Tag Archives: worth it

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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SKAI Lunch Menu, Swissotel The Stamford

Go!!!

Taking over the space of Equinox on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford is SKAI, a contemporary grill helmed by Chef Paul Hallett. As with all atas places with a ceiling to floor view of the CBD area and a great ambience, the hack is to have their lunch sets which promises you all the frills without burning a hole in your pocket.

As soon as the lift door opens you are greeted with the warmth of overflowing natural sunlight. The super high ceiling gives this place a feeling of grandeur, lifting your spirits instantly.

The interior is simple yet classy. Love the woody textures overlaid with various greens scattered around the place.

The view from my table. Protip: if you’re there to impress, do request for a table by the window prior to your reservation.

For lunch, a 2 course set menu will set you back by $39++ while a 3 course set will set you back by $45++. Needless to say, I went for the 3 course set because you get one more dish for only $6++!

Freshly baked sourdough served with mushroom butter.

Hehe, one of the things I look forward to at such posh restaurants is the bread basket. The bread was so crusty! Left a whole trail of breadcrumbs on my table.

Appetizer: Yellow Fin Tuna with Kohlrabi Remoulade, Watercress, Rice Crisp

The rhapsody of elements in this dish makes every bite a different and refreshing experience. You wouldn’t think that some of the components would make a big difference because they seem so innocuous.

Appetizer: Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Eggplant, Enoki and Truffle

If I were to give a name to this dish, I would call it The Girl Next Door. The whole dish looks really plain and simple, until you take the first scoop. The soup was extremely smooth and you could tell that it’s filled with the natural sweetness of the cauliflower. Also, check out the amount of truffle shavings!

Main: Stanbroke Wagyu Petite Tender with Endive Salad and Asian Spice

Did you know that tenderloins are the most tender part of the cow since this muscle does very little work? It’s perfect for grilling and has that melt in your mouth texture. Super pleased they serve this part for lunch because again, this 3 course meal is only $45++!!!

Look at that pinkish, juicy meat!

Dessert: Exotic Trifle — Coconut, Mango Compote, Lemongrass Sorbet

This dessert is served as a mini show. The staff will pour water into the glass dome containing dry ice in front of you. I knew what was coming but I couldn’t help feeling like a little girl feeling excited and in awe. A pity the dry ice ran out too quickly.

Dessert: Earl Grey Parfait — Raspberry, Citrus Jelly, Yoghurt Ice Cream

Where is the earl grey you wonder? It’s in that hexagonal biscuit looking thing! Because of the sweet and sour details of this dish, you’ll find yourself wanting more and more after every bite.

SKAI lunch sets are a really good deal given the amount of creativity and variation going into each dish. I had a great experience there, and so will you.

2 Stamford Road, Level 70, S(178882)

Lunch: Mondays to Fridays 12noon to 230pm, Saturdays 12noon to 330pm

+65 6837 3322

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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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Why I decided to discontinue MealPal Singapore after a month

TL;DR: Do NOT subscribe to MealPal.

When MealPal was introduced in Singapore majority of the CBD folks rejoiced, myself included.

(Screenshot from MealPal’s website.)

To put simply, MealPal is a subscription service where you pay a fixed amount of money for a fixed number of meals per month. You order your meal from the restaurant the day before, and simply show up to collect your food the next day when it’s time. No queue, no fuss.

The model is simple math. Taking the mid level package as a reference, you get 12 restaurant meals for $96, averaging it out to $8 per meal. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect to eat with MealPal:

(Screenshots all taken from the respective Facebook pages or websites.)

All’s good? Not quite.

Strike one. I should have seen this as a red flag. When I was still exploring MealPal I had wanted to see the variety of restaurants as well as food options under their belt.

I couldn’t.

I was prompted to sign up for an account, including giving my credit card details and choosing my meal plan before I could view the restaurants. I was definitely not comfortable doing that. Why do I even need to sign up for an account?! It’s like having to sign up and give your credit card details before you can browse Qoo10. I got around this by browsing through my friend’s app (she was already a member).

Strike two. Restaurants offer only one option per day. If you don’t like beef soup, then restaurant A is out for the day. The whole idea is to allow the restaurants to prepare the required demand so they don’t run into issues of insufficient food. Sure, I’ll just wait until a day where restaurant A finally offers that meal I really wanted; the meal they are well known for.

Wait long long.

Most, if not all, rotate their menu between two to three options across the days. It’s always either Green Curry or Tom Yam Chicken. After a while, you can guess tomorrow’s menu, and it screams boring. Also, this means that people with preferred dietary options have a super small selection to choose from.

Strike three. Some restaurants offer very limited sets. And I mean the likes of 10 meals a day. To give you context, MealPal opens the kitchen at 5pm sharp daily. Once an item is sold out, the pin would be greyed out, like in the screenshot below:

Needless to say, the greyed out restaurants offer something really value for money. So I tried to grab a meal. I went in daily at 5pm sharp. Got my co-workers to do so as well. None of us successfully got it for as long as a week, until Lady Luck smiled at one of my co-worker. When she went to collect her meal the next day, she asked if they (the restaurant) could release more meals.

The answer is no.

MealPal had capped the number of meals they (the restaurant) offered per day. The restaurant explained a little more, and I figured that MealPal wouldn’t be able to cover the costs if more sets were released. Sure, I’m fine that it makes perfect business sense, but as a customer, being unable to get my favourite meal even though I went in at 5pm sharp daily for a week no less, is just ridiculous.

Strike four. I was primed to think that I had only 12 meals per month. If I used up all 12 meals before the billing cycle ended, I would have to wait till the next cycle before my meals would be reset. Not too bad, I can choose to have other types of food however I pleased on the other non-MealPal days.

Nope.

The moment you finish your 12th meal, MealPal will start billing you for the next 12 meals. What this means is that even if you haven’t reached the 1 month mark, you might be billed again depending on how quickly you finish your meals. Not quite the typical way of how subscription services work.

Strike five. By this time I was starting to fume. I explored the notion of cancelling my subscription, and started looking through the app for that “unsubscribe” button. Couldn’t find any, so I tried looking for the “FAQs”.

There were none.

Wtfbbq? How could it be so difficult to unsubscribe? What was MealPal trying to hide from me? Desperate, I clicked on everything, and finally, the “Tems of Use” (who reads these anyway?). Cue enlightening background music. The answers were all there, within the 946261957462 paragraphs of words.

“For a cancellation to be effective for your next Membership Cycle, it must be received at least 7 days prior to the end of your then-current Membership Cycle or before you reserve your last meal in your cycle, whichever comes first. To cancel a membership, i) email hi@mealpal.com with “Cancel Membership” in the subject line; or ii) access “My Account” from the MealPal dropdown. To cancel your membership in My Account, click “Change Plan for Next Cycle”; then “Hold or Cancel My Account”; and then “Cancel Account”. ”

Oh I must have missed the “My Account” button on the App. So I checked again and:

This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Come on MealPal, isn’t it obvious that everyone works on their mobile smartphones these days? Going to a desktop meant that I’ll have to make that dedicated, special trip to my study room, and that I’ll have to key in my password (which I may have forgotten by now since mobile apps are unlocked via thumbprints these days).

Bonus strike. You have to unsubscribe at least 7 days in advanced, either before the last meal or before the billing cycle ended, whichever comes first. What is this 7 days notice about? MealPal are you paying me a salary? Do you need 7 days because you need to find a replacement for me? The last I checked I am in fact paying you close to a $100 a month. And note this ridiculous condition if you decide to unsubscribe but later for some reason think that you want back in: you have to pay $19 to re-join.

Still thinking of subscribing to Mealpal? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

To be honest, towards the end of my first month I was screaming to be released from MealPal. It was pure torture, having to settle for food that I didn’t really like (or rather, was bored of), coupled with the accumulated disgust I had for them.

So it’s goodbye MealPal, you won’t be missed.

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