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Shang Pin Hot Pot, Marina Square and Rendezvous Hotel

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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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Imperial Treasure Steamboat, Ion Orchard

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Having tried big hotpot brands like Beauty in the Pot (BITP) and Hai Di Lao (HDL), how does this good ol’ skool steamboat compare?

For starters, the sauce station is brought to you.

You can mix your own concoction, or have them mix one for you depending on your preferred level of spicyness. I recommend getting them to do it!

Doesn’t look appetising here but trust me it’s superb! I was shocked at the amount of sauce initially but by the end of the meal I was down to less than half.

For soup bases, they don’t have fancy flavours of the likes of HDL and BITP. Since I’ve decided to go old skool, I chose a familiar broth — Healthy Chicken ($17).

Spread of dishes plus more (below).

Four Treasure Ball Platter ($14).

Kurobuta Pork Belly ($14).

Beef Brisket ($20).

Deep Fried Beancurd Skin ($6).

Assorted mushrooms ($8.80).

Fresh Prawn Paste ($14).

Assorted Vegetables ($6.80).

For the above, my total bill came up to $140 for 2 pax. I would say for the standards, quality and amount of food, the price is justified. The meats were really fresh and of good thickness, while the handmade balls were flavourful and bouncy! I also loved the fresh prawns paste and definitely the fun of squeezing it into the soup.

The $140 bill is not a good reflection of what you will spend for 2 pax. I definitely over ordered. At the end of the meal I was left with at least half of the fresh meat. That said, I totally skipped the part of the menu with the fresh seafood (think: Boston lobsters going for $13/100g). I can imagine big families with rich grandparents eating here for their birthdays.

2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard, #04-09/10, Singapore 238801

+65 6636 9339

Daily: 11am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm

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Shima Teppanyaki Buffet, Goodwood Park Hotel

Worth a try.

Shima is synonymous to teppanyaki. I myself love a good teppanyaki (some food courts serve really good teppanyaki btw!) and when I heard Shima offers teppanyaki buffet, it was game on.

Went with my family and we got really good seats and a teppanyaki chef all to ourselves.

Although it’s a buffet, they would first serve you one serving of every item on the menu. You can then request for your favourite dishes thereafter.

For starters, they offer sashimi, tempura prawn and shisamo, and gyoza. I would say give these dishes a miss except for the salmon sashimi.

While you’re nibbling on your starters, keep your eyes peeled for the chef as he readies his tools. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the performance. Can’t help but notice the cute pair of goggles worn by the chef when he’s cooking.

All the food was already apportioned for my party of six before we arrived. So the cooking was rather seamless, one dish after another.

Chicken.

The chicken was well marinated in teriyaki sauce. It was juicy and tender, yet at the same time it was a little charred and caramelised.

Prawns and squid.

A quick way to tell how well trained a teppanyaki chef is, is to see how he cooks the prawns and squid. These two items get overcooked really quickly, and you wouldn’t want them to be undercooked. Glad to say the chef at my table was well skilled.

Salmon.

I have to say that my favourite dish at this teppanyaki buffet was the cooked salmon. The chef will first cook the salmon in a self made aluminium foil container laden with teriyaki sauce mix, before placing it into the cute little clam dish you see above. Again, the salmon was cooked perfectly, another testimony to the level of the chef.

Beef steak.

The heaviest item of the buffet is the steak. It also came the last, so if you’re a big fan of steaks, do save some space for them! I requested for mine to be medium rare, and it turned out perfect.

p/s they serve teppanyaki oysters as well but it didn’t look good on picture.

Lemongrass jelly with raisins.

After my meal I was whisked away to an empty table and served a cup of refreshing ice cool jelly. Would say that this ended my meal nicely as it cuts through all the grease of the teppanyaki.

At $59++ for a weekend lunch, I think it might be worth the while if you are a serious huge fan of teppanyaki, and a big eater. If not, you should probably spend your money on a decent international buffet instead. To be honest, I didn’t get any second servings apart from the salmon, just because it was so well cooked. Felt quite bo hua, you know?

Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, #01-00, S(228221)

Daily: 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 1030pm

+65 6734 6281

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Gyu Bar, Stevens Road

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Gyu Bar sits within the premises of Novotel and Mecure Hotel along Stevens Road. It can be easy to miss if you’re driving quickly along the main road, so I hope with the picture below you’ll find it easier to locate it.

As the name suggests, Gyu Bar specialises in beef. The main attraction of this place is that it brings in A4 Kumamoto Wagyu from Japan, which they proudly serve during dinner along with a glass of sake. Unfortunately, I visited this place for lunch and it only offers rice bowls during daytime.

Interestingly, the menu has Korean starters, and some of the rice bowls are rather Korean-ish.

Assorted Namuru, $16.

Kimchi, $10.

Signature Beef Salad, $26.

Signature Roast Beef Don, $35.

This bowl lives up to its signature title. Slices of slow roast beef alongside a special gravy by the chef, need I say more? The beef slices had that melt in your mouth texture and the gravy was simply delicious.

Sukiyaki Don Set, $30.

I’ve honestly never eaten sukiyaki in a rice bowl before. The sukiyakis I’ve eaten thus far were all cooked in those shallow sukiyaki pot, a bit like hot pot style. So this was definitely interesting for me.

Yakiniku Chicken Don Set, $24.

This rice bowl came infused with truffle! What a pleasant surprise. The chicken pieces were also juicy and tender, just the way a good yakiniku chicken should be.

Ishiyaki Bibimbap Set, $22.

For the bibimbap, the staff will actually help you to mix the rice and spread it against the hot stone bowl. You are to wait for a couple of minutes for the rice to “chao ta” before digging in. Super fun to watch.

All rice bowl set comes with salad and miso soup. Each bowl also comes with an onsen egg which you have to mix into the rice, making the whole bowl really creamy. Now imagine having that with the slow roast beef slices (Signature Roast Beef Don). Oishii!

That said, Gyu Bar is not a place where you would have lunch at everyday because of the price, and also because the lunch menu is pretty much as above. I would definitely drop by for dinner one day if I feel like indulging though.

30 Stevens Road, #01-08, S(257840)

Closed Mondays.

Tuesdays to Sundays: 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm

+65 6732 0702

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Rang Mang Shokudo, Wisma Atria

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I’ve always thought that the Japanese eateries on the 4th floor of Wisma Atria were underrated. I suspect they may be hidden gems, so I aim to visit and write about all the eateries there someday. First up, Rang Mang Shokudo, famous for their Japanese fried chicken. It was actually recommended by a friend who swore by the flavour and texture of the fried chicken.

If you’re not in the mood for fried chicken, this is definitely not the place for you. It has only one main dish on the menu, and that is, you guessed it, fried chicken.

Large (20 pieces), $18.50. Comes with 3 sauces of your choice.

Rang Mang Shokudo does have sets which comes with fresh salad, potato salad and rice but after sharing the entire plate above with my friend, I can see why he recommended me to just go for the fried chicken and a bowl of rice.

Because you won’t be able to get enough of the chicken.

Rang Mang Shokudo’s fried chicken is not only juicy and tender, but most importantly the batter is thinly coated, just enough to give that crunch. I loved that it’s bite sized, easy to eat with my hand while sipping my beer with the other.

You get to choose from a wide variety of sauces, but if you’re there for the first time, go for the salted chicken. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s their top flavour for a reason.

Rang Mang Shokudo is one of the most underrated restaurants I’ve tried thus far. Now I’ve got a favourite karaage. You?

435 Orchard Road, #04-54 Wisma Atria, S238877

+65 6262 3504

Weekdays: 1130am to 11pm

Weekends: 11am to 11pm

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Tea Lounge Weekend High Tea, Regent Hotel

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How not to have your hopes up high when you see something like that greeting you as you step into Tea Lounge at Regent Hotel for their weekend high tea?

Fortunately, Tea Lounge lives up to the hype, and is worth every penny.

Tea Lounge’s weekend high tea is buffet style. While this means that you don’t get that atas feeling of being served little bites on a three tier fancy cake stand, but what you get in exchange is a whole selection of exquisite staples and sweets.

The Cold Dishes

Top left clockwise: Pistachio Crusted Tuna Salad with Avocado Cream, Pork Belly Salad with Anchovy Mayonnaise, Barbecued Duck Salad.

I liked the duck salad of the three. It’s wrapped in a thin slice of cucumber which makes the whole canape very refreshing.

Savory Bites

Top left clockwise: Roasted Wagyu Beef with Truffle Mayonnaise, Smoked Duck Breast and Mango Sandwich, Chanterelle Mushroom and Raclette Cheese Tart, Champagne Poached Tiger Prawn on Squid Ink Toast.

The Chanterelle Mushroom and Raclette Cheese Tart was mind blowing. The unassuming savoury tart was really flavourful and fragrant. On the contrary, the Smoked Duck Breast and Mango Sandwich was a little off. It was wrongly paired, and the components on its own were unflattering as well.

Caviar Station.

Surprise after surprise. Caviar madness! They have a good variety of condiments to go along with the caviar. I had mine with the raspberry dressing. Yums.

Local Delights

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.

From left: Kueh Pie-Ti, Braised Pork Belly, Fried

Laksa.

Wagyu Beef Rump.

Seafood Congee with Pork Meat Ball.

Surprise surprise. The best local delight was actually the Seafood Congee with Pork Meat Balls. Just look at the colour of the congee. Orange! Imagine the amount of prawns they had to put in to achieve this colour. So simple yet so delicious.

You can forgo the laksa. As tempting as it may look, the laksa wasn’t nice at all. I couldn’t bring myself to eat another spoonful of this.

Bonus dish! Char Siew with Passionfruit Sauce.

Halfway through the buffet the chef came out and started handing this dish out to everyone. The outermost layer was superbly well caramelised, and the fat to lean pork ratio was just nice. The Passionfruit Sauce cuts the oilyness very cleanly, making you crave for piece after piece.

Desserts

Yay, the highlight of any high tea — cakes!

From left clockwise: Poached Pear with Sugar Syrup, Citrus Cheesecake Tart, Caramel Apple Yuzu with Tarte Tatin.

From top left clockwise: Raspberry Lychee Religieuse, Cassis Montblanc, Tahitian Vanilla Caramelised Pecan Eclair.

From top left clockwise: Vanilla Panna Cotta, Passionfruit Vanilla Macaroon, Caramel Chocolate.

Sauces for scones and waffles (not in picture), Croquembouche, assorted macaroons.

Asian desserts and assorted fruits.

Vanilla Gelato, Raspberry Sorbet.

This is where I feel that Regent Tea Lounge’s Weekend High Tea Buffet is worth your every penny. Just the cakes alone is enough to impress. And true to my expectations, the cakes were multilayered, just like those designer cakes you eat outside.

The bill came up to be about $150 for two pax. I know, with this amount you can eat a full fledge dinner buffet at a proper restaurant, but just consider the amount of effort required to make the dishes, and the exquisiteness of it. I don’t think you can get such food creativity in a single place elsewhere in Singapore. At least I can’t.

Tea Lounge, Regent Hotel Lobby

1 Cuscaden Road, 249715

Weekends: 12pm to 230pm, 3pm to 530pm

+65 6725 3246

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Yakinikutei Ao-Chan, Concorde Hotel

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Happen to be in town and craving for better than average yakiniku (grilled meat)? Head to Concorde Hotel where Yakinikutei Ao-Chan is located on the second floor.

The layout is such that it’s rows of cushioned booths, with one row not more than 4-5 booths on one side. There’s a high wall next to each booth so it feels like you’re in your own space because the adjacent table (across the isle) is quite a distance apart.

If there’s only two of you and it’s your first time here I’d suggest getting the Prime Beef Course to share as it has a mini sampler of 3 different beef cuts, ox tripe, ox liver and ox tongue, together with a bowl of plum rice, ox tail soup, and a scoop of ice cream. Do not like tripe and liver? You may exchange it for pork or chicken.

Prime Beef Course, $45.80.

By sharing one meal between two people, you can order other items on the menu or seasonal items such as the A5 Hokkaido Snow Beef.

Toro Karubi, $42.

Oh my oh my. These things melt in your mouth! It’s so sinful cos of the extensive marbling of the beef but so worth every calorie. Apparently this is the Hokkaido Snow Beef where the meat is said to melt in your mouth like snow flakes.

Oh, they offer free flow tea and water (both of which are not on the menu).

Menu below:

I like Yakinikutei Ao-Chan because the their atmosphere is great and the quality of their meats are great. Price wise I think it’s justified, though I’ll only visit this place again if there’s a special occasion.

Concorde Hotel, #02-22/26, 100 Orchard Road, S(238840)

Mondays to Fridays: 12pm to 230pm, 6pm to 11pm

Saturdays and Sundays: 3pm to 1030pm

+65 6735 6457

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