Saturday, June 30, 2007

Melt - The World Cafe, Oriental Singapore

Any celebration is a good excuse to pig out. And Melt is a good place to do it. Cosy ambience, warm service and food from around the world in one place. We came here for lunch, celebrating second baby's healthy ultrasound results (looks like it may be a girl too!). This is going to be another bumper post since it's a buffet.

I started with the Japanese station - large generous pieces of sushi (at least eight kinds available) and fresh sashimi. The sushi looked pretty decent, unlike most buffet sushi. However, while the fish was OK (sashimi still better) the sushi rice was way too dry. Hubby enjoyed their cold soba (gone before I took a pic).

Appetisers, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

They also had appetisers of all sorts, including dainty ones in Chinese porcelain soup spoons and saucers. These looked better than they tasted. A small bread and esoteric cheese counter, various cold meats and some other stuff completed this section.

The Chinese station is incredibly small - just 5 dishes and a prawn noodle a la minute station. I suppose this is so they won't clash with their Chinese restaurant Cherry Garden upstairs. Anyway, the wok-fried prawns were delicious - large, fresh and savoury - fried so crisp I could eat the shells. The deep-fried chicken had lemon sauce and sweet-sour sauce accompaniments. Kung pao chicken a little too salty but still tasty. Fried rice noodles very average. I didn't try the braised eggplants.

Thai station, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

The Thai station looked really good. Six different salads and six warm mains (beef with peppers, basil with chicken, sweet and sour fish, tofu with vegetables, green curry and beef ball soup).

Thai Salads, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Interestingly, the salads didn't taste alike (clockwise from top - pomelo, papaya, dragonfruit, mango and glass noodle). Some were sweet, some more tangy and another savoury and another just muted. Lovely juxtaposition of tastes. Nice shrimp and tapioca crackers.

Tikkas and Tandooris, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

The Indian section is probably the most extensive and quite well-done. Here you have a selection of chicken tandoori and tikka items, lamb kebabs, shafik paneer and fish. A separate station featured Indian curries and carbs of all kinds.

Indian platter, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

My plate combining bitesize portions from the tandoori and curry sections. Quite a variety of naans whipped out from the adjacent tandoori oven. I must say the basmati rice is incredibly good - so very well-flavoured with generous bits of savoury fried shallots. I could eat this on its own!

This section I was not so fond of. Glazed beef, garlic chicken and potato, snapper with cream, grilled sea bass, aubergines with cheese, asparagus with cherry tomatoes. Maybe I was too full by this time to fully enjoy it. Hubby voted the Japanese-style beef stew (middle pot, bottom row) as his no.1 favourite from the whole buffet though. And the very creamy, almost cheesy mashed potatoes his no.2.

Now on to what is probably the most raved about section of Melt (almost every online account carries some form of praise for their desserts)! A fantastic wonderland that lets the child out of even the most hardened soul.

Surprisingly, my favourite item from the desserts came in the form of the humble vanilla ice cream, served on top of a crisp yet fluffy waffle. This has got to be the most authentic vanilla ice cream ever! Tiny specks of real vanilla seeds imparted a fragrance that no artifical flavouring can match. If I ever come back, this is a must-have!

The rather simple-looking Mexican cookie next to the waffle was also a treat - crumbles so lightly in your mouth in buttery richness. The berry and fruit mille feuille was a flaky pastry topped with glazed fruit, competently done but not as wow as the other two.

Potent Champagne Jelly!!, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Don't be deceived by the tiny, innocuous-looking shooters of clear jelly. This is the most potent champagne jelly I have ever tasted! They must have added some super-strength vodka as well. A teaspoon of this made me momentarily woozy. I could not finish it, delicious as it was. Neither could hubby.

And if you still haven't satisfied your sugar craving from the many cakes, custards, cookies, waffles, fruit and chocolate fountain goodies, there's the gulab jamun to give you the ultimate high. This infamously sweet Indian dessert is really just milk-dough balls fried and soaked in syrup, but I have never found out how they manage to make it so shockingly sweet. The custard on raspberry jam is on the other end of the spectrum - delightfully light on sweetness but pert and tangy.

So there. I didn't get to try everything but I left very full and happy (but just personally though, I think I enjoyed myself more at Cherry Garden). I was quite glad the staff didn't object to my photo-taking, although some American guests kept staring and commented about how I'm certainly going to blog later. Yeah, yeah.

4th floor, The Oriental Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square
Tel: 6885-3082
Open daily
Breakfast: 6:30am-10:30am
Lunch: 12noon-2:30pm
Weekend High Tea: 3pm-5:30pm
Dinner: 6:30pm-10:30pm
A-la-carte: 6:30am-11:30pm


Friday, June 29, 2007

Man, I am pooped!

I'm taking a break from food-blogging today (my God, it can be tiring! Plus I've run out of reserve items to put up). What a crazy week it's been. Baby girl started her second semester at school, now twice a week at Rainbow Centre on the other side of the island - killer journeys. And KK Hospital managed to cram four appointments across this week alone! Good news is the foetal nuchal translucency scan showed everything was OK! Yay! I'm still amazed that at 12 weeks you can see almost all the major organs (stomach, kidney, liver, brain), spine and even ears and fingers fully formed!

Today I am going to screw the last KK appointment, kick back and finish Season 3 of House, M.D.! I should be back Saturday, hopefully.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Saji's Indian Rojak at Waterloo Street

Finally, finally! Today I am trying the famous Indian rojak at Waterloo Street! It's almost an institution, a pioneer, must-try, so goes common lore. About fifteen items (fritters of various kinds, fried potatoes, tofu, eggs, cuttlefish) handmade the way it used to be in the 1960s at the very birthplace of Indian rojak, the sarabat stalls of Waterloo Street. I know, I know, I shouldn't set myself up for a fall with expectations like that.

Surprisingly, when I arrived, the long queues I spotted from afar were not for Saji's but the two stalls flanking it (nasi padang and chicken rice). I was quite puzzled. Surely this is not befitting of a legend. But who knows - Asians always seem to want to eat rice. Maybe that's it. Anyway, I was quite relieved I didn't have to queue on this very hot day.

According to their signboard, they seemed to offer a few other dishes besides Indian rojak - chicken and mutton briyani, mee goreng, mee siam and roti prata. Unfortunately the reality was - no briyani today and no mee goreng until after 1.30pm. They only had mee siam and rojak. So just rojak we had.

To be honest, hubby and I were both a little underwhelmed. The rojak wasn't bad but just wasn't that great. Sure, some of the things they had were interesting - certain fritters loaded with tiny shrimp, and another type topped by three large prawns each! Also a lentil/dhal patty that was more intensely flavoured than most (and I don't normally see it as an Indian rojak component). I also liked the fact that the fritters were properly re-fried and not just treated to a cursory dip in hot oil.

I had heard warnings that the chili dipping sauce was spicy. Then again, I am the type that likes to garnish every bite with chili padi, so maybe this warning wasn't meant for me. It wasn't spicy in the least. But at least it wasn't cloyingly sweet although it was a bit starchy for me, with bits of sweet potato floating in it (not fond of that). It was just a slightly better version than the one I had at Geylang Serai. Maybe this is the real deal but I prefer sauces with more crushed peanuts in them.

So basically, the fritters were fine but the sauce didn't do it for me.

The other tiny good surprise was how cheap it was - five pieces for only S$3.60, including the piece with three large prawns. I wasn't expecting change for my S$5.

Nan Tai Eating House
Blk 262 Waterloo St #01-29
Open 11am to 7pm daily
closed one Monday towards end of each month


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Vil'age, only a faint shadow of Marche

Marche's been gone from The Heeren for a long time. Never thought I'd miss it but having tried The Vil'age (its replacement), I'd have to say I wish Marche was still there. The Vil'age seems to have kept almost the very same menu items as Marche but it's just not the same. Now that it's been some time, we came again to see if things may have improved. Sadly, no.

One of the things we remembered fondly about Marche was the waffles. Here, the waffles with bananas and ice-cream (still Movenpick) paled in comparison. Marche's waffles seemed richer, thicker and fluffier, the bananas riper and the caramel sauce much more generous.

Swedish rosti, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Even the rosti (another popular favourite) is a pale imitation. Somehow the potato shreds are not as dense, tasty or well-fried. Portion even looks smaller. Sliced onions are fresh though but who eats rosti for the onions? Ah well. I suppose there's still Marche Vivocity if we really want that familiar comfort of a good, gigantic Swiss hash brown.

UPDATE Jan 2008: Vil'age at The Heeren has closed. Not sure for good or if they have just moved.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bad CKT and CTK at Albert Centre/Queen Street food centre

Generic shop, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I hesitated blogging this. Whenever I come across bad quality food, I'm not always sure if it's consistently bad or just a bad day. I don't really want to go back to verify because there's just too many other places to try, so little time (and money!).

OK, Albert Centre market & food centre at 270 Queen Street. We stopped here at 6pm one day for a bit of CKT (char kway teow or fried rice noodles) and CTK (chai tow kueh or fried carrot cake) just randomly picking a spot. I know there's a good CKT here but it was closed for the evening. So we chose this rather festively red generic signboard with a cook wearing a uniform. Yes, we got suckered in by nice photos too.

Carrot cake, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

The main problem with the food here is lack of freshness of the ingredients. The black carrot cake had semi-hardened/dry radish cake which reeked of staleness. It probably had been sitting there for too long, maybe since morning. The seasoning was not great either, so did not do much to rescue the dish.

Fried kway teow, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

The fried kway teow seems to be the wet variety. Tastewise, a little better than the carrot cake but not by much. It wasn't long before I bit into a piece of fishcake that had gone bad. I had to spit it out (yes, right in front of the chef). Left most of the dishes uneaten. Odd thing is, this stall still had a fairly steady stream of customers! Some people must like their food...


Monday, June 25, 2007

Homemade wantan mee

Homemade wantan mee, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Sorry, didn't take note of ingredients and measurements so no recipe here. Some odd dash of dark sauce, light sauce, sesame oil, etc. But this was quite yummy! Noodles QQ (al dente) and wantans crunchy with lots of water chestnuts. Only char siew and roast pork was bought from market.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ohsho: Chahan, Gyoza and Ramen

Chahan (fried rice with pork), originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I have been wanting to try Ohsho's fried rice for some time. Finally today I was nearby at an off-peak hour. Seats available! I opted for the Set F (S$11) - comprising chahan (fried rice with pork), a plate of gyoza and a bowl of clear soup. They also have a different version with crabmeat and egg in thick sauce, and chahan with chicken instead of pork. The food arrived quickly. My chahan was a very large bowl, with plenty of ingredients. Yes, it was tasty but the rice was a little too moist and clumpy for my expectations - I am still looking for the Holy Grail of Japanese-style fried rice in Singapore ever since tasting a really superb one in Tokyo. Am I hoping for too much? Probably.

Gyoza platter, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Quite a generous plate of gyozas, I'd say, for just an extra S$3 (the chahan on its own would have cost S$8). Ohsho has lots of condiments you can choose to pair your food with. Vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce, pepper, chili paste, chili-vinegar mix (in a large spout bottle), and hurrah, the Shichimi Togarashi chili flakes (which was recently taken off the supermarket shelves on suspicions of it containing a psychoactive component of cannabis). These go really well with all kinds of Japanese food. I doubt they'll be able to replenish the bottles though.

Gyoza filling, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

The gyoza filling is of course not as abundant as what you get in Shanghainese fried dumplings. Tastewise somewhat subtle but it was all right. However, the skin looked and tasted strangely rubbery. Not so much that it disturbed you, but it certainly wasn't the fine skin that you get at Noodle House Ken's and elsewhere.

Chili Ramen, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Hubby went for a pork-based spicy chili ramen (he almost didn't actually - still traumatised by the Tampopo experience. The Ohsho version (S$10) turned out to be decent even though not terribly spicy. At first I was not too impressed with the broth, but it slowly grew on me. Still, I think Noodle House Ken is better for ramen (even though they have far less variety). Now I only need to try Ken's fried rice (although I hear Ohsho's better in this regard).

Ohsho is a really open and small shop with a long counter and just 4-5 small tables in front. Service is quick and I like that ice water comes freely available on the table (as is common in ramen shops in Japan, so I hear). Foodwise, there is something decidedly "homely" about Ohsho's cooking. To me, it really tastes like Chinese home-cooking for some reason, even though it's meant to be Japanese-influenced (with a real Japanese chef behind the counter at that). But with prices that are quite accessible (and no service charge or GST to boot!), it's not a bad place to come to once in a while.

5 Koek Road #01-10
Cuppage Plaza
Tel: 6735-7068
Open daily
11.30am - 2.00am(Mondays - Saturdays)
1.00pm - 12.00am(Sundays & Public Holidays)


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Werner's Oven: Crispy Pork Knuckle and Grilled Cheese Sausage

Grilled Cheese Sausage, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Werner's Oven is really doing well for itself. We were glad we came early this evening. By 7pm it was full house - if you had no reservation, it would have been pretty hard to get a seat. Food must be good. Hubby went for the grilled cheese sausage. The hot cheese bubbles out as you cut into the sausage. Very good but extremely rich and satiating. The sauerkraut is more sweet than sour, but that is apparently how they do it in Germany (hubby has spent considerable time there). The mashed potatoes were very smooth and fluffy but I still prefer mine a little more dense.

Knusperiege Schweinehaxe, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Anyway, this is the reason I am here. Mmmh, finally got my fix of crispy "ter kah" - pork knuckle. There was one order of this on almost every table there. This dish is remarkably similar to really crispy Chinese roast pork. How I love the fragrant, crackling skin! Those who quibble about eating pork lard should stop reading right now. Again, this portion can be easily satiating, so two small eaters can easily share.

Werner's does a good job of keeping the inner meat really tender and juicy. The flesh melted like butter under my knife. I still remember one of my very first taste of crispy pork knuckle at Marche - the meat was much harder and more chewy there. But both there as well as here, I enjoyed gnawing at the bone for crispy parts and bits of meat. This was such a large portion, it was hard to finish though. I also left behind a small mound of subcutaneous fat dissected from between the skin and meat.

Hefe-Weissbier, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Wash all that down with a good glass of beer. They serve Paulaner here. Hefe-Weissbier is a "golden, naturally cloudy wheat beer with a delicate fruity aroma" and is indeed delicious with a hint of caramel. Hubby thoroughly enjoyed this.

All in all, a fairly satisfying meal an a fairly authentic German experience but also one so rich in cholesterol and fat that it should be an infrequent treat. Oh, and the bakery has nice breads too. You can check out their full menu available online too.

6 Upper East Coast Road
Tel: 6442-3897
Open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays)
8.30am - 10.00pm


Friday, June 22, 2007

Margaret Drive Food Centre: Sin Kee Chicken Rice and Queenstown Popiah

Sin Kee Chicken Rice, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
There are quite a few stalls selling chicken rice at Margaret Drive Food Centre (some folks know it better as Queenstown Centre). Sin Kee is an old favourite (selling mainly white steamed chicken) and you will see that it accounts for most of the business on the second floor. I am sure I must have tried it in the past and not remembered it. Today I am refreshing my memory tastebuds.

My S$3 plate arrived with plump, juicy, tender chicken - it's amazing that they even got breast meat to that consistency! However, the soy-sesame seasoning they drizzled on the chicken didn't taste like much (maybe I should have gotten my plate of chicken separate from the rice and asked for more sauce). The rice itself although well-steamed was also lacking in flavour, making me yearn for Yet Con's version.

Well, top marks for Sin Kee's chicken texture but I think I'll try Tong Kee next time - it's on the first floor with roast chicken and roast pork that looks scrumptiously tempting.

Queenstown Poh Pia Springrolls, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
After the chicken meal, I headed downstairs for my dose of vegetables - hehe, in the form of popiah (I love springrolls!). I had also heard this stall was good. But it tasted really average today. Not enough of the crispy stuff. Not enough sweet umami flavour. The skin was also slightly papery and dry (I know they make their own but this is still not my type, sorry). I'm glad to say the Marine Parade central food centre's Homemade Springroll trumps this any day!

Block 40-A Margaret Drive Food Centre #02-548
Tel: 6471-0355
Open 10.30am-9pm; closed Mondays
has moved to
Mei Chin Food Centre, 
159 Mei Chin Road #02-22, Singapore 140159
Tel: +65 6473-9525 
Tue - Sun: 11:00 - 20:00
Closed: Mon

Blk 40-A Margaret Drive Food Centre #01-484
Tel: 9781-6307
Open 10am-10pm
has moved to
#01-27 — at Yuhua Village Market & Food Centre Blk 254.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cafe Divine: Spaghetti with Wok Hei?

Spaghetti Carbonara, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I first read about this on ChubbyHubby's blog and his description of spaghetti carbonara with wok hei (breath of wok, or the much-desired smoky quality in stir-fried food imparted by using a really hot wok) more than convinced me this was something I had to try. I love hole-in-the-wall places that offer great food! But what I encountered was not quite the fairy tale I hoped it would be. The place is a tiny shop hidden in the outer ring on the second floor of Adelphi complex (close to the overhead bridge to Funan Centre). It looked slightly dodgy but hey, if they serve great food, I don't care about ambiance.

So, how was the spaghetti (S$5)? A really large plate arrived, the pasta and bacon bits awash in a sea of watery cream sauce. Wok hei? Hmm, well, the spaghetti was really hot, piping steaming hot. But didn't quite have the smoky, lightly charred taste of wok hei. Now, the Hill Street Fried Kway Teow has undeniable wok hei. This one I had to ponder. But at least the pasta wasn't soggy and soft, which I recently had, at a joint that shall remain unnamed.

Anyway, despite my tolerance for greasy foods, I could not finish the plate. Though it seemed a bit bland and watery, the cream base was deceptively filling and satiating. I told myself to walk it off a bit, but the more I walked, the more nausea I felt. Half a litre of oo-long tea did nothing to quell the uneasiness. On hindsight, I should have taken a cue from what the others were eating - most were having local cze-char style noodles (fried hor fun, Hong Kong mee, etc) which also came in HUGE portions. Looking at the menu, I realised why too. Only S$3! They also offer all kinds of other food, from Western to Japanese, most under S$6.

Well, I'll say that this little shop does serve value-for-money grub in a central city location. It certainly beats the food court in Funan Centre! I just would not go for anything cream-based next time.

1 Coleman Street, #02-07
The Adelphi
Tel: 6336-5836


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Myojo Sambal Dry Mee Poh

Ooh, never thought I'd include instant noodles in my review but hey, it counts as commercially available food too. So anyway, I was very happy some time back to hear Myojo was launching a sambal version of its noodles. Finally I saw it in the markets.

Myojo Sambal Mee Poh cooked, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

This is what it looks like when prepared. You mix the boiled noodles with a little packet of sambal and the flavouring powder and voila! Surprisingly quite a tasty little meal! I'm glad they didn't stint on a spicy enough kick (very important for me!). The sambal tasted like good sambal. This is much better than their original dry mee poh flavour, but still falls short of the Spicy Ramen Char Mee (my absolute favourite).

Purportedly with no trans fat (although saturated fat at 9 grams out of a total 20 grams fat in that serving, is not light).

There are two other flavours as well in the Sambal range. Chicken ramen and seafood ramen. Available at most supermarkets. Normal price S$3, I got mine at Giant for $2.59 (promotion).


Which Tarot Card Are You?

I have been noticing these cards surfacing on blogs of people who have visited me. So I took a go at the quiz too, just for the fun of it.

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Actually it sounds a bit like my Taurus star sign. And the number III! A Native American friend of mine once told me my number was 3. What strange coincidences. Now, don't nobody kidnap me kid!!!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Eunos 1A Seng Kee Minced Meat Noodles: Fish Maw Soup and Pork Ribs

This is a popular place for bak chor mee (minced meat noodles) and opens only in the day (7am to 4.30pm). It also serves a really good fish maw soup and pork rib noodles, so that's what I came for today. But I had no idea the fish maw soup was in such a large serving (S$10/12) which would have been enough for four to share. The waitress recommended that I take the fish maw soup with noodles (dry) at S$7 and add a S$2 portion of pork ribs.

The pork ribs were stewed until the meat all but threatened to fall away once picked up. Even the soft bones were tender and powdery...if only it had a bit more crunch to it - I love chewing soft bones, even very hard ones (oh well, I may have been a dog in a past life). In terms of flavour, I still prefer the stewed pork at Leong Kee's. The noodles were quite good even if slightly wet and soft. I really liked the sambal but both that and the gravy had an overpowering layer of oil. I wished there were more noodles though. I think it was all gone in five mouthfuls. Boy was I glad I had the big bowl of soup to fill me up.

Fish maw soup, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
This was a large bowl with a large spoon. Generous clumps of fish maw pieces and minced meat adorned the cloudy, flavourful soup. The flavour is quite intense but almost too umami, if that's even possible. I'm quite sure the sweetness of the soup was not all from boiling scallops and pork bones (a lot of vendors add sugar to their soups, even for something as bland as yong tau foo). I sensed a distinct sugar high after eating this and had to walk it off a bit.
Still yet to try the bak chor mee, but that's a story for another day.

316 Changi Road (in a row of shophouses)
Open daily 7am to 4.30pm
Tel: 6345-7561
(they may be closed on certain days, which they will announce via posters in the shop)

UPDATE: they have moved to
Serangoon Gardens Food Centre, Stall no. 4. 
Open 7.30am to 3pm (closed Mondays).
Tel: 84390434

Monday, June 18, 2007

Vinco, The Doughnut Parlour

Vinco, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I've got no food to blog about today, so I'm putting up some old photos. This is of Vinco's at Vivocity, snapped sometime back in March. Not sure if the doughnut craze had taken off back then, as no queueing was necessary.

Sorry, one doughnut had been swiped before I took a picture. Can't remember the names. There's a kaya one, cheese one, cherry (I think), blueberry and almond flakes. But honestly, no wow factor from any of these. A bit soft and oily. They didn't hold their shape well either. Messy box cos they jostled around a bit on the way home.


Britain's Got Talent Finals: Connie and Paul

The finals saw six acts. Little Connie sang the full "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" to a rapt audience. Beautiful as ever, though I still like her first performance better (sigh, when you get high expectations, you almost always enjoy things less! Same with food, isn't it?).

Paul Potts, a humble and shy mobilephone salesman, sang Nessun Dorma (omg opera!) to technical perfection and won. The competition that is. Connie won hearts all over the world.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Straits Cafe at Hotel Rendezvous

Straits Cafe main buffet area, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Mother-in-law chose Straits Cafe for her 80th birthday celebration, which included 18 guests in total. The cafe had a specially expanded spread (international and local offerings) for Father's Day as well, so the price was up from S$29+++ to S$36+++. Actually the selection was not too bad - they had quite a lot of stuff that seemed to satisfy everyone.

I started off at the carvery near the entrance of the cafe. They had roast beef with hash browns, Peking duck, grilled chicken & vegetables, croissants, foccacia bread, two types of dim sum and a sharksfin soup trolley.

My first plate. Hubby really liked the beef, I found it so-so, a little too tough and dry, and the glaze too sweet (well, I did get served the dried out corner bit instead of the middle part which should be more moist). The rest are average fare for the most. Dim sum a bit cold. Nice foccacia bread though.

Sashimi, maki and beef salad, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

The cold section had sashimi (only salmon), various maki, capers and pickles. They also had cold soba, unagi somen and hiyayako tofu which you can top with shredded seaweed and bonito flakes. OK, the sashimi was the letdown, lacking in sweetness and freshness.

A good variety of salads (squid, mushroom, mixed greens, potato, beef with asparagus, etc), including a "toss your own" Caesar salad section. Potato salad extra yummy with sour cream and onions in it.

A chef prepares this claypot for you. First a capful of brandy goes into a sizzling hot claypot, followed by two scoops of ready-made soup and a spoonful of sharksfin. There's some flambe action for a while as he stirs it. Finally parsley and black vinegar is added. Tastewise, all right but not spectacular. It's a small or mini claypot but still quite a generous bowl of soup (with crabmeat, bits of egg and slivers of tofu) even if the sharksfin is very finely shredded and not too detectable.

Peking duck, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Most people missed this since the ingredients were placed in small bowls looking like condiments and the crepes hidden under moist towels. The roast duck was not bad. The crepe was a bit too dry though.

Pepper crab and fried bee hoon, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

This was very popular with the guests - black pepper crab. Nice thick black pepper paste. However, just the tiny issue of crab being not the freshest or fleshiest, and the meat hard to extract. Took a long time to eat. Quite tasty though, good seasoning.

DIY laksa, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Another hit with the crowd. Laksa with good gravy and sambal. You assemble the ingredients (fishcake, beansprouts, fried beancurd, laksa leaf and noodles) to your own preference. Sorry for the messy picture - this was half-eaten before I realised I forgot to take a shot of it. And no, it isn't as spicy as it looks.

Desserts were probably the best section of the buffet. They really had a lot you could choose from. The fruits and marshmellows dipped in the chocolate fountain taste as good as they look. I'm glad the chocolate is not too sweet. This way the natural sweetness and fragrance of the fruit came forth and complemented the chocolate beautifully.

Sago pudding, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

This funny concoction is sago pudding. You pour a bit of gula melaka and coconut milk over it. I think it's jackfruit on top. They also had semolina pudding, which is more like bread pudding, also with various toppings and syrups.

Desserts row, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Really the most comprehensive subsection of the buffet. Durian fudge, passionfruit pavlova, caramel creme pudding, coffee mousse, assorted French pastries, Nonya kuehs, rhubarb and raisin pie, tiny desserts in shot glasses, chiffon cake, tau suan, cheng tng and red bean soup...just to name some. I can't remember all and certainly didn't get to try everything. Oh ice cream in two flavours, too, we missed. Nice lime juice next to the chocolate fountain.

In general, Straits Cafe offers a fairly wide spread - to be honest, I didn't cover a lot of dishes, especially the cold and hot mains. Hubby said he wouldn't mind coming back again. This place was better than he expected. However, I'm not sure which items are included in the regular S$29+++ buffet, and which were extra just for today. Yes, there are some highlights here but personally I'd rather fork out just a little bit more and go elsewhere for better grub.

Rendezvous Hotel
9 Bras Basah Road
Open 7 days and nights a week for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 7.00am to 11.00pm (daily)

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