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Best-value buffets

By Jacqueline Tan
22 July 2010 11:18 AMUpdated 21 Oct 2010

Best-value buffets

 What's not to like about buffets? The sheer variety alone that some restaurants offer is enough to wow–even if you don’t profess to have a big appetite. But a gargantuan spread boasting top-notch quality usually also means you’ve to be prepared to splurge. And if you want a big buffet that’s cheap, sure, you get variety but not necessary quality.

The good news is you can actually indulge in a sumptuous spread buffet without breaking the bank. From the appetisers to the fresh raw items, mains and desserts, an enticing eat-all-you-can lineup ranging from Japanese to Perananakan and Cantonese awaits at these restaurants. 

So wear your loosest garb and head to the following places for a buffetlicious time.   

 

Jing

#01-02/03 One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road

Tel: 6224 0088

Sat & Sun: 12pm-2.30pm

What: The contemporary Chinese eatery (under the Majestic Group of Restaurants) is abuzz with families and couples on weekends, thanks to their a la carte buffet. The menu offers a large selection of over 30 items including dim sum, noodles, soups and signature Jing’s dishes such as wasabi prawns and XO sauce carrot cake. There’s also a buffet table where you can help yourself to roast items, some very traditional Cantonese dishes like pig trotters in vinegar, and desserts such as egg tarts, fruits and avocado cream.

Don’t miss: Chef Yong Bing Ngen’s signature dishes, which are part of the a la carte buffet menu without the a la carte prices. The wasabi prawns tasted as good as they looked–the lightly battered prawns were nicely crisp with a rich smothering of wasabi mayo. Chef Yong’s carrot cake was also lip-smacking good with the bean sprouts providing a crunchy contrast to the pillowy-soft carrot cake. Another must-order is his fried kang kong with special salmon sauce. Salmon with the green vegetables may sound like a strange combo, but trust us, the salmon bits in the sauce really gave the dish some bite–and makes a healthier alternative to dried shrimps. For bigger groups of four or more, you might want to order the chilli crab, which was wonderfully eggy or the fried soon hock fish.   

Why it’s value for money:  At $38 per person ($20 for kids, 4-12 years), this buffet is really a steal, considering the a la carte dishes are pricey ($6 to $40 per portion, with most dishes averaging $16-$18) on normal days. The buffet also includes free flow of Chinese tea. 

 

Spices Cafe

Concorde Hotel ,100 Orchard Road

Tel: 6739 8370/6733 8855

Availability: Mon-Fri: 12pm-2.30pm

What: Called the “Singapore flavours” lunch buffet, the emphasis here is really the authentic Peranakan fare. And with Baba Jolly Wee, an octogenarian Peranakan as consultant (he trained the chefs and actually inspects the spread personally three times a week to ensure its consistent quality), you can be assured the great array of Nonya fare (and dessert) here is authentic with a capital “A’. They must be doing something right, as the cafe is well patronised by the bibiks and babas at lunchtime. 

Don’t miss: The excellent ayam buah keluak–its thick, robust gravy makes you just want to keep heaping on the rice. There’s also Nonya laksa, petai prawns, rojak (the Nonya version has more fruit like water apple (also known as rose apple) and guava) and mee goreng tinged with a lovely lemongrass flavour.

The buffet also includes a good array of local favourites such as oyster omelette, chilli or black pepper crabs and Hainanese satay with pineapple sauce. The smattering of Cantonese dishes is also worth sampling. The flavourful rice wine chicken soup is the real chicken soup for the soul and the dying dish, loh kai yikis a rare nostalgic treat. Its stew-like gravy is made from red fermented beancurd–the chef dishes it up with your choice of meats (chicken, pork, liver, innards) and kang kong. 

Why it’s value for money: Peranakan cuisine is often pricey at the restaurants, so Spices Cafe’s $25 per person ($12.50 kids, 3-12 years) buffet is an unbeatable deal. Plus, you get to savour some really good local dishes. The buffet is also going at just $20.50 from Aug 2 to 31, as part of the National Day celebrations.

 

Orchard Cafe

442 Orchard Road

Tel: 6739 6565

Availability: Daily: 12.00pm-2.30pm 

What: Local favourites and hawker delights are the mainstays of this hotel’s “go local” buffet lunch. There are live stations serving perennial favourites such as mee siam, laksa, char kway teow, hokkien mee, oyster omelette and kway chap (available on rotation basis). The main buffet lineup also features Thai, Indonesian, Indian and tze char specialities, and a seafood counter beckoning with super fresh sashimi, prawns and abalone.

Don’t miss: The kway chap deserves special mention–the flat noodles are smooth and ‘slurpilicious’, and the soup comes with a pleasant herbal flavour and thicker than what you normally get at the hawker stalls. The zingy homemade chilli dip is a must-have too. The “you chai” (vegetables with oyster sauce) counter is where you can go for a simple, delicious plate of greens. The chef will blanche your choice of vegetables before lacing it with shallot oil, oyster sauce and fried garlic bits.  

Whyit’s value for money: You may balk at the $39 ($22 for kids) price initially, considering that it’s just for local fare, but when you actually check out the immense variety which includes a taste of Asia, you know you’ll be getting more bang for your buck.

 

Spice Brasserie

Parkroyal on Kitchener Road , 181 Kitchener Road

Tel: 6428 3170

Availability: Mon-Fri: 12.00pm-2.30pm

What: An underrated buffet restaurant with a thematic spread every month. Currently serving Japanese (which ends July 31), the restaurant also has a Teochew porridge corner that’s been a fixture in the hotel for 21 years (yes, it dates as far back as the New Park Hotel days)! For something as humble as Teochew porridge to last that long and still drawing in the crowds, there must be something going for it.

Don’t miss: Tucked away at a corner of the buffet table, the Teochew porridge selection is easily overwhelmed by the mains (in this case, the Japanese dishes). But don’t skip it even if you’re more distracted by the sashimi, ramen and tempura. The sweet potato porridge was comfortingly smooth and comes with 14 types of sides and condiments. The braised items such as pork trotters, soya duck and tau pok with egg all taste deliciously homemade–just like grandma makes it.

The Japanese dishes may appear more ‘mass’ than gourmet, but you get pretty good quality delights such as seafood tempura, Japanese fried rice, sukiyaki and fresh sashimi.     

In conjunction with National Day next month, Spice Brasserie is featuring a local spread and guests born in the year of 1965 get to enjoy 45% off their buffet price. 

Why it’s value for money: You get to enjoy a special themed buffet and tuck into familiar comfort food at the same time for just $29 a person ($17 for kids). Weekday buffet dinner is at $33 ($19 for kids)

 

Senor Santos

#01-12 The Foundry, Clarke Quay , Block 3B River Valley Road 

Tel: 6336 7741

Availability: Daily: 6.00pm-10.30pm

What:  Meat lovers rejoice! Another Brazilian churrascaria has opened to satisfy your meaty cravings. And you can salivate as you watch the meats being cooked to perfection on the grill, housed in a glass room in the middle of the restaurant. Pasadors (professional meat carvers) come to your table with big, tempting skewers of meat ranging from chicken wrapped in turkey bacon, beef ribs, chicken thigh, beef rump and hump (specially imported from Brazil) and more. 

The salad bar is also another highlight with salads, pasta and Brazilian dishes–sample Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, a bean stew cooked in a robust beef stock. There’s also an array of cocktails (a Caipirinha anyone?), wines and beers to go with all that meat.

Don’t miss: While the eat-all-you-can is a carnivore’s dream come true, non-meat lovers will find plenty of things to like about this place. The butterfish is a must-have–moist, hunky cubes that melt in the mouth with a buttery flavour. The crisp garlic bread rubbed with a spread made from mustard and mixed herbs is also divine!

Meat connoisseurs will also find their beef rump and hump a winner. Sliced wafer thin, the tender meat oozes with marbling juices and flavour. If the meats get too much after a while, cleanse your palate with grilled slices of cinnamon-dusted pineapple and you’ll be all raring to go again.

Why it’s value for money: All those meats (15 varieties!) you can feast on for $39.80 a person ($18 for kids up to 12 years) plus a salad bar with a spread that’s a meal in itself–you really can’t ask for more.

 

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