We arrived at the entrance of 1 Market (Address: Plaza Singapura Atrium 68 #04-45/49 Orchard Road | Tel: 63419159 | Opening hours: Daily: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6-10pm) to peer into a bustling lunch hour. When you walk in, a food demonstration area sits on the right, vibrant with herbs, spices and ingredients for the day's workshop. If you're lucky, you will see chef Wan cooking up his favourite dishes. We got lucky.
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The man behind this 450-seat halal buffet restaurant that features cuisine of South East Asia and beyond. The food served is made from the recipes chef Wan has amassed over his many years of experience, and is made using native cooking styles from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Chef Wan will make regular appearances here to connect with fans and friends.
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1 Market will also feature guest chefs like chef Wan's aunties (pictured) who are formidable chefs themselves. But of course, he picked up some of his skills from them.
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This already familiar sight will be even more familiar - at 1 Market, you can see chef Wan cooking dishes like his mum's laksa at the demo space.
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A chef at one of the stations ("Barbecued Meats") carving portions of roast beef, lamb and chicken in front of dinners. There are a total of about ten stations, including soup, fresh seafood, laksa (daily special), popiah, Japanese and dessert.
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Fresh ingredients on display.
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This might not be new information to those of you that are fans of chef Wan, but we thought we'd explain it anyway - chef Wan is of Riau Malay, Javanese, Nyonya and Japanese descent. That probably explains the Japanese buffet station. Also, why wouldn't you include a Japanese station in a buffet? This one's pretty standard - sashimi, sushi, maki rolls and seaweed.
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This is the grill section where squid gamelan and satay are cooked. Diners can watch chefs bustle about in the kitchen from their seats in the tropical, rustic, brown-hued dining areas. Even though the kitchen is open-plan, the smells won't permeate the clothes. Those must be some strong exhaust fans chef Wan's installed.
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The laksa, made in the Malay style, is served in a very cute little claypot. Even cuter is the signs on the tables that ask diners to not waste food - chef Wan's friendly, smiley face is on it. Try not to steal the sign home, please.
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The laksa station with the serving apparatus all lined up and ready. 1 Market is working like a well-oiled operation even though it's only been open for a week and a half.
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Some of the offerings available at the restaurant. We had the stuffed squid on the left - it was cooked perfectly without it being rubbery. At special festivals such as Ramadan, dishes like tajine, cous cous and other famous halal dishes will make an appearance.
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The heritage corner where they will take you on a trip down nostalgia road. "People bond over good food and in turn they build rapports and lasting memories," the man who is touted as Malaysia's food ambassador said.
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A steaming traditional rattan steamer is in line with the rustic theme of the restaurant. This is a fixture at the popiah station.
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No buffet would be complete without a dessert station. 1 Market has a variety of dessert from the traditional Malay pastries to Thailand's glutinous rice with mango dessert. Watch this space during Hari Raya Puasa - chef Wan will bake cookies and traditional goodies.
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Chef Wan's first restaurant is decorated in a rustic manner to evoke memories of traditional Southeast Asia. One of the more interesting feature is the sampan which harks back to the region's water-borne roots. (Lunch Mon-Fri $21.80++ per adult, $$12.80++ per child aged 6-12; Sat, Sun, eve of public holidays and public holidays $29.80++ per adult, $17.80++ per child | Dinner Mon-Fri $34.80++ per adult, $16.80++ per child; Sat, Sun, eve of public holidays and public holidays $38.80++ per adult, $19.80++ per child)