrival of their food.

(clockwise from left) edamame, takoyaki, korean chilli radish, kimchi

They sat, and sat, and sipped their drinks, and sat some more. Platters of food passed by, but alas none of it was for them. Until, hooray!, a plate of beef rib and other side dishes were set on the table. And the bloggers saw that it was good.

Marinated beef rib

Korean pancake (kimchi and plain)

They cooked their meat, ate their sides and were merry for some time. But where was the rest of their order? They assumed that it had been forgotten, so the button was pressed and the waitress was called, and orders were made again. “Could we get some ox tongue? And the wagyu? Oh, and some octopus, prawns, scallops, LA ribs, garlic, more takoyaki, sashimi, and a yukke? Oh, and a bowl of rice please.” Surely the food will come now, they thought. But how wrong they were.

Food came and went, but none of it was theirs. Time passed, oh so slowly, as they sat there with nothing to cook and nothing to eat. Orders were chased up, and slowly they began to dribble onto the table.


The seafood was approached with some trepidation. A quick *poke poke* with the tongs revealed that the scallops, prawns and octopus were in a deep frozen state. Onto the grill they went, sizzling as the water steamed off them. In fear of food poisoning, the food was cooked through, and it made the bloggers sad to be eating rubbery, charcoaled seafood. It made them very sad indeed.

Baby octopus and prawns

A measly plate of sashimi was put onto the table. “Is it frozen?” they asked, and although the salmon was proclaimed to be “alright”, the tuna was frozen solid.


The button was pressed, a waitress was called. “Could we have some ox tongue and wagyu sirloin? And some corn? Oh, and a yukke please. And a bowl of rice as well.” The wagyu sirloin is limited to 1 serve per person, said the waitress. “But we haven’t had it yet.” Are you sure? she questioned. “YES.”

Ox tongue

The ox tongue was very chilly, but edible. But the yukke had the bloggers in shock – it was frozen inside with shards of ice crystals clearly visible. They placed it on the grill to defrost it, and were sharply reprimanded by the waitstaff. “But it was frozen!” they explained, which was met with a blunt “dangerous” by the waitstaff and the grill promptly switched off. (The bloggers were later informed by waitstaff that yukke is supposed to be served frozen, which left them dumbfounded and speechless.)

Defrosting the “supposed to be” frozen yukke

Having given up on the savoury dishes, they turned to dessert. Surely you can’t go wrong with ice cream, they thought. A witty ninja joked that the ice cream would be the only thing not frozen when it is supposed to be, and while the bloggers laughed at that notion, it turned out to be frighteningly true. An order of one scoop of green tea and one scoop of vanilla per person arrived as a scoop of vanilla sitting in a pool of melted green goop.

Green tea and vanilla ice cream

After 60 minutes of waiting and frozen food at an all-you-can eat BBQ restaurant, the bloggers were hungry and despondent. A swift assault by the Ninja ensued, with the managerial staff having to be requested twice before any attempts to reconcile with unhappy customers were made. Every story has a happy ending, and this one ends at Mamak, where stomachs were filled and spirits were lifted by roti, fried chicken and teh tarik.

It was interesting to note that as we left the restaurant, there were tables with plenty of food strewn over them, with the customers looking happy and satisfied. It may have been that our table was mysteriously forgotten about, or that they were having a particularly bad night that night. This review is just my opinion, and is only based on one visit, so I can’t make any conclusions about the consistency of the quality of food and service. One thing is for sure though, I won’t be going back.

Shinara Grill and Lounge

Shop 1, 338 PItt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9262 9218
Open 7 days, 11am til late

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19 thoughts on “Shinara Grill and Lounge, Sydney”

  1. One of the first times when I have regretted always being correct. Hell has never frozen over so bad.

    Eloquent review, commendable rage. For glory.

  2. Great post Jacq, if I hadn't been there feeling the pain of this experience first hand already, I could have felt it through your review :D I'm not sure which was more hilarious, the melted ice cream or when they tried to convince us that yukke was meant to be served frozen :S

  3. Frozen food – yuck. You guys DID have a bad experience! :( Shame, I love grill places like this but one bad experience is telling of their consistency of quality and I don't think I'll be popping by here!

  4. that's a shame about the time limit, especially if they're not bringing you out any food. sounds like they actually ran out of food to give you and started opening the packs of frozen produce to serve which hadn't defrosted as yet. makes me question the quality if a lot of it was frozen.

  5. Despite the bad experience, it was awesome to catch up with everyone. We just should've eaten at TonTon instead from a start hey? LOL

  6. That's bizarre that everyone else seemed to have food – perhaps you didn't have a dedicated waitperson?
    Disappointing nonetheless, and understandably unforgivable.

  7. Of all the days for this to happen, to happen on someone's birthday is just so wrong. Hope the b'day boy wasn't too miffed by the whole affair.

    With the selection of Korean BBQ or the Japanese equivalents around, I don't think Shinara will be missed in the line-up.

  8. Hi The Ninja – FOR GLORRRYYYY!!

    Hi Mark – Yeah, it was disappointing especially when we walked out and saw that the other tables had heaps of food!

    Hi Stephcookie – LOL I think the supposed-to-be frozen yukke wins that contest =P

    Hi mademoiselle délicieuse – How sad indeed! Especially when some of the others had been previously and had a great experience!

    Hi tangerine eats – I agree, consistency is a big thing for me so if I get really bad service one time it really puts me off going back

    Hi chocolatesuze – I'm still alive! But you might want to ask the people who actually tried the yukke….

    Hi Simon Food Favourites – They did say they were busy so it's a big possibility that they started running out of defrosted food!

    Hi Lex – LOL I'm not sure making the food look good was my intention but uh… thanks! =P

    Hi Maria – I hope that your 'not to go' list is significantly shorter than your 'to go' list! Would be a shame to have so many blacklisted restaurants.

    Hi Ellie – Yes, at least eventually we didn't have to pay the full price but it did take a lot of negotiation to get there!

    Hi Yas – hahaha yeah karaage FTW! Hope it didn't spoil your birthday and it was great seeing you =D

    Hi Tina – I'm not sure that they had waitpersons assigned to each table because when we pressed the button we always got a different person. I'm guessing there were probably a lot of errors in communication between the waitstaff and the kitchen.

    Hi Fiona – LOL well put!

    Hi Simon – I know it was such a shame to have this service marring poor Yas' birthday!

    Hi FFIchiban – Just be glad you weren't there! I think you would've been starving!

    Hi Dolly – Awesome to meet you too!

  9. FYI yukke is meant to be served in semi frozen slices/slivers, the Koreans generally serve all types of sashimi this way so it melts as it hits your tongue. notwithstanding the bad experience you’ve had overall from the shocker of a restaurant, you still might want to correct your sarcastic response about the frozen yukke.

    1. Hi korean – I’m by no means an expert on Korean cuisine and I think none of us knew that it’s sometimes served that way since we’ve never had yukke frozen before, only chilled. It’s an interesting way of serving raw beef, I guess it ensures that it’s safe to eat being so cold but personally I would prefer if it wasn’t so icy! I don’t think I was being sarcastic in my comment about the yukke though because I was recounting what actually happened at the restaurant and the exchange between our group and the staff there.

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