we had our november RI friends dinner @ ban heng harbourfront centre on 24.11.2014. 🙂
this was the smallest turnout, with 7pax.
i had not been to this ban heng outlet before. the last time G20 had a 23pax dinner at ban heng at orchard central, food was quite average.
this outlet has 2 ala carte buffet menu – one pried at S$28.80++ here, and the other at S$21.80++. from what i can see the main difference is for the S$28.80 menu you get to pick 1 order of abalones, crabs, froglegs, live prawns, scallops.
we took the S$28.80++ menu.
#1 roast duck was passable. but c/w the beautiful roast duck at both canton paradise star vista & canton paradise J-cube or with the noodles restaurant at centrepoint, this would be a poor & distant cousin.
#2 drunken chicken was average, competent.
liked the vegetables, #3 garlic spinach & #4 sambal kang kong.
#5 deep-fried soon hock was a standard dish. it was done well. 🙂
#6 beef with bitter gourd black bean sauce was also done well. i personally would prefer fish head & meat with black bean bitter gourd, but this was as good as any good zi char, say kok sen at keong saik street or hong kong street chun kee at commonwealth crescent or ah orh at bukit merah.
#7 steamed prawns was good like any good seafood restaurant.
surprisingly the #8 sharks fin soup though gluey like any served at weddings in yesteryears, had very tasty stock. this was much better than ban heng orchard central.
#9 frog legs with ginger & spring onions was also a competent dish. not so different from what my family used to have often at ah yat turf city (now grandstand) long in the past.
#10 roast pork. all my friends liked this a lot. we had a second order. meat looked great, was tender & tasty & skin was crisp. i would say presentation & taste-wise still a tad below what i had recently at tunglok central.
#11 fried prawns with celery – passable, nothing interesting.
#12 char siew looked & tasted great. of the 2 dishes, my friends liked the roast pork better.
#13 abalones with mushrooms & spinach. this was quite good dish also. the braising sauce though was nothing like the really good brown sauce served in good cantonese restaurants say ah yat abalones forum restaurant for abalone dishes (also goose web & spiky sea cucumber dishes) or at chao yue xuan.
#14 deep-fried tilapia in thai sauce was an interesting dish. it had less meat so some friends preferred the soon hock dish to this.
#15 scallops in yam nest. scallops were average & overall this dish was poor, below par, not even comparable with a good yam basket say at ah orh w/o expensive scallops.
#16 chai poh minced pork with steamed bean curd, i think this was really poor.
#17 sweet & sour soup. this was a pretty good soup.
#18 pepper crab was quite the usual seafood restaurant standard, for sure better than spices cafe.
self service dessert were quite standard. aloe vera with jelly was quite refreshing & pulut hitam the usual.
overall, food here was better than ban heng orchard central but not as good as (service especially) peach gardens miramar (menu had wider spread though at ban heng harbour front). for S$28.80++ pax it was 2/3 the price of spices cafe w/o the lobster. i guess quite an ok deal.
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! 🙂
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 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. 🙂
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 was good, and they actually had the pineapple sauce (not so common these days).
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂