Tag Archives: affordable

Guo Fu Steamboat Buffet, China Square Central

Go!!

Did you know that Guo Fu is not only known for their steamboat buffet but also for their free flow Xiao Long Bao? Of course I had to give it a try!

Not sure if its the location, but there were only about 3 other groups having lunch when I visited on a Saturday noon. To be honest, it was slightly hard for me to find the place as well.

The place itself doesn’t scream posh, so I kinda feel like I walked into an upgraded version of those China-run $15 steamboat buffet places.

The sauce counter is included in the buffet. The variety is not as extensive as the more well known hot pot places, but good enough.

Beauty Soup, $7, that has black chicken, cordyceps flower, dates and goji berries as the main ingredients.

In all honesty, the soup had not much taste when it came. It tasted exactly like my partner’s $3 Herbal Soup. It was only after boiling for soup for about half an hour before the strong herbal smells started coming out.

If you’re going as a couple, I suggest getting the individual pots (served using chafing fuel) as it’s more worth it. For 3 or more pax however, consider getting the yuanyang pot (served on a portable gas stove) as it gets cheaper by the pax. (The soup pricing is a complex issue, you’ve got to see their menu to understand it better.)

I didn’t like the individual pot because it took very long to get my soup heated up after the ingredients were added, and it had an unpleasant odour when the fuel was running low.

Sliced Special Beef.

Ah, the legendary fat cow that a lot of sites had raved about. Was it good? Yes! The tip is to wait just a little for the slices to thaw completely before cooking them. Cooking frozen slices straight will result in a very grainy texture.

Got to mention however that the quality is not very consistent. The above was my second order actually; the first didn’t turn out as expected:

Having a higher ratio of red meat to fats meant that the beef was tougher. Thankfully I ordered a second round of beef otherwise I would have left the place with a bad impression.

Sliced Pork Belly.

i liked that Guo Fu’s pork didn’t have that porky taste. The fats to lean meat ratio also met my expectations.

Fresh Prawns.

Sliced Raw Fish.

(L to R) Winter Melon, Corn, Scallops.

Salmon Balls.

Enoki and Oyster Mushrooms.

Guo Fu doesn’t have fancy items like fish paste and whatnots, but their items are fresh and well processed. For example, you can tell the standards of a place by looking at the way they clean their mushrooms. Some places don’t really clean the dirt off the enoki properly. You can see their item list here.

Xiao Long Bao.

The Xiao Long Bao at Guo Fu is extremely tasty. I would say the taste is comparable to the likes of Crystal Jade, except that the skin of the XLB at Guo Fu is rather thick.

For weekend lunch, the bill came up to be $73 inclusive of the soups for 2 pax (Beauty Soup and Herbal Soup. See their price list here). It is cheaper than the big hot pot players considering the quality and free flow XLB. I would definitely return to Guo Fu as there are items that I have yet to try.

20 Cross Street, #01-31 China Square Central, S(048422)

Daily: 1130am to 1030pm

+65 6557 0906

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Four Points Eatery Weekend Lunch Buffet, Four Points by Sheraton

Worth a try.

Thanks to Chope’s 1 for 1 buffet promotion, a weekend lunch buffet at Four Points Eatery costs only $30! It is definitely a budget buffet for sure, but at this price, why not go for the experience? Besides, some of the dishes are really worth the calories. You also get a glass of beer or orange/apple juice.

On a Saturday afternoon this place isn’t packed at all. It’s comfortable, bright and the food is well spaced (lack of variety more accurate?).

The cold dishes were barely sufficient. No oysters (duh!) but I was surprised that there weren’t any sushi or sashimi as well.

Fried Homemade Tofu with Chilli Mei Chye Chicken.

Fried Mussels with Dried Tom Yam.

Assam Curry Crab.

Kueh Pie-Ti station.

Roast Meat station.

Salted Egg Squid.

Fried Chicken.

Rojak station.

I would say that Four Points Eatery does their Chinese dishes well. The salted egg squid especially was super crunchy and on point with the amount of salted egg flavour. The roast chicken was also cooked well, not dry at all.

Of all the Chinese dishes, the only miss was the asam curry crab. It lacked the sour kick I was looking for. The crabs were also quite small, not quite worth the effort cracking and digging.

Baked Salmon, Spinach and Parmesan Crust.

Seafood Quiche.

There were a couple more non-Chinese dishes such as Sambal Udang Bendi, Braised Oxtail, Ayam Panggang and Duck with Orang Sauce. Didn’t think those were exceptionally great.

Assortment of local desserts.

Mango Sticky Rice.

Muah Chee.

Ice Kachang station.

The dessert station was quite surprising actually. Didn’t expect to see muah chee and mango sticky rice. They did try to have some exquisite looking cakes (about 3 varieties by the side, bottom left of the picture above) and frankly they were quite nice! My favourite was the mango sticky rice.

I have pretty much covered the entire buffet above, and you can see that indeed the spread is rather limited. For the price of $30, I think the spread and quality of food is worth the buck.

382 Havelock Road, S(169629)

+65 6349 4872

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Shang Pin Hot Pot, Marina Square and Rendezvous Hotel

Go!!!

Step out of the comforts of Hai Di Lao and Beauty in the Pot. Shang Pin Hotpot at Marina Square and Rendezvous Hotel is arguably the most affordable alternative to the two big players. As a bonus, there’s hardly any queue especially at the Marina Square branch because the floor area is huge!

I’ve visited both branches and there’s a stark contrast in ambience and service between both branches. Go for the Marina Square branch if you can.

I’ve included pictures from both Marina Square and Rendezvous Hotel just to show you the contrast.

Exterior and interior of Rendezvous Hotel branch (my pictures look better than the reality!):

Exterior and interior of Marina Square branch, so huge that they have a children’s play area:

Below pictures are a mix from both branches; quality is similar with some differences which I’ll mention.

(L) Tomato Soup, (R) Pig Stomach and Chicken Soup, (M) Mushroom Soup.

The price of the soup is dependent on the most expensive soup you’ve selected. It doesn’t matter if you select one, two or three soups, they charge you only for one soup base. In this case, the pig stomach was the most expensive at $20.

Meat Festival, $24.

I giggled at the name of the dish. At one point the service at Rendezous was so slow that I had to ask the staff “is my Meat Festival coming soon?” Apart from that, good quality slices of beef, mutton and pork. The beef was really fatty though.

Fish Egg Ball (half portion), $6.

Ordered this in lieu of fancy pastes. Unlike HDL and BITP, Shang Pin’s pastes are rather ordinary and common. This was the most interesting fresh paste ball out of the entire selection.

(L) Mushroom Platter (half portion), $7. (R) Cabbage (full portion), $4.

I thought the mushroom platter was value for money. 5 different types of mushrooms for $7! The mushrooms here are about $5 to $6 for full portions so the amount you pay for variety is well spent.

Fried Beancurd Skin (full portion), $6.

I ordered this dish at both outlets but somehow it seems like ordering the half portion is more worth it. The above picture has 6 rolls (Rendezvous Hotel) but when I ordered the half portion for $3 (Marina Square), I got 4 rolls! So I should be getting 8 rolls at Rendezvous but somehow only got 6. Hmm.

Shrimp Paste (half portion), $7.

This is a must order when you’re here. The shrimp paste was crunchy and fresh.

Shang Pin Beef, $16.

The Rendezous Hotel one came rather frozen, causing its texture to be a little rough after cooking. The Marina Square (above) came thawed and fresh looking.

US Beef (half portion), $7.

My advice is to skip this and go straight for the Shang Pin Beef. The difference is only $2 for the full portion but the quality is so, so different.

US Black Pork (half portion), $6.50.

Look at the balance of fats to lean meat! I only thought it was slightly unsightly that the meat was cut in half. Doesn’t have that shiok feeling if you know what I mean.

Chinese Dumplings (half portion), $2.50.

The dumplings were normal tasting. What caught my attention writing this part was that I realised I had 6 dumplings for $2.50. Not sure if they had mistakenly given me the full portion but if not, $2.50 for 6 dumplings is so worth it!

Overall, you can expect the price per pax to be about $40. It’s still not really within the budget of an everyday hotpot meal, but it’s slightly cheaper than HDL and much cheaper than BITP. There’s no fancy waitressing or gifts at all, but the amount of food you get here is definitely more than the other two places. The variety at Shang Pin honestly is not as great, but it suffices. Best of all, NO LONG QUEUES!

Marina Square

6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-102, S(039594)

+65 6565 7666

Daily: 11am to 12am

Rendezvous Hotel

9 Bras Basah Road, #02-02, S(189559)

+65 6238 7666

Daily: 12 noon to 12am

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The Salted Plum, Circular Road

Go!!!

When my friends suggested The Salted Plum for dinner I was afraid it’ll turn out to be one of those exorbitant priced eatery along Boay Quay. Turns out they have a very unique business proposition. All their items are priced at $5, $10 or $15, which doesn’t seem too overly pricey and to be honest, it isn’t.

My friend made a reservation which was a really smart move because not long after it opened for business there was a super long queue.

Smashed Baby Potatoes with Salted Plum Powder, $5.

Great way to start the dinner! Loved that the fried potatoes were not oily and it paired well with the salted plum powder. It comes with a side serving of chilli which I thought was not needed at all. The dish was good on its own.

Haus Fried Rice, $2.

This (and the porridge below) will be your staple for the side dishes, so ration wisely! Don’t finish them in one mouth.

Sweet Potato Congee, $3.

This is a must try. I thought this would be the big grain, watery kind of porridge with chunks of sweet potatoes within but no! Super smooth and gentle on the stomach, great base dish for all the fried and braised meat to come.

Five-Spice BBQ Glazed Squid, $10.

Not quite a fan of squid but I couldn’t stop taking seconds from this dish. The squid was rather well done, so you don’t get that overly rubbery and chewy mouthful.

Mega Lu Rou, $15.

This is also a must try. The meat was well braised and super soft. The proportion of lean meat to fats were also just right.

Hamachi Collar, $15.

Quite an interesting dish to be on the menu. The collar was well fried (again, not oily) and the meat was aplenty.

Mega Fried Chicken, $15.

This plate of fried chicken could do with more seasoning. When I saw fried chicken I immediately thought of the Shilin XXL chicken with lots of powder so I had a little expectation, and indeed I was disappointed with this dish.

Hoisin-Glazed Pork Ribs, $15.

The pork ribs were sous vide! You can be sure that the meat will fall off the bone easily and cleanly.

Steak, $10.

The steak looked good, but taste wise it didn’t meet my expectations. I guess if there was one thing you had to skip, this is it.

Burnt Chilli Chicken, $10.

Not for the faint hearted or light chilli eater, this charred chicken thighs with chilli and coriander is best eaten with the Haus Fried Rice.

Considering how much food there was on the table (I had two meat dishes leftover which I brought home for my lunch the next day), the bill came up to an affordable $120. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety and flavours of the dishes, as did my party of four.

10 Circular Road, S(049366)

+65 6260 0155

Mondays to Saturdays: 1130am to 230pm, 6pm to 930pm

Closed Sundays

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Buffet Town, Raffles City

No.

This is the worst buffet I’ve ever eaten.

Buffet Town is located strategically at the basement of Raffles City. This means you can eat your fill and shop off the calories after that (actually maybe you wouldn’t want to do that). Long queues were already forming before they even opened for lunch. For that, I really wonder why. (picture below doesn’t capture the long queue which is on the other side of the entrance)

You have to pay before you enter, and an invisible stamp which is only visible under UV light would be stamped on your hand in case you need to leave and re-enter the eatery.

Seafood on ice. Oysters, prawns, mussels, crayfish. Nothing fantastic about this station, plus the oysters were rather tasteless. I usually start my buffet by taking four oysters, but I struggled to finish even the third one.

Sushi and sashimi counter. Don’t bother going for the sashimi. It didn’t feel fresh at all – texture was mushy and there was a slight bad smell to it.

Roasted pork collar. Unfortunately this was overly dry.

Baked chicken, fish and vegetables. They were over baked and their meat became too tough as a result.

Assorted pizza. I thought the formaggi (cheese) pizza was the best, but they all had soggy, oily crusts.

Grilled salmon fish head. Hits and misses for this. Sometimes it’s really well grilled, but sometimes it’s overly grilled. They don’t really control their timing and consistency.

Pork and beef satay. This was the best dish of the entire buffet! The pork always runs out though, and a queue would form just when the pork is about to be done. Slightly disappointed that the consistency wasn’t there. Took satay from two different batches and while one was well cooked, the other was overcooked and tough.

Teppanyaki. Not much of a choice with the ingredients, and the wait for this can get quite long sometimes.

Assorted tempura – prawn, long beans, mushroom, eggplant. The batter used to fry the tempura was quite heavy and lacked flavour on its own.

Chicken rice and laksa. Didn’t get to try their chicken rice, but their laksa was a little too heavy on the coconut milk. The laksa soup wasn’t strong enough.

Forget about the desserts. Skip this section entirely.

Actually, I started this post with “worth a try” because Buffet Town really has a decent variety and it’s not too pricey ($40 for weekend lunch). But after reviewing all the food above, I figured that you should spend your money elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s because of its variety and price, Buffet Town attracts bargain hunters – people who have that “kiasu” attitude and won’t hesitate to cut your queues and take more than what they need. This, together with the subpar food quality, greatly affected my dining experience.

Won’t be putting their details here because really, don’t go.

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Sushiro, Thomson Plaza

Go!

If you don’t mind having a good sushi in a not so optimal ambience, Sushiro is the place for you. Strangely, Sushiro has two eating places on the same floor within Thomson Plaza — one located within the cluster of small eateries (pictured below), and one located in a proper shop about 30 meters away. It was my first time there and I saw the smaller one first so I dined there.

You’ll see what looks like a queue during dinner, but actually it’s because they have this self serving kiosk which is rather wonky and you only get to view the menu when you’re at the kiosk. Lots of time wasted here.

The self service kiosk only accepts cash. Didn’t have a chance to ask the staff if payment can be done by card. Also, the chef (left corner of the picture) looks pretty legit.

Salmon $3.20, Salmon Belly $4.80, Salmon Belly Mentai $6.20.

Rather rare to see nigiri so beautifully done in Singapore. The fresh salmon slices were pressed on top the rice with perfect, consistent pressure.

Bara Chirashi, $12.80.

The secret to a good barachirashi is the seasoning and rice. Sushiro’s seasoning was fantastic. It was flavourful yet not too overpowering, so you could still taste the freshness of fish bites. The ikura was plump and firm too. The rice however, was a little disappointing. I’m not sure what rice they used, but it doesn’t seem like Japanese rice, and it was a little too moist.

Gyu Yakiniku Set Meal, $19.80.

Look at the soft runny egg! And while you’re at that, take a moment to appreciate the thickness of the salmon sashimi as well. The gyu yakiniku was well cooked and flavoured. Soft, chewy beef slices with the right amount of onions. No complains about this dish sans the rice.

While Sushiro is a great place to get good quality sushi at affordable prices, Thomson Plaza is a little out of the way and there’s nothing else to do in the mall. So unless I’m around the vicinity to begin with, I won’t travel specially to here just for the food.

301 Upper Thomson Road, #01-113F, S(574408)

Closed Tuesdays.

Daily: 1145am to 215pm, 545pm to 915pm

+65 9450 1020

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