Lunchtime Buffet

I haven’t gone for buffets in a long time (3-4 years?) – both a result of not wanting to overeat and consequently not getting your money’s worth. I think the standard of buffets in singapore are increasing though – with fresher seafood options, salads, better pastries, to rival high tea menus in hotel restaurants. A few weeks ago we celebrated a colleague’s promotion at the Ellenborough Market Cafe, which had a really wide variety of local, nyonya, seafood, and dessert offerings, so I brought liangze back to try.

He really liked the salmon sashimi – that’s another thing that makes buffets not worth it for me – I don’t eat sashimi. The fats were really thick in these pieces, and he also enjoys salmon better than tuna, which works out well here. They have a huge tub of scooped wasabi that looks a lot like green tea ice cream.

I’m a bigger fan of the fresh seafood – the prawns were literally crunchy – perfectly done too. They also served fresh flower crab, mussels, and what looks like crawfish (or aragostini in Hungary) –

It’s a little difficult to eat all these shell fish over lunch though – they don’t provide crackers or tongs or any sort of tools, and typically if you’re eating here it’s a business lunch or a work lunch and you don’t want to smell of seafood for the rest of the day. The smell management is actually a lot better than at regular seafood restaurants like Jumbo etc.I valiantly attacked the crawfish and the crab (doesn’t seem that popular – now if they served Alaskan snow crab, that would be another matter). The seafood condiments were lemon wedges and a big bowl of this amazing cocktail sauce – much better than both the creamy British variety and the American kind. We put it on everything. It was sweet and horseradishy.

(My camera is not doing too well with the focus here – I think my f stop is too small) There was also cooked seafood – black pepper prawns and flower crab bee hoon.

Braised xiao bai cai

And Teochew beggar’s purses stuffed with crab and served with malted honey on the side. These were really nice.

So were the seafood gyoza, although the skin was a tad thick. You can see a slice of braised duck peeking behind the gyoza – that was a braised duck with yam dish. I didn’t take too much of it cause duck skin is really fatty.

There was a grilled section with mushrooms and fish, as well as whole red snapper in nyonya sauce that everyone kinda picks off – kinda untidy if you look at it but I think the chinese in singapore are ok with that sort of thing – how many buffets serve whole fish? I picked out the cheeks.

They have an entire nyonya section devoted to things like nyonya chap chye, buah keluak, kueh pie tee – actually the whole reason for coming was because of my kueh pie tee craving, ever since Dr Tan mentioned it in his sermon on sunday heh. They deep fry the shells so all of them are crispy and warm, and their turnip/carrot filling is pretty fragrant. You can top it with diced shrimp, coriander, and chilli.

The desserts yesterday were: Freshly made crepes (not stuffed, you can add your own toppings – chocolate ganache, fruit, almond slivers), cupcakes, portuguese egg tarts, passionfruit cheesecake, creme brulee in little porcelain spoons, mocha cream puffs, fruit tarts, nothing chocolate, surprisingly, their famous durian pengkat (durian puree), baskets of fresh fruit, and nyonya kueh.

The creme brulee does not exactly have a caramelized crust – but the custard is pretty legit. I like how it’s served with a mandarin on top. Most of the ladies there went for bowl after bowl of the durian pengkat – it ran out halfway and they had to replenish it. The durian pengkat is served in this huge golden metal ball which looks really dramatic, befitting of the dessert inside. The choux pastry for the mocha puffs are just wrong – you can try them if you want to try the custard, but lower your expectations.

Liangze was on TV yesterday for the national science challenge, explaining the S&S questions. The three competing teams were Beatty, Bukit Panjang Govt High, and RI. RI won, which made the semi finalists – RGS, RI, NYGH, ACSI, HCI, and one more school I didn’t catch. This is after like 6 qualifying rounds. For that 5-10 minute segment, LZ had to go down to mediacorp for almost one entire day to conduct the challenge and to be filmed. I thought the whole thing was really badly organized because he had to leave late and I had to wait for him. A total waste of time! They could have spared themselves all the effort if they just asked me to predict who would get into the semifinals.

At the same time I think it’s kinda demoralizing for the more neighborhood schools (a misleading term. RI is also in a neighborhood, RGS’ neighborhood is not super heartlander-y but still a neighborhood nevertheless. In contrast, SMU is not in a neighborhood) to have this kind of result. If at least one of them made it into the semifinals there would have been hope for everyone else in the subsequent years. To have the ‘elite school’ concept confirmed/reinforced by the results is really kinda sucky, considering how the people I meet at work who are not from “elite” schools seem so insecure as is being brought up with the idea that people from elite schools are better than them :S

It’s also not very fair how two of the three judges from LZ’s segment were from RI as well (somewhat expected, but still) They could have done better to give them 3 schools that they are not alumni of..



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