Singapore - Straits Kitchen: Most Popular "Halal" Buffet in Town
This insanely popular "halal"-certified buffet spot is the go-to place if you have Muslim overseas guests who wanted to try local Singaporean delicacies. After all, it's located in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who's a pretty orthodox Muslim. Perfect spot for me this evening to bring my bunch of visiting Emirati colleagues.
Separate food islands offered an array of dishes to suit almost every palate & taste. They include:
1. A Malay-Singaporean station, with skewers of chicken, beef & lamb satays sizzling away atop hot braziers, and banana leaf-wrapped marinated seafood being barbecued over open flames. Malay curries: fish, chicken and the ever-popular beef rendang, together with a selection of Malay "ulams" (raw vegetables with various chili and marinated shrimp paste dips)
2. A Chinese-Singaporean station, with stir-fried chili crabs (not good - the crabs weren't fresh), tofu-prawn-omelette, vegetable stir-fries, double-boiled black chicken with Chiense herbs, Hainanese chicken rice4, and roast duck.
3. An Indian-Singaporean station, with tandoori items, Indian kurmahs, dhansaks, dhals, etc. with a selection of parathas, naans and other Indian breads & briyani rice.
4. A "popiah"station with the chef handrolling spring rolls to order, a "rojak" station where fresh fruits, cucumbers & turnips where hand-mixed with prawn paste, crush groundnuts & other local condiments, and an "ice kachang"/"chendol" station churning out bespoke shaved ice desserts.
5. The fresh fruits station offered a wide array of tropical fruits: jackfruit, dragonfruit, rambutans, longans, etc.
6. A local desserts station with Nyonya "kuehs" and other sweet desserts like mango pudding, grass jelly, "longan" soup, etc.
Warning: This place is absolutely *packed* every single day, with lots of corporate bookings for large (usually 8-12, or more) groups of diners. So do reserve ahead if you don't want to be turned away at the door. Service is erratic, and the beautiful waitresses can be pretty clueless - most of them are Mainland-Chinese with rudimentary command of English.
My fave items from the buffet?
- Double-boiled herbal black chicken soup, which was a bit oily, but has a nice balance of Chinese herbs & sweetened slightly with red dates.
- The surprisingly up-to-standard Singapore laksa, though it lacked the raw cockles.
- Two good local desserts: Malay "kueh lopis" made of gltunious rice and coated with fresh grated coconut and served with a generous drizzle of molasses; and the "Chendol", which is one of the best I'd had in Singapore.
I heard the satays, Hainanese chicken rice and spring rolls were good, too, but I didn't fancy having to queue up at the daunting food lines.
Lobby Level, Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Road
Tel: +65 6732 1234
Double-boiled soups are not really that common at buffets, but Straits Kitchen @ Grand Hyatt and The Line @ Shangri-La, which were top-rated buffets in Singapore, offered these. Usually, two types of soups would be offered at a buffet line- a Western one (Potage Parmentier, Lobster Bisque or Onion Soup neing the popular ones) and a Chinese/Singaporean one (Chicken-Wintermelon, Duck-Salted Mustard, spiced Malay Oxtail Soul, etc).
Why'd you write halal in quotes? The ZFY china in Shenzhen claims to be halal, but beer is definitely present. Would locals not go if they didn't have beer? That brand deserves quote marks.
Lanzhou lamian holes-in-the-wall, on the other hand, don't usually have any drinks, besides tea/water. But those are just as popular (given their ubiquity in the mainland). What gives?
I've been to Singapore a bunch of times, and each time I forget to ask about where the Malay neighborhood is. As opposed to Little India or Chinatown. Is there a particular "kampung melayu" that is known for Malay/Peranakan food? Thing is, IMO, the Chinese food in Singapore is rubbish (not the quality so much as I just despise the cuisines), the Indian food is rad but too heavy sometimes, and I just keep ending up at the Takashimaya at Ngee Ann City for random eats. Venturing into the Malay part of town, wherever it is/they are, would be a nice change...
The de facto Malay dining district would be Kampung Glam, with its "Nasi Padang" and other Malay-style dining options.
There was a food article in today's papers on the new Malay fine-dning restaurant, Mamanda (73 Sultan Gate. Tel: +65-6396 6646) which took over from Tepak Sireh Malay restaurant at the Gedung Kuning building in the Malay Heritage Centre complex which formed the epicentre of Kampung Glam, together with the Sultan Mosque. But initial review of Mamanda indicated more work to be done.
Malay fine dining in Singapore has never been the same ever since the closure of Aziza's (Emerald Hill) and Sukmaindra (then-Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, now Royal Plaza at Scotts) in the mid-90s. Alkaff Mansion offered Indonesian-style rijstaffel for a while, but it's also closed down a while back and recently re-opened as an Italian joint (!)