Are You HOT Enough? is the relatively new promotion and possibly an amelioration to their menu at Level 7, The SQUARE, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay. If the poster isn’t obvious enough, they are having a buffet that, I’d consider, suits the palate of the locals pretty well – hot and spicy. That is something quite endangered in International Buffets, at least. Side note, I love the tagline on the fire extinguisher. They lie, they actually do include a fire extinguisher of sorts – a huge jug of soya milk ready to put out that potential party of fire in your mouth.
The Novotel establishment has always gave me the vibe of a hidden gem. Granted, they aren’t a magnificent five-star lodging, but their service, their rooms are always more than acceptable, and exceeding the expectation of their standard. Expectation and perception is key.
In this new offering, the usual suspects remain.
One of my two favorite counters, the Seafood Counter. Clams, oysters, prawns and mussels up for grabs right at the start of the buffet line, accompanied with a whole, majestic salmon. It would have been perfect if it was a little more seasoned and tender. Notwithstanding that, condiments should save the day just fine.
Straight from the kitchen, the cod fish was top-notch. Pity the laksa wasn’t sufficiently intense. But a pretty good dish all in all.
My co-favorite counter, the Meat Section. The above tastes as epic-ly as how the photo is taken. Look at it. It’s just like a muscle man with a soft heart. Its tough look is actually deceiving – not only is pretty dainty, it bursts full of flavor too. Feel free to grab the side vegetables to tag along.
Ranging from roast pork to roast beef, it is enthralling to see each (hot) item being tagged with the level of spiciness. Capped at ‘3 spicy chilis’, they aren’t, all that spicy, really. Well at least for me, I take ’em pretty good. Still, loving the new concept. Good marketing hit.
If you know me, I’m not a person to even consider these covered items – the vegetables, the asian food, the steamed, the cooked, the stewed meat, etc. But I fell in love with these two dishes in particular, the Black Pepper Green Mussels & Prawn with Mayonnaise Sauce. I surprise myself by favoring this rendition of mussels over the fresh and untouched one. Likewise for the prawn with mayo. sauce, just the desirable amount of sweetness.
Like the F&B Manager, Jean-Philippe commented, it’s quite a suit between the two flavors. Half of them prefer the regular cheese one, while the other half, of where I fall into, prefer the more funky and ‘contemporary’ laksa-drowned risotto. Spiciness, checked!
Do not come into the spicy buffet believing they can’t do much. Well you are wrong. They are even able to fuse the hotness into the mildest item – the salads. Spicy Beef Salad, Chicken and Seafood Beancurd Roll Salad – adding a little fun into the otherwise boring salads (being a non-salad / vegetables lover).
Its dessert section is noteworthy. So save some for them (even though we know desserts have a separate stomach dedicated to them, they magically appear when we are too full to have them in the regular one). Chili Chocolate Mousse is one of the highlights of the themed buffet. With the chili itself and its seed still present in the mousse, one can really taste the burning sensation in your throat after just a couple of mouthful. Again, it spices things up, literally, so all’s well. I was secretly jumping like a child when I saw the chocolate fondue set up for diners. For the price tagged, I thought the availability of that makes it even all so worthwhile. Moreover, the chocolate is thick and not excessively sweet – good material for a chocolate fondue. I know for one, that they are proud to have Durian Pengat too. For those who aren’t sure, Durian Pengat is mostly made of coconut milk and durian. Though it might be a little too sweet, it was consoling in any case, to have anything durian.
The so classic, so singaporean Ice Kacang Counter sits there, with all purpose of bringing back the good ol’ memories in you. Rows of complements and toppings are up to top it up. Basic scoops of ice cream are available right beside the machine too. It can actually turn out to be a convivial night for you.
See, nowadays, visits to hotel buffets have been increasing exponentially for me. And most I would say isn’t value for money. They cost an arm and a leg, and one can only eat so much right. So the only thing that makes it worth it is quality food. The SQUARE is very reasonably priced at $48++ from Sunday to Thursday and an additional $10 before taxes on the other two days. With the economy these days, there is barely an International Buffet (with Chocolate Fondue!) priced so rationally anymore.
Special gratitude to John, Jean-Philippe and the Novotel Singapore team for the hospitality and hosting the invited tasting.
Address: Novotel Clarke Quay Singapore Hotel, 177A River Valley Road
Telephone: 6338 3333
Opening Hours: 6am – 10.30am (Breakfast); 12pm – 2.30pm (Lunch); 6pm – 10pm (Dinner)
Photos by Yee Meng.