Lobster, Crab & Average Buffet @ Spices Cafe on 31Oct2014

cheese baked 1/2 lobster (1 order only)

cheese baked gratin 1/2 lobster (1 order only)

a friend organised the monthly RI schoolmates dinner at spices cafe, concord hotel yesterday on 31.10.2014. it was a really fun evening with a lot of interesting conversation. i am just quoting our great philosopher-

the analogy we cooked up to explain our senior moments. it was triggered by a friend’s reference to cloud storage as in the IT terminology eg Dropbox. our memory storage is in the cloud. it is just that we forget the password at times to unlock the specific memory storage. that’s why it helps to have shared storage in the cloud. if one forgets, another remembers. we need all the help we can get when our own neurons refuse to do the job.

see how fun our get-togethers are…with genius like this spewing jewels of wisdom…haha! 🙂

cheese baked 1/2 lobster (1 order only)

cheese baked gratin 1/2 lobster (1 order only)

the dinner buffet came with 1 order only of 1/2 cheese baked gratin lobster (or alternatively abalone). they said 200g though it looked bigger. the preparation though was so-so, the meat didn’t feel bouncy so either it was not a live lobster or maybe slight overdone.

the abalone was small c/w say the 2in size & more importantly excellent tasting abalone at ah yat abalone restaurant in a 5-course dinner groupon deal costing only S$28.80.

pepper crab

pepper crab

butter baked crab

butter baked crab

thai basil crab

thai basil crab

the buffet also included unlimited order of crabs prepared 5 ways – thai basil, pepper, chilli, salted egg & butter baked.

the preparations were ok. for me, thai basil & salted egg were best, pepper ok, butter baked so-so. i did not try chilli.

the crab were the indonesian mud crab type or maybe vietnamese, not the large sri lankan crab. meat was sweet, not the very firm standard, but not falling apart also. i think “boleh la” – ok & really i seldom eat crab as they are really expensive in seafood restaurants, so it may actually make sense if you want to “whack” the crabs to come & makan here! 🙂

we were too busy talking & having fun & did not even order a second round, but i made sure i tasted most of it, well except the chilli crab. 🙂

cold appetizers - oysters, mussels, scallops on shell, salmon, maguro & tai sashimi, prawns & some sushi

cold appetizers – oysters, mussels, scallops on shell, salmon, maguro & tai sashimi, prawns & some sushi

appetizers - smoked salmon, prawns, cold pasta, plus a marinated saba

appetizers – smoked salmon, prawns, cold pasta, plus a marinated saba

smoked salmon (so so), oysters (good), mussel (ok), salmon belly (good), marinated saba - horse mackerel (ok)

smoked salmon (so so), oysters (good), mussel (ok), salmon belly (good), marinated saba – horse mackerel (ok)

smoked salmon (so so), oysters (good), mussel (ok), salmon belly (good), marinated saba - horse mackerel (ok)

smoked salmon (so so), oysters (good), mussel (ok), salmon belly (good), marinated saba – horse mackerel (ok)

the cold appetiser section had oysters(good), mussels(ok), scallops on shell(i did not want to try, it looked like just taken out of deep freeze & thawed just as 1 blogger commented), salmon belly sashimi (good), maguro & tai sashimi, prawns & some sushi (the last 4 i likewise did not want to try. the sushi looked like the supermarket type).

i also took smoked salmon (so so, i should say poor actually), and a marinated saba (ok). did not try the prawns & cold pasta.

fortunately, salmon belly sashimi was really quite good, and the oyster too, so that was quite enough for me.

satay

satay

satay was good, and they actually had the pineapple sauce (not so common these days).

laksa was good - i asked for more hum (cockles) & i had a second helping

laksa was good – i asked for more hum (cockles) & i had a second helping

laksa was good - i asked for more hum (cockles) & i had a second helping

laksa was good – i asked for more hum (cockles) & i had a second helping

laksa was good, lemak. as good as any of the “katong laksa” around & the sungei road laksa. i had a second helping, maybe should have gone for a third.

i did not touch any of the cooked food. did not attract me, anyway, with lobster, crab, 2 helpings of oyster & sashimi & laksa, it was kind of enough, not too bad. 🙂

cheese & salad bar

cheese & salad bar

fruits & cheese

fruits & cheese

fruits & cheese

fruits & cheese

the cheese & salad bar was ok if limited. i took the brie & the blue. 🙂

the fruits were good. i had 2 helpings of pineapples & watermelon, and they had a lot of dried fruits like figs, apricots & prunes that i liked.

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overall, i find spices cafe buffet rather expensive, at S$54++pax for friday & weekend dinners. fortunately there was a 3paying 1 free promotion, so we paid about S$49pax nett for 13pax + 1pax vegetarian alacarte.

if you consider that a good 1/2lobster cost between S$20 and S$30, i guess then the buffet was not overly expensive.

buffet doesn’t attract me, and other than the lobster & crab (which were also so so for me), i would not normally do this buffet.

i would rate this as slightly above olive tree restaurant @ intercontinental hotel (S$34++ after 1 for 1 promotion) & the lunch buffet at edge @ pan pacific (S$43.50++ after 3paying 1 free) but not by much, and of course edge has far superior ambience & in a “higher class hotel” if that is even important haha.

anyway i would only go if i want the crab (i don’t need the lobster), & spices cafe has lunch buffet for senior citizen at S$23pax, so if i really want buffet i can go lunch w/o the lobster & crab. 🙂

for buffet, my favourite is still the semi buffet at equinox (after 50% feed at raffles discounts, that is), and even then i have not been there for the longest time! the view over marina bay skyline & F1 circuit is superb, and the main courses (which i avoid in other buffet) are ala carte orders & of fine dining standard.

the same goes for one ninety mezzo lunch at four seasons, another superior semi buffet. one ninety has better quality of buffet spread than equinox, & the main courses are also ala carte orders of fine dining standard. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Very Average Buffet (Citibank 1 for 1) @ Olive Tree on 15Jan2014

crayfish & scallops

crayfish & scallops

6 of us went to olive tree for the citibank 1 for 1 S$68pax weekday buffet on 15.1.2014. i had not been to this place for umpteen years, so thought gave it a try. the evening was fun but the food was very average, not expensive at S$34pax=S$40nett, but i agreed with my “fussy” friend = no need to spend S$40 on average food even though price was ok. 🙂

snails & flower crabs

snails & flower crabs

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the cold crayfish & scallops were not sweet (or like tasteless?) but quite ok if you add the hot sauce & tabasco (which means…)…the same with the cold flower crabs (nothing like teochew cold crab)..i took them with wasabi so it was ok..

the snails were good & oysters good too (i had 3 of each)..but 2 of my friends had bad tummy afterwards though i was ok.

sashimi (kajiki, sake, tako)

sashimi (kajiki, sake, tako)

the biggest letdown was sashimi! the photo above looked great, and i was telling my friend who didn’t take sashimi much that kajiki (swordfish) was 1 of my favourites & got him to take 2 pieces from my plate, but as it turned out it was the worst, completely tasteless! likewise the salmon. tako was average, not the good sweet ones.

chicken sausage risone

chicken sausage risoni

prawn salad

prawn salad

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cold pasta & salad station

the cold pasta & salad station was among the best. but this was also a station that most people gave a miss w/o trying.  the spicy prawn salad was great & the chicken sausage risoni as well.

prawn noodles

prawn noodles

prawn noodles station

prawn noodles station

the prawn noodles station was self service which suited me fine as i took very little noodles & a lot of bean sprouts, prawns & fishcake & just enough of soup. i liked the very intense soup & had a 2nd helping, but i agreed with my “fussy” friend that the soup was too salty. 🙂

i also had some nasi padang dishes. the beef rending sambal chilli & ikan bilis with peanuts all quite average.

lamb, duck & dory fish

lamb, duck & dory fish

i skipped most cooked food stations in buffet (& that’s the reason i prefer semi-buffet places like the excellent one ninety, equinox & basilico where the main courses are served separately as fine dining dishes.

for olive tree though, i must say i liked all 3 main courses = braised lamb, duck & dory, all good dishes.

rojak

rojak

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cheese

cheese

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there was self service rojak station as well. i liked this too. & i had a helping of cheese. there was kikarangi, a light kiwi blue cheese i used to like. today somehow it was not so pungent, perhaps i have forgotten the taste..my “fussy” friend added – everything was not quite right..haha…we do all affect each other. 🙂

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dessert

i not much dessert person so i found nothing in the wide array of dessert. the coconut & durian ice creams were very good though!

the restaurant was sadly only 30% full on a wednesday evening, so many of us were saying the cold seafood & sashimi were left-overs. anyway it sure looked like a lot of wastage!

the ambience was great except an untimely lion dance, which 1 friend described as louder than MS in a tennis grand slam (that was supposedly louder than a airplane landing). fortunately it was over in 10minutes.

the service was very good though. we were first seated in a corner & like all kiasu singaporeans we decided to park ourselves next to the cold appetiser station, but the lady server rearranged the tables to let us sit near but slightly off the station which was better.

the buffet also came with coffee, cappuccino, camomile tea etc.

i would rate this buffet below The Edge, but this was substantially cheaper at S$34 (only with the 1 for 1), but for me like my friend, the price was ok i won’t really come back here for this. equinox & one ninety are still the (semi) buffets for me. 🙂

c.h.e.f. andy

Expensive Average Buffet Great Ambience @ The Edge Pan Pacific Singapore on 24Jun2013

grilled aussie beef tenderloin (medallion)

grilled aussie beef tenderloin (medallion)

my dining quartet had this sudden spell of interest in hotel buffet. for this round, our hostess selected The Edge @ Pan Pacific Singapore, which had last year undergone a major renovation. lunch was S$58pax and there was an ongoing 3paying 1 free promotion for various credit cards, so the price worked out to S$43.5++pax. 🙂

i (& i think in fact all my dining quartet friends) had no fondness for buffet – yet there we were! I always thought buffet main courses “sucks” (pardon the language) & if I went to buffet I would just take very selected items from the appetizers or antipasti & the cheeseboard if they had.

The only buffet I thought worth going was the semi-buffet lunch at Equinox which served a selection of good fine dining main courses & great appetizer buffet/cheeseboard at S$59pax (so S$29,50pax for 50% Feed at Raffles discount for 2pax). Lately I have added One-Ninety @ Four Seasons, which I now think serves a higher quality semi-buffet than Equinox and at S$38pax w/o main course suits me fine (S$48pax with main course). 🙂 The other very good buffet is Basilico at Regent Hotel. I went during RestaurantWeek in 2012 & the antipasti was excellent. I think I should go back there to try again soon, talking about not having too many buffet..haha.. 🙂

I had tried The Line st Shangri-la & Carousel at Royal Plaza at Scotts but sad to say I didn’t think much of them even at 50% discount! I saw The Edge’s menu and didn’t think it was going to be any different.

kajiki (swordfish) sashimi with pickled ginger

kajiki (swordfish) sashimi with pickled ginger

the sashimi section was very limited for lunch! the kajiki (sword fish) sashimi was good, the salmon was ok, just average same as other buffet & not the best ones. I went back for a second helping of kajiki w/o the salmon. real nice! 🙂

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there wasn’t much to pick in the sushi section so I just picked 1 maki (one of my friends liked the inari aburaage sushi though). that’s quite the same in most buffet. In Equinox I would pick a unagi (eel) & a ika (squid) sushi, and in One Ninety I had smoked duck but that’s about it.

chinese station - laksa was very good

chinese station – laksa was very good

the laksa at the Chinese station was very good – gravy was excellent only regrets no “hum” ie cockles.

roast duck & roast chicken at chinese station

roast duck & roast chicken at chinese station

I also took a slice of roast duck (very crispy skin & flavourful), & also 1 slice of roast chicken (good but ordinary, the ginger sauce was good)..

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I did not take any from the malay/peranakan? station. there was a beef rendang and my friend thought the steamed rice (basmati?) was “super aromatic”. 🙂 I took 1 stick each of beef & mutton satay (above right photo). One friend thought the mutton satay was very good. it was kind of average ordinary to me. there was no pineapple sauce with the satay gravy.

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there was salmon and grilled aussie beef tenderloin (medallion) at the western station (above left photo).

I asked the station chef who replied that the beef were medium to medium well. I ordered rare & he grilled on the spot for me.  it was super (top photo) – very sweet, tender, flavourful, well beyond my expectation of buffet main courses, even though tenderloin not my favourite. 🙂

I skipped most of the Italian station – the pasta, pizza & pork rib. My friend who bought lunch thought the rib was good & healthy lean. the other friend thought it was too dry. The 1 item i thought was excellent was the roast pork. I had 3 slices. 🙂

oysters, scallops, prawns

cold entre=oysters, scallops, prawns

my plate of oysters.scallop, prawn salad

my plate of oysters, scallop, roast pork, prawn salad

& not forgetting the cold entre station. I took 4 oysters (very sweet) & 2 scallops (good). the station chef told my friend the orange ones were female & tasted better than the all white male ones..lol. 🙂  i skipped the prawns but took the prawn salad – it was kind of  limited selection.

dessert - 9 layer cake & angkukueh

dessert – 9 layer cake & angkukueh

the dessert station was quite ordinary, and included chocolate fountain & nonya cakes.  i took my fav the 9 layer kueh (good) & angkukueh (not good – don’t like the shaved coconuts flakes, that one better for tutu kueh). I also helped myself with some brie at the cheese section & we all took quite a bit of nuts (macadamia, walnut, pistachio, pine nuts, sunflower seeds etc).

the ambience was great. there was good drinks like calamansi juice with sour plum, very good coffee & also tea selection. it was a fun lunch, food & company & trying out a new place (it was first time there for all of us).

At S$43.50pax after 25% discount, would I come back though? regrettably answer is no or very unlikely!

c.h.e.f andy

Sumptuous Semi-buffet @ One Ninety at Four Seasons Hotel on 30May2013

roast suckling pig with stuffing was sooooooooo good!

roast suckling pig with stuffing was sooooooooo good!

It’s my turn to buy the monthly dining quartet meal. I had not been to One Ninety @ Four Seasons Hotel for years but I recalled they had a good semi-buffet. & there was a 1 free for 3 paying promotion using DBS card ending May2013, so we went there for lunch on 30.5.2013, in time for the promotion. 🙂

& it was a super, super lunch. I would go again w/o the promotion. 🙂

the appetizer & dessert buffet was priced at $38pax, and $48pax if we added a main course on the menu, which we did.  & on saturdays & sundays, they throw in a Moet champagne buffet at $58pax.

The suckling pig with stuffing (top photo) was nothing short of fabulous – sooooooooooo good! it was so flavourful, tasty. I always felt nothing beat chinese roast suckling pig. still do. but this was as good as it gets, perhaps different (as the focus was not just on the crispy skin but overall flavours) but on par. 🙂

langoustine or scampi - sweet, quite good

langoustine or scampi – sweet, quite good

snow crab legs

snow crab legs

the langoustine or scampi was sweet, quite good but I actually thought the snow crab legs were better. though not the very best but still very good quality, and a few of us had a few helpings. it was sweet & not so salty as what Kuisinbo & some poorer buffets served.

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the pork terrine in above left photo was the poorer one- could skip as there were so many good dishes. there was a better one with pig ears, which I had forgotten to take picture.

sushi – most sushi in buffet were a waste of time! this one I only took the aburi mayo prawn & smoked duck (twice I took meaning quite good..haha..). 🙂

pork pate below & pressed foie gras on top

pork pate below & pressed foie gras on top

the pork pate was extremely good – I took 3 pieces. 🙂   I did not take the pressed foie gras which according to my friends were even better.

excellent roast duck & stuffing

excellent roast duck & stuffing

the excellent roast duck was almost as good as the suckling pig – both the duck & stuffing – & yet tasted different. 🙂

1st of my 3.5 plates haha!

1st of my 3.5 plates haha!

nobody would believe me after this if I tell people I generally do not go for buffets. haha! 🙂

we didn’t really need to take the main course. we tried to cancel the main course but to be fair to the restaurant they said they already prepared the items once the order was placed. and the waiting staff here were really exemplary – they even “ta pao” for one of us the main course as we really could not finish. we would really not expect to ta pao for a buffet but it was a great gesture so we accepted happily! 🙂

we thought the main courses might be 1/2 portions like the French servings, but here they came in full portions. 🙂

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I had a medium rare rack of lamb (above left) – it was very good. I thought it didn’t look great – my first impression was that the sauce might kill it -but it turned out to be quite complementary.  the medium rare tenderloin was very good too.

glazed beef ribs - kind of braised then pan seared

glazed beef ribs – kind of braised then pan seared

WH had the glazed beef ribs – kind of braised then pan seared. I guessed it was good too but braised items were usually too heavy even for normal-sized meals. 🙂

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my dining companions were thrilled with the dessert spread..they seemed quite average to me though. i was told the chocolate mousse was very good.  the macarons were a bit too sweet for me. I did enjoy the cheese spread & condiments though. 🙂

I certainly plan to come back for this again (w/o the main course), with or without the promotion. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy