Bountiful Buffets

Bountiful Buffets

Buffets are the go to happy hunting ground for many a glutton looking to maximize their bang for their buck, but alas, there are far too many appalling buffet places that waste both the cash and calories of these gluttons. This list aims to separate the gold from the dross, so tuck in, and get ready for a bounty of blissful buffets.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

@90minutes.sg has absolutely nothing to do with football, but they have everything to do with tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes) & hotpot. In a Singapore that is admittedly over saturated by hotpot restaurants, 90 Minutes is a little different as they are a tteokbokki hotpot buffet place, plus they have a few truly unique hotpot broth bases.⠀

We chose ‘90mins The Best’ and ‘90mins Red Hot’ broth as our bases. The Red Hot, which is ironically the non spicy one, stood out more because the broth contained jajang paste (fermented black bean) and carried the unmistakable pungency of fermented black bean. It does get increasingly diluted the more you refill the pot with chicken stock, so it might be worth it to enquire if 90 Minutes do top off the seasoning mix after a couple of refills.⠀

The usual hotpot suspects are here, from the sweetcorn, to the leafy greens, to the thinly sliced pork belly, and the prawns. The vegetables were surprisingly fresh for a buffet joint, and the protein options, while not the freshest, were well within acceptable limits and they were free flow. Since this is a Korean restaurant, they’ve got the iconic fishcake on a stick, and it’s actually quite addictive after you let it sit in the boiling soup to soak up all the flavours like a sponge.⠀

As for the tteokbokki, which are 90 Minutes’ pride & joy, they come in four variants. The traditional plain one, sweet potato, yam, and cheese stuffed tteokbokki. The yellow sweet potato tteokbokki & the purple yam ones were stunningly sublime, with a delectable sweetness to both that compelled me to finish them all in short order. The cheese stuffed tteokbokki was incredibly unique, but the cheese tasted like butter instead of cheese for some reason. Still, the tteokbokki was good, and I even went back for seconds of sweet potato & yam tteokbokkis.⠀

At $23.90++ for weekday dinners, this is a superb budget buffet spot. Better yet, #burpplebeyond has 30% off lunch & dinner buffets for two! Thanks for the invite, @burpple & @90minutes.sg!

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While @foodcapital.gcw roast meats, claypot and salad/cold appetiser stations were decent in terms of quality & selection, the much more diminutive tempura station was a true stunner. It sits alongside the satisfactory sashimi station, but it deserves more attention than the perennially popular sashimi. Sure, buffets & fried foods evoke imaginations of grease soaked, limp and tepid fried calorie nukes, but Food Capital’s tempura station is clear of the rest.⠀

While they don’t deep fry everything to order, they do it in small batches. At dinner service, this ain’t a problem, as the steady flow of diners ensure that the tempura is depleted rapidly, necessitating a constant replenishment of the fried goodies. Yes, it’s pretty close to freshly fried, and the quality is not inferior to dedicated tempura joints.⠀

Many restaurants tend to deep fry their less than fresh prawns, a waste reducing move that I agree with, but the prawns that get transformed into tempura at @grandcopthorne Food Capital are remarkably fresh. Each crispy bite through the airy batter gives way into a springy, decently seasoned & subtly sweet shrimp, and it gets even better when you dip it into the hot tentsuyu (tempura dipping sauce). As for the accompanying vegetables, they were no less impressive. The sweet potato & eggplant were fabulously fresh & satisfyingly sweet, while the enoki & shiitake mushrooms were crunchy outside & charmingly chewy inside.⠀

The other item that was served on Lunar New Year’s Eve was a tempura teriyaki chicken maki roll. Well, it’s sushi rice wrapped around a tender teriyaki chicken fillet, wrapped in seaweed, deep fried and garnished with bonito flakes & a dash of tempura sauce. There was no way this was ever gonna be anything other than addictively delicious, and it was a bit of a struggle to not get seconds of this one. However, the pressing need to save stomach capacity for the rest of the brilliant buffet won out.⠀

Food Capital has truly awed me with their first rate buffet, and I’d gladly make a return visit in the near future. Absolutely capital, blud.

This year’s Lunar New Year eve reunion dinner was a considerably more lavish affair than usual thanks to @foodcapital.gcw at @grandcopthorne. I’ve never had a reunion dinner at a buffet restaurant before, so I was slightly amused when we were served a Yu Sheng platter upon getting seated. The Prosperity Yu Sheng was extra fancy with the addition of abalone & lobster to the usual salmon sashimi, and while 年年 may not have 余, this Yu Sheng was full of 鱼.⠀

The plum & mandarin orange dressing gave the preserved fruit & veggie strips an irresistible sweet & sour flavouring, and I had to actively restrain myself from polishing it all off. Next we were served the mini double-boiled Buddha Jump Over The Wall soup (which I forgot to take a photo of ffs), which is so good I’d jump over a few walls for this sumptuous soup.⠀

It’s light, but my good god it’s so stupendously savoury, subtly sweet and just the right shade of herbal & medicinal to make you feel reinvigorated. Better yet, there were lots of gratifying goodies submerged in that sapid soup. Abalone, chicken, scallops & fish maw, to be precise. No shark fin here, Grand Copthorne are doing the environmentally conscious thing here, and for that I applaud them.⠀

And the last of the CNY trio to be served to us was a mini Pen Cai. This was also unexpectedly delicious, and the thick, lustrous sauce breathed even more deliciousness into the roast duck, roast pork, soy chicken, prawns, dried oysters and mushrooms.⠀

I certainly was not expecting to be this impressed by these individual dishes at a buffet, but the attention to detail & painstaking effort to prep these delicious dishes by Food Capital was definitely deeply appreciated by me & my family.

@foodcapital.gcw at @grandcopthorne has one of the most impressive seafood sections. I can’t say if it’s always this excellent all year round, but I can confirm that the Lunar New Year Prosperity Buffet special that runs until 15 February will run these sublime seafood selections.⠀

The oysters only emerge from their shells at dinner, but they are well worth the wait. Tastefully briny and compellingly creamy with a clean & crisp finish, these marvellous mollusks are impeccably indulgent. While the Chilean scallops are less flashy, they are fantastically fresh, boasting a sweetness that’s only possessed by the freshest of seafoods.⠀

The undisputed showstopper here are definitely those colossal Canadian snow crab legs. While I’m pretty annoyed that Food Capital neither provides shell/nutcrackers nor cracks it up for you beforehand, the payoff is well worth the labour. The trick is break the crab at the joints, then jam your fork in and twist against the shell until it cracks. Pry it open to reveal an absolute bounty of stunningly sweet & brilliantly briny crabmeat. I have no idea how it managed to stay this fresh despite being out on a buffet lineup, but I was absolutely besotted with these beautiful long legs.⠀

Besides crabs, oysters & scallops, they have other crustacean options too. Black mussels, flower clams, prawns and sea whelk round out the remarkably varied selection on offer here, and all the shellfish here are sublimely fresh and an absolute delight to devour naked, or with a dash of lemon & Tabasco, or with a delightful dollop of Food Capital’s house-made brandy cocktail sauce. At just $88++ per person for dinner, this is a fantastic feast that should not be missed.

The sensational satay was a truly welcome epiphany, and it’s easily the most succulent and tender satay I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. I was about to pass over this satay due to the distinct lack of charred bits on it, but I’m so glad I gave these competently crafted chicken satays a go. The marinade is as excellent as the texture of the meat it flavours, and the accompanying satay sauce was sublimely sapid. Just needs some char on the meat, and it would be a world beater.⠀

While I’m disappointed that a few of the menu items that I was eager for were absent from the lineup, such as the pork satay, the red wine miso glazed pork ribs, and the steamed barramundi, the remarkable sumptuousness of the food I did have somewhat ameliorated that.

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The clear favourite in @limesingapore Festive Buffet is the luscious lobster laksa. Actually that’s a half truth, as you it isn’t a lobster, it’s a crayfish. Yes, it’s also known as a slipper lobster, but it’s not really an actual lobster.⠀

Semantics aside, there’s no argument that Lime Restaurant’s crayfish laksa is possibly the most heavenly one in sunny Singapore. The slightly spicy and ravishingly rich gravy is thick & supremely satisfying for your senses, unlike many others that are frustratingly thin & inadequate. Toss in some thick noodles and the fresh, slightly sweet slipper lobster, and you’ve got one of the most luxurious laksas in town.

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The roast beef was seasoned quite poorly, which is a damn shame because it’s been slow roasted to a mouthwatering medium rare. I mean, just look at that pink, man. While the beef is probably not top quality stuff, it’s still tremendously tender, requiring only a couple of moderate bites to disintegrate in your mouth. ⠀
Other excellent protein options at Lime’s Festive Buffet include the amazing Australian lamb chop, which features tastefully tender lamb accompanied by a minty, savoury gravy that tempers the natural mild gaminess of lamb. The roasted salmon is also cooked perfectly, but does need more of that hearty herb butter that it’s presented in.⠀

While the selection and variety of food on offer at Lime is disappointingly limited, the variety of food that is on offer is extraordinarily excellent and top quality. Perhaps they’re going for quality over quantity, and fair play to them for that for doing it adeptly.⠀

Oh one last thing: Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.

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Merry Christmas to everyone reading this, and I hope y’all got your fill of turkey & roast meats this feastin-sorry, festive season. I certainly got my fill at @limesingapore, and I was pleasantly impressed by the quality of the meats on the buffet lineup.⠀

Turkey is an extremely fickle protein at the best of times, with an annoying tendency to be drier than Gandhi’s flip flops if the stars don’t align. However, Lime has somehow managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat with this one, as even the finicky breast meat was surprisingly moist, with a nicely roasted skin draped like a velvet blanket over the meat. The thigh meat was a delectable delight, the moist & supple meat slithering down your throat effortlessly, preferably with some gravy & cranberry sauce.

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This past year, the world has definitely not been our oyster, but let these plump oysters from @limesingapore at @parkroyalpickering be your world this Christmas season. Accompanied by a couple of glasses of bubbly too, of course.⠀

I’m glad these oysters of unknown origin are fantastically fat and fresh for the most part, as they possess a charming creaminess that’s flavoured with an understated brininess and a very slight sweetness. Better yet, you can return for seconds, thirds, fourths and even fortieths of these mouthwatering mollusks.⠀

Unfortunately, just like everything else this year, there’s always a cloud obscuring every single lining. And that cloud happened to be a spoilt oyster that I bit into before I hurriedly expelled it back out into its shell. The damage had been done, however, and I had the runs shortly after. Nothing major requiring a physician, just a lot of annoyance, toilet paper and a tinge of disappointment.⠀

Off oyster aside, the rest of Lime Restaurant’s festive buffet ($99++ per pax) was pleasantly palatable. The quality of the buffet is remarkable, so don’t let my little encounter with the one bad oyster put you off a bountiful buffet.

It’s winter (aka rainy season) in Singapore once more, which means that hotpot szn is now officially on. I’ve been to many pot houses over the years, but all you can eat hotpot buffets are few and far between. However, @xiaocaoxiangsteamboat is one of those rare unicorns that offer all you can eat buffets, and they’ve even got an additional barbecue option for an extra surcharge.⠀

At $18.80++ for a ninety minute weekday lunch buffet, Xiao Cao Xiang offers up some unbeatable value. Due to the unnamed virus of unknown origin, the buffet format is a little odd. You go over to the huge display chillers, tell the staff how much of a certain item you want, and lead them straight back to your table so you can gorge yourself silly.⠀

Now, none of this is gonna be premium stuff, but for the low price of admission, were you really expecting Kobe beef & Iberico pork? Still, the meats are superbly satisfying and the quality is more than passable. The pork collar, pickled lamb, sliced beef belly, tender beef and the prawns are not to be missed at any cost. The sliced meats are respectably thick, while the prawns are delightfully fresh even though their size is bang average.⠀

There’s a grand total of seven meats, and six seafood choices for you to sate your gluttony on, and I haven’t even mentioned the extras like cheese tofu, lobster balls, tofu puff, et cetera yet. To top it all off, they have seven unique soup bases for you to select. Oh yes, you will be utterly spoilt for choice. My choice of tomato soup was a sublime selection, as the scintillatingly sapid and tastefully tangy tomato broth was good enough to drink on its own, but ascended into flavour paradise once you’ve cooked off some corn, radish and all your assorted meats & seafoods in it.⠀

Look, imma keep it real with y’all, there’s probably a truckload of MSG in that tomato broth, but MSG is flavour (Uncle Roger approved), and we here for a good time, not a long time. With that being said, the incredibly affordable price of admission paired with the surprisingly decent quality of food on offer, Xiao Cao Xiang is a grossly underrated pot merchant. Get in there and blaze it, folks.

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Reasonably priced food options at Millenia Walk? Inconceivable. But what if I told you that there’s a Japanese hotpot buffet there that won’t break the bank?⠀

Gyu Jin Shabu Shabu has a Supreme Black Angus beef shabu shabu buffet that runs for only $32.90++. That’s mad decent value, especially considering that the beef served ain’t no bargain bin bovine, nossir. It’s acceptably marbled with fat, and the Black Angus beef is free flow for 70 minutes, backed up by thin slices of pork belly & collar, and chicken. Yes, cow, chicken and pig are all free flow. Now that’s what I call massive bulking power!⠀

The soup bases are delightfully delicious too. I picked the yuzu dashi & the tomato dashi. The tomato dashi was deeply redolent, and a little sweet & sour from the tomato and satisfyingly salty from the dashi stock. The yuzu was a little salty, with a citrusy zest to clean out your palate. Perfect for ensuring that you last all twelve rounds with the meat, as the yuzu will slap your tastebuds awake after a protein induced haze.⠀

I can’t stress this enough, but I really, really, love my pot hot & smoking. Yes, I’m a pothead. Better yet, it’s rainy szn in Singapore now, so that’s essentially nature’s way of telling you to patronise the (hot)pot dealers in town. Go my child, go forth and 🅱️laze it.⠀

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Not gonna lie, @oasis_sg post-lockdown BBQ buffet dinner was pretty disappointing. At $88++ per head for the free flow booze & buffet, it’s a hefty investment that didn’t quite pay off for me. Served à la carte style course by course, the first round was the sustainable seafood on ice, which featured a modest duo of poached prawns & rock oysters. Yep, that was it for the seafood appetisers. While the oysters & prawns were acceptably appetising, the selection left much to be desired.⠀

Next came the absolutely addictive grilled ciabatta bread that had been lavishly lathered with a glorious garlic herb butter, alongside a trio of caesar salad, kale tabbouleh salad, and an Asian slaw. And finally, for the meat of the matter, the wood fired BBQ sharing platter was built upon some barbecued beef rump steak, Aussie lamb, chicken thigh, barramundi, and some chorizo sausage.⠀

Rump steak is one of the cheaper cuts of meat, which is why I was taken aback when I realised what cut of steak it was. Normally a tougher cut like rump would be slow cooked instead of being grilled, and it came at medium doneness. It was a little too chewy & dry. The lamb, on the other hand, fared a whole lot better. The gaminess was fairly well mitigated, and the meat was considerably juicer than the steak.⠀

The barramundi was a tad dry in certain spots, but the smokiness of the wood was thoroughly infused into the fish, giving it a delicious smokiness. The chicken, while superbly smoky, was lacking in any discernible Thai flavours from its advertised Thai marinade. As always, sausage always satisfies, and the chorizo definitely delighted with its sensational spiciness & sapidity.⠀

If the buffet was sorely lacking in variety, then why do I refuse to consider it a complete write off? Simple. The stellar service staff were always close by to ensure that your wine glass was always topped off, or to serve you more food. They really turned on the charm with their jovial, amicable attitudes, always ready to engage in a little banter as they attended to your whims. Secondly, free flow booze. Free flow wine, Prosecco & frozen margaritas? Sold.⠀

Well, it ain’t all doom & gloom.

Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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