kiseki, orchard central

not really a very good japanese buffet – but if you aren’t too fussy and want a buffet, this one gives you an option at a pretty decent price.

buffets are a difficult format to serve, in any case – food gets dried out from constant cooking by the ambient heat of the foodwarmer, the spread tends to be unimpressive unless you pay quite a lot, and quality gets overlooked in favor of quantity.

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watami japanese restaurant, bishan

this casual japanese eatery falls rather in the lower bound of mid-range japanese restaurants in singapre – the higher spaces filled by the likes of ichiban boshi and sushi tei – both in terms of marketing and food quality.

the food is decent enough for hump day (and any of those tough-going weekday nights), the menu extensive enough for repeat visits, and the price low enough to encourage the latter. think of this almost as a japanese cha chan teng – casual, family-friendly, but certainly not the sort of restaurant you bide time in.

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durian season

the heat is getting truly insufferable in singapore – but the good thing is it heralds the start of the tropical fruit season.

I’m not one for much durian – it’s a little too rich for more than a seed or two at a go – but I do get my (small) share when the season comes around. what I like about the whole durian exercise is that it’s a family thing – and those stalls selling these prickly green fruit also carry bags of my favourite lychees and mangosteens.

remember to drink loads of water if you’re indulging this season!


morganfield’s, buona vista

decent american food in the huge rock that is the star vista mall. if you’re looking for a place this weekend to meet up with the large family and consume a large amount of food, this could very well be it. reasonably priced, large portions and decent cooking, this made for an enjoyable mother’s day dinner – I know, I know, it’s the end of the month now – and its way on our list of family-congregation-venues.

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tulipmania, gardens by the bay (take one)

warning – this is a photo post. you might like to look away now if you have a fear of colours, are a man, or if the sheer beauty of nature literally takes your breathe away.

I brought my grandma and grandaunt to the conservatories at singapore’s relatively-young gardens by the bay for a look at tulipmania on mother’s day, and we spent a ridiculous amount of time wowing and fawning over the varieties of succulents, cacti and blooms there.

it’s a beautiful place: exotic, luxuriant growth encased in bright natural light (and air-conditioned to boot).

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zaffron kitchen, katong

standout indian food in the grastronomic wunderland that is katong – I don’t usually come to this area because it’s a little far out of my reach, but the many good reviews of this place were too great a draw to resist. and they live up to it – indian food made modern, really in the style of masala zone in london, which I haven’t yet seen in singapore – I would say this is food that admittedly might play more to the mainstream consumer’s idea of indian rather than traditional fare, but it doesn’t detract from the pleasure of eating here, and judging from the clientele in this place – it might not be wholly unauthentic either.

you do pay for the experience though – prices are much higher than what you’d see at other indian joints, though merely on par with other new cafés/bistros. service is a little absent-minded sometimes – though this only happened with one of their waitresses – but the food is well good, and well worth coming back for.

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shin kushiya, harbourfront

pretty decent japanese part-of-a-chain at vivocity. this is my family’s favourite normal-time japanese restaurant, for having pretty consistent standards and a large menu – as well as its specialty of grilled skewers. I think this is of a higher pedigree than the sushi tei chain, but at the rate that sushi tei is innovating (always impressive to me given how many outlets they have) and the fact that standards here are a tad lower than they used to be, it’s likely that the unique point of this place are its grilled sticks-o’-stuff.

we come here too often, and order far too much to tell you about everything, but I have found the food to be mostly decent. I like that we start off with complimentary bowls of raw vegetables served alongside miso that tide you over until the food comes. service is quick, but we are greedy. here’s some of what we had on this visit: a cold plate of truffled angelhair pasta with fish roe and sea urchin – we didn’t expect this to be cold, but it was pretty good; a mandatory plate of tempuraed okra wrapped with tuna and seaweed; a large piece of grilled mackerel, and a selection of grilled skewers.

if it’s your first time here, I suggest getting the swordfish-and-leek skewer, as well as the salmon mentaiko. both are very nicely flavoured with the best sort of char, and my favourite is actually the very simple stick of okra. I always order the saba here, grilled with salt, because it comes in a large, juicy portion and has never failed me. and also because I like the taste of mackerel.

the menu’s large enough to satisfy a diverse range of tastes, which makes this ideal for family dinners where you know people are just bound to get fussy. it’s also casual enough so you don’t have to dress up if you don’t want to – and almost certainly not-formal enough that my dad could assemble that little bit of art you see in the last photo.

marriott café buffet, town

surprisingly, unexpectedly decent buffet spread at the ground floor cafe at the marriott. there isn’t much else to say about buffets (this is how blog posts always start before an astounding number of words follow) apart from the fact that it’s a manifestation of how greedy singaporeans can be (and are). there are people who try and strategise their day’s eating so as to make the most out of a single meal – I try rather to treat this as a sort of serve-yourself degustation menu. it’s far too easy to go overboard and hate yourself after the meal.

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crystal jade palace restaurant, town

pretty good chinese food at the upper levels of the takashimaya (or ngee ann city) building. to my knowledge, there are four crystal jade outlets there – the simple cantonese at the basement, a xiao long bao specialist, a korean barbecue restaurant and this more elaborate cantonesque one appropriate for family gatherings. I’ve been here before, a few years ago, and usually we visit imperial treasure nanbei next door, but this was a nice change.

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