Hotel buffets are so common these days that they are dime a dozen. Some, however, would set a diner back by a dime while others require a dozen more, metaphorically speaking, of course. Notwithstanding, it isn’t always the case that price corresponds to quality. Good-value buffets that are light on your wallet yet guaranteed to leave your tummy filled with a seafood bounty and heavy with satisfaction can still be found.
Conveniently located in the heart of Orchard Road, Concorde Hotel in Singapore offers a commendable buffet spread at its ground floor restaurant, Spices Cafe. Themed “The Harvest of the Sea”, the buffet is an exhaustive selection of seafood such as oysters on the half shell, scallops, cold crabs, baked half lobster and crabs cooked in six different styles.
The hallmark of any buffet worth its salt is the cold seafood section. The sashimi and sushi section was equally pleasing. While some lesser establishments serve really unpalatable cuts of tuna sashimi that comes from the tail end of the fish and streaked with tendons that makes it tougher than rawhide, the quality control at Spices Cafe was a lot tighter.
Similarly, the quality of rice kept pace with the standard established thus far. It was not hard and starchy – probably owing to the proper grade of rice used. My favourite ikura (salmon egg roe) sushi was also present and plentiful – chalking up another win in my books. Moving on to the cold seafood appetisers, it is suffice to mention that freshness and quality is this buffet’s calling card. My favourites were the tender plump oysters and boiled prawns of which the flesh was sweet and had an appetising bounce.
Of the sections comprising the main course, the laksa and chicken picata stood out head and shoulders above the rest. As good as any prepared in Katong, the laksa broth was thick and flavourful. The chicken piccata was tasty and the breaded coating still crispy, even though it was lying in a tomato based sauce.
My least favourite was the roast beef which was dry and lacklustre. Fortunately, there were the crabs to look forward to. There were six sauces to choose from: black pepper, white pepper, Thai basil, saffron, chilli, and butter. Ever eager to present an unabridged review, I put away several plates of all six varieties. My picks are the black pepper and Thai basil as these had the strongest flavours amongst all. The crabs were expertly prepared; they were neither overcooked nor too watery. However, I would have preferred larger crabs. Most were a little too small and left me wanting more. If made to choose between the single serving of gratinated cheese half lobster or braised baby lobster that each diner is entitled to, I would recommend the half lobster. Like the crab, the lobster was nicely cooked, with the sweet, succulent flesh prepared perfectly.
Apart from the food, customer service at Spices Cafe garners marks too. The staff were attentive but not intrusive. They were attuned to whether I had truly finished the food on my plate and were not over-zealous in trying to whisk away every plate before I had the chance to chew and swallow the final morsel. However, I was very taken by the friendly and humble gesture by who I assumed was the F&B General Manager, of taking the time to make his rounds and casually checking on every table, ad even answering questions about the food.
As if these weren’t reason enough to ring up the gang to arrange a dinner date at Spices Cafe, Concorde hotel, there is an inciting new promotion for the entire month of April. To celebrate the tireless support by administrative staff, one Administrative Professional per three paying adults will get to eat for free. This applies to the Harvest of the Sea buffet dinner, the Singapore Flavours buffet lunch and the weekend afternoon tea buffet.
Harvest of the Sea Buffet Dinner is a daily spread of seafood, including at least six unique mouth-watering crab dishes. Each diner can choose one of the following:
– one complimentary serving of baked half lobster (200gms) gratinated with cheese
– one complimentary serving of braised baby abalone with broccoli and mushroom
Opening hours and prices: Monday to Thursday: 6.30pm to 10.00pm, Adult: $53++ *Child: $22++ | Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Eve of Public Holiday and Public Holiday: 6.30pm to 10.00pm, Adult: $58++ *Child: $22++