Straits Cafe, Hotel Rendezvous

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Straits Cafe at Hotel Rendezvous is no stranger to the fellow Singaporean. It’s buffets are well known for its selection of peranakan food and durian desserts. I visited them a few years back and left with a good impression, so when my friends jio-ed me for a weekday buffet dinner, I immediately agreed.

All stations in Straits Cafe buffet are rather small and limited, but thankfully the quality makes up for it.

Cold station. They’ve got oysters! The crabs were really fresh as well – Whole, large chunks of meat coming off after the shell is cracked. As for sashimi, they didn’t have salmon belly, which was a little disappointing.

Assortment of cooked food which had more hits than misses. The chilli crayfish meat was tough although the sauce was good.

Apparently, they claim their laksa to be award winning. Well award winning or not, the laksa was fantastic. I had two servings of this.

Beef hor fun. The hor fun had the wok hei taste which was pleasantly surprising. However, they precooked everything and only topped the sticky gravy over the hor fun upon order, so the dish wasn’t hot till shiok kind.

Make your own Kueh Pie-Ti. They didn’t have the sweet sauce which I thought was crucial to the dish!

Make your own Rojak. This was pretty good, except that the you tiao was a bit too dry and hard. I personally prefer the moist yet crunchy type.

Dessert station. Durian desserts are definitely the star of the buffet. The rest of the desserts were ordinary.

The ice cream corner was quite good though! Loved the black sesame and coconut ice cream.

My must tries:

  • Laksa
  • Durian pengat
  • Cold crab
  • Kung pao beef
  • Coconut ice cream

One thing I really appreciated was that they refilled their dishes very promptly. You know how there are buffets that take forever to refill their dishes, especially oysters, or limit each serving to a couple of oysters per person? Straits Cafe certainly doesn’t do any of that nonsense.

However, the buffet dinner (Mondays to Thursdays) cost $50 before taxes, which I’m not sure is worth the price given its variety. The buffet focuses on local fare, and unless you’re an oyster, crab and durian person, it’s going to be hard to make your money’s worth.

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Before I end, I would like to state my almost horrible experience with Straits Cafe. The restaurant had initially  arranged for a hard-to-maneuver, hard-to-eat-from corner sofa seat for my party of 4.

Since I was early, and seeing that the whole place was still empty, I requested to be seated at a proper table instead. To my amusement, the staff told me that everyone had also requested for a proper table and therefore they couldn’t move me to a proper table.

My first reaction was like whut is this guy talking about. You mean everyone who made a reservation called in to dictate that they didn’t want a sofa seat? (Or it so happens that everyone was eating with an elderly or toddler and remembered to tell the restaurant so they could make “special arrangements” which is of course is just a normal table seating). By the way there’s only ONE sofa seat in the restaurant so everyone knew to avoid that?

So after a couple of minutes of reasoning with him, he finally gave me a proper table while still insisting that I should have called in to state my demand of not wanting an inconvenienced seat (erm.. do you heard how ridiculous this is?). By the end of my meal which was two hours later, I still noticed empty tables around.

So guys, if you ever dine at Straits Cafe, make sure to tell them that you do not want the sofa seat.

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OosterBay

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You’re hosting a party, and you’re fretting over getting thick, supple sashimi that will not disappoint. The supermarkets have it, but you’re busy preparing your house for the party and do not have the time to go get it.

OosterBay is here to relief you of that chore. You can pick and mix your favourite fishes, or pick from their available platters.

Platter A with an additional serving of salmon sashimi, $99.50 + $13.80

For the above price, you get:

  • 200g Salmon sashimi (14 to 18 slices)
  • 150g Mekajiki sashimi (10 to 12 slices)
  • 100g Tai or similar sashimi
  • 10 prawns Amaebi sashimi
  • 120g Ikura
  • 4 bowls of Japanese rice
  • Additional 120g Salmon sashimi (7 to 10 slices)

The platter is well presented, and the sashimi slices really do not disappoint. The only thing is that the platter wasn’t as chilled by the time it reached my place. Well it’s probably because I ordered during the festive period and they have a lot of orders to fulfill, so benefit of doubt, this lack of chillness should be an anomaly.

OosterBay also has other platters with more indulgent varieties such as scallops, otoro and oysters. This is my first order so I wanted to start small. Will definitely order the bigger platters for my parties in future.

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OTC Cafe, National Library

Worth a try.

This cafe at a little corner of the library is perfect for people watching. It’s next to full length windows on level 3 of the National Library Building, which makes it a nice spot to settle down for a couple of hours as you watch the world go by.

I visited on a weekday noon for brunch and the place was really quiet and peaceful.

Special Truffle Mushroom Pizza.

Not exactly sure what’s so special about this truffle pizza. The crust of the pizza has a doughy texture, so towards the end of my meal it felt more like eating mushroom bread. The pizza isn’t cut so you get to have a little “action” with your food. Not the most fun though, because the plate holding the pizza isn’t flat and is smaller than the pizza itself so you can’t fully cut through.

Papa Jo’s Burger.

Besides the pepper sauce which was a nice touch, not much else to comment about the burger except for the plate which was way too small. Mind you, the fries weren’t even here because they needed more time to fry them and the contents of my burger were already falling out of the plate when cut into bite sized pieces. Seems like OTC has problems with their plates haha.

OTC doesn’t have service charge, and you are expected to return your plates to the counter after you’re done.

OTC’s food is average at best, and highly forgettable. The draw of this place is really it’s high ceiling, naturally lit seatings and quiet atmosphere. Perfect for me time or that long overdue catch up.

100 Victoria Street, S(188064)

National Library Building Level 3

Daily: 11am to 9pm

+65 6333 0181

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Edge, Pan Pacific Singapore

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Edge at Pan Pacific has always been my favourite buffet restaurant and this year I’m semi-glad (reasons later) to be back for their festive lunch (because dinner is just too expensive).

It’s my partner’s first time here and after an introductory walk around the place he was mind blown by the sheer variety of food available.

Cold cuts.

Very disappointed at this station. The prawns were not as plump as I recalled them to be, and the crabs were disappointing – its meat did not come off as one piece when the shell was cracked open. This usually happens when the crabs are not fresh. The biggest disappointment for me was the fact that there were no oysters for such an expansive meal.

Sushi counter. No picture because… it was empty by the time I got there. Sashimi? There were only salmon, tuna and octopus sashimi. Erm, yellowtail? Sword fish? These are pretty common sashimi that any reputable hotel buffet would have. So shame on you, Edge Pan Pacific.

Roasted duck and chicken.

Noodle station. They can actually run out of laksa soup and the replenish took some time.

Steamed fish in teochew style, braised broccoli and salted egg chicken.

Sambal quail eggs and chap chye.

Pasta station.

Ayam panggang.

Cooked food was way better. You must try their roasted duck and salted egg chicken. A tip for the salted egg chicken: get yours when a new batch is replenished. The chicken is crispier and juicier that way. The ayam panggang, which nice smelling, was super dry and hard.

Seafood chowder and Cream of mushroom.

The cream of mushroom was too finely blended. No bits of mushroom at all, rendering the texture to be really flat. I liked how they had charcoal bread though.

Typical roast turkey and honey glazed ham.

Both tasted delicious, but the cranberry sauce for the ham went dry within the first hour, and no replenish was made.

Roasted lamb leg.

Edge’s buffet is well known for their extensive desserts, and true enough, the variety was impressive. Pro tip: grab your desserts as early in the meal as possible. They run out quickly, and either take too long to replenish, or another dessert is served.

The cake selection was leaning more towards Christmas themed, so you’ll get the usual fruit cakes and whatnot. By the time I went for the desserts, the bread pudding dish was left with just remnants of the crumbs. I returned later to find that they had cleared the dish, never to replenish nor replace it. All this with about half an hour more to go? Not acceptable.

If you see the mixed fruit salsa in orange maple syrup (to the left of the picture), skip it!! This dessert does not taste as good as it sounds.

Here are my must tries for the buffet:

  • Herbal chicken soup
  • Sambal quail
  • Roasted duck
  • Salted egg chicken
  • Yuzu sorbet
  • Mango Sorbet
  • Chocolate mint ice cream
  • Durian pengat
  • Chendol log cake

Overall, I like how they incorporated the festive elements in both the decorations and dishes which were a feast for both the eyes and tummy. My only qualms were the poor variety and quality of the cold cut station as well as the slow replenish rate of many of the dishes. To top it off, I do feel that for a meal worth $80, the lack of oysters is unjustifiable.

Pan Pacific Singapore

Level 3, 7 Raffles Boulevard, S(039595)

+65 6826 8240

Lunch

Mondays to Saturdays: 12noon to 230pm

Sunday’s champagne brunch: 12noon to 4pm

Dinner

Daily: 630pm to 1030pm

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8 Korean BBQ, Clarke Quay Central

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It does seem unlikely that a Korean BBQ place will do well in Clarke Quay Central (ask anyone to recommend a place for Korean BBQ and they’ll all point you to Tanjong Pagar), but 8 Korean BBQ has really done itself proud. This place takes their pork belly very, very seriously. I’ve been to many Korean BBQ places, but 8 Korean BBQ takes the top spot specifically for for BBQ pork.

Apparently, they use Mangalitza hog, which fat melts at a lower temperature than regular pork fat, and is still tender and juicy even after cooking.

For dinner, there are 3 set menus to choose from:

1. 8 Colours Set – 8 flavours of pork belly, $98.

2. Flower Pork Set – Pork Belly, pork neck, pork jowl, $68.

3. 4 Colours Set – 4 flavours of pork belly, $58.

The flavours for the pork belly include wine, original, garlic, herb, curry, miso, kalbi and red pepper paste. You can choose 2 flavours for the Flower Pork set. All set comes with side dishes and a stew.

The hot plate is tilted at an angle which allows the oil to flow into a hole embedded in the table. Talk about well designed tables.

Kimchi Stew with Pork.

Their kimchi stew has the right level of spiciness packed with chunks of cabbage and a generous helping of pork. An army stew version is available for a top up fee of $6.

The pork belly comes rolled up. Look at how thick they are! I picked garlic and kalbi marinate. Their meats are well marinated with the right amount of fats in each strip.

Their staff will help you BBQ the meat (yay!!). They will also place some kimchi, beansprouts, onion and mushroom on one side of the hot plate. These go well with the meat wrapped vegetables. Also, the meat and stew portion is enough for 3 to 4 pax.

They are super thoughtful you know! While waiting for the meat to be cooked, they will place a piece of paper so that the oil won’t splatter onto you.

The pork neck took longer to cook than the belly and jowl, so they told us to start eating the rest of the meat first. What surprised me was that they meticulously monitored and checked multiple times to see the pork neck was done.

I really enjoyed my dinner at 8 Korean BBQ at Clarke Quay. People who know me will know that I’m no big fan of pork (beef lover here!) so for me to give praises, this place must be really good.

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Chiak, Mapletree Business City

Worth a try.

Design Your Own Healthy Bowls are on the rise and Chiak at Mapletree Business City is no stranger to the game.

The clean, spacious outlook really draws you in and true enough, by about 1230pm the place was packed with long snaking lines no less.

The fun part of such a place is the choosing of your ingredients really. You’ll never know how the combination of your favourite food will turn out, which in turn drives up the anticipation. Fortunately, Chiak prepares your food quickly.

If you’re someone who hates decision making, there are preset bowls for you to choose from.

Chicken chestnut patty, soba, grilled eggplant, shimeiji mushrooms, corn, furikake, crushed peanuts, miso ginger sauce.

Red miso salmon, romaine lettuce, sous vide egg, Chinese kale, edamame, stewed peanuts, Thai basil leaves, balsamic soy sauce.

Green Curry chicken, organic brown rice, wakame fungus salad, mixed mango salad, cherry tomatoes, coriander leaves, toasted sesame, spicy like sauce.

Teriyaki chicken, vermicelli chicken soup, shimeiji mushrooms, broccoli and garlic, corn, coriander leaves, toasted sesame.

Red miso salmon, soba, broccoli and garlic, grilled pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, furikake, coriander leaves and plum sesame sauce (this was from their list of preset bowls).

Chiak bowls are simple, unpretentious, light and healthy. Because of this, they tend to be on the bland side, and the flavours don’t come through easily. The mains are certainly interesting with chicken chestnut patty and prawn otak but the rest of the components are a bit lacklustre. Plus, as concurred by my colleague, the topping options are quite… stingy? In his words, “so bo hua to choose coriander leaves or chilli padi”.

I’ve been to a couple of Design Your Own Healthy Bowl places and Chiak isn’t on my favourite list. However, I wouldn’t mind dropping by for that boost of healthy shot.

40 Pasir Panjang Road, #02-37, S(117383)

Mondays to Fridays: 8am to 8pm.

+65 6358 2313

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Teo Heng Teochew Porridge, Hong Lim Market and Food Centre

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Good Teochew porridges are a rare commodity these days but at least they can still be found. Teo Heng Teochew Porridge in particular is my new favourite, especially during a rainy day.

$50.

I had their braised duck, braised pork belly and intestines, stuffed taupok, fish cake, boiled squid, salted vegetables and tunghoon cabbage (both not in pic). All of their dishes were superb. Not a single miss.

The braised meat and stuffed taupok were rather well done, so no complaints about that. The fish cake on the other hand, wow, it is as pure as it can get. The fish cake was super soft yet springy. What a pleasant surprise.

The boiled squid was not rubbery or hard to chew at all. It comes with a sweet sauce, which made it a dish that you can eat even without the porridge.

Special mention goes to the salted vegetables. When we ordered a bowl each (trust me, it isn’t that salty and it goes very well with the porridge), the uncle was quite shocked and said “nobody eats salted vegetables like that!!”. We later found out that the salted vegetables usually comes with fresh fish rather than as a stand-alone side dish. No wonder the salted vegetables tasted so fragrant.

Their braised eggs are also worth mentioning. Somehow they have the time and effort to monitor the timing of their braised eggs, because the yolk was lava-ish!!! Whuuut. Super mind blowing. Mind you, these are old folks running the stall.

Although the stall opens till 2pm, when I went for lunch at 12noon, items were already starting to get sold out. For example, we were one of the last few to enjoy the tunghoon cabbage, which, by the way, was very rich and tasty.

531A Upper Cross Street, Hong Lim Market and Food Centre, #01-56, S(051531)

Mondays to Saturdays: 7am to 2pm

Closed Sundays.

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