Oh man, She’s grabbing all the good stuff; the big pincers, the meatier crab legs, all gone! Everybody behind the woman, stared at her as she made away with the “goods”.
With the crab tong in hand, it was used to hammer the shell. The fellow diners on the same table immediately dispersed, “watch it! The crab gravy is flying everywhere!“
The lady eyed the seafood section, carefully choosing the biggest white fresh oysters on the bed of ice. She proceeded on to squeeze lemon wedges onto each of them, not wasting a single drop. Taking a fork, she slurped down five oysters, in one shot.
Wash your hands clean and crab-free in the lemon water, we are going for the second round!
The team of eight sat down at the table to discuss their plans, like true elite commando fashion; they attacked the crabs in the precise and deadly manner that they were known for.
“Mommy, I want that slice of very delicious-looking, oreo cheesecake!” The small girl told her mother, even though their stomachs are bursting from all the crabs.
* * *
(1) The commentaries were some of the conversation that I’ve overheard, and observed during the buffet, and I thought it would be interesting to write about this.
(2) I don’t like to eat crabs; I’m too lazy to dirty my hands shelling the crustaceans. And if I do, the chili crab will be my favourite; I love the thick, spicy chili gravy. And there’s the best company in the form of the deep fried mantou; I always poked a hole in the middle of the fried bun and poured lots of gravy inside. Then the soaking of the whole bun within the goodness of the gravy, they are oh, so-good! And I kept a bowl of chili gravy filled throughout the buffet, dipping everything in it.
(3) The crab buffet at Ellenborough market cafe is only available for dinner at $46 per head, and will last for two weeks, starting from the 25th June. Singaporeans, love (read: love), their crabs, I went during the first day of the promotion and it was full house, on a weekday dinner! So if you are heading down, please remember to make reservations in advance. And my appreciation to Sok Hoon, the marketing communication manger for the invitation to the food tasting session.
(4) Just some more information about the buffet: There’s chefs-on-the-spot cooking crab risotto, frying mee goreng, and wrapping crab popiahs, the seafood area which has sashimi, prawns and seafood, the usual western/Asian cuisine selections, the omnipresent chocolate fondue, with a pretty decent choices of desserts ranging from cheesecake, to shooters, and their famous Durian Pengat. And I love having some Chinese desserts like tou suan with you tiao too!
You are always welcome to visit ladyironchef for a full-up on this trip. Whatever written herein are my genuine feelings expressed in words. Food, my dear, is what they call an adventure!
What better way to enjoy life like a gourmet than to go for buffets! And being in Singapore, aren't we just spoilt for choice, with all the wonderful buffets at the hotels like the Straits Kitchen, The Line etc. Having ever heard a little something about a buffet at Merchant Court, I thought this place would be worth a try. Further, at something like $26.90 per pax for lunch buffet, I thought it was one of the cheaper places with, what I thought was, good food. So off we go!
Upon reaching there, parking was convenient, perhaps because it was on a weekday. For dining in, we got parking rebate too. So free parking!
The Cafe was rather packed when we got there - 45 min before the close of the buffet line. Managed to get ourselves a table for two by the window, nearer to the main section of the buffet. The table wasn't properly laid when we were ushered in, and in a rush to give us our table, the waitress actually forgot to place all items on the table. When I asked her for it, she didn't quite understand me either, as her English wasn't very strong. Also, the table wasn't very clean, which I usually dislike as it didn't allow me to put my belongings on the table without dirtying it. Ice water was provided but wasn't regularly refilled even when the Cafe wasn't that busy (as people were gradually leaving the place). I was rather disappointed with their service, considering how I would expect much more from a hotel cafe.
Service is of course secondary at a dining place since what matters more is of course the food. Well, the food was not that amazing either. The buffet line had a spread of dessert, rice, dishes, noodles, japansese stuff, salad and soup. Sounds like a lot, but I think the desserts could have made a good spread on its own. In other words, I found the main course disappointing.
Rice and dishes
It was just a small variety of approximately 8 different dishes or so I think. Some peranakan and international dish e.g. roast duck slices, chicken, prawn (something like sweet and sour style), kang kong (that was actually pretty bad in my opinion), sea cucumber (over cooked) etc. And I thought I would be stuffing myself silly with that spread of food.
It's just one Abalone Mushroom noodle. The soup tasted weird, noodles weren't boiled long enough hence was a little hard still. And there was something like Top Shell (I wouldn't believe that there would have been abalone) in the soup that tasted awful.
Salads, soup and others
Salad was nothing much, just a bit of greens with sauce. Soup.. if I did not recall wrongly, there was only one Crab Bisque that didn't smell appetizing (and so I didn't try, especially being so turned off by the rice and dishes). Sushi was bad - rice was too dry and sticky. There was one thing good though - it was something Japanese but I never figured what it was.
It seems like this could have been the most sumptuous part of the buffet. Desserts of different styles. You have your cakes and fruits; you also have the hot soup desserts like Tang Yuan. There was also apple crumble and bread and butter pudding.
Up to this stage, the food began to seem rather boring to me and so I didn't have much appetite for more. But the bread and butter pudding and apple crumble was not too bad.
It is unfortunate the food wasn't up to standard. I don't think I will be going back for the lunch buffet anymore...
Its been a while since I last ate at Ellenborough Cafe, probably about 3 years or so. Just for the record, Ellenborough used to be the buffet venue of my choice when they still were charging something to the tune of $26/pax for dinner. Had the opportunity to revisit when one of my friends initiated a get together dinner there (It helped that she could get a 50% discount as well).
Well, since I dislike buffets and I am rather inapt at doing a writeup on it, I shall leave it to my amateur photographs to tell the story. Please pardon my photos, both quality and quantity wise, as it was a bad field trip for me.
Honestly, I think the standard of the food has gone south while the prices have steadily gone north. The shark's fin soup used to be decent but now its just a bowl of salty watered down starch serving with a couple of strands of shark's fin. The famous Durian Pengat, which used to have me going back for more (think 5-6 helpings), is now ridiculously sweet and diluted. Variety of food has stayed constant and I'm pretty sure that they have been serving up the same few dishes throughout the years. The additional outdoor counters are only there due to the restaurant having some anniversary promotion and even then, the food is really not up to the mark.
$223 for 5 pax (before discount) is pure madness for some common and average tasting fare. However factor in the 50% discount ($22/pax) and it will probably be worth it. No prizes for guessing if I'll be back.
Buffets buffets. Who could resist the temptation of eating as much as you can for a fixed price? I for one, am always intrigued by what is offered at these places. Ellenborough cafe happens to be the one that our dear Moses Lim happened to patronize when we were there. He donned a chef's garb and was patrolling the premises while we dined, for reasons unexplained. The reason i was there was because FatPig invited me and my gf in to share his good fortune of being able to secure a 50% discount with the help of his friend.
As with all buffets, there'll be a few good pickings and a huge load of bad pickings before you realise which items are worth having and which aren't. The crabs were alright but its meat tend to stick to the shell which i detest. Seafood was generally fresh though not exactly tasty. The best items in these had to be the salmon and the otak which were moderately passable.
Sharks Fin Soup - Maybe its just me, but i fished the entire bowl and found at max about 5 strands of what i hope to be shark's fin. The broth was also a bit too salty and thin for my liking.
Durian Pengat - I've heard that you can't have a buffet here without tasting the durian pengat and i must say it has a certain amount of truth in that phrase. Smooth, creamy, sweet and rich are what you would use to describe the pengat served here. I had huge servings of food before having the pengat but still managed to get 2 bowls of it down. Still, there were comments that the standard had dropped for this item. On my note however, it stands as a very good dessert still.
Bill came up to $223.63 before discount. A staggering amount if you ask me. The quality and selection present does not warrant nor justify the price in the least. After discount however, it stands at $22 per head but i'm still not returning for another try though.
Decent selection due to additional items for anniversary event organized by the restaurant but food quality varies. There were some really bad items and some that were pretty good but for the price before discount, there should not be any bad items in the first place. Having heard many things about how good this buffet is from colleagues, it was a quite a disappointment for me unfortunately.
Teochew food lovers!! Numerous traditional dishes from our childhood are here. We tried the kway chup with braised ducks, eggs, bean curds, preserved vegetables and pig trotters. Must comment that all are delicious just like home-cooked food.
The cafe also served porridge with steamed seabass, braised sea cucumber with fish maw and stir-fried prawns.
We were almost full when one of the staff asked us whether we are interested to try their freshly made yam paste with ginko nuts. My friends immediately commented that this is not a Teochew buffet if this famous dessert is not available.
Each of us took a small portion and believe us, it is simply heaven. The yam paste was smooth and has a very distinctive flavour. Coupled with the slightly sweetened ginko nuts, it is a perfect match.
When we were about to leave, the same staff directed us to their signature durian station where customers can feast on freshly opened durians. If eating with hands are messy, then try their nonya durian dessert.
Price is on the high side, average about $40 per person for buffet dinner but with such wide range of dishes to sample in small portions, it is worth while to give this place a try.
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