$40-$60

Ellenborough Market Cafe, Swissotel Merchant Court, Clarke Quay

CRAB BUFFET, 7-22 OCTOBER 2011

Slipper Lobster

Cold Crab

Muscles Mussels

Wasabi Crab

Crab Beehoon

Been to Ellenborough buffet a few years back and I wasn’t very impressed. All I remember is the durian pengat, pure fresh durian that the cooks painstakingly de-seed, leaving just the paste. YUMMY, every time I eat durian, I fall ill, so I might as well eat more! And I ate two big bowls of it this time. So smelly and so creamy! (sore throat now.)

Due to my past experience, and the negative reviews on HGW, I wasn’t expecting much – but I was in for a surprise! My favorite food blogging hunk, and the cutest of them all, Jasper Aston Lim, asked me to go with him and wow, great recommendation.

First of all, this is a buffet, don’t expect to find the most delicious ambrosia in the universe here.

But this is the most amazing thing, my eyes nearly popped out. The quintessential Peranakan dish, Ayam Buah Keluk — the thing within the nut has already been taken out for you! OMG! It’s a bowl of it there, and you can just eat it like you eat ice cream!! (Usually people eat it with rice, for you angmoh pai out there.) Ellenborough is famed for the Peranakan, including kueh pie tee, assam fish slices and ngoh hiang but I thought the Peranakan dishes were so-so, a little dry for me. But the bakwan kepiting, a crab-and-pork ball soup (clear broth), is so traditional, tasted like cabbage with spare ribs soup, so mild yet so tasty at the same time. It gave me a very homecook feel.

I think what works is the seafood. There were fried tilapia, fresh oysters, cold crabs, mussels, cold prawns, fried prawns, and my favorite sea cuCUMber!! (look at this awesome clip on sea cucumber and that’s why I like to eat it.) Singaporeans’ favorites have to be the slipper lobster in black bean sauce and salmon sashimi. Every time a fresh batch came out, I walked there and it was gone. I stood behind an uncle and he took EVERY slice of salmon, very buay pai-say. Aiya, I always snatch lose to people one lah. That’s why I don’t even try.

Because of Jasper Aston Lim, I was lucky enough to sample the crab buffet, starting from 7-22 October. We had wasabi crab, marmite crab and chili crab with buns. I’m really not a crab person because I am lazy to pluck. But the crabs were so GINORMOUS. The claw was as fat as my palm. Jasper’s favorite was wasabi crab, which has fish roe on it. But although I like wasabi mayo, I didn’t like the texture because it was deep-fried first before pan-frying with the wasabi, causing the meat to be tougher. The marmite crab has a vote out of our party of four; it actually tasted very creamy, like cheese crab. Me and another friend picked the chili crab as our favorite. I know, boring right, but wait!!! Usually, crabs are cooked in such a way that the sauce remains outside the shell, but I suspect the chef cracks open the crab first, so the sauce completely went into the meat, making it very, very sumptuous. I was spurting my sauce everywhere. So embarrassing.

One other crab dish we tried: crab beehoon. Not your usual stir-fried one, it’s like laksa-noodle in thick and rich crab-seafood broth. This was slightly spicy due to the small chili. It’s very strange because all four of us tasted different things. For me, it tasted like green curry laska. Maybe the broth dried up.

Desserts: besides the durian pengat, there are warm Singaporean desserts such as pulut hitam, tang yuan, white fungus with red dates, bo-bo-cha-cha. Also a myriad of tarts and puddings.

Ambience: colonial style furnishing but too many people around to really appreciate the thoughtful decor.

Buffet costs $44, but from 7-22 Oct, the crab buffet will cost $64++ (adults) and $32++ (child below 12). OCBC cardmembers: one dines free for every 3 paying adults. Overall, value-for-money and I was very satisfied after the meal.

Ellenborough Market Cafe
Swissotel Merchant Court
20 Merchant Rd
Singapore 058281
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Rating:  3.232/ 5stars

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