Autumn is here, and it's one of the best seasons for harvest produce particularly in Japan. Triple Three, the award-winning Japanese-inspired buffet restaurant at Mandarin Orchard, is bringing in exquisite produce from Hokkaido for 12 days (19 to 30 Oct 2016) of indulgent dining.
All your favourite Japanese stations here will be stocked with ingredients from Hokkaido. The sashimi counter will have sweet Ebi (Shrimp), Hotate (Scallop) and Hamachi (Yellowtail), just to name a few.
The sashimi and sushi counter with the bounty of the seas surrounding Hokkaido. There's all manner of crab and shellfish too: succulent Taraba-gani (King Crab), Shirotsubu Sakamushi (White Top Shell), and Zuwai Gani (Snow Crab).
We even saw otoro here! Luscious fatty tuna so pink and tender. The other fish were also sweet and fresh.
One of the special dishes they have here is the Kani Miso (カニみそ) Gratin (above) beautifully cooked in the shell. The miso in kani miso refers to the crab innards (including noumiso, the brains). Do not be put off by this; the grey-green paste is really delectable and easy to eat. I think it's been mixed with some crabmeat.
So cute the little servings of Hokkaido Chirashi - bite-sized sashimi and creamy avocado on a bed of premium Japanese rice - served in the square wooden boxes called masu (枡升). In the feudal era, these boxes were used to measure rice but these days they are used for drinking sake.
Onsen Tamago with Uni
Soft ethereal egg with a whole tongue of fresh Hokkaido sea urchin. Nyum.
But the star of the show has got to be the Hokkaido wagyu. Chef Sam Chin has decided to steam very thin slices of this marbled meat, so we get to taste the fatty goodness without it being too heavy.
Seriously, just look at the gorgeous lattice artwork that is the marbling. The fat in wagyu is largely monounsaturated and heart-healthy too, so don't be afraid to indulge.
The end result - Hokkaido wagyu beef slices steamed just right - is so so good!
I teamed it up with the buta-don (pork rice bowl) and the combination is even more うまい UMAI !
That's not all for meat lovers. Check out the robatayaki section, which will have 20 different types of skewered delights. Chef Taro is an expert on charcoal grilling.
Take your pick. Beef cubes, pork belly, chicken with leek, asparagus, fish, meatballs...
Ta da! Food on a stick - always more fun to eat.
Another one of my favourite stations is the tempura stall. During the promotion, you'll be getting vegetables like carrots from Hokkaido. Extra sweet!
They also have an unusual creation: chikuwa stuffed with cheese! What a wonderful idea, making good use of that hole in the fishcake. But some of the cheese tends to ooze out during the frying, so make sure you get a good piece.
Also not to be missed - the teppanyaki station where beef, prawns and vegetables are prepared on the spot.
The gorgeously grilled beef cubes, garlic prawns and crunchy vegetables are best eaten when still hot. Do not stop to Instagram or take pictures. Just eat!
There's a croquette station with fried goodies like Kaki Furai (fried breaded oysters) and Satsumaage (deep-fried fish cake; I like the ones studded with edamame). Sidling up right next to these was this innocent tray of puffy looking fritters. Guess what they are? Madara Agedashi Shirako! Yes, you read right - deep-fried codfish milt/sperm sacs! Bet you've never tried them this way before. Or maybe you have, but this was my first ever shirako fritter. Interestingly, it's a little chewy.
The ramen station in between this and the sushi serves Hokkaido Shio Ramen and Miso Ramen, but because these are so filling, I'd say skip the noodles and focus on the other stuff.
But even though it's largely a Japanese buffet, Triple Three also features other cuisines, including some really good Indian food.
Mmmh, lamb kebabs.
There's a carvery with Western style roast meats; the cut of the day is Ribeye.
You'll still get the de rigueur cold cuts, seafood on ice, fresh oysters, and salads. There's a bread and cheese station too, but this is one of the few times I ever skip cheeses at a buffet, because the other stuff is just too alluring!
Dessert fans will be more than pleased! During this time, they will be using ingredients from Hokkaido including milk and cream! Imagine!
The desserts really have gotten an upgrade. They look so exquisitely crafted. Witness this chocolate delight in an almond shaped boat, with gold dust and sphere, halved walnut and ultra-thin pistachio biscotti. Plus micro flower planted on some? How much work did it take to construct this?
Even the orange cake is so gorgeously dressed!
I like the fun-looking shooters - savoury popcorn with chocolate.
I like the fun-looking shooters - savoury popcorn with chocolate.
You will also get Japanese-style cream puffs. Yeah the ones loaded with cream inside. They'll be much bigger than these.
Matcha and adzuki rolls: the perennial favourite combination of green tea and red beans work very well in a Swiss roll format too.
Gotta love dango! This ensemble is just too cute.
There will also be Hokkaido Yuzu Cheesecake and Hokkaido gelato made using ingredients imported from Japan.
But the best dessert is probably the Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts! Oh I love the crust on these - so buttery and crumbly. And the cream cheese filling is just nothing short of dreamy.
Chef Sam bade me not to miss the bun with mentaiko salmon. Bread after so much food and dessert? But oh he's right - these are insanely delicious! There are just too many "hidden gems" in this buffet.
With the amount of premium Hokkaido seafood, wagyu, produce and ingredients going into this buffet, it's really value for money. The trifecta of sashimi, wagyu and crab alone is worth the price of admission.
Even as I write this post, I'm yearning to go back. Triple Three is one of the better buffet restaurants in Singapore; I've been more than a few times and know the food is consistently good.
Check out my other Triple Three reviews for a look:
Hokkaido Harvests Buffet Availability:Wednesday, 19 October to Sunday, 30 October 2016
6.30pm to 10pm daily (Dinner only)
Price:Sundays to Wednesdays: $118++ (Adult), $48++ (Child 6 to 12yrs)
Thursday to Saturdays: $128++ (Adult), $48++ (Child 6 to 12yrs)
Enjoy Kirin Draught Beer at only $5++ per glass during the promotion
Promotions:Credit card promotion: DBS/POSB Cardmembers enjoy 50% for every second adult diner (up to 8 diners per card)
For reservations and enquiries:Online Reservation – www.meritushotels.com/diningorchard
Tel – +65 6831 6288 / 6271
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Level 5, Mandarin Orchard Hotel
333 Orchard Road
First and second photo courtesy of Triple Three. This post was made in partnership with Mandarin Orchard but opinions voiced are solely mine.