[INTL BUFFET] Have A Merry Little Christmas & Usher the Year of the Rat with an Imperial Feast @ The Square Restaurant, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay

Season’s greetings, everyone!

The time for merrymaking is upon us again and that only means one thing – endless parties and gatherings with your loved ones and friends whom you’ve been too busy to meet all year. Sadly, for the incompetent cooks like yours truly, whipping up a dish as simple as an omelette for a potluck can be a real headache. Rather than subjecting your culinary-inept friends (and your stomach) to the unnecessary torture, why not ditch the apron and leave the food preparation to the professionals?

In a food haven that is Singapore, however, buffets are so aplenty that it takes sheer dedication to even shortlist that few locations. Perhaps, we can start from The Square Restaurant at Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay which has quite a number of exciting festive dishes lined up for lunch and dinner!

Have A Merry Little Christmas
(1 – 31 December 2019)

Indulge in an extravagant feast throughout the month of December as The Square Restaurant brings you the finest selection from the land and sea. Expect to see traditional (but improved!) festive favourites such as their 24-hour Roasted Brine Turkey, Roasted Beef Striploin and Roasted Lamb Leg to get you in the Christmas mood alongside an array of the freshest seafood on ice, like the chilled Alaskan King Crab Legs, Half-shell Scallops and sashimi. At the same time, keep in touch with your roots with local delicacies such as The Square Signature Black Pepper Crab and Salted Egg Crayfish.

24-hour Roasted Brine Turkey with Giblet & Cranberry Sauce

24-hour Roasted Brine Turkey with Giblet & Cranberry Sauce

Baked Gammon Ham with Pineapple Sauce

Baked Gammon Ham with Pineapple Sauce

Mediterranean Seabass En Papillote

Mediterranean Seabass En Papillote

Roasted Cumin & Pepper Infused Pork Rib served with Mango Mojo

Roasted Cumin & Pepper Infused Pork Rib served with Mango Mojo

Spanish Seafood Paella

Spanish Seafood Paella

A la Minute Pasta: Salted Egg

A la Minute Pasta: Salted Egg

Making an introductory appearance at the buffet is the à la minute pasta with your choice of sauce between homemade salted egg and Mala. Having tried both sauces, I must say each of them has its own merits and appeal to different taste buds. Salted egg was a little on the thick side (totally apparent in the above picture) and I could taste the chunks of yolk. But as with most salted egg dishes, the possibility of feeling gelat (surfeited?) is there so go easy on the servings. #sayNOtofoodwaste

Mala, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. It contains just the right amount of Sichuan peppercorns for me, a novice eater, to enjoy comfortably without being irked by the (many a time excessive) tingly numbness in my mouth. But that said, if you can’t handle spicy food (though I did suggest to have a range of spiciness level for guest to choose from), definitely opt for salted egg instead.

And do remember to make some room for desserts at the end of the meal as you wouldn’t want to miss delectable sweet treats, like The Square Signature Durian Pengat, Log Cake, Chocolate Fondue, Fruit Cake, Tiramisu and other assorted pastries specially curated for Christmas!

Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Meringue Cake

Brownie & Hazelnut Cream

Brownie & Hazelnut Cream

Apple Walnut Log Cake

Apple Walnut Log Cake

Apple Almond Puff

Apple Almond Puff

Tiramisu

Tiramisu – which I thought was Milo Dinosaur at first glance WAHAHAHA

Festive Buffet
Lunch
Monday – Saturday (except 25th Dec) · 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm
Adult: $48++ · Child (5-12 years old): $29++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $38++
Dinner
Sunday – Thursday (except 24th, 25th and 31st) · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Adult: $68++ · Child (5-12 years old): $39++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $58++
Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner
24th Dec · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
*includes free-flow martini, beer, wine and soft drinks
Adult: $88++ · Child (5-12 years old): $49++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $78++
Christmas Day Lunch
25th Dec · 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm
Adult: $68++ · Child (5-12 years old): $39++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $58++
Christmas Day Buffet Dinner
25th Dec · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Adult: $68++ · Child (5-12 years old): $39++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $58++
New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner
31st Dec · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
*includes free-flow beer, wine and soft drinks
Adult: $88++ · Child (5-12 years old): $49++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $78++

Usher the Year of the Rat with an Imperial Feast
(8 January – 8 February 2020)

Hold off your New Year’s resolution of getting back in shape because the feasting is not quite over yet! With the Year of the Rat exactly one month away from Christmas, brace yourselves for another round of edible temptation coming at you from every direction in January!

For many Chinese families, zi char places and Chinese restaurants are usually the gathering point for reunion dinners, and it’s always the same old dishes offered in the set menus. Worse, the prices of these dinner sets can only rise each year while portions remain unchanged or get reduced. Share the same sentiments? Then, you might want to relook the style of your reunion dinner this coming Chinese New Year.

How about a reunion buffet dinner for a change? That way, you will be ensured everyone gets their fill from a myriad of dishes at their leisure (like, you know how some restaurants churn out dish after dish and you feel pressured to speed up your eating? SO STRESSFUL) and you actually pay according to how much each person can consume? Yes, extended families with a brood of very young offspring and blessed with longevity, buffet dinner should be the way to go. And The Square Restaurant has just the what is needed to satisfy diners of all ages.

Yu Sheng (charged separately at S$68++ for Medium or $88++ for Large, excluding 20% discount for dine-in guest). Of course, your Yu Sheng will not be presented as such. This is exclusively for media.

Fa Cai Yu Sheng (charged separately at S$68++ for Medium or $88++ for Large, excluding 20% discount for dine-in guest). Of course, your Yu Sheng will not be presented as such. This is exclusively for media 😜

Your Fa Cai Yu Sheng (courtesy of Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay)

Your Fa Cai Yu Sheng (courtesy of Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay)

From an assortment of BBQ meats, Poached Broccoli with Dried Oysters and Black Moss to Wok-fried Salted Egg Prawn and Laksa, the buffet boasts a good mix of traditional and modern Chinese New Year delicacies that is bound to please the pickiest and most demanding of taste buds. On top of that, the more hands-on family members would also find themselves immersing themselves in the experience at the DIY Kong Bak Bao station. What better way to bridge the generation gap between the young and old than to offer your elders the Kong Bak Baos you have specially prepared for them, right? 😉

Roasted Grain-fed Beef Striploin

Roasted Grain-fed Beef Striploin

Braised Broccoli with Dried Oysters & Black Moss

Braised Broccoli with Dried Oysters & Black Moss

Wok-fried Salted Egg Prawn

Wok-fried Salted Egg Prawn

Hong Kong-style Steamed Pomfret

Hong Kong-style Steamed Pomfret

The Square Signature Black Pepper Crab

The Square Signature Black Pepper Crab

Assorted Chinese BBQ Platter

Assorted Chinese BBQ Platter

Assorted Chinese BBQ Platter

Assorted Chinese BBQ Platter

Braised Pork Rib with Chinese Mushrooms & Bamboo Shoot

Braised Pork Rib with Chinese Mushrooms & Bamboo Shoot

Lastly, round off the hearty meal with more than just a boring bowl of mango pomelo sago. Everyone at the table gets to pick from a variety of pastries infused with local flavours including but not limited to Pandan Egg Tart, Taro Butter Cake, Bak Kwa Chicken Floss Swiss Roll and Golden Sesame Ball. Not really a pastry person? Sure. Have a go at the Chilled Peach Gum with Red Dates and Dried Longan – which is an absolute favourite of my plus-one because it is tasty yet so healthy – or Pan-fried Nian Gao. Are you salivating yet?

Pandan Egg Tart

Pandan Egg Tart

Bak Kwa Chicken Floss Swiss Roll

Bak Kwa Chicken Floss Swiss Roll

Savoury and juicy sweetmeat wrapped with pastry dough and topped with chicken floss, this ingenious creation was a hit at the media tasting session. I never liked bak kwa, but I just couldn’t resist taking seconds of this. It was hea-ven-ly.

Orange Mousse Cake with Red Berry Jelly

Orange Mousse Cake with Red Berry Jelly

The Orange Mousse Cake is another top pick of mine and I am pretty sure it accounted for most of my calories gained that night – but damn was it worth it! The yellow strip of fondant icing – which I strongly feel should not just be on both ends of the cake because without it, the cake is better off in the Christmas buffet spread – has a citrusy note to it and the slight sourness of the red berry jelly filling prevents the mousse from being too cloyingly sweet. There is simply no reason to dislike this.

Taro Butter Cake

Taro Butter Cake

Chinese New Year may be more than a month away from now, but it’s never too early to start making your reservations. Act fast before your preferred dates are fully booked!

Prosperity Buffet
Lunch
Monday – Saturday · 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm
Adult: $48++ · Child (5-12 years old): $29++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $38++
Sunday Brunch
Sundays only · 12.30 pm – 3.00 pm
Adult: $68++ · Child (5-12 years old): $39++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $58++
Dinner
Sunday – Thursday (except 26th Jan) · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Adult: $68++ · Child (5-12 years old): $39++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $58++
Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner
24th Jan · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
*includes free-flow wine, beer and soft drinks
Adult: $88++ · Child (5-12 years old): $49++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $78++
Chinese New Year Dinner
25th & 26th Jan · 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Adult: $68++ · Child (5-12 years old): $39++ · Senior Citizen (above 55 years old): $58++
Fa Cai Yu Sheng
$68++ for Medium · $88++ for Large
(20% discount for all dine-in guests)

Overall, The Square Restaurant has impressed me not only with their palatable offerings, but also their creative spin on traditional dishes. I mean, just look at the presentation of the desserts especially! The effort is unmistakable.

Thanks for reading!

The Square Restaurant @ Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay • 177A River Valley Rd Singapore 179031 • For more information on buffet timings, please visit Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay’s WEBSITE

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Pho Street @ Westgate

MEDIA INVITE

Hey guys!

Living in a melting pot of different cultures has blessed me with the opportunity to try out different cuisines without having to step out of the country (and saving lotsa money as a result). Besides, it has become such a commonplace in Singapore for restaurants of non-local cuisines to establish their businesses in our neighbourhood, predominantly in shopping malls, thus making it even easier to satisfy our cravings for the food we ate abroad. But of course, these food usually don’t come cheap if they are prepared or created by chefs hired from their native countries in an attempt to keep the tastes as authentic as possible. So does it mean that it’s impossible to enjoy a good four-course non-local meal with just S$30 in an air-conditioned setting?

With the number of casual dining restaurants offering affordable food springing up these days, it may be possible. But with lower price, comes compromise. How many of them can actually serve quality and true-to-original (or close) non-Singaporean dishes while still maintaining its competitive prices? Not many but I have a couple of names in mind.

Pho Street, Westgate

Pho Street, Westgate

And one of them is Pho Street, a quick service restaurant offering authentic Vietnamese pho and street delights which I only came to know about recently through an invited food tasting (that I’m about to feature in this post). Having founded only in December 2013 with just 2 outlets (Westgate and Bedok Mall) nationwide currently, it’s not unusual that not many people have heard of it. But with the new Vietnamese chef (Chef Kenny Hà) on board with his new revamped menu, it’s only a matter of time before crowds start flocking to the restaurants. You will know why as I take you through the newly added items.

In fact, crowds have already started forming at the Westgate outlet (photo taken around 8pm on a weekday)

In fact, crowds have already started forming at the Westgate outlet (photo taken around 8pm on a weekday)

Let’s begin with the beverages that Pho Street has ushered in to liven up your palate and open up your appetite for the hearty meal that is to follow.

Lemon Cooler with Peppermint and Basil and Passionfruit & Basil Mojito

(left) Lemon Cooler with Peppermint & Basil and (right) Passionfruit & Basil Mojito  (S$3.50++ each)

Lemon Cooler with Peppermint & Basil and Passionfruit & Basil Mojito

Mint and basil leaves

Garnished with mint and basil leaves to give diners a burst of cool flavour, these two latest additions provided a refreshing start to our meal. Both my boyfriend and I preferred the lemon cooler because it has a very sweet and addictive tang to it. Crisp and perky, this zesty drink is a summer classic, perfect for the hot and humid weather we’re all experiencing right now (just like Vietnam!). Even before the first dish arrived, we were already halfway done with the drink. That’s how much we loved it!

The passionfruit, on the other hand, pales in comparison in terms of the intensity of flavour. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice thirst quencher with a fairly strong minty aroma to awaken your senses. If you’re especially sensitive to strong flavours, this is the drink you should go for 🙂

Fresh Summer Rolls with Prawn, Pork Belly & Fresh Herbs

Fresh Summer Rolls with Prawn, Pork Belly & Fresh Herbs (S$4.90++)

Fresh Summer Rolls with Prawn, Pork Belly & Fresh Herbs

Spot the pork belly

To whet our appetite further, we were treated to a variety of palatable street snacks. The first of the four new appetizers served was a Vietnamese staple called gỏi cuốn which literally means salad rolls. Like how it’s traditionally prepared, these rolls are made with pork (belly in this case), fresh prawns, vegetables (cucumber, turnip, lettuce and carrots), herbs (basil and mint leaves and a stalk of lemongrass visible on the surface) and rice vermicelli wrapped with rice paper, giving you a good mix of sweet and sour flavour. Every ingredient here is cooked lightly hence the roll on the whole tastes absolutely healthy yet delicious, not forgetting the resounding crunch with every bite is super shiok and melodious to the ears can 🙂 Each serving comes with two pieces of summer roll served in room temperature.

Shades of summer - green, orange and yellow :)

Shades of summer – green, orange and yellow 🙂

The dip that came with it is widely known as tương xào, a thick and pungent sauce also commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Topped with ground peanuts, the sauce gives the rolls an added sweetness and texture. It also kinda reminded me a lot of the black sweet sauce that’s drizzled over Chee Cheong Fun. Who knows, they could even be the same thing, maybe with slight modification, based on their standard recipes I saw online!

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Vietnamese Snack Platter (S$8.90++)

Roasted Chicken Skewers

Roasted Chicken Skewers

Vietnamese Crabcakes

Vietnamese Crabcakes (only 1 piece shown here)

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Crispy Fried Pork Rolls (only 1 piece shown here)

Ohh, look at the vibrancy of the colours. These snacks are not only visually appealing, but they also tantalise the taste buds. Everything on the platter was just.. delicious. The roasted chicken meat was tender, well-marinated and evenly peppered all over (hence some may find it spicy). The crispy pork rolls were fragrant and are even tastier dipped in the fish sauce (the less opaque one in the first picture) provided with the dish. But what boyfriend and I enjoyed the most were the crabcakes, which mainly consist of crab meat, pork and fungus (mushrooms). They were extremely meaty, thick but soft and chewy. This also goes well with the fish sauce.

Do note that what you see above (except for the skewers) is just half of what you’d get. That’s right, you will have TWO pieces of each snack! All these Vietnamese delights for just S$8.90! How value-for-money is that? 🙂 (omg I subconsciously made my sentences rhyme hahahaha #hiphopfionayo)

Still not convinced? How about MORE pictures of the snacks in action? *evil cackles*

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Roasted chicken dipped in the sexiest chilli sauce..

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Glistening crabcakes calling out your name…

The crisp, the crunch and the crumbles around your lips. Mmmm-mmmm.

pho-street-westgate-33

OK, if this 360-degree view of the platter doesn’t entice you, I don’t know what will.

HAHAHAHA.

Moving on to the next appetizer, it was something that titillated the fried chicken fanatic in me because no casual dining menu would be complete without a plate of finger-lickin’ good fried chicken wings. I personally prefer the mid-joint area because that’s where the juiciest meat is.

Crispy Fried Chicken Mid-wings served with Caramelised Sweet Dip

Crispy Fried Chicken Mid-wings served with Caramelised Sweet Dip (S$4.90++)

Crispy Fried Chicken Mid-wings served with Caramelised Sweet Dip

Fried chicken buffalo wings served with an extra punch

The batter was a nice golden brown but it looked a bit puffed up with excess breading noticeable on various parts of the wings, making them look a lot bigger and meatier than they originally were. But the wings themselves were superb and the meat was moist and succulent with a tinge of spiciness because of the pepper in the marinade. If you have low tolerance for spiciness, submerging the meat into the nectarous caramelised dip would only make it worse because it’s also loaded with pepper. But I’d say go for it because the dip is so heavenly, it’d make the burn worthwhile 😉

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Sesame Rice Crackers with Fragrant Minced Meat and Spices Dip (S$6.90++)

Sesame Rice Crackers

Sesame Rice Crackers

Fragrant Minced Meat and Spices Dip

Fragrant Minced Meat and Spices Dip

The final appetizer of the evening was another distinctive snack unique to Vietnam. Known to the natives as bánh tráng mè, these sesame rice crackers are made from rice flour and sprinkled with sesame seed. They are the Singapore equivalent of prawn crackers, crispy and delicate. But instead of eating them on their own, they are typically served with dips, such as the minced meat and spices dip shown above!

To ensure that ingredients are of highest quality, the rice crackers at Pho Street are all imported from Vietnam.

The correct way of eating the sesame rice crackers

The correct way of eating the sesame rice crackers

The dip was warm when it came to us, which could suggest that they were freshly prepared (as opposed to preparing them way in advance and storing them elsewhere). It tasted like rendang paste and was a little greasy. Still, this was one of the best dishes we had at the restaurant that day (because we can’t decide between this and the snack platter).

After stuffing our face with the appetizers *burp*, it was finally time for our mains! When you’re at a Vietnamese restaurant, it’s almost like a hidden rule that you have to order Pho, so we did.

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Pho Beef Combination (S$9.90++)

Close up on the different cuts of beef in the Pho

Close up on the different cuts of beef in the Pho

The perfect rice noodles

The perfect rice noodles

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Chilli sauce and a slice of lime for the broth

Prior to the launch of this new menu, there were only beef balls, beef slices and beef shank in the Pho Beef Combination. Now, you get two additional beef cuts – the beef tendons and beef tripe (stomach) – for the same price of S$9.90! Seriously, you’re not true beef lover if you haven’t tried this. The overall taste seemed to have improved tremendously too as I couldn’t detect any of the faults mentioned on online negative reviews (bland broth, hard noodles, just to name a few) posted before the revamp.

In fact, I thought the broth was very flavourful and even more so after dribbling in some lime juice. The chilli sauce that comes with it is actually blended with the same soy sauce that’s served together with the summer roll I mentioned earlier. Talkin’ about getting the best of both worlds y’all 😉

Beef ball dipped in chilli sauce

Beef ball dipped in chilli sauce

The other mains we had was a dry version of Pho but it’s thinner and better.

Dry Rice Vermicelli with Roasted Pork Chop and Spring Roll (S$8.90)

Dry Rice Vermicelli with Roasted Pork Chop and Spring Roll (S$8.90)

Close up of the pork chop

Close up of the pork chop

Mixing them together

Mixing them together, lo hei style

Rice vermicelli

Rice vermicelli

Truth be told, I felt a little twinge of regret when this arrived at the table because it looked a tad too dry for my liking (I wanted bánh mì initially but changed my mind) and at this point in time I was already feeling almost like a stuffed teddy bear so I was afraid that the vermicelli wouldn’t be slippery enough to glide down my throat.

But guess what? This seemingly dry dish turned soft and moist the moment it’s mixed with the sweet and spicy gravy at the bottom! The vermicelli was so smooth, soft and easy to stomach. Plus, it also included a generous piece of chewy peppered pork chop and crispy spring roll, which in case you haven’t realised, was the exact same one from the snack platter.

I caught a whiff of the dish and was instantly reminded of rojak. But of course, it didn’t taste like it. Not even close. This wins hands-down with its uniquely piquant and gratifying flavours. Therefore this would be my go-to dish (sorry Pho Pho) when I’m at Pho Street.

Apart from the two mains featured above, there are also two others I didn’t manage to try (oh how I wish I had a bigger stomach eh no I take that back). They are the Bánh Mì combination (bun with pork belly, grilled beef and chicken ham, S$6.90++) and the Roasted Pork Chop with Fragrant Rice (S$7.90++).

And last but not least, we shared a dessert to end the meal on a sweet note (pun intended).

Cream of Mung Bean with Coconut Sauce & Crushed Peanuts

Cream of Mung Bean with Coconut Sauce & Crushed Peanuts (S$3.50++)

Topped with crushed peanuts that exuded a pleasant fragrance, this thick and milky dessert is a must-try for all coconut lovers or anybody who wants to relive their Vietnam or Thai experience. It contains shaved water chestnuts, mung beans (green beans), fresh coconut sauce and banana essence so it’s like a burst of sweetness and a party in your mouth. It’s a pretty big serving so it’d be better to share it with someone.

Also, do allow me to emphasise that only fresh coconut sauce is used so it should taste sweet and nothing else. If your Cream of Mung Bean turns out to be sour, it’d mean that the coconut sauce has turned bad and you should return your drink to the friendly servers and ask for another one 🙂

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You nutty nutty

Do note that all prices are subjected to prevailing government taxes (7% GST) and a 1% service charge. Now, if you add up the prices of the most expensive item from each course, you’ll come up with this:

Lemon Cooler with Peppermint & Basil (S$3.50) + Vietnamese Snack Platter (S$8.90) + Pho Beef Combination (S$9.90) + Cream of Mung Bean with Coconut Sauce & Crushed Peanuts (S$3.50) + 7% GST + 1% Service Charge

And the final price would only be S$27.90! It’s a very good deal for a very satisfying meal I must say.

Have you tried out the new menu at Pho Street? If not, would you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Pho Street @ Westgate
3 Gateway Drive
#B2-K6/K7
Singapore 608532
Tel: 64659909
Mon – Sun : 11:30am – 10:00pm (Last order at 9:30pm)

Pho Street @ Bedok Mall
311 New Upper Changi Road
#B1-40
Singapore 467360
Mon – Thurs : 11.00am – 10.00pm (Last Order at 9.30pm)
Fri – Sun : 11.00am – 10.30pm (Last Order at 10.00pm)

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