To tell the truth, the mention of buffet scares me nowadays. With the decrease in my metabolism and increase in body weight, I really have to spend my calories on quality food in controlled quantity. But when the revamped buffet spread of Orchard Café at Orchard Hotel promises a new exciting showcase of Straits Cuisine, it brought out the greediness in me again (oops!). I thought it should be worth checking out. Afterall, we're talking about the rich and colorful flavors of Peranakan dishes, the unique blend of aromatic, spicy, sweet, tangy! Yummy!
And what a dazzling feast Executive Chef Paul Then has lined up for us at the "Baba Theatre Kitchen"!
Besides his signature dishes like the highly slurpilicious Nyonya Hokkein Mee with copious amount of fragrant pork lard, Steamed Black Cod Otah and Sambal Sting Ray in Banana Leaves, we were also delighted to find favorites like Asian Roasted Pork Belly and Roasted Duck, as well as Chilled Seafood on ice, Freshly Shucked Oysters and many many more. Would you have enough tummy space for all this?
It would always be wise to begin with some light starters to whet the appetite, like what we did with the delectable trio of Prawn & Mango Salad, Nonya Fish Salad with Achar and Soya Duck with Chili Vinegar Dip. The Crabmeat Popiah with Crispy Crackers was mouthfuls of plumply stuffed juiciness, and I also enjoyed the sticks of tender Chicken Satay taken straight hot off the grill.
One thing which you should also try is the Crabmeat Kueh Pie Tee which made its well-received debut at the Ultimate Hawker Fest 2013. Co-created by Dr. Leslie Tay (ieatishootipost), this version deviates a little from its authentic roots with the creative addition of crabmeat, fish roe and buah keluak (which was given a luxurious nickname of Nyonya caviar). Nestled within a thin and crisp pastry tart, the combination of textures and flavors gel harmoniously well together. Instead of biting into it and risk having the ingredients spilling all over, I popped it whole into my mouth lol. Best enjoyed this way I think! Nevermind I looked very unladylike.
Row of claypots is another attention grabbing feature, and it contains none other than the highlight of the Straits Cuisine buffet, all the popular culinary delights of the Peranakan heritage!
The lids are usually kept on to keep the dishes warm, but do not be shy to lift it off and get your fill of Babi Pongteh (fermented pork belly), Udang with Sambal Petai (stir-fried prawns with petai beans), Nangka Lemak (jackfruit chicken curry), Ayam Buah Keluak (stewed chicken with buah keluak spices), and most people's all-time favorite, homey Nonya Chap Chai (braised cabbage, black fungus, pork belly and fermented yellow bean).
When the humongous bowl of steamed rice was brought over to our table, my eyes opened wide and thought "who would load themselves with rice at a buffet?" But I soon realized its snow-white plainness is the perfect canvas to bring out the savoriness of dishes like Lembu Rendang (slow-cooked beef cheek rendang with Nyonya spices), and most ideal for soaking up the sourish gravy of the Assam Fish.
Though I did not try every single item from the buffet spread, I tasted all the dishes which you see in photos here. While fairly decent in execution, one of the perpetual challenges would be to keep the dishes tasting fresh and palatable even after some duration on the chafing dish. That's also the reason why I will always not miss the live cooking stations offering items which are only prepared upon ordering. Nyonya Laksa is one of them. Sure to be fresh and warm, and personal requests like no beansprouts or more quail eggs can be accommodated.
Desserts like Chempedak, Peanut and Durian Pancakes are also cooked ala minute at the live station, almost guaranteeing a warm, soft texture (unless you leave yours aside too long for food porning oops). I do not take durians but some of my dining companions did enjoy the dainty glass of Durian Pengat with Pandan Jelly. Maybe I'm too adverse to it, the pungency came across as rather strongly, which I think is probably scent most heavenly for durian lovers.
The assortment of Nyonya Kuehs were pleasing both in visual and taste, but if you ask me what's my favorite dessert of the night, my reply would definitely be the Chempedak Crème Brûlée. Smooth eggy custard accentuated with the refreshing fruity fragrance of chempedak and topped with a thin crisp caramelized layer. Ooh what a brilliant fusion end to the evening!
Snap, Eat, Win!
Currently, Orchard Café is having a photo contest. Simply capture snapshots of scrumptious food moments at the “Straits Cuisine” buffet to stand a chance to win weekend staycations and other attractive prizes!
Click here for more information on the contest: bit.ly/SnapEatWin
"Straits Cuisine" Buffet is served daily at Orchard Café
Lunch: 12pm - 2.30pm / Adult: $48++ / Child $24++
Dinner: 6pm - 10pm / Adult: $68++ / Child $34++
Just for our respected senior citizens*, a special 50% off the "Straits Cuisine" Buffet lunch from Monday to Thursday.
*55 years and above, valid till 31 October 2014
Thanks to Orchard Hotel for the hospitality.
Address: Orchard Hotel Singapore, 442 Orchard Road, Singapore 238879
Reservations: +65 67396565