Let’s begin this post with a Christmas song sing-along! I know, why don’t we sing Deck The Halls, a crowd favourite at any Christmas party for sure?
♪ Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la ♪
♪ Tis the season to be
Fa la la la la, la la la la ♪
Throw away your skinny jeans and belts because with all the Christmas-themed buffets in town, stretch pants are back in fashion once again! With so many festive buffets to choose from but a limited calorie budget to work with, hopefully this write-up on the Yuletide dinner and lunch buffet that’s set to launch on the eve of Christmas at Element (courtesy of Amara Singapore) would help you decide if it’s worthwhile to expand your waistline for. That is, unless you belong to the ‘I-can-eat-as-much-as-I-want-and-I-will-still-be-skinny’ group.
In which case, I hate you.
—🎄 Appetisers 🎄—
In the pot, this may look like an ordinary lobster bisque to you but it actually includes an ingredient which gives it an extra zing of flavour – Cognac. Added last to the bisque for a stronger kick, the smoothness and silky richness of the Cognac marries well with the sweetness and creaminess of the soup. Perhaps to cater to children and non-drinkers at the buffet, only a soupçon of Cognac was added so the slight bitter and tangy aftertaste that I got from the lobster bisque didn’t occur to me that it was Cognac. In fact, I had thought it was the spiciness from pepper because the distinctive bold flavour of Cognac just wasn’t picked up by my taste bud! Ironically, Fiona, who isn’t a fan of alcohol, could tell in one sip that there was liquor in the bisque 🤷 But it wasn’t too overpowering so she cleaned the bowl in no time!
Personally, I did not really like the texture of the lobster bisque as it was a little too watered-down for my liking and I prefer it to be creamier and heartier. Still, this is a rare find at any buffet and a must-try if you are a crustacean lover like me!
One of my favourite dishes at Element makes an appearance again this Christmas! If you’ve not read my verdict on the tuna tataki on my previous post, I urge you to do so now for a more detailed review! But in summary, the cool, softly chewy texture of the Tataki was what does it for me and this was also probably why it was snapped up so quickly at the media tasting event 😍
Editor’s note: Most of them was taken away by you, my dear.
Diced to bite-sized pieces, the butternut squash felt squishy in the mouth, almost like the texture of potato but softer, and has a lightly sweet and nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin (although many would argue that they’re basically the same considering that they are used interchangeably in certain countries) on its own. The pumpkin seeds give it an added crunch while the honey mustard lends a slightly zestier and more savoury edge. This is definitely the dish to go for if you intend to start the buffet on a healthier note. But being someone who is huge on more piquant flavours, this was rather bland on my palate.
A fine example of a simple yet elegant pairing that cannot go wrong, this dish features shredded crab meat mixed with a mayonnaise base and topped with a mountain of prawns. The prawns, which are deshelled for fuss-free eating, have such irresistibly crunchy and firm texture that I could not help but gobble up at least 15 pieces of them in one sitting. No doubt this is going to be a favourite among children and adults alike at the buffet table!
Believe it or not, the duck rillette took me some courage to overcome my apprehension of trying it. Apart from the fact that I had never eaten meat prepared Rillette-style (a cooking method originated from France 🇫🇷) before, it honestly wasn’t the most appealing dish on the buffet table. But I recalled tasting the tuna tataki for the first time and instantly falling head over heels for it. Thinking that this would turn out the same way, I took the plunge and scooped some of the duck rillette along with the sauce onto my plate.
Voilà! Fortune favours the brave, perhaps. The duck rillette (or rillettes de canard, as the French calls it) came across as a breath of fresh air. Soft and smooth in texture, it was akin to the texture of a pastry or pâté. By itself, the meat was rather salty (and in Fiona’s words, tasted like “mushy canned food”) so pairing it with the red wine sauce – which resembled and tasted delightful like cranberry jam – would be highly recommended as the sweetness of the sauce evens it out. This would also go perfectly with bread!
—🎄 Main Course🎄—
What’s Christmas in Singapore without roast turkey smeared with the familiar buah keluak (yes, it isn’t charred although it looks like it)? From cempadak creme brûlée to pandan pudding, it seems like we can always count on Element to come up with the most innovative fusion food ideas regardless of the occasion. And in case you didn’t know, buah keluak (or pangium edule, Malay for “the fruit which nauseates” 🤨) is dubbed the black truffle of the East as it is considered an acquired taste. Used mainly in Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cooking, these seeds are obtained from their poisonous fruit and are then made safe for consumption by fermentation.
The presence of the buah keluak lends a bitter and earthy taste to the turkey, which would otherwise be terribly bland and dry like chicken breast meat (but twice as bad). According to the chef, this took three days to prepare which, unless the turkey is served to a large group of people who love jaw-tiringly chewy meat, isn’t worth the effort (and slaughter). That said, I truly appreciate the creativity and ingenuity presented in this dish and would recommend this to homesick non-Asians who don’t mind a little South East-Asian twist.
Who would have thought a foreign-sounding crustacean could be localised into a dish that would fit my palate to an absolute T? The creaminess of the salted egg sauce coupled with the firmness and lightly crispiness of the meat was a dream-come-true. Unlike typical salted egg dishes that would bring you to a state of surfeit (i.e. “gelat“) after a few mouthfuls, this just kept me asking for more. I figured it was probably due to it being infused with some spice during preparation.
The addition of the foie gras (those whitish slabs but in very limited quantity) was a splendid touch as it helped to bring out the flavour of the wagyu beef even more. However, probably to cater to the masses at the buffet, the meat was generally cooked to medium which made it somewhat tough and chewy and thereby cheapen the quality of the meat. I feel that this would be better suited at the live station so patrons can request for their steak to be cooked to their preferred doneness (which in my case, would be rare). Furthermore, as an avid lover of wagyu beef, it also kinda annoyed me that the beautiful marbling of the wagyu beef was wholly concealed by the charring and port jus sauce 😫 Where’s the justice for the poor wagyu cattle that died for this?
— 🎄 Desserts🎄—
The Cempedak Creme Brûlée is like the pinnacle of the Christmas tree as it is, without a doubt, the ⭐ of the dessert section (and as a result of that, effectively stealing the thunder from the log cakes at a Christmas-theme buffet 🤣). Find out why this is the best dessert in my tummy’s opinion on my previous review here.
Fancy gifting your loved ones a log cake to commemorate the season of giving? Element also offers traditional log cakes in three tantalising flavours to suit different tastes. They are available for order at the restaurant.
Out of all the log cakes that were brought out, the Cempedak Yule Log Cake was the first to be reduced to nothing which pretty much attests to the popularity of the cempedak in Element’s dessert line-up. The log cake had a fluffy texture with a very robust cempedak flavour that was fragrant and yet not too overpowering at the same time. Each bite of the cake melted in my mouth before I realised what was happening.
Christmas is the time to spend with your family and loved ones, and what better way to do so than to indulge in some cempedak goodness (and many other crowd favourites) at Element? If you’re interested to dine at Element, do make your reservations in advance to avoid being a sad 🐼!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Element at Amara Singapore · 165 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088539 · Tel: 6879 2607 · Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar (EW15) · Click here for more information
The writer is a glutton who occasionally allows his appetite free rein and steals food from Fiona’s plate. Among some of his favourite food are a good steak and meaty crabs doused in chili sauce. Read more posts by Alphonsus here.
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